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Tridion MVP retreat 2017

Posted by Dominic Cronin at Oct 22, 2017 12:06 PM |
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It's become a regular feature of my year: the Tridion MVP retreat. This year I was fortunate enough to be invited again, and as usual it lived up to my expectations. So let me start by saying thank you to SDL for the invitation and hospitality throughout, and particularly to Carla and her team in Portugal for making it all a reality. Thanks also to the Tridion community: the award is firmly rooted there, and none of us would be there but for the inspiration that comes from helping each other and being helped the whole year through. 

Others have blogged about the technical wonders we produced at the retreat: web frameworks, diagnostic tools, scripting libraries, Tridion extensions and other kinds of voodoo. It always amazes me how much technical goodness comes out of the retreat, and this year was no exception. OK - so often enough, things don't get finished while we're still in Portugal, but they usually get finished. The great thing is getting all these initiatives started. I worked in a team with Jonathan Williams, Rick Pannekoek, and Siawash Sibani, trying to demystify some of the magic underlying the Experience Manager. We tried to figure out what the challenging questions are for implementers, and to get some solid answers for those. (Speaking of demystifying - special thanks to Rick for the extra time he spent helping me to get a much better understanding of DXA.) 

So what's so great about getting to be an MVP and going to the retreat? To be honest, it's hard to put your finger on any one thing. I could mention the great hospitality, and the fact that somehow I managed to put on two and a half kilograms in the four days of the retreat. What can you do? They keep taking you to great restaurants. It's become our tradition that every night, not only do we talk into the wee small hours, but we also make music. I could talk about the cultural visits (like to the catholic shrine at Fatima) or the spectacular wonders of nature (like the boat trip at Nazaré - famous for the highest wave ever surfed). 

Somehow, all of these things are great, and I enjoyed them all to the full, but still none of them are the defining feature of the retreat. Someone once said that if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. One thing is certain about the MVP retreat, and that is that you aren't going to be the smartest person in the room. Don't get me wrong, MVPs aren't selected for being smart, but somehow, they manage to be an inspiring group. The funny thing is, that talking to the guys - every single one of us felt that we were privileged to be surrounded by a bunch of people that would challenge us and bring us new insights. OK - maybe we all suffer from the impostor syndrome, but it's also true that each of us brings something different to the party. 

One thing I've noticed at previous retreats, and this time it was no different, is the way that the conversation can run from general chat about the state of the universe, to stupid jokes, to shared experiences from our working lives, and then without dropping a beat, you'll suddenly see bizarrely deep technical discussions break out like wildfire. In this company, all these things have equal value, and that is a special thing. 

For this reason, the image I've chosen to accompany this blog post is not of the surf at Nazare or the castle at Ourém but of a moment late at night, when the subject turned to JavaScript, and I suddenly realised that our resident web guru Frank Taylor had embarked on enlightening a small group about the joys of type coercion in that language. Don't ask me why, but this kind of thing breaks out spontaneously. If it wasn't Javascript it would have been content deployment archtecture or something else. You can't predict what's going to come up. I hope I'm there to see what it will be next time. 

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