Microsoft Thrive – website portal launches


I took the opportunity to listen to the fine folks in our sister business unit discuss the new Thrive website at

I know all too well how important advice around one’s career is, especially right now.  How?  Well I lost a bunch of friends in the first round layoff right here at Microsoft a couple of weeks ago.  My org at that time is now history.  I was moved to a new org, have a new manager, have a new territory, and in some respects a new job.  So trust me, it’s been a little nerve racking the past couple of weeks for me as well.

I nearly lost my job a few years ago when the project I was working on was abruptly terminated and I was asked to find a new job.  This was a few months after 9/11, and the economy wasn’t doing well.  A few weeks later I was literally four hours from being unemployed.  Kai Axford interviewed me.  Pat Hayes hired me.  If those guys ever call for whatever reason, I’m on a jet.

Nobody is going to force you to be great.

Let that sink in a bit.  It’s all too common for good people to accept the status quo or not really elevate themselves above those around them.  Why the hell not?  Why aren’t you raising the bar?

To produce greatness you typically need help.  A creative workplace.  A good manager that can shield you from the corporate bs and let you focus on important priorities.  Some peers that you trust.  And of course good resources to help you be the sharp point of a spear.

I’m pretty sure the goal of the Thrive site is to help you become that point.  Or if you’re already there, keep you there.  Today the site has three main areas.  Career Care, Technical Competency, and Business & IT Alignment. 

I’ve only started looking at the first two sections.  Some of the information is pretty good.  I particularly like the interviewing and resume tips.  I suck at interviews.  I hate being the interviewer.  Ask Matt Hester about his interview with me and Kai Axford.  He almost wet himself on the first comment out of my mouth.

The Technical Competency area looks pretty familiar to me.  Lots of product oriented knowledge on some hot technologies.  I’m not sure it’s hitting the mark, but that’s one of the reasons I am writing this.  We’ll get to my ask of you in a minute.  I have not had time to explore the Business & IT Alignment area yet, but I will.

Phase I and II

What you see is essentially the first phase.  It’s the launch and I’m certain it isn’t all things to all people.  We all know any v1.0 project is like that.  The business unit that developed this has some creative ideas I think you’ll like coming for the next phase, and that’s only a few weeks away.  I was pretty surprised to hear that today.

I posed the question to them on the LiveMeeting we had today, “How does this site help people find a job, keep their job, or make money today?”  It’s a pretty direct question but I’m a pretty direct guy.  This is my ask of you.  What do you need help with?  What does the site lack?

Hold their feet to the fire.  We really care what you think so let us know if the site is helpful or not.  If it isn’t, what could we do to improve it?  Feel free to comment here on my blog in plain sight or use my blog’s contact form to send email directly to me.  I will be happy to get your comments in front of the right people.

I know it’s hard out there and some of you are not really Thriving and are in survival mode.  I totally get that.  That’s why it’s especially important to me to get your thoughts conveyed to the people that produced this.  If I can help, I will.  Best regards, Keith.

[UPDATE for 2/11/2009]  Matt Hester has posted a video interview with Julie-Anne Arsenault.  Julie-Anne is the PM responsible for the site.  See the interview and background at

Comments (3)

  1. Keith, your one of the best hires and interviews I’ve ever had the privilege of being part of.

    As y’all know, he’s simply one of the best IT Pro Evangelists this company (or any other) has ever seen. Those who read him here and those fortunate enough to see him speak in person will agree. I can confirm that Keith is truly YOUR advocate inside Microsoft, and he always has the customer’s concerns as the basis for his discussions. Internally, we look to Keith as a thought leader with regarding to emerging technologies and trends! Thanks for all you do Mr. Combs. Now if we can just convince you to cheer for Green Bay.


  2. Jordan says:

    I think if MS ever made a move in the direction of letting Keith go the community would have to send a large petition to Ballmers desk or something.

    Oh and the fact that he doesnt cheer for Green Bay is a plus in my book. 😀

  3. Peter says:

    The Thrive site is exactly what I have been looking for.  I’m an IT Pro who has learned everything on the job, I have no formal training.  My current position is secure for now but you never know.  I want to start working towards getting my certification in case I need to change jobs.  

    The Thrive site is very helpful to get some idea of the path to take from learning to training to testing to certification.  If you don’t have any experience with certification, the process can be very confusing.

    I’m sure most of this information was floating around Microsoft’s web sites before, but it’s very helpful to have it consolidated in one place.

    Thanks for the great information.  I’m looking forward to the updates.

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