Colin Powell at #conv12

I have long respected Colin Powell.  And even if you disagree with his political and personal persona, he is still living history.  When I heard he was to keynote at Convergence this year, I was very excited.  For a political junkie like me, this was perfect!

He is a great speaker.  He has great stories.  He is human.  He is funny.  He knows his place, and his wife will put him back there if he forgets (love that).

I know several people responsible for some of the behind the scenes aspects of the big Microsoft conferences, Convergence included.  So when I heard that General Powell (or is it Secretary?) was on the lineup, I started asking people to get me a meet and greet.  And I asked.  And I asked.  And I got crickets.  Could I hang out back stage and stalk him, shake his hand?  Crickets.  I did manage to swing a great seat for his talk, but that was about all I could hope for, or so I thought.

I wound up on the big stage with this:


So how did I get from denied access and a seat in the second row to hugging the General?  They opened the floor for questions.  My question was: (insert genuine compliments here), can I shake your hand?  He grinned and invited me on stage.  MS executive Doug Kennedy helped me on stage (thanks Doug) and when I got there, I got the hug above and the handshake I asked for.  Woohoo.


In answer to so many of you that asked, yes, I guess he is pretty tall, it looks like I am on my tiptoes here in the hug, and he’s still quite taller than me (I’m 5’7” for comparison).

And the handshake I asked for:


So thank you to Mr. General Secretary Powell for the hug and handshake, you are quite gracious.

And thanks to Murat Ozturan, Donna Edwards, David Kohar and Gus Gonzalez for the pictures you sent!

Introducing the CRM Crash Course

I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had the last few years about there being a huge shortage of qualified CRM talent.  That is quickly followed by the conversation about the utter lack of training for functional CRM skills.

I am trying to change that with the new course, CRM Crash Course.  The goal of this course is simple, become functional in Dynamics CRM in a week so you can go back and do your job better.  Whatever job you have that is in the Dynamics CRM world.  Send me your new hires with expertise in other areas, they will become great CRMy kinds of people.

Developers:  We won’t talk code, but that’s ok, you don’t need code here; you need to know what’s there out of the box.  Otherwise you will waste time and money on building functionality in things that are OOB.  We’ll throw you some extensibility bones along the way, I promise.

Business analysts:  Sure you can speak with a client and gather their needs, but this course will get you the core knowledge you need to better define those requirements in CRM-speak and then go do the work in CRM.  We’ll cover lots of the WHY things work and HOW they work using real world business requirements.

Project managers:  Reality is you need to know the OOB product better than most.  The client and your team will be looking to you to lead them along the project and you need to be able to confidently do that, even though you may never build a custom entity or design a form in an implementation.  This knowledge will enable you to make better estimates, assignments and all other essential planning because you will have the know-how of how CRM works and how it can work.

Those are the big three, but really anyone in a role based on Dynamics CRM implementations is the target audience.  Each class will have a mixture of skills (by design, we can learn lots from each other) and each student will learn each skill on the agenda, regardless of their job title back home.

Are you looking to pass a certification exam?  Probably not the course for you.  Sure we’ll get you some great core knowledge, but we will not be focusing on academics, we will be focusing on useable skills for real world jobs.

This is a brand new course, created by my team.  The agenda includes real scenarios based on CRM in the wild.  We’ve got hands on work, team projects.  Yes, all in a week.  Your brain will hurt, but you will learn a ton.  This course covers a little bit of 100 level content but is primarily 200-300 level.  Since we control the agenda we can also tweak it as the product evolves so the content is always applicable.

Agenda includes:

  • Sales and marketing automation
  • Service and service scheduling
  • Processes, aka workflows and dialogs
  • Customization and configuration
  • Org structure and security
  • Relationships and mapping
  • Best practices for solutions
  • Consuming your CRM data (reports, charts, dashboards, etc.)
  • …and more

Class size is controlled between 5 and 15.  Dates have yet to be decided, drop us a note if you’re interested or have specific dates in mind, we’ll try to set up a course time that meets your needs.  Right now this is just this is just an in-person course, we might do virtual later on, we’ll let you know.

Cost per student is $1995 for the week, this is the cost for training only.  Bring a laptop, we’ll give you materials here.  Travel and meals is not included in this price, but chances are I’ll buy you a pizza or something along the way, I have to eat too.  Happy to give travel advice if you need it.  Who doesn’t want a business excuse to go to Colorado Springs?  It’s an awesome place.

(drop me an email if you want to discuss delivery at your site by one of our trainers)

The website here is a simple (SIMPLE) one-pager with a contact form.  I promise you’ll hear back from us.

International Women’s Day?

So happy international women’s day?  I personally struggle with things like this.  I know it must be because I live in a world (in my head) where I am treated like I feel I should be treated, gender aside.  But I do also know that I am so much more fortunate than so many other women in the world.  Maybe I’m arrogant, maybe I’m stupid, but I know that my being a woman is an advantage, not a disadvantage.  And I live my life and raise my kids and treat those around me accordingly.  Is that wrong?

One of the good things about days like today is that it will bring awareness to women around us that are not treated well, simply because they are women.  And that for some reason in their current situation they cannot overcome the challenges they face.  Maybe they’ve only known physical intimidation and have no real path to get out of that situation.  Maybe they were raised to feel weak and have not found a way to grow their own self-worth.  Maybe they live in a country where they can’t even drive their own kids to the emergency room without fear of getting arrested.  Maybe they live in a place where their daughters will be sold into the sex trade so the other children can have food once a day.

Maybe you (and me) can do just one thing to help make the world a more fair place for each gender.  What I have done recently…I facilitated transportation of a couple of hundred bras to be donated to girls forced into the sex trade in Mozambique.  These girls can earn more money by selling these bras (a luxury item where they live) than they do in the sex trade and can get out of that awful cycle of mistreatment.  It didn’t cost me a dime to do this.  (learn more about this particular cause here)

If you are not in a position to act just now, then you can certainly educate yourself, find a challenge that you can take on, you can influence change for others.  How can you influence legislation in your area?  Can you teach the next generation about an important global issue?  Find out just what can you do to help?  Then do it.