# Saturday, February 19, 2011

GOALS

At the end of 2009, I took over as President of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). One of the first things the new officers and I did was to meet and set goals for 2010. We set the following goals for the year and announced them at the January 2010 meeting.

  • Get members more engaged and involved
  • Increase meeting attendance by 50%
  • Increase supporting membership by 30%
  • Continue to attract high-quality speakers
  • Increase sponsorship by 100%
  • Finish year in the black financially

Most of those goals focused on growth of the group. Prior to 2010, the group was successful, but we felt it had plateaued and we wanted to make more people more aware of GANG and excited about coming to meetings. We successfully met the 2010 goals by increasing attendance, sponsorship and supporting membership during the year.

At the end of 2010, the leadership team met again to discuss goals for the upcoming year.

This year’s goals focus on connections: Connecting members more with the group; connecting the group more with its members and connecting with other user groups.

Our goals for 2011 are

  • Cultivate Ownership In Group
  • Continue to Attract High-Quality Speakers
  • Support and Connect with other Area User Groups
  • Average 60 attendees per meeting
  • Increase supporting membership by 15%
  • Increase Monetary Sponsorship by 10%
  • Make it an event!

Below I describe our plan to achieve these goals.

CULTIVATE OWNERSHIP IN GROUP

If a member feels connected with a user group, he or she is more likely to support that group with his money and his time; he is more likely to run for a leadership role in the future; and he is more likely to recommend the group to his friends and colleagues.

Last year, we implemented things like networking time before the meeting, name badges, and after-meeting social hour to help members connect with one another. This year, the big change is in the number of volunteers we have. Over the holidays, the officers sat down and listed all the tasks that go into putting on a user group. When people told us they want to volunteer, we were able to send them this list and allow them to pick the tasks they want. 

I have already announced that I will not run for President next year. By getting more people involved, there should be no lack of leadership when I step down. I think this turnover is good for the group.

CONTINUE TO ATTRACT HIGH-QUALITY SPEAKERS

GANG has always done a great job at this. Over the years, we have had some outstanding speakers. Many of them were Microsoft insiders, MVPs, book authors, Regional Directors, and heartland influencers. Many of the speakers at GANG also speak at major conferences around the world.

This year, we are looking to attract speakers with bigger names than in the past. This means bringing in speakers from a wider geographic area. Our sponsors will help defer some of the cost of this. As of this writing, we have confirmed Richard Campbell and Steve Bohlen will speak at GANG in 2011 and we are waiting to hear on some other well-known speakers.

SUPPORT AND CONNECT WITH OTHER AREA USER GROUPS

GANG is part of a strong developer community in Michigan and the Midwest. Currently, we have the highest user group attendance in Michigan, which gives us a platform for making our members aware of other groups in the area. We will be strongly encouraging our members to attend other user groups and the officers of GANG have made a commitment to attend 20 other user groups during the year. This will help us connect with other groups and to bring new ideas into our group. In January, we actively promoted the 5-year anniversary celebration of the Ann Arbor .Net Developers User Group. I attended this event and saw a number of GANG members there.

The March GANG meeting will be presented in partnership with the Greater Detroit Cloud Computing User Group and will feature a presentation on REST and hypermedia.

AVERAGE 60 ATTENDEES PER MEETING

We finished 2010 strong in terms of attendance and we’d like to continue that trend. Average meeting attendance rose from 35 in 2009 to 54 in 2010. We will continue our strategy of promoting the group via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mails, and our web page; However, word of mouth remains the best method for getting the word out.

This year, we will repeat our membership drive in which members earn raffle tickets for attending meetings and for bringing new people to each meeting.

The best way to increase attendance is to deliver a quality product.

INCREASE SUPPORTING MEMBERSHIP BY 15%

If we provide value to our members, I believe those who can afford it will gladly support us. We have made it easier for them to do so by allowing members to support us via PayPal and by clicking a link on our web site. We also plan to send a reminder e-mail when a membership expires.

INCREASE MONETARY SPONSORSHIP BY 10%

In 2009, the Michigan recession caused corporate sponsorship to dwindle so low that we could not provide food at most meetings. In 2010, we raised over $4000 from corporate sponsors, a huge increase over the previous year.

This year, we are looking to raise even more. Our strategy is to define sponsorship levels and to communicate the benefits a sponsor receives by contributing at each level. Benefits include mentions during our meetings, logos on our web site, slide decks and e-mails, and the opportunity to present Lightning Talks before meetings.

This money will go toward providing food at the meetings and travel costs for speakers traveling a great distance.

MAKE IT AN EVENT

I don’t remember who it was, but someone described a GANG meeting last year as more of an event than a user group meeting. I really liked this description and want to strive to make it even more true in 2011.

We are planning some fun things at each meeting, such as trivia questions, and a more personal introductions for each speaker. We have also planned a few special events throughout 2011, such as a Food Drive and a Membership Drive.

The biggest event of the year will take place in October, when GANG celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Our October meeting will be replaced with a day-long, single-track conference featuring many of the founding and early members of GANG. Details will be announced soon.

CONCLUSION

The goals we set for the coming year are more evolutionary than revolutionary. GANG seems to be heading in the right direction and we want to keep that momentum going. As of this writing, we have held two meetings in 2011 and we are on track to achieve these goals.

Saturday, February 19, 2011 11:39:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 14, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011 7:12:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 7, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011 1:35:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, January 31, 2011
# Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday January 11, Microsoft hosted a Community Summit in Sandusky, OH. The featured event at the Summit was a Panel Discussion on User Groups and community events. The panel consisted of user group leaders from several developer communities in the Heartland region:

  • Joe O’Brian, Columbus, Ruby
  • Elizabeth Naramore, Cincinnati, PHP
  • Mike Wood, Cincinnati, .Net
  • David Giard (that’s me), Detroit, .Net

Below is a video of the panel discussion.

Friday, January 28, 2011 11:11:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, January 27, 2011

On January 18 at the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG), DevExpress Evangelist Gary Short delivered a well-received presentation on Refactoring. You can see a video of this presentation below.

You can see photos of the meeting at my Smugmug page

Gary Short

Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:48:41 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:40:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 8:40:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 was a roller coaster.

My children – Nick and Timmy – are active and healthy and bright and are turning into young men and leaders. They make me proud every time I think of them. Timmy turned 16 this year and looks more like a man every month.

One of the high points of the year was watching my son Nick achieve a goal toward which he has worked for years. After two tryouts, he is now a member of the Michigan State University varsity basketball team. Nick has been invited to some good teams in the past, but this is the team that has advanced to the Final Four each of the last two years. As a lifelong MSU fan, I was thrilled to see him become a part of this elite team. I am extremely proud of him and it made this a special year.

In March of this year, I achieved a goal of my own when I was named a Microsoft MVP. I’m grateful to Jennifer and to Alan who nominated me and to those who supported me.

One 2010 accomplishment of which I’m very proud is the resurgence of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG) - a professional organization that I served as president this year. Attendance nearly tripled from the year’s first meeting to the last meeting and the group is now seen as a model for other user groups in the region. I made a point this year of attending a lot of other user groups, even when I was not the speaker. This helped me steal ideas draw inspiration for GANG.

I renewed several old friendships in 2010, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for years. The Internet helped me with this. In July, my high school class held its 30-year reunion. I attended and had a blast. My contribution to the event was a slide show of old photos of classmates that was projected on a wall throughout the evening. People loved it.

I continued my trend of doing a lot of public speaking this year. 2010 started for me with a tour of Ohio during which I spoke at 4 user groups in 3 days. I spoke at the Cleveland .Net User Group in March and August I spoke at the very first meeting of the newly-formed Lexington, KY .Net User Group (although my presentation was abbreviated due to a bomb threat). I spoke at both Codestock and Devlink this year and even gave a vendor session at CodeMash. I presented at 3 different Day of .Net conferences, the Pittsburgh Code Camp, the Cloud Camp Detroit, the State of Michigan Developer Briefing, and a SQL Server 2008 R2 customer event, sponsored by Microsoft in Cleveland.

I was even a guest on a podcast for the first time (besides my own), appearing on the Community Megaphone Podcast with G. Andrew Duthie and Dane Morgridge.

My own show – Technology And Friends – is stronger than ever. I released over 70 episodes in 2010. I tried to keep a consistent schedule with the show and I’m proud to say that I released at least one show every week since January 18. The show also appears weekly on Channel 17 in ann arbor.

I completed my first full year as an INETA mentor and several people expressed appreciation for the increased communication they received since I took over. I covered four states (MI, OH, PA, and WV) most of the year. Recently Sam Nasr volunteered to take over responsibilities for Ohio.

When I look back on 2010, it is impossible for me not to think of 2009. Those who know me know that 2009 was a difficult year for me, mostly due to the death of my sister Denise and my family’s struggle to protect her daughter’s inheritance. These struggles continued in 2010 as I faced a lawsuit from someone trying to steal most of Denise’s assets. But I completed my work as Denise’s representative and that tragedy is now behind us. The closure left me with a feeling that Denise is finally at rest. In retrospect it was the second most difficult year of my life, but 2010 was a marked improvement.

My family faced another challenge this year when my 78-year-old father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I visited him in the fall and saw a noticeable change in his appearance and his behavior. My father survived two wars and skin cancer, so we will see how he does battling this.

My close friend Souha lost her mother this year, which shook her considerably. I read the eulogy at the funeral and I’ve tried to provide support, but this still pains her.

All told, the good far outweighed the bad this year. The valleys of the rollercoaster helped me to appreciate the peaks.

This has truly been a remarkable year in my life. 2010 brought some problems, but God helped me make it through these problems and, in the end, the problems were far overshadowed by the amazing things that took place these past 12 months.

Friday, December 31, 2010 10:49:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, December 30, 2010

I published over 125 blog posts in 2010. Below are my favorite posts from this site over the past 12 months

Goals for GANG in 2010 (Jan 20)
A banner year for our GANG (Nov 24)
These two posts belong together. In January, I sat down with the new leadership team of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). Together, we laid out some goals for the year and steps to achieve those goals. After the last meeting, I recorded how we were able to achieve each of our goals.

Producing an Online TV Show (Mar 20)
This is a 6-part series I wrote on the steps I take to produce Technology and Friends. If anyone is interested in producing a similar show, this is a good place to start.

DevLink 2010 (Aug 17)
This post is how I want to write every conference summary. I talked about the overall conference, about my presentation, and I shared what I learned at individual sessions. Other conference recap posts fall short primarily because I lack the time to organize my thoughts.

The Elements of Style (Jun 22)
I like this review because it describes both the importance of the book and its importance to my life.

Declaring variables with var (May 13)
This article describes a coding issue I had barely considered until it came up during a code review. I realized at the time, that I didn't have an opinion on the topic. So I did some reading, formed a conclusion and articulated that conclusion. Isn't that what a blog is all about?

Are certifications worthwhile? (May 18)
I finally wrote down my thoughts on an argument I've had many times.

A Dream Comes True (Nov 14)
Hey, guess what? I'm an MVP! (Jul 1)
These are brief news announcements of key events in my life during 2010. I was proud and wanted to share them. So I'm sharing them again here. So sue me.

Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:15:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)