The world has endless opportunities to provide if you have an open mind to embrace them, poped to my mind while I was sitting on a 10 hour flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Orlando, Florida. I was in a stage of reminiscence, thinking about how I, in the first place, of all the people in this world ended up on this plane. If you can sleep during your flight that’s awesome, however, I’m not that type of person so sitting in one place for prolonged time becomes exhausting and I felt tired. I was looking throught the window as we were landing in the „land of opportunity“ and I felt like in a movie. This was my first time in USA. As we landed I felt amazing, all the fatigue was gone and I was absorbing every detail around me. This was a brave new world for me.
Fastforward to the next morning, the big conference room, prepared just for us, was waiting. 900 young people, nine hundred MACHs in the same place! We were approaching the entrance of this huge conference room and the music was playing really loud inside. That kind of music that pumps adrenaline into your bloodstream… and then we entered. Huge room was filled with endless rows of chairs carefully stacked just for us. Three big screens at the front of the room with the big stage in front of the middle one. And when I say big, I mean really big, everything was huge. Different bright lights were roaming around the room and almost everybody was already there, excited as I was. Some were just staring at this spectacular show, some saw old friends from the previous trainings so they were involved in some deep conversations and some were just trying to find a place to sit down. But the two things were common to all of them, they had really big smiles on their faces and the eyes full of wonder. It felt amazing, and we were ready to be amazed with this spectacle that was carefully prepared by the army of people for a really long time just for us MACHs, the young generation of Microsoft employees. You had to felt privileged to be there at that exact time and that exact place. But this was only introduction, preparation for the things to come in the upcoming days full of trainings and speeches delivered by the incredible trainers and speakers.
We sat down as it was about to start, Jenna Ballestrino, Human Resources Director for MACHs was already on the stage. She started talking and then, from nowhere, Mickey Mouse, PERSONALLY, gets on the stage to say Hi to us and wave! In that instant moment, everybody started screaming and clapping with excitement.
With that initial excitement and motivation we started the two and a half days full of MACH trainings. We were divided in the groups and with the help of great trainers and motivators started to explore ourselves, our behaviours and behaviours of others.
Training was focused on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. We were supposed to find and depict our strenghts and weekneses. Go deep dive on ourselves, sometimes to really dark places to surface what we are and verbalize what we found. To be able to do that in the first place, you need to have strength to start digging and you need to have open mind about it. It’s a really, really hard process.
Finding out how you behave, how others behave and how your beahviour impacts others in the end inevitably brings you closer to what you can become. To the better version of yourself. Just by being conscious about this, can help you twitch little behavioural patterns we all have, self-regulate and create great working environment where everybody will be able to work comfortably and synchronously. Your behaviour counts, weather bad or good and can influence others on how they behave.
Working in a multi-generational teams, like we have in Microsoft, can be quite challenging. All of us now how to talk, but not all of us know how to listen. By actively listening you can climb over these challenges. But it takes a lot to change your beahvioural patterns if you are not used to it. During this trainings we worked on active listening, providing feedback and responding appropriately to what we hear from others. It was an eye-opening experience.
One session made the most impact on me. We were supposed to look into the future and depict ourselves 10 years from then. You also had to depict how you want others to describe you and how do you feel about yourself in that distant future. As people don’t usually do that or do it rarely, it was really great to find myself thinking about it and bringing myself closer to what I am and what I strive for. In the end I had a clear picture how that future looks like, but I still didn’t know how I’ll be able to acomplish it. The key thing here is embracing not knowing. You need to have the final destination but the way you’re going to accomplish it really doesn’t matter. There is a lot of ways to do it and you will find your way in the end.
It was not all hard work, during the sessions we also learned through having fun. We spoke to different MACHs, from other cultures and other parts of world making new friends (for a liftime) in the process. We exchanged our experiences with people we previosly didn’t know. There was Joni from UK, Victor from Puerto Rico, Jo from Sweden, Isabel from Germany, Joao from Portugal and many others. But, in that beautiful mess of different perspectives and diversity it was fun to see how everybody got amazingly well with each other, no matter what was their background, what culture or which part of the world they were coming from. That speaks a lot about One Microsoft where everybody feels comfortable and embraces diversity.
In the end I have to say this, and every other MACH would agree with me, Microsoft is the field of dreams for young smart people.
By Filip Glavota – Microsoft MACH Technical Evangelist