What the MVP Award is not…

Posted: April 4, 2012 in SQLServerPedia Syndication

When I came into the industry a number of years ago, I stumbled across some people that had the MVP title, but I had no idea what it was.  What I did know was that there were very few of them but I saw a lot of information from them.  I started asking questions, reading and watching.  I found quickly that like so many others I had some misconceptions as to what an MVP is.  I had talked to other non-MVP DBAs I know and you would be surprised at some of the beliefs that are out there.  This year on April 1st I received my 4th MVP Award, and I am just as honored today as I was when I first received the award. I could try telling you what the Award means to me, but I cannot find the words strong enough to explain it.   I could tell you how when I walk into the Mall teenaged girls run in my direction screaming my name like I was the lead singer of some boy band, but that would be a lie as well.  I could tell you how I walk down the hall at the PASS Summit and people part just so that we can walk down the path over to the special MVP Sitting area, but that is not close to accurate either.

So while I am on the mission of explaining to people what the MVP Award is, I figured I should tell you what it is not.

A Certification – The MVP Award is just that.  It’s an Award, think of it as a trophy, a thank-you that, depending on how you feel about it, sits right next to your bowling trophy.  For me the award sits high up on the shelf, higher than all others.  Now that is just me as I was raised with the mentality that the thing which would make me a man is the work I do.  For the record, I think viewing an MVP as a certifcation is the wrong mental attitude and could not be more far from the truth.  You don’t go take a test; you don’t get a pass/fail grade. 

We are experts in everything – I know this is hard to believe, and I think I understand why.  So many people are so good at this technology thing that they understand many aspects of it.  I can tell you that everyone has gaps.  I know nothing about Exchange; I have a hard time setting up my smart phone to check my email.  It just makes me mad and makes me want to toss it out the window of my truck.

Give you super human powers – Ok, so I hate to admit this, really I do…  But… this is true.  I no longer have hair growing out of my ears. When the award was handed to me during my black tie event,  I ripped open the envelope just to find out what my super human MVP power was.  I was hoping for the “grow the hair on your head”, but it looks like I had to sacrifice even the average ability to do that, so it could be awarded to others.  Maybe next year I can put in a request to change it. 

A free pass to act like a jerk- We just cannot do that. I think people who behave poorly are going to remove themselves from the perspective pool of renewals of the award.  Inherently, the award is given to people who help others learn the technology.  If all a MVP is going to do is be a jerk then it goes against the overall idea of helping people.  With that being said, as an MVP I do agree to an act like an MVP type of an agreement. This agreement is not a hush document; it is a way for Microsoft to say that you are not behaving in a manner that represents Microsoft and MCPs.  So if you have been waiting for your MVP award just so you can take a baseball bat to the rack of servers in the Datacenter then you need to skip the MVP and just go do what ya got to do.

The planning committee for the next version of SQL Server – I am sure this is the biggest surprise of this post.  We do not get to decide on what features are going into what product.  I am ready to shock you even more…  Microsoft is a company, and they are driven by offering a great product to companies.  Companies have needs, like being able to say they have redundant servers, and that their databases will be online 24 x 7 x 365.  The needs of the market have the biggest impact on a product.  If Microsoft does not provide what a business needs, then guess what? Someone else will.  With that being said, on occasion we offer input to Microsoft from what business are telling us they need. 

An MVP is all about the Forums – I know MVPs who go to the Forums rarely, but they sit in their basements working on books or they are doing newsletters or teaching classes organizing conferences.   There are many ways that MVPs contribute.  It is not a magic number of questions that need to be answered.  It is not who speaks at 40% of the SQL Saturday events.  It is all taken into consideration as far as I know.  


What is the MVP Award?

To me it is all about Microsoft saying “Thank You”.  They told me that they are awarding me with an honorable title that many before me have held and many after me will, too.  MVPs are people helping people.  If I did not have the award, would I stop helping people? No.  Did I want the MVP?  Yes. Do I know 100% who the MVPs are in the future; do we talk about that in our closed door club meetings? Nope.  But I do know what Microsoft has recognized in the past.  I watch enough of what’s going on with SQL Server, and I see who are well on their way to the MVP Award.  If our community is any sign of success then there is no limit.  Congrats to all the new MVPs and I look forward to the future.


  1. Thanks for the post Chris, this is a very nice explanation!

  2. Thanks for the post, Chris. It is very nice explanation. Btw, in my country no MVPs yet … I’m trying to sensibilities my local IT community where now I’m leading SQL Server Users Group locally in my country and trying to ta have a good community people with lot of their activities where they can have a chance to be honored also with MVP status!
    Let see what happened next in the near future…!

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Good luck, if you need help with your users group, let me know. I am an RM with PASS and well you may not be in my region, but there is a lot of people that are here to help you.

      • Yep I know that you are not in my region. But thank you for your kind words about help for the UG, just for info that my UG is in affiliation with PASS so we are Albanian PASS Chapter or Albanian SQL Server Users Group! BTW, it can be possible that you are going at TechEd NA, but let me know for the TechEd EU in Amsterdam will you attend!?

      • Chris Shaw says:

        I really wish I could be in Amsterdam for an event. But I don’t think that I can make it this year. I am going to try to get over to SQL Bits in the next year or so.

        And thank you for the kind words.


  3. We can say that the MVP Award is a gauge of one’s contribution to the technical community – how helpful he has been to others for whatever duration that MVP was awarded in.

    The MVP Award is a target for most people working in the Microsoft Stack. That’s cool. If one is truly deserving of the award, give him that. But the Award should not be an end in itself. It should be a natural byproduct of an accomplishment – after the good deeds.

    The MVP Award should not serve as the motivation behind our acts of helping the community.

  4. […] What the MVP Award is not… Share this:EmailPrintFacebookShareDiggRedditStumbleUpon […]

  5. jsterrett says:

    Great blog post Chris.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s