EPISODE 11: TECH MAVEN - MELISSA HUBBARD

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone, this is Heather Newman with your Mavens Do It Better podcast. I am sitting here in San Juan, Puerto Rico with the lovely and talented Melissa Hubbard. She is a Microsoft MVP. She's an author, a community speaker and blogger and she and I are here today along with a lot of other folks from our SharePoint community. Uh, we're going to do a diversity panel here in a little while and I thought Miss. Maven, I'd get her on Teams and Flow and all sorts of good things. So say hello to everybody.

Melissa Hubbard:  Hello everybody. Hello Heather. Thank you for having me. I couldn't pick a better place to do this podcast in beautiful San Juan.  yeah, it's really exciting to be here. The energy has been great. We have a great turn out, people are excited, people are seeing tools for the first time and it's literally in the middle of Erica Toelle's session, burst out "This is awesome!" about Microsoft Teams. It was really cool.

Heather Newman:  That's so cool. Well, so you're an MVP in what categories?

Melissa Hubbard:   I am an MVP in the business applications category. I specialize in Microsoft Flow, so as soon as Microsoft Flow became available, I was using it and one of the very first speakers on it.  so, I started speaking at user groups and then SharePoint Saturdays and then I've moved on to some other conferences and online stuff. But uh, I became one of the first five Microsoft Flow MVPs and I'm so happy that we just got two more female Flow MVPs. So now I have Flow sisters because we're like a really tight knit family of Flow MVPs, so I'm super happy.

Heather Newman:  That's exciting. I remember when you first came out and started doing it. It was very cool. So yeah, you're a great speaker. So I love seeing you out there. Do it all the great community stuff. That's pretty awesome. So, I know that people have been asking me, and I can't find the answer to this question, is that, was there a codename for Microsoft flow?

Melissa Hubbard:  So, you're the second person to ask me.  I've run a Flow user group. The first one in the United States it's located in Washington DC. My speaker Chrissy, she asked me the same thing and I don't know, I, I need to ask the product group about the code name.

Heather Newman:  I asked Jennifer Pearcy and I asked a couple of different people and I couldn't get an answer as well because usually there's a code name.

Melissa Hubbard:  Yeah. I just found out about the code name thing I'm getting it, you know, I'm still kind of the new kid. I'm finding out these little secrets here.

Heather Newman:  That's great. And so, talk about, you just authored a book. Congratulations. That's a huge, wonderful things so talk about your book a bit.

Melissa Hubbard:  Yeah. So it was a huge amount of work that goes into a book. I'm really excited that we finished it. I coauthored it with my friend Matthew Bailey.  so, it's an end user guide to Microsoft Teams with also chapters about governance and user adoption for business owners.  it, it was really, really fun to do because we kept discovering more and more things about the product. They talk about scope creep on a project. It was, you know, like, oh, we need to talk about this, but yes, it's available on Amazon.com.

Heather Newman:  And what's the exact name?

Melissa Hubbard:  It's called Mastering Microsoft Teams. Thanks. That's an important piece of information to mention the name of the book.

Heather Newman:  How long did it take you to write and put together?

Melissa Hubbard:  So, we started in December planning, December of last year planning the chapters, getting the contract signed with the publisher. A press and even just writing out the, the introduction to the book and stuff, you know, that takes time. So I would say it was about seven months it took. Yeah. And then you know, we still are marketing and things like that, writing blog posts and, and the product has updated since Ignite happened and announcements were made. So we're trying to add blog posts and you kind of supplement that way since there are a few changes

Heather Newman:  I think it's nice to have a base level and I think people still like there's some people love, a hard copy book that they can dog ear and put sticky notes in and highlight and all that kind of thing. You know what I mean? Like, because people have asked me, you know, what do you think, you know, are books, are books dead or whatever. And I don't, I don't know, I don't think they are. I think that it gives you a baseline for that moment in time that you add to. Right?

Melissa Hubbard:  I mean, people are, I've been really happy and surprised by how many people have purchased it and I've had people reach out to me and say, "Hey, I was at my client and somebody had your book". So I do think, you know, people sort of, people do still want a book,

Heather Newman:  Any guidance for somebody who's going to write a book, anything like, you know, you're like, oh my gosh, you must do this or must NOT do that kind of thing.

Melissa Hubbard:  My guidance would be, you know, first make your decision on whether you want to use a publisher or not and just know that with the publisher it's great to have someone behind you backing you on marketing and doing those types of things. But you're going to be on a strict schedule. So, if you want to just write when you're feeling creative or want a, you know. So for me, I struggled because I, my creativity and writing comes in kind of a big burst and then I, I go on streaks where I just have writer's block. So trying to stick to the schedule from a publisher can be tough. So just make sure you think about that. And then I liked using, using Planner, Microsoft Planner   to plan my chapters and then you can kind of drag them around when you decide when you know, oh actually this topic should be under here on this chapter. So, I did it like that.  I think it worked good.

Heather Newman:  I think that's a session you should create a session about that.

Melissa Hubbard:  Really?

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. So, uh, no, I think that maybe that's a session.

Melissa Hubbard:  Yeah, that's something to think about

Heather Newman:  You know? On how to, cause I think sort of alternate like using Teams. So, I've been doing a session on, you know, how to use it for, to become an event Maven, you know, and using it to plan an event, Teams and Planner   together, you know, because I feel like sometimes like if you, it's a good question for talking about Teams. It's like, when Teams gets deployed and you know, they're like "Here", you know, and all of a sudden people are like, "Uh, what is this?", you know, and so the guidance on here's a project or here's a thing to take care of inside of Teams, you know, so an event is sort of a logical way to kind of get people used to Teams and I guess for people who are writing a book maybe for using Planner  , I don't know, what do you think about that?

Melissa Hubbard:  Yeah, no, it's exactly. If you have a project that you're going to start and hopefully finish Teams is a great way to get up and running with that and keep everything in one location, all of your conversations, all of your content files, etc.  so yeah, I think an event is a easy to understand thing that you can see the value really quickly.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. And even on the book level, if it's a book or even an eBook or a white paper or something like that, using Planner   for a small project like that could be really useful.

Melissa Hubbard:  Yes. Matthew, my coauthor, we were living in Teams working on our book together I think would have totally driven each other nuts if we weren't in Teams because the amount of emails and discussions and we're both busy. We can't talk on the phone all the time. I've got a three-year-old running around screaming, you know, being in Teams and having. And our decision points are there. So, it's like, oh no, actually we said we were going to write about this and this section and it's all right there and you can work together.

Heather Newman:  So, I guess diverting a little bit and you mentioned your three-year-old and you know, obviously dealing with having a family and being in tech and being, you know, a gal in tech and all that. You and I have been talking about diversity about this panel and stuff.  I guess where did you get your start in IT?

Melissa Hubbard:  So, I started in IT while I was in college. I worked for the school help desk and then I've always been really lucky meeting really awesome mentors. I guess for that would be the right word for it, just other women who have taken an interest in and seen, my value and want to work with me and so I was just part time doing like work study and the help desk, but I really wanted to get full time and learn more. And so, uh, one of the women there, Tatiana, I always say her name wrong, I'm just going to say Tatiana. She taught me everything and helped me get hired full time. I took a step away from IT for a while too. I ran, a child protection and juvenile parole office in rural Nebraska and then I started using SharePoint there and then worked my way to Washington D.C. as a consultant in SharePoint. And now I'm consulting in SharePoint and Office 365.

Heather Newman:  That's awesome. Very cool.  I guess, you know what I like to know about sort of what moves us and what excites us about what we do and you know, for me like I love spreading joy and connecting people. That's my thing. And I talk about that a lot and sort of what, what sparks you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Melissa Hubbard:   I like to think that when I, when other people see me speaking and I'm blogging and writing and doing things like this podcast, that it lets them know, you know, I could do this too, or if there's something I, I think I could do, but maybe I'm a little nervous about it. Like, look at her, she's doing it. People approached me and asked me, "Oh, what do you think? Should I try to speak?" And it's always, yes, you should, you know, if you're even thinking about it, yes you should. And I, I get emotional talking it, you know, because sometimes people come up to me and they're like, "You know what? I saw that you were posting stuff about Microsoft flow. And I decided maybe I'd build a flow". I've had people email me like screenshots. I built my flow.  and uh, that's really what motivates me is sometimes it's easy to lose track of your motivation. So it's, you always have to try to remember really why you're here doing what you're doing or you know, you could get tired. We all have our times when we get down and stressed and forget. But you know, I should get that tattooed or something on my arm, my why I do what I do.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I think it is easy to forget there's a lot of noise in the world and we get caught up in things and, and there's, you know, a little bit of fear I think in just putting yourself out there. You know what I mean? Like there's a lot of goodness that comes from it, but there's also a lot of, I don't know, haters or just negativity sometimes too. And you're, you know, you're saying should I do this? Is it okay? You know, then like you hear nothing or you know what I mean? You're like "Caw-caw". And so I think, to your point, I think that remembering for all of us that like if you see something you like or something that moves you, tell people. You know what I mean? Like, I think that's super important and we don't do that enough for each other, you know what I mean? So, yeah, go ahead.

Melissa Hubbard:  So, uh, so one other thing that I like to tell people is that it's okay to be afraid and still do it. I mean, I'm always afraid before I go speak or I'm doing something new, you just have to take yourself out of that comfort zone and not let that initial fear of something keep you from doing it. Uh, I really feel strongly about that. And you know, if anyone's nervous about speaking, for me it has never gone away. It's just part of it. It's like part of the rush of it. You get nervous, then you kill it, you do awesome, you know, you get to feel that, oh, and then, then you see people connecting with you and learning and it's really amazing.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I mean, in the theater, we call that stage fright, right? There's that moment of like, oh my goodness. And then you go on stage and you rock it out. Yeah, no, that's very cool.  we've been doing a lot of like Ignite and all of that and, I know that you're doing a lot of community events and blogging and stuff. What's, what's up next for you? Where are you going or, or where do you hope to be going?

Melissa Hubbard:  Yeah, so I have SharePoint Saturday DC is coming up and so I'm from the dc area, so that's always nice to have your local crowd there. We have SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach as well.  that's, I believe the first SharePoint Saturday, I think. I think so, yeah.  and it, it's been going on over 10 years. It's the 11th year maybe. So, I love that event.  I, I hope to be part of the Ignite tour. I think that would be pretty awesome. That looks really exciting. It's a lot of different countries that Ignites going to and so for the people who aren't able to travel to Orlando gives them an opportunity to get a little taste of it. So hopefully I'll be part of that. Also, my Flow user group will be doing our second meeting. Yeah. So, we're getting that put together and that will be in January as well. So that's some of the things I'm sure some stuff will come up as it always does, but yeah,

Heather Newman:  I love it that you're, you know, building Teams for customers. I mean, you're really connected to customers through what you've been doing, right? So, you're getting in there and helping people really understand like if they have SharePoint already, have Office 365 and now they're turning on Teams and that's a lot of, with Flow and teams. That's a lot of where your expertise lies and really just like getting in there and getting people as an end user rocking it out as a team. Yeah?

Melissa Hubbard:  Yes, that's exactly what I've been doing. Meeting with organizations who either are thinking about going to Office 365 or already have, but just know that they aren't utilizing it to their fullest potential. Helping drive the conversation of what tool do I do with, for what, helping them plan how they will structure their teams.  that's a big question a lot of organizations have, you know, like when do you get a team, when do you get a channel? And that's different, you know, depending on their requirements and the user base. So that's, that's been really enjoyable because Teams is a tool, you'll see the value quickly. You're not going to turn it on and I've never heard anyone turn it on and start using it and be like, "oh yeah, well we used it a couple times and we don't use it anymore". Like you hear about other things, with teams, it's like, oh yeah, now I need to figure out how to change the app settings because it's going off too much from people using it so much.

Heather Newman:  That's super cool. I think I've always been struck when we met in New York, you know, I just, I love you're so cheerful and, no you are, and so passionate and I really enjoyed our conversations that we've had over the last bit getting to know each other a little bit more and it's really cool to see you, as a woman who is older than you and not by a ton but by some, just watching your career explode and the author and all that stuff, seeing you speak more and more. It's really nice to see and I really enjoy you in that way. So it's good.

Melissa Hubbard:  I'm not that cheerful. This is resting smile face.

Heather Newman:  Oh, come on.

Melissa Hubbard:  Having examples like you and other strong women in the community is, has really, really helped me. Like again, watching other people do it and be successful and like, okay, maybe I could do this.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. No. And I think that's something about our community, that's cool. So thank you for that one. And I think that, you know, some of the things we're going to talk about today and that we talk about is you know, how do we build. There's, you know, there's a piece of the diversity and inclusion that is all that you know, is, is about gender and it is about women and you know, and I think that there is something about us, one building male allies that we talk about and making sure, you know, and mentorships and all of that and we need men to help us to do many things, you know, in, in our communities. And we also need to really be helping each other and binding together to help each other. And you know, so we talked a little bit about, you know, some of the fear and toxicity stuff and I gave a presentation about that and it's like, you know, sometimes we, we can be our own worst enemies too.

Melissa Hubbard:  That is true. I really have been really lucky because I've talked to a lot of women and you know, for them, for a lot of people it hasn't been the same as it was for me, but I've always had really strong female allies and men too. but when I think about who's opened the door for me for different things, I've just had some really amazing women and still do. So it's,

Heather Newman:  yeah, absolutely. No, I think, I mean, our SharePoint community, our Microsoft community has been really great for that. And I think the pushing through Satya and his messages and like seeing those messages during keynotes and having them be repeated over and over again. It's like the message is clear. It's like, yes, it's about women, but it's how do we build diversity and inclusion and intersectionality throughout everything we do and let's think about it and talk about it and make sure we all understand what that means and that it's not just, you know, we're all learning and we're all trying to do best, do our best and make it better.

Melissa Hubbard:  I think it's knowing that you should be looking inside and realizing stereotypes that you might have as you're working with other people.  I think, you know, we all have those to say that you don't, you know, isn't true, but it's what you do with those. Are you thinking about that and realizing it when you're through your workday and having conversations with different people?

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no, absolutely. That's. Yeah, no, you're super on point on that one. So, so yeah. So what's your favorite book?

Melissa Hubbard:  My favorite book?

Heather Newman:  Besides the one that you just wrote.

Melissa Hubbard:  I guess I like Pride and Prejudice. Classic. Yeah. I'm not a huge reader to be honest. I'm more of an article, news reader, but you know, when I do read, I.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Who. So who do you like in the, in either community or the world or whatever. Like I guess what's a place do you go to find inspiration or like stuff that you like, love that you're like, I go here every day to go look for something. Is it like medium or is it CNN or is it a combination of stuff?

Melissa Hubbard:  Okay. So, I'm pretty much addicted to Twitter and so I only follow people that I find motivational and you know, read articles that other people are posting.  and also on LinkedIn I've been using LinkedIn learning. I like that there's free courses, stuff like that. Again, our Flow MVP group is so close knit, so when we share each other's blogs and read those, I mean those get kind of nerdy and technical quick. But yeah, I also, I mean I have other interests obviously besides IT. I'm a, I'm a retired Muay Thai fighter. Yeah, I like to, I like to go to the gym and read fitness articles, things like that, so.

Heather Newman:  That's awesome. Well, I can't wait for our session and thank you for being on my podcast.

Melissa Hubbard:  Thank you for having me.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. All right everybody that was Mavens Do It Better. We're going to sign off and have a lovely, lovely day. Cheers.

Melissa Hubbard:  Bye.

Heather Newman

Heather Newman is an award-winning marketing maven, technology entrepreneur and an epic connector that brings many worlds together. She has extensive experience marketing products and services for Enterprise businesses, startups and emerging markets. Heather builds plans and processes that are nimble, human and different. She is an adept storyteller and is passionate about growth for both employees and the corporate bottom-line. Heather hails from the arts and the bulk of her career has been working with the largest technology companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetApp, Hewlett Packard, and Dell). Her nineteen years of experience working at technology companies and building global high-tech marketing strategy has driven millions of dollars of revenue and multiple award-winning campaigns. She has led global marketing teams for many technology companies including AvePoint, IT Unity & KnowledgeLake. Heather was a part of the original Microsoft SharePoint Marketing team. During her tenure, she helped launch multiple versions of the product, build the SharePoint Partner Ecosystem and conceived of and produced the first three Microsoft SharePoint Conferences. Creative Maven has produced thousands of global marketing campaigns and events. Currently CM is focusing on go to market strategies for Microsoft and its partners as well as a new site sister site launching in 2015 called Marketingfixer.com. Heather also serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Content Panda, an innovative technology startup looking to actively disrupt how content is delivered inside software.