Back in July 2012 I received my first MVP award from Microsoft. So that meant that the 2013 MVP Global Summit would be my first opportunity to attend an event that I had previously only heard a few stories about.
It is a long trip from Australia to Seattle but you never know when you might get another chance like this, so I booked my flights and off I went in February to spend a week at the home of Microsoft.
If you've ever read about the MVP program or the Summit before then you already know about the non-disclosure agreement that all MVPs sign and are bound to during the Summit. That is why you don't tend to hear much about the actual content of the Summit sessions, but I will say that it is somewhat of a mixture of TechEd-style presentations and more open discussions with members of the various product groups at Microsoft.
Aside from the sessions one of the great things about the Summit is the opportunity to meet other MVPs from around the world face to face and spend time with them.
I was able to meet other MVPs who have written books and blog posts that I've read and used for many years, as well as gotten to know more over recent years thanks to social networks like Twitter. To actually sit in the sessions and be involved in discussions with them, or just hang out at dinner in the evenings, was truly a highlight for me.
Every MVP was awarded for their own unique contribution to the community. Some write books and blogs. Some speak at user groups and conferences. Others spend hours in the TechNet forums helping people with problems.
Each MVP has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the product as well. I learned quite a lot about some of the areas I simply don't spend time with just from being around other MVPs and listening to their discussions.
All of the MVPs I've met are passionate about the work that they do. The Exchange MVPs enjoy working with the product and deploying it for their customers. And their passion really becomes evident when you are there for the open discussions with the product group.
Though some people view MVPs as part of Microsoft's marketing department, and the Summit as an annual Kool Aid drinking event, the reality is quite different. As hard as the people at Microsoft work to deliver great products there is a lot of value in the different perspectives that MVPs are able to offer them. Watching other MVPs representing the customers out there in the real world was both impressive and inspiring.
Thanks to the MVP Summit team for all their assistance with the registration process, the accommodation, transport and meals. Thanks also to the Exchange product group for their time and hospitality, and for being willing to meet and engage with MVPs in the sessions.
And finally, a big thanks to the other MVPs from around the world, both the veterans and the fellow first-timers, for welcoming me and making it a very enjoyable week. Hopefully we can do it again next year.