I am an MVP (and so can you!)

A little context

Once upon a time (2 months ago) I had decided to stop pursuing the MVP award. There were a few issues in the process and related communication that were bugging me and made the experience more of a chore than a valued credential. So I withdrew my nomination.

After posting that I received a lot of feedback through public and private channels. Many had a similar experience, some were supportive regardless of my choice, and others disconnected/disappeared or outright let me know I was making a mistake and had brought shame upon their ancestors. Here are GIFs illustrating the general feedback (because GIFs are more fun than the reality):

Some were supportive

From Frozen
From Broad City

Others, less so

So to those of you who had my back, thank you. And to those who didn’t, thanks for the true colors demo.

What’s a credential, anyway?

The thing about any credential is you don’t stop being yourself once you obtain it. When you get a promotion, you shouldn’t shun the people “left behind” or change your personality. But some do anyway. To them, it’s all about their journey and checking off boxes. To others, it’s about achieving something challenging and using that experience and newfound platform to help others up the slope.

When you rise in an organization or obtain a new credential it is, rather, a responsibility of yours to help elevate and develop others. This is what separates great leaders from the rest. Your actions, when credentialed, are also more heavily scrutinized. Do you use your credential selfishly (to promote yourself) or to influence change and build the community?

To poor leaders, growth is all about THEIR journey on their way to better things. To effective leaders, growth is about achieving something challenging and then using that experience and newfound platform to help others up the slope. Click To Tweet

So what’s your legacy? Were you a community builder who made the organization better? Or did you just make sure it didn’t collapse and kept it as it was?

Community Builder

Actively works within and outside the community to make it better by pushing for positive change and helping to introduce new members to the community. Possesses a growth mindset.

Community Supporter

Actively works within the community to maintain success by featuring its own members and initiatives and focusing on the member experience. Possesses a maintenance mindset.

Yes, yes, but what can I actually do?

If the MVP award sits on your desk, let it be a daily reminder that there are hundreds who are seeking that same recognition you received. What are you doing to provide opportunities for those others to shine in your arenas?

  • Run a user group? Reach out to a non-MVP and ask if they’d like to speak.
  • Organizing a conference? Include non-MVPs
  • Have a podcast? Interview a non-MVP
  • Are you a speaker? Share your talents with non-MVP organized events and groups
  • Celebrate the contributions of and interact with non-MVPs on social media

Your promotional materials that say “90% of our speakers are MVPs!” certainly demonstrate how much talent you’re featuring at the event. But those 10% that aren’t MVPs don’t feel included in your marketing plan and, by extension, feel they may have just been filler material.

You can always list “MVP” after the speakers’ names in your listings and let potential registrants do the math themselves. I’d be more inclined to attend a conference where I knew I’d be engaging with speakers who:

  • Started their own company
  • Wrote a book
  • Participates in diversity initiatives
  • Run a podcast I listen to (or might start)
  • Own the blogs or YouTube channels I frequent

Consider celebrating the accomplishments of your entire speaker group, MVPs and non-MVPs alike. If they’re good enough to have at your event then they’re good enough to recognize equally.

“Our speaker lineup includes 10 published authors, 5 CEOs, and 14 active bloggers!” These quantifiable numbers tell a more specific story that others can relate to. Maybe a potential registrant is starting their own blog and would see this as a good opportunity to speak to someone who could help. And the speakers would probably appreciate the additional, specific exposure to their individual accomplishments and contributions.

What I’m saying (as I’m sure you’ve guessed) is that you can be President but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good one.

From Miranda

My next objective

All of this to say, I welcome a new challenge and opportunity into my life today:

I was fortunate to have Jon Levesque, Betsy Weber, and Christian Talavera who each acknowledged my post and took time out of their busy agendas to reach out and talk with me. I consider each of them to be exceptional leaders that not only listen to concerns, but really hear them. I felt that they really wanted to make positive change and improve the program.

Other leaders could have shrugged off my comments and left me to my own devices. But that’s what made these three community builders instead of just community supporters. After talking with them, I learned that some positive change has occurred since I withdrew my nomination and shared my post.

  • The application has some new questions that make it more personal and goal-oriented as much as accomplishment focused
  • Timelines have shifted so that there’s more accountability to those responsible for voting and firmer deadlines to make sure a backlog doesn’t happen
  • Notifications and follow-up will be more standardized with applicants, making sure those anxiously awaiting any news are aware of their current status and know who to contact with questions

My objective is to practice what I’ve preached here. I intend to:

  • Use the credential as a reminder to lift up others so that they too may experience the joy of recognition for their efforts
  • Do what I can to make the program better and improve the nominee experience
  • Continue blogging and speaking to share freely what I’ve learned along the way
  • Continue organizing LSPUG and SPL Scholarships
  • Continue co-organizing SPSKC with Sharon and Jonathan Weaver
  • Continue popping up at events and user groups to share the SP word

With a little help from my friends

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank a few people who kept me motivated and inspired throughout this three year journey. My heartfelt thanks to:

  • Greg Swart who first showed Mike and I the wonders of SharePoint in practice.
  • Dave Peterson and the organizing committee of SPS Omaha for taking a chance on me a few years ago and giving me my first SPS speaking gig.
  • Mike Broadwell and Mary Roach, my bosses while at KU Libraries, who approved my funding request to speak at some non-library conference in Omaha and then continually supported me as I learned and grew in SharePoint and O365.
  • Sharon and Jonathan Weaver who welcomed me to the organizing committee of SPS KC and who have been great partners and friends in our LSPUG and Kansas City O365 UG adventures.
  • Starla Jones and Michael Williams, my bosses at LMH Health, who support me today by entertaining my wild ideas about modern collaboration and organizational communication and who encourage me to keep learning.
  • Tim Canaday, my systems counterpart of LMH Health, whose seemingly infinite wisdom of all things server and structure (and patience when my ideas come faster than my rationality) inspires me to learn things I hadn’t dreamt of learning before and achieve things together I certainly couldn’t do alone.
  • Mark Rackley and the organizing committee of the North American Collaboration Summit for inviting me to speak at my first national, non-SPS conference. Thanks for believing in my value before I had an MVP credential.
  • All of the SPS organizing committees, professors, and user group owners who have welcomed me to speak at their events and classes. I’ve enjoyed Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City (of course), and Denver and am looking forward to upcoming events wherever they may lead me.
  • All of the many speakers who have volunteered their time to share with LSPUG, a small but might user group in the heart of the country.
  • Jag Kakarlapudi for inviting me to speak on the podcast at Modern Work.
  • My sister and parents who are the best cheerleaders and life coaches I could ask for when I’m down or struggling with anything.
  • My husband, William Ottens, and our exchange student Lucas for putting up with the heightened level of nerd I can sometimes bring into the car or house.
My new profile on the MVP Website

What’s your password security score?

Once you’ve added your passwords to LastPass, you’re able to check your “Security Score” which combines your individual passwords’ strength, your LastPass master password’s strength and your ranking compared to others.

Once it runs through all of your saved credentials, it’ll provide you with your score, your standing compared to others and your master password score:

You can improve your score by changing duplicate passwords, reviewing those that are known to have been compromised, strengthening those that are too weak, or haven’t been changed in a long time.

From the list they provide, you can auto-change passwords on some sites (it’ll generate secure passwords, update your profile on that site, and then update LastPass for you). Others you can launch the site from within LastPass to change your password manually.

This has helped me to cut way back on my duplicate passwords and I’ve created much more secure, and unique, passwords using LastPass. Start with a free trial, and after that it’s only $2/month. Well worth it in my opinion.

Also, if you’re using other solutions to store passwords, I’d recommend cutting back and choosing one central (and encrypted) solution. The more you multiply your passwords across various services that you use on multiple devices and networks, the more you increase your risk of being hacked.

Read more about how I deleted synced passwords from Google.

Forget my password, Google!

After having my identity stolen a couple weeks ago by someone who went on a Twitch spree, I decided to get more serious about my password security.

Having a Google Pixel XL, it was easy to say “yes” every time I was prompted to save a password. And being a Chrome user, I only kept adding to the Google vault. In no time, I had saved 200 passwords.

I’m not saying anything here about Google’s security (I can only assume it’s sufficient), but I am saying you should consider the number of times you perform the “save my password” action. Multiply it a few times (Google, Edge, IE, Chrome, Norton, etc.), acknowledge that those vaults are then shared across devices, and those devices are used on several wireless networks where we don’t necessarily control security.

Also – if you repeatedly use the same password, your risk goes up exponentially. Suddenly a breach of one password is access to any number of services.

Assess your regular risk

Multiply your devices by the number of password storage solutions and then again by the number of internet access points you access and you’ll see the level of risk which with you regularly work. Imagine adding the number of passwords you’ve saved into this equation.

So safe or not, having multiple tools doing the same thing on multiple wireless networks makes no sense and increases risk simply by multiplying the amount of credentials you have stored across the virtual globe and being accessed while at, say, Starbucks.

So my cleanup began. I decided to sign up for a trial of LastPass which I had heard a lot about, and that trial turned into a subscription. I love it and won’t be turning back. Then I set to work removing password storage from all other services. Follow these directions to have Google forget your passwords so you can also consolidate your credential storage to a single source and be more secure.

From LastPass.com

To improve your security and start trimming down your exposure opportunities specific to Google, you can:

  • Delete individual passwords one-by-one (gives you a chance to see them and save elsewhere if needed)
  • Delete all synced data stored by Google including passwords
  • Delete data from individual Chrome browsers

Delete individual passwords synced across all devices

(not specific to one device’s browser)

  1. Login to passwords.google.com and click “See options”
  2. Toggle off the “offer to save passwords” and “auto sign-in” options
  3. Select one, optionally show and save the password elsewhere, then Delete and OK

Delete ALL synced data from Google servers

(doesn’t delete from individual devices)

This includes:

  • Apps
  • Extensions
  • Settings
  • Autofill
  • History
  • Themes
  • Bookmarks
  • Passwords
  • Open Tabs

Please note this only stops the sync, but doesn’t delete from individual devices. After this you’ll need to make sure you also 

  1. Log in to chrome.google.com/sync
  2.  Scroll to the bottom and click “Reset sync”
  3. Click OK

Delete browsing and saved data from individual Chrome browsers

This isn’t unlike clearing any browser’s history. It’s a good practice to clear browser history regularly on all browsers.

  1. In Chrome, go to chrome://settings/clearBrowserData
    -OR-
    Click the ellipses menu in the upper right of Chrome –> More tools –> Clear browsing data
  2. Click the “Advanced tab”
  3. Change time range to “All time”
  4. Check all boxes
  5. Clear data

Register for the most affordable, premium conference for SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure

As information technology professionals, it’s critically important that we stay up-to-date and practiced in our respective technologies. The North American Collaboration Summit allows you to do just that, and at a fraction of the cost of other premium conferences.

Why you should be registering for the North American Collaboration Summit 2019

One of the greatest things about this conference is that you get to interact with the best and brightest minds in our industry. The very same speakers that you’d meet at other big-name conferences.

A 60-second preview of 8 North American Collaboration Summit 2019 speakers

Oh, and did I mention I’ll be speaking there for the first time? I’m honored to be speaking alongside some incredible professionals and am excited to share a favorite session of mine, “SharePoint Wizardry for Content Management, Archiving, and Retention.”

A 60-second preview of my session at the North American Collaboration Summit 2019

What are you waiting for? Register now, and I’ll see you in March.

MS-100 & MS-101 Exam Study Guides

If you’re pursuing the M365 Enterprise Administrator Expert certification, you’ll need to pass MS-100 and MS-101. The following study materials will help.

Also, if you haven’t heard, the current MCSA exams 70-346 & 70-347 retire at the end of March so the exams below may very well be part of your new path:

Free Courses

These courses are free, official, and simple to enroll in with your Microsoft account.

MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services

  • MS-100.1 Office 365 Management
    • Introducing Office 365
    • Moving an organization to Office 365
    • Configuring your Office 365 Tenant
    • Configuring Office Client Connectivity to Office 365
    • Managing user-driven and centralized Office 365 ProPlus deployments
    • Configuring Office Telemetry
    • Configuring Microsoft Analytics
  • MS-100.2 Microsoft 365 Tenant and Service Management
    • Plan a Microsoft 365 on-premises infrastructure
    • Plan an identity and authentication solution
    • Plan and configure your Microsoft 365 experience
    • Leverage Microsoft’s FastTrack and partner services
    • Implement domain services
    • Configure Microsoft 365 tenant roles
    • Manage Microsoft 365 tenant health and services
  • MS-100.3 Microsoft 365 Identity Management
    • Manage user accounts and licenses in Microsoft 365
    • Manage admin roles and security groups in Microsoft 365
    • Plan and implement password management
    • Manage Microsoft 365 authentication and provisioning options
    • Plan for directory synchronization
    • Plan and implement Azure AD Connect
    • Manage synchronized identities
    • Plan and implement an ADFS deployment
    • Implement applications in Azure AD
    • Configure Azure AD Application Proxy
    • Design solutions for external access
    • Manage their Microsoft 365 tenant health and services

MS-101: Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security

  • MS-101.1 Microsoft 365 Security Management
    • Manage Security Metrics
    • Implement security solutions in Microsoft 365
    • Plan and configure Azure AD identity protection
    • Implement Microsoft Secure Score
    • Implement Exchange Online Protection
    • Implement Advanced Threat Protection
    • Manage Safe Attachments and Safe Links
    • Implement Microsoft 365 Threat Intelligence
    • Use the Microsoft 365 Security Dashboard
    • Configure Advanced Threat Analytics
    • Implement cloud application security
  • MS-101.2 Microsoft 365 Compliance Management
    • How to create and configure user, group, and computer accounts
    • How to implement Group Policy Objects to enforce standard
    • Understand Data Governance in Microsoft 365, including:
      • Archiving
      • Retention
      • Information Rights Management
      • Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (S/MIME)
      • Office 365 Message Encryption
      • Data Loss Prevention
    • Implement In-Place Records Management in SharePoint
    • Implement archiving and retention in Exchange
    • Create retention policies in the Security and Compliance Center
    • Plan their security and compliance needs
    • Build ethical walls in Exchange Online
    • Create a DLP Policy from a built-in template
    • Create a custom DLP policy
    • Create a DLP policy to protect documents
    • Implement policy tips
    • Manage retention in email
    • Troubleshoot data governance
    • Implement information protection
    • Implement Advanced Implementation Protection
    • Understand Windows Information Protections
    • Search for content in the Security and Compliance Center
    • Audit log investigations
    • Manage advanced eDiscovery
  • MS-101.3 Microsoft 365 Device ManagementPlan your organization for Co-management
    • Prepare your Windows 10 devices for Co-management
    • Transition from Configuration Manager to Intune
    • Configure Microsoft Store for Business
    • Plan for Mobile Application Management
    • Plan your Windows 10 deployment strategy
    • Plan your Windows 10 subscription activation strategy
    • Resolve Windows 10 upgrade errors
    • Implement Windows 10 Analytics
    • Deploy Mobile Device Management
    • Manage devices with Mobile Device Management
    • Enroll devices to Mobile Device Management
    • Manage device compliance

Pre-order exam prep books

Pre-order the MS-100 exam prep book (release date May 6)

Pre-order the MS-101 exam prep book (release date June 27)

Ignite overview video

From Ignite 2018: Microsoft 365 Enterprise Admin role-based exam prep: MS-100 Identity & Services – BRK3385

This Certification Exam Prep session is designed for people experienced with Microsoft 365 who are interested in certification. Specifically, attendees will learn more about the recently announced Microsoft 365 Identity and Services MS-100 exam that is part of the new Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator certification. You will learn about how to approach studying for this new job role, and being successful in your exam endeavors. Attendees of this session can expect to review the topics covered in the certification exams in a fast-paced format, as well as receive some valuable test taking techniques. Attendees will leave with an understanding of how Microsoft certification works, what are the key topics covered in the exams, and an exhaustive look at resources for getting ready for the exam. The session is led by a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), experienced in delivering sessions on these topics.

Other Resources

Ready to take the exams?

  1. Buy exam voucher + replay (extra try if needed) on MindHub
  2. Schedule an exam:

Add a new OneNote notebook to a SharePoint site

If your SharePoint site doesn’t currently have a notebook (most likely stored by default in “Site Assets”), you can add a new one in any of the following ways:

In a document library

This is the best option for end-users or site owners adding a new notebook at any time.

  1. Click the “New” button
  2. Select OneNote Notebook
  3. Name Notebook
  4. Click OK

Via Site Feature

This is a good option for administrators creating a new site for a team.

Note: Adds Notebook to Site Assets or default library, but not a particular document library. Also adds a link to Quick Launch.

  1. Site Settings –> Site Features
  2. Site Notebook –> Activate
  3. Notebook is automatically named after the site’s title (e.g. Site Title Notebook)

Moving a pre-existing notebook to SharePoint from a local location

See detailed instructions here.

  1. Select “file” in the upper left
  2. “Share to web or network location”
  3. Navigate to SharePoint library by URL within the move dialog
  4. Rename (if applicable) and click “Move”

By dragging and dropping from a local location or using the “Upload” button in a document library

While not an ideal method, it may sometimes be your only option.

Note: This makes a copy of the Notebook you’re adding – this will not be connected once added and you’ll have two copies of the Notebook (the copy and your original still in its local location).

  1. Drag Notebook from local location
  2. Drop into a document or asset library in SharePoint

Or

  1. Click “Upload”
  2. Navigate to and select the existing Notebook on your computer

If using this option, I recommend deleting/closing the Notebook from your local location, opening the copy from SharePoint and syncing that one so you don’t inadvertently make changes to the old copy.

Move an existing OneNote notebook to SharePoint

Many of us have been there. You have an awesome notebook, your committee wants access, but you stored it on your OneDrive for Business or local machine. How do you move it to your team’s SharePoint site?

In the following tutorial, I’ll show you how to replace the “default” Notebook on a SharePoint site with your pre-existing notebook.

Delete default notebook in SharePoint

(if applicable, and if unneeded. You could also just “overwrite” it by saving your new notebook with the same name, in the same location.)

  1. Go to the library in which the SharePoint site’s notebook is stored (e.g. Site Contents –> Site Assets)
  2. Delete Existing Notebook (check and delete, or use the ellipses menu)

Move pre-existing Notebook

  1. Copy URL from Site Assets or library in which you’re placing your notebook
  2. Open existing notebook on desktop (client)
  3. File –> Share –> Other Web Locations –> Browse
  4. Paste copied URL in save dialog’s address bar, deleting everything after the library’s name
  5. Hit enter to navigate to the library
  6. Rename notebook if you wish
  7. Click Move

Update any navigation links

(if applicable)

Depending on your settings, there are two ways you might update a URL. If you don’t see “Edit Links” on the menu where you’re placing this, you’ll need to go through site settings:

  1. Copy URL of new notebook
  2. Site Settings –> Navigation
  3. Select Notebook –> Edit
  4. Paste new URL
  5. OK

OR

  1. Copy URL of new notebook
  2. Click “Edit Links” on the menu on which you’re placing the link and modify the existing Notebook link (or add a new one)
  3. Paste URL and click Save

Where your OneNote notebook actually “lives”

It can be tricky when you have many notebooks to keep track of where they all live. And nobody wants to be maintaining multiple copies of the same notebook in a save-as nightmare.

Take the time to learn where your notebook is actually saved, and move it if that’s not where you want it without needing to create a copy or break your client’s cached connection.

  1. Open the Notebook in your OneNote client (desktop app)
  2. Click “File” in the upper left
  3. Note the location that matches Notebook name

If you “Share on Web or Network” you’re actually moving the Notebook and its location will be updated immediately. You can still use your Desktop/client OneNote application to edit as usual. Others will just be able to access it now as well.

Note: If you’re moving your Notebook to SharePoint, make sure you save to a complete URL location like above and not a “synced”/OneDrive for Business-type location mapped locally.

“Unable to connect” error when accessing SQL database in Power BI Desktop

When attempting to access a SQL server/database in Power BI, you might get the following error message:

Unable to connect

We encountered an error while trying to connect.

Details: “An error happened while reading data from the provider: ‘Could not load file or assembly ‘System.EnterpriseServices, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=…..

Error message received when trying to get a SQL database as a data source in Power BI

Solution

You just need to run Power BI as administrator before attempting to access the SQL database as a data source.

  1. Save your work and close Power BI Desktop
  2. Right click Power BI Desktop and select “Run as administrator”

3. Attempt to access your database again – you shouldn’t have an issue.

“Sync” button greyed out on SharePoint library

If the “Sync” option is not available for a library on SharePoint, it could be a couple different things.

Note: Media and Form/InfoPath Libraries will not sync but you can still open them in Windows Explorer and pin to Quick Access so they will function as a mapped drive would.

Sync button is available in one library but no another on the same site

Go to the library for which the sync button is disabled

Go to library settings

Click “Advanced Settings”

Make sure “Offline Client Availability” is set to “Yes”

Sync button is not available on ANY library on a site

Go to Site Settings and select “Search and offline availability” from the “Search” section

Make sure “Offline Client Availability” is set to “Yes”