Six months ago, I started this blog with a post commemorating my first six months at Microsoft, along with a few things I had learned during my first six months at the company.  Today is August 1st, and I just got an (automated) email from HR congratulating me on my one-year anniversary at Microsoft, meaning that one-year ago today I was as dressed up as I would ever be here at work, sitting through a day full of "onboarding" information and being disappointed that I wasn't even able to meet with the team I was going to be working with that day.  What a waste of a nice shirt and pants.

Although I still don't pretend to have especially novel or important points, here's five more things I've learned since I joined the collective, one year ago...

  1. Email can, and will, consume whatever free time you have - When I started, everyone seemed to feel the need to warn me about email volume.  I laughed--who cares about email?  It's just email, right?  I was only getting ten or fifteen mails a day.  Now that the volume continues to climb, week after week, and most of the mails demand thoughtful replies, email is a monster.
  2. I *heart* Community - One of the first projects I was put on was our division's engagement with the MSDN Forums, and it continues to be the project that I'm the most excited about.  At the core of that excitement is working with our community moderators.  In the past year, I've seen moderators given MVP awards, moderators join Microsoft, moderators flame each other, moderators fix *my* code, and even a story written about me in the role of Captain Picard.  Wow!
  3. Riding the bus beats driving a car - Seattle has awful traffic, and since I moved to the Greenlake neighborhood in Seattle, I've had a longer commute on my hands.  No worries though--I've been taking a bus almost everyday to and from work.  Not only does it allow me to blow by traffic in the carpool lane, but it also let me read a book, reply to that mound of email, or...heaven forbid, blog.  :)
  4. Maintaining focus takes, um, focus - If you've ever read my blog, and noticed how I sometimes start a post with one topic and end with another, you'll know that this is a special challenge for me.  I tend to be a person that likes being very busy, but the more projects I have on my plate, the greater challenge it is to make significant progress on any of the projects.  One of my personal goals over the next year is to gain the ability to close my door, not let people in, and actually concentrate for a day on just one project, and make some progress, rather than firefighting on three or four fronts constantly.
  5. Microsoft != The Borg - Sorry, Slashdot, but you might want to get a new graphic for Bill Gates on your site.  It's flattering to think that the outside world thinks of this company as having the wonderful, team-oriented, fast-moving, one-track mentality of the Borg from Star Trek, but the truth is that it's difficult to keep 60,000 people pointed in the same direction.  Think of Microsoft more like the Federation--a knit together group that supposed to stick to the same goals, but sometimes is slow enough in making decisions that you need a Captain Kirk to just step out and *do* something once in awhile.

Assimilated?  Nah.  Happy to be here?  You bet.