This week, we open up the application process to the 2022 vExperts. With that in mind, it makes me think about what this program actually means to me. We’ll discuss how I got started, my experience entering the program, and what it has been like for me over the last few years as a vExpert.
My Start Toward vExpertdom
Yes, I know vExpertdom is not a word. I attended VMworld 2017 and went to a session led by a few AirWatch people on Mobile Email best practices or something along those lines. I’ve typically had a big mouth at VMworld from the perspective of enjoying the engagement and asking questions/providing my own insight.
The people from AirWatch asked me if I had a blog, and I said something along why would I do that? That’s stupid!
Well it made me think about it and I guess the rest is history. I would write this article on September 3, 2017 shortly after VMworld:
It was just that simple, I wrote about something I knew and just rambled on for 2213 words. The moral of this story was simple:
You don’t have to be Stephen King to have a blog. Most of us are pretty stupid, but we write about what we are passionate about and what we know. Talk about your Point-of-View and your experiences to enhance the lives of others around you.”
This will be my 119th article since that date along with an impressive streak of one article per week for the year. Sometimes people make you feel like what they do is impossible. Anyone can have a blog and many of them are really useful. Even without marketing myself, I have had a ton of outreach and even a few clients because I knew things that very few others did. For me, working with clients has never been about the money, but moreso about the experiences and how the work has enabled me to write and teach others everyday.
Applying to be a vExpert
Some of the programs in the industry, such as the Microsoft MVP program makes you feel like the idea of becoming an evangelist is some unattainable mountain you are trying to climb:
What I found to be truly amazing about the process is that I actually got in on my first try. As someone who is now a vExpert Pro, I’ve gotten some really interesting insight into the process.
The vExpert program is something that you could consider to be highly subjective.
So, we have a collection of vExpert Pros who review these applications and there a re many ways that you can wind up getting in. Let’s break down the application.
They have 4 different qualification paths:
That really helps you try to get into the program in a variety of different ways. On top of that we have several activities that could qualify you to become a vExpert. Let’s take a look at those quickly.
Content Creation is easily the best way to get in. This is about the various ways you have authored content, whether it be blogs, white papers, videos, and much more.
We also review your blog and other contributions like newsletters, videos, podcasts and your quantity of posts. Personally, I look for about 1 post a month at least. Someone who has like 4-5 posts in the year doesn’t get full credit from me typically. The rule of thumb is usually stuff that you write to contribute/evangelize the brand is what counts. Stuff that is part of your 9-5 some people may disqualify, but again that is subjective in my opinion:
Events and Speaking
I think events and speaking is a very close second. Engaging and connecting with an audience is one of the best ways to be an ambassador!
We love hearing about how you were involved, the attendance, topics, etc. Personally, I try to watch a few minutes of your sessions if I don’t know you. I think it’s a GREAT way to see who you are and what you’re about.
Online Communities, Tools, and Resources
One of the ways you can make up ground if you weren’t prevalent in the previous 2 areas is by being active in your spaces. Whether its VMware Reddit, Discord, VMTN, etc. I think in my opinion we look for people who are engaging and answering questions. It’s more about participation than just asking questions. If you’re trying to be helpful and putting in the time, you should be rewarded. This is an area where A for effort really means a ton.
An area that more people should put in an effort is on building their own GitHub. Even though I’m not a developer, I write scripts and put them up there and reference it. It’s super useful to saturate various areas like building YouTube channels, engaging in Slack groups like MacAdmins, Mobile Pros, etc.
The last area that some people don’t get to engage in are the various VMware programs, like VMUG leadership, advisory boards, VMware Partner Network, and I would add in a few other areas like VMware Code for example. It’s a nice place to get you over the hump, but honestly if you put something in here you are probably already super qualified to be in.
There Must Be More?!
A few other ways you can get in are by listing activities that didn’t make those 4 categories, leverage VMware references, and mentioning a vExpert Pro like myself to help you get in the back door.
Ideally I recommend reaching out to myself @ email@example.com or connecting with us on one of our collaborative channels in the VMware vExpert LinkedIN Group and the vExpert Community on Facebook. Even moreso, if you are neuro-diverse and on the fence about applying please book 15m with me and tell me how I can help!
What is it Like as a vExpert?
So let’s talk about the benefits on the program:
- Become one of the 2000-ish vExperts and join that special community.
- Opportunity to apply for the several sub-programs like vExpert EUC.
- Access to the vExpert Slack Channel
- Permission to use the vExpert Logo on Business Cards, Websites, etc.
- Exclusive Partner Gifts
- Private Webinars and Access
- Access to Private Betas
- Access to Eval Licenses for your Labs
- Special Parties at VMworld
- Featured in our online directory
- Ability to Share your content on the Advocacy portal, which really bosted my blog
- Identified as a vExpert at VMworld along with bonus VMworld swag
So that is what the website tell you.
What I have really gotten out of this is the ability to build special relationships and access to internal resources at VMware. VMware is a community where you only get what you put into it. I’ve made some special relationships because of this program that wouldn’t have been possible with people all around the world.
I would have never had this picture in my VMworld slides if it wasn’t for the vExpert program:
I’m not sure if that is good or not. I’ve met some special people that made me evolve and want to compete at this level like this crazy viking bastard:
As a true introvert, the vExpert program has been good for me. I’ve grown my brand and I’ve evolved into technologies like VMware Horizon and Carbon Black because I wanted to be as talented as some of these people around me. It’s tough being a mobile guy first, but with some great support systems and special people at VMware I have had the opportunities to be great.
Even this crazier bastard has made a difference in how I look at things:
I know he looks crazy, but Brian Madden has a penchant for story-telling, which I admire and I think it has made me a better technologist. Also, why I have decided to start writing my book in 2022. This section was a bunch of editorializing, but the point is that everything is only what you make of it. The vExpert Program is an attainable goal, which can be the stepping stone from complacency to evolution if you make it just that.
We are now at the end of this VMware lovefest. So much for me trying to convince people I’m not a VMware fanboy. Oh well, the point of this was to help you understand why it actually matters. I truly believe if it wasn’t for the vExpert Program I would have never talked openly about ADHD which led to this great podcast on the Nerd Journey. It makes me jealous that I don’t get to join that podcast regularly because it has really made me think about the human psyche and the little things we take for granted.
Every now and then it’s good to take stock of your emotional landscape and remember how you got here. I sort of feel like Dante in Clerks, except today is my career. The decision you make can make the difference. If you feel like you’re capable of adding to the betterment of others in IT and have a passion to be a v-Mascot please apply or at least ask for help. There are many of us who are willing to help you move toward that goal.