Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Power of Community (Susan Bradley, You Rock!)

April was a bad month for me. My father was hospitalised on Monday 7th and I spent the early part of that week trying to help Dad work out what he was going to do after leaving hospital. My father was fiercely independent and had been living independently up until that point. Things got worse on Thursday 10th when Dad was told that his kidneys were shutting down. I'd organised a flight for Friday, but due to a bird strike I wasn't able to get there until Saturday morning. My father had passed away during my flight over on the Saturday. Renting a hire car turned out to be a painful process, but the drive from the airport to the hospital was great as I was able to recollect all the good times I'd had with my father. I've still got a great image of my father with his large black-framed glasses, thinning hair, his close cropped beard and a cheeky smile showing his broken, yellow teeth. The look he'd give after saying something pithy.

My sister had recently separated from her husband and was looking after her three children, so the task of packing up my Dad's rental place, organising the funeral and carrying out the executor role fell primarily on me. I was able to get the flat emptied, organise those tasks that needed doing locally and organising the funeral all in five days so I could get home to my 8-month pregnant wife.

During this time I still had work commitments. Most of the tasks I was able to delegate accordingly with the exception of a budget submission for a client that was going to be performing asset transfers to a new entity in their new financial year and also required moving from SBS 2003 due to the 75 CAL limit. I was recommending an SBS 2003 to Essential Business Server migration, but due to the lack of pricing details I wasn't able to come up with software licensing costs. My alternative was to price up the SBS 2003 Transition Pack as well as full priced versions of the SBS components. The Transition Pack got tricky as the SBS licenses were Open Licences with Software Assurance at Government pricing. The Transition Pack was Retail license only. As you can see this got ugly early.

In a fit of desperation I sent an e-mail to the SBS Diva, Susan Bradley, asking if she knew of anyone that would be able to assist me with working out the best transition method license-wise. Not only did Susan find me a group of people who were able to provide answers to some of the questions I was posing but she also sent me some very nice e-mails of support during the flat-clearing stage. Susan also kept an eye on the replies I got and followed up with me to ensure I was getting useful feedback. Pretty amazing seeing that I only met Susan once in person at the SMB Security Summit in Sydney last year and other communication via e-mail and blog comments.

This epitomises the power of community (and just how amazing Susan Bradley is!). Engaging with like-minded people, building relationships and helping one another. Now I'm not saying that I pretend to know Susan, but her blog demonstrates her generous nature, her attention to detail and her professionalism. Without this record I never would have sent her the e-mail asking for assistance. I sent the e-mail knowing that I could rely on the answers to be correct.

This trust is the most valuable attribute you can develop when engaging in community activities. Opinions are great as they help define you and your world view to others, but trust is developed by providing high quality and correct information. And when the information isn't correct or incomplete, then prompt apology and providing correct information is paramount to re-establish trust. On top of this consistency is important. If you look at Susan Bradley's blog you get all of this and more.

So in my roundabout way I'm really trying to publicly acknowledge Susan for her amazing contribution in what was a very difficult time for me. Susan you are a LEGEND! You are the glue for the SBS community and I thank you very much for the help you have provided me and I hope that I'm able to repay the generosity that you extended to me. If not to you directly, then to the others in the SBS community by means of paying it forward.

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