Earlier this month, I got an email with the subject line “Congratulations 2017 Microsoft MVP!” I immediately commenced doing a Snoopy happy dance (my dog, Callie, picked up on the excitement and joined in). If you aren’t familiar with the MVP Program, you might be asking,
Wait, what’s this Microsoft MVP thing?
Oh, sorry, let me back up. The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is given to individuals who are experts in their field, and also community leaders. Depending on what Microsoft technology an MVP uses, they will receive their award in one or more corresponding categories. Awards are renewed yearly, so an MVP Award truly recognizes one’s ongoing contributions.
A common misconception is that the MVP Award is a certification, but that’s really not the case. With a certification, there is usually a test, with a defined curriculum. There are classes and books to help you prepare. You can study hard, focus, and eventually get certified. But with the MVP Award, things are a little different–you get nominated for an MVP Award. Technically, you can nominate yourself–but (I think) most nominations are from people who have taken notice of another person, and nominated that person.
You get an MVP Award by sharing your expertise with others. Microsoft has a page on what it takes to be an MVP, but it all boils down to sharing your knowledge with others. Sharing takes on all sorts of forms–and every MVP has their own mix of contributions. There really is no formula, no checklist that says, “Do these things, and you will be an MVP.”
Some people write books. Some people write blogs. Some people teach classes. Some people write code for open-source projects. Some people help others on forums. Some people are bug-hunters, giving feedback to Microsoft on their products. Most people contribute in multiple ways. The key thing is that every MVP is committed to giving back to the community, and committed to the technology in their award category.
No, Andy. How did you get an MVP Award?
Oh, OK. Well, I got my award because I do stuff. I blog here, at am2.co. I answer questions on #sqlhelp. I answer questions on DBA Stack Exchange. I speak at SQLSaturday and user group events. I organize SQLSatuday Boston.
I do it because it’s fun. I love sharing what I do with other people. I love teaching. I love helping others. I love being part of a geek community, where everyone helps everyone else.
I don’t do these things with the goal of getting an award or recognition. I do it because I want to. I do it because I’d like to spare other people from making the same mistakes I have made. I’d be lying if I said the idea of becoming an MVP hadn’t been something I thought about–but I was quite content in knowing that if I deserved an MVP Award, I’d eventually get one. I don’t do community things because I want to get some award.
I’m reminded of a scene from Forrest Gump, where Forrest is talking to Jenny:
Jenny: Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?
Forrest: Who I’m gonna be?
Forrest: Aren’t….Aren’t I going to be me?
I got an award for just being me. That’s pretty awesome.