Tag Archives: Training

The Inside Scoop on Being a Microsoft MVP – From a 5-Year (and counting) MVP – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this post, I gave you some insight into what the Microsoft MVP award is and how it is awarded. This post will focus on the unique benefits to actually being an MVP.

Quick Answers to Tech Questions

Being an MVP means I can get answers to technical issues almost instantly from the community.

I can pick up the phone and call another MVP or even participate in a private forum to see if someone else around the world has experienced the same issue. Clients are often amazed that I can get the answer they need faster than their own IT departments!

As an MVP, I have had the opportunity to create a mental rolodex of the most qualified tech professionals in business today.

Access to Microsoft

Being an MVP means I share what I hear directly from clients to individuals at Microsoft who can truly make a difference.

Recently, while at an MVP feedback meeting, and with my client’s consent, I was able to show someone at Microsoft my automotive client’s instance, describing what they wanted to do and their pain points with the software. Microsoft was eager to receive this feedback as they continue to improve their products.

Another example is that of one of my retail clients, who was having an issue with a specific Project Online resource feature. I was able to reach out to someone at Microsoft who was involved in the development of this feature. My contact suggested that I have the client submit a proposed change to Microsoft backed by a business case. The feature was reviewed by Microsoft, which then decided to make a change to the software. With the power of Project Online, the customer was able to see the change within a few months of it being rolled out.

Serious Network Benefits

Being an MVP means I know the best of the best around the world. It’s a real kick when a customer says they read an article from another MVP, and I can often comment that I know the individual personally and that we recently chatted on the phone or participated in an event together.

An MVP might call me about a challenging timesheet/task update question, while I might call another MVP to get advice about integration with another Microsoft product. As an MVP, not only can I call people in my software area of expertise, but I can get connected to other MVPs in other areas when needed. This is very powerful and gives me a huge network of resources across all Microsoft products.

Also, MVPs in my software specialty have become friends for life. Sometimes in our forums we share stories about weddings, babies and life-changing events like floods, terrorist attacks, and even war. This is not a news report, this is someone sharing personal feelings of things they are experiencing right now, and I’m honored to be there for them when they need me.

Nonstop Learning & Sharing

Being an MVP means I am passionate about what I do and helping others get more from their software.

Being a frequent (okay….constant) traveler, I get to meet lots of people all over the country at all levels of ability and in all industries. I learn from them all. Novices help me to see pitfalls to software usability and experts help me to see the range of ways technology can be used. My head and my heart are in this business together because every time I travel I feel grateful for my unique opportunity to learn, grow and share.

One thing an MVP is not, is someone who knows the answer to every question. However, I continue to learn and gain knowledge every day and customers help me in that growth.

Are you interested in becoming an MVP? Or do you need the kind of help only an MVP can provide, specifically for Microsoft Project or Project Online? Please feel free to contact me to start the conversation!

 

 

Photo Credit http://www.motophotoknappscorner.com/

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MVP Community Connection in Dallas

One of the coolest things about being a Microsoft MVP is the invitations to attend exclusive events. For me, that was recently spending some time in Dallas for the MVP Community Connection. Attendees from all over the state of Texas as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and many more were there to represent the Central Region. I can summarize my time there with 4 themes: connect, learn, engage and fun!

Connect

At the event, we had a variety of speakers from Microsoft and MVPs in attendance. A nice surprise was to meet a few students in technology.

I had the valuable opportunity to meet my official MVP Central Region representative and learned about some updates and developments within the MVP program. They announced only 4,000 MVPs currently in the world and I’m grateful to be part of this elite group for the 5th year in a row.

Learn

Topics discussed included Leadership, Technical Presentations, Community User Groups, and Special Focus Breakout Sessions. What added a lot of depth to the topics was the ability to hear about others’ experiences and share my own. For example, I was honored to share my experience as an educator working with Davenport University and the challenges the students and teachers face when talking about technology.

Engage

By far my favorite presentation was on Imposter Syndrome by Mindy Curnutt, MVP. This was a new concept to me and wildly fascinating.

In short, a person with Imposter Syndrome is someone who is highly qualified – think doctor, lawyer, or MVP – but he doesn’t believe in his own qualifications.

He might talk himself out of making contributions because deep down there is a fear that it’s not “good enough.” For instance, he might feel he’s not “good enough to present at this conference” or to “share his experience” with a team.

Surprisingly, Imposter Syndrome strikes those you would least expect; multi-award winning actors, expert bloggers with millions of readers, and best-selling authors. Individuals with Imposter Syndrome often show up early, stay late, and do way more than anyone else would expect them to do.

The opposite of this is Dunning-Kreuger Effect. Individuals in this category don’t know how incompetent they are, but think they are superior to others and brag about their success. Dunning-Kreuger is the yin to Imposter Syndrome’s yang.

For our audience, we all fell in the Imposter category. We shared some ideas to help ourselves which included, keeping a “compliments” file and asking a friend to dispute your “I’m a fraud” thought process. It was tough to hear all the things people in the room turned down or walked away from just because they didn’t think they were good enough to be selected.

Fun

Don’t worry, it wasn’t all classrooms and serious learning! One way we were able to utilize our creative side was our play dough activity. It was a great way to loosen up and laugh together.

We also got together for a social on Friday evening. Getting to know my fellow tech professionals better is one of the highlights of all of my travel.

Overall, I was super energized from this event and made some great connections from the attendees. Looking forward to my next event as a MVP!

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Recap of “Office 365 Grand Rapids” Event

I am really excited to tell you about a cool event I attended recently. Held on Saturday April 1st at Davenport University, it was a free workshop for any attendee who wanted to learn more about Office 365 including Word, Excel, Access, Power BI and more.

The event was organized by Microsoft MVP Andy Tabisz of WorkSmart Database Masters.

Underwritten by sponsors, including Davenport University and WorkSmart, there was no cost to attend and even included lunch.

Without further ado, here are some of my takeaways from this event:

 

 

Presented by Amy BabinchakThe Art of Integration: How Do Your Programs Work Together?

  • Skype can really help your business. You can do simultaneous editing in a document during a meeting. You can simply share a document via Skype for someone to view. Even better, the document shared will follow your security policies tied to that document (e.g. hidden content, or sharing within organization only).
  • Don’t be worried about Microsoft support and your data. They can’t see your data at all even when viewing your account to solve technical issues.  The data is blurred out on the screen.
  • Every Office 365 membership has security features that might not be enabled, check your security score to see where you stand.
  • Set up your security so you can see who sees your data in your organization and where they send it.

Presented by Bethann Talsma – How to Give an Effective PowerPoint Presentation 

  • Less is always more in PPT. 
  • Your PPT deck should enhance your presentation.
  • No more than 7 down and 7 across on your items is a good rule of thumb.
  • PPT has an accessibility checker – which helps with individuals who use screen readers.
  • Personal note: Her amazing tips helps me completely refine my presentation for PMI-NEFL conference.

Presented by Corentin Cras-Meneur – Taming Outlook for Mac (and some Tips for Windows too!) 

  • While his session focused on Mac users, the Q&A section was very helpful PC users as well. 
  • Text expanders that work across programs really help with efficiency so you don’t have to retype or recreate the same information (e.g. Typinator).
  • Save common searches in your e-mail to speed up your efficiency.
  • Switch an e-mail back to unread so you know you still need to take action on it.
  • Check out Uservoice for providing suggestions to Microsoft (community issues are listed and people vote).

If you missed it, the next event will be held in Southfield, Michigan on June 6. Details are on http://www.office365day.org.

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Featured Speaker at the upcoming Northeast Florida PMI Conference!

Most of you know I’m a road warrior, with constant travel a part of my normal day-to-day as I’m heading to and from clients and conferences around the country. As I often do, I’ll be presenting at a local chapter of the Project Management Institute on April 7 – 8, and I’m really looking forward to this one!

The Northeast Florida chapter in Jacksonville has invited me to present a couple of very timely topics to their Expand Your Horizons conference attendees, held at the beautiful Jacksonville Public Library event facility.

The event seeks to enhance leadership and management skills and offer solutions to keeping up with business trends essential for all professionals, for those new to the profession and those with many years of experience. Attendees will earn 14 PDU’s and you can register up to the start of the conference.

I’m looking forward to leading two sessions at the conference. The first is “Agile in Action.” Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. In this session, you will participate in hands-on exercises to learn agile techniques and how to make them work for you and your organization. Attendees will learn general agile techniques and gather takeaways that may be applied to a wide variety of agile methodologies implemented by organizations.

And second, I’ll present “Best Practices in Schedule Development.” Attendees will have the opportunity to learn best practices from someone who has made scheduling a career and has worked with thousands of companies. I’ll describe how often the issue with the schedule is not your ability to provide a logical plan but your approach to the schedule. This session will answer the questions on how to know if your schedule has the right level of detail, if your task estimates are uniform, if your schedule makes sense, if you are managing resource expectations, and if you are setting up your schedule for success.

There are several other valuable sessions available led by 11 other presenters on such topics as Leadership, SharePoint, Communication, Strategy and Project Online.

Will you be at the NEFL PMI conference? I’d love to hear from you on what you most desire out of the conference. Are you curious about my sessions and want to hear more about my experience and capabilities? Contact me today to start the conversation!

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