Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP, DF/NPA, CNP
Teresa Hennig: Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) - Microsoft Office Access; Noted International Programming Authority
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has an exclusive interview with Teresa Hennig.
"I love Access because its powerful and intuitive user interface makes it so easy to manage, extract and manipulate data. The first time I used Access, I decided to become a business consultant and Access developer. That was 9 years ago, and I still love it! In fact, I'm even more excited now because Access 2007 is going to appeal to the masses. I want to help new users become fluent with Access so that they can quickly enjoy its power and benefits.
For several years, I've been honored to be president of the Pacific Northwest Access Developers Group and of the Seattle Access Group. Running 24 meetings a year, publishing 2 monthly newsletters and maintaining the SAG site (www.SeattleAccess.org) keeps me very busy - especially because our meetings actually include two sessions and cover so much content. The meetings don't just focus on technical presentations; they help create a sense of community and belonging. So I ensure that our meetings provide a welcoming environment that fosters networking and the open exchange of ideas. It is exciting and fulfilling to be able to use my skills to help others learn about Access and to provide them with opportunities that they otherwise would not have had.
In 2005, my community leadership earned a scholarship to TechEd, where I was immediately recruited to INETA's Community Activities Team. We serve over 800 user groups and 450,000 UG members. In 2006, we initiated the INETA Live webcasts. In addition to being the project lead, I am also privileged to host our monthly webcasts.
As the lead author of "Access 2007 VBA Programmer's Reference," I was privileged to invite new authors to our team. I was the coordinating lead author for the 2003 version, but that didn't prepare me for this edition. With so much many new features, it was essentially a total rewrite and consumed twice as much time as anticipated. This will finally hit the stores in May. While that was wrapping, I recruited an author and was consulting for another book, "Expert Access 2007 Programming." I recently teamed up with two Excel MVPs to write yet another book, but we're keeping the title under wraps for now. I'm very fortunate to have great support from my publisher, which allows me to help some really great developers make the step into becoming a published author.
I seem to thrive on challenges, new adventures and project management. And the books certainly provide all that. My next exciting prospect is to create Access training videos. I have a screen test in New York later in April. Then, if all goes well, we should have an Advanced Access training video ready in July! Now that's an aggressive schedule! I've never done anything like this, and it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - that will hopefully be repeated with several variations.
I also have time for my clients. Actually, I'm as passionate about my clients and their projects as I am about my groups. As a consultant, I am incredibly fortunate to get to work on projects from a wide spectrum of industries. Every project provides new challenges for finding ways to manage data, streamline and automate. Understanding my client's industries, operations and needs, I feel like I'm their partner and it is important to provide cost effective solutions. With the savings and benefits, my solutions typically pay for themselves in a matter of months. My biggest reward is knowing that I truly made a difference.
But my life is not just consumed with Access and user groups. I have a wonderful family and really great friends. They share in my adventures and have learned that I truly enjoy my roller-coaster ride of a life. Actually, my family, friends, user groups and clients have all pulled together to share my excitement and challenges. They have been especially supportive of my fund raising drives, such as climbing Mount Rainier for the American Lung Association of Washington and Riding from Seattle to Portland for SCS research. That drive is ongoing.
In 2006, I joined the STP and rode 220 miles - on a borrowed bike and with minimal training. But, my goal was enough incentive to finish. That was 10 miles for every year that my brother has been in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. I haven't quite reached my goal of $10,000, but I will in time for Kirk to present the check to Spinal Cord Society at our annual golf tournament in June. 100% of this money will go to research a cure for paralysis. Please visit http://www.DataDynamicsNW.com/ride for more information and to make a donation."
The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
Opening Comment: Teresa, you were recently profiled in the internal Microsoft publication InsideTrack, due to your outstanding contributions and leadership over many years. We thank you for taking the time to share experiences and insights with our audience.
A: I was so surprised by the invitation to be interviewed. This was my first MVP summit, so I wasn't sure if being interviewed was pretty much part of the Summit. But, even if it was, I still felt incredibly special to be selected.
As excited as I was about participating in the MVP Summit, I really didn't know what to expect. Here I was, meeting with brilliant developers and leaders from around the world. Some of these people are like icons that have shared their expertise for years. So nothing prepared me for the overwhelming sense of community, welcome and acceptance that we experienced. For that short week, we were family and now we all have new friends for life.
Both the Summit and the InsideTrack interview are opening doors to new opportunities. Talking with you, now, is a perfect example. And, I truly appreciate it. For me, this interview provides another avenue to connect with others and to share some of my experiences, express appreciation and encourage more people to get involved.
Q1: There's an estimated 200 million ICT professionals worldwide, 3800 are nominated and selected for their outstanding technology/community contributions as Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) from 90+ countries, and in more than 90 technologies. MVPs are an independent body of leading, top-ranking global experts and much like "Fellows" found in many organizations recognized for their excellence. From this initial 200 million, several MVPs were specially chosen to be profiled and interviewed for InsideTrack. Congratulations on this unique honour!
A: That is soooo amazing. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize the magnitude of the honor that I had received. With thousands of remarkable and distinguished people around the world to choose from, Microsoft chose me to be featured in their paper.
Leading my user groups and supporting the membership is just a normal part of my life. So, it was thrilling to be interviewed and featured in Microsoft's paper. Thinking about it still makes my heart race. Obviously, being an MVP is a tremendous honor, but that interview was a true testament to the benefits that I am bringing to the community. It definitely energizes me to do more.
At the beginning of this year, I vowed to welcome opportunities and to travel and enjoy new challenges. And, that is exactly what is happening.
Q2: Tell us more about your user group activities and the top ten lessons for forming a user group and ensuring its success.
A: I started attending a beginner's Access group shortly after becoming an independent consultant/developer. Sadly, the group had dwindled to 4 or 5 attendees. So, rather than lose this networking resource, I volunteered to lead the group. We soon revitalized and expanded our services to include a tutorial lab session before every meeting. My focus was to provide a welcoming environment for novices and beginners to network, ask questions, see what's possible and be assured that there are helpful people available who will happily provide mentoring and assistance.
Our group continued to expand until we outgrew our meeting room, (literally had people standing at the back of the room), and we no longer have the computer lab for hands-on sessions. But, we still have the pre-meeting tutorials. I've been the president of the Seattle Access Group for about eight years. Our membership and attendance continues to fluctuate, but it never dwindles to the point of imploding. Our mission is too important to forsake beginners need and deserve a place to ask questions and learn, (where they aren't intimidated by advanced concepts and acronyms).
The success of the SAG lead to my being invited to become the presentation coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Access Developers Group. That was a stretch for me because I hadn't attended the meetings, did not know the members, the topics, or the presenter pool. But, Armen Stein was very persuasive, so I agreed. Little did I know that he'd call the day before my very first meeting and ask me to run the meeting in his absence. This meant, not only showing up as an unknown and running the meeting, but also running the Q&A session. This was so out of my league, but it seemed important and I do love a challenge. My approach is to leverage talents and resources. So, when I got to the meeting, I introduced myself to the speaker, who happened to be Michael Kaplan, and I explained the situation and asked him to please also field the questions during the Q&A session. Michael occasionally reminds me that I still owe him for that.
After that, Armen asked me to run the meetings with him. After 6 years, he was ready to retire from office and I was nominated as President. I will always cherish the memories of election night. It was standing room only, and three distinguished Access MVPs showed up just to support my election, they couldn't stay the entire evening, but they wanted to be there for me. I had no idea that I could make such a difference. But, my groups are a priority and I continue to put that kind of energy and passion into their meetings.
So, that's how I got to be president of the two groups. And it gives a pretty strong basis for tips and suggestions for starting, invigorating and maintaining a successful user group.
Q3: As a user group leader for many years, what are your top ten leadership rules based upon your experiences of what works?
A: I think that my rules, as you want to call them, are really a combination of what I've learned and used throughout my careers as a program and project manager, business consultant, and developer, as well as from being president of several organizations.
First and foremost people have to decide on the type of environment and atmosphere that they want for their meetings. Not everything will run equally well under different structures. For now, I'm going to focus on the types of rules that seem to work well for my user groups. Of course, you'll notice a strong parallel to the ten lessons.
Q4: You spend a lot of time and energy supporting your groups. What is the biggest motivator for you?
A: That's an easy answer. The ability to empower affords a feeling like no other. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to create opportunities for my members and colleagues that they would otherwise would not have had. And, it isn't just my direct contacts because the members are taking the meeting material into the community and helping others as well. For example, one of the members drives 4 hours round trip, but he uses our meeting content as the foundation for the college classes that he teaches. I'm sponsoring another user group in Oregon, and they use my newsletter instead of creating their own. There are incredible success stories of people who joined the group not even knowing how to create a database but in a few years progressed to being database administrators and independent consultants.
I also work with sponsors so that members receive software that many otherwise could not afford. There have been several meetings at which we were able to give out several thousand dollars worth of software. I am just finalizing discussions that will provide the members of my groups and others a significant discount on laptops, PCs, RAM and other upgrades. Given the immediate need to upgrade to enjoy the full power of Vista, this is a huge benefit to my membership and the community.
But, some of the most memorable times have been from being the lead author on books. I have been able to invite people that I know to become authors and contributors to highly acclaimed reference books. This kind of credibility and visibility is something that you just can't buy. It was my privilege to invite my good friend Armen Stein, to join me as co-author for our 2003 edition. But, maybe the most memorable response was last year, from Rob Cooper: how many times does a person get to "make someone's dream come true."
So, my real motivator is knowing that I really am making a difference.
Q5: You are the project leader for INETA Live Webcasts serving over 800 user groups and 450,000 members. What are the key tips that you can share for producing live webcasts?
A: First and foremost, it takes a team to run a webcast. So, have everyone take some time to get familiar with the tools and technology. Some webcast services require that slides be uploaded to a website, others use a desktop sharing technology so the presenter is merely working from their own computer. Either way, the presenter needs to learn about and be comfortable using various tools, such as the white board, the highlighters, taking polls, switching controls and even adding a slide to the presentation.
The host will need to comfortable with moderating the presentation, watching for questions, coordinating things in the background, and know the benefit from taking polls, using the whiteboard, and being able to step in to go through slides when necessary.
If you have a conference call, the call coordinator needs to know how to disconnect lines, how to mute callers and how to turn off announcements. Then after the webcast, you'll need someone to edit the recording and arrange for it to be published for on-demand viewing.
Like I said, it takes a team.
Another challenge is to line up presenters and topics. You'd think that this would be a piece of cake and that people would be falling over each-other for the opportunity. But, that isn't the case, at least not for INETA. I am always seeking presenters to share expertise to help user group leaders. It is surprisingly difficult to even get 8 presentations scheduled in a year. So, maybe some of your readers will want to seize the day. I'd welcome their email, Tereas.Hennig@INETA.org. Let's see, to turn that into a tip, I'd say to create a schedule and try to get people to sign up 2 to 3 month's in advance. If you don't have a presenter, contact some user group leaders or established presenters and see if they have an interesting topic that is ready to go. Many presenters can repurpose a talk that they prepared for a conference or other meeting.
Another tip is to get the word out early and then again just before the webcast. Put notices on the group's website, in the newsletter and on any sites with which you have reciprocal agreements. Ask people to pre-register. With some services, this will automatically trigger a reminder email shortly before the webcast, if it doesn't, be sure to send them yourself.
Offer a draw item and select the winner from those who complete a survey at the end of the webcast. This is, of course, another benefit of networking. Because you can invite a company to sponsor the draw and give them some publicity in the announcements as well as on the slide leading to the survey. Plus, a nice prize may be just the extra incentive it takes to get more people to participate. Remember, success leads to success. You may have to work hard to get attendance at the first webcast. But, if you keep at it and schedule them consistently, word-of-mouth will help recruit participants.
Q6: You are a known world authority in Access VBA and the lead author for the VBA Programmer's Reference series. Please share your top 10 most useful tips-- those special gems that would not be widely known.
A: Wow, I'm already working on my third book and it still surprises me to hear such claims. I can't imagine that I have 10 secrets that aren't widely known. After all, my focus is on helping others and sharing knowledge. So, how about ten of the things that I think are most important. Of course, my list is subject to change based on new experiences. Yes, you can read into that no one is exempt from getting exasperated, at least I'm sure not.
So, let's start with the basics.
Q7: How will Access evolve in the future?
A: That's a good question. I am very excited about the potentials and looking forward to helping a huge new wave of users learn how they can leverage and enjoy the benefits of Access. You know that Bill Gates included Access when he listed his favorite programs going into the future. That was right along with mobility and connectivity. Of course, this vision is no secret, just look at Vista, and how so many Office programs are working with web interfaces.
So, I'm guessing that it will continue to be easier to create and work with web based applications. Whether it is storing static data online or connecting to a remote file server, I expect that we'll have a lot more options and hopefully not require serious expertise in other programming languages.
The other area of emphasis that I see is for Access to become more of a user tool, right out of the box. Not to the extent that Excel is used for number crunching, but certainly to the point that people will be aware of the benefits of using a database instead of a spreadsheet and that it will be easy for them to make the transition. Access 2007 is pointing us in that direction. There are dozens of functions that once required VBA code and now they are not only built in, they provide more options and features than most programmers included. Some of great examples are the groups and totals for spread sheets, the ability to filter forms on the fly, and interactive reports that allow users to drill into data on a report.
Q8: When working with your clients you come across best practice scenarios. Can you share five best practices from your long history of success?
Q9: What are the five critical issues facing organizations today and how can they be addressed?
A: I think that we're all facing the rapidly changing technology, costs of upgrades, competition from startups and lower cost areas, employee turnover and IT security threats
As an independent contractor, I have to deal with all of these issues but on a much smaller scale. For organizations, it is hard to create and stick with a 5 year technology plan because by the time they get it implemented both the hardware and software will be outdated.
I suppose that industries will benefit now more than ever by focusing on the workforce. If they acquire and retain workers who want to be mobile and take advantage of flexible schedules, the organizations can lighten their infrastructure. However, there are many industries and situations where that isn't possible.
So, planning for expansion and making upgrades in stages may be their best avenue.
Q10: What are the major challenges facing ICT professionals and what do you propose as solutions?
A: Here again the challenges seem to be rapidly changing technology both in the hardware and the software, increasing demands for web applications, overwhelming volumes of data, constantly changing security threats and of course the time and budget to provide a solution.
From my perspective, the solutions need to be based on good business practices. That means involving key personnel that can make decisions and authorize actions. They have to balance costs with features and the need to have flexibility to change direction or add more capacity. ICT people will have to have similar flexibility in their approach to supporting major transitions and upgrades. A key element will likely be periodic reviews for both lessons learned and status checks to see if new factors need to be accommodated.
Q11: How can ICT professionals get involved in making a difference and how can they make contributions?
A: Here, as in other cases, people make a difference by making informed decisions and being invested in the outcome. Be open to new approaches and ideas and be ready to explore and test concepts. Change will require team work, collaboration and cooperation.
If someone is in a bigger corporation or industry, they can learn about trends and working technologies from their trade magazines, networks, and conventions. You notice that networking shows up again. That is one of the best ways to share experiences and to leverage what others are doing. That brings us right back to user groups and other professional organizations.
Q12: In your current role with the user groups, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?
Challenge one: Motivating people to do presentations and share their expertise.
These skills are critical to effective communications in the work place. Sharing ideas is a key element of process improvement and change. It is by building on each others' experience and expertise that we learn to think beyond our boundaries and create better solutions.
Challenge two: Setting Priorities
You need to be adept at quickly evaluating priorities, cost/benefits and timing. Basically the options are: go for it with all the resources available, eliminate, reduce the time, reduce the quality, delegate, or defer. The thing to remember is that most decisions are not final. If you set out priorities and plans one day, be flexible enough to adjust them when circumstances change.
Challenge three: Managing Time
Besides, have you ever looked back at what seemed like a catastrophe and realized that it was relatively easy to resolve. Often, it is our natural emotional reaction that prompts us to rush to battle with all our resources, when all it really needed was a calm evaluation and a strategically placed solution.
Of a more routine nature, it is very helpful to use schedules and agendas for both personal and business events. As mentioned earlier, I'm a strong proponent of agendas. They help participants prepare for the meeting, let everyone know when and where they need to be, what decisions will be made, and what they will take home. A properly scheduled and managed meeting can be a powerful tool, a poorly run meeting can be a sinkhole and cost thousands of dollars in lost productivity.
Challenge four: Keeping up with email that includes newsletters, et al.
Those are some initial thoughts to creating more effective email. Then, you need a good policy for flagging them, putting them into folders and even for searching through archives. Outlook has great tools for most of that. Windows desktop search will do an excellent job of finding any document that you have indexed. Use the tools.
I'm not sure that those are truly the biggest challenges, but they are definitely significant.
Q13: What are the 5 biggest issues facing user group communities, IT societies today and what are your recommendations for meeting these challenges?
Q14: Provide your predictions of future IT/Business trends and their implications/opportunities?
Trend 1: More independent contractors, consultants or temporary staff.
Implication/opportunities: As companies are facing such rapidly changing technology, it is often more cost effective for them to hire expertise when they need it than to have those people on staff. This is an excellent way to reduce overhead, particularly the huge expenses associated with hiring, training, retaining, and providing office space for staff. But there are some obvious downsides, such as loyalty, quality, conflicting approaches, availability, and the list goes on.
For a good IC, these opportunities afford a breadth of experience that was previously unattainable. They can travel, cross industries, work in areas of their passion - essentially pick their industry and life style. Of course, most of us will be somewhere in the middle, balancing our opportunities with responsibilities and enjoying significant independence.
Trend 2: More web based applications and solutions.
Implication/opportunities: There will be a huge need for people to build interfaces so that existing operations can effectively interface with web solutions. Some of the challenges with the transition will be to identify what is practical and makes good business sense. This will also open the doors to a myriad of security aspects to manage. People who are adept at understanding a business model and customizing solutions should have a limitless supply of opportunities. This seems like a great area for creating some basic solutions that can be repurposed and customized.
We'll see several industries, including some that we might not anticipate, that will find new markets by making their data accessible via the internet. We'll see companies reduce their floor space as their staff enjoy telecommuting and flex time.
Trend 3: Continued emphasis on networking and security.
Implication/opportunities: Everyone is threatened by security issues. So corporations and home users will have to be more vigilant about networking, protecting data and identify theft. We'll likely be more reliant on solutions that start at the operating system and are automatically updated. And, along with the move to telecommuting and web based applications, people will need easy-to-maintain identities or log-in personas so that it is easy to isolate users of one laptop/pc. I think we'll see more programs focused on identity protection - that make it safer to browse, shop, work online without exposing information about who you really are.
Trend 4: Mobility is a favorite area for Bill Gates, so we'll continue to see advances there.
Implication/opportunities: We are seeing more functionality and reliability in smart phones, and that is just a precursor of what may come. I'd expect that we'll see all sorts of devices that can be controlled remotely, provide navigation, customize our environments. Basically, the potentials are limited only by creativity and having people willing to try it. But, I think that as technology evolves, we are becoming more agile, so we are more open to, and even looking forward to, changes that would previously have seemed foreign.
Trend 5: Continued move to low cost support centers and tech workers.
Implication/opportunities: To be competitive, businesses will continue to tap into global resources to provide a growing range of services at a lower cost. They will need to do a thorough evaluation so that things such as call center services do not cost the business the loss of clients. We've probably all endured calls where the language barrier made it painfully difficult to understand instructions. Perhaps the call centers will have a "smart" device that better matches the technician with the caller. But, that's not the key point here. The issue is that we'll be seeing more areas of work and support being transferred to overseas offices. This will be relatively easy for programming, especially web based solutions. It won't just be large companies that utilize these lower cost services; small companies and even independent developers will establish contacts and build relationships so that they too can not only stay competitive, but can tap into this pool of expertise.
Trend 6: Early burn out and high stress life styles.
Implication/opportunities: You can see this coming, because we are already experiencing it. Things are changing so fast and at so many levels simultaneously, that technology workers can not keep up. It is overwhelming. Trying to stay on the leading edge in like being on a treadmill locked on 5 mph. You might be able to sprint, but there's no way to maintain that pace day in and day out. It isn't just the personal drive of the ICT workers that is pushing this pace. Businesses are trying to keep up and implement solutions, so they are making these demands of the staff. So, either people will develop tools and techniques for finding a balance and managing their lives or they'll feel excessively stressed and eventually burn out.
Q15: With all the changes and updates, it is obviously a lot for anyone to keep up with. When you need to find information about a issue or feature, which are your top recommended resources?
A: The best resource, of course, will vary with technology and current need. I like to have a reference library of books, mostly about Access, but also Windows and other areas of interest. I'll often turn to a book for an example of code or to confirm on naming conventions and such. And yes, that's why I insisted that our Access VBA Programmer's Reference series have a comprehensive appendix that includes compiled lists from multiple sources. I like having that material in one place so that I can find it any time I want. But, in addition to having some good books, my favorite resources would include:
Q16: You are passionate about supporting spinal cord research. Can you provide your insights behind this and what you hope to achieve for the future?
A: My brother, Kirk, has suffered from quadriplegia since his injury 23 years ago. He, like so many, was in the prime of life, and in a freak construction accident, lost most of his mobility. But he is fiercely independent and lives his life to be a contributor to society. He returned to college and earned another degree, this time in construction management. He held various jobs and was a consultant, but more importantly, Kirk helps others who are suffering from injuries. He led the way to establish a mentoring program to support the newly injured and their loved ones, he is on several medical boards and he devotes a lot of his time to helping others learn skills and become independent.
Kirk is also a pillar in the Northwest chapter of the Spinal Cord Society (SCS) http://www.scsnw.com. He is active in their annual golf tournament which raises about $100,000 annually. This is a totally volunteer chapter, and 100% of the proceeds go to research, not overhead. Kirk believes that SCS is the best foundation for supporting research to cure paralysis. They are focused on CURE not care. SCS is exclusively donation-funded (no tax dollars), has extremely low overhead, and is not burdened by large administrative controls or reporting demands or organizational protocols - all of which demand so much time from researchers in large institutions and/or with government funding.
The statistics vary, but nearly one in six people in industrialized countries will suffer from a severe neurological disorder. SCS research is making great strides in helping so many people. We are seeing people who have been wheelchair bound for years gaining the ability to walk, we are helping people with Parkinsonism and so many other diseases.
I dedicated my fundraising effort to my brother. At his suggestion, I rode 220 miles, 10 miles for each year that he had been in a wheel chair, to raise $10,000 for research to cure paralysis. I still have a couple thousand to raise before our annual golf tournament on June 18th. So, any and all help is appreciated. More information about my ride and fundraiser is available at http://www.DataDynamicsNW.com/ride. And, since donations are tax deductible, the site also has the necessary receipt form. Yes, that is a plea for donations, but SCS research is helping countless thousands of people and, given the statistics it is likely that each of us have loved ones and friends that will directly benefit from SCS research. So, thank you for asking.
Q17: You mentioned the golf tournament, is that where Kirk will be giving the cheque to the Spinal Cord Society? How can people join you?
A: Yes, this will be our 12th annual golf tournament. It is my goal that Kirk will present SCS with a cheque for $10,000. As a chapter, we hope to raise $100,000 through the golf tournament and general donations. Even the smallest donation helps because it all adds up and will make a big difference. That's illustrated by our chapter. We are a small chapter of volunteers, and we've managed to send over $1.1 million to research a cure for paralysis.
Anyone wanting to join us can register online at http://www.SCSNW.com. This has earned acclaim as one of the best golf tournaments on the west coast, and even includes a $50,000 JetBlue Challenge. There is something for all skill levels, and non-golfers have a great time at the dinner and auctions. If they also send me a note (Teresa@DataDyamicsNW.com), I would be pleased to help with local information and to meet with them at the tournament. Of course, it would also be wonderful for people to donate items to our silent or live auction.
Q18: You seem to be involved with a wide variety of activities, not just INETA and your user groups, but you are working on another book and are preparing Access training videos. How do you fit it all in?
A: Oh, making it all fit in is not even possible. So, I'm constantly juggling priorities and demands as best that I can. Sometimes, I have to give up something that I really want to do, in order to solve an urgent issue for a client. But those are choices that I make. And like I mentioned earlier, it is a constant balancing act and we have to be flexible in our schedules. When making a decision about responding to a client's urgent request I not only consider my priorities and schedule, but also the impact of delays to their business.
That's exactly what happened the day before I flew to New York for my test screen shot. A client called and urgently needed my time. I was also leading the Access meeting that night and had other commitments. I chose to defer some of my plans and resolve the issue for my client. The alternative would have been to delay some of their work for 4 days. Knowing the cost impact to them, I changed my priorities. That is the type of relationship that I have with my clients. I feel as though I am a partner to their success. And really, their success is one of the most fulfilling parts of what I do - to be able to make things possible for others.
Q19: Tell us about why you are going to do training videos.
A: The videos are another way of reaching out to the community and providing resources for people to help themselves. We all have preferred learning styles or processes, and that can be influenced by both what and why we are trying to learn something. I'm very much a hands-on person. So, if I get to do something I have a much better chance of assimilating and retaining the knowledge.
I'm hoping that the training videos will provide that type of experience for new Access users. With the fantastic new features in Access 2007, I am anticipating that it will appeal to an entire new audience of users. Home users and even small businesses will find it much easier to create and use Access applications.
I know how important it is to have a support network, to learn from others and to see how something is done. So, I'm very excited to have been offered the opportunity to create training videos so that people can get this kind of help at a time that works for them. When you think about it, doing videos seems like a perfect fit for me. It's a wonderful combination of helping others, empowering people, working on a project and making a presentation. This is all very exciting. I've never done anything like this, but based on my demo they said that I'm a natural. So, wish me luck and watch for a new Access title from Total Training.
Q20: Good luck with your new adventure into training videos. You seem to enjoy and are quite successful in a variety of areas. What is your secret, what keys to success can you share with others?
A: Oh my, where do we start? There are so many factors that get rolled into this. I know that my energy and positive attitude carry me through a lot. I've endured my share of knocks and setbacks, but from every experience, I've gained insights and learned valuable lessons. They prepared me for future events and gave me strength and confidence that I otherwise would not have.
Q21: With everything that you are involved with, where do you see your career going from here?
A: Well, I intend to live my motto:
We need to enjoy our lives as we live them. Yes, they are full of choices, but isn't it wonderful to have so many things to choose amongst. This year, I vowed to be more open to new adventures and opportunities and to travel more.
That is exactly what is happening. As the MVP Summit was approaching, I was still finishing our book, consulting on an Access Experts book and talking about another title. And, just before the summit, I was invited to create a demo tape for the Access training videos. It was a tight squeeze, but I managed to create the demo tape less than an hour before heading to the MVP Summit. Now I'm about to go to New York for the test screening. After that, I'll only have 2 months to create the video content. Plus I've already teamed up for yet another book that we'll finish in August. Right in the middle, I'm also hoping to be at TechEd to help INETA with webcasts and the Leadership Summit and Birds of a Feather. Those are just the highlights of things that are supporting the Access and ICT communities.
In addition to that, I'm always looking for ways to expand both my experiences and my client base. That's one of the wonders of project management, instead of having a niche in one industry or region, I am constantly introduced to new industries and situations. They all benefit from my diverse background and wealth of contacts. I'm fortunate to already have clients across the country, and although it is often helpful to visit their offices, I have also created solutions and prototypes without meeting in person.
Since I really enjoy consulting and public speaking, I'm looking forward to opportunities to speak at conferences and maybe do some management team consulting to help companies define their projects or even redirect projects that seem to have missed the mark. That was a skill that I honed as a federal employee. I was recognized for turning projects around, dealing with tense situations and building consensus.
Although I don't know where my career is going right now, I am enjoying the opportunities as they are presented. That's the most important factor in success. To do what you enjoy and to enjoy what you are doing.
Closing Comment: Teresa, we thank you for sharing your time with us and we wish you continued success for the future.
A: Thank you for this opportunity. You've asked some really good questions that deserve a lot of thought. We've spent a lot more time than either of us anticipated, but it is for a worthwhile purpose. I hope that people will gain a lot from our discussion. There are some really great tips, not just for user groups, but for running good meetings in general. I'd like to express that it was a privilege to spend this time with you and I hope to hear from some of the readers.