50 Remarkable Episodes With Amazing Technology Leaders

We've reached a really important milestone and so I wanted to take this time to pause, reflect, and discuss what’s next.

I've produced 50 episodes, over 60 weeks, and over 14 months. I recorded my latest episode in the same place where it all began and where I went on a journey to interview so many truly outstanding guests.

This body of work has included people from Microsoft, other leaders in the technology industry and partners that have gotten it right building truly incredible businesses. I want to thank each of these guests for being generous with their time and talents and sharing their extraordinary stories with me.

This all started because 14 months ago I saw an unfulfilled need to help the technology industry stay in greater lockstep during this massive change and transformation.

My colleagues at the industry giants were telling me that they struggled to reach and scale to a broader set of partners and their technology partners told me they needed to stay in greater lockstep with the technology giants. Organizations were evolving rapidly and information was coming very fast. It is hard to decipher and filter that information to determine what is important and what is not.

The podcast became a way to filter the noise, simplify the programs and provide a forum where technology giants and partners could connect and thrive. I’ve also tried to put a face to the business to help personalize the story of my guests to help my listeners learn and to grow.

Blog posts, webinars, video, and in-person events are all used extensively in the technology industry, but few had successfully utilized podcasts.

The podcast format and audio provide a such a great way to consume information. I was one of those people with information overload, sitting at my desk with over 300 unanswered emails staring me in the face and a dozen chat windows open on my computer at any one time. Through podcasts, I could listen when I wanted and wherever I wanted.

So for the over 300,000 organizations like yours out there, many struggling to figure it out, I hope this podcast has helped in some small way. If it has, I hope you tell your friends and others you meet about it because I want to serve more of you through this work.

This work is a personal passion of mine that has grown out of my own desires to start my own business and share my experiences having been part of three successful business transformations and a personal transformation.

My personal transformations is one I've shared with friends. I overcame childhood obesity at 14 years of age and have been on a mission ever since to live a healthy life. It is why I often post references to working out or nutrition through my social channels as a way to motivate and help others on their mission.

My personal transformation overcoming obesity required a mindset change toward food and exercise and it changed everything for me. That mindset change ultimately shaped how I approached business and any major challenge or setback in my personal or professional life.

This is one reason why I am so fascinated by the personal and professional journeys of my guests. If you've listened to my podcasts, I work to pull out the story of transformation through my questions. I'm fascinated by how people got to a particular spot in their life and I know there are a group of individuals listening to the podcast that want to understand how they can get to that spot in their life.

The personal journey is one of the primary goals of the podcast. The other primary goals are to tell the story of the business and mission, and what characteristics constitute a great partnership. I ask this question to both the technology giants as well as the partners that have gotten it right.

One outcome that I didn't foresee when I started the podcast, but now is another important goal of my work, is to chronicle this amazing digital transformation. The pace of change has become overwhelming and astounding and as a host to so many innovative organizations, I feel like I'm at the center of a hurricane bearing witness to it all.

I've been blessed to have so many amazing guests on this podcast. Leaders from Microsoft's one commercial partner organization including its channel chief, Gavriella Schuster. Award-winning partners that have built highly successful business and practices. On occasion, I've hosted leaders from the other technology giants like Google, Amazon, Salesforce, and VMware. I hope to expand here in the future and host more organizations to tell their story, to help my listeners understand their technology and to help them connect, scale and thrive during this time.

To make it easier for you to find and reference my podcasts I've now categorized them into six categories or topic areas that you can find here at: https://ultimateguidetopartnering.com/episodes-listed-topic-focus/

The first category is "The Art and Science of Partnering". These are the episodes where I interview leaders from Microsoft, walking the hallways to have the discussions and share what's really going on. I'm an independent voice who was deep in the business so I know what questions to ask and understand this highly matrixed organization.

The second category is "Partners that Got it Right, Working with the Tech Giants". These are the top award-winning partners, that I've been very very fortunate to call my friends and have built highly successful businesses. These guests tell their stories of grit, determination and how they figured it out.

The third category I refer to as "Lessons and Trends in Transformation". This is where I've asked leaders from business and industry like Don Yaeger or Tiffani Bova to come on the podcast.

The fourth category is "How Other Technology Giants Think" and this is where I've asked the other technology giants like Google, VMWare, Salesforce, and Amazon to join my podcast to tell their partner story.

The fifth category is titled from a talk by Microsoft's Toni Townes Whitley, "Industry Focused - Partner Led". We often speak generally about partnering and transformation, but where it really gets exciting is when we start applying technology to specific industry examples of transformation and the outcomes that are derived. In the very near future, I hope to expand my content here to new industry sectors.

The sixth category "Amazing Women in Technology", is focused on all the outstanding women guests I've been privileged to interview thus far. Candidly, as a percentage of all of my interviews, it is not as much as I would like. I'm working to increase this number and plan to begin a new series dedicated to this focus at midyear.

I want to close by thanking my many friends who have rooted me on during my incredible personal and professional journey. The support you have provided to me has lifted my sails more than you might know.

I hope the work that I am doing has been of value to you and I hope that the next 50 episodes are at least as good, as valuable to you my friends.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for joining The Ultimate Guide to Partnering.


You can listen to the podcast by going to https://ultimateguidetopartnering.com/2018/04/30/49-a-cloud-for-global-good/ - you can also listen on iTunesStitcher, Google PlaySoundCloud, Player FM and other podcast applications by searching "Ultimate Guide to Partnering".

I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or by email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

Vince Menzione


A Cloud for Global Good.

On Episode 45 of my podcast, I discussed the work Microsoft is doing with partners through its Voice For Innovation program to support technology policies and included a discussion on the framework developed by Microsoft – A Cloud for Global Good, that outlines a series of initiative and recommendations around a trusted cloud, a responsible cloud and an inclusive cloud.

In this episode, I’m sharing the unabridged version of an interview that I recorded with Owen Larter, Microsoft’s Senior Manager for Global Government Affairs. The interview was so good and impactful that I wanted to share it fully with you here.

We as leaders have the opportunity to step up our engagement and play a role to ensure the technology that we are creating and advancing ultimately serves the greater good and that lawmakers better understand both the power of technology and the potential threats. This has become abundantly clear as we all learn more about the challenges and consequences we face when digital privacy and security are compromised.

My ask is simple, join me to stay informed. There are links below to learn more about the framework Owen and I discuss here and access a digital copy of the book, A Cloud For Global Good. You can also learn more about Voices for Innovation and reach out directly through the show notes.

Important Links:

You can listen to the podcast or view the trascript here or on iTunesSoundCloudStitcherGoogle PlayPlayer FM, other Android podcast players.

As with each of my interview and articles, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In, TwitterFacebook and Instagram or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

One partner of the year’s personal and professional transformation.

Welcome to the 48th episode of the Ultimate Guide to Partnering. For this episode of the podcast, I got to spend time with Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang, the co-CEO, and co-founder of AvePoint, a multiple award-winning and 2017 Public Sector Partner of the Year for Microsoft.

TJ oversees product strategy and business development for AvePoint’s global businesses. He is one of the main architects in guiding AvePoint’s evolution from a SharePoint infrastructure tools company, to an information management solution focused Microsoft cloud expert—helping enterprises in their digital transformation to cloud. TJ is a regular speaker at C-level and technology events worldwide.

AvePoint and TJ’s story are one of transformation as the company pivoted from a Sharepoint Infrastructure tools company to an information management solutions company focused on the Microsoft Cloud.

TJ’s story is one of personal transformation that I’ve now chronicled many times through this podcast. It is one of an immigrant, in this case, one who came to the US from China at the age of 11 and achieved great academic and business success.

In addition, TJ is the recipient of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in New Jersey in 2010, TJ received both B.S. and Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Philosophy and PhD in Data Mining from Department of Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics, Stern School of Business, New York University.

You can listen to the podcast here. You can also find Ultimate Guide to Partnering on iTunesSoundCloudStitcherGoogle PlayPlayer FM, other Android podcast players.

As with each of my interview and articles, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In, TwitterFacebook and Instagram or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

This episode of the podcast is sponsored by Cloud Wave Partners.

Success Recruiting Software Companies to the Cloud

I was pleased to have Warren Wilbe, who leads Microsoft’s U.S. efforts recruiting Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) join my podcast to discuss Microsoft’s efforts to recruit software companies to its Azure Cloud. Warren’s team of Partner Business Managers work with key ISVs across the United States as part of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organization, or OCP.

In this episode Warren* and I discuss his teams focus, how he gauges success, how partners can engage with he and the team, and what makes a great partner.

If you are an ISV that is a Microsoft Partner or want to learn how to become one – you will find this episode of particular interest.

*About Warren – Prior to joining Microsoft, Warren spent 18 years working as a technical leader and architect across the U.S. and Canada with various ISVs, primarily software companies focused on providing ERP Solutions.

Warren lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children. When he isn’t enjoying time with his family or exploring technology, you’ll probably find him reading science fiction/fantasy or cruising on one of his motorcycles.

You can listen to the podcast or view the trascript below. You can also find Ultimate Guide to Partnering on iTunesSoundCloudStitcherGoogle PlayPlayer FM, other Android podcast players.

As with each of my interview and articles, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In, TwitterFacebook and Instagram or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

This episode of the podcast is sponsored by Cloud Wave Partners.


Warren. Welcome to the podcast.

Warren Wilbee:              Hey Vince. Thanks for having me on.

Vince:                               It is great to have you on. You lead a team focused on helping independent software vendors, ISV’s, and are very focused on recruiting great companies to the Microsoft as your platform. I’m excited to have you join today to tell our listeners about your business, what you look for in great partnerships, what you’re seeing happening in this age of rapid change, and your career journey.

Warren Wilbee:              I look forward to the discussion.

Vince:                               Can you spend a few minutes explaining your role in the Microsoft OCP organization and where your organization is focused?

Warren Wilbee:              OCP, let’s decode that to begin with. OCP stands for One Commercial Partner. It was an organization that was created this last summer when several different organizations that all had been focusing on different partner types and sometimes often quite frankly, a little bit of overlap, came together to present a cleaner face to our partner community and to help us serve them better. My part of that very important organization is to focus on independent software vendors. My team focuses on recruiting new software companies to the Microsoft platform and also we have a large swath of partners that we have dealt with over the years that we still provide service.

Vince:                               You work with some organizations that are new to the cloud or new to Microsoft. How do you gauge success with your partners?

Warren Wilbee:              My organization exists to make our partners successful. When we start working with a partner, one of the things that we like to do with them is to help understand their vision, their mission, where they’re at and where they’re going and redefine success largely on how we help them meet those objectives using our platform. The thing is that we hold ourselves accountable to internally our twofold, we hold ourself accountable for the number of new partners that we bring to Microsoft. We want to be successful in bringing folks to our platform so we keep track of that number.

We also are interested of course in driving Microsoft’s platform and the cloud platform in particular so we also keep track of the amount of abjure consumptions that our team generates or more accurately, the abjure consumption that the partners we provide service to generate.

Vince:                               Is it their direct consumption or is there also, you know, we used to talk about influence revenue back in the day at Microsoft. Do you also look at how much as your consumption, some of those partners influence?

Warren Wilbee:              Yeah. One of the hardest things when you deal with independent software vendors or quite frankly, I just end up calling them software companies most of the time, one of the hardest things when dealing with them is trying to actually get an accurate picture of the influence that they have on the overall software ecosystem if you will, how much impact they really have in the community. Independent software companies, they do business in lots of different ways. Some of them still are selling licenses, some of them sell their products as services, some organizations install their software on a customers instance of abjure if you will. Some of them install them in customers data centers so ISV’s are kind of all over the place in their business models and all over the place in how they would potentially generate abjure consumption.

It makes …. One of the most difficult parts of my job is tracking down that influence and helping our executive teams understand the full influence that some of these ISV’s are having.

Vince:                               Your organization sits in the Build-With segment of the business under casing [inaudible 00:04:31]. How does your team cross engage with the other segments of the business? The Go-to-Market teams and the Sell-With teams, how does that look?

Warren Wilbee:              Sure. It should be relatively simple, especially to our partners. The people who are in the Build-With organizations and my organization and I think you’ve talked to some of my peers who are in Build-With as well, we are usually the first point of contact for our partners. We are the ones who own the relationship because Built-With is almost always the first part of the journey and it’s where the relationships get established. We end up owning the relationships in perpetuity. What we do is with regard to Go-to-Market and post sell, we are the organizations that sort of conduct the band. We are the one that connect our partners to the GTM organization and make sure that those activities are going smoothly. Similarly, we have that type of role with co-sell as well.

We make sure that the activities happen and that our ISV’s are talking to the right people and doing the right things and that our peers in those organizations are properly connected to our partners.

Vince:                               I’ve asked this question to multiple people at Microsoft in partner leadership roles, I’ve been hearing mostly positive feedback regarding the change and the new OCP organization, but change isn’t easy and if you could go back when the organization design was rolled out in July, is there anything you would have done differently?

Warren Wilbee:              Gosh. That’s a hard question. That’s a Monday morning quarterback kind of question because there’s always things that happen that are unexpected consequences. With the knowledge of everything that has transpired since July, yeah there are things that I would have changed but none that realistically could have been foreseen. By and large I believe the organizational design is correct. I believe that it makes sense to have all the partner organization under one house. I believe that keeping the program as simple and focused on partners is the right thing to do and having a single org with that, its overall mandate makes sense.

There are still things that are going on. I believe if you take a look at any organization, it’s like the stages of grief. I’m sure you are familiar when somebody goes through a trauma, that there are stages that people go through and it’s very predictable. Organizations have the same sort of thing. It is also well documented that the usual lexicon is you go through storming, forming, norming, and performing. Those are the steps that an organization will go through after it’s gone through a trauma. We did have our storming phase and we’ve gone through a forming phase. Now we are, and different parts of the organization are obviously in different places, but we’re in the norming and heading to performing at this point.

Any change would have generated that trauma and any change would have forced us through those stages. I’m actually pleased and a little bit surprised how fast the organization has gone through that process and how well people have performed. I think it’s a testament to the people that are in the org, that things have progressed so quickly.

Vince:                               Yeah. I tend to agree with you based on the conversations I’ve been having across the organization at Microsoft as well as partners that engage with Microsoft. Having everything under one house and one roof and having the connection points between your organization, the Go-to-Market, and the Sell-With organizations makes a ton of sense. As you think through how you engage your partners to help them scale, I talked to a lot of organizations and people about partner to partner play. Does that come into play here with your organization? No pun intended here but as you look at some of these partners that are looking to scale their business with Microsoft, do you try to match up partners to drive a solution offering or help them to scale?

Warren Wilbee:              Yeah, in lots of different ways. There’s many different configurations. It’s not something that happens with every single partner every single time but there are lots of synergies to be held [inaudible 00:09:22] marketplace. For example, many of our software companies will engage with system integrators. I know at Globeron for example, they will engage with system integrators to help them get their products built or help migrate their products to the cloud. Now, they’ll take advantage of the expertise that those people have in migrating solutions from data center to cloud for example. Another match that typically happens when people in [inaudible 00:10:00] organization deal with people in my organization is that quite often ISV’s utilize system integrators as a sales channel. That’s another partner to partner match.

We’re seeing ISV’s also engage with cloud service providers, and in some cases utilize cloud service providers so that that part of the management of the cloud platform is something they don’t have to focus on. They can just focus on the zeroes and ones of creating software. There are lots of potentials out there for partner to partner and ISV’s playing in almost every scenario [inaudible 00:10:48].

Vince:                               It sounds like it. One thing that’s been a constant in all of my discussions this year has been the rapid state of change. People are seeing change faster than they anticipated a year ago. What are you seeing now that you didn’t expect to see a year ago in terms of the digital transformation?

Warren Wilbee:              I mean, I’m not going to pretend that I predicted the future or anything but change is a natural state in the software business. We have been changing since the sixties and we will continue to change for the foreseeable future. Seeing the way that it was going to change, I for one didn’t predict how the org was going to evolve. I’m glad it did. I think when you’re talking about change it’s important to look at the drivers behind change. The cloud is a huge force and it is making big changes in the way we approach computing. It’s making big changes in the way we build and design software and it’s only natural that those changes would be felt in the ways our partners organize and the way we organize. If the bedrock underneath your feet is shifting, you’re going to shift too.

Vince:                               Absolutely. It has been shifting. Let’s talk a little bit about partnering, since this podcast is called The Ultimate Guide to Partnering and we focus in on what makes successful partnerships. What attributes do you think are needed now from partners looking to be successful working with you and your organization? In fact, what makes a great partner?

Warren Wilbee:              I guess if I had to come up with one word I’d say commitment. Another way of expressing the same [inaudible 00:12:34] is this, that Microsoft, like any organization [inaudible 00:12:38], partners vest with with people who partner with it. If you’re committed to me, I’ll be committed to you and together we’ll do great things. That, for me, has always been the simple equation that makes partnering with Microsoft work.

Vince:                               What do you look for in terms of commitment? Do you look for exclusive relationships, in other words, only working with Microsoft? How do you define commitment?

Warren Wilbee:              No. Certainly in this world, I’m not looking for any form of exclusivity. What I’m looking for, is I’m looking for someone who takes a serious look at our platform, takes a serious look at the value proposition that we have, and partners with us to put together a business case. You know, really sit down and analyze what the pluses and minuses are of working with Microsoft. Any time when I’ve had the discussion and we factored in what we could do on the technology side, what we could do on the Go-to-Market side, what we can do to help them sell their products in the market space, I have never come away unhappy from a conversation that has earnestly gone through that analysis.

If you go through that analysis of looking at the technology, looking at what we have to offer from the marketing standpoint and looking at what we have to offer to help you sell your product, whenever that analysis has happened I’ve never come away unhappy. Microsoft has a peerless value proposition when you factor all those things in.

Vince:                               Is there one thing that isn’t taught but you believe is true, besides commitment to successfully partnering with Microsoft?

Warren Wilbee:              One of the problems with Microsoft is you can take a look at our staff and having vendors and everybody else, we have circa 100,000 to 120,000 people, a large group of people. One of the biggest problems that I see that partners face is that when dealing with us they almost feel like they have a one in 120,000 chance of finding the right person. That’s why I like participating in forums like this where we can try and help people understand how to partner with us and how to connect with us because once people find the right entry point into Microsoft and for ISV’s [inaudible 00:15:09] and my team, once they connect with the right people things tend to go well. It’s when they can’t find the entry point that I think we run into some problems.

Vince:                               Once they find that entry point and those partners are now looking to work with you and your team, is there any advice or strategies they need to think about before engaging with your team?

Warren Wilbee:              That’s an excellent question. Generally speaking we take all comers but the conversations that tend to go best are the conversations where people have a clear set of objectives that we can latch onto and help them fulfill. When you walk into a room and the conversation is, “Why are you here?” “No, why are you here?” That gets confusing for everyone. If you come in with a clear set of objectives, if you can tell me where you’re at and where you want to be, it’s very easy for myself and my team to engage in that conversation and try and figure out a way to help you get there. At the end of the day what we are all about is helping you solve your problems using our platform and help you reach your business objectives using the tools that are provided in our partnering frame.

Vince:                               Warren, I’m fascinated by how people got to this particular spot in life and I was wondering if you could tell our listeners how you got started at Microsoft and how this led to this role in the company?

Warren Wilbee:              I’ve been pointed at this role for a very long time. When I was in college I took an internship for a software company and ended up working the summer with them. After that I ended up working through the year with them and then I joined them as a graduate and eventually assumed a leadership position in that company. From that time until the time I joined Microsoft, I enjoyed the role of architect, the relevant leader, director of development, lots of different titles but basically running the technical side of software companies, ISV’s. The last company I worked for was purchased and I went from being the guy who made the decisions to being one of 12 guys [inaudible 00:17:33] where commas were placed in memos and kind of got tired of that after about six months and Microsoft had been recruiting me through that time. My job satisfaction got worse and the offers from Microsoft got better and eventually the lines crossed and I ended up taking a role very similar to the one I now hold at Microsoft.

At that point I thought I was just going to be there for a year because I was a products guy and I wanted to go and build some more products but I ended up instead of just working on one product at a time, I ended up working with 20 different software companies that I was having a material impact with, and ended up having an influence on 20 products and making a difference in 20 organizations. That turned out to be a lot of fun. I’ve been doing it for 13 years at Microsoft and will probably keep on doing it until they tell me I have to stop.

Vince:                               What was the best piece of advice you received along the way, either in the workforce or at Microsoft?

Warren Wilbee:              I had lots of great mentors and got lots of great advice along the way. I think the best piece of advice I got is always make sure you understand the underlying question. So many times people give you sort of a top line question or a top line problem and you end up not really working on the root cause. You end up not really looking at the big problem that needs to be solved. Always dig down to the bedrock. Always get down to that fundamental question, that fundamental problem that people are trying to solve because if you start solving those problems you’ll be amazed where life takes you.

Vince:                               That’s great advice. What about people that you mentor, either in your organization or outside your organization. Is there any advice that you give to them?

Warren Wilbee:              It depends on what I’m mentoring them for. If I’m mentoring for leadership, the one clear piece of advice I get is never … The one clear piece of advice I give, pardon me, is to never underestimate the value of teams. Building teams is extremely important. I believe that all of us is better than any one of us and the organizations that I’ve been privileged to be a part of always work and function as teams, not a group of individuals that all have similar goals. We’re in it together, we win together, we lose together, we make it happen together.

Vince:                               Do you have a quote that you live your life by or you think of often?

Warren Wilbee:              Be kind.

Vince:                               Be kind, I like that.

Warren Wilbee:              Be kind. [crosstalk 00:20:33].

Vince:                               You cover so much ground, actually.

Warren Wilbee:              Exactly right. It’s great. It’s easy to remember. Life is hard, everybody’s going through something, everybody has problems. When you look at the people around you, be kind.

Vince:                               What about advice you would give to your 25 year old self?

Warren Wilbee:              I think my 25 year old self, I would tell my 25 year old self to be patient.

Vince:                               Be patient.

Warren Wilbee:              I remember my 25 year old self, and my 25 year old self wanted to solve all the problems of the world, wanted to solve them today, and quite frankly life tends to be a one step at a time adventure. It’s important to understand where you’re going, it’s important to understand who you want to be and how you’re going to make it there. But, you also have to take a breath and understand you’ve got to do the work, you’ve got to put in the time, you’ve got to go through the steps to get to where you’re going.

Vince:                               That’s great advice. I find that many people I work with at that early stage of a career are not very patient. Thank you for sharing that with our listeners. How about books you’ve read? Is there any one book you’ve read or gifted often, that you’d recommend to our listeners and why?

Warren Wilbee:              There is a book by Robert Asprin called Phule’s Company, that had a rather amusing take on leadership that somebody who listens to this might get a kick out of.

Vince:                               Phule’s Company. That author again?

Warren Wilbee:              Robert Asprin.

Vince:                               Aspen?

Warren Wilbee:              Asprin, like the medicine.

Vince:                               Asprin like the medicine. Okay, great. We’ll share that in our show notes for our listeners. I want to thank you Warren. I appreciate how busy your time is and how compressed it is. I know you’re doing this interview today remote. You are a real road warrior at Microsoft. I know that first hand. I appreciate you coming on today and sharing your story, your business with us, with our listeners. Thank you so much for your time.

Warren Wilbee:              No problem. Happy to do it. As you said, I am a road warrior. When people ask me where I’m based I usually tell them the Hyatt.

Vince:                               The Hyatt. What about if any of our listeners want to reach you, is there a best way to do so?

Warren Wilbee:              Sure. I’m easy to find, wwilbee@microsoft.com. Feel free to send me a note, I’d be happy to engage with you, help you find your direction with regard to Microsoft. Please reach out and I will respond.

Vince:                               Thank you so much. We’re going to put that in our show notes. Again, want to thank you for your time today Warren. It’s been a pleasure to have you ask a guest. Thank you.

Warren Wilbee:              Great conversation, glad to participate, happy to do it anytime.

A Valuable Guide To Accelerate Growth For Partners

This episode of the podcast focuses on the role of channel marketing to help many of our listeners accelerate growth and scale their businesses.

In this episode of the podcast, my interview guest is Mike Moore, a seasoned Channel Marketing executive whom I had the opportunity to work with at Microsoft. Mike has spent twenty-three years in the IT channel as a channel partner and as a channel and field marketer for software companies like Microsoft, GE Healthcare, and Progress Software. 

Today, Mike serves as the VP of Channel Strategy at Averetek. Averetek offers channel marketing automation software, delivered in the cloud/SaaS, that has been used by more than 70,000 channel partners in 21 languages across 260 countries to generate more than $600M in partner pipeline.

In this episode, Mike joins me to discuss his company, the role of Channel Marketing, his career journey, and his new book "Marketing Multiplied: A real-world guide to Channel Marketing for beginners, practitioners, and executives" which he coauthored with Averetek CEO Peter A. Thomas.

Marketing Multiplied is a comprehensive guide to indirect channel marketing. Building on more than forty years of combined experience, Mike Moore and Peter Thomas explore topics such as how best to engage channel partners, how to create programs that generate outcomes, how to develop the right mix of content, recruiting and hiring talented people, and how to provide meaningful incentives to your channel partners that motivate them to deliver results.

Whether you’re new to the field, or a seasoned executive looking for fresh ideas, Marketing Multiplied uncovers the channel marketing concepts and tactics that will kick your channel into high growth.

You can get the book here. 

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Averetek:  https://www.averetek.com/

You can listen to the podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle PlaySoundCloudPlayer FM, or by going to the website “Ultimate Guide to Partnering“. 

I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In,TwitterFacebook and Instagram or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

Vince Menzione

One Organization's Focus On The Greater Good

Like many of my colleagues in the technology sector, I've been incredibly excited to witness this amazing time in technology - driven by the advancement of cloud technologies and platforms, the aggregation of big data and advances in AI, machine learning, IoT and the like. The future promises to be incredibly bright.

If you’ve been paying attention to recent headlines as I have, I’m sure you’ve become increasingly concerned by some dark clouds that shed a negative light on technology's unintended consequences and misuse to enable malicious behavior, cyber terrorism, and cybercrime. The New York Times recently referred to the current time as a "Second Inning". 

I believe that technology organizations and technology leaders have an opportunity, and potentially an obligation to inform and educate lawmakers so they better understand both the potential for good and the possible threats. My belief is rooted in what I’ve seen first-hand in my work and advocacy. I was recently reminded of this importance on a trip last month to Washington, DC and a series of conversations with technology leaders from Microsoft, elected officials and technology partners who met at our Nation's Capital in an effort to harness technology for a greater good.

This most recent episode of my podcast, Ultimate Guide to Partnering is a first-hand report back from this field visit on my findings. In this episode you will learn about a framework developed by Microsoft - A Cloud for Global Good, outlining a series of initiatives and recommendations around a cloud that is trusted, responsible cloud and inclusive. You will also learn about an organization featured in Episode 6,  Voices for Innovation that works to inform legislative officials of key policy matters that shape the future of technology. In addition, I spend time with a Microsoft partner, learning first-hand about her recent experience visiting with lawmakers.

My interview guests include two technology policy leaders, Jonathan Friebert and Owen Larter, who discuss Microsoft's commitment to this framework and how technology organizations can get involved. And the Microsoft partner is Carol-Lynn Growfrom LawToolBox.com, who shares why these issues matter to her and how her involvement has impacted the work she does as technology business leader in Denver, Colorado.

Listen or read the complete transcript here: https://ultimateguidetopartnering.com/2018/03/28/45-one-technology-organizations-focus-on-the-greater-good/

If you'd like to learn more or get involved to ensure the technology we create and advance ultimately serves the greater good, then please join me to stay informed. There are links below to learn more about the framework and the book, A Cloud For Global Good as well as links to learn more about Voices for Innovation.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle PlaySoundCloudPlayer FM, or by going to the website “Ultimate Guide to Partnering“. 

I appreciate your feedback. You can reach out to me on Linked In,TwitterFacebook and Instagram or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

Vince Menzione

How Microsoft Drives Success with its Most Strategic Partners.

Trent Burns is the Sr. Director for the Global SI and Advisory partners in the US One Commercial Partner team. Trent has 13 years at Microsoft and 20 years’ experience in the technology industry at companies like IBM, HP, and Vignette. His experiences include direct sales and sales management positions and alliance/channel management all focused on the largest system integrators.

Trent joined the podcast to share with our listeners how his team thinks about these large strategic relations, what makes great partnerships, how other partners can collaborate with his team and lessons from his career journey.

Trent Burns is the Sr. Director for the Global SI and Advisory partners in the US One Commercial Partner team. Trent has 13 years at Microsoft and 20 years’ experience in the technology industry at companies like IBM, HP, and Vignette. His experiences include direct sales and sales management positions and alliance/channel management all focused on the largest system integrators.

Trent joined the podcast to share with our listeners how his team thinks about these large strategic relations, what makes great partnerships, how other partners can collaborate with his team and lessons from his career journey.

Q: So, for our listeners can you spend a few minutes explaining your role in Microsoft's OCP organization?

Trent Burns: Absolutely. So, I run a team of folks focused on the "build with" side within one commercial partner. We manage our largest global system integrators and also we call them advisory firms and the high-value management consulting firms. So it's a portfolio of about 14 partners and these partners obviously would be well recognized brand names that you'd hear in the marketplace from kind of the traditional SIs all the way to some of the advisory firms that I discussed before, ENY, KPG, PWC as well as what we're calling now, high value management consulting firms. Companies like McKinsey and Bain and Boston Consulting Group and so forth.

Q: So how has that evolved since you started and where is the organization focused more on? Is it focused in on the large system integrators, is it on the influencers, how do you think through that?

Trent Burns: So we sort of grouped them into these three categories, right. I'll call the like, traditional, global SIs or commercial SIs. So these are the folks like Accenture, and IBM is in the portfolio, Capgemini is in that portfolio as well. We also have Dell, too, right. So a lot of people think of them as a traditional resell but with a large Microsoft consulting firm as well. So think about just kind of traditional SI work, which is that first group I just described.

And then if you moved to the next bucket of partners would be more what we call advisory firms. So this is the E&Y, PWCs, KPMGs of the world and it's really fascinating to watch the development of these partnerships. These are new for Microsoft and new for these partners too. As you think about our digital transformation story moving from really kind of IT and to getting into line of business and the whole digital transformation evolution that's taking place, these folks have relationships outside of IT where, quite frankly, Microsoft struggled. And so the partnership is very collaborative there and very fascinating. So those are taking off like wildfire. And just learning how to work with them because they're different in their approach in the work that they actually do for customers.

And then the last group, which is really brand new, which is kind of high value management consulting firms. So, these are the folks like McKinsey and Bain and Boston Consulting and ET Kiernan. And we're just learning like how to work with these folks. Like these folks have board level relationships, right and really are having strategic conversations around the future direction on a company. And so how do we build relationships and partnerships where technology becomes part of their consulting work or their recommendations to customers. And so those are the three groups and they're different and unique in their own way and just as valuable each uniquely that way too.

Q: So how do you set objectives and how do you measure success with these types of partners?

Trent Burns: We try to keep it simple. Obviously I think when you think about ... When you think about success, we gotta put the customer first, right. So are we building solutions that solve customer problems. And then just moving quickly though into the relationship itself. I think from a Microsoft and a partner perspective, it's gotta be a profitable business for each of us, right. And there's gotta be differentiated IP and market relevance. And so when I think about success, it's about profitable growth, it's about building a business that helps solve customer problems. And then also I think, you know at the end of the day when we look internally at Microsoft, it's our focus around growing our three clouds is really important. And so, you know from an internal perspective we will look at how this partner brings something unique that helps us build and grow, kind of those three cloud businesses and making sure that we obviously get our fair share of the pie as it relates to their heterogeneous practices because they're not obviously exclusive Microsoft partners.

Q: So you bring up a good point. So very large multinational organizations, heterogeneous practices. Where do you focus within these organizations? They're massive organizations. So how do you focus in and what are your points of contact within those groups?

Trent Burns: It's across the board. It starts, I think at the most senior levels. You know, Satya has relationships at the CEO level. We have the senior leadership team at Microsoft, the line to their senior leaders, so across the board. So I think it starts at the top, if you will. But then, you know, within the US and the business I manage in getting sort of more tactical around sales execution, we focus on well, I would call sort of a depth strategy, like let's focus on kind of fewer accounts, but go deep in those accounts. Especially accounts where the partner has a deep relationship and history with, right.

And then obviously we want to work with the partner around doing something very differentiated and almost Azure first or Microsoft first, if you will. And doing something unique and differentiated with us. Just because of the fact we know they have other practices. Let's do something where one plus one is ten and do it in an intentional and deliberate way. And so we call that the solution go to market with the partner. And so we'll focus on those areas. Sometimes you can be very niche around a specific industry. It could be a platform play. It just depends. But we try to do something that's intentional and unique and different and that the market obviously has demand for. And that it's lead with a kind of Azure/Microsoft first approach. And that seems to be working, especially when you start to get focused around a smaller set of accounts and not trying to boil the ocean around thousands of accounts, but doing this in a sort of top 30, top 50 kind of account list. You can actually start to execute quite fast.

Q: So will your team build the business plan at that point with the partner?

Trent Burns: Oh, yeah absolutely, yeah, yeah. Building out the business plan. I mean as you think about the things that make a successful partnership, at least in my mind, you know obviously market relevance is huge. But you gotta have commercial terms that are beneficial for both parties. You gotta have operational alignment. You gotta have tacticals. Wanna have sales execution and engagement. You gotta have cultural alignment, too and that includes things like trust. Then the strategic nature as a strategic for both companies. And that goes back to my kind of executive alignment statement earlier as well.

And then I think just technical enablement as well is really important. Like are they building out people and skills that they can deliver on the back end. Because we don't have a successful implementation with a customer, like all of this is for nothing as well.

Q: And they're technical teams, you access these technical teams, the group teams or do you have your own dedicated resources on the technical side?

Trent Burns: Yeah as part of the one commercial partner blueprint that we rolled out this year. So I'm on the "build with" team. There's a "go to market" team and then there's a "sell with team. And then yeah, there is a technical enablement team as well. And so we have partner technical sales engagement folks as well that my team will work with. That will work with the partner to make sure they build out their practice from a technical enablement architect and development standpoint. And so yeah, we have ... It's not just sort of my team. My team sort of is viewed as the quarterback, if you will, of the partnership. And then we tap into other resources as part of this one commercial partner blueprint that was rolled out.

Q: So once you've developed the business plan and you've helped them with their technology practice, you work across the other pieces of the one commercial partner team, right. So there's a go to market team and a sell with team. What does that look like for your organization working across?

Trent Burns: It's new for us. I'll just be honest. I'll say we're learning as we go. I'll say the blueprint is the correct blueprint that was rolled out. I think with anything new, though it'll never be perfect. But I love the fact that we built the blueprint. I think it makes sense. It makes sense for scale. It makes sense long-term. I like the pillars in which it was arranged, which is build with, go to market and sell with. And we work closely with each of those folks. I'll quickly walk you through kind of at a high level each, you know the build with team, which is what I'm on. They're sort of, they're aligned by partner. We own the partner relationship in building solutions with that partner.

And then we work closely with the go to market team and you think about capacity and you think about marketing and how do you leverage kind of a marketing engine along with the partners marketing engine to actually help drive sales execution that you built in the business plan. And then the sell with team, those are folks sitting in our field and they're aligned by our account teams. And so they're agnostic to partner and they're tied to specific account teams and ATU directors. And typically an EC would have anywhere from 125 to maybe 200 accounts where they're looking to bring in and engage a partner in every one of those.

And so we work across all three. It's certainly not perfect and we're learning along the way. It's kind of year one of this new blueprint. But I love the fact that they built it sort of for scale and for reach. I think the only feedback, I think that I would have and I've given this to our leadership team as well, is when you think about my portfolio, it's a very unique one, right. These are the biggest partnerships. And so my team actually does a lot of the work in each of the buckets I described, even though we have different groups that are responsible for that. As we're working through that, we better work together. And so my team actually gets engaged on some of the sell with's activities in the field, just because we know our partners so well and the enterprise channel managers on the sell with side are, you know, they're still ... They got a large customer base to cover and they can't, they can't be an expert and be deep on any one particular partner and so that's where my team helps.

Q: You know we talked about this organization and blueprint, and your organization came over last July, if I remember correctly. So what has that experience been for the new organization and how has it helped your mission?

Trent Burns: I felt like last year my team was probably, I think it was the only partner team reporting outside of the old organization now part of one commercial partner. Yeah, it's great. I think, you know, I reported last year at the end of the sales organization and had close alignment with all of the sellers. And that continues, by the way. Like, that didn't go away, and so our executive sponsorships from Phil Sorgen who is our Corporate Vice President for our commercial businesses, still the executive sponsor of many of our partnerships. So that still happens today. I think the thing that, the benefit of moving over though, was just the access to resources and to programs and to funding and then the different silos of folks that now I can sort of tap into. We didn't have that before and we kind of just begged, borrow and steal from just how to get things done and roll up our sleeves and made it happen ourselves. Now we have sort of an access to a bunch of people, money and programs to rely on. So from that perspective, it's been very helpful.

Q: I had Gavriella Schuster on just a couple weeks ago and I asked her this question I'm gonna ask it to you as well. But if you could go back and do anything differently, what would you have done differently when the business landed?

Trent Burns: I think, my only feedback there would be ... and I said it earlier. The blueprint is, I would of not changed the blueprint. I think if I'm building on a partner program the way they built out the blueprint was the correct way. I would just also be very cognizant of some unique partner types. Especially partner portfolios that have kind of the 80/20 rule, right. They're driving a massive amount of our actual overall impact and influence. And when we roll out things that scale, those programs don't always fit for those partners. And so keeping in mind we build out programs or incentives that we think about it in terms of from the other side, front the partner's side. Will this work for Accenture, for example, right. So you know, I think the way they build it, the way it scales the right way, because I think the opportunity to build the program and a blueprint, you have to look at the masses. But, in doing so that you're limiting opportunity for some of your large partners. And so that would be my feedback.

 Q: So, I talk to partners quite a bit about the partner to partner play and I work with a lot of organizations that would love, in fact, to understand how to work with your organization and the partners that you manage. Can you talk to our listeners a little bit about that? Is there a formal way for them to engage and work with you and your team?

Trent Burns: Yeah, there is ... I mean the formal way is to call me. Send me an email, which I'm sorry it's not programmatic and it probably doesn't scale. But it actually works. You know we work with a lot of ISVs and actually, it's funny you say it. Just that whole space is merging. You'll see a lot of my partners making acquisitions and a lot of those public, publicly known. Where they're actually going out and acquiring an IP. But building it themselves as well, so you're seeing this kind of merging of ISV and SI coming together, very, very quickly.

And so, I think there's just some inherent synergy there, right, where it just makes sense. So yeah, we work ... My team works closely with, you know, some of the large ISVs like Adobe and Sitecore and SAP. But there's other small ISVs that have some niche solutions too, that we were engaged with like Corent Technologies you probably haven't heard of. But I work closely with them in engaging with some of our SIs. They have a Azure migration solution and SAS-ification of products technology. That's just unique. It's different. It's very niche. But it actually works in ... And they've got some great use cases. And so where they can on in or be part of an overall kind of migration, cloud migration solution for an Accenture for example or a Cognizant. I'll introduce them to those partners. And we've done that..

And so I guess, you know to answer your question, yes absolutely. I can only scale as fast as one person can. But that's the best way to work because we have the personal relationships with the folks that are building these solutions at these partners and quickly get you engaged. So I would just say reach out to me and I can sort of see if it's a fit and then even recommend where to start.

Vince: Great and at the end I'll ask you for your contact information. We'll put it in the show notes. You might regret doing that when you get a lot of people from ... listen to this podcast all reaching out at the same time. But-Appreciate your willingness to do that.

Trent Burns: That's right.

Q:   So one theme that's been constant in all of my interviews has been just how fast this change is happening. This rapid state of transformation that's happening in our industry. It's happening faster than most of us expected it to happen. What are you seeing now that you didn't expect to see a year ago in terms of digital transformation?

Trent Burns: I'll just say I think what I'm seeing is customers are actually wanting a partnership from Microsoft for the first time ever. They're kind of, they're watching sort of our journey around digital transformation and I think they're ... It's bringing kind of a renewed energy and opportunity for us to have a conversation and help them. And by no means have we sort of declared victory there. It's a journey for sure. But we made a lot of progress ourselves internally. So they want to hear that story but is there any learnings they can take from that. And then they want a different kind of relationship with us. I think they are looking for a relationship less about kind of solving internal cost efficiencies and how you take money out of their internal systems, which was kind of the past to "Hey, how do we build something together that actually can be repeatable here? Can we build a new product? Can we build a new service offering that just happens to sit on the cloud of your technology?" That they can go offer to their customer base. So it's more about how we make money together in a true partnership, versus sort of kind of cost efficiencies, which was the past.

So that's been the biggest change in my mind around our conversations with customers. And then, if you think about my portfolio, we play a really important role in that conversation because my partner portfolio has relationships outside of IT and these conversations are taking place with line of business executives. So it's a perfect match.

Q: Is there anything from a point solution or technology perspective that you didn't expect to see as well?

Trent Burns: You know, I think people think these massive workloads like SAP for example, moving to the cloud. Like, that's real. It's happening. And it's sort of been shocking for me and it at first, and I saw that sort of evolve from like test step but to real production. Like fortune 500 companies moving their entire SAP environment to the cloud. Like-

Trent Burns: What would that have been 12 months ago or even 18 months ago, right? So it is happening. Like, it's real. It's moving fast. So, I mean that's just one workload. Like, people are taking mission-critical apps and moving them to the cloud for the efficiencies that it provides.

Q: So you're working with a lot of new organizations that didn't have traditional partnering relationships with Microsoft. Kind of a new world for them. Is there one thing that isn't taught but you believe is true to successfully partnering with Microsoft?

Trent Burns: Well, I think trust is huge. And you can't teach it, right. It's sort of, I mean the way I define trust is you think about consistently executing over a long period of time. That's my definition of trust. And sometimes, you know, in a partnership, especially where partners have heterogeneous solutions, we might not ... Microsoft might not be the answer, might not be the right solution. And so I think you gotta have some trust in our partnerships and the conversations with our senior executives all the way down to the account teams that we might not be the right fit.

And so I think having that upfront, but then knowing where we want to proactively engage and do it in a deliberate way. And being on each other's side all the way to the end. Sort of win and die together is really key. And you can't teach that. It just happens over time, right. And it happens through the personal relationships and the business relationship you build over time. It doesn't happen overnight. I think that's why I'm pleasantly surprised to see some of these newer partnerships actually take off so fast, because usually that trust takes time to build. But we're moving at light speed here. But, yeah, I think people can't overlook the value of trust and culture and then obviously the strategic alignment and executive alignment plays a part in that as well.

Q: Was there anything that comes to mind in terms of a situation where a partner wasn't getting it right and what would you have said to him now if you could?

Trent Burns: Wow, yeah I have some of those partners today. I'm just laughing out loud. They will remain nameless though, Vince.

Vince: Yeah, we won't call them out by name.

Trent Burns: Yeah, you know I think Microsoft is ... And you know this, you've been here and it's such a complicated place, right, in how to engage with our field. And so I think for partners that haven't had any success there, it takes a while. And I've given them coaching and some direction. I think some patience is key as well. And then you also have ... You gotta remember though, the partners that I'm working with sometimes and actually in most cases, they're much larger than Microsoft as well. And so we just need to be sensitive and patient with them as well around their organization complexity as well can even be more complicated. And so sometimes we're the small fish in the pond and we need to be respectful of that and patient.

But yeah, it takes time. It's two large organizations trying to get something done. I think we keep customer with, kind of as the North Star though. Eventually you get there. I think the sales execution at the field level, when you get those two account leads together in a room, the magic happens in my mind. And the relationship that those two people make or break will make or break the relationship in my mind long term.

Q: Do you bring the partner and the customer together with your organization for like EBC's (Executive Briefings)?

Trent Burns: Yeah, we do that all the time actually. Many of my partners, yeah they will do actual customer events. We'll do EBCs together. We'll jointly present. We'll have our sort of industry expertise there is in the room as well. We'll tackle big problems. We'll do white boarding sessions as well. We'll kind of roll up our sleeves and do those kinds of things at an EBC.

We've done a great event and went best practice some ... I'll do a plug here for ENY, they kind of deal with future of the finance. Like, what's the future of the CFO role within an organization and they actually helped our CFO, Amy Hood. And so we worked closely with Jack Ryder, he's our CFO for Microsoft North America do a joint customer event. Where we go out, we invite customers and we talk about what's the future of finance and what's the future of that role and how technology plays a role in providing more efficiencies and making that role be sort of less internal focused and more about actually making business decisions that help shareholders at the end of the day. It's a fascinating event. It's a five city road show that we're going on as well. And so we're trying to do more things like that with our partners.


Q: So, as you might know from listening to other episodes, I'm fascinated by how people got to this particular spot in their life and their career. And I wanted to focus on some questions about your professional journey. I know you have an interesting story, so can you take our listeners through it?

Trent Burns: So I started my career back, oh gosh, 20 years ago with IBM right out of school. I was in a partner management role, managing a bunch of software partners for IBM out of, in Dallas and then in San Francisco. Did that for about five years. I then worked for a start up company called Vignette, hopefully many of you recognize that name, based out of Austin. Followed a bunch of IBM friends of mine over to that company and managed to help build the center partnership and practice for Vignette in North America, which was a fun job.

And then a lot of folks that I knew migrated from IBM then over to Microsoft and obviously I've kept my network up to date, and they were looking for somebody to manage their Avanade partnership here at Microsoft. And so that's how I made my way here to Microsoft and then managed Avanade and managed our HP partnership for five years across North America. And then I went into a direct sales role. So I carried a bag and sold to T Mobile as the Microsoft Global Account Manager. And then it's fascinating, I actually left Microsoft in 2010. Went to work for Hewlett Packard, which was the partnership I managed. I was an account general manager focused on selling to Nike out of Portland, which was a fascinating experience and opportunity as well.

And then I came back to Microsoft managing our operator cloud business. So this was, the relationships we had with Verizon and T Mobile and Sprint and Comcast and had a team of folks building out our cloud services with those mobile operators back in 2012. And then for the last three years I've been in this role managing, manning our GSIs. On a personal note I'm married for 20 years to my high school sweetheart. Her name's Michelle. I've got two girls. They're a little older, actually, 19 and 17. So we're looking at colleges right now, which is really fun and doing that during Spring Break.

I'm a huge sports fan. I played tennis in college at division one school and got a scholarship. My wife did the same. We both worked at a summer camp for kids teaching tennis. So that's how we met when we were 18 and 17 years old. And so I take that competitiveness into the work place as well. And so, yeah I love all kinds of sports but just happened to fall in love with tennis when I was younger.

Vince: Yup, I know you're into fitness because we both share that passion.

Trent Burns:                   That's right. Yeah, exactly yeah.

Q: So was there one best piece of advice you received when you took this role?

Trent Burns:                   Break all the rules.

Vince:                              I like it.

Trent Burns:                   I know, I love that. I love that coaching from folks. And you know, Casey McGee who's our Vice President in this business, I think he encourages that actually. I think, you know we wanna kinda be ... We wanna be nimble. We wanna move fast. We wanna take big risks and actually operate like a start up. And so, you know I've taken a lot of that feedback from him. And then just over time it's just something that's just sort of near and dear to my heart as well. Actually, I push my team to do the same when we actually set our goals at the beginning of the year. It's about taking some large risks. And it's not about, I mean, yeah if we execute on them and they turn into something huge then certainly reward them. But the reward itself is actually going for it, right. So I love that mentality. I love the underdog mentality and so I try to keep that alive and well within the team as well. So, yeah.

Q: Nice. And I'm assuming you do mentoring. Most of the executive level people at Microsoft do. Is there any other piece of advice that you give or impart to others that you mentor?

Trent Burns:                   Yeah, you know, whenever I look back and I look back on an annual basis around kind of my last year within the job. There's sort of ... I try to keep things really simple. I ask myself three questions and any time I'm mentoring somebody I'll share this piece of advice with them and it helps me kinda stay true to the North Star, which is ... Especially when you're thinking about maybe a change, right. Whether it's a career change or a job change in our outside of the same company you're at. But I ask myself three questions, really simple questions. And by the way, if you hesitate for a second and you start to think maybe it's a no or a maybe, then you know there's probably an opportunity for you to do something different.

But here are the three questions. Number one, and they're simple. Are you having fun? Because if you're not having fun, like what the hell are you doing here? Like, don't waste my time, right. And I'm not meaning like having fun like having a margarita on the beach, because everybody would love to do that. But like having fun with the people you work with at work because you spend so much time here, right. So, you know is it a good group to work with. Are you having a good time.

And then the second question for me is, you know, do you feel proud about the last 12 months. Like did you ... and this is a really self reflective question. Like, do you really feel you made an impact on the work of business that you delivered to the company and for your partner. And only you can answer that question.

And then the third question is, are you still learning, like a passion for learning. And I, by the way, I've got folks on my team that have been Microsoft for 25 years and they answer yes to all those questions. So always kinda like renewing that energy around not knowing it all but having the ability to kind of learn it all or learn something new. And so those are the three questions.

Vince:                              I like it. 1. So you're having fun. 2. Did you really have an impact, not what you told your boss, and 3. are you still learning?

Trent Burns:                   That's right.


Q: So what advice would you give to your 25 year old self?

Trent Burns:                   I would go sell first. If I were to rewind it back, I mean I got into partner management. It was a fantastic job and learning experience and went right into managing some of the larger global SIs, which was fascinating. I think the one thing though that I learned is ... And I had been into direct sales and then back into partner management. If I could do it over again I would of jumped into carrying a bag sooner for a couple of reasons. One is, I think whenever you have a conversation directly with a customer, it's very humbling. There's a reality check there around like what's really happening. How they think of your company, right.

Trent Burns:                   And so there's nothing like getting feedback from, you know, a CTO or a CFO or a CIO at a customer around how they think about your company, right. And then how you help them long term. And so that's where the rubber hits the road. I think you bring some credibility into the partner management role, too, having sold. Like, a lot of folks on my team now, I look for that experience. A lot of them have been HQ managers or account execs as well and so they have credibility with the field, right. So, we've walked in their shoes. And so if I were to do one thing over again it would be pick up a bag and do that sooner.

Vince:                              Yeah, there's nothing like carrying a bag.

Trent Burns:                   Yes.

Vince:                              Most humbling experience in the world.

Trent Burns:                   That's right.

Q: So, if you had a personal billboard, and this is a metaphor by the way, but if you know, you had a billboard on, what is it, the 405 in Seattle? If you had a billboard on the 405, what message would you like to send out to the world? What would you share on it?

Trent Burns: Wow. Trying to think. I think for me, I mean, so there is ... I'm pulling a little bit from the sports theme, but there was a theme that we used when we were on the tennis team that's actually stuck with me since then. And I take it into business, which is attitude is everything. And it's actually it's a poem by Charles Swindoll, obviously I won't read it to you. But the title says everything, right. It's how you show up is more than half the battle, right. And so I'm a half glass full kind of guy and very optimistic and I think just having kind of that positive outlook and looking for the positive outcome for the partnership and for Microsoft and for our business just gets you half way across the line, right. And then it's just about execution and strategic direction from there. I mean having that kind of attitude sets you up for success. Gives you the better, the best opportunity to have the best possible outcome.

Vince: "Attitude is everything", I love it. And by the way, you exude that positivity out, even here on the podcast.

Trent Burns:                   Thank you.

Q: So any advice that we haven't covered for our listeners that wanna engage with you and your organization we're going to provide your information at the end of this podcast. But any other advice you have for our listeners and organizations that wanna partner with Microsoft?

Trent Burns: Yeah, I would say, I mean the things I think about ... I think you've gotta really if you're a partner, figure out what's your differentiated brand and creating that. And by the way, I've even had these conversations with partners. You think about Avanade for example, I mean they do everything. They are the Accenture consulting arm, if you will, for Microsoft. They known, partially by Microsoft. So it is the only solution and they do everything and they have a solution for everything. But even my feedback to them was, but let's brand yourself. Find what's the one thing you sort of want to be known for. And it's just a spearhead, by the way. So we're not sort of eliminating your portfolio or minimizing it. But brand yourself around one specific differentiated IP that is unique for you. And have, and be very clear about what that is. And be very clear what the field around that as well.

I think you want them to walk away with what that differentiated IP or solution is that you go to market with. And use that as sort of your wedge or your entry point into engaging with our field. I think that's really, really important. And so we're getting focused even with partners that have a very broad portfolio to really brand themselves. And so the ones that are doing that are actually out executing the others in my personal opinion. And then obviously I think, you know, the other things we talked about. The win-win scenario and the trust are huge too. But I think the differentiated IPs is a thing that's setting some partners apart from others.

Q: That's great advice for our partner listeners. So thank you for that Trent. And Trent, I wanna thank you. I know how precious your time is and how compressed your schedule is. So I want to thank you for taking time to be a guest. You've been an amazing guest. And for our listeners that wanna reach out, what is that email address you referenced earlier?

Trent Burns: Yeah, you bet, it's been an honor. Thank you for having me. So it's Trentb@microsoft.com. You can also reach me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trentburns/ and look me up, connect with me. I'm happy to help.

Vince: Great to have you Trent and thanks for being our guest.

Spotlight on the amazing transformation and leadership secrets. My interview with Gavriella Schuster.

It's been about 8 months since the new OCP organization and design was rolled out at Microsoft Inspire. I asked Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's  "Channel Chief", to come to the podcast and share with our listeners her thoughts on what's been going well thus far and where she sees the opportunities for continued growth and improvement in the Microsoft Partner business.

My questions for Gavriella focused on the state of the partner business, what's she seeing during this amazing transformation, what in store for all of the attendees this year at Microsoft Inspire, leadership lessons from her career, and her interaction with Satya Nadella.

 Q: I've heard positive feedback from both interview guests at Microsoft and partners regarding the change in transformation, but change is not easy. Based on the feedback you've received, and I know you just recently returned from an overseas trip where you met with partners, if you could go back to last year, is there anything that you would have done differently when you were planning the new OCP model?

Gavriella:           That's a great question, Vince. I mean I say that this is such a significant change in how we've approached partnerships and basically with the changes we've made really tied to our whole sales model, how we've approached customers that we knew that there were really going to be areas that would be revealed after we rolled out the model and I would say that the things that I would have changed in doing a Monday Morning Quarterback is more communications, more frequently to drive clarity with our field teams and with our sales teams. Because this was such a significant change, it's taken awhile for people to really internalize and understand what their new role is and all of the tools and the resources that we've made available to them. I think I would've spent more time out in the field with each of the teams and then really driving cross team collaboration between our enterprise sales teams and our partner teams because we give that a little bit later when we saw some of the seams between roles. I would have done it earlier.

Vince: You bring up a really great point. I started this podcast because I believed from my talks at Microsoft and Partners that Microsoft needs to scale this message more broadly and we have a growing set of partners in the ecosystem and partners need to stay in greater lockstep through all the change.

Q: What steps are you thinking in terms of how to better scale programs and resources so that partners can stay better connected during all of this change and transformation?

Gavriella:           One of my key learnings is the first thing we need to do is make sure we simplify because when we have a simpler program or simpler sets of engagement, simpler tools, it is easier for people to engage on it and understand it. It's more intuitive so we need to continue to derive for simplicity and eliminate the noise. There are always so many things that we want to do. I think we tend to put too much into the market at the same time. So that's one thing is to clear the noise. I think the second thing is just to have communication all the time in an ongoing business through blogs, through ongoing emails out to our partners and then we have a lot of webcasts and calls and constant conversations with our field. One of the things that we've put in place since we started this change in July is regional business leads and those regional business leads are part of my team, but they actually live out in the regions and we do ... they sit in every single one of our meetings in corporate, but then their job is to help us land that both with the partners locally as well as with our field.

Q: What are the one or two things you believe the changes have had the most positive impact on the business and for partners?

Gavriella:           Well for sure what we've seen is a tremendous explosion in the number of offers that our partners have been able to bring into the market. The value of those offers and the articulation and clarity that we're able to bring to our customers that the value each of our partners is delivering. So the focus that we've had in our build with motion in really helping our partners to build in an accelerated pace some of their cloud services and then some of their data NAI services and then bringing those to the market faster with our channel managers. Those have been really positive impact and we've seen that through some of the results. We have over 83 thousand partners building their businesses with cloud services today. We ran an [inaudible 00:05:28] skills initiative and we've trained over 160 thousand people and amassed over 540 thousand training hours as a result. So we've done some damage to that skills gap that exists in the market and then with our cloud profitability and AI playbooks that we've released, we've already tracked more than 500 thousand downloads within our partner ecosystem. So we've seen that we're able to accelerate the practices within our partners and the application development that they're doing.

Vince: I've had Eduardo Kassner on the podcast and we've talked through some of the playbooks and there's amazing content out there for partners and they can reference that. In fact, we put that in our show notes with Eduardo's episode. Here it is again for your reference. 

Q: You were recently quoted in the press and this talks about the whole importance of IP, but the fact that not only traditional partners, but end-user customers have a role making their IP and solutions available to the broader market. And I want our listeners to understand if you can expand for them on this concept and maybe a specific use case example that comes to mind?

Gavriella:           Absolutely, so what we've found is that as we help customers unlock the data that exists in their organization and has historically existed on share points or in pockets or even on paper still. As we help them unlock that data, they find that the information available to them where they can then turn that into benchmarking, or they can get better insights in their customers or in the industry, they've been actually able to turn that into and productize that delivery to others where maybe not in their industry to create competition for themselves, but they've been able to actually turn that into value back into the rest of the commercial Fortune 500. So we've seen a number of cases like that where they've been able to take all of the data, you take some of the insurance companies that we work with, right? They unlock some of the data that they have and suddenly the anonymous data that they have about the preferences that customers have, the challenges they may have with their lifestyles and how that impacts their health or their overtime and turning that back out into information they've been able to share back with the healthcare industry, for instance, really has become a product that then they're able to actually change the business that they're in.

Other examples are where we've helped customers with their own logistics, so optimizing their supply chain and their logistics and then those essentially have become products that that customer has then IP, they resell those logistic solutions to other customers and so it's a very interesting time now where our customers we start working with them and as we do that, we realize together with them, that we can access some of that IP that they've then developed and go to market and use it with other customers. So it's a whole new, kind of repeatable practice approach that we hadn't actually done before as a motion with our customers. So it's, where in the past we've talked about kind of a partner to partner engagement, where partners use complementary skills, this ends up being a customer will be the customer of a partner. They'll co-build something and then the customer has this IP that then the partner can go implement with other customers and bring back kind of royalties to their customer.

Q: That's very interesting. So you bring in a partner, I was going to ask, how does a customer then engage with your organization, but it's a customer to partner field, organization type of play to go co-sell?

Gavriella:           It kind of goes in all directions, but yes, in 95% of the cases of when we ever engage with a customer there's always a partner involved and so where its a delivery of a service or a postal motion beyond that, typically it's again through the partner they were working with.

Q: A universal theme in all my interviews has been the rapid pace of change in innovation and many guests have commented that it's happening fast, they're just blown away by how fast its been happening. What are you seeing happen now that you didn't expect to see happen a year ago?

Gavriella:           Well there's a lot of things that I'm seeing happened. I don't think I would've predicted. We are, we're engaging with customers in a whole different way. As you go in and do digital transformation projects with customers, what you find is that it is not a traditional supply chain engagement anymore. It used to be Microsoft would build some technology or product, and then we would work with a partner who would enhance that and get it kind of through to the last mile of what the customer needed. We would jointly sell that and either the same partner or a different partner would go deploy and instrument that with the customer and then somebody would manage and support it. So that was our traditional supply chain.

What we're finding now is that as you go in and uncover digital transformation projects that are not about helping a customer how to run their business, but they actually are about the customers business, it's about the customer's product or the customer's go to market, the value actually occurs on-site with the customer and so a lot of the development of the solution occurs on site and so we end up taking Microsoft's technology as a toolkit in with various Lego pieces, I guess if you will. And then the value is constructed and you end up with, like I was saying, a whole different product every time you have one of these engagements. A whole new solution that then somebody says he I know how to make this into a repeatable thing that I can bring to the next person. Sometimes the repeatability happens from the partner who's created that value onsite and they take that into as a now a product that they can go and take on. Sometimes it's the customer who owns the IP and they take it on as a product that they can go resell. So it's a fascinating approach to the technology development that I wouldn't have predicted probably a year ago.

Vince:                Yeah it's a fascinating time we live in. It's just amazing to be chronicling this and sitting, observing all of this.

Gavriella:           Yes, exactly.

Q: Microsoft Inspire is just a few short months away, what do you have planned that you can discuss today, maybe something you haven't already shared in the public, and why should every Microsoft partner make the trip to Vegas this year?

Gavriella:           Oh well so now the topic of conversation, probably the hottest topic at Inspire, is probably going to be all about our data service and how to unlock that through artificial intelligence. That is clearly what all of our partners want to learn more about. It's what all of our customer engagements are about and every single one of our partners is buildings some sort of a data service, AI service, into their applications of the service that they deliver and so that will be the theme of the whole event. Just talking about the many successes and best practices because the more you hear about what partners are doing today and about what customers are doing, the more kind of it sparks your imagination of what's possible and how to bring these different elements of the technology together and it's a phenomenon that only hasn't gotten unlocked because of the cloud services and the way that you can then bring things that used to be locked up on premise into the cloud and then take a different level of data governance over the structure of the information that you have. So that will be the hottest topic. The biggest change in Inspire is that we're actually combining Inspire with our traditional Microsoft sales kickoff and we're doing them at the same time in the same week and that's something that we've never done.

We've always had Inspire first and then had our global sales kickoff the week after. And so we'll all be in Las Vegas at the same time. We have about forty thousand people descending on Las Vegas during that one week, which will be a tremendous logistical challenge I think. We'll see how that goes. And so we will be able to have more Microsoft sellers and managers from around the world, integrated and engaging with our partners in a way that we've never been able to orchestrate before. Traditionally, the people from Microsoft that go to our Inspire are ones that are supporting and working with partners all year long. This actually enables us to bring a lot of the technical folks and a lot of the management teams also into play with our partners. And many of our partners throughout the year have been really focused on doing geographical expansion and this I think will enable them and encourages them to create those relationships. Not only finding partners from those other areas of the world but finding the Microsoft people that they want to connect to.

Q: So will there be collaboration opportunities or mixers or ways that partners and sellers can get together?

Gavriella:           Yes, absolutely. Actually, we're planning our whole Wednesday as the mixer day. And so all of the different workshops and sessions, and activities that we have are all designed to bring the Microsoft teams and the partner teams together.

Vince: Nice well we all should be in Vegas them along with the forty thousand so that's a great and compelling reason why partners should come. All our listeners should be there.

Q: I recently joined IAMCP, which is the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners. And was at a recent meeting in Washington DC and shared my observations with the leadership. I believe the organization has so much potential. What are some ways that IAMCP can continue to grow and support the Microsoft ecosystem?

Gavriella:           I love the IACMP and I love the Women in Technology chapters that are also associated with the IAMCP. It has for a very long time been one of our secret weapons I think. It's better than, you know, most organizations have kind of user groups, but this is actually professional association as you know. And so the things that I've seen that have been really helpful is to our earlier point about how do we scale our message. How do we provide better support? How do we help partners who are coming into the Microsoft ecosystem to succeed? I have seen some tremendous best practices from IAMCP where they have mentor matching, where they have workshops where they consult with other members and almost do kind of coaching sessions on their business development and best practice sharing amongst each other. So those are invaluable ways of collaborating between the communities and typically there's more, there's like a competitive edge with Partners and sharing information with each other, but when they join the IAMCP, I don't see that happening.

It's much more of a supportive community organization and it's also a place where we can then have our teams land and run workshops and get members of the community together at a scale that we wouldn't be able to necessarily bring to ourselves. So those are some of the things that they've done incredibly well and as we've looked out into the future I think the opportunity is to bridge the partner to partner connections even more as we have more and more partners developing IP, who want to then bring it out and sell it to other partners or incorporate it into other partner practices. The IAMCP is very logical and awesome bridge to bring that collaboration in the community out.

Vince:                Yeah I would agree with you and we're going provide links on how to join IAMCP in our show notes here, so for our listeners who aren't members already.

Q: I wanted to ask you about, you've had the privilege of working side by side with some amazing people at Microsoft, including someone that many of us admire, Satya Nadella. Can you tell our listeners what it's like to work side by side with Satya? How engaged is he in the partnered business? And what guidance or counsel does he provide to you on how to shape the partner business moving forward?

Gavriella:           Yeah I mean Satya is an amazing leader. Every time I have the opportunity to be with him I learn something new. In the way that he communicates, in the way that he brings people along and the clarity that he can create form the communication. We can have a whole bunch of people debating an issue and the way that he can help everybody reframe what are we trying to accomplish and get everyone on the same page and aligned towards the direction and pull in and listen in an inclusive way to what people are saying, it's just incredible. He engages pretty deeply on the partner business. He understands the role, the importance of partnerships in enabling us to reach our customers and support our customers. He is fully dedicated to making sure that we have a very healthy ecosystem and an inclusive ecosystem.

That we are thinking broadly enough about the global scale of our business and the reach that our customers are trying to get in how we make sure our partners are really driving that business with us and make sure that within the engineering teams, everything that they do is set up to be completed by a partner. That there are APIs, that there's the right documentation, that we're supporting and enabling partners, that we're testing with them. So we co-create a lot. And that's a lot of his influence in the design of the way that we go to market and the way that we build the product. So it's pervasive, the influence that he has within the organization is pervasive and it makes me feel great that the work that we do every day because we are supported from the top down to make sure that we have a very healthy and thriving ecosystem.

Vince: It's not just talk at Microsoft, it's ingrained in the vision of the organization. It's pretty clear from my vantage point.

Gavriella:           Yes.

Q: You also have a reputation as an amazing leader and many of our listeners are early in career and would love to learn about your journey to Channel Chief so I was hoping I could ask a couple of questions here.

Q: What is the one best piece of advice that you received when you took this role?

Gavriella:           The best advice that I received was stay connected. Think like a partner. Make sure that you're taking an outsider's view of all of the decisions that you make. Make sure that you have a good posse of advisors out in the community who make sure that we can keep it real and don't get sucked into the ivory tower of Redmond.

Q: You actively mentor others and frankly, you've been a role model to many. Not only women in technology, but also many men in technology, as well. Is there a favorite piece of advice that you give to others that you mentor and that you can share here?

Gavriella:           I would say there are a few pieces of advice that I have. One of them is that you have to, the technology industry changes very fast and takes almost everything out of you and so if you want to run the marathon in the tech industry, you have to take care of yourself. You have to make sure that your setting your boundaries and you are giving yourself time to have a life along with, like because when you give yourself time to breathe, when you give yourself time to think that's when you actually internalize and understand the bigger picture of what's possible and if all you do is go, go, go all the time, which you can get into in this industry, you just go all the time, then you rob yourself of the ability to create a vision or have that bigger picture view of where you're trying to go or what's possible.

So that's one thing, I think the other is to make sure that you are collaborating and scaling yourself. There are so many great minds and so many people that have so much to contribute that you want to make sure that you are checking in early and often with people. That you're socializing any thoughts that you have, kind of co-create. And then the third piece of advice is really the continue to be outside in. Make sure that you're connected with your customers. You're connected with your partners. I make sure that I have several partner meetings every day that I go to the EDC and I talk with customers so that we really do know what they're thinking and what they need. Not just making things up.

Q: Is there one quote you live your life by or think of often?

Gavriella:           Yes so for me, because there is such rapid pace, I always have to remind myself that I am most productive when I am balanced. So when I feel the most pressure I know that's the time when I have to take a step back and take a break and do something else. So the quote that always goes through my head is there are only 24 hours in a day, you're most productive when you feel relaxed and centered, so get centered.

Q: So is there anything that you do specifically when that happens? Is it a form of mindfulness? Or is there anything you can share here with our listeners?

Gavriella:           Yeah I create a routine for myself so I workout first thing in the morning to kickstart my day. I make sure when I come home from work that I take the dogs for a walk and I always have dinner with my family and so it's my way of, by having that routine that I stick with that I just stay centered and I make sure that I'm taking that break and really taking time out.

Q: That's really great. Is there one thing that you would tell your 30-year-old self if you could?

Gavriella:           I think the thing I would tell my 30-year-old self is life is a great juggling act. There is really no such thing as work-life balance it's more about doing what you think you need to do at the moment in time and have grace with yourself. Don't beat yourself up. There's always tomorrow, you can always be better tomorrow than you today.

Q: That's great advice. Gavriella, any parting comments for our listeners that you'd like to share?

Gavriella:           I think what I would say is that now, there's never been a better time to build a business with Microsoft on the technologies that we have coming out. There's so much outside opportunity. IDC just released their latest view that the market opportunity is going to be 20 trillion dollar market opportunity by the year 2025. So all of this technology just keeps unlocking more and more potential with our customers and it's mind-blowing. So I would say that there's never a better time to start a business, join the technology trend, jump in and have no fear because there's plenty of work and plenty of opportunities to co-create and build great new solution services and products using these Lego blocks that we have available.

Vince:                20 trillion dollars, jump in and have no fear. I love it. That's tremendous. You know, Gavriella, I just want to thank you. I know how compressed your schedule is, and I just want to thank you for taking the time for listeners, for the Microsoft Partner Ecosystem for all you do for our partner ecosystem I want to thank you for joining the Ultimate Guide to Partnering and if our partners want to reach out, what's the best way they can follow or reach you?

Gavriella:           The best way is also to connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm very responsive on LinkedIn and then I try to share some of my thoughts about what's going on. The best practices, some of the great stories that I hear. I try to post those out and share those on LinkedIn. So you can get to me at it's @gavriellaschuster. Surprisingly, I am the only one named Gavriella Schuster.

Vince:                Why am I not surprised? You're one of a kind. And we're going to provide links to all of this in our show notes and maybe even the IDC study if we can get our hands on it. So I want to thank you again. Gavriella I want to thank you for all you do for the channel. You're a role model not only within Microsoft, but to the whole Channel as well, and to our partners that listen to this podcast, I want to thank you so much for your time today.

Gavriella:           Great, thank you, Vince.

Mastering the Partner to Partner Play with Nintex.

Welcome to the 42nd episode of the Ultimate Guide to Partnering. My guest for this episode of the podcast is Josh Waldo, the Chief Customer Officer for Nintex, a Global Leader in the Business Process automation market.

Josh brings more than 20 years of experience leading partner strategy, partner marketing, product marketing and customer advocacy to Nintex. Prior to joining Nintex, Josh held a number of channel leadership positions at Microsoft during his nearly 10-year tenure there, including a role as the senior director of the Global Cloud Partner strategy where he helped the company transition partners to the cloud.

Josh and I both worked at Microsoft and on Episode 33 my Guest Toby Richards referenced Nintex as a great example of a Microsoft partner that had mastered partner to partner engagement building out its own channel as many of Nintexs partners closely align as Microsoft managed partners.

In this episode, Josh and I discuss Nintexs value proposition for customers, use Case examples and market sectors they serve,  how he thinks about his channel strategy, how the technology integrated with Microsoft, what he looks for in partners and his career journey.

In this interview episode you will learn:

  1. What is Business Process Automation, key customers, markets, use cases and case study examples.
  2. How the company got started and how it has evolved with the shift to the cloud.
  3. The Nintex Partner Program and what he looks for in partners.
  4. How Nintex drives O365 utilization and Azure consumption and opportunities for growth.
  5. Advice for companies looking to partner with Nintex.
  6. Why it's important to be focused in the line of business.
  7. "Top 10 do’s and do not’s to partnering with other partners".
  8. Career insights - early career, insights moving from Microsoft to Nintex, best career advice given and received.


You can listen to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, Google PlayPlayer FM, other Android podcast players or by going to the website “Ultimate Guide to Partnering“. 

I appreciate your feedback. You can reach me on Linked In or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the rating link. This helps others find the podcast.

Vince Menzione

This amazing transformation has only just begun.

Welcome to the 41st episode of the Ultimate Guide to Partnering. I just released the 40th episode, and I can't beleive it's been almost a year since I started this podcast.

During my first 40th episodes as a podcast host, I’ve had the unique privilege of interviewing scores of leaders in the technology industry during this amazing transformation. I want to thank each of them for taking the time to be part of the Ultimate Guide to Partnering.

I started my podcast to share my experiences building partnerships and channels that ultimately transformed businesses. Rather than write a book that would have been outdated by the time it was completed, the podcast created an opportunity to interview leaders and document rapidly evolving and transforming technology trends.

This year has been an amazing time in technology, precipitated by the movement of business applications to the cloud, the rapid aggregation of data, driven by this movement and the development of tools in the realm of AI, Machine Learning and the like to harness the power of this vast aggregation to improve outcomes in business, in health, in education and in many other areas that ultimately promise to improve the human condition.

When I started I didn’t see it coming. This was supposed to be a podcast on the art and science of partnering, but what it’s turned into is a real-time chronicle of the widespread digital revolution happening across every sector empowered by data and the cloud's ability to make business applications ubiquitous. Entire industry sectors are being democratized because they now have access to capabilities and data like no other time in history.

My interview guests have been the leaders driving the change. Business executives from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Salesforce and VMWare and their technology partners have taken their platforms and tools and made them palatable to a host of clients and industries.

Based on my discussions and interviews, these hyper-scale organizations did not expect this revolution to happen as fast as it has, and neither did their technology partners. One organization focused strictly on migrating data centers and applications to the cloud was responsible for sun setting and migrating 167 data centers alone in 2017. Another premier partner to the technology giants has grown to over $100 million in annual revenue this past year. The amount of progress is astounding and yet, we are still at the very beginning of this adoption cycle with only perhaps 6 or 7 percent of the world data and applications currently in the cloud. The future looks incredibly bright.

During my pause, I recently scanned my 40 episodes. My interview guests did an amazing job sharing transformational strategies, technology trends, leadership advice and lessons on the art and science of partnering. It's a pretty decent compilation for technology professionals looking to stay current on the market forces, industry advances, and partner strategies at companies like Microsoft, with a little Google, Amazon, VM Ware and Salesforce thrown in for good measure. You can access the full list of episodes here - http://bit.ly/2DOrzch

In episode 34, I interviewed Jason Rook. Jason is the Vice President of Market Development for 10th Magnitude, an early Born in the Cloud Partner and Microsoft chose 10th as its 2017 Partner of the Year for Infrastructure and Hybrid Cloud. Jason was an early guest on Episode 13, Anatomy of a born in the cloud partner, Jason Rook. http://bit.ly/2BuUNIW

In our most recent discussion, we focused on the pace of change and what he is observing from his unique vantage point. The full interview is here - Brand, Employees, and Customers with 10th Magnitude, Jason Rook. http://bit.ly/2kcRrTs.

On Episode 37, I had the privilege of conducting a live interview with my good friend and the CEO of SADA Systems, Tony Safoian. Tony had been one of my first podcast guests and in this episode, we specifically discussed where he is investing for future growth and what he does to predict and hedge his business investments. He's obviously done a good job as SADA exceeded $100M in revenue in 2017. The full interview is here - Skate to where the puck is going with Tony Safoian http://bit.ly/2CclyoU

For Episode 38, I had the good fortune to interview Margo Day. Margo is the leader of Microsoft's US Education business and no stranger to the channel. In this episode, we discuss where partners should invest for continued growth and she shared some really compelling insights for our listeners. The full interview is here - Unlock the future...with Margo Day  http://bit.ly/2mdLU01

On Episode 39, I was joined by Eduardo Kassner, Microsoft's Chief Innovation Officer for the Worldwide OCP, or One Commercial Partner Organization. Eduardo has a deep perspective and set of experiences and he freely shared some of the top challenges partners are facing and what he and the team are doing to enable and support partners through the change. The full interview is here - Fundamentals of innovation for partners to transform, Eduardo Kassner . http://bit.ly/2GejwD9

Where are you and where is your organization?

Are you feeling left behind during the change? Technology giants like Microsoft and others are investing in resources to help their partner organizations push through the change and transformation. There are playbooks that chronicle the best practices - the why's, what’s and how’s - to help partners build new practices and capabilities, attract the right talent, market their solutions and services broadly and ensure profitability as partner business models shift.

The best of the best make it to my podcast. I’m privileged to have featured some of the smartest minds in the tech sector and to have them share their advice.

And yet, with all of this transformation and change, partnering is still not nirvana. The need still exists for more information delivered to scale, to help these partners discover information to build their business, and stay in greater lockstep for continued success.

I'm committed to still being a conduit, to help you all connect and thrive. Having spent the last year at this unique vantage point, I feel empowered to help.

To technology leaders like Microsoft, I feel empowered to make this recommendation, leverage learning channels like podcasts, and always on channels, to deliver your message, your evidence, your enablement and training at scale, so that your constituents can consume what they want where they want, and when they want in a mobile-driven world.

And, for partners, you need to better understand and embrace your accountability for the success of the relationship by leaning in, making the executive investments to grow the practice, and understanding the cadence, and how to navigate these complex relationships.

We have only begun, what an amazing and bright time ahead for all of us. Let's lean in together to make the transformation in 2018 even more spectacular and amazing than the year before.