Joel Oleson Awarded MVP – 10 years of Community Building in Pictures

I’m humbled and excited to be recognized by Microsoft as an MVP for Office Apps and Services.  It’s been about 11 years since I left Microsoft back in March 2008, and started my journey to connect to IT communities in every country in the world. 


10 years later, and over 100 speaking engagements, and 100 communities later…

Here are a few of the highlights…


It started with Jordan… my first community visit after Microsoft


SharePoint in London and on the battlefields of Gettysburg


Many Many Share-Point I Mean SharePints later


From Bethlehem


To 3x in Lima Peru


Many Share-A-Okes!


You wouldn’t believe the LadyGaga SharePoint Outing in Sweden


SharePoint Bermuda…. Speaker shorts required


SharePoint Saturday Jamaica!  They said it wasn’t possible!


Sharing the Point in Vietnam in 2011



SharePoint Singapore x4 including User Group, SPS, and TechEd South East Asia x3 (man I miss that event)


SharePoint Malta


SharePoint Amsterdam x3


SharePoint in Czech


SharePoint Sweden (SEF!) x 3 + ESPC


Trinidad and Dominican Republic



SharePoint in Morocco


SharePoint in Slovenia (Thrive) x8


Getting interviewed in Berlin by Michael Greth… about 8 years ago.  5+ trips to Germany for the community.


Including a European SharePoint Conference where we saw the 20 year anniversary of the Wall topple!


SharePoint in Iceland!


More than a few SharePoint Limos.  (Many photos not included to protect the innocent Smile)


SharePoint Manilla


They said it wasn’t possible to do a SharePoint event in Georgia


SharePoint Bangladesh… Thanks MJ!




and of course one of my favorites… Chile x2  and Costa Rica x4 with Ricardo and Crew


The Latin American SharePoint Community is still very strong



Guyana, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador


And many trips down with Share The Point Under to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Signapore… Thanks Debbie!


75 signed up in Yeravan Armenia…. but 125 showed up!!


We made it happen in Bolivia


and in Venezuela


From Nigeria


To Ghana


And Nairobi

SharePoint in Antarctica


The bottom of the world


Arab community


To Tunisia


So many fun crazy times at SPC


and Brazil


and Pakistan


and Egypt




SharePoint in Full Robes in UAE Dubai


SharePoint has definitely made the rounds in the middle east


Central Asia Tour in Uzbekistan




And in Kurdish Iraq!


Sri Lanka



SharePoint Saturday Algeria


On the Top of Africa –  Kilimonjaro


To the Bottom of the world – Yes that is Dan Holme… I took this shot Smile


Many Late nights



Hanging out with fun people who make big impressions…


Who are these young pups?

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To the ends…

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Ukraine and Russia… it’s more fun with friends…


The Russian Speaking community is fantastic!


Across deserts and mountains


SPS Cuba (previously forbidden places)


Building relationships in the Persian community and then not getting allowed to see them was tough, but I’m happy to say Persian language packs in SharePoint 2010 on have a small contribution in part to my relationship with an MVP who’s business is in Dubai that I met 10 years ago.  Thanks Neo!

Thanks much to the whole community, with special mention to those who left a whole in my heart…

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I miss you!  Dave, John, Abir, and Patrick


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!  Happy New Year!  Thanks to the community… it’s been a lot of fun these past 10 years!

Thanks to those that believed in me and made it enjoyable.  I really love our community…  I hope you can see that.  The recognition has always been just a bonus, but it does mean a lot.  It’s been a lot easier to find people when they’ve been recognized by Microsoft. Community does change lives.

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. (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

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.


With some of the new SharePoint community in Casablanca


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.


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.


SharePoint Community ALS Icebucket Challenge… What’s all the Fuss about?

A couple years ago if someone asked me what ALS was I’d guess it was a technical term related to some kind of security token.  Then I found out I had a good friend who had Lou Gherigs disease.  I’d heard of that, but didn’t know anyone personally who had it.  The past few years I’ve been blessed with some incredible global travel experiences and opportunity to launch communities and training in some amazing parts of the world… from China, Vietnam, and Philippines to Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.  After that trip I found out that our Sharing the Point reporter and blogger John Anderson, was inflicted with ALS.  At that time it was very private, but he wanted to let us know that it may be his last trip with us.  He was noticeably shaking and told us about how much harder it was to type.  We were able to do one more trip to Africa where we hiked Kilimanjaro and launched a SharePoint user group in Kenya. (Yes, the one that met a year later on the day of the shooting in Nairobi.)  John was able to go on a Serengeti safari while we were on the mountain.  This would be our last trip with him.  He is now in a wheel chair.  The Bamboo solutions team still considers him part of the team which is awesome.  They’ve seen him through this awful disease.  I’m sure he doesn’t like this attention that he’s getting.  He doesn’t want to be an example, but I think it helps to put a face to what happens.

John Anderson’s experience explained in his own IceBucket challenge



Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw my first IceBucket challenger.  It was Bill Gates putting something he had constructed to dump ice on his head.  It was pretty awesome to see him challenge Mark Zuckerberg and see him accept.  Bonnie Surma had sent me the link and said… Wouldn’t it be great to get the SharePoint community involved in this?

I was busy with my move to the San Diego area, and while I would have loved to have gotten involved I was concerned I couldn’t give it the attention it needed. So I blew it off, until I was in Houston for work, and Naomi Moneypenny asked me if I would accept the challenge if she challenged me at the Houston SharePoint User Group meeting.  I told her… Sure! I’d accept, and please bring an extra bag of ice for me.

So Naomi takes the lead…


Kanwal, Naomi, Richard, Sean




Mark Rackley and Benjamin Niaulin and even Todd Klindt





That night 5 SharePoint people did the #ALSIceBucket challenge right in front of me.  I was last to go, and took the opportunity to challenge a few friends who were with me when John shared his ALS story.  I challenged Dux Raymond Sy @meetdux , I mentioned Bamboo in my story @bamboonation , Michael Noel @michaeltnoel , and Mark Miller @eusp .



Dux took the challenge and despite being in Singapore he arranged to make it happen.



Team Bamboo joins the challenge and challenges the SharePoint Product Team, SharePoint MVPs, and the Partners and community.


Here are a few more links:


Bill Gates


Satya Nadella


Jeff Bezos


Kermit the Frog


Wes Preston


Sean McDonough


Mark Rackley


Michael Gannotti


Sarah Haase


Richard Harbridge


Kanwal Kipple

Todd Klindt


Heather Newman


Dan Holme

SharePoint Uzbekistan

SharePoint Uzbekistan Community Launch and SharePoint Saturday

Michael Noel and I have been planning our trip to Central Asia for years!  We knew the biggest challenge would be visas.  Around Christmas time and after our wild across South American to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and more, I surrendered one of my Passports to Michael for 4 months to line up the most logistically challenging trip yet requiring 5+ visas. I reached out to Linked In expert Jim Bob, chief networker to help me see if I could find any SharePoint contacts in any number of the “STANS.”  Pakistan is packed with SharePoint people, but that’s a story for Michael Noel to tell, since I couldn’t get that visa in time (4-6 weeks!).

I also reached out to Timus Bazicalos was already a facebook friend and we’d be talking for at least a couple of years (maybe even five years ago) about doing a SharePoint Uzbekistan event in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.  We focused on Tashkent as the main hub of our trip, and as the anchor for the event.  Timus would help us with logistics and ultimately be a traveling companion on our tour of the silk road and help lead us to the borders of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and even Afghanistan.  His own visa requirements would keep him from being able to join us in those places, but it didn’t keep him from taking a week to tour the best of what Uzbekistan has to offer in some incredible ancient silk road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Shakrazabh.  I’ve started blogging on my travel blog about the silk road adventure trip and a few photos of the fascinating places from my trip.


Bukhara Fountain

Silk Road Tashkent Uzbekistan


Tashkent is a fascinating city.  As the capital of Uzbekistan with over 2 million residents, as a city it is more populated than many of the countries in Europe.  It is a high tech city with great infrastructure and you can still see some signs from the former soviet republic.  While my travel was focused on the 12th century and prior, our SharePoint conversations were much more focused on the future of Uzbekistan.

SharePoint Saturday Tashkent Uzbekistan

SharePoint Saturday Uzbekistan.  Bottom row is Timus, Me with my Uzbek hat, and Michael Noel in the suit coat.  Far right is the Microsoft rep. He’s The Microsoft country manager and only MS guy in the country.  Akhadbek, is the one with the back stage pass.  He has been running a SharePoint forum for Uzbeks.  Minus our female SharePoint attendee.  I think she snuck out when we went outside for pictures.  You can see her in the picture below.  Why do I bring that up? Every country I go to has a mix of males and females, and Uzbekistan as well has female IT folks.  Women in IT and Women in SharePoint is important and I support their efforts.

SharePoint Tashkent

Speaking at SharePoint Saturday Uzbekistan.



SharePoint is an important part of the strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan for their Ministry of Health.


We met with the SharePoint team at the Ministry of Health following the SharePoint Saturday after lunch.  Great conversations about responsive design, and best practices discussions on infrastructure.  Yeah, most of it was in Russian and Uzbek, so I didn’t understand most of it.


Tina and Timus, our Uzbekistan SharePoint friend his lovely wife who were our guides who would show us the adventure of a lifetime.  I feel very blessed to find amazing SharePoint people all over the planet, and have incredible experiences and adventures.  Timus, thanks for being a great friend and my wish is for much success to you and your family and all of the SharePoint people we met.  The world just got a little bit smaller.

If you’re a SharePoint guy and wondering how to connect with other SharePoint people in Uzbekistan, they are working things out to build a user group that will meet regularly.  Forums: join the Russian speaking community in Yammer:

SharePoint Saturday Jamaica

Birth of the SharePoint Community in Jamaica #SPSJamaica

I’ve personally been fascinated by Jamaica since before I started traveling.  I really enjoy the reggae music. Bob Marley and the Whalers had a huge impact on the world of music.  As a student of the world’s religions I am also fascinated by the Rastafari movement and the connections with King Solomon and have read the Kebra Negast, when preparing for my trip to Ethiopia and in understanding culture of Eastern Africa and my visit to Emperor Haile Selassie I tomb in Addis Abba. (You can read more about my travels to Ethiopia to the Rock Hewn Churches and the Empire and castles of Gandor Ethiopia. Connections even go deeper when I think about my Jamaican friends and how happy they are, and how addictive the smiles of my friends.

SharePoint Community Jamaica

The story of my visit to Jamaica for SharePoint Saturday stars with a conversation with a close friend.  Fabian Williams, a popular SharePoint personality known for his deep technical knowledge in the DC area in the federal space, but also as a popular SharePoint speaker.  I was among speaker friends at the speaker dinner in Virginia Beach, not far from where I had encountered my first Rastafarian friend in Hampton 20 years earlier.  I’m always up for a good adventure, so when Fabian asked “So, when are we going to do Jamaica?” I responded with, I’m ready and a few others expressed interest including Naomi Moneypenny.  We talked about our visit to some Jamaican stops in Fort Lauderdale, including the Jerk Chicken and goat.  Incredible food.  I looked at my calendar and realized I’d be in Orlando at the beginning of April.  So I said, if we can make it happen the weekend of March 29th, I can be there.  Others said they were free, and I set off to make it happen.  One thing about me, if I put my mind to it, I can make it happen.  My friends know this.

Later I was talking to Roger Taylor on Facebook from Jamaica, and he shared that he *REALLY* wanted to come and speak, and that he hadn’t been back in 23 years.  I knew for Roger this trip was going to mean a lot.  After I got the eventbrite page up, it was Jim Bob Howard that I reached out to.  He was there when we started planning the event.  He has an incredible passion around building community as a connector.  A lot of the early signups we had on the eventbrite were due to his work in helping us find the real SharePoint talent in Jamaica.  Jim Bob has spent many hours helping us connect with people that have a passion for technology that help us move mountains to put on successful events.

Roger really helped me focus on the event.  Every few days he’d ping me and ask me where we were at with venue, or the site, or updates on attendees.  Sadly, about a week before SharePoint Saturday Jamaica, Roger was hit by a drunk driver.  The collision could have easily killed him.  Despite the injuries to his leg, cheek and eye, he pushed through and came to speak.  His doctors orders were to not use his eyes, so he led a discussion on cloud computing.

At the SharePoint conference it was conversations with my new friend Jennifer Pearcy.  She has been traveling to the island for many years and has a deep passion and love for the people.  All of the speakers paid out of pocket to get to Jamaica, but Jennifer traveled the furthest.  She flew from Saskatchewan Canada, to Vancouver and on down to Jamaica.  She also traveled with an extra suitcase filled with school supplies and soccer balls for a school she’s been supporting every time she comes.  That’s awesome.  I got my first dose of connecting with the kids in Nine mile, when I shared some extra pens that were in my bag.  The kids really liked the yammer pen and were almost ready to fight over it.  I also emptied my bag of some of my speaker shirts, so if you’re in Nine Mile and you see a SharePoint speaker shirt, you know where it came from.

Over time, the registration grew and we had 20, then 30, then 40 registered.  After SPC14 (the SharePoint Conference in Vegas) I ran into Craig, the organizer of SharePoint Saturday Bermuda.  Which itself was a great event.  When I chatted with him about what I was doing in Jamaica he wanted to help.  He connected me with George from Microsoft over much of the Caribbean.  George connected us to  Marcelle Smart, the Microsoft country manager in Jamaica.  Over the course of the next few weeks we’d work out a venue (JAMPRO), and almost lost the event when we found out it was going to conflict with the countries largest and most important sporting event. CHAMPS.  I continued to push for the event despite the conflict, and we kept it on track.  Marcelle from Microsoft, really took care of us.  When we were setting up our Speaker dinner she invited us to join the IT Community dinner fish fry in Kingston.  This is where we met some of the most influential IT folks on the island and would have an opportunity to promote the event event further.


I’ll save my travel photos of the beautiful island for my travel blog (post coming soon), but we really had an incredible time connecting with the people.  I rented a car and drove from Montego Bay to Kingston and had a day of adventure on either side of the event in my travels to Ocho Rios, hiking Dunns River falls, and visit to the Bob’s houses on Hope Road, Trench town, and deep in the jungle in the hills in Nine mile.  All of which I recommend.

Hope Road Bob Marley Experience

When we first arrived at the venue on Saturday morning. I was starting to get a little nervous.  Would anyone show up?  Slowly but surely we had a solid showing which included a great diversity of talent with many of the people there showing real depth and experience in SharePoint with more than a few going back as far as SharePoint 2003.  In addition we had real records managers, admins, developers, and people from some of the most important companies in Jamaica.  This wasn’t a room of students with no connection to SharePoint.  All of them had powered through on their own, so meeting others had that much more of an impact each other.  It was fascinating at lunch to listen to them get to know each other and quickly have a ton in common.  I love being in a position to help build a community and what I witnessed here was the birth of the SharePoint community in Jamaica.  Microsoft has lent their support, and all of the people who attended raised their hands in interest in joining the user group.  Afterwards, I connected with Renee who traveled over 2 hours to be there.  It doesn’t take many of those to make me feel and know that my little sacrifice of my time and money was worth it to help these awesome people get further in their careers and in their lives as technology in nations like Jamaica means opportunity and change.  It transforms the lives of people.  It’s cool  to be part of that transformation and help enable the change.


IT Community SharePoint Speaker Dinner

If anyone has doubts about the impact of building community.  All they really need to do is visit a SharePoint Saturday event.  These events are built by the community for the community.  No one gets paid and everyone sacrifices their weekend and these are the strong ones.  You meet the ones that sacrifice the most to share their passion for technology and changing their families and communities.


After the speaker dinner a few of us went out to Mas Camp, a festival leading up to Carnival.  While there I met a randomly met a SharePoint Admin named Richard, he recognized my SharePoint shirt.  Richard spends his time working on SharePoint and has spent many hours writing powershell scripts and doing support and maintenance for the platform.  Amazing.  You didn’t think that could happen in Jamica, did you?  He even reads this blog! Don’t underestimate the power of technology and community.  Out of Chaos comes order or better said, out of many one people.  I see that in our community…  When we come together as one, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.


My new friend Chris Reckord and his awesome yammer shirt!  Yep, Yammer has fans in Jamaica too!  The power of social!!!

My hope is for the Jamaican Community to grow and flourish.  It will help the careers of many and strengthen the companies as it grows.  It is now in the hands of the locals.  Next time I go to Jamaica it won’t be an event that I’ve organized, it will be the SharePoint Community in Jamaica that will be hosting and inviting speakers from around the globe to come and visit this amazing island and becoming one people from many.  In the words of Bob Marley… “One Love, One Heart… Let’s get together and feel alright!”

Some of My Fav Pics – Social Side of SharePoint Conference #SPC14

There was all this talk about working like a network, working social, and working in the open, but I felt like the SharePoint Conference was a chance to rekindle relationships with friends from all over the world.  I had friends from Argentina, Colombia, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa who travelled crazy distances to come and listen to sessions… No, they were there for the same reasons I was…  to meet up and network with friends, and see if there’s anything new in any of these roadmap sessions that will help us better understand the direction of the product teams.

In previous years there were a number of social activities planned, and just a month out I was getting worried that people were so caught up in the cloud battle and just too exhausted to try to put something together.  In the past I’ve always gotten caught up in all of the parties and trying to connect with as many people as possible, that I decided it was again important to track socially what was going on and help contribute to a calendar of activities.


While Most saw the scene above…


This is what #SPC14 looked like to me…

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#ShareHike at Valley of Fire on Saturday before the event with @ghurlman @mosslover @tashasev @manojviduranga and becky’s friend Leah and Luis.

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We even took our shoes off going through the narrows… extreme!


Sunday with my #ShareChurch friends


Sunday night at ShareComedy with @gvaro at the ViewDo Lounge



InfoPath Funeral Monday at Lunch


Musical FlashMob… SharePoint People… Don’t Stop Believing!

@joeypatterson, @sharepointmom @darcehess @mikecferrara (not seen in this photo… another 30 singers!)



Welcome reception @RonFetters is the blurry guy jumping



WP_20140303_13_41_12_ProJoin me and @ericharlan from Microsoft on Thought Leadership at 3:15 today Murano 3201-3303 #SPC14 #BambooWay

Me and my fellow YammerTime friend @mikecferrara


Best Conversations were in the hallways… @danholme @jeffdeverter @laurarogers @toddklindt


Exhibit Hall randomness @markrackley @fabianwilliams @joeloleson @gvaro @cjgivens @ericharlan @


Michael Noel @michaeltnoel 19 book author signing the Russian version of his SharePoint book being photo bombed by @zlatandzinic


@jwilly and @marcykeller with @sharepointmom @wendyneal @markrackley



#Shareaoke!  David Pileggi @DavidPileggi is a so much fun!  We’re doing a repeat in Boston for Best of SPC!  We had Naomi and her friend with us… in China Town Las Vegas.



More hallway conversations with @cmcnulty @marcykeller Mark and @pswider


@markrackley and me getting bonked by an attendee


Marti Gras parade with @NMoneypenny @pswider and @michaeltnoel


Out at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with @popsharepoint @nmoneypenny


@robertbogue with his lovely wife


Concert at the attendee party!  Alena gets up and close with the band.


Every day and night, my car was packed whenever we went out on adventures.  @pswider and his girlfriend Alena.


The community area was really just a place to hook up your laptop and as a meeting place it was even confusing, I hope next year they listen to the community for putting this together.


Birds of a Feather Discussions in the ViewDo Lounge with @wbaer and @nsparks and @jeffshuey


Asif and Waldek… Legends… @asifrehmani @waldekm

Speaker Party in Hakkasan (Best club in Vegas… Really!)


Me and Mark Freeman @sphotshot at the Red Party… Tao


David Pileggi @davidpileggi gets a thumbs up showing off the Hammer Pants at the Axceler + Best of Breed awards party.

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Last but not least… The famous Christian Buckley @buckleyplanet Selfie



Hope to see you next time!


Until then we’ll be hanging around @tashaev shows off her climbing skills