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  • Writer's pictureIsidora Katanic

My Key Takeaways from the Microsoft MVP Summit 2023

Phew, after a few days at home I finally recovered from the jetlag and as I already cleared my head with writing this on the plane on the way home, I now put everything together in this blog post.


For those who haven't heard about the MVP Summit or what an MVP is - check out a quick intro below and all the details here on the Microsoft website.


Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community. They are always on the "bleeding edge" and have an unstoppable urge to get their hands on new, exciting technologies. They have very deep knowledge of Microsoft products and services, while also being able to bring together diverse platforms, products and solutions, to solve real world problems. MVPs make up a global community of over 4,000 technical experts and community leaders across 90 countries/regions and are driven by their passion, community spirit, and quest for knowledge. Above all and in addition to their amazing technical abilities, MVPs are always willing to help others - that's what sets them apart.

There is SO much to say about last week, as much as there is *not* to say about last week, due to our signed NDA with Microsoft (Non-Disclosure Agreement). However here are 10 of my key takeaways from attending my very first Microsoft MVP Summit.


1. before you go - pack gifts

It's incredible how many people bring small goodies from their hometown, or other gifts for fellow MVPs. I packed a bunch of chocolate to hand out and to give something in return for those who brought something aswell.






















2. Arrive at least 1-2 days before

For those who can, try to arrive at least 1-2 days before the Summit. Use this time to acclimate. Adjust to the time zone (for me it was a 9 hours time difference). Go through the sessions catalog again to double check if you really marked all sessions you would like to attend. Explore the area and use this time to get mentally ready for a CRAZY BUSY week ahead.


3. Take advantage of early badge pick-up

As the keynote started at 08:00 AM on day 1, the line must have been huge for everyone checking in and picking up their badge. Therefore I went the day before to pick up my badge, which turned out to be SUPER fun, as I ran into 40-50 other MVPs waiting for the doors to open. All as excited as I was.





















4. Don't be shy - say Hi

I know it can be very overwhelming to see SO many amazing humans you have been following on Twitter and now you see them in person. Even for me as an extrovert it can be scary to approach people "Hey I know you! Or hey let's take a picture" However you will realize, everyone is super kind and human just like you. Even Scott Guthrie ;-) (yes I did on purpose planned this dress for the keynote - with Mr. Red Shirt himself :D)





















5. Eat, hydrate, regenerate, recharge

With so much going on from early AM until late PM, it can be challenging to focus on your wellbeing. However, it is so important you eat well and especially hydrate enough during the Summit. Take a moment to step away, go have a small walk around campus, take a moment for yourself back in your room if needed. I love to be surrounded by people, but also really enjoyed having a "me-moment" to recharge my batteries as there's constantly something going on that I don't want to miss!


6. Explore the Microsoft Campus (it's so cool!!!)

If you plan smart, you might have some time here and there to go explore the campus. It's totally worth it, there are so many special places and I was so excited to finally see them in real life. Thanks to Dave Kurth (Microsoft) for being so kind and to show me around the hotspots on campus like the Garage or the Microsoft tree houses. Definitely go to Building 92 to visit the Microsoft store and to take "THE" picture in front of the large Microsoft sign.












































7. NDA - sshhhhh!

Wow - I was truly amazed by how much Microsoft really shares with us and how open Product Groups are when you ask them direct questions. This is truly a major plus from being part of the program, and so valuable the trust Microsoft puts in us. To give this trust in return, make sure you don't share any news externally. Be careful and pay attention to what you take pictures of and share online. Are there slides with information in the background? For someone who takes TONS of pictures like me, I really had to focus before taking or posting any pictures online.


8. Pick up your MVP swag - on time!

Microsoft hands out cool swag to MVPs and this time we could pick it up in the Reactor Building. Don't wait until the last day, make sure you get there early so your size is (still) available.


One of my favorite "swag" during the Summit, was this cute little 3D printed gift from MVP Vukasin Terzic:




















9. Set expectations for those at home

It can be very challenging in a different time zone, to keep in contact all the time with your friends/family/loved ones at home. For me this was the first time going far away, for a whole week, without my daughter. As much as I struggled leaving to the US without her, I realized in Seattle it would have been impossible to juggle between the Summit. Make sure your loved ones at home are aware you will not always be "online" and "available" during this week. But of course, for everyone this is different I just did not manage to give everyone a fast response due to time zone differences and a totally 120% packed schedule. Luckily, at home my family knows how conference travels look like :-)


10. Unwind, process, relax after Summit

Holy Moly! What a week. It's not "just" a conference in one area as the usual events we know, it's literally going from building to building around campus and the campus is HUUUUUUUUGEEEEEEE. Like really HUGE. Everything for me was so overwhelming in a good way, so many great impressions, so many people I got to meet or see again, so much information and get togethers everyday. I'm glad I stayed for the weekend, so I could unwind, process the whole week, and take time to breath before I returned back home. My dear friend and co-host of Head in the Cloud, Heart in the Community Holly Lehman, welcomed me at her home for the weekend which was the perfect ending to my trip.

















BONUS:

Have you always wanted to be part of the MVP family but don't know how to achieve your goal to get awarded by Microsoft? Check out this blog post by Thomas Maurer, 7-years former MVP and now a "blue-badger FTE" (Microsoft Full Time Employee) - wherein he explains the journey.


Thank you!

While I'm sure I'm not naming everyone I would love to thank, I do want to highlight a few people that made the MVP Summit possible for me:


Thomas Maurer, family & friends, thank you for taking good care of the little one while I was away!

Holly Lehman, family & friends, thank you for all your love, care, and fun and for hosting me at your home to "unwind" from the Summit and meet your dear ones. Love You!

Kenny Lowe, thank you for nominating me back in 2020. It's been amazing ever since!

Maarten Goet, & Wortell team, thank you for your friendships and fun during the Summit. You've taken such good care of me like a team!

Lisa Clark, thanks for being in touch everyday checking in on each other. It's good to have someone close in such a hectic week!

Alice Piras, thank you for being our MVP Lead, I was soooo happy we got to see you in person again!

Dave Kurth, thank you for showing me around and making a dream come true finally visiting the tree houses on campus!

Samuel Zürcher, thank you for the support and the opportunity to travel on behalf of Experts Inside AG and represent our company's MVPs!

Microsoft & Organizers, thank you for everything you've done for organizing the Summit!

Anthony Bartolo, thank you for the cute gifts from Roots for my daughter. You brought back so many childhood memories from shopping in Roots when visiting my Canadian family

Everyone, who brought TimTams from Australia, maple syrup from Canada, and other gifts!

Rick Claus & Joey Snow aka Patch & Switch, thank you for hanging out and taking me to a great restaurant where they have truffle parmesan fries, YUM!



And absolutely thank you to many others, who made this week UNFORGETTABLE! 💙



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