Monday was Day One “proper” of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, TX. I’ve got to give it to Microsoft – they are well organised, as booking into the hotel I was provided with all the information I needed about the next few days, and shuttle buses were put on to ferry us to and from the Hilton Garden Inn hotel where I stayed near the famous Houston Galleria, downtown to the George R. Brown Convention Centre.
The Convention Centre itself is just huge – I understand there is about 10,000 attendees over the next four days – that’s a lot of folks in one building!
After meeting and greeting a few of the folks I met yesterday, and being introduced to many more still, the Small and Medium Business Track that I was a part of kicked off with Andrea Russell, Community Development Manager at Microsoft, introducing Michael Risse, Vice President of Small and Midsize Business for Microsoft – delivering his Executive Keynote.
We were then treated to a Special Guest Speaker, Peter Hillary, Adventurer and Philanthropist, and son of Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the Summit of Mount Everest. Peter has scaled Everest himself, and he proved an amazing storyteller – providing a really entertaining and inspiring hour of talk and video footage.
Break-out sessions were scheduled throughout the day, and the first one I attended was Stuart Crawford (IT Matters – Canada) talking about “Goal Setting for Business Success”. Stuart had a few problems with his Microphone, but soldiered on and delivered a great session. Whilst I’ve heard much of the advice given in these sorts of motivational sessions, it is always great to see it delivered in a new way and Stuart helped re-inforce these ideas for me.
After a great lunch in the “Yellow Table” area reserved for SBSC’ers, I sat in on Vijay (UK SBSC PAL), David Lees (South African SBSC PAL) and Mark Crall (US SBSC PAL) talking about “Proactive Community Membership”. This is the first time I’ve seen David and Mark speak, and they are both very obviously passionate about the value of community – which is great to see. Vijay called me out of the audience at one point to talk about how SBSC had helped me grow my business from a one-man-band to Microsoft Certified Partner, and there were plenty of questions and ideas from the audience on how the SBSC program can be improved further.
Finally, I sat in on Arlin Sorensen of HTG‘s session on “Solution Selling Creates Greater Revenue and Closes Deals Faster”. Much like Karl Palachuk, Gareth Brown and Dave Overton, I’m learning that when Arlin Sorensen speaks about business – it pays to listen. Arlin delivered his overview of how to systematically deliver solutions to clients and grow your business – and is a charismatic and interesting speaker. I’m looking forward to being a part of HTG 11 and hearing more from Arlin.
The day’s talks then closed with Michael Risse of Microsoft taking questions from the audience and wrapping up the day, inviting us all to drinks and nibbles in the Reception area. A s the beer flowed, the camera came out a
A really nice dinner (Indian food! Yum!) was then laid on for us as we chatted to some SBSC partners from New York about the challenges they face in their region. We then bowled off to the UK Reception Party at Lucky’s Irish Bar, just around the corner from the Convention Centre. At both venues, the Free beer flowed!