[sowing the seeds of sharepoint]

[sowing the seeds of sharepoint]

Mostly this is just a flashback post…

As some of you know, I am a technology geek. Granted, I am still ways behind on a lot of geeky stuff, but I am learning. The main thing is that I love everything new that comes out and I like to see potential in different programs / utilities / etc.

Back in 2009, we were the “guinea pigs” (in a good way) for Microsoft to try out Microsoft SharePoint product. We had another system administrator back in those days and it was his project to run. During the testing phase, he asked me if I could populate some random data, simply to see how the features are working and whether it has all the functionality that we need.

I did play with it. Taking into account that it was a Saturday afternoon, I had some fun with surveys’ plugin, so on the homepage of our SharePoint portal was a simple survey: “Real Estate in Ukraine.” It had one question: “The place where you are currently living at, you are…:” 1. Renting it, 2. Own it, and 3. Homeless.

Like I said, I was asked to test it and I had my fun.

Little did I know that the main Microsoft SharePoint guy, Kirk Koenigsbauer, will see this. While he was in Kyiv, my boss did a presentation on how the Chamber utilizes the platform and lo and behold… it had the data that I input… including the survey. No need to say that Kirk was really amused to find out that 14% of those who “answered” the survey (which was all me – I clicked on different answer options) were homeless.

I remember my admin manager telling me about this mishap (thankfully they laughed it off and the presentation continued) and I remember saying that I don’t want to have anything in common with SharePoint ever again.

A couple of weeks later, I was running late for the Church board meeting and was already getting my stuff ready to leave work, when Nadya, my admin manager, came to me. She was quite agitated and said that she needs my help.

“Sure. What’s up?”

“In 20 minutes we have representatives of Dragon Capital coming to talk about SharePoint. We need someone to present it to them. They are thinking about getting a SharePoint for their own company, so we need to “sell” them the idea.”

I looked at her, “Our IT guy.”

“He said he doesn’t know what to tell them.”

I hesitated and glanced at my watch. The Church board meeting was due to start in an hour and I hated being late. However, being late was better than letting my friend and my organization down. The only thing remained – I was not sure what to present either. I only played with SharePoint and I didn’t know the insides back then. Another thing was that the people who were coming were managing director of investment banking and another guy, also a top manager of the Dragon Capital, Ukraine’s leading investment bank. “Who am I to present this platform?” I wondered, but Nadya’s pleading gaze discarded the question.

I got the projector running (which did not want to cooperate either and our IT guy was acting as if he could not set it up – so I figured the stuff on my own), and sat to review the portal, glancing at my watch every so often.

The guys came and I once again wondered at myself – I get so nervous before I have to speak, but most of the time when my turn comes, I find myself speaking without any problems. I did present the SharePoint – all that I knew about it at that time. Thankfully, I did read about the product before, so I knew the strong sides of the platform which I mostly talked about.

Finally the meeting was over, Nadya called a cab for me, and I was in time for the Church board.

Fast forward a year and a half, about a month ago.

Nadya and I were invited to a SharePoint 2010 presentation at Microsoft and after attending, we decided that we want to move our website to SharePoint platform altogether (instead of having 4 different areas of web stuff).

As we were choosing which partner to work with to develop SharePoint, we met with one of the candidates.

“Yeah, we have done a lot in this area. SharePoint 2010 offers quite a wide variety of features. One of our clients, Dragon Capital, did this and this and this for their platform.”

Nadya and I looked at each other. “Dragon Capital was one of your clients for SharePoint development?”


I grinned, I couldn’t help it. To know that I was the one who “sold” the idea of SharePoint was the best praise I ever got for taking up that project (since our IT guy was fired and project became mine).

Lesson to learn.

We never know what seeds that we’ve sown will grow up to be great trees. We might not even want to sow those seeds – for various reasons: too busy, too lazy, too boring, too something. Maybe we don’t want to sow those seeds because we don’t think we are capable of doing something worthy. I know that when I was presenting the platform, I did not think I could do anything – I had to save the situation and there wasn’t anyone else, but I did not even fancy the idea that those top managers of a huge company would listen to me – a simple web-content coordinator. Yet… it worked. The seeds grew.

Sow the seeds – that’s all that you can do most of the time. Sometimes you are allowed to water it, but in most cases, you sow the seeds and they are literally out of your hands and into God’s hands.

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