I had a coffee with a Microsoft MVP. This is what I learned…

Coffee

Hello World! This is my first blog post. Ever! You have to start somewhere so I decided to, or better said – had a chance to, start with one of the most useful Microsoft Identity blogs – DirTeam.com.

About a month ago I attended the NTK (NT Konferenca) conference in Portorož, Slovenia. This was my first time at that conference and the main reason I wanted to attend is because I saw that one of my favorite MVPs presented three different sessions during that conference.

This guy

The first time I met him was few years ago at the WinDays conference. I did not know who he was before that conference. I walked into the room where he was about to present, with no expectations at all. The name of the session sounded interesting and since I'm always eager to learn something new about identity (as well as security), I sat down in the middle of that conference room (I don't want to be too close; you never know what type of speaker you run into :D) and waited for the session to begin. His presentation and especially the way he presented caught my attention immediately. I was locked. I was thinking "Man… this guy is something else. The way he presents and the level of knowledge he has… It's like I'm listening to Sami Laiho." By the way, if you don't know who Sami is, google him. He is also one of my favorite speakers, although I haven't had a chance to meet him… yet.

After the session ended I approached him and asked a few questions which he happily answered. After that conference I wanted to know more about who that guy was and only then I realized I listened and talked to a guy who was a Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert and a Veeam Vanguard. I thought to myself "Wow! This guy really is something else!"

NTK

Let’s forward two years. COVID came and there were no conferences. A lot of things stopped or ended, like WinDays conference (and at the moment of writing this, there is still no info if WinDays conference will reappear next year), so I started to look at alternative conferences in the vicinity. This is when I spotted NTK. At first, I was not sure if I wanted to attend, because there were a lot of speakers and topics that I heard before at local conferences (and even presented by the same speakers), but when I realized this guy (Microsoft MVP) was to present several sessions there, I immediately knew I was going to be at that conference!

And so I went…

His first session was just before lunch. I arrived early (I was the first person in the room) and sat down in the first row (don't want to miss anything :D). When he walked on stage, I wasn't expecting him to recognize me. Surely, I was just one of the many people that he talked to for a few minutes during that conference a few years ago and after that exchanged a message or two via LinkedIn… but to my very surprise he did!

Although the session was about to start in only 5 minutes, he immediately got off stage, walked straight to me and we started talking, like we were old buddies who haven’t seen each other for a few years. It felt so good… I felt so good.

After the session, I went to lunch and came back for his next session. The conference room was even bigger (a few hundred people were there) but there were empty chairs in the first row, so I also decided to sit in front. Well, as you can now expect; Again, he went straight to me and (again) we talked for a few minutes before the session started. This time, during the session, he even made some remarks using my name as an example. I felt like a teenager at a rock concert, where the lead vocal says your name in front of the crowd. I couldn’t believe it.

The next day was his last session. After the session, I offered to buy him a coffee and to my very surprise, he agreed.

And now the real story starts…

The coffee

I expected a coffee to last for 5-15 minutes, but it turned into a two-hour conversation! I was shocked and was thinking: “This guy, who knows all the MVPs at this conference and can talk to any of them, or any other person that attends this conference, decided to took this much time to talk to a guy (me) who he knows almost nothing about and meets for the second time in his life. Why?!”

That was the first lesson I learned from him: be down to Earth, normal, no matter how much you achieve in life. That will make you a bigger and better person and people will like you and respect you even more.

We started talking. After I told him a bit about myself, the conversation very quickly became deep (I’m not capable of small talk, at least not for long :D) and then he started to impress me even more. After I asked him if it’s realistic for me to set the goal to become Microsoft MVP, considering my age and all the things I do in life, straight away he responded “Yes, of course!” and then continued: “In fact, the steps are very simple, but not easy. If you are willing to invest about 20 hours per week on top of everything you're doing right now, you can do it.".

That was lesson No. 2: You can do anything in life if you set your mind to it, have strong desire and are willing to work for it!

Of course, I had (and still have my doubts), so I started pouring on him. He carefully listened to every doubt I shared and after I finished, he told me stories from his life (or life of his friends or acquaintances) that not only negated my doubt, but also gave me the faith that I can do it despite all my doubts.

Lesson No. 3: Help people overcome their fears and give them the faith they need to achieve their goals and dreams!

OK, at that moment I slowly started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I can become MVP. Just maybe. And so, we continued talking. He told me what I could do. In short: blog and present. I told him that I'm not a writer (never was), but I can try. He offered help. Not only with empty words. One of the things he did was he took out his laptop (then and there) and immediately opened an account for me at DirTeam.com (the one I used to post this blog post). I couldn't believe it!

Lesson No. 4: Don't just offer empty words. Act!

The conversation continued. I poured on him more doubts. He offered to help me with blog topics, reviews, mentorship(!) and… you have to sit down before you read this… are you ready? He even offered me to speak with him on some of the conferences that are local to me, where he'll be a guest speaker! I almost fell off my chair!

Lesson No. 5: Give more than expected! It will return to you in more ways that you could ever expect!

We continued talking for at least an hour where he gave me a lot of helpful things that stuck in my head. I'll leave those for some other blog post.

To conclude… that coffee was one of the best coffees I had and I'm not talking about the drink itself (although the coffee was also great!). I'm not sure what kind of people other MVPs are, but this guy helped me a lot and I thank him for that! I hope some of the things I shared help you as well.

Until next time…

By the way… NTK is a great conference. You should check it out!

Coffee Cup, by Doug8888 (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

4 thoughts on “I had a coffee with a Microsoft MVP. This is what I learned…”

  1. Good start Tomislav, keep it up!

    I'm very interested in your next post 🙂

    Regards from the Netherlands!

  2. Excellent first blog posting Tomislav. If the MVP thing doesn't work out you could take up writing! You articulated your first blog posting very well which made for interesting reading. I thoroughly loved reading it.

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