Becoming an MVP

I see a lot written about the Microsoft MVP program and the various impressions the MVPs leave in the community. It seems that the view of MVPs is mostly positive in the community, and I hope that I do my part to further that feeling with my actions.

However, one shouldn’t work to become an MVP. Personally I think it’s not a goal for anyone to make or work towards. The MVP award is a recognition of your community service from Microsoft. It does consider what contributions you make technically to help others, but this isn’t a test to pass or an evaluation of your skills.
I view the MVP as a side effect of the work I do. I enjoy writing about SQL Server and speaking at events to try and help people get better at their jobs, inspire them to try something new or solve a problem in a different way. I enjoy helping others, and being a part of this amazing SQL Server community.
You can read articles on becoming an MVPMicrosoft gives guidance, and there’s even a Wiki article on it. However I’d say you shouldn’t even worry about this. Do the things you enjoy, the things that give meaning to your job. If Microsoft things those things are worth of the award, great. If they don’t, you should still feel a sense of accomplishment over what you’ve done.
Steve Jones

No MVP Summit for Me

Photo Feb 23, 5 11 56 PMOn the corner of my rather messy desk is little recognition item in the image to the right. It’s a 5 year marker, representing my 5 years as a Microsoft MVP. I’m honored that they think I’m doing enough for the community to be recognized.

Next week is the annual MVP Summit in Redmond, where MVPs from all over the world get together and have a chance to see advance presentations from Microsoft developers, and get the chance to get to know each other, and the staff at Microsoft.

From past experience, it can be a lot of fun, and it’s a good time to network and bond. The presentations can be hit or miss, but overall it’s been an enjoyable experience when I’ve gone (3 times). I’ve learned things, and getting to know someone on the SQL Server team face to face is invaluable. Those contacts have been helpful when trying to work with Microsoft or get more information about topics that I present to the community.

I’m not going this year, and a little disappointed in that. Despite the fact that it’s a good experience, it’s not worth the time to me right now. My wife has been traveling almost every week this year (12 trips so far) and I miss her. Travel for work is stressful, even when you’re not the one traveling, and it feels very chaotic at the ranch.

I’ve also got a lot of prep still to do for future presentations coming up at Dev Connections, SQL in the City, and more. I’ve still got more to learn about SQL Server 2012, and time is getting short.

I’ll miss seeing friends in Redmond, but I don’t regret not going. Even if I had the time, I would have skipped the Summit in favor of a week with SQL Skills in Tampa. I know I’d learn more, and definitely would prefer the weather there.

Back from the MVP Summit

Back home after three days in Seattle at the 2011 MVP Summit. As I wrote in an editorial this week, I can’t really talk about much, but the SQL Server development team at Microsoft is doing good work and I’m looking forward to the next few versions of  SQL Server.


Relaxing at the MVP Summit

The Summit was mostly in the Commons building at Microsoft this year. I’ve been to the building complex before, but never spent more than a few hours there. It’s a nice central location with a  variety of restaurants and shopping options for the employees. It’s a beautiful looking building, as you can see here.


The Commons

Inside it’s almost like a high end food court, where you can get all kinds of food (you have to pay), including a nice coffee shop where I managed to get coffee each morning. There were plenty of places to sit and chat, or relax, and even an inpromptu band that I saw one day.

A good time, and valuable to me since I had the chance to meet and catch up with a number of people. As I mentioned in the editorial, we do get good dialogs with Microsoft and I think that MVPs do a great job advocating for their clients and the rest of the community.

MVP Summit 2011

I am up in Redmond at the annual MVP Summit, where all Microsoft MVPs get treated to a three day conference on the Microsoft campus. It’s an event where MVPs interact various Microsoft employees and end up blogging about how NDA talked NDA and the NDA that might will be coming in NDA version of the NDA software.

I’m joking a little as the information presented is bound by a strict NDA, and not much can be passed on by MVPs right now. At some point most of what we learn will be released to the public, but for now it’s private information. I know that’s annoying, and I found it incredibly annoying, but I will tell you a little something about this Summit that you might care about in a minute.

The picture above shows me following Kevin Kline (blog| @KeKline) onto the campus after being dropped off at the bus. And the picture below is as far as I’m comfortable sharing what I saw.

So what can I share about the Summit? The biggest thing I can tell you is that the SQL Server MVPs are arguing passionately for a better product. They are talking with Microsoft employees, often criticizing and explaining what is wrong with the product, and what should be fixed. They sometimes don’t balance that well with complements, but their goal is to get software that is better written, with more features, and solves the problems that most of us face on a regular basis.

Just like most of you, the SQL Server MVPs are DBAs, developers, consultants, and other SQL Server professionals that enjoy working with SQL Server. They may promote the product as a good solution, but it’s not as some shill trying to stay in Microsoft’s good graces. In fact, I would guess there are more than a few developers that Microsoft that cringe at the thought of getting up in front of the SQL Server MVPs and trying to present information. It’s a room full of intelligent, outspoken alpha geeks that are quick to pounce on speakers and demand excellence in the finished product.

The SQL Server MVPs are your representatives and liaisons to the SQL Server team at Microsoft. They have the chance to express the concerns and desires of the rest of you directly to the product developers more often than the average customer. So the next time you see an MVP at a user group, SQL Saturday, or somewhere else, let them know what you would like to see changed in SQL Server, what could be improved, or maybe a wish list of things to add. You can influence the people that have a little influence with Microsoft and perhaps make a difference.

Steve Jones

There was a fun article on the tweets coming out of the Summit from ZDNet. If you want to follow along with the comments at the Summit, there is a very active hash tag on Twitter, #MVP11.

2011 MVP Summit – Day 1

I’m glad I went running this morning. It’s been a long day, in and out of sessions and meetings all day on the Microsoft campus. I didn’t get to a lot of sessions, preferring to meet with people in the hallways and talk about SQL Server and database stuff. The most valuable time for me is always the time when I get to talk with people and network, building bonds and relationships that will help me in the future.

Or maybe will help the other person. Networking is funny that way. You never know if you’re giving or receiving more from a person, but it all seems to result in a great synergy to me.

Glad I was up early to run as I had to work a bit tonight and am about to head out to the evening reception.



MVP 2011

Microsoft_MVP_logo I was awarded the MVP status from Microsoft for 2011 on Jan 1, 2011. This is my fourth consecutive award and I am honored to be recognized for my efforts in the SQL Server community.
When I opened the email last Saturday morning, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I think I deserve the award for my efforts in the community in speaking, writing, and promoting SQL Server. I think I do a lot, and while it’s my job, it’s also a bit of a passion for me.
On the other hand, I always think “what was Microsoft thinking” when I consider the deep technical knowledge that so many of the MVPs display. I know a lot about SQL Server, but it’s in a fairly shallow, general knowledge area, though I do have a lot of experience in the past. I don’t do any earth-shaking work, and I certainly don’t impress many of the experts in various areas of SQL Server work. So in some sense I didn’t really contribute a lot to the growth of the knowledge base of SQL Server in 2010.
The award, however, is very much a community award, and it is for the contributions in sharing knowledge and helping others work with SQL Server. Without the award, I wouldn’t do anything different. This doesn’t drive me, and if I lose it, it won’t change the way I approach the community.

MVP Congratulations

It usually slips my mind that there are award dates for the Microsoft MVP program outside my own. I’m on Jan 1, though I don’t always know until Jan 2 or 3, depending on the snow :)

Today a bunch of people were awarded and re-awarded. I’m sure I’ll miss some people, but here are some congrats that I know about (Twitter links):

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, and apologies for those I didn’t catch on Twitter.

This is a fantastic group and I’m honored to be in such good company in the SQL Community.