You've undoubtedly noticed my absence the last few weeks.  The reason for that was the 2019 Microsoft MVP Global Summit that was held in Bellevue, WA. March 17 through 22.  This is a yearly event open to all current MVPs that hosts over 2000 people from over 100 countries. It consists of a pre-day, 3 days of intense product feedback and one or two post days.  For the main event, Microsoft supplies the hotel, food, and transportation to and from the Campus; this includes the pre-day and the three main days.  Transportation is provided to and from Campus for the post days, but housing and food are the MVPs responsibility.  This year's event was certainly one of the best I've attended, there were far more sessions available than there was time to attend them.  My award category is Outlook (Office Apps and Services) and I had a full slate, plus other sessions involving OneNote and Teams, far more than I had time for.  Other years were leaner and I've had to be creative to productively fill the time.

So, what exactly can I talk about?

In truth, not much. The entire event is under a Non-Disclosure Agreement and the quickest way OUT of the program is to violate the NDA. So, I can present some of the generalities.  The pre-day sees most folks arriving. There are a few meetings and get-togethers for folks to become acquainted.  There are often a number of meet and greets held that night.

Monday, the fun begins! Starting at about 8:00AM a fleet of buses is present to transport us all out to the transportation center on Campus. From there, smaller buses are available to take you to whatever building your session is held in.  If you happen to have sessions in different buildings, there is a half hour break between them so you can attempt to get to the other building.  This is really not enough time unless you're creative and wangle a Connect ride (Microsoft's employee inter-building transit system.).  There are usually 6 or 7 sessions per day- lunch is provided in the building your last morning session is held in and you get an hour.  The three main evenings are get-togethers with Microsoft folks and fellow MVPs.  Monday is meet your Community Program Mangers (CPMs), Tuesday is meet your Product Group (PG) folks, and Wednesday is the Attendee party.

Thursday and Friday are the post days.  Most MVPs leave on Thursday, though that's changing a little.  The post days offer sessions created and presented by MVPs instead of Microsoft folks and they're really becoming informative.  Sadly, I usually don't stay for them- we only have hotel housing through Wednesday night, and I don't have the money for another night or two.

Sun-burnt in Seattle!

Summits are usually held in fall or spring, usually either November or March.  This year, it was March17-212  In all my trips to the area, the one thing that's been a constant is the weather, usually overcast with misty rain.  I expected that this year and packed accordingly, layers, layers, and more layers.  Little did I know that my Arizona weather would decide to follow along.  It was mid 60's when we arrived on Saturday, bumped to the high 60's on Sunday.  Then it got silly! Low 70's on Monday, mid 70's on Tuesday, and 79 degrees on Wednesday. If Id' brought Arizona clothing along, I'd have been fine, but I wound up sweltering. True to form, the temps returned to "normal' the day we left.

All in all, it was a ton of fun and always well worth the money spent.  The training we get and feedback we provide are invaluable for both parties.  The big thing for me is my fellow MVPs, good and dear friends I've made there and known for years, and new people I meet and become great friends with.  So much so that I fondly look forward to the next one"¦which for any one of us, may not happen.  You see, we are evaluated each and every year to see if we still qualify for the MVP reward"¦in fact, the evaluation period for next year has just gotten underway.  Those that have earned their salt are renewed, those who haven't for one reason or another, are not.  We'll all find out July 1st.  So far, I've been re-awarded every year since 1996, making me one of the oldest in the program.  I keep fighting the good fight wherever I find it and that has sufficed so far.

I would love to say that none of that matters since I'd be doing what I'm doing to help folks. title or not, but I gotta tell ya, I'm DAMNED PROUD of that MVP logo on my shirt.  What its taught me is that Community is EVERYTHING and with it, we can move mountains.  If something comes along I can't handle alone, I have about 3000 MVPs around the world who'll ALL be willing to help at the drip of a hat.

I love my Community, does it show?

Hey, check out my next article where I'll go into some the MVP Program's history!!