Who is “Nick”? Contact me!

I’m following up the comments of “Nick” who left comments on Roger Lawrence’s blog post (here), and on Paul Stovell’s blog post (here). The comments have caused a bit of a stir at Readify and I’d like to invite Nick to e-mail me on my personal address (mitch.denny@notgartner.com) so that we can have a conversation about it.

Nick – if you are willing to give you a forum here on my blog where we can thrash out some of the issues (if you don’t have your own blog). Some people say that you shouldn’t pick a scab, but I think there is a lot to be said for getting issues out and into the open.

I’m going to ask the Readify guys to link to this blog post to try and make sure we catch your attention. I’m sure others feel the same way you do so now might be a good time to examine the points you raise.

If you’d prefer not to contact me directly, that is fine, feel free to leave comments on this post.

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89 thoughts on “Who is “Nick”? Contact me!

  1. Pingback: "Where’s Wally?" Version 2 - Now called "Where’s Nick?" « Enter the Tatrix

  2. Can't handle Even One Criticism

    Readify proves once again that it can’t handle even one comment without throwing a hissie fit, spending all their time managing perceptions instead of producing quality work.

  3. websta91

    @can’t handle even one criticism

    because it takes soooo long to send an email round to your co-workers and write a blog post these days…

  4. Terry

    Readify seems to now have a lot of bright young guys with very little practical experience. I was told at TechEd that very few of their consultants have even worked for the company for more than two or three years. They seemed to have a big departure of experienced guys some time last year. No-one seemed to want to talk about why that happened but there’s clearly a problem with retaining serious talent. It also means they’re now trading on a reputation built by people that aren’t even there anyway.

  5. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi folks,

    Thanks for the responses. I haven’t had a reply from Nick yet, but I appreciate that you guys have taken the time to reply. Terry, I think I’ll reply to you specifically since the other posts seem to be trolls.

    As a consulting organisation Readify will always gain and loose staff as we grow and the needs of individuals no longer align with what the organisation can provide. Our challenge is always to maintain the depth in the ranks so that can happen without seriously impacting our business – I hope that is the case. Over the years I’ve been very involved in helping recruit staff and I have a few simple rules that I follow.

    First of all, I want everyone I say “hire” to is smarter than me. I need to know that when I am working with technology X, this is the person I would call.

    During the technical interview I am looking for that little spark that tells me that in some particular area they are going to shine. If I look around the people we have in Readify today I am confident that I could point at everyone and tell you what their particular specialty is and when I would call them – the strength of Readify is not the one consultant that turns up on the day, but the network of knowledge that Readify can access.

    The second rule that I follow is that they have to be passionate. This is the passion that causes these guys to stand up and give presentations and chalk-talks at TechEd, to offer to present at user groups and code camps and to build tools that they give away for free on their blog.

    We do make an investment in people, so if we find someone who might be a bit younger than the usual consultant we don’t discriminate. We look at their skills, and their potential and them put them into situations where they can succeed. Readify would be a very boring company if it was only filled with people that had been working in the industry for fifteen to twenty years, we need a mix.

    As we are a growing company it is natural that we will have people working for the organisation that have only been there for a few years. I remember my first day over six years ago!

    Readify reputation is based on the culture and dedication of everyone in the company, not just the rock-star status of a few individuals. Those individuals are great ambassadors for the business, but its the people behind them that count.

  6. Michael

    Sigh. Consulting. Will always have it’s detractors. Well I remeber standing in front of 500 people at a DECUS when some guy down the back said that “Digital didn’t support these products because it had a secret agenda and was maipulating the market…” I think I said that we didn’t really sit around in meetings plotting the downfall of the western world, and personaly, were all too busy trying to keep customers happy.

  7. Michael

    Then the MC moved us along quickly… From an outside perspective, have to say that it is pretty easy to identify a gap in the market around Microsoft’s after-sales-service/ consulting to large corporates area, cf other vendors that have gone before. What is hard is to capitalise on this and build a successful business of the size and cred of Redify, and to leverage the networks inside of MS, and in IT around Australia. Personaly I thin we sould emulate the strategy, ut hey, we’d probably fal at the first hurdle, and probably don’t have the money to fund the marketing-as-a-loss-leader. Graeme Strange can take a bow, sometimes its more about staying off the reefs in a ‘great helmsman’ sort of a way…

  8. anon

    The issue is not that there was more Readify presense at TechEd. The issue is that others were not given a chance. Look at the comment by Andrew Parsons on Roger’s blog.

    “And so many last minute “oh we have a hole, can a Readify guy fill it please?” guys too – awesome work, Readify! :)”

    How do you explain this? ‘…can a Readify guy fill it please” You need to have your head checked if you cannot detect favorism here.

    Here are few comments from http://www.crn.com.au/News/84433,microsoft-blog-sparks-criticism.aspx
    Other side of the coin, Microsoft Australia is rife with cronyism; hang around the lobby while waiting for an appointment and you will see “pal” after “pal”, “mate” after “mate” coming for meetings with the same people. I’ve seen blog posts and Flickr streams of Microsoft employees holidaying and socializing with Microsoft “Partners”, only to see those same “Partners” being ushered into deals ahead of any kind of vetting process. It’s not only unfair, unconscionable, and unconscientious with regards to other partners, but to some degree, Microsoft staff hold a responsibility to the customers to act impartially and in the fair interest of all partners and customers, by giving friends favors or requesting support from a closed group, such as asking Readify staff to fill presentation slots, before opening that invite up in a public or partner forum, they essentially cheat other partners, and the attendees. And let’s be honest, it’s not like the Microsoft staff are naive to the impact a speaking slot at Tech.Ed has on a Partners reputation and brand. It’s simply cronyism at its worst, or, Microsoft Australian best.

    AND

    I once worked at Microsoft North Ryde as a contractor through one of their providers. The buddy culture is rife. They could not stop talking about the same new people. If there was an issue then the first thing you’d hear was Oh! let’s call so and so Readify guy. I think that their so called evangelist are doing a disappointing job on the entire community scene. I wonder what their KPIs are. Oh! let me guess. How many favors did we do to Readify or our other crony.”

    I will leave it upto you guys to explain this. Moreover this is not so much a Readify problem as it is a Microsoft problem.

  9. Terry

    Hey Mitch,

    In that case, what percentage of Readify “consultants” would really qualify as “consultants” let alone “senior consultants” or whatever you call them? We’re not talking about how many know about the latest piece of some technology as no doubt you have those, but people that have a good track record of business and soft skills and are still working in consulting roles after being with the company for three or four years? It doesn’t sound like many. Is there any sort of career track in the company for those people? If so, why can’t you keep them? Aren’t they paid enough or something?

  10. silky

    Yeah I’d agree that I get a certain “vibe” from Readify that I don’t really like at all. But this won’t come as a surprise really; and I don’t really hold any grudges :) Full-disclosure: Applied for a job and was shot down. But I have noted that in almost all my dealings with Readify that there is a very strong sense of arrogance. But to each his own.

  11. Terry

    And for the guys knocking Microsoft for calling on Readify when needed instead of you, you need to look in the mirror rather than whinging to Microsoft. There are lots of ways to get noticed by Microsoft. For the people that asked to speak at TechEd and didn’t get a chance, what evidence did they have that they could do the job? Have then been speaking at user groups, codecamps, delivering MSDN webcasts, etc.? These things have a much lower barrier for entry and you need to establish a track record before anyone’s going to call on you.

  12. secretGeek

    As a ‘competitor’ to Readify, i’ve got to say that the people i know who work at Readify are pretty damn amazing. Very damn amazing.

    This includes people who have worked there a long time, and people who haven’t worked there very long at all.

    More power to you guys, you work much harder than normal people do and deserve every bit of success you get.

    At an event like tech-ed there’s a lot of ‘last minute “oh we have a hole, can a person fill it please?”’ — and if you are pro-active about helping out, you’ll get opportunities in these spaces, whether you work at Readify or not.

    I got some great opportunities to help out at tech-ed this year, and it wasn’t because of anyone I knew. It was because I asked. Asking is what matters.

    There’s a saying that 90% of success in life is just showing up.

    Readify guys always show up. That’s why they win.

    cheers!
    lb

  13. James

    Hey, what a crack up, so let me get this straight. Someone makes a comment basically criticising Readify for being overly successful, and their management, suddenly realising the focus is on them, replies with “it isn’t so”, “it isn’t so”. They are in such frantic denial that it must be a case of where there’s smoke there’s probably fire. And what a shallow bunch they are, obviously operating well above their IQ levels to draw attention to this.

  14. James

    But then again, this whole thing could be just a clever ruse to draw attention to themselves. Hmmm. But I’ve met the Graeme’s and they’re not really that bright. Pretty dumb in fact. The smartest thing they ever did was hire smart consultants, people that are already smart. They certainly didn’t create the consultants. I’m thinking this happened by accident.

  15. anon2

    I think the general feeling is that Readify is in bed with microsoft, you only have to look at the number of MVP’s readify have and the way they market their business around it, have you seen those job adverts that say something along the lines of helping to promote your MVP ambitions,
    If you go by Chucks Post: http://blogs.msdn.com/charles_sterling/archive/2008/07/08/recipte-for-making-an-mvp.aspx

    “Community contributions delivered in the previous year for which no revenue was received”

    How much paid work time do the readify guys put in that gets counted towards being an MVP? How much of a financial reward does Readify pay to it’s MVP staff for simply having the MVP title.

    I think Microsoft should exclude any Readify employee from being apart of the MVP process.

  16. anon2

    I think the general consensus is that Microsoft is in bed with Readify. Look at the number of MVP’s that Readify have, you really have to ask yourself if they fit with what Chuck’s Post Points out:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/charles_sterling/archive/2008/07/08/recipte-for-making-an-mvp.aspx

    “Community contributions delivered in the previous year for which no revenue was received”

    How much paid time do the Readify guys put into keeping or obtaining their MVP status? How much financial reward does Readify pay for each employee to keep their MVP?

    No doubt you’ve seen the job ads that say that Readify will help you with your MVP ambitions.

    Readify has cheapened the MVP program, they use it as their own marketing tool and hijacked the system, no doubt the relations between Readify and Microsoft have a lot to do with it, Microsoft should exclude any Readify employee from becoming an MVP.

  17. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your kind words. I agree that a lot of people look for a hidden agenda. I remember talking to a Product Manager at TechEd a few years ago and I had a go at how the breakup of the SKUs in the product seemed to force people to buy the more expensive SKU.

    The thing he said has always stuck with me “don’t ascibe to malice what could be incompetence”. Whilst I don’t believe the product teams are incompetent I think that sometimes people are just so focused on doing what they do that they don’t step back to see how it is all playing out.

    That could also be applied to Readify. So I am deeply shocked/disappointed that what we consider a sign of great community spirit and support is actually being intepreted as a bad thing.

    Kinda sad really.

  18. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    Just replying to your comment on the 12th. Anyone working at North Ryde would have been working as part of the SDC. I’m assuming that if you came across Readify folks at North Ryde it would have been associated with that.

    If that is the case the SDC (from what I understand) doesn’t have a lot to do with the DPE team, although I am sure people run into each other downstairs and in the hallway. I don’t see having faith in other peoples ability as being a problem.

    Was there a specific incident where you felt that getting someone from Readify to have a look at a problem resulted in a bad outcome? If so we need to take that one on the chin and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

  19. anon

    MVP program has been corrupted in Australia. Most of the credit goes to Readify. Basically if you are MVP aspirant then you just need to join Readify and you will be fast tracked towards the goal. For example I know of a guy who is a SQL Server MVP from Adelaide lets call him RF. It took him more than 2 years of effort to recieve his reward and at the same time Readify guys let’s call one of them PS, were getting the reward within 6 months of showing up on community scene (doing presentations etc.)

  20. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Terry,

    Sorry for delaying the answer to your first question on the 12th. Travel and the weekend kinda got in the road on that one. I’ll answer your question as directly as possible. At Readify we have three different technical roles. Senior Developer, Senior Consultant and Principal Consultant. In terms of seniority and expeirence that is in ascending order, however it isn’t really a line management structure as much as it is a support structure and I (as a Principal Consultant) would happily defer to quite a few of the Senior Developers in their area of expertise.

    Around Australia we have 5 Principal Consultants, 15 Senior Consultants and 27 Senior Developers. The actual roles and responsibilities are too big to post here but basically the difference between a SC and an SD is that an SC can reasonabily be expected to lead an engagement whereas an SD whilst they may be engaged individually would probably integrate into the team.

    What customers get on an engagement depends on their needs and quite often those needs are discussed with Principal Consultants who get an early look at what the proposed resourcing for a project is and get a chance to suggest changes.

    I’d love to be able to say everyone at Readify is a Senior Consultant, but that isn’t the case, we have people who are still developing those soft skills, but there are some Senior Developers out there that I think have what it takes and the PC’s actively petition the business to get those people promoted into that role.

    With the PC’s and SC’s you can reasonably expect them to have a very long history of delivery in the IT sector, some specialised, others not.

  21. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi silky,

    At least we know you aren’t afraid to express your opinion and put your name to it. That atleast is an admirable quality. I’m sorry that you didn’t get a role at Readify and if you want someone to blame, blame me.

  22. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your comments on the 12th. Not sure if our marketing manager would necessarily approve us induldging in this conversation with the community, but Readify folks break the rules some times :)

    Seriously though I think the reason this thing has flaired up so much is that the actual technical folks at Readify do believe in the company a lot, and so when the company is targetted for being “successful” then we tend to react not to say “it ain’t so” but more – to clarify how we go into this situation – that is, through hard work.

    I’m also personally a believer in being open about things like criticism which is one of the reasons that I got into blogging and actually put my name against what I post. To understand my mindset I’d recommend reading Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel:

    http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Conversations-Changing-Businesses-Customers/dp/047174719X

    Not sure how to respond to the comment about G1 and G2, other than to say that I disagree. I’ve worked with them closely for a good number of years now and while I don’t think I always agree with everything I do respect their ability to lead the Readify business – I’d never underestimate them.

  23. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    I am currently a VSTS MVP (until October) and was formerly an ASP.NET MVP. I’ve been an MVP for over six years. I was the first MVP to join Readify, and shortly after that Dan Green who used to work for Readify also became an MVP. Dan and I both contributed to the same forums on-line which is actually how we knew each other.

    I’m not entirely comfortable with the Readify == “full of MVPs” brand association thing and most of the MVPs in the company tend to play it down a little bit if only because we are accutely aware of how temporary that status is. I’m constantly amazed every year when I get re-awarded.

    At Readify the majority of an individuals community activities are done on their own time. That said, at events like TechEd some of my time was put down as marketing support (50%) and some of it was put down as professional development (50%). That makes sense for TechEd since we actually had a stand there.

    What you will often find with people involved in community is that they will duck off early one day to get to a user group but make it up during the rest of the week. Readify isn’t too mercenary about that time because overall a healthy community grows the size of the pie.

  24. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi again anon2,

    I’m sorry that you feel that being employed by Readify should exclude that individual from ever being awarded an MVP. I am sure that this whole conversation will put existing MVPs who happen to work for Readify under the microscope – so I guess you may achieve your ends.

    Readify does not reward individuals for maintaining the MVP status (or at least not that I am aware of). We do however have a few internal programs to reward our staff for internally focused community activities. One of these programs is at the discretion of the management team, and the other one is voted by our peers. I would expect most companies to have similar incentive programs.

  25. silky

    Don’t feel the need to blame; not really fussed [anymore]; just wanted people to understand my possible bias :D There is one readify person I actually like. *Maybe* two :)

    I think for me the problem would be the whole MVP scheme. In general, I hate it. But I don’t really think this is the place to complain about that. Maybe you are just seeing the backlash against that program directed at you, instead of MS.

  26. anon

    Silky is right. This is directed at MS. Mitch you have been brave enough to provide a forum here. So thanks to you. MS is probably having an internal meeting somewhere at an expensive waterfront resturant about this.

  27. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    I’m not sure if RF would appreciate you bringing him into this. He (of course) is a fantastic contributor to the SQL community around Australia (not just Adelaide) and what I like about him is that he puts is own unique spin on the way he sees the world – its actually pretty refreshing.

    By the same token PS has been on a very long journey and I have personally enjoyed watching him “complexify” then “simplify” things as he digests each new technology. Some of the observations he comes out with are amazing.

    Both of these guys are excellent MVP candidates. I can’t explain why RF wasn’t an MVP before PS – but that MVP candidate processing engine is big and complex, I’d hate to be in their shoes.

    To be honest though, I don’t know if “becoming an MVP” should be the ultimate goal. I’ve always said to people that they should focus on the community and getting involved, it just makes sense if you want to build your own skills and make contacts. The MVP status is much more fun if it is a pleasant surprise :)

  28. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi silky,

    You might be right. Any community that has been around long enough will tend to build up a bit of unvented frustration. I know I have more share but I try to vent it in constructive ways.

    Take for example an issue I was having last week:
    http://notgartner.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/a-tale-of-wss-woe/

    I blogged this, forwarded the URL to a few people, as well as the private VSTS-Champs mailing list. The benefit for the community was that someone on the product team saw it and then responded with how they were going to address this in Rosario.

    Now my post didn’t change their product direction, they had already had that feedback, but talking about stuff in the open actually gets the issue raised to a level where the right people can have a conversation, in this case, the people that read my blog, and the product team.

  29. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    I doubt it’ll be at a swanky restaurant but I am sure this might get discussed over lunch. This whole thread is actually an example of some of the pain that Readify sometimes causes Microsoft.

    As business partners (Readify is actually a MS partner) we do get along quite well, as do other partners, but this stuff does stress the relationship.

  30. anon

    You cannot deny that Readify has no pull in making sure that their guys stay on the top of MVP selection process. Your own recruitment ad few months ago said that Readify was the place if you wanted to fulfill your MVP ambitions. I think Readify and most importantly MS needs some house cleaning around this.

  31. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    Most likely something that needs to be discussed at Readify internally rather than Microsoft. As I said earlier the MVPs aren’t entirely comfortable with that positioning (not that I can speak for all the MVPs at Readify – maybe I should say *I* am not comfortable with it).

    Out of interest, do you have a link to the job advertisement? It might help me figure out how it came to be that way. In the past we’ve had both internally driven and externally driven instances where that message has gone out as part of our recruitment campaigns.

    I thought we had sorted out the internal ones, but what can sometimes happen is that we tell external recruiters what we want, and they write their own copy based on what they know about the company – which obviously includes the MVP thing.

    Can’t promise it’ll never happen but we can try to combat it when it does (Readify is a multi-headed beast like any other growing organisation).

  32. Mitch Denny Post author

    Oh, just one more thing, re the MVP selection process. MVPs do get to _nominate_ others that they think might be an MVP. Now I have to say that I’ve only done this two or three times and I think twice it was someone outside Readify, and once someone inside Readify – and only because I thought it was justified.

  33. Philip Beadle (Principal Consultant - Readify)

    I do my share of the recruiting at Readify and most of our MVP’s were actually MVP’s before joining. Since the people we look for are typically that type of person ie Night programmers, its logical that we pick them. I beleive the reference in the job ad to MVP status was referring to the 23 days of Professional Development that we get at Readify each year and how you can use this time to do “MVP” type activities like prepare User group sessions, web casts etc. And just coz you work for Readify doesnt give you any better chance for getting a speaking slot at a conference. You only get picked if you have a great topic and good experience delivering. The reason a lot of Readify people get spots is because we push each other to see who can get a spot.
    Also I don’t know of many otehr companies who pay for all of their consultants to go to Tech Ed.
    Cheers
    Philip Beadle

  34. anon

    Philip,

    It takes a lot of courage to come out and say that there is something wrong and we need to fix it. You are obviously lacking that courage and are still working on building perceptions.

    There are two choices that we get very often in life. One is that you stand up and say what’s wrong, the other is put your head in sand. You seem to have picked the later one.

  35. nickhodge

    Dear Anon

    If you post re: favourtism is correct, please contact someone at Microsoft to formally follow up. Contact me directly at nhodge@microsoft.com –or others– as any illegal conduct is *not* what Microsoft is about.

    In relation to:

    “AND

    I once worked at Microsoft North Ryde as a contractor through one of their providers. The buddy culture is rife. They could not stop talking about the same new people. If there was an issue then the first thing you’d hear was Oh! let’s call so and so Readify guy. I think that their so called evangelist are doing a disappointing job on the entire community scene. I wonder what their KPIs are. Oh! let me guess. How many favors did we do to Readify or our other crony.”

    More feedback on “so called evangelist[sic] are doing a disappointing job on the entire community scene…How many favors did we do to Readify or our other crony”

    As (albeit relatively new) evangelist at Microsoft, I take personal humbrage on that statement.

    Nick Hodge

  36. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon,

    I don’t think Phil was building perceptions. As a growing organisations we have all the usual problems that you would expect, although I don’t think there is much value in going over them – unless you can solve them for us! :)

    Seriously though – this discussion is great because it forces us to look at ourselves (as much as possible) from an objective point of view. And from that point of view I can see why a lot of the comments on this thread make sense, although from the inside the view is a bit different.

    The truth is probably somewhere in the middle?

  37. silky

    @nickhodge so what if you ‘take humbrage’? let’s not even start on the arrogance of ‘evangelists’.

    i think that ‘style’ is what made my hate MS the most. most of your evangelists just attack other software for no apparent reason (classic is the silverlight guy) and with no thought/consideration.

    i’d personally love it if there was never another evangelist. talk about what you’re software does; sure, but have some respect for the good work of other people as well. the arrogance in the MS community is the most annoying thing (“heroes happen”, everything else). I hate being associated with it. your “taking humbrage” is classic.

    if you are offended well get over it; we’ve all been there. don’t whinge about it; just accept that some people will always hate you, no matter what you do. live and let live.

    note: no personal hate here; just pressed a button :D

  38. silky

    Passionate; that’s all. I have a lot of respect for people a lot of people at/in MS and it really bothers me when so many ‘visible’ people bring the whole company down with their arrogant attitudes.

  39. Philip Beadle (Principal Consultant - Readify)

    Anon, where’s your courage?? You havent even got enough to state your name. I merely stated some facts about out organisation and how to get a speaking spot at Tech Ed, nothing else.
    Like Nick Hodge says, if you know of cronyism or things you think are less than ethical email him or someone at MS to let them know. I work my a$$ off for my MVP status noone handed it to me on a platter.

  40. nickhodge

    @silky

    re> humbrage/Umbrage; yes I should have checked my english before posting, and not my Harry Potter. I was out sick the Tuesday 15th March 2003 when this was the word of the day. (http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2003/04/15.html)

    I do get sensitive when people blindly accuse others with wrong doing (ie: doing favours for mates). that more than sucks. it is plain wrong. am I offended? yes. will I get over it? no. but that’s my problem. So I’ll shut the feck up about it.

    re> associated with “the programs”

    I agree that the mandated mass marketing sucks. i’d personally love it if we never saw another large marketing campaign that insults. Just show the stuff. But that’s why I am not in marketing.

    I also agree with “just showing the software” … this is on the mark.

    However shooting those who have the greatest chance of changing the mechanisms into less marketing hype may not be the best way.

    … or a true community not tainted by Microsoft involvement and life support?

  41. Ray

    I have noticed a few posts in this blog and other blogs stating that Readify send and pay for a large proportion of their staff to go to TechEd and should be congratulated for doing so.
    The reason I am highlighting this is that I work on a project with Readify staff who are all great guys albeit a bit on the green side. This project has a very significant impending deadline which Readify is responsible for but are unlikely to meet. Yet nearly all the Readify consultants went to TechEd??????

    I would have thought that the responsible thing to do would have been to put the client’s needs first.

    Terry mentioned that he noticed that there seemed to be less experienced Readify staff. This is the reality that companies who have permanent staff members face. It’s hard to compete with contracting rates. How would you feel if you were getting paid around 90K per year and find out that your company charges you out at $200+ ph. Consulting companies make it very easy for other organisations to poach their staff. It is all too easy to approach these guys and say hey “How would you like to double your income doing the same type of work”. Though you will have to pay your own way to TechEd but the extra 100+K a year should make it easier.

    I would also like to say that I think that consulting companies like Readify are a great place for young developers to enhance their skills and build a solid foundation for a very successful career in the IT arena.

    Anyway that’s my 2cents worth

  42. Ray

    I have noticed a few posts in this blog and other blogs stating that Readify send and pay for a large proportion of their staff to go to TechEd and should be congratulated for doing so.
    The reason I am highlighting this is that I work on a project with Readify staff who are all great guys albeit a bit on the green side. This project has a very significant impending deadline which Readify is responsible for but are unlikely to meet. Yet nearly all the Readify consultants went to TechEd??????

    I would have thought that the responsible thing to do would have been to put the client’s needs first.

    Terry mentioned that he noticed that there seemed to be less experienced Readify staff. This is the reality that companies who have permanent staff members face. It’s hard to compete with contracting rates. How would you feel if you were getting paid around 90K per year and find out that your company charges you out at $200+ ph. Consulting companies make it very easy for other organisations to poach their staff. It is all too easy to approach these guys and say hey “How would you like to double your income doing the same type of work”. Though you will have to pay your own way to TechEd but the extra 100+K a year should make it easier.

    I would also like to say that I think that consulting companies like Readify are a great place for young developers to enhance their skills and build a solid foundation for a very successful career in the IT arena.

    Anyway that’s my 2cents worth

  43. Nick Ellery

    “Hi all. My name is Nick Ellery. And just to be clear, no, I’m not the “Nick” that started this controversy in the first place.

    I work for Microsoft as an MVP Lead for Australia & New Zealand. Part of my job involves working on nominations for MVPs. I can’t comment on the other topics discussed above, but I’d like to set the record straight regarding the mention of preferential treatment for certain groups when it comes to MVP nominations. The formal MVP nomination/evaluation process in Australia actually starts with me. It has 3 stages, starting in Australia, then going through regional approval in Asia, then gaining final approval in Redmond, Washington. At each of these stages, objective criteria are adhered to. We pride ourselves on using hard, observable, objective metrics when we evaluate who should be an MVP. There is no room for favouritism or cronyism.

    No person will ever receive preferential treatment to become an MVP because of who they know, who they are employed by, or any other such reason. MVPs are awarded based on the activities they undertake in the technical community and the quality of those activities.

    Having said this, if there is anyone in your community you feel is being overlooked as MVPs, please let us know – we can only monitor so many newsgroups, forums, blogs, user groups and events looking for potential MVPs, so it is inevitable that on rare occasions we miss a great candidate. If you know someone you think might make a good MVP, or if you wish to further discuss the MVP program, feel free to drop me an email at i-nickemicrosoftcom or go to the MVP webstie – http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/

    Thanks and regards,
    Nick Ellery

  44. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Ray,

    Its a bit of a balancing act. In some cases individuals didn’t go to TechEd because they didn’t feel they could get the time away from the project. We usually let the individual consultants negotiate with their clients on that one but provide support when we can.

    We are usually pretty upfront with clients about our consultant commitments around TechEd and in a busy consulting practice, if you always put the immediate needs of the client first you’d never get any PD done :)

    It is a balancing act as usual.

  45. anon3

    Mitch,

    I much prefer the way your handling this discussion, unlike your arrogant ceo dismissing ‘delusional’ comments out of hand.
    With all his ‘elite’ developers, he really should be getting a pat on the back for investing $100k on them, what a great guy!

    I’d be a little bit worried about a ceo who thinks his majority junior staff are ‘elite’ programmers however.

    Glad to see Mitch, that your handling the situation like a seasoned CEO.

  46. anon3

    So Nick,
    Tell me when a Readify guy gets nominated for an MVP and your looking at all the dot points that make up their application, how many dot points do you cross out because they have either been paid for performing the act or are working towards some internal bonus (which I’m sure you can’t know about it) which taints their motivation?

  47. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon3,

    I wouldn’t be CEO of Readify if you paid me a million bucks, OK, maybe a million, but it’d still be like hearding cats.

    Reminds me of that classic EDS advertisement:

    You have to understand Graeme’s role though in that he actually has to be, in public Readify’s greatest advocate, and in private, challenge the organisation to live up to that expectations.

    I’d like to think we succeed often enough to claim victory but we all probably differ in opinion. I mean to write a blog post one day about “the complexity curve” in software development and which part of the spectrum our guys sit in. Maybe I will get to that sooner rather than later now that thread thread has flared up.

    The bottom line is that right now, there are a few people out there that are disappointed in us, and we just need to do better. We can listen to the specific issues that people like yourself bring up and see if they make sense to us – and act if appropriate.

  48. silky

    @nick-e just because you have stages doesn’t really mean anything to anyone.

    you’d need to publish all the criteria to dissuade any real doubt. but i don’t expect you’d want to (probably private; and that’s fine enough). but what you’ve said hasn’t disproved anything; maybe only confirmed a bit the level of relationship that you have with readify (mitch asks and you show up).

    and that’s great for you guys; sure why not have a close relationship with them. but coming here and defending yourself against nick/anon won’t really help you, imho.

    i think the fact that mvp’s can vote for others; and that you probably need to be “liked” by people (i.e. to get nominated) show the problems with the program anyway.

  49. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon3,

    With all due respect, I don’t think that is fair. There are a lot of individuals out there running smaller consulting practices where their marketing efforts overlap with their community efforts. The reality is that the things that make for good community are often intersect with the kind of activities that a business in this space would want to be seen to be supporting.

    What I’ve seen out there is a kinda of reverse marketing effect where our guys go out and do something fantastic with the support of Readify, but actively downplay the involvement of the company because they think it spoils the community spirit.

    I guess this is what you are talking about company sponsored activities yeah? If that is the case its pretty hard to avoid. Anytime you get a collection of individuals who are active in the community the culture of the company is going to sway towards getting involved in community activities – and once that happens they are always open to attack around abusing community connections.

    Readify is actually pretty low-key on that front compared to some other organisations, but I’m not going to throw any stones (they hurt *ouch*).

  50. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hey silky,

    Nick responded to my tweet on Twitter. I didn’t send a direct e-mail, and in fact I was surprised Nick did post up. However – I’m glad he did.

    I don’t think its really about defending anyone against anyone else. There is a bit of a gripe out there in the community so hopefully by airing this stuff. I don’t agree with everything that has been said, and some of the implications, but I think having a listen can’t do any harm.

  51. silky

    Also, @philip; have a bit of respect for someone’s right to anonymity. Just because they don’t say who they are doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid point. Being anonymous is a valuable state; regardless of whether or not you perceive the guy to be “courageous”.

    If they continue to be harassing then sure just end the conversation (ignore); but I think people *do* have a right to be anonymous.

    Clearly you would like to know who it is to try and “understand” them; but that may equally be why they are maintaining their state (or not). Either way, I don’t think it’s relevant to the overall argument.

  52. silky

    @Mitch Agreed; but the gripe is about favouritism; and if I was to ask Nick-E to show up at lets.coozi and respond to something I wouldn’t expect him to (nor would I ask) but it does show that there is a relationship there (which is was people are complaining about).

  53. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi silky,

    I don’t think cross organisation relationships are a bad thing. In fact, one of the reasons people participate in social networks is to help distribute relevant information. I’ve had previous dealings with Nick through the MVP program, and less-so through his previous role on the DPE team.

    In fact, I know you through the various mailing lists that we both contribute to (OK, I more lurk than contribute) and I follow you on Twitter. There really isn’t anything wrong with that – its connections that make the world go-round.

    If we sat in a box and didn’t make any connections we wouldn’t really achieve much :)

  54. anon3

    Mitch,
    “There are a lot of individuals out there running smaller consulting practices where their marketing efforts overlap with their community efforts”

    I also think they should be excluded from the MVP process as well, there is nothing stopping them from continuing to participate in community activities, I just think that it taints the whole process. I think that the whole premise of the MVP program is to reward people, not promote them.

    I can understand why Readify and other companies want their staff to become MVP’s, it gives them a competitive advantage, make no mistake (how many microsoft NDA’s have you signed), I just think Microsoft should treat all partners the same, so the partner who doesn’t give it’s staff paid time to do community work (Readify gives what 20 days of free time for this stuff?) should be able to market themselves in the same way as some company that does, i.e. the MVP status shouldn’t be allowed to be used in any marketing material by a company (Readify has a bit of wording around the MVP program on it’s website).

  55. anon7

    Been watching this thread for sometime and I can see that more people are getting involved. This is good.

    Guys at work have been talking about this a lot today so I thought I’d come in and give my 2 cents. Here it goes:

    Nick, Your response reads very diplomatic as if it was quarantined by someone. Anyhow, you mentioned that there is no favoritism. That does not seem to be the impression many people have. One of my colleagues has been involved with the community for sometime now. And he is not a MVP. Most of us and many outside the organisation have asked him “so when are you becoming a MVP”. Lately it got to the point where we stopped asking him to save embarrassment. To me it is evident that he completely got overlooked. I am sure that he will read this and get pissed at me for writing this. But I had to write this one out.

    Philip, You have taken the comments as personal. Note that we are not discussing people here. Instead we are discussing organisations.

    Mitch, You rock. You have provided an excellent space for many to come together and interact.

  56. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon3,

    I think this is where we fundamentally differ in our views. But thats OK, we are all entitled to our opinions. I have this saying which is “reality always wins”.

    The MVP program is a recognition of prior contribution to the technical communities surrounding Microsoft products. The MVP “places” are supported by the product teams and the goodies that go to MVPs (such as MSDN subscriptions) are there to both reward and encourage future contribution. The MVP program also sends out a letter that MVPs can give to their employer to inform them of that achievement and in some way allow it to be recognised and rewarded outside of Microsoft.

    So recognition and reward is all part of the program, it is hard-wired in. You may fundamentally disagree with that, but if you removed everyone from the MVP program that derived benefit from being an MVP, you’d have a very small program indeed. In fact all of what we are discussing here is actually a discussion that has raged on inside the private MVP newsgroups for quite some time (not that I venture in there much).

    I think a program without reward (other than a nice warm fuzzy feeling) is something more akin to a priesthood and whilst I don’t have anything against priests those robes just don’t work for me :)

  57. anon3

    “I think this is where we fundamentally differ in our views. But thats OK, we are all entitled to our opinions.”

    Thats OK Mitch, appreciate the space you provide.
    I have this ideal view that Microsoft should be impartial to partners and I’d like to think that the MVP program is somewhat ‘pure’ in that individuals do what they do for the sake of the community, not to help their employer.

  58. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi anon7,

    With regards to your friend, I think you should contact Nick (E) and nominate them on their behalf. If people don’t nominate you its harder to surface on Microsoft’s radar.

  59. Pingback: Anonymity == Gutless? « notgartner

  60. Paul Stovell

    I’m finding this thread quite an insightful read, but there’s a couple of comments I have to admit feeling a little hurt over. Particularly, comments like those by anon2 on the 13th: While you might disagree with the criteria for awards or speaking opportunities for whatever reasons, I don’t think it’s fair to discount the work those people put in.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve paid to fly to Sydney and stay in a hotel just to do a user group talk and fly out the next day. I once flew to Canberra myself and gave a VSTS user group presentation at 8am having not slept the night before because my VPC was busted. And even if my Tech.ED slot came about unfairly; my talk was on a 20,000 line open source LINQ library that I wrote in my own time, and that didn’t exactly write itself.

    And I’m at the lower end of people who contribute to the community. Organising user groups is not easy, and at least four of our people do that. Doing presentations isn’t easy, but our people do that consistently. Helping to organising a code camp really, really, isn’t easy, but Mitch does it. Yet according to a couple of people in this thread, all they really do is sleep with the right people or work for the right company. That’s hurtful.

    Some of the earliest members of Readify happened to be active community members, and that naturally led to them wanting to work with other community members, and encourage community participation. I was introduced to Readify via meeting Darren Neimke and Mitch Denny at SDNUG over two years ago. I challenge you to work with personalities like Mitch, or Mahesh Krishnan (who I believe organises much of Vic.NET), or Damian Edwards (who organises Ballarat .NET SIG), or guys like Corneliu (how many debugging tools has he published as open source?) or Philip Beadle, and not feel a need to take part in the community. And it’s not just those guys, it’s everyone. It’s infectious, like any passionate group, and it tends to attract like-minded people. The only advantage I have as a Readify person is being in a group that encourages my passions.

    Lastly, as much as I appreciate people’s rights to anonymity and free speech, I hope people recognise that the people who’s reputation they’re tarnishing actually do put in a lot of effort – not just from Readify but from Microsoft, the general MVP community, and the whole partner ecosystem. Let’s play the ball and not the men.

  61. Charles Sterling

    Hello Anon,
    As i stated in my post on MVP’s I am more than happy to submit a nomination on the behalf of your friend!
    I would also really like to discuss your statement below as i am probably the worst offender in the world of suggesting to MS partners get involved with community in general and local usergroups specifically. My suggestions typically stem from the training, networking and support aspects rather than the marketing -but as this thread highlights this can often be difficult to separate. I am working with the MVP Leads in the US on a code of standards and i would love to hear your thoughts on how to separate these.

    As far as cronyism I am probably as much to blame as anybody -but less due to malice than it was lack of hours in the day.
    For instance you mentioned RF and PS. When they were made MVP’s Australian DPE team had around 4 evangelists and all four were focused on Developers and none on SQL. The result was people like Rob er RF and Peter Wardy took longer to get recognized for their incredible efforts versus people like Paul er I mean PS and Joseph Cooney. The lesson to be learned while we do spend a lot of time in the community we may miss people and ask (beg?) that you let us know about these unsung contributors.
    As far as my statement:
    “Community contributions delivered in the previous year for which no revenue was received”
    Like i mentioned in my post this can be difficult and the purity often gets muddy very fast. For instance last year one of the MVP nominees took vacation time to volunteer at our TechEd (he proctored the WPF dev gaarten labs).
    Should we discount his time if his manager let him do the same volunteer work on company time?
    How about if he didn’t work for a partner?
    That said i absolutely agree that we should be (and are) impartial with respect as to where they work. The MVP nomination form doesn’t have a field for the employer; so unless they use their work’s email address for contact we may not even know their employer….
    In either case this is an area I am passionate about so if you have views please feel free to contact me:
    mail chass@microsoft.com
    IM chass@messengeruser.com
    phone 425-495-4564 (mobile)
    Address

    Buiding 25
    1 Microsoft way
    Redmond Wa
    98053

  62. Rob Farley

    Anon, thanks (I think) for the mention. Only two SQL MVPs in Adelaide, so I guess I’m RF. I can also guess who PS is, and I think he thoroughly deserved his MVP status (which came after mine). There are some that I think get MVP status for relatively little effort, but PS is definitely not one of those.

    Ultimately, MVP status is given out by MS, and of course it helps to have a bit of a profile. Working for Readify may help because they have other people who have been through the process who can help people build their profiles.

    I’ve nominated quite a few people for MVP status. Some get awarded based on my nomination, others don’t. I think getting awarded is easier than it once was (eg, before I was awarded there were only 4 SQL MVPs in Australia – now there are 11), but I just encourage people to keep doing whatever they’re doing for the community, and if that gets them an award, then great. If you’re trying to get awarded, that doesn’t always work in your favour.

  63. secretGeek

    >Any suggestions on how Readify and / or Microsoft might
    >be able to cure the aforementioned issues?

    One really simple tweak to the MVP program that would increase the perception of fairness would be if people are not allowed to nominate other people who work at the same company as themselves.

  64. Rog42

    Wow!!

    In all the work which banked up since TechEd, I seem to have totally missed this conversation.

    As I’ve mentioned on my blog, Mitch’s blog, and I’m happy to mention again:
    * Please speak to me directly if you have any examples of cronyism or favouritism.
    * I will respect your anonymity, and am happy to discuss the issues in private and/or public.
    * As Chuck and Nick-E (is that like Wall-ee :-) mentioned, if we’ve missed someone for MVP nomination – tell us!!

    @Luke It strikes me that a number of people have attempted to be reasonable around the issues, but I really believe MS and Readify can’t cure them here for a couple of reasons:
    1. You believe this, I see it that way, you disagree with me, so nothing I post will convince you to change your mind, it will just fire you up to post a retort.
    2. If there are genuine issues of cronyism, or favouritism, they are unethical at best, and illegal at worst. My experience tells me that those are never solved over blog post commentary. This isn’t the appropriate forum to solve them. (although they make for a cracking read :-)

    In the inital article in CRN, Lilia summarised “Nick’s” position that ‘we’re missing an opportunity in showing “favouritism” to one partner’ Of course I don’t want to miss any opportunities. As I mentioned, and as I’ve attempted to demonstrate in my latest blog post, I don’t believe we do show favouritism to any particular partner with respect to community involvement. I suspect other partners would be talking to me, or my boss, if that were really the case.

    But I still don’t want to miss opportunities to work with anyone in the community. So if you really believe, that we are missing these opportunities, or “tainting” programs, please do come and talk to me.

    Roger.Lawrence@microsoft.com
    http://twitter.com/Rog42
    +61 2 9870 2861 (office number)

    Mitch, thanks again for creating this space. :-)

    R42

  65. anon7

    Good to see a reply from Roger here. This forum has brought out many issues in the open. Open communication is beneficial to everyone. While those who have been favored may not like everyone brought to the same level, it does create an equal playing field.

    This thread of communication started out with Microsoft favoring and highlighting Readify at TechEd and then morphed into the processes around MVP program. These are two different issues and I hope they will be dealt with in separation.

    The colleague I spoke about in my earlier post has asked me not to mention his name. Thus I will keep quiet on this. It is however not my job and the onus is on Microsoft to do things correctly.

    My company of which I am also a principal is a Microsoft Partner and it hurts when we see one Partner being promoted with extraordinary efforts and the others never even appear on the radar. From my point we have been a partner since last 5 years and have never had a single lead come from Microsoft. I hope this will change.

  66. Nick Ellery

    Like others above, I think this is a good discussion. From my perspective, it’s good to see that people do in fact realise the MVP program is a recognition / award for hard work done. It’s not so good (well, for me anyway) that some people have the perception that there is favouritism involved… this gives us an area to work on. I still thoroughly maintain that there’s no favouritism, and am a little disappointed to have that crooked finger pointed at the program, however, I also completely understand why my say-so alone is not sufficient to put people’s suspicions to rest.

    @anon7, as I said in my earlier comment, if you know a good potential MVP candidate, let me know about them and we’ll get the ball rolling. I mean that… let’s do it instead of politic-ing in the comments section on a blog post. You can email me at i-nicke_at_microsoft_dot_com.

    If the person in question has been participating in the community at a high level for at least the past 12 months; and we can find tangible proof of that activity; and their participation has been technical in nature; and is based around a specific product (MVPs must be awarded according to a specific product); and has been of high quality, I will nominate them. You can hold me to that.

    And silky, I’ll comment on lets.coozi any day :)

  67. Pingback: Why does this blog exists? « Not Readify

  68. cadbloke

    I think the general consensus here is that a few anonymous people here think they speak for all of us. No, you don’t. Readify (and other companies) make big investments, and put big efforts, into the MS development community so good luck to ‘em. Tall Poppies are fine by me.

    I thought MVP meant Most Valuable Professional and was a recognition for Microsoft Community involvement. There are plenty of Microsoft TLA/4LAs for Technical prowess. MVP incorporates this but it is not principally about this – it is about putting something back into the community that supports your efforts. Or am I getting this wrong?

    I’m new here so here’s an observation or 2, from a noob point of view.

    The Demos Happen Here comp entries were made up of a lot of MVPs. I (over)heard a couple of complaints about this but — the competition was open to everybody. Nobody I know of was excluded from entering. I don’t recall seeing any of the critics present anything. No, I didn’t present anything (I was encourage to do so) but I felt that <6 months .NET experience was probably a bit green for this crowd – maybe next year – why not?

    I’ve been to quite a few user-groups. Most of the demos and presentations are by MVPs. Every user group has repeatedly said it welcomes presentations from ANY of its members (yes, even me), on any related topic for any duration. I see a pattern here, and in related events – MVPs are contributing to the community more than non-MVPs – by a lot. That tells me the system seems to work. Those user groups are organised voluntarily, by the way.

    As for employers (including solos) who don’t contribute back to the community by paying their staff to do so, why the hell do think they ‘deserve’ an MVP or two? Because you want one? Because you’re as smart as these guys but too busy / lazy / shy / broke / arrogant /couldn’t-really-give-a-damn-about-the-community / too-busy-politicking-to-be-at-all-valuable-to-anyone to make the efforts they have? Honestly, if that’s your situation then realise it is by your choice. I’m self-employed and self-funded. My professional development comes directly out of my pocket – 100%. I pay for things like Tech.ed, MSDN, camps etc and lose those billing days because that is how I believe I should run my business and my life. There’s only so much you can learn by reading (and flaming) blogs.

    As for a level playing field, I’m the new kid on the block (smallest fish in the pond etc.) and I have had no problems at all being heard by MS evangelists and MVPs. They don’t even know I’m a MS Registered Partner. There you go – I get to play and you can bet I’m dumber at this game than you are. The door is definitely open.

    Get off your ass and contribute – then, and only then, you will get your recognition. Yes, I’m afraid you’ll have to EARN it. That will involve leaving your armchair and fronting up. Don’t waste your time complaining – if I make MVP (not a goal of mine at all) before you do then you really know you’ve failed. Seriously.

    Unrelated: Where did all these bloody ants come from?

  69. Pingback: notreadify? « notgartner

  70. Andrew Tobin

    Yikes, I saw this once but didn’t see how it had turned out.

    I only really wanted to address one thing and that’s the perceived unfairness of the time and efforts of RF and PS and the time it took to get their MVP status.

    One thing that might have played into this (and I may be wrong and feel free to correct me) is that the MVP status are in a particular technology.

    And, again correct me please, RF has his in SQL which possibly has many, many MVPs worldwide, whereas PS got his in WPF/UI technologies when he was/is really on the forefront of that technology and very vocal and very noticable when you’re looking for information about that.

    Can’t fault either guy because they do a tonne of user group/Code Camp/Tech Ed stuff, plus release their own info/projects, blogs, whatever else.

    But as far as the timeframe to get there, you’re a lot easier to notice when you’re one of the leaders of a new technology, I’d be guessing.

    Other things – I don’t want to go into specifics but I have heard of a MS Partner who felt they were adversely affected by a closer relationship with MS, or … that there was a perception of unfairness there and MS went the other way to show that there wasn’t any unfairness, which is kind of unfair to that partner and the good work they do.

    As well, to the last commenter, there may have been a lot of MVPs in the Heroes Happen vid contest, but far from it excluding anyone – one of the MVP’s encouraged me to enter (RF) and I think Rog42 said something too.

    Now, that was just in passing and on twitter – because I mentioned a specific method I had written to do some easy passing of data for SQL, but they were fully open to drumming up as many entries as they could – and if I was more confident in my public speaking I might have! :)

    I think there’s way too much emphasis on the relationship to MVP to company in this whole thread.

    Readify hires passionate people, passionate people lead and contribute to the community, MVP’s are passionate people.

    I really don’t see any fault at all in Readify having so many MVP’s (How many is it anyway? :P) because each guy has earnt it off their own back to get that award, and you’re not insulting Readify at all – but you’re indirectly having a go at each one of those guys who works hard to contribute back to the Australian Dev community and earn that status.

    Again, these things happen to the guys that show up – if you want to be an MVP then start contributing – Mitch and Greg Low do open calls for talks at the Code Camps, .NET User Groups are more than happy for someone to contribute a talk (hell, my one puts up with my poor performances every few months because we’re a small, but passionate group :))

    And if this is about Tech Ed – then sure they’re probably going to look for proven speakers, and to prove yourself you’re probably going to have to do some talks around community groups and things.

    Anyway, this is turning into a rant, and quite frankly most of this isn’t for me to say and I would have thought it was common sense.

  71. Omar Besiso (Readify)

    Wow Mitch. What have you done? This is the most exciting read I had for a while.

    Ok everyone my name is Omar Besiso, I am not an MVP, I have worked in Readify since we had only 16 people. I am not here to defend or attack I am just here to tell you about my experience with Readify.

    Way back when .NET 1.0 came out i went to the PRO.NET course run by Readify. At the time I was a contractor and thought the guys presenting the course were so great that Readify would be the only company I would consider working fulltime for. 2 years after that I did get a job at Readify.

    Now before Readify I did few public presentations, but since I joined, just the feeling of competition with all the peers at Readify made me involve myself in the community where I ran RDN talks, user groups and lastly a talk at the most debated TechEd.

    Readify is all bout the people. Maybe it was luck, or the interview process I don’t know. but Readify is an organisation of smart people. I saw a lot of people leave because they couldn’t stand the heat. It’s not about being an MVP. I am not, but yet now I am one of the demanded Readify guys.

    Here’s a conversation that once happened over coffee:

    Omar: “Man these guys that work here are great, you get to learn a lot”
    Mitch: ” So what do you aspire to then working with these people?”
    Omar: ” To be better than all of them, especially you Mitch”
    Mitch: ” I think you already are just for saying that”

    See it’s that attitude of our peers at Readify that pushes us forward.

    It’s also about the culture. For the people who criticized Graeme, how many of you guys can pick up the phone, call the CEO up and say “Good Day”.

    I remember I had a very hard personal problem once. For privacy reason I can’t disclose it but I called Graeme up and told him the story. To say the least, Graeme stepped out of the Readify CEO shoes and almost took the father role in my problem until it was solved.

    I’ve had various health problems in the last 2 years causing me to take way more sick leave than normal. Not once did I get anything but support from the entire management team. Graeme called me personally to ask about me few times. He offered any help he can give. Am I making him that much money? I don’t think so. In fact I might be the least who ever made Readify money but still they treated me like family.

    Today I am leaving Readify, and not because of anything other than I want to head back to live with my parents for a while back in my country of birth. How does Readify take it? “Good luck and the door is wide open for you to come back”.

    WHO DOES THAT?

    Reading this discussion made me feel the need to give you my experience as just the next geek dude at Readify. For all of you guys as passionate as I am, as geeky as I am and spend sleepless nights learning new technologies like I do, in our industry we are artists. It’s the art that we produce that judges our prosperity as professional individuals. If our art is good, it will be SEEN regardless of who we work for.

    Today I call myself an “Archidev”. If it wasn’t for Readify I would still be a “dev” :)

    For all the good times THANK YOU READIFY. While I am at it, a big thank you to the Australian Developer Community and the Microsoft DPE team for giving me the chance to be part of this GREAT EXPERIENCE.

    Omar (Archidev) out!!

  72. Omar Besiso (Readify)

    Also for people who questioned PS’s MVP status. Watch out it’s my best mate you’re talking about here. Let me tell you, no one puts more effort into the community and personal projects more than PS. He codes 16 hours a day and 48 on the weekend. The dude doesn’t sleep. I think you should only contribute only half of what he does to be awarded an MVP status.

    Now seriously, Omar out!

  73. NotReadify

    To all those who go by the name Annon(x). Here is some food for thought. I attended WCF training delivered by Craig McMurtry in Feb 2006 and I was introduced to Deepak Kapoor who had done presentations on WPF at a User Groups and also published article on MSDN. I think he did few more training courses and more presentations. So he is introduced to be the first WPF/XAML MVP by Chuck at the training course. What happens then? Guys from Readify show up and hijack the scene. A Readifian gets awarded and an individual gets left out.
    Did I hear someone say that there is no favoritism. Omar, Annon(x) and others you need to wake up.

  74. Deepak Kapoor

    For last many days I have been watching this post and other links related to this topic. As I write this, I feel as if I have been forced to write a comment here. I am doing this purely for personal reason. I see my name mentioned in a comment by Not Readify which is very disturbing. I take this as a direct attack on me. I appreciate freedom of speech and I respect Mitch for allowing comments talking about people directly. He has been an unbiased moderator. However, I would like to say this to Not Readify; You obviously have grievances towards Readify and Microsoft. May I suggest that you follow the common sense approach and talk to these people directly? Can you not include other people in your own trashy thoughts? I will be honest and upfront. I am annoyed and angry because you have mentioned my name in your rant against two companies. Why are you dragging me and I suspect that you are the same person who mentioned RF and PS, and why are you dragging anyone? You could not get much by just mentioning RF and PS and now you have taken my name directly. What is it that you are doing? I mean is this a bunch of high school kids fighting over some utter nonsense? Let me tell you that it’s not.

    Even though I am not obliged to say this but I feel that I must. Because of my involvement in .NET community I have benefited tremendously both directly and indirectly. Because of my involvement I have been invited to events with people I could not imagine meeting ever. I was part of gatherings where I sat next to people like James Newkirk and Steve Riley. I have been recommended by Microsoft to work on some super interesting projects. Through recommendations of Microsoft I have gained contracts and contacts and I have worked on some fantastic projects. I have been invited to events where I did not have to pay because I am a community influencer. These things are there for anyone who is interested to put in the hard yards and go beyond just BS ranting.

    As I said earlier that this comment is purely for my own selfish personal reasons, but I will still say a line about Readify guys. I have done community work with them. Currently I am working with a Readify guy. I have some of them on IM list. I have not yet been in a situation where I asked anyone of the Readify guys a question and they turned their back on me. As a company all I have to say to Readify is that all the ranting you have seen on this post is the price you pay to be a leader.

    Not Readify, here is my open invitation to you. Can you contact me on Deepak@DeepakKapoor.Net and I would like to have a chat with you and pour some senses into your brain. I somehow also feel that you do not have much to do. You sure hope that your employer does not find out about this.
    If you need to talk to someone about your problems then I can also recommend some good psychiatrists. They specialize in “get over it dude” treatment.

    My final words to you Not Readify. Get A Life.

  75. silky

    Deepak; perhaps you didn’t read his post correctly – he didn’t criticise you at all. Yeah, he did drag your name into it, but there was no attack on you.

    Either way, seems an annoying amount of hate/arrogance/so on in our little community. Can’t we all just program :D Focus on yourself and your own stuff, bugger what anyone else thinks; bugger trying to “beat” people or get rewards for yourself; just do what you find fun. Nobody should need validation from Microsoft, MVP-status or otherwise.

  76. Scott Baldwin

    OK, here goes, I am a Readify Senior Developer. I have been working with Readify since January 2005, but I am currently on a years leave without pay for personal reasons (decided I wanted to travel around Argentina), but intend to go back to working for Readify on my return to Australia next year. I am NOT an MVP, and have no real desire to become one. So here is my perception of the debate.

    Readify is a growing company that supports the professional development of their staff, and are community focused, and are a Microsoft Solutions provider. We hire other people who are active in the community and passionate about technology, and surprise surprise this is pretty much the same kind of things that Microsoft give the MVP award for. So it should be no surprise that a.) we often hire MVP’s, and b.) Some of our non-MVP employees are eventually recognized and awarded an MVP.

    As people have already stated here, Readify has been amazingly successful in creating a passionate technical community internally, and this pushes us all to strive for greater things like presenting at community events. Side note a wise old Readify senior consultant once told me that the best way to force yourself to learn a new technology is to put your hand up to present on it at a user group, there’s nothing quite like the possibility of being embarassed in front of your peers to get you to put in the hard yards, and there is no shortage of such events crying out for quality presenters. So it’s no surprise that there were a lot of Readify people involved in TechEd this year (I wasn’t one of them, I have been here in Argentina since May), but Readify has always had strong involvement in TechEd, and as we grow our presence should obviously increase in proportion to our relative size.

    As far as MS favouratism goes, all I can say is that the Readify management team has been proactive in developing our relationship with MS, squeaky wheel gets the oil. If you become an MS partner and think that’s all you need to do, and can just sit back and let the good times roll, then you don’t know anything about developing commercial relationships. Be proactive, put yourself in front of MS, and when MS are looking for someone to help with their next event, you’ll be on their mind. As a company of Geeks we specifically hire non-geeks (aka our management team) to do these types of things because we know we suck at it.

    As for comments about long term Readify employees, yes, we have seen quite a few people come and go. Some have even come back as their circumstances change. This happens in any company, the biggest difference is Readify’s attitude to it. Readify management, have even indicated to us that if we have career goals outside of Readify they will help us achieve them. This is all done in an attempt to make Readify as attractive as possible to really talented individuals who would otherwise be earning much more as a contractor than as a full time employee of Readify. People this talented are always going to be hard to hold on to, and I think we do a fairly good job of holding on to them as long as we do. Working for Readify has been the best job I’ve had in the IT industry, and as someone else pointed out here, companies often try to poach consultants, and every time a client has intimated that they would take me on, I’ve said politely “No Thanks” and thought to myself, “It might be nice, but it’s not Readify”.

    Having said all that, I do think Readify people sometimes get a bit full of themselves, and ride on the Readify image a bit. It’s something I think we internally at Readify need to be aware of and watch for.

  77. Chris Bismire

    As an ex-employee of Readify, I just wanted to say that during my time there, it was common for me to sit there and say “geez you guys need to get a life!”

    The amount of work that they do, both Readify and community based was just simply amazing.

    So to all the Readify guys, MVP or not, you certainly all impressed and annoyed me with your determination, intelligence and your sheer geekiness!

    @Mitch – Always interesting reading on your blog :)

  78. Simply Honest

    I’m sorry I didn’t stumble on this thread earlier…

    The problem Readify has is not of their making – it is Microsoft’s. TechEd is the biggest, most important event on the Microsoft calendar, but in an effort to save money, they use “local” resources to deliver presentations created by the real experts overseas and local partners. The reality is, Mitch is clever by spruiking his business by encouraging his business to participate and his staff are bettering their careers by doing so. There is just simply not a deep enough “partner” pool to choose from, so Readify keep coming up. I don’t see it as their fault.

    Same thing happens on the infrastructure side with Dimension Data. DD no longer even take a booth at TechEd, they just get free advertising by giving sessions. Again, this is down to a poor partner pool. Although in the case of DD, the fact that Express Data is a big distributor and DD pull in big infrastructure pieces means that they do get favoured status over smaller, more innovative partners who commit to TechEd.

    The problem comes down to Microsoft and the sheer laziness the organisation is run with in Australia. The quality of the people at Microsoft Australia is poor – anyone good is either lacking ambition or moved overseas. Recently worked on a project where David Lean was offered as an expert for SQL – we had three people better than him. The development “evangelists” wouldn’t have the skills to work on our team, so they offered nothing. Microsoft were invited into our project and locally could offer nothing and wanted to charge us to bring in overseas resources. When that didn’t fly they went back to selling licenses and suggesting we speak to Readify.

    Which brings me to that topic. Many people on our team have worked with Readify staff on CBA gigs and elsewhere. The feedback has been poor. The professional guys (in my opinion) all said the same thing, “They are cowboys, documentation consists of posting their ideas on their blogs or forums to try and get MVP status.” Again, I don’t fault those guys or Mitch – MVP status helps the individuals career and Readify’s business.

    Again, this is a shortcoming in Microsoft Australia and their process for nominating MVPs. It is a comedy. Some of the guys I work with are doing some amazing things with SQL 2008 and Microsoft are aware of it and not once has anyone been asked to speak or participate in the community. When it comes up the guys say they’d happily present at conferences and shows, but they don’t have time for online forums or blogging and we all have a pact that we don’t do that during our employer’s time – unlike a certain MVP who’s commented on here I’ve worked with who spent about 80% of his workday blogging or lifting his profile to maintain his MVP. Again, this is all laziness in the Microsoft Australia business. Fostering a community means going out there to visit customers (even Enterprise and SME customers, imagine that) and see what their internal people are doing. Find some of the cool stuff and invite those people to take part in events or whatever.

    The whole community has tanked since Frank left. The usual suspects and their posse run things. I’ve heard it referred to as “the .Net mafia”. Unless Microsoft Australia get some REALLY smart people and let them leave Sydney to find interesting things and build a real USER community that isn’t dominated by vendors, like say the Ruby/Rails community then it is just going to be the same old crap.

    Again, I think it is crazy to crap on Mitch or his business for filling a gap Microsoft Australia are too stupid, lazy and cheap to fill themselves. Mitch is in the business of making money and promoting his business as top echelon experts is a good way to do it.

  79. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Simply Honest,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on this thread, although it is quite old now (but I guess its not a dead issue after all) :P For the record Readify is not my business, I am just a long serving employee, although being a long serving employee I am still “invested” in making sure that Readify has a great reputation with clients and out there in the community as well as actually being able to deliver technically.

    I like to think that we have that for the most part, but I guess not everyone agrees.

    FWIW, the MS folks I know do get out there in the community and try to find new people to participate. If they haven’t knocked on you or your friends door yet it is probably more of a question of bandwidth rather than desire. There is a huge partner ecosystem in Austraila and it takes time to build relationships with everyone.

    Finally – you mentioned a few specific instances where you think Readify could have done better. Please e-mail me on mitch.denny@notgartner.com and I will follow up with you on that because we do take that stuff seriously.

  80. NotAmused

    Last year i took part in a distubing meeting at Microsoft’s headquarters in Sydney. I act as a consultant to a large US based insurance services group, that had been invited to a meeting to discuss new technologies at Microsoft.

    During that meeting, Readify were mentioned at least TWO times in conversation by the Microsoft presenter. As a Microsoft partner – you can imagine I wasn’t amused.

    In appears that some Microsoft employees believe that all Partners are equal, but that some are more equal than others.

  81. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi NotAmused,

    I’ve got mixed feelings about what you experienced. On one hand like any Microsoft Partner I’d like to think that Microsoft gives all partners a fair go, but as the partner in question I am hopeful that Microsoft’s mentioning of our name is a result of previous good experiences working with us.

    As a business we really do want our clients to rave about us, and word of mouth is the best way for that to be delivered.

    I think that one of the reasons that we succeed as a Microsoft Partner is that when we work with Microsoft with one of their clients we become transfixed on solving that clients problem. That results in the client giving Microsoft good feedback about us which (I can only imagine) encourage Microsoft to recommend us again.

    At the end of the day, the Microsoft Partner Program isn’t a one way deal. It isn’t about partners sucking at the teet of Microsoft, but rather its about working together to get good outcomes for joint customers.

  82. Terry

    Interesting to see the thread not dead yet when I just checked back. I had the feeling that Readify were still trading on reputations of people that aren’t there any more.

    Today, I brought up their list of customer testimonials. One was a generic one from MS, the other nine were customers. I spoke to one of the Readify staff and asked who the consultants were on those jobs. Seven of the nine testimonials related to staff that don’t work there any more. You do the math.

  83. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Terry,

    Yep it is the thread that never dies. I’m having a look at the testimonials page right now to understand what you are talking about.

    You will find that most professional services organisations use references regardless of whether the staff that executed those engages are still with the company. Obviously they get refreshed with more current references over time.

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