20 Mar 2007

On Community Leadership

Author: q | Filed under: Coolness, MVP

We have a special worldwide community in SBS and it”s related space. From the newsgroups to web forums to multiple web sites to countless bloggers, there are many folks out there who are trying to make working with SBS as efficient and enjoyable as possible. Some of these folks take it to another level entirely. They run user groups. They speak at user group meetings on their own travel dime. They spend hours and hours and hours helping people in need without collecting a nickel in payment. They write books, white papers, and hundreds and hundreds of blog posts.

There is a program that recognizes many of these overachievers – the MVP program. Those who are awarded MVP status by Microsoft have shown a commitment to the community that has been deemed worthy of recognition by a team of folks behind the scenes. Ask any MVP and they”ll tell you what an honor it is to be considered for, much less awarded, MVP status. And in the SBS community, I”d say you”d be hard pressed to find an MVP who doesn”t take the award very, very seriously.

But there are those who are very active in the community who will never receive an MVP designation because they are Microsoft employees. One such person is Kevin Beares, whose position as the SBS, Centro, and Windows Home Server Community Lead doesn”t describe ahlf of what he does. It”s been almost a year and a half since Kevin officially came into the fold of the SBS community, long before the real world knew that Centro and Windows Home Server were in the works. He spent quite a bit of time behind the scenes,but finally launched his own blog in May of last year. That launch coincided with the SBS Community Survey he was running to try and quantify the size and spread of the community in raw numbers (a thing that bean counters across the world really like). But that was just a sign of things to come.

Kevin has not just been active in the community,as his job title would imply. He has actively been promoting the community, both inside and outside of Microsoft. Last year, the SBS MVPs said that we wanted an event to build relationships with the SBS CSS group in Las Colinas, and Kevin helped put that together. When we congregated again around SMB Nation last September, Kevin helped put together another event to introduce the extended SBS MVP family to Centro (the “big brother” to SBS) as well as the next version of SBS. He has been very active in getting extended community involvement in the Windows Home Server product Beta program. And when the extended SBS MVP community said that we wanted to have extra time at the MVP summit to work with the product teams for SBS, Centro, and Windows Home Server, he not only got the events coordinated, but did so with great success.

In short, Kevin has really put in significant effort to build the community within the community. If you consider yourself part of the SBS extended community, MVP or not, you can thank Kevin for the efforts he has put in to significantly strengthen the community and all of its membership. It”s mostly been a thankless job, because much of what he does goes on behind the scenes and out of the public eye. But nevertheless, he has been there championing a community he strongly believes in, an for that, I”d like to say a big “Thank You” to Kevin. And I”d like to ask that you do the same. If you”ve benefitted from something Kevin has done for you, drop him a note and let him know how much you appreciate it. In a job like his, he is often the recipient of flames and hate mail, and it”s amazing when someone can filter out the negativity and keep working for the greater good. To that end, and nice, positive note every once in a while can really make the difference. And I, for one, would hate to see Kevin burn out or think that his efforts have not made a difference and lose some of the drive he has brought into this community. So, please, take a moment and drop him a note of thanks if thanks are indeed in order. I know he would welcome the feedback.

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