It’s taken me awhile to regroup and collect my thoughts from another amazing Microsoft Inspire. Every day in Las Vegas felt a bit chaotic, and with more than 160 sessions to choose from and over 20,000 attendees, it’s no wonder! It’s only now, several weeks after our final ‘One Celebration’ with Bruno Mars, that I’m making sense of all the information that has settled in my brain! Time to share a few Inspire highlights …
We made history at this year’s MS Inspire! For the first time ever, Microsoft brought its Inspire and Ready communities together and it worked! It was AWE-inspiring to see all of us that would fit, coming together at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday. The reach of these two communities is impressive, too. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted that 17 million people are employed by those who gathered that day!
I still get chills when I think about singing in the ‘Choir, Choir’ just before Satya’s Corenote. Have you ever witnessed 20,000 people coming together in song? Pure joy – unbridled and irrepressible – was on full display. I will forever remember the exuberance I felt singing Beatles’ tunes with my fellow Inspire attendees. American singer and songwriter, Kishi Bashi, was spot on when he observed, ‘we write songs to know we are alive and to celebrate ... we are all more connected than we know.’
Even now, a month later, I still well up when I think about the unexpected ‘Guard of Honour’ welcoming us to the Convention Centre on Monday. The Mandalay Bay staff surprised all of us (including Microsoft organisers!) and were a very real example of the power of gratitude. This experience moved me!
Spending time with the Australian contingent at our General Session was a standout experience. Our workshop with Dr Michael Gervais took us outside the product world and turned our focus inwards – providing us with tools to work on ourselves, looking at the link between mindfulness and peak performance. Michael’s observation that ‘you can’t be awesome by yourself’ absolutely resonated with me – and reinforced the power of collaboration that is at the heart of the MS Partner community.
Speaking of shared experiences, it was a privilege to be on stage with Sandeep Misra and my fellow Microsoft Partners James Corless (Block 64), Stewart Mcluskey (Civica) and Peter van Uden (Quexcel) to share practical, open and honest learnings from the past year, focusing on turning customer challenges into profitable opportunities – for both partners and clients. The candid discussion was appreciated, as one Inspire first-timer commented: ‘I was very impressed by the collaboration between the SAM partners. I was expecting a more secretive and competitive relation.’ It was wonderful to see the audience put down their phones and truly listen and engage.
There we were so many amazing young professionals making their mark at Inspire, sharing their stories and passion for technology. These three really stood out for me:
- Samit Saini, who followed his father’s footsteps into security at Heathrow Airport, and channelled his passion for customer service to transform a physical book into a powerful data tool with the help of PowerApps. Wow – talk about the power of possibility!
- Tory Simpson, this year’s Young Women in Tech Representative, who shared her journey from hospitality to technology, and her passion for the value young people bring to today’s world of digital transformation. She spoke beautifully in front of 1,000 women in tech.
- And finally, Rachel Braunstein, MS Partner Network Podcast host and #Ladyboss, who introduced me to ‘social selling’. Rachel reminded us that sales, like much in business, is about connecting, not closing. Who would have thought it was her first presentation at Inspire – she presented with confidence and a presence well beyond her years!
As I look back on Inspire 2018, two key themes have emerged as take-aways:
- None of my highlights are tech related – rather, they are about connecting and collaborating;
- Last year was a time of big change - for Microsoft, for the SAM community and for SOS - but this year, it’s all about execution.
All the pieces are now in place - right, let’s go and deliver!