Today I formally announced that I’ve decided to leave Microsoft. I love this company…always have - it has been amazing to me. I’ve had great opportunities for growth and worked with really incredible people both inside and outside the company. Microsoft supported me through a difficult time medically - time off, benefits, security and genuine care and concern I’ll never forget. To be clear, I’m not leaving Microsoft to get away. Nor am I going off to some other company with a "grass is greener" dream. That isn’t it.
I’m leaving because I see an opportunity to follow a dream I’ve had for a long time. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be a bit more specific about what is next, but you can expect me to use the year ahead to immerse myself in the intersection of social media, influencers and business. I look forward to writing, speaking and consulting to grow my experience in this exciting space that promises to radically change the face of business and transform how innovation, service and support, and sales and marketing are done.
I couldn’t be more excited about the time ahead, the opportunity to learn and the chance to demonstrate to my kids that risk-taking and uncertainty are a great part of life.
Rather than go on too long, I thought it appropriate that I share the personal announcement I sent today to MVPs around the world. For those who don’t know, I’ve led this effort at Microsoft for the last 5 years. From our own website:
"Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who are awarded for voluntarily sharing their high quality, real world expertise in offline and online technical communities. Microsoft MVPs are a highly select group of experts that represents the technical community’s best and brightest, and they share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others."
But it’s more than that. Today there are over 4000 MVPs in 90 countries around the world. In recent years, I’ve personally met more than 75% of them and logged over 1M air miles connecting with them. Given the step I’m taking, I owe them a deep thanks. They were the catalyst, the inspiration and the source of most of what I’ve learned over the years about community.
Here’s what I shared with them today:
In my 15 years at Microsoft, I estimate I’ve sent nearly 500,000 emails, but without question this will be the most personal email I’ve ever written. I’ve asked the MVP leads around the world to share this with you and I’m also posting it in the lounge and announcement private Newsgroups - given how global we are, I’m certain this won’t arrive at the same time for all of you.
Some of you I’ve known for years, others I’ve met more recently, and some I have yet to meet, but I wanted to share with all of you that I’ve made a very personal decision to leave Microsoft. I can hardly begin to thank you for the past 5 years during which I’ve led the MVP Award program. Your passion for community has inspired me more deeply than you can ever know. Microsoft has been an amazing place and one I find difficult to step away from. I leave behind a deeply supportive and committed MVP team and thousands of fellow employees across the company who have come to appreciate the importance of communities and the incredible voluntary spirit of the world’s MVPs.
So where am I going? I hope what you’ll see is that I’m not leaving you, but joining you. Communities, Social Media and Web 2.0 are transforming the way users connect with businesses and with one another. I’ve seen, with you, that we are pioneers on the edge of what I believe will be a radical transformation across communities and ALL industries. In the years ahead, we will see the arrival of the Chief Customer Officer, or more specifically, the Chief User Experience Officer – and great companies will differentiate around their ability to connect with their users in increasingly transparent ways. I’m proud of my time at Microsoft as I think we are a leader in this transformation and that community and MVPs have been central to the evolution.
There’s no question that there is more work to be done, but I’ve decided that I want to take on a different role in the industry as a catalyst for helping more companies make this change. In order to follow this dream, I need to be independent – like each of you. I won’t be joining another company, but forming one of my own, a company of one for now. I’m beginning work on a book and over the next 12 months will focus my energy on writing, speaking and consulting in the emerging space of social media and communities. You are most welcome to follow this journey at my blog (grab the feed), on , via , or via good old fashioned .
I’m sure you may be wondering what this means to the MVP Program. In the immediate term, I’m still hereJ You should see relatively little to no difference – it’s “business as usual.” In my time here, the thing I’m most proud of is the talent we’ve grown to support our long term belief in community – I know this team and the conviction of the leaders around me will assure a seamless transition. We have not yet determined when my last day will be at Microsoft and frankly that is far less important than ensuring a smooth handoff. The reality is that the people you talk to most often and who are really the ones that make our community efforts work are all still here – your MVP Lead and our global community team. The future of the MVP program simply couldn’t be more secure. As soon as we have something more concrete to share with you, we will, but in the spirit of transparency, we wanted to share that this change was coming.
Regardless of where I am officially, I am looking forward to seeing you at the MVP Summit as I’m committed to joining you – no matter where I am – for your annual festivities!
Thank you again for the trust and support you’ve given to me, I know this work has changed my path and I deeply appreciate your contributions.
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