Ever have one of those moments where you panic upon waking and think you overslept? I did that, and then the feeling continued throughout the rest of today. Just too much going on.
The morning was spent hanging out with a bunch of Xbox MVPs. Now, later in the day I heard some non-XBox MVPs snicker a little about the chops of these MVPs, but I have to tell you - when the galactic goo starts flying in the forums because the younguns are getting restless, these are the dudes you are lucky to rely on...(and yes sadly, only dudes in the room - where ARE the Xbox gamerchick MVPs? Dangit! My next job, clearly).
Anyway, these are the dudes who have to do heavy lifting in the community world - they moderate posts at a volume where the archiving of posts could happen much much sooner and they would still not feel ahead. These MVPs could describe ways to circumvent the asp.net forums and ways to circumvent the circumventers to Rob Howard (he was sitting right there talking about the asp.net 2.0 version, so he was taking notes and names too) that just wouldn't occur to me.
It was a cool moment for me because one of the first things I did at Microsoft was to get MSDN and Xbox together to chat about the forums code they were using. It's not just that (ahem) I've been known to game once or twice. It's that this kind of community learning and sharing of info is good for Microsoft. Not that people hid information from each other about how the Xbox forums were coded or progressing as a social application - just that the company is so darn big. Things have to get pushed to the top of consciousness on occasion and if there is a community heaven (obviously, filled with LOTS of people) I might submit that cross-group move on my part as a reason to get me in there.
After that I spent some time talking about ops with an MSN program manager who manages MSN Groups. Tina Dow, a pm with MSDN, was also with me. I am too braindead to summon more than a vague overview of the situation, but we talked about tiers of ops support and how to communicate to the product teams and to folks like the microsoft.com operations team what is going on, when you support a new app. He said: don't mind this at all, I love talking about that stuff. And it was true, the “Joy of Ops“ just glowed off him (it's late but I am NOT making this up. The man loves his ops).
After that was the PSACT Teen Talk - about half-dozen MSDNers went to a Community Center on Rainier Avenue to talk about how the sorry lot of us - er how the varied and diverse-backgrounded lot that we are - made it into technology fields. I realized belatedly that I wasn't supposed to emphasize that you could avoid Higher Education and still win your spurs in technology - I made sure to qualify my comments. I really believe education is the best investment I ever made - you carry it on you wherever you go and no one can take it from you.
But there were some wild echoes between this teen talk and the MVP Codewise dinner I went to after that. There were quite a few MVPs who challenged the teaching methods of the computer educations they'd acquired. Wanting to learn made it happen for them.
Earlier when we MSDNers talked to the teens, we talked about the best skill to bring when interviewing at Microsoft was passion. A life spent following what you care about can lead you to Microsoft - we aren't all geeks and programmers (though many highly amusing and wonderful folks are). We talked about the long hours and the need for worklife balance (hey, who is at the office blogging right before midnight?!! :P ) but that quality of caring about what you are doing gets you a long way.
Then, at the MVP dinner (Italian meal at Firenze - the MVPs were all gentlemen and let me eat the last tiramisu) I got to talk to the Panoramabox MVPs (Latin America) - really a wonderful conversation that spanned community strategy to people's childhoods and how they got into technology (hey, echoes of the teen talk...) . :D. They reflected my stuff back at me and said, we see Microsoft as a company where people care, and learn, and are passionate about what's going on such that one person can change the direction their group or even the company is going.
We were quick to assure them that the company is human like any other company, but we agreed that Microsoft IS a place where ideas can get fought for in a way that perhaps other companies don't promote.
I didn't say it in my previous blogs, but THANK YOU MVPs. One for the work you do (I know SteveB thanked you already, but this one's my turn) - it's hard to be the leaders and the nurturers and the stick and the carrot wielders. Having created a place for community myself, I appreciate and salute you. But also, on a personal level, thanks to every MVP I was lucky enough to talk to. This week was insane and not the pace I want to carry myself at for too much longer and you didn't necessarily get the best of Bets - but what I got from you was priceless. Thanks for talking about the passion.
PS Apologies for the multiple edits to this post - the fingers are slipping and so is the mind tonight.