I don’t take this opportunity enough to thank the community. Monday I was awarded Best SharePoint Blog in a poll that included over 20,000 votes. These Andy Dale SharePoint Awards hosted by SharePoint Village currently in their fourth year consist of judges putting forward their best choices, and the community choosing the best in those categories.
I started blogging because I was fascinated by what blogging was doing to transform the way the Internet was being used. I had read Enders Game. While blogging isn’t a major focus of the book, I was impressed that in the future kids could influence geo politics by writing and the world reading and ultimately influenced for good. It brought world peace after the war with the aliens. My scope definitely wasn’t on that scale when I began blogging. I thought it would be great if I personally could better scale myself by sharing the answers to questions I was providing in email to the Microsoft field, and instead sending a link to a blog post which could be shared to the world.
Blogging alone has done so much for my career, for visibility, influence and access to the community. It’s been an incredible platform for sharing my thoughts and ideas. I still remember those moments early on when I didn’t really know if the things I was writing were making any difference at all, and I ran into a guy named Angus Logan who was also a lab proctor at an internal MS conference. The two of us were chatting and when I introduced myself he said, “Oh, I know you. I read your blog!” That later turned into a visit to one of my first international gigs. I spoke at the user group in Sydney, Australia. I paid for the ticket from Singapore myself. That was 7 years ago. I was still working in Microsoft IT, and had found a way to speak at Tech Ed South East Asia and had tacked on that trip.
Things have snowballed from there. Moments when someone would say my blog was their SharePoint bible, and they trusted it more than the content on TechNet. Scary?! Another who had read my blog and was sitting in their first speaking session of mine explained that I better be at least as good as my blog. I mean seriously. It’s a lot of responsibility and I hope I haven’t abused that. I still reflect on my first visit to Israel, where Avi took time at the User Group to sing me a dedicated song. It meant so much to him that I’d come and visit. I’ve spent time in my SharePoint friend’s homes. I’m accepted not as a speaker or influencer. I’m accepted as family. My first visits to Palestine, Jordan, Kosovo, India, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Norway, Malaysia, Vietnam and so many other places where it made such an impact on the people that it transforms me. These connections are very real, these relationships are so real. I count these friendships on the same level as the friends I’ve made outside of work that have taken years to develop. We have something special.
I continue to blog first because you read, and because of the faithful readers, and for the new crowd. Just this past week I was in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bulgaria and in the SharePoint circles of the *real* SharePoint experts, I find something familiar. We are friends immediately and these guys are not strangers, they know so much about me already and somehow I know them as well. Even if I don’t know their names, I learn them quickly and we have this lasting connection. I have to believe it’s more than SharePoint, but this struggle with SharePoint knowledge gathering is the thing that brought us together.
I was told by my boss that 18 months max after leaving Microsoft, people would forget who I was. That the work I had done at Microsoft and power I wielded at Microsoft would be taken away. Glad to say, it was this blog. SharePointJoel.com which I created after I left Microsoft that helped me not drop out of obscurity, but have a platform to stay in touch. I’ve been at the church for a year this month and another step away from continued evangelism, but I’ve still been there with you. Traffic hasn’t dropped at all. Many tell me my blogs are more relevant than ever. Thanks.
What I want to share with you is that in my global travels I continue to find fascinating people and it’s one of the things that drives me. I love meeting new people, new faces, new friends… The world is very small to me. I don’t care about borders. I see us as one community and one family. Skin tones, cultural backgrounds, language, all these things just add color to the spectrum. They add flavor and spice to life, and I love spice! Make it very spicy.
Thank for reading, and thanks for listening. I love you guys.
Your friend and brother,