Let’s put everything in chronological order, not only to give context, but to help some readers "connect the dots" for when the flames shall surely come. This is not defamation. This is stating fact and attempting to redeem my own reputation and ability to recognize talent. This entry is about airing out the stench of resentment and an attempt to right a wrong.
Yes, this entry may contain excerpts of "private" conversations via chat or email or face-to-face conversation. So what? They happened to me and I’m posting them on MY blog.
I get a request from a colleague that is looking for a presenter on a couple of SharePoint Dev topics. I ask if this person is interested.
I ask, "I’m assuming you are a great (not just good) presenter" — I ask because this is a Microsoft conference with MCTs as the delegates. Being just a "good" presenter is a recipe for failure.
The person says, "i am an excellent presenter" — I take the person at their word. I know for a fact the person is regularly asked to MC cultural events and high profile community engagements. Being in front of a crowd is no big thing. I also know this person is a SharePoint Dev person as we both worked at the same client. I surmise that presenting SharePoint topics should be easy for this person.
I say, "cool. I talked you up, so…go out there and ‘wow’ them"
Here is the operative quote: The person says, "Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that. it’s for both mine and your reputation. i assure you. i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D"
So then when the person is confirmed to go, I get a IM from my colleague that says, "If [the person] doesn’t perform well, I’ll simply blame it on you". I share this comment. I want to ensure that the person is fully informed and aware of the magnitude of the appointment to present at a Conference.
Personal issues get in the way and a session that would have been co-presented is now my responsibility and the other person now only has two sessions to present instead of three.
"How are the slides coming?" I ask.
"All done. There aren’t very many because I am doing all demos".
OK. I figure that is probably OK and the person will be fine because, well, they are an "excellent presenter".
We both arrive Sunday. We go to dinner have a little discussion and then I get this, "I read your blog. I see what you are saying about me. It’s as if I’m not a part of your life." OK..I felt bad. Never mentioned a name but it was obvious about whom it was written. I am presented with a gift (yes, a gift) and a card that reads, (paraphrased) "You don’t know, but you have touched my life in many way and I want to thank you." Pretty much addressing in a roundabout way the things I had been saying in my blog.
Monday we go to breakfast and spend the day finalizing the slide decks. Up all night, to the point the cleaning lady is kicking us out of the speaker lounge at 3:30am. My session is at 8:30 the next morning, and it goes OK. Their session is at 10:30-ish. I hear grumblings about a horrible session. Hmmm wonder who that could have been? These presenters are good…some are great… who is sucking?? Maybe its just a cranky delegate.
I go back to the speaker lounge to finish work on my next presentation. One of the coordinators comes in and asks me, "Hey…have you seen any of your friend’s presentations yet?"
"nope." Been too busy and I have all the confidence in the world that everything is going well.
"Have you ever seen this person present?"
"ummm…no" Now I’m getting a little nervous.
"Why don’t you go sit in on the session for a bit and let me know what you think"
I’m not liking this. Not at all. So I go across the hall and sit in on the session. When I get there, the presenter is sitting down and explaining something. Performing a demo and it bombs. No biggie, it happens. An attempt is made to get it working, but it fails. OK, so now the dance will begin to get it working. Nope. It’s left like that. Presenter says, "We’re done". No applause, just grumbling. I look at my watch…uhhhmmmm this session still has about 30 minutes left. Oh no…this isn’t happening. I’m looking at the faces of the delegates as they leave. One says, "What a waste of time. It’s good I still can get 30 minutes somewhere useful."
I’m feeling sick to my stomach. I go back to the lounge to finish my presentation. Emails are flying. Oh crap. The coordinator says, "I’m REALLY worried about Redmond. This person ain’t goin’ to Brazil…no way."
Flash forward to today: one of the speakers who is doing the same presentations is called to go to Amsterdam and can’t present in Redmond. I know of someone who could that has presented before and is an MVP on the subject. I say to my colleague–"I know someone"
He says, "Come on Rick, you could not possibly recommend this person again. Their sessions in Berlin were embarrassing." My reputation is already damaged.
My mind goes back a few months to the comment, ""Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that. it’s for both mine and your reputation. i assure you. i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D" <sigh>…..
Summit finishes. I send out an email:
ME: Have you received any feedback?
Response: Nope. THank goodness
ME: You’ll get them sooner or later.
Response: Dang it. I hope I will never get them.
ME: It wouldn’t be fair to you. Think of it as a report card/progress report. There is much to learn from it. Especially the comments.
Response: This report card is one I’d like to toss out. haha
OK, so the person knows they have had better days. Fine, but to want to just forget about it? Now’s the time to learn from it….emails go back and forth and it’s not clear to me whether the full magnitude is apparent to the person. What the implications are of a failure this large. We chat via IM:
Rick Taylor says: "if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently"
Rick Taylor says: that’s the magic question
Presenter says: do what
Rick Taylor says: anything
Rick Taylor says: MCT Summit
Rick Taylor says: school
Rick Taylor says: life
Presenter says: ok i really can’t talk about this at work
Presenter says: @ a client’s
Rick Taylor says: understood
Rick Taylor says: later
Presenter says: k 🙂 have a great day
Rick Taylor says: will do
Rick Taylor says: hey
Presenter says: what’s up
Rick Taylor says: just so we are clear…let’s agree to drop our defenses for this
Presenter says: k
Rick Taylor says: in Berlin, were you feeling OK? Preoccupied or anything. Any "pre-existing conditions"?
Presenter says: as in?
Rick Taylor says: if you had to give yourself a grade as to how you did—what grade would you give yourself?
Presenter says: horrible
Rick Taylor says: ok. why
Presenter says: wasn’t prepared
Rick Taylor says: k. Time crunch?
Presenter says: too much work
Rick Taylor says: ok
Rick Taylor says: misjudged the preparation needed?
Rick Taylor says: or just ran out of time
Presenter says: work @ work
Rick Taylor says: ok. Just trying to put it in perspective in my own mind. Taking the position of the advocate is not easy
Presenter says: i know.
Presenter says: sorry, it was my fault.
Rick Taylor says: not looking to point fingers (especially since four more are pointing back at me).
Rick Taylor says: I want you to be successful. I feel as you do. I do.
Presenter says: ;(maybe i’m not emotionally ready.
Rick Taylor says: ha! Isn’t that *my* line
Presenter says: and i have too much on my plates
Rick Taylor says: yeah..you put a lot on your plate
Presenter says: alright i gotta run but be back in a while
Rick Taylor says: we need to finish…there’s more
Presenter says: let me know what i can do to help the situation.
Presenter says: well ok can you be quick
Presenter says: so i can catch all before i run
Rick Taylor says: no.
Rick Taylor says: let me know when you will MAKE time
Presenter says: after i come back
Presenter says: and i can not take calls during work
Rick Taylor says: ok
Rick Taylor says: later, then
Presenter says: via skype
Presenter says: k bye
Presenter says: alright
Presenter says: i’m back
Rick Taylor says: had a mtg
Rick Taylor says: now I’m going to the gym
Presenter says: k bye
Rick Taylor says: will you be online tonight?
Presenter says: hopefully
Rick Taylor says: ok. would you schedule me in?
Rick Taylor says: late
Rick Taylor says: I get home about 8pm AZ time
Presenter says: i’ll hop online
Rick Taylor says: will unwind
Rick Taylor says: ok
Presenter says: k bye
Rick Taylor says: thx
OK, so the person is a little sensitive and tender about it. But the fact still remains that two reputations are in the toilet and a simple apology via email (or phone) isn’t going to fix that.
I send out another email:
Typing this from a cross trainer, please forgive typos…
First of all, no I dont want to do this via email, and you probably dont want to discuss it via phone–so lets chat tonight. I just wanted to give some context.
1. The people at the conference (david, etc) dont know you. I understand your workload and your propensity to do more than majority of mere mortals. Not a wise thing to do, but thats another topic.
2. Microsoft conferences require an immense level of preparation. And if the presenter doesn’t deliver there is hell to pay.
3. You are more than capable to deliver high caliber presentations. The question is whether or not you want to do that in the future. If not, let me know–we’ll part ways. Maybe you want to do real estate or simply pull away from IT. If, on the otherhand you want to give e it a go again I am more than willing and happy to be there helping you.
4. Tonight lets talk about how we win the current battle in front of us. If you dont know what I am referring to, I will enlighten you tonight.
5. Oh, and previous rules apply. Keep the emotions in check, please. This is strictly business.
and I get this piece of email as a response:
Whatever that "hell" and "current battle" is, let me know so that I can start putting the fire out. I don’t see myself doing presentations in the forseeable future due to the many things I have on my plate and the possiblity of leaving the IT field for commercial RE, but thanks for always looking out for me.
So I log on and wait. And wait…and wait…
OK…still clueless. My response will be:
The "hell" and "current battle" cannot be put out with simple emails or phone calls. It will require that which you are not able or willing to do. The ONLY way is to do a good job the next time over and above everyone else. Make the previous attempt appear as a fluke. Since your interests lie elsewhere, your offer to put the fire out is moot. It is easy to bow out when within a year you are nowhere to be seen. The rest of us who remain for a year or two, who have had their judgement questioned bear the brunt of the damage. No finger pointing, just that is a fact.
I draw your attention to a statement you made:
"Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that. it’s for both mine and your reputation. i assure you. i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D"
Thank you for being true to your word. (yes that was sarcastic).
No need to respond to this email–yes I am a little perturbed, I’ll get over it. And please don’t take this communication personally–I mean it. I know how sensitive you are and your short temper…I’m not here to make you angry or hurt your feelings. I’m not trying to condescend to you or anything of the sort. I am only stating that what has happened has happened and its seriously hurt us both. It will linger for a bit but hopefully everyone will forget. It’s just that in the circle of presenting at conferences, the circle is small.
As for looking out for you–you’re welcome. Just trying to give back opportunities that were given to me. Good luck in Commercial RE and everything else!
I am expecting a response. (They are the type to want to always have the last word). Probably terse…accusatory…and rife with emotional immaturity….oh well.
And so it goes…the closing of another chapter…..