[The Uptake Podcast] Guest Speaker Spotlight: Samit Saini

Published Apr 09 2020 04:24 PM 789 Views
Microsoft
This post by Brian Dang is in conjunction with Ep. 4 of The Uptake Podcast about Community, Career and Transformation.

 

The Power Platform community has a motto: "We rise by uplifting others." These five words, like Microsoft's mission statement, give me a warm feeling inside even when I say them in my head. Perhaps it is because time and time again I've seen our community members learning from one another and giving back. They have always gone above and beyond in reaching out to organizations to help them problem-solve.


The words also have a special place for me as they remind me of my involvement in the community where I met Samit Saini. He and I were makers of apps on Power Apps when it was in its infancy. I like to think that we grew up together, so joining The Uptake Podcast to share what community means to us was another conversation with a friend.

 

Know your roots

In January 2016, a chosen few were invited to beta-test a new thing called Microsoft Power Apps. I'm not sure how I made the cut, since I was just a school teacher at the time. That said, I was very good at pressing the emoji button to send back detailed feedback as a tester.


I carried over a lot of knowledge from Microsoft Excel and its precursor Project Siena, but there were some things I didn't get as making apps was not something I studied to become an educator. So I went where the people were: the online community forums.


There I was a lurker, someone who reads content, sometimes without even signing in. I was afraid to ask questions--hypocritical as I'm someone who parrots "There are no stupid questions." Call me crazy, but my thinking was I didn't want to take up anyone's time. Does this sound familiar?


As I read more questions and answers and applied them to my own apps, I realized that I was learning a whole lot and it was sticking. How was this possible if I had rarely asked a question myself?


Reflecting on it, this is what I know now: if you want general information, docs is an ideal reference. But if you want real world examples and lots of it, the only place to find it is from a crowd of thousands. How I was able to learn is that others asked the questions for me and brought in their own context to make it relatable.


I didn't learn alone.

 

Learning as a community

In the education space, there is a piece of jargon called the Personal Learning Network, or PLN. Depending on context, it may also be a Professional Learning Network. Unlike other jargon and acronyms, this one is actually helpful--it's the group of people you learn and draw inspiration from. For teachers, this can be fellow colleagues at the same grade level, teachers at other schools in the district, and those who share ideas and resources on social media.


When learning Power Apps, I had a kind of PLN with some community regulars. We set up private messenger to bounce solutions back and forth. Most of the time, I did not know the answer. App building was simply not my background as a teacher. But because I wanted to help a friend, I tried things out and learned from it. Wanting to help others significantly accelerated my own learning.


I did not set out to the forums to achieve this but somehow a certain 'mr-dang' topped the number of answers and kudos on the online community. As someone who did not have a background in app development, I wanted to explain things in a way that someone like me could understand. And I wanted more people to be successful the way that I was so we can share the joy together.


Put simply: I wanted to uplift others.

 

We rise by uplifting others

Community did not stop on the online forums. To see screenshots of what other people were doing and to share my own, I expanded my PLN to the twittersphere. That's where I received a DM from Samit Saini.


Samit had learned from my solutions from the online community. He reached out to ask for help on a problem. We set up skype chats from our different time zones. Samit's needs were different from the kinds of apps I was building for my classroom. I learned a lot by understanding his scenarios and he learned a lot from our calls.


So much has happened for Samit and me since those after-work skype calls.


For Samit, he has been creating more Super Users like himself in his organization. He is part of the effort to maintain the lifecycle of apps made by others like him.


You can hear more about where our interactions with community took us in this week's episode of The Uptake Podcast.

 

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