Friday, July 16, 2010

WPC Day Four

What a week - and a very well done one at that. My hats off to the team that made this week possible - Pam, Julia, Deanna and all the rest. Been attending this event now for 8 years and this was hands down the best one ever. Hard to imagine it continuing to get better each year - but somehow it has and I am very thankful for the many hours and days and months that are put in to making the experience so valuable and enjoyable.

That really is a trick - making it valuable - but also keeping it enjoyable. There was lots of content this week - maybe a bit too much as there was really no way to figure out which of the hundreds of sessions to attend. I was involved in presenting in three, and the crowds were a bit light considering how many folks were in attendance. But having lots of choice was obvious and there was something available for everyone. If you didn't get value from the content - it was definitely your fault.

For me - the week is all about relationships. And it really is based around community. My week started actually ahead of the official open of WPC - with the SMB IPAB - a partner advisory board made up of folks worldwide who are focused on serving small business. We had a great day together tackling issues that are specific to our businesses. Danielle, Mark, Turi and team have given us a great community to be part of as we carry the torch for the SMB partners. I have grown to appreciate the partners in our group very much - and appreciate that community.

Each morning I had devotions with a group of partners and took some time to get out of the chaos to get grounded and focused on what matters. We have been doing devotions daily for the last three years, and while a small group of 10-12 show up, that community is critical to keeping me focused and on track all week. We shouldn't turn off our spiritual walk just because we leave the office. Besides - a 7AM devotional time keeps people from staying out too late!

Of course attending any conference is more fun when you know folks and are part of community together. I can honestly say that part of the reason I enjoy WPC so much is that I get to meet with fellow members of HTG who are all over the place. Our orange and green shirts make it pretty easy to find one another (except for the folks from the Netherlands who seem to like orange too). Had a couple great dinners with the HTG folks and enjoyed every interaction. But it is very different going to WPC today compared to 8 years ago when I knew no one. Those were some lonely days - but motivated me to become involved in community.

SBSC may not have been center stage this year - but definitely had a presence with the yellow lounge and other places. Lots of relationships from that community which are valuable and makes it easier to feel part of this mass of people moving around WPC. Those friendships may only be renewed once a year, but it is awesome to be part of that community. Hats off to those who helped keep SBSC through the MPN transistion. Community matters, and SBSC really has an important mission. Probably does need a bit of a facelift - but there is a passionate set of partners on that advisory council that are committed to help drive it to the next level.

Last but not least for me - is the Microsoft employee community. I am blessed to know literally hundreds of folks who go to work every day for Microsoft. And they are just plain good people. We talk some business - but in most of my conversations - we also talk some life. Often we partners forget that folks who work for Microsoft or any vendor for that matter - are not the enemy - they are folks just like us that are trying to make ends meet at the end of the month. They have personal struggles and fight the same battles we do. Rather than spend time beating on them for a few bucks or trying to drive a point of margin out of the deal - how about asking them how they and their family are doing? How about treating them like the real partner they are? We lose sight of why we are in business some days. For me anyway, it is not just about making another buck. It is about living life with folks in a way that adds value to their life. It is about understanding their problems and struggles and offering any help I can give. It is about being a go giver rather than a taker. All in all I find the Microsoft people to be wonderful folks that want the same things we all do - life, love and happiness. They aren't out to take advantage of anyone - they just want to do their job and pay their mortgage like you and me.

So WPC has been a wonderful week. It doesn't just happen and serving on the WPC PEB has been an eye opener for me this year. I have been blessed to be part of a community of partners and a Microsoft team that are passionate about delivering unbelievable value to all attendees. That really is the bottom line. This event - all 14,000 plus - is all about people. The WPC team gets that and works hard to meet every one of those attendee needs. But as attendees, we need to also be part of serving one another and making sure that everyone who attends is not alone, left out, or lost in the chaos. It is all about people and relationships. I hope everyone has made some new friends this week. I sure have, and look forward to connecting and then coming next year to participate in LA as part of an even bigger community! Thanks Microsoft - for an awesome week!

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