Well, happy 2007 again everyone! Yes, I am starting out the new year freshly employed at Microsoft as an Enthusiast Evangelist for the Silicon Valley region. Today is my first day in fact.
"So, exactly what is an Enthusiast Evangelist?"
The Enthusiast Evangelist role is a newly created position at Microsoft, and there are going to be more folks like me in other regions around the U.S. Our jobs are basically to go out and mingle, bond, and touch influential end users and show them all the cool things that Microsoft has to offer. Now the particular end users that I am to "target" so to speak are mostly consumers and mostly those who are influential in their communities or niches in some way. As an example, Oprah is influential with female consumers. If she puts a product on her O list, it's going to sell millions of units. In your community, there are people whom you trust as authorities in certain areas, and so if they recommend something, you tend to listen to them. My job is to find those influential folks and share with them what Microsoft has to offer.
Now, traditionally, Evangelists at Microsoft and most tech companies focus primarily on techie audiences like developers, IT Managers, and uber geeks. The Enthusiast Evangelist is a new role that is designed more to (excuse my boss speak) bridge the gap between consumer and tech company. It is no secret that there is a big divide between how tech companies promote and what consumers understand. Most people just scratch their heads. Microsoft wanted to hire me because my primary talent is the ability to translate Geek speak into Oprah speak to show people how technology can help them live their best lives.
Now, I did not know this position existed. They called me, and I was quite shocked actually. This is the beauty of blogging. If you start writing, you never know who will take notice. I was shocked because as I mentioned, most Evangelists are techie. I am the Queen of drag & drop. I do not code. I do not hang out in the techie circles. I am not a "name" in Geekdom. I know enough about technology to be an influential in my own circle or niche in body & beauty image issues, but put me in front of a group of developers and forget-about-it.
But that was okay. They wanted someone who was passionate about blogging, social media, and technology. They loved my post "How to explain RSS the Oprah way." They wanted someone who could do stuff like that on a daily basis. Now, I love technology, I spent over 12 years in the industry, but I did not want another job just pushing technology. I do not care really about speeds and feeds. I care about context. One of my frustrations working in the tech industry is the constant need to push the features of something instead of the "how will it make people's lives better" angle. As an example, so great, there's this thing called RSS but why do I need it? How will it help me get a job, find a man, retire young, lose weight, or any "real life" thing that people truly care about?
Well, Microsoft is getting that. They get that people are inundated with choices and noise, and that they need to get more "everyday" so to speak. How do you present technology so that it's less frustrating and more relatable? This is where I get to help, and where I get really excited. Another part of my job is to contribute content to Microsoft's video channel 10. What's thrilling about this is that this is the group that Robert Scoble was a part of when he was at Microsoft. I even interviewed with his old boss Jeff Sandquist. I will get to contribute content to a highly visited video channel, so the learning I will get will be fantastic. Cloud 9 describes the feeling I get when I think about this aspect of my new job.
Now, everything moved very smoothly until I started thinking about how much I wanted to put myself "out there." My readers who have been with me for awhile know that here at Back in Skinny Jeans I share my personal experiences as a way to help other women feel less alone, and feel like there is someone who gets where they're at. These experiences I have shared include rape, eating disorders, depression, and Corpse-rate America. This is some real intense and personal stuff.
I am very proud of all my work here on this blog, and I realized that once I pushed PUBLISH my stories are forever in cache, however, it is another thing to go work for the largest technology company in the world and be in a high profile position online where there will be people who will go and read every single one of my posts from Day 1. I was also concerned about how Microsoft would feel about having an employee who was so open about this kind of thing in their life. I was clear that I would not give up this blog because it's not a hobby to me, it's who I am. I will also not censor or tone down what I have been writing about because it makes them uncomfortable. My blog is of high quality because of my honesty. I really put my cards on the table here. What came next shocked me.
My new boss Jas told me that yes, I am more open about my past than most people, but that at the end of the day everything I write about is turning adversity into prosperity. My stories inspire and are therapeutic. I write to uplift people and help them live better lives. So, how could that be bad for me or Microsoft? It's only good for everyone. And, if anything bad should happen then he said, "We'll deal with it together." Man. I can tell you that only once in my career did I ever have a boss say that to me. I was sold. I also have Matt and my family and friends to support me so I am never alone. I also have to give a huge shout out to my mentor and teacher Ellen, for I would not be here in this good place in life without her help.
I found out that I got the job on Matt's birthday. It was a wonderful gift. I thought to myself, how cool it was to have an opportunity given to me like this one. I don't know where it will take me, but I do know that because I was authentic and stuck to what I am passionate about, I get to do more on my terms. I get to do things that will help even more people. As a way to share more of my thoughts and good works related to this new job and just the web in general, I have revived my blog Simplr, "A simple eye for the technology buy." Please stop by.
Believe in your dreams, and believe that you can make a difference even in small ways. I am very pumped about my new venture at Microsoft, and once again, I thank you my readers for supporting me and for coming to visit. I am eternally grateful ;-)