Tag Archives: Travel

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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Getting from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Jersey City, New Jersey via Train

I regularly get asked how it is to travel to new places and someone suggested I share my recent train adventures and travel tips with you.

Here is what I learned during my travels and I am happy to share with others.

Note: I initially thought using Bing maps/Google maps/Some app on my phone would provide everything I needed to know. However, once I got into some dead cell zones, my phone would frequently lose the train to train directions.

AirTrain

Grab your luggage and follow the signs to the AirTrain. It is free so hop on the train and take it to the last stop – train terminal.

NJ Transit

Next step is to buy a ticket from a NJ Transit machine. Those people in Red Jackets are extremely helpful. They told me I needed a ticket to Newark Penn Station. After you buy a ticket, look for a TV monitor that shows you trains and tracks and there should be a convenient map on the wall.

NJ Ticket Machine
NJ Ticket Machine
NJ Transit Map
NJ Transit Map
TV Monitor Sample
TV Monitor Sample

Tip – Just follow the crowd, everyone seemed to be going to the same place.

Tip – ONE stop only, ask the conductor or follow the crowd and you may have to press a button to open the exit door on the train.

Tip – KEEP your ticket handy. You may have to show it to a train conductor and when I returned to the airport, I had to use it to open the exit.

Path

Next step is to buy a ticket to the Path. I first bought a SmartLink card and then took it to another machine to add trips to it. Their one-trip card option was broken.

My goal was Jersey City (a popular place to stay to save on costly hotels in Manhattan). You can easily adapt these steps to get to the World Trade Center or anywhere else the Path goes.

I took a train heading to World Trade Center (my only option), got off at Journal Square and changed trains to the one heading to Hoboken, got off at Newport (my stop, according to hotel).

Path Map
Path Map

Tip – Look around when you first get to Newark Penn Station. The Path machines were nearby and the Path train was right across the way.

Tip – I thought the Path was a very easy train to navigate.

Trouble – Broken Ticket Machines

If the machine appears to be rebooting or out of service, press the screen anyway or wait about 5 minutes and it will probably start working. I noticed this happened to several of us on the return to the airport when we thought the machines were all broken.

Trouble – Train Moved

On my return trip to the airport, one challenge I had was they moved my train to a track on another floor to protect track workers (Newark Penn Station). I totally panicked since my train was coming in 9 minutes. Luckily I made it.

Tip – Get yourself back to the ground floor and start from there. You can get to any track.

Tip – Track numbers are on the buttons in the elevators, be sure to read them. When you get to your landing, look overhead and look on the TV monitors to make sure you are in the right place.

Tip – On the return to the airport, just look for any train name with a plane next to it and hop on (check TV monitors). You are only one stop away.

Trouble – Broken Door on AirTrain

I was riding the AirTrain with several other passengers and I had to get off at the last terminal (A). At our designated stop, the doors did not open. I was stuck in there with two other people. We tried the emergency button but that didn’t seem to work for us. What we ended up doing was pounding on the windows until a Red Jacket person saw us. Although the train started moving again, he must have radioed the next stop because they were holding a return train for us.

Note – We had an airport employee with us and she didn’t seem to have training on what to do in this situation.

Overall Tips

Be nice to everyone, you never know who might give you the best advice.

Even the locals have problems figuring out the train system at Newark Penn Station. I ended up helping a local (so funny).

Give yourself extra time when you arrive at the airport. The person in front of me in the priority line at American Airlines had a flight leaving in 45 minutes and they told him he did not have enough time to check his bag and get through security. The early morning security line was extra long.

Fees

NJ Transit to Newark Penn Station $8.50

Path Fee – SmartLink card $5.00 (1 time charge) + Trip fee $5.50 (2 rides)

NJ Transit Tickets
NJ Transit Tickets
Path Tickets
Path Tickets

Times

On the way in, it took about 1.5 hours to get from the airport to my Newport stop.

On the return to the airport, it took 2 hours. I was going during a slow period and trains were more spread out (3:15 am-5:15 am).

Safety

I was extremely surprised to see multiple people by the Path trains as security monitors.

There were employees in quite a few places by all the trains.

I realized that cameras were everywhere.

There was a woman with a baby traveling at 4am at Newark Penn so I figured if she thinks it is safe, so should I.

Tip – I didn’t realize that parts of all the train stations are closed during slow periods which makes it safer. Gates, hallways and stairs in various areas were closed.

I hope you find these tips helpful and happy to share my adventures as a traveler.

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