Join the Ministry of Silly Walks Flashmob at #SPC19

And Now for Something Totally Different… Those who know me know I’m a HUGE fan of community and love to put on silly things.  Some remember the Infopath funeral for good or for worse.  Others may remember the year we sang our hearts out “Don’t Stop Believing” when we were concerned SharePoint was taking a back seat to things like Yammer and becoming simply “sites” in Office 365.

This year I want to do something totally different and even more Silly.

Silly Walks Featured Photo

I’m assembling a Ministry of Silly Walks for a Community March Through the Exhibit hall at #SPC19 on the first day May 21 at lunch time.  Eat your lunch quick and meet us at the entrance of the expo hall… don’t miss the music.  We start marching at 1:01pm sharp.

What is a Silly Walk?  Haven’t heard of Monty Python?  It’s an international Phenomena see more on the Monty Python website on International Marches.  I want this to be the biggest one ever.

How do I register or get involved?  You can register on #SPCSillyWalks on Eventbrite or on The Facebook Events for #SPCSillyWalks

I’m looking to recruit the true Monty Python Fans.  For those of the Organizing Committee Ministry I will get us Bowler Hats and Mustaches.  I’m working with Apps 365 as sponsor for T-shirts for attendees.  They are totally on board and love it.  Any other vendors who want to help.  Please reach out.  We can always use more swag.

When: May 21, 2019 at 1PM Pacific Time (Las Vegas)

Where: MGM Grand SPC Expo Hall Entrance (more details provided to those who register, but registration is not required)

What should I bring: Plan to bring a funny hat, suit coat, umbrella, and whatever other silly props along with your best silly walk
Remember to register on #SPCSillyWalks on Eventbrite or on The Facebook Events for #SPCSillyWalks

Not yet involved at SPC?  Get registered and use my invite code for a discount.  It’s going to be a blast.  I’m speaking on SharePoint Search.  More on that in another post.

Register for SharePoint Conference North America May 21-23 Discount Code OLESON

Want to be part of the Flying Circus Band?   I’m looking for Flying Circus style Tuba player, Trombone player, and a whistle chorus etc… (Song is “Always look on the bright side of Life”) various percussion options.

If you’re absolutely confused.  It’s probably a problem with your walk and we at the Ministry can help you with that.

monty python swing dance GIF

Reach out to me joel.oleson@outlook.com or on twitter at @joeloleson

Need some practice or inspiration on Silly Walks?

Here’s some history on Silly Walks

Here’s the original Hillarious and Fantastic Monthy Python Sketch from 1970.

#SPCSillyWalk #MontyPython

 

 

Tribute to Tom Castiglia, True Community Leader, Gone but Not Forgotten!

Update: See more stories, memories, photos, videos and a memorial for Tom at https://www.forevermissed.com/tomcastiglia/

When I first moved to California, there was one person who made a big impression on my life and it’s never been the same.  Tom Castiglia, President of the SharePoint User Group, and Founder of the .NET User Group in San Diego was all about community.  The first month I was there I had offered to help Tom and the SharePoint Saturday San Diego event committee.  I had some crazy ideas about doing a speaker party on the beach with fusion Hawaiian food and fire and hula dancers.  Tom didn’t shut me down despite the fact I accidentally planned a trip to Colombia and Bolivia over the top of that weekend.  I heard everyone had a great time, but Tom helped me pull it off without hesitation.

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Up bright and early for SharePoint Bloggers breakfast before the keynote and on the second row…  Tom had Passion!!

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The next month I was at the User group with some rough news.  I was in the middle of trying to buy a house with an unknown closing date.  It was during the committee meeting for the user group that I brought up I was out of work and looking.  I didn’t really have any time to make anything happen…  Tom reached out and I believe he stuck his neck out to take a chance on bringing me on at the small San Diego based business.   A day later I was talking to Neal and Arjay and the following Monday I was working with him at Hershey.  I was able to keep our house and with no drama my prayers were answered.

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Some of the Hershey SharePoint team at a recent little reunion.

 

We’d share a room at the upcoming Ignite event, and nearly every waking moment of that event we were together.  My SharePoint friends were his friends, and the San Diego User Group and SharePoint crew got really tight.  Haaron Gonzales, Chris Givens, Randy Williams, Galen, Tony, Ron… you couldn’t find a tighter community.  We adopted David Leveille when he moved to San Diego.  He had a client in San Diego and lived with Tom and Martha for over a month.  Who does that?  Tom (and Martha).  1

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While I was working with Tom at Hershey we had more than a few lunches together.  We shared a lot together.  I saw his work ethic first hand.  A hard worker with a passion for community and friendships.  He told me all about his Old Pros group, and I saw it first hand.  Those guys would do anything for each other.  Very tight knit group.

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The next year in Atlanta for Ignite, Tom, Galen and I got glowing light sabers and we fought with our lazer swords under the laser light show.  Tom believed in my crazy ideas and backed me up when I was feeling spontaneous.  That’s a rare thing.

 

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I went to more baseball games with Tom in the past few years than the rest of my life combined.  He sure loved baseball.

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Tom knew how to make people feel wanted and how best to organize an event.  Last years SharePoint Saturday San Diego Zoiner opened his home for the speaker dinner.  It took things to a much more personal level.  Something I’ve strove for.  This community is more than a bunch of geeks.  It’s family.  We all know that.

 

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It didn’t take much to convince Tom to join me on a crazy adventure to SharePoint Saturday in Cuba.

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Politics doesn’t divide the SharePoint Community.  Tom, Rob, Chris and I met with the Cuban SharePoint folks who sacrificed to tell their stories.  I cherish the memories of walking through the dark streets of Havana with Tom.  He put a lot of trust in me.  It was one of the first times they’d left Ben alone and for so long.  Tom tells the story that Ben had a secret, but due to their strong relationship, he couldn’t hold it a secret for long and Tom would handle the situation like a good father would.

Tom was the glue that has kept the community here in southern California together.  Through ups and downs and thick and thin…  Even when Microsoft said we couldn’t keep meeting in San Diego, he pushed to get us what we needed to keep going.  He has put his own money into buying pizzas on more than one occasion, traveling to SharePoint events all over the country and beyond.  His impact cannot be measured.  As a Nintex vTE he helped people for free all over the world, and those developers and engineers are deeply indebted to his graciousness and technical knowledge.

 

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Tom invited me and a few SharePoint friends to his 50th birthday party.  This wasn’t the first birthday he invited me to.  During the first year we moved here, he invited me into his home and my little boy Dean danced and danced at his party.  We all felt comfortable at Tom’s house…  We could be ourselves.  Being at Tom’s house belt like being at home…  being there felt like family.

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Only a week ago, Tom helped me do some shopping and helped me throw the biggest party I’ve ever had.  I had commitments on Thursday and Friday and he took time out of his week to go shopping mid week.  Super nice guy.  Tons of Love.  He opened his heart and we’ll never be the same.   I miss my friend, but know he’ll be waiting for us all for a big party on the other side… with a brass cup and some ginger beer.  I’m sure he’s working with the Angels on their Records Management in the meantime.

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Tom, I’ll miss your non judgmental smile and your never give up and do what it takes to make it work personality.  I promise to do what I can to keep the community together, and I’ll never forget the way you made us all feel… loved.

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If you know or were inspired by Tom, I invite you to attend Tom Castiglia’s Funeral which will be on Tuesday February 5th at 10am. http://tomcastiglia.eventbrite.com

Saint Gregory the Great Church, Scripps Ranch, 11451 Blue Cypress Drive, San Diego, CA 92131

How can you help? In the beginning the recommendation was to donate to the American Heart Association. Even better, now there is a Go Fund Me to help with Funeral and Burial expenses… Thanks for anything you can do.

10 Things to Remember from 2017 Office 365 Year End Recap

I hope you enjoyed my 2018 future of Office 365/ SharePoint predictions.  2017 Was filled with a lot of releases and many new technologies to learn and grow with.  It’s a good day for reflection.  In fact the Tech Community Blog posted 2017 year roundup.

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1. Microsoft Teams released with integrated Bot Framework and SharePoint document integration

2. SharePoint Framework SPFx released for Office 365 and for on premise with Feature Pack 2.

3. Teams announced it would replace Skype for Business online.

4. Communication sites & Modern Team Sites released

5. Over 200 data previews formats

6. Modern List improvements

7. StaffHub, Office 365 Education,

8. Flow Released – Integration with Office 365 libraries.  Announcements for more on prem integration in SharePoint 2019.

9. PowerApps Released – Integration with SharePoint libraries.  Announcements for more on prem integration in SharePoint 2019.

10. OneDrive on Demand (Improved sync on demand files for SharePoint doc libraries) with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Introducing Mixed Reality & SharePoint Saturday VR #SPSVR See you in AltSpaceVR!

I have to thank my good friend Noah Sparks for tutoring me in VR.  He’s one of the most passionate and has spent a lot of time educating  taking the time to catch me up.  My first intro to mixed reality was with the Hololens at Ignite a few years ago at the LiveTyles booth, where you could see a virtual SharePoint portal as well as interact with any number of 3D objects in their booth.  They allowed me to wander around and experience AR based training from minecraft castle sitting on a Augmented reality table to a 3D video of a guy showing me how to lift weights properly.

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Microsoft’s full continuum look at Mixed Reality (Image courtesy Microsoft)

Later about a year ago, I was at SharePoint Saturday Utah and participated in a session with Noah Sparks and Jared Buttars about SharePoint and Mixed Reality.  I was running a live periscope broadcast at the session and there was a lot of excitement and engagement both in the room and from on twitter and periscope.  After the session Noah delivered some 1:1 VR experiences with his VIVE.  Everyone who got a chance to use it was impressed and freaked out with how amazing it was.  Noah invited me over to spend a night experiencing the VR at a more detailed level.  It was that night I first tried Facebook Spaces

In anticipation of my new job at Blizzard and my new found passion for VR, I researched the mixed reality headsets.   I visited two different Microsoft Stores and got demos of the HP headset and at Best Buy got to experience the PS4VR, but ultimately decided to go with the Oculus by Facebook along with a Samsung 360 for 360 3D pictures and video and broadcast recording.

I’m not the only one who has been fascinated and sees a future for AR/VR mixed reality and communication and collaboration.  In fact, at the last Collab 365 they setup a room in AltSpacesVR and a few people had a session in VR.  Pretty cool.  Mark Stokes has done a great job of kicking things off in AltSpaceVR and great news… Microsoft aquired them.  This is another great reason to meet up in Microsoft’s AltSpaceVR.

 

SPSVR-planning

I think we’re ready for a special event just for the Office 365 SharePoint people to discuss VR in a virtual reality environment.

 

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Clip of What Productivity Looks like in Mixed Reality (Clipped at 13:09)

 

Interested in being on the committee, speaking, or participating?  Please join me.

Register your interest on EventBrite to be informed about the upcoming #SPSVR…  and Join me in the upcoming planning session for #SPSVR on January 4 Event on AltSpaceVR

At this meeting we will determine format, dates, times, length and room.

 

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SharePoint people gather in AltSpaceVR during session at Collab365.  Notice the showing off of Communities in SharePoint Online in VR.

 

Are you ready?  Not convinced this is Microsoft’s Next Big Bet, you haven’t been watching.  Look at the Fall Creators update of Windows 10 and Interface is so important. Go to Microsoft Store and look at the investment… check out the demo.  See you in Virtual Reality… in this case… Microsoft AltSpaceVR.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTT_3DhTMI8

Ignite 2017 SharePoint Cliff Notes

Cliff Notes from Microsoft Ignite on SharePoint, OneDrive, and Office 365 and SharePoint 2019

  • Microsoft 365 == Office 365 ++
  • Bing for Business – data from both on-premises and cloud resources can be embedded in the same search results list using Microsoft Graph and AI to connect relevant contextual data from Office 365 and Internet based Bing results based searches. There is a preview.  When you search for a file, regardless the file type, you can preview the file directly in the search result without opening or downloading it.
  • Linkedin data coming to profiles in Delve and Graph, more to be announced for developers
  • New Office 365 App Launcher
  • Teams is the new shizz. It is taking front and center as intelligent communications.  It is getting call in support for meetings, better SharePoint integration, better everything integration and development support for much more.
  • New Yammer Vision/Roadmap think of it as the outer ring of communication.
  • Flow deeper SharePoint integration including column list access and support in SharePoint 2019
  • SharePoint 2019 TAP and Preview is open. https://aka.ms/sptap (Code: SPT232).
  • OneDrive announcement – When you share a document with outside users, they will receive one email with the shared document and one email with a one-time passcode. Then they can access, view, or edit the document even if they don’t have an Office 365 account.
  • OneDrive Files On-Demand is also now generally available which allows you to sync OneDrive files to File Explorer and manage your files directly through File Explorer without utilizing any of your device’s storage.
  • Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool was also launched today. This allows users to migrate home directories, file shares, and document libraries to Office 365
  • SharePoint Hub sites were announced. This allows you to organize your intranet bringing associated sites together and create cohesion with shared navigation and look-and-feel.
  • New Security Controls – site classification, conditional access based on location and device
  • OneDrive UI improvements including sharing files from explorer
  • New Templates and Designs – SharePoint Mobile Natively – Communication Sites improvements
Matchmaker

Not a sell out! It’s Matchmaking

I recently read a Facebook thread about a new MVP who was being approached by a vendor and asked if they’d do a review or join them on a webinar. The question they were asking their colleagues was if they were a sell out by participating in these activities. I was surprised by the first few responses suggesting that they NOT work with the vendor, then some more seasoned community folks joined in to explain that we all have to make decisions around who we work with and what is worth our time and where the line is in terms of endorsement deals.

Since IT and the technology industry isn’t fraught with Subway ads, or Nike shoe deals, many don’t understand how one can realistically partner up with a company or even try to take an unbiased approach to working with vendors on webinars and such.

As someone who gets at least weekly invitations to post something on my blog, or join a vendor in an expo hall, webinar, and so much more… I’ve personally asked myself this question over a hundred times and that line has shifted since the beginning. I’m sure there are haters out there that would say I’ve taken too many deals to call myself unbiased, but in the same vein, how can you call me biased if I simply work with nearly everyone or at least nearly a hundred vendors over time.

As a consultant I’ve frequently been in the position of recommending or suggesting vendors and partners to customers, so knowing what the best solutions are is extremely important. Awareness is the absolute biggest challenge in the vendor space. There are literally thousands of vendor solutions out there, and there is no perfect app store that lets the best solutions rise to the top. Instead it’s a game of what partners are willing to spend at an event. At a typical paid SharePoint Conference it’s not unusual to pay $15,000 for a booth and fly out the vendor team to talk to a hundred or so people that may happen to come by the booth. Believe me, I’ve spend a ton of time in vendor halls and the little candy bars and tchotchkes may have little return on investment, but spend more and the Xbox One, motorcycles and massive parties do provide names and hopefully more leads. Why couldn’t a small percentage of that vendor marketing spend be spent with the community influencers to delivering webinars and getting awareness of product through a broader variety of means such as product write-ups, analysis, overviews and such. I understand people may say a review can’t be unbiased if it is paid, but then again isn’t it better to have someone check it out and tell us how they think a product may be valuable even if they don’t rip it apart? Would you rather these vendors spend their money on google ads or share that money

I hope the solutions delivery companies today build alliances with their preferred vendors based on NOT on how much of a cut they get, but relationships are actually forged based on the products which sell the best due to the solution being the best for the customers along with customer service levels. The worst solutions and worst companies should weed themselves out as the solutions fail to sell and lack of deployments.

As someone who has now done hundreds of webinars, events, reviews and various activities with vendors I consider my knowledge of third party product as extremely valuable. It is an asset I bring with me as I work with a company. Understanding the rich ecosystem of products and the vast network of employees who participate in this space is of great value. I consider myself a matchmaker and I don’t need to apologize for participating in a webinar with a vendor. If we can focus on the challenge that customers have and see vendors as having solutions to those problems we’ll have a greater appreciation for the Microsoft ecosystem and sharing in the marketing budgets and giving back to the community in a share the wealth proposition we can travel further and strengthen our community and network. I’ll tell you that’s my strategy. Pretty much every dollar I make from a vendor goes back into the community by helping me subsidize my event travel, but I wouldn’t blame someone if they decided to put that dollar toward their kids school or paying your mortgage.

Love to hear your thoughts!

Vendors that are looking to get more involved with the community can reach out to me through twitter @joeloleson or linkedin or email at joel.oleson@gmail.com. There are plenty of influencers, bloggers, speakers, and product companies to go around. Happy to help you gain awareness for your product or solution. There are other great examples in the community who have been able to turn their evangelism for good for sharing their talents to share their knowledge and educate.

(Curious about the photo? Yes, I’m the one in the plaid shirt next to the babushka who lives in Chernobyl. I was speaking in Ukraine at a paid event which helped to subsidize this trip where I was also able to travel to Azerbaijan and speak at a User Group that has never been previously reached by anyone in our global community. I couldn’t have done it without their assistance. To put this in context I do also put in a lot of my own money in my travels, but I appreciate being able to share the wealth.)

SharePoint Community Launch in Morocco in Casablanca and SharePoint Days

I really enjoyed helping launch the newest community in the SharePoint World.  The community in Casablanca was born this week.  We had a great first User Group meeting followed by SharePoint Days Casablanca a 2 day conference attended by over 100 people not including the speakers which came in from across the world… Canada, US, Belgium, France, and more.  We had about 20 speakers on what is primed to become an annual French speaking conference in Casablanca.

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With some of the new SharePoint community in Casablanca

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Speaker lunch on the last day at the event outside.  To the right front is Hassan.  He was the one who helped kick off the ideas of a User Group in Casablanca and helped organize the event.  As well, big kudos to Serge Trembley for helping organize the speakers and inviting me to come.

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Nicolas Georgeault and Serge were the speakers at the first SharePoint User Group in Morocco hosted by Microsoft at the Offices in Casablanca.

I made a lot of new friends and learned a few new words in French.  For those that attended my sessions… here are the links.

 

SharePoint Days Casablanca

Day 1: Planning Your Enterprise Search Strategy

Day 2: Power User Search Tips for SharePoint and Office 365

 

Search Tips and Tricks infographic …  I’m working with Serge on a new French version of SharePoint Search Tips and Tricks and hope to have it in the next couple of weeks.