MVP Summit 2008

Thursday saw the last day of my first MVP Summit. It’s been 4 days of connecting with Microsoft and other MVPs. The days are long (if you go to the parties of which there are many every night) so like most conferences when you get to the end of it you’re really glad to be going home. This one was enjoyable on another level for me though because it is the first conference I have been to for ages where I haven’t been presenting and it was a real joy to be solely on the receiving end.

The first day (Monday) included a keynote by Sean O’Driscoll (former General Manager at Microsoft). I really enjoy a good presentation and this was certainly one of them. Sean was likeable, friendly and natural and managed to use humour in exactly the right way i.e. as a means to making the presentation interesting and keeping people’s attention without it interfering with (or even worse, becoming) the content.

The highlight of the four days for me was meeting up with Joe Rohde and David Kean of the FxCop team. I write FxCop rules and I found the time I spent with Joe and David to be the most valuable 90 minutes of the whole conference. The opportunity to meet "one to one" with the people who write the products and tools you work with is truly a benefit of being an MVP.

The event night was at the Experience Music Project in Seattle next to the Space Needle. It was a pot pourri of events scattered about the building:

  • Rock Band on the Xbox 360 played in an amphitheatre to get the immersion experience. Rock Band appears to be a whole lot of fun and it is sad that it isn’t available in the UK yet
  • Karaoke with a full backing band. The backing band were fabulous and many people had a go ranging from very good to truly awful. Lorna Williamson has a fantastic voice and really nailed her song (she used to sing in a band and it showed).
  • Science Fiction museum that I found really interesting
  • Music museum that was also interesting
Today (Thursday) was the last day and it featured Steve Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft). Steve’s keynote was excellent partly because it was an excellent spectacle to witness and be entertained by for an hour but also because it is very reassuring to know that the man at the top knows how to connect with people, has a vision and appears to be clear on how to get there. Steve’s delivery was sincere (not the usual sincerity that Americans produce that Europeans find so unconvincing but the kind of sincerity that really was believable), honest and charismatic. I really do believe that companies reflect the person at the top who is setting the tone and with Steve our future appears to be in safe hands. He also took Q&A and when someone remarked that he didn’t get a reply from a US MVP he gave an open invitation for anyone who doesn’t get a reply from any employee at Microsoft to forward the email to Steve himself ( who would ensure that they got a response. Powerful stuff - this should really put the fear of God into all Microsoft employees who might let an email or two slip.

All in all it was an interesting experience. If you are fortunate enough to be an MVP or to become one in the next 10 months then the MVP Summit 2009 is 1-4 March 2009.

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