What Makes a Salesforce MVP?

DISCLAIMER: I am perhaps unqualified to speak about such a topic seeing as how I am not an MVP. Therefore, please do not take my words as any sort of official statement as to what “qualities” (for a lack of better term at the moment) one must possess in order to obtain said title.

With that out of the way: Last night I was “twitter lurking” (twurking?!? nah) and ran across a conversation regarding a company that was publicizing the number of Salesforce MVPs on staff for a given RFP. Some lively debate ensued (to which I remained a silent spectator) but it got me thinking, “What traits do I expect to see in an MVP?” I don’t think there is any one group of answers to such a question, but perhaps there are some commonalities. I’m going to try and stick to the items specifically called out in this particular discussion from last night.

  1. Knowledge of the platform: This is a given, but “how much knowledge?” Should this person be an expert in all aspects of the platform? Should they be “consultants?” Given the size of the platform and all one can do with it, I think this is a very, very tall ask. Are there some that can do/know it all? Possibly, but probably not. I mean its a HUGE platform and new stuff is coming out all the time. So in this case — knowledge of the platform sure, but in the absence of some of that knowledge of the details, knowledge of where to go to find the answers, and how to apply them to the task at hand can be more important. It helps to be as well rounded as possible but I don’t expect someone to have all the answers simply because they’re an MVP.
  2. Similar to the afore mentioned “knowledge” lets talk Certification: Should an MVP be certified? I think it certainly can’t hurt at all, and I think most people would expect an MVP to be certified. That being said — I can see situations where they may not be. Maybe they were at one time but their life got busy with children, family, hobbies and didn’t keep up their certification. That being said, the Salesforce community — and perhaps the Microsoft world, (maybe Novell — I’m aging myself here) are the only arena’s in which I’ve ever seen such emphasis on being certified. It absolutely helps your career to be able to say I am a certified X. However, I taught myself how to program in Java in the year 2000. I didn’t understand a damn thing at the time but was able to study for and pass the Sun Certified Java Programmer certification. Had any seasoned Java developer actually gazed upon my code at that time however — they’d have been in shock. I think it was at least a year afterward before I finally fully understood what a constructor was for, or what “this” meant, or what “static” really was. So certification helps no doubt, but how much weight does it actually hold? It at least shows initiative and dedication and I suppose that is something. However, I don’t see that as a requirement when the next three items are considered.
  3. Presence: An MVP should be present. Maybe not necessarily answering all the questions on Stack Exchange or in the Success communities, (I mean who can keep up with @SteveMoForce anyway?) but an active part of the community. Encouraging others, advocating for the platform, and sharing their experiences. The program’s own requirements point out that this can be a Twitter presence,  or Success Communities, blogging, etc. I assume its best to have a mix of all of those environments. First and foremost though — an MVP is present, friendly and approachable. (Queue the segue music…)
  4. Personality: This feels kind of strange for me to mention but I believe personality is probably much more important than many people think. Someone can be the best developer in the world, or the best admin — but if they aren’t friendly and approachable then I think it’d be very hard to fulfill that MVP role. Speaking as an outsider to the MVP world, I feel like those MVPs that I’ve met personally are absolutely friendly and approachable. I think we in the community get somewhat “star struck” if you will and may find it hard to introduce ourselves at first, but when you do you will find that they are very approachable people that are easy to interact with, and are relatable. That’s not to say they’re all extroverted and have all the time in the world to chat with everyone, and maybe some are just quiet, but they’re indeed friendly.
  5. Passion: Above all lies passion. An MVP has a passion for the platform, or the company itself, or a passion for the community. A passion to be knowledgable, to be present and approachable, and to help the others in this amazing community. When you interact with someone it should be pretty obvious from the start whether or not they have a passion for what they are talking about. They exude excitement for whatever it is they are doing. In some cases, they may not be the most knowledgable but they drive forward with energy to learn more and to bring others along with them on the journey. Their energy gets others around them excited too, passion rubs off on  people, its catchy. When people in the community start motivating each other, just look what happens (looking at you @Bill_Greenhaw!)

Is being an MVP more important than being certified? That’s a personal, perhaps company culture issue. Does being an MVP automatically make you a great consultant/employee? I don’t think so, no more than being a great consultant/employee will make you an MVP. I do however think that those traits all work together in harmony. So if there’s anyone in the community that has inspired, encouraged, or assisted you in some way, please take the time to nominate them.

So what do think? What makes an MVP an MVP?