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Hands on leader, developer, architect specializing in the design and delivery of distributed systems in lean, agile environments with an emphasis in continuous improvement across people, process and technology. Speaker and published author with 18 years' experience leading the delivery of large and/or complex, high-impact distributed solutions in Retail, Intelligent Transportation, and Gaming & Hospitality.

I'm currently a Principal Engineer at Amazon, within the North America Consumer organization leading our global listings strategy that enable bulk and non-bulk listing experiences for our WW Selling Partners via apps, devices and APIs.

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Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

On Tuesday I learned that I have been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for Microsoft Integration for 2013.

This is my second Microsoft Integration award and 7th consecutive MVP Award in a row (previously I was a Connected Systems MVP which has since been retired). Last year, I had the honor of being recognized as Microsoft Integration MVP of the Year, and I’m still glowing about it!

Looking back over the last seven years, I still remember my first award in 2007; how excited and humbled I felt to be recognized among such an incredible community. I can easily say, without hesitation that every year I am awarded, that feeling never dulls. In fact it only gets stronger because the competition, and channels available to have an impact only gets bigger and bigger.

Over the last seven years, technologies have changed and evolved along with my career and I’ve had the privilege to both witness- about as close up as you can get without being a blue badge- and participate in the transformational changes Microsoft has undergone during this time as well.  For example, in 2005 I was focused almost exclusively on .NET, ASP.NET ASMX, WCF and BizTalk Server. Today, I am working with newer technologies and platforms like Windows Azure, Azure Service Bus, Neuron ESB (built on top of WCF, BTW), RabbitMQ, Web Sockets, Node.js. .NET and BizTalk still remain foundational but there are a ton of new technologies that have rounded out my toolbox. Throughout this time, I’ve had the privilege of applying these technologies in numerous industries including transportation, gaming, hospitality and financial services, written a book and published numerous articles and whitepapers, founded a user group along with speaking in the local, regional and national circuits.

While I am not suggesting that all of these experiences have been the result of the MVP program, my experiences over the last seven years have been much richer as a result of it. So, to commemorate seven years of being a Microsoft MVP, I’d like to share seven things I’ve learned as an MVP since 2007:

#7 Don’t complain about the Salmon. Seriously guys. It’s Seattle. Do you know what the street value is these days for a good cut of salmon?

#6 The MVP Program isn’t just about products and technology. It’s about people and the wonderful relationships and friendships- both within and outside of Microsoft- that have made me a better technologist, learner and leader that transcend far beyond the program.

#5 Every MVP should hug their MVP Lead at least once a year. These are the people who work tirelessly to keep the program running. Weekly newsletters, connecting you to the right folks inside the PGs and putting up with our grotesquely overinflated sense of self are just some of the things your MVP Lead does that we know about.

#4 Microsoft isn’t perfect. I know, surprising right? But seriously, before I was an MVP, I used to have these lofty expectations of how Microsoft should think about this or that, or how a product or feature should be implemented. At the end of the day, Microsoft is just a (really big) group of really smart people that are trying to build the right thing for an even bigger group of people which is much, much harder and different than building a solution for one client/customer. So before you complain about this or that, think back to the code your wrote just two projects ago and then look in the mirror :-)

#3 The MVP Program is a significant investment. Despite having to pay for your own travel to Redmond, the cost of subsidizing hotels, providing meals, facilities, transportation for 3000+ MVPs every year is far from trivial. However, this cost pales in comparison to the investment that the product teams- including Program Managers, Software Development Engineers, Testers, directors and members of the executive team take away from their projects, release schedules, and a million other things to prepare content and demos for the week and spend quality, face to face time with MVPs across over 30 product disciplines.

#2 Microsoft genuinely values its MVPs and listens to what they have to say. Sure, some interactions/SDR’s provide less opportunity to influence a feature or scenario depending on how baked the product is, but your input is listened to, documented, reviewed, discussed and considered in shaping the future roadmap. If you have any doubts about this, next time you are in a heated discussion, study the faces of the PMs in the room and the one grimacing could just be the owner of a feature they’ve poured the last year of their careers into that you just (knowing or unknowingly) killed.

#1 It’s not about the perks. MSDN subscriptions, access to internal DLs, invitations to SDRs, Product Group Interactions are really, really awesome, but if that’s the extent of what you are “getting” from the program, you’re doing it wrong. Being an MVP is about representing the community and customers and (politely) challenging your Microsoft peers (who are every bit as smart and passionate as you) to consider what you have to say in an effort to make the product(s) better. The opportunity to shape and influence the roadmaps and feature sets for a $78 billion global company is a tremendous privilege that never, ever gets old.

I’d like to thank Microsoft for another great year. I sincerely hope that I can positively influence the program, products and community in 2014 and give back even a fraction of what I have gained year over year, and with a little but of luck and hard work, maybe we’ll see  a #8 on this list by this time next year!

Print | posted on Friday, October 04, 2013 11:58 AM |



# re: Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

Congratulations Rick. You are an inspiration and a great leader. Thank you.
10/4/2013 12:25 PM | Mahesh

# re: Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

Excellent post Rick, may be one day I'll be a MVP too and know what's it like.
10/4/2013 12:30 PM | Zubair

# re: Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

Congrats Rick and great post. For me #6 provides the greatest benefit of being in the MVP Program.
10/4/2013 1:22 PM | Kent Weare

# re: Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

Congrats Rick :)
10/5/2013 3:18 AM | Praveena

# re: Seven Learnings Over Seven Years as a Microsoft MVP

Great to read this article, love your each statement. I was lucky to get chance to work with you.
10/5/2013 6:13 AM | rajesh
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