I’ve always been amazed by public speakers. The confidence, calmness, and energy that some of them transfer over to the audience has always impressed me. Standing in front of 100 people and then pretend that it’s somehow normal, is a skill I wanted to learn for a very long time. I’m heading in the right direction. The MVP award confirmed it to me. The way that is behind me- was very bumpy.
My journey started by the end of 2018. Microsoft Norway asked us in Vipps to talk about our work with Azure API Management. They wanted us to get on stage at Microsoft Build 2019. Even though I was scared to death, my immediate response was: “YES, of course!!!”. MS Build is with its over 30k participants one of the larges tech conferences in the world, held in Seattle. I committed, created my presentation, and performed on stage. I loved it. First thing I did when I came back home to Norway, was to create a local community where I can talk when I want about whatever I want. I created the Azure Cognitive Services User Group Norway.
Some months in to my community, I gave talks about QnA-Maker, and API Management. I also invited guest speakers so the community could grow. But I wasn’t very happy with it. My daily work was about infrastructure, not AI. Then, Microsoft Norway Community Lead Maxim Salnikov approached me and said that he will nominate me for the Microsoft MVP award. At that time I didn’t know what it was until I looked it up. That was big. My first reaction, WoW, very cool, and very nice. Of course I got motivated to keep my community going and growing, and it did. 3 month later, I was rejected. Naturally, I was a bit disappointed. Maxim advised me to keep going. We’ll try again. He later told me that my contributions were a bit too diversified. Azure API Management and AI doesn’t fit well together, and my contributions were not many back then. Well, I understood that, and I decided to keep going. Anyway, my goal was never to become a MVP. I wanted to become a confident, calm, and energetic speaker, so I continued.
The first change I made was to rename my community to Azure Meetup Oslo, nice and crispy. Now I could talk about anything that I was doing at work every day. It made it so much easier for me. Until Maxim nominated me again, I presented at conferences, various Norwegian User Groups, and I started this blog. I even posted some YouTube videos. I had more speaking engagements than ever, and I contributed more than I though I could handle.
I got rejected, for the second time. At that point I was asking myself, what the heck. Why am I so focused on this award. It’s just an award. I was almmost giving up, all the time and effort I put into it, for nothing. When I got reasonable again, I was back on track again. I was not doing this for the award or anybody else. What I wanted was to become a confident, calm, and energetic speaker, so I continued, again.
Maxim, me, and Tina (Community Pragram Manager Nordics & Benelux) were having a meeting to find out what I was doing wrong. The outcome was that nothing really was wrong. What I heard between the lines was this: Seattle felt that I was doing this for the award itself, and they were right. I was doing it for the award itself. The MVP award is cool. Why shouldn’t I have this as a goal, so I kept going the same way, with just a little change. I tenfold my efforts. As my community grew, I created one more in New York and one more in Mumbai, so I could give one talk in the middle of the in Oslo, in the morning in New York, and in the evening in Mumbai. I asked Meetup organizers in the world to let me speak, and they did, what I am very grateful for. In addition to my speaking engagements, I blogged and created more YouTube content, created some pull requests in the Azure documentation, and I tok every opportunity to help the Azure community. I was and I am 100% committed to Azure.
On December 1th I got this fantastic mail saying: “Congratulations 2020 - 2021 Microsoft MVP!”. I finally became a Microsoft Azure MVP, and I’m super happy. The best thing, I learned some valuable lessons. But first, chasing this award made me a lot better at work. I got totally passionate about Azure and infrastructure.
When Things Get Tough, 10X Your Efforts
This is what I learned. Do not chase a nearby goal, like becoming a MVP. Chase goals that you think you can’t reach, like becoming the worlds best public speaker, or travelling to Mars. To get there, you need to work harder than anybody else. Even though you probably never will reach your ultimate goal, you will come very far. Instead of watching television, work. Either way, the three letters that helped me the most: 10X. I will continue as before, just a lot more.