Dennis Burton's Develop Using .NET

Change is optional. Survival is not required.
Tags: community

Several years ago Jay Harris (a friend and co-worker) and I decided to start attending some of the local .NET user groups both to increase our skills and make some connections. Of course, we both came up with excuses every month as to why this was inconvenient. But, we eventually pushed each other into going. I need to say “Thank You” to Jay for continually pushing me to be better at what I do.

After a few months of going the Greater Lansing .NET user group and many conversations about what we worked on, Jeff McWherter started convincing me that I had something valuable to contribute. At first, I blew this off and sat happily listening to the presentations. Those of you that know Jeff know that he was not going to let this go. Jeff continued to encourage me to get into speaking. I need to say “Thank You” to Jeff for opening my mind to giving to the community instead of just taking. The impact this has had on me cannot be measured. Community involvement is what led me to a different job where I actually spend time with my family. It is really hard to overstate how important this is as a turning point for me.

A year or so later, I started working at SRT Solutions. SRT is a unique organization that not only encourages keeping with the latest technologies and sharing what you have learned with the broader development community, they also allocate time to accomplish this task. As an example, this year I taught at 4 Windows Azure Boot Camps. Two of these events were in cities that included a day of travel. Combine that with the preparation time and you have about two weeks of time that SRT has invested in allowing me to teach others about something I am passionate about. I need to say “Thank You” to Bill Wagner and Dianne Marsh for building the company that they wanted to work for. I can think of very few places that would have allowed for spending that much time on community, much less encouraged it.

This year the Microsoft developer evangelists from my region, Jennifer Marsman and Brian Prince, mentioned that they wanted to support me being recognized for all of my community related activities. Jennifer is always there to support events in our area. She has helped me put together two conferences, supports all of the user groups that I help out with, and has given me invaluable advice on many occasions. Brian put together the Windows Azure Boot Camps that gave me a platform to talk about what I love. I need to say “Thank You” to Jennifer and Brian for helping me broaden my community connections.

This morning I was greeted with an email that said:

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2011 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Windows Azure technical communities during the past year.

I need to say “Thank You” to Microsoft for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this program with a whole bunch of people that are way smarter than me. I look forward to the learning and connections that this will allow me over the next year.

Dennis Burton

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