I've become especially reflective of my career this year, especially as Project Svalbard marches forward and I look back on what it's taken to get here. Especially as I have more discussions around the various turning points in my professional life, there's one that stands out above most others: my first MVP award.
This is not a path I planned, in fact when I originally got that award I referred to myself as The Accidental MVP. But I also think that's the best way to earn any of the awards I've since received; not by setting out with the award as the goal, but rather focusing on the activities for which the award is granted. I wrote a blog people found useful and I continue to do that today. The first award prompted me to start speaking publicly and obviously that's something I continue to do today too. So, before anyone asks "how do I become a Microsoft MVP", there's your answer. That and a pointer to the page on What it takes to be an MVP.
One last thing to add to that and it's the value of community encouragement. There's no way I would have stuck to this path if it wasn't for all the social media engagement, blog comments and conference selfies. It's hard to express just how what a massive role encouragement plays in keeping me motivated to do this; knowing that your work is valued is just absolutely essential and I still get a kick of seeing messages like this from just last week in Israel:
Very few people are as engaging as @troyhunt one of the best presenters at @CyberWeekConf and very engaging talk... the lock 🔒 was the best! #CyberSafe #cyberweek2019 #cybersecurity #infosec pic.twitter.com/Jqo5Pxgg8a— James Azar (@james_azar1) June 28, 2019
Incidentally, I'm still a Microsoft Regional Director too which runs as a parallel program. I still don't have a region, I still don't direct anything and I still don't get paid by Microsoft. Everyone with me? Good!