I was brought up with a love for singing. It started with my mother, then elementary school music class, then a boys choir in 6th grade, which gave me my first shot at the spotlight when I performed with 3 other guys in front of our whole school for Earth Day. Then I moved to Texas, where they take their gospel music very seriously, and I spent the next seven years singing everything from Beethoven to Broadway. I had solos in the big shows, I was in the show-choir that performed around the community, I was one of 5 guys selected to be in a musical my senior year, and every year for six years straight I competed to get into the All-Region choir, and aced my competitive solo recitals. And then I just stopped.
It’s now been another seven years, and besides the shower and the street corner, drunk, I don’t sing at all. I took an interest in music, I turned that interest into a passion, and then I turned that passion into something noteworthy – into an asset I could put on a resume, talk about, and showcase. And then I just stopped.
Here at Microsoft I have cultivated my passion for technology. But when I noticed it was happening, I realized I have always had an interest, I have always been drawn to technology, but I somehow never thought to take that interest, and develop it into a passion, and then into an asset. I was the kid who made stop-motion animation movies using PowerPoint in highschool. I was the kid who took two years of AP Computer Science, aced the AP Test, and never took another programming class again. In retrospect, I threw away an interest, that was beginning to bloom into a passion, that could have become an asset, rather than embracing it. And it wasn’t until I came to Microsoft that I rediscovered it, and cultivated ilt it into a passion.
Now I spar with my roommate – a Product Manager on Windows 7 – and shoot down his arguments with quotes from blogs I recall from memory, and he asks “how do you know that?” Once again, after some meandering, I’ve taken an interest and turned it into a passion, but what will I do next? How can I find a way to convert this passion into a role, into a position, into a real asset – something with substance?
In working with our MSPs – our student reps – it occurred to me one day – why do we employ a marketing agency to design viral marketing tactics – when instead we should be empowering these students – who already may have these hidden skills – to do it for us. They’re already more passionate about technology than any marketing agency – they already know more about Microsoft- why not harness that?
And since then we’ve launched a series of projects to get-at that hidden talent – a blogging competition, asking them to start Twittering, and most-recently a “Movie Trailer” competition where they created their own trailers for fictitious movies. What I learned is that we all have hidden interests; that as companies become bigger and bigger we assign people to be each cog in the machine – and we forget that people have multiple skill sets – that they can be more than one cog.
Ultimately, isn’t that what we are all striving for? To find a way – to find a job – that get’s you excited? A job that let’s you reach your potential? A job that’s you have fun at? That if you could only find that thing, you would be amazing at it, and success would come naturally?