“And now for something completely different.”
As far as I can tell, most people think this site has been part of a new, concerted “Marketing 2.0” initiative by Microsoft. I’ve been flattered by that impression, to be honest 🙂 But now the time has come to dispel the illusion.
I mean, clearly MS is beginning to recognize the value of social media. There are indeed official Twitter and Facebook entities for PowerPivot, for instance. And the fact that people like myself, Dave, and Denny have been allowed to do so much blogging reflects a new awareness.
Heck, I in particular have been allowed to spend the majority of my time each day on this site and other evangelism/education efforts, while being a member of the engineering team. That truly is a departure from the norm. But the motivations (and permissions) behind my situation are completely “non corporate” in origin.
The real origins
Some of you may recall that I moved from Redmond to Cleveland last summer for family reasons, after thirteen years of building software in Redmond. My management team back in Redmond wasn’t sure what to do with me at that point, or what the timing would be, but it was mutually understood that I wouldn’t be able to keep my product team role forever.
Outside of Redmond, I basically knew… no one. So… what better way to get to know people than to start a blog?
And PowerPivotPro.com was born. I paid for everything myself – domain name, WordPress.com fees, even had a custom logo made. My girlfriend helped me with the site theme.
Off I went. And no one stopped me 🙂
Thank you, SQL BI Managers
They had every right to stop me, to make me do something else, but they didn’t. And while I was never privy to the backroom discussions about my activities, I am positive that their reasons for letting me run with it were NOT rooted in a desire for PR.
Hard to believe perhaps, but knowing the people involved, it was simply a nice, merciful, and generous choice that they made. Keep that in mind next time someone casts Microsoft as the Evil Empire. I’ve met some amazing, uplifting human beings over the years. And I was lucky to be reporting to some of them when the fit hit the shan.
“A funny thing happened on the way to the theater…”
Another cool thing happened next. I discovered that I loved this community role. Meeting people. Helping people. Educating people. Brainstorming with intelligent and creative data people, from literally right down the street to places like Stockholm, Detroit, Brazil, the UK, and the Netherlands. Oh, and drowning them in movie quotes 🙂
I’ve kinda found my calling, in a way. I see myself doing things like this for a long time.
But now that the PowerPivot v1 release is in the home stretch, the product team is switching gears over to planning the next release. That’s the phase when they need Program Managers (that’s me) the most, and I can’t do the necessary types of planning work from Cleveland.
So it’s time for me to give them their spot back, so that they can fill it with another PM and do an excellent job on the next release… for all of us. My last official day at MS is Tuesday.
So what next? Three things.
As I said above, this community interaction has charged my batteries in a big way. So I’m going to keep at it 🙂 This blog, the FAQ, Twitter – I’m still going to be doing all of these things.
And as I’ve said before, BI is the place to be, especially in economic times like these. I’m very much betting on the MS BI platform with all of my future efforts.
2) Training and Consulting
As a natural extension of my community efforts, I think it makes sense to make myself available as a trainer and consultant. Not many people have the particular mix and depth of experience that I do, and based on my interactions with MS customers over the past couple of years, I think I have a lot to offer.
I am open to partnership opportunities in this space – I think it makes sense at times to work closely with SharePoint and Database pros. Drop me a note if you are interested. I’m still very early in this process, and have some time to figure it out.
3) Back to Inventing!
Other than my friends, the thing that I miss most about Redmond is the ability to create. It’s an amazing feeling to start with a completely blank slate, just a spark of an idea, and two years later be looking at a product like PowerPivot. I thrive on that, so I’m also looking at options where I can burn the candle at all three ends, and build new products and services.
Stay tuned as I figure that out 🙂
Thanks for reading this far
I struggle to control my long-winded nature, and have been doing ok at that lately, but when it comes to personal stuff I quickly revert to old habits.
Thanks everyone – for reading this post as well as tuning in over time.
Sister blog on 14 years at Microsoft?
I have a number of more personal observations and stories – many of which are about nearly 14 years spent at Microsoft – that I am often tempted to share. I’ve seen and experienced things that I cannot imagine happen too many places. I refrain from sharing though, mostly to keep the content here as on-topic as possible.
I’m debating publishing those elsewhere over time, on a sister blog. If I did so, it would be primarily for me, like a diary or time capsule, but the flavor of it might change if others were interested. Drop me a note or comment if so.