Five years ago this past month, I left my comfortable paying full-time job to go on my own and see what would happen. It probably went well, as five years have passed. When I decided to do this, I knew deep down that there would be a point where I would focus more on making the business work than on other things I had previously done. Until then, I had always been able to schedule time each week to study, write blogs, prepare conference sessions and give back to the Community.

I noticed that as time went on, it became more complicated to dedicate time to those types of activities, and I started to realize that the day would come when the MVP status I had held for so long would disappear. Today was that day! After 17 years of doing all I could to help the Community, it became time for my spot to be released and someone new to take it. It is a strange feeling to lose something, albeit an award that you have received religiously every year for that long, but it was no surprise. 

In the past years, my priorities have changed, the areas of work I focus on have changed, and all to support my family. There have been many things that have changed.

  1. I took paid work instead of doing community work.
    • Writing for free is much harder when people want you to write for them, and you must provide for your family.
  2. Our daughter got married.
  3. Our daughter and her husband had two kids.
  4. My wife and I became grandparents.
  5. Our eldest son went out to college.
  6. Our eldest son is getting married this year.
  7. Our other two moved up to High School and Middle School.
  8. I started coaching Boys U10/U12 Soccer.
  9. I got crazy ill from a bacterial infection, making me rethink where I spend my time. I was out for weeks and weeks.
  10. Some family deaths.
  11. Oh yeah, that crazy COVID thing happened at the same time.

These are just a few things that happened these past few years, making the MVP commitment slowly disappear.

I remember in 2007 when I first received the MVP award back in the UK, with only a handful of us. I have fond memories of presenting at the Manchester User Group that Neil was part of and presenting on making SharePoint not look like SharePoint. My most-read best post ever for SharePoint was how to write a Membership and Role Provider and deploy it. I think of those early MVP summits where there were twenty of us in a room with members of the engineering team and some paper flip-charts that we drew ideas on and chatted about, not quite the same as the thousands that attend now and the presentations now. I think of the opportunities Microsoft gave me to assist at conferences and speak at conferences from Tech-Ed, IT Forum, SharePoint Conference, and all the other events I have been able to speak at; I am so grateful for those experiences. 

What I have enjoyed and hope to enjoy further is the friendships made along the way, both within Microsoft and out. Some of my best friends, made when I moved to the US, have come from being an MVP and meeting at various events together. I am forever grateful for them and the program I have enjoyed for so long.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not disappearing; I will still be here, writing content, building courses, and hopefully speaking at conferences. Just because I don’t have the three letters now, I still remember what I know and how to do what I enjoy. So what am I doing now with the extra free time I never had? 🙂

UPDATE (09/05/23): Published Content Links Added

  1. Building courses over the new few months
  2. Writing a book
    • PowerShell in 7 Days
  3. Speaking at Conferences
    • Hopefully, at 365 EduCon in Chicago
    • Hopefully at Microsoft 365 Community Day Miami
  4. Running and Mountain Biking
  5. Spending time with family
  6. Working as ALWAYS

Overall, it has been an amazing experience, and I may get to come back somehow, or I will just be here as always, as always, doing my thing, and all will be well. 

Lastly, I want to congratulate all of the NEW and RENEWED MVPs. Enjoy it, do the best you can, and as we all know, we will end up in the MVP Alumni program at some point.