For the first 9 years of my career, I was a software developer. It hadn’t even occurred to me to be anything else. Then, one day, I met a guy named Drew Robbins, who said he was an evangelist for Microsoft. He introduced me to Josh Holmes, one of the best speakers I have ever met. The way they described it, they spent most of their time learning the bleeding edge of software, and the rest of their time teaching people how to use it. On that day, I asked Drew when he’d be looking for a different job, because that was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do. He eventually did, and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to replace him in the summer of 2007, thanks to a very unexpected decision by Sam Henry.
I can honestly say that I will never be as excited to start another job as I was to start this one.
For six amazing years, I got to spend my time traveling through what Microsoft calls the “Heartland District”, and I got to know these states well. I’m not sure why I decided to do it, but I have kept every single plastic hotel key I’ve ever had since I started this job. There’s 163 of them in this photo.
I met people from every type of company, writing every type of software, with every type of concern about Microsoft and every one of our development technologies. And I loved it. I helped start conferences (like Stir Trek), and encouraged others to do the same. I spoke anywhere someone would listen. I did all of it because I loved it, and Microsoft empowered me to share my passion.
I had the pleasure of working closely with Jennifer Marsman and Brian Prince for years. I made lifelong friends in Clark Sell, Sarah Dutkiewicz, Mike Eaton, Matt Davis, Andrew Maxey, Rick Kierner, Matt Casto, Brian Jackett, Ryan & Travis Lowdermilk, and literally dozens of others. Practically my entire social circle is a result of my work as an evangelist. I am so thankful to have met all of these people, and all of you reading this.
My passion for software and evangelism led me to write over 500 articles, a book, and dozens of apps. That passion took me to a new role two years ago at Microsoft. I got to share my passion with four high-profile software companies in the healthcare industry. We talked about Windows and Azure at length, and I got to help them make some significant architectural decisions about their products. It was still evangelism, but for a highly focused set of individuals.
It is that same passion that has me writing this today. I have decided to leave Microsoft after 8 years of amazing. 8 years of learning. 8 years of loving what I do, with the freedom to do it.
I will miss every single thing about evangelism here at Microsoft. Sincerely. The people are amazing. The mission is worth fighting for. I can only hope that my path will cross with yours again time after time. Thank you all for teaching me so much.
On May 18th, I’m starting a new adventure. I’m joining a startup as their Director of Product Management. We’re going to try to change how the world thinks about software and healthcare together. As we get close to a release, I’ll have plenty more to share about this endeavor.