I was originally awarded Microsoft MVP status in 2008. This was before I had a smartphone or joined any social media network. Youtube was brand new and mainly used for cat videos.
At that time, the options for contributions to the community were much more limited than they are today. You had forums, blogs, and writing books as the main contributions. Over the next 14 years, the options for contributions have expanded, and my main contributions were blogging, podcasting, and speaking at user groups and conferences.
The MVP program has been very rewarding for me, helped me in my career, and I’ve made some of my best friends through the MVP program. But all good things must come to an end.
Nothing lasts forever, and there’s the last time for everything.
So after being awarded 14 years in a row, why am I deciding to voluntarily retire from the MVP program?
- I don’t think I deserve it. MVP award is not granted things you have done in the past, it is based on contributions to your technology community in the past 12 months. I don’t believe in participation awards, but even at that, my participation has not been as high as it was in years past. There are many younger, more active participants in the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 communities who have written more blogs, podcasts, and videos than me, or have written great community tools over the past year, and their contributions have vastly exceeded mine. I can name numerous people who do not currently hold the MVP designation and who have contributed more than I have. I don’t want to coast on the glory of past contributions
- I’ve decided that my health is more important than a Microsoft designation. After years of working many hours in my regular job and then spending many more hours producing content for blogs and podcasts, I have finally realized the value of time. Time is a finite resource, and you can’t make more of it. After a sleep-deprived decade, my physical and mental health suffered. I hit a very unhealthy weight, and something had to change. For over a decade I de-valued sleep, trading sleep for one more podcast, blog, or conference presentation. Then I read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. By giving up sleep I borrowed energy that I didn’t have, leading to increased anxiety and stress, and increased sickness.
- My work has changed–most of the content I created for CRM tip of the day came from real customer experience. Now that I run a practice, I am not hands-on with development like I used to be, although I can still hold my own with Power Automate and can configure the D365 Exchange Server Side Sync like nobody’s business.
- Acclaim is a drug. As an MVP who is visible in a technology community, you frequently hear people telling you how great you are, and how much they like your blog/podcast/videos. While this affirmation can be fun, it also can be a distraction, especially when you start to believe it. When you start seeing yourself as a very important person in the community that Microsoft needs to listen to, you have bought into your own hype, and need to reconsider why you are doing what you are doing. That is when what began as a genuine desire to help others is replaced by pride and arrogance and “don’t you know who I am?”
I am very thankful for the advantages that the MVP program has afforded me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. The biggest joy of the past 14 years has been mentoring other people to become MVP’s, and for many of them it has changed their careers. I still intend to be involved in some way in the Microsoft community, but now because I want to, rather than for the perceived obligation of maintaining a designation.
I continue to encourage people who are interested to pursue MVP status, but just keep your why and your ego in check. And if you find yourself starting to believe your hype, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who will keep you humble.