Monday evening I attended the monthly user group meeting of the Wellington Waterloo IT Pro User Group (http://www.wwitpro.com/) in Kitchener, Ontario. The topic for the evening was called Windows 7 Deployment as presented by Sean Kearney (yes, THE Sean Kearney, a.k.a. The Energized Tech, a.k.a. (the former) Friday Funny Guy!) from SWMI Consulting Group and www.powershell.ca. The title of his presentation was ‘Busting the Myths: There is no simple way to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.’ It was a great presentation… for a couple of reasons.
In truth I know this presentation cold because I have presented it dozens of times… I brought it to Canada (it was originally a TechEd session done by Jay Ferron, Jeremy Chapman, and friends) for TechDays Canada, and have since presented it to dozens of audiences. However to sit through it as presented by my colleague, who ‘learned deployment at my knee’ was great, to see not only that he really did get it, but also took my presentation, and truly made it his own. It was great.
I have been working with Sean for a few years, and watching him evolve from the Friday Funny Guy into the Energized Tech has been great. He truly has come a long way, to the point that I am willing to (and proud to!) have him represent my company, knowing that my reputation is at stake!
I met Sean about the same time that I met another good friend, Jacqueline Hutchinson. At the time – early 2007 – I was visiting Toronto, and Jacqueline had recently taken over the president of WWITPro. The group had been dropped in her lap, and she was doing her best to keep it going. Rick Claus asked me to spend a few hours with her and her team. We sat down over Mongolian cuisine, and I gave them whatever wisdom and guidance I could.
Whatever challenges that user group leaders encounter (and there are plenty!) the greatest challenge to most groups traditionally has been what happens when the leader leaves. Most groups are founded by people with strong personalities, and when they leave the void created has more often than not been the downfall of most groups that have tried. To visit WWITPro, five years and three leaders later, and find it alive and well and thriving is really a testament to the power of community.
To be clear, I did not come to Waterloo to support Sean… he doesn’t need it; he knows his stuff, and does not need to be propped up. I came to watch and enjoy (and deliver goodies and prizes from Microsoft and HP!), and to show my ongoing support for the IT Pro community in Canada.
I want to thank Sean for being such a huge community resource; he is a credit to his company, to the Microsoft MVP program, and to the Springboard Technical Experts Panel (STEP). I also want to thank Terry Edwards, who stepped up and took over the group when it would have been just as easy to hope someone else would. Being a user group leader may have its rewards, but it is also extremely taxing and demanding – and takes a huge chunk of time from their personal life. Thanks Terry, and the rest of your team whose names I wish I knew to list here.
Oh… and thanks for the pizza!