A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

DISCLAIMER: This is a rare “personal” / “rant” blog post.  I normally try to keep things focused on the technology.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’m back to blogging again and that I would explain a little bit about why I haven’t been.  I didn’t get into blogging by choice.  I did it because when I started as a Developer Evangelist at Microsoft, it was in the early days where evangelists were starting to blog.  I started http://blogs.msdn.com/publicsector on September 12, 2005.  In fact, in the early days, I was really the only blogger even though it was the team blog.  Truth be told, I couldn’t stand blogging in the early days.  I have always considered myself a fairly private person.  Even though I had a job that was semi-public, the whole “online persona” thing made me uncomfortable.  The reality is that in those days, and still to an extent today, the Developer Evangelists on my old team (which always focused on the government and people/organizations building software solutions for the Government) were what I always called “behind the firewall” evangelists.  What I mean by that is that unlike the regional Developer Evangelists who had almost “mini celebrity” status due to the fact that they engaged the developer community “at large” in their geographic area (user groups, code camps, etc.), we were behind the scenes evangelizing to developer communities within government organizations, Systems Integrators (SIs), partners, and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) who focused on government work.  I remember arguing with my first manager about how I didn’t want to blog and wasn’t comfortable with creating an “online persona.”  I even went as far as not using my name on my blog and devkeydet as my pen name.  Somewhere along the way, I grew to really enjoy blogging.  I used it as a way to share tips/tricks with customers in a broad way.  I used to love when a customer asked me a question and I didn’t know the answer.  I’d go figure it out, build a sample, record a video walkthrough, and blog about it.  Oh, those were the days.  I had always said to myself that I had the greatest job a dev geek could ask for…having more fun than anything I had ever done in my career and getting paid for it.  I worked crazy hours, pulled way too many all-nighters perfecting demos/samples/blog posts, but I loved it.  I got to keep enough “real developer” chops through building POCs for customers. 

Although I have blogged a little here and there, about a year and a half ago I left the Developer Evangelist role where blogging was part of my job responsibilities.   I became a manager.  WTF?  If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me swear I would never be a manager at Microsoft.  I’ve left companies because my only option was to get out of a technically focused role if I wanted “career advancement.”  Microsoft is a company where you can have a very rewarding career without being pushed into management.  I felt good about my choice to get into management because it was on my own terms.  I thought I was ready, boy was I wrong.  I didn’t last long.  A little over 6 months.  By all accounts, I was doing a bang up job in my new role.  However, my heart just wasn’t in it.  I had lost the passion, that thing that made me wake up every morning and say “Damn I am lucky.  I love what I do.”  I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t ready to give up the heavy technology focus and high customer interaction.  I missed it dearly.  So I began looking for an opportunity to get back into a technically focused, individual contributor role.  I thought I had found one, but after about 6 months in my next role, it just wasn’t the right fit for me.  For others?  Absolutely.  For me?  No.  The passion never returned.  There were blips here and there, but it was clear that this wasn’t my “next thing” at Microsoft.  At this point, I was strongly considering leaving and trying my luck outside the walls of the so called “evil empire.”  I also got to the point where I felt that the only way I would be happy would be to find a job in Redmond.  Well, something unpredictable happened along the way.  As part of my last role, I had the opportunity to get exposed to Dynamics CRM 2011.  I had heard about “dynamics as a development platform” in the days of the previous version, even participated in some training on it, but wasn’t interested.  As part of my involvement in this second look at Dynamics CRM 2011, I had to “get smart fast” on the developer story.  I spent a couple long days and late nights cramming using the Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Kit.  As a result, I became a proponent of building the system using Dynamics CRM 2011 as the foundation.  As fate would have it, a role opened up on the US Public Sector Dynamics team and the rest is history.  I’ve been in my new role for almost a month now and I have loved every moment of it, including the late nights getting deeper into the bowels of the product and APIs as well as working with a great team of folks.  I’m an admitted perfectionist workaholic and I’ve always justified it by the fact that I’ve always loved what I do for a living.  I learned the hard way that when the passion is gone, work just feels like…well work.  Back to the point about blogging…

Between work and family, I didn’t have much time to blog since I left the Developer Evangelist role.  Despite my defiant start to blogging, it’s something that I have missed.  It’s something I am excited to start doing again. 

Before the few readers that I still have left run away, I will continue to blog about all sorts of developer related topics.  Just like the old days.  However, there will clearly be a heavier focus on Dynamics CRM from a developers perspective.  I’ve already have a list of topics queued up. I will also be cross posting to my old team blog.  So feel free to tune in there if you prefer.

I’ve read so much negative press about careers at Microsoft. I’d like to close with a positive comment about about mine.  My career at Microsoft has been fantastic. Did I “lose that loving feeling” for a short period?  Sure, but no other company I’ve worked for would have ever let me experiment with my career for almost two years.  No other company that I’ve worked for would have let me say “Nah, this isn’t for me” twice, keep me employed, and offer continued “career advancement” during said experiment.  The funny thing is that both Microsoft and I are better off for the experience.  Microsoft is a great company to work for.  It’s not with out flaws, politics, and bureaucracy.  What big company is?  I am very happy that I am still here and looking forward to this next chapter.

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, back to the normal geeky blogging…

-Marc (@devkeydet)

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