One of the toughest parts of the relaunch is that I had to wait three whole weeks to tell you about my trip to Seattle to attend the Microsoft Champions Summit. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that I’m a Office Champion, which means I’m a partner with the brand. Once a year (I wish it were more,) the group of various Champions gathers in Seattle, Washington to hit the campus and learn more about what’s coming. It’s one of my favorite press trips because, truth be told, I am absolutely in love with Seattle. I. Love. It. So. Much.
One of the funniest things about heading out there is that I feel like the least tech savvy person there. I am not a coding ninja, I am not the fastest person to adopt the new band/tablet/low-jack-under-the-skin microchip that comes out. What I am is a small business owner who uses products to make my life easier. This is why I like to work with the brand, because they’ve honestly figured out how to make their products work with my lifestyle. I can use things across platform (which I do regularly) and I don’t feel tied to my desk or imprisoned by a specific app or technology. The best thing about being an Office Champion is that I can explore and report how these things work best out of the office, which is where I spend the majority of my life.
Seattle is one of the most magical places. And for those who are armchair weathermen, yes, I am aware that it rains hundreds of days a year. Honestly, don’t care. The food is amazing, the people are pretty awesome, and from what I can tell, life there pretty much rocks. Every time I get on a plane to go there, I get childlike. Like, I draw our names together on my mental Trapper Keeper and try to figure out if our names together get a high score against the letters that spell “TRUE LOVE.”
I’m sharing more about where I stayed and my love for the city in a travel post, but what really impressed me (and I did say “impressed”) is how seamlessly the products work into our lives. Here are a few things I learned at the Summit to be excited about if you’re trying to make your life easier with technology:
We got a sneak peek at Windows 10. It is crazy good. Like, I want to run down the street telling people about it. But I signed an NDA, so, alas, I can’t. What I can tell you is that all those things from the future you want your operating system to do for you are coming. Whoa, are they coming. We also got to meet the people who designed Office 2016, who explained to us how they’ve worked to make the experience with the products across all devices and platforms. Mac user? No problem. Android user? They have you covered. I love it because when I switch platforms, I just need it to work. I don’t want to have think, “Oh wait, I’m on my tablet/phone/laptop now. I need to do it this way.” Stuff will just work, which is great because no one has that kind of time.
We were treated to a presentation from the Surface team, and met Stewart, The Most Enthusiastic Person To Work For Microsoft Ever. Kid started out working in a Microsoft store and now he’s working on the team that creates one of the most sophisticated tablets ever. I loved him. I also love this device. Light, easy, works as a tablet as well as a laptop, fast as all get out, etc. It fits in my purse and requires little to no effort on my part, and it played a BIG ROLE with me working in coffee shops and in parks for three weeks to relaunch this site. The Surface Pro 3 is a great idea for grads, busy professionals, and/or people who just need a light device that works. Check it out.
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of OneNote, which is the software that seamlessly gathers everything together in one central notebook software so you can do any number of things, from plan a vacation to run a household budget. I thought I was good with it, but after that session I am now a ninja. The entire blog and the relaunch were created in OneNote. This blog post was written in it. All my client work now runs through a notebook where I house and transcribe voice records, keep track of invoices, and keep pitch ideas. It, quite frankly, rocks.
I met the team behind YouthSpark, which is Microsoft’s community initiative that seeks to empower young people by giving them the skills, tools, and support to find their true calling. There are children around the world and in our country who desperately need access to technology along with life and career skills, and this program is changing all of that. I can honestly say that every single person in that room was spellbound by the passion of the leaders of this program. Every one of us raised our hands and wanted to help. As soon as I settle on an organization here in New York where I can get involved, I’ll tell you all about it.
I got my hands on the Microsoft Band. I am obsessed. As in, I have put a ring on it. There have been no fitness trackers after it for me. As of next week, I’ll have had a month to compare it to another fitness device and I can do a compare and contrast post for you to make your own decision. But in my current experience, it does everything it says it will do. I love it.
We met a little multi-dimensional presentation software called Sway. It combines text, photos, video and social media into a multi-sensory experience that can make presentations (like my new forthcoming media kit, which I will post onto the About page next week as soon as it’s edited) look beyond amazing. You don’t have to install anything, and anyone on any platform can view it. You can also embed it into blog posts which, selfishly, is kind of awesome. You’ll see more about it later, but go check it out and see if it can’t make something you’re working on right now kind of awesome.
But the most beautiful thing about my time in Seattle was the time I spent there with my friends. A group of relative strangers walked in and left as teammates and friends. I know that may sound trite, but as a shy, introverted person, I don’t make connections as easily as you might think. Everyone was smart, funny, passionate and really open about sharing how we get our lives and businesses to run better. Which is the best part of the trip for me (and, again, Seattle)…learning more about how all of us have that one special thing we know that can make someone else’s lives a little better.
Also, there was ice cream. And cookies. Hello Robin!
This post is part of my partnership with Microsoft as an Office Champion. This site is powered by many products created by the Microsoft Company, and I am privileged to be a partner. That said, all opinions expressed within are strictly my own.