Guest blogger and CRM MVP Larry Lentz shares with us his experience at the Microsoft MVP Global Summit.
Last week Microsoft hosted the annual MVP Global Summit. MVPs from around the world were invited to meet in Seattle and Redmond, get to know each other, and meet with their respective product groups. It was a whirlwind week, powered mostly by nervous energy as there was very little sleep involved.
For me the Summit started out Monday evening with an MVP Leads Reception followed by a casual dinner. Microsoft assigns ‘Leads’ to look after the MVPs. They are assigned in the US based on product groups. The Dynamics Lead is Tom Archer who was once an MVP himself. Each of the various countries has their own leads as well. I had a chance to meet Tom in person and get to know him a bit. I also hooked up with other CRM MVPs at the reception, some of whom I’d met before but many of whom I’d only conversed with on the CRM MVP e-mail list.
The next morning it was up bright (well don’t know about the bright part) and early (I do know about that part) to load the busses for the trip from our Seattle hotels to the Microsoft campus in Redmond. There the CRM MVPs were greeted by Jim Glass who is the Community coordinator for the Dynamics CRM team. We met in the CRM team offices in Building 110 all day Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a great opportunity to meet with the folks that actually produce the great software Microsoft publishes.
I was especially impressed with Manisha Powar who discussed the new CRM Online (formerly CRM Live). I had known of Manisha and received a few e-mails but was pleased to find her so knowledgeable and delightful. Another personality of great note was Phil Richardson, Senior Lead Program Manager for Dynamics CRM. He was likely the hit of the event because he spent 2 hours listening to US! He meticulously took down our suggestions and observations and recommendations in their issue tracking system. Phil has a great memory. He remembered we had met at Convergence in 2006. I did not until I was updating his record in my CRM and found the notation there that I had met him at Convergence.
My third favorite was Greg Nichols. Greg was the only one I met in Building 110 who approached my age. It was very interesting listening to his history with Microsoft which is quite extensive. And we met and discussed CRM with many others of the team.
Thursday was the last day of the conference and it was mainly keynotes. Normally keynotes come at the beginning of a conference, don’t they? Well, not always. Steve Ballmer gave a very energetic presentation. His most memorable, and I’m sure now most quoted, line was “Vista is a work in progress.” During his presentation he sported a red Canadian jersey given to him by a member of the Canadian delegation (they all wore red Canada jerseys) with my good friend and fellow MCT Mitch Garvis waving the Canadian flag on stage with Steve (well, at the foot of the stage). Maybe us Texians need to wave our flag at the next Summit 😉 Steve gave us all his personal e-mail address and encouraged us to use it. I did that morning while still in the audience. I received a reply, albeit short, from him that day!
There was good food and lots of partying as well as meeting with the Microsofties. But the best part of the whole event was getting to know the other CRM MVPs. This is my third year of being a CRM MVPs but only my second Summit. In my first year they didn’t have a Summit. Last year Summit and Convergence were at the same time.
A few MVPs, Michael Höhne (Germany), Matt Witteman (US), Marco Amoeda (Spain, but now living in London), Curt Spanburgh (US), and I were the only ones who attended Summit 2007 and 2008, and we met with the SBS folks. This year there were 12 MVPs and David Yack (US) who is a Regional Director. I was very pleased to get to know each of the guys from last year (a lot) better plus got to know Matt Parks (US), Mitch Milam (another Texan), Ron Lemmen (The Netherlands), Giogio Garcia-Agreda (Italy), Darren Liu (US), and Frank Lee (US). It was also great to meet back up with my friend Guy Riddle from Australia whom I got to know at Convergence 2006. I had anticipated spending time with the SBS Family but ended up spending it with the CRM MVPs instead. We have quite a group!
But saving the best for last, Jim Glass, our MVP coordinator was responsible for everything we experienced at the Microsoft campus. And it was great. He filled our sessions with key folks from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team, arranged for our Product Group dinner, and played his Sax in the band. Thank you Jim, for showing us a good time and providing a valuable experience. Can’t wait until next year!
Larry Lentz, Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP