I’m going to start this by saying something that might seem strange for a post like this, but is no surprise to my closest friends: The last two months, and especially the last two weeks, have been very stressful and mentally draining. Without getting into the details of it all, I will simply say that the biggest contributing factor, or at least the medium that has facilitated the stress, has been social media.

I decided to temporarily set my Twitter account private for a few days last week, something I’d never done in nine years on the service. The only thing I learned from that, is that having a private Twitter account sucks. Over the last few months, I’ve unfollowed and set mute filters for topics that generated more noise than signal. I’ve tried to step back and get some perspective on what’s going on in the world right now.

But at a larger level, it feels like we’ve all lost our minds, and our awareness that the things we say and do to other people have consequences, emotionally, and physically. John Mark Troyer, in his latest TechReckoning Dispatch, touched on it in a way that I think really resonated with me:

It turns out a lot of us are taking a good hard look at social media and how it is affecting our psyches and how we spend our time. Some people are opting out completely, especially off Facebook. Some people are using tools to block out distractions during the day.

Too often — and this has happened to me in 2017 — too much information becomes noise that leads to paralysis. My brother, who has been a pastor and social worker, points to the stress of all the emoting without the benefit of slowing down for ritual, without coming together. Yelling is cathartic but does not sustain us.

I spent a good deal of time and energy from the last year yelling because I had a lot to be mad about. Honestly, I still do. But even with me yelling, I’ve always thought of my opinions as just me expressing my views, and tried to limit any negative engagement with “the other side” … but it’s inevitable that someone would take offense to even my yelling into the ether. I realize now that even the yelling wasn’t helping anyone, and that most of it were really just disruptive to everyone else’s well being. Especially my own.

For the last couple months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to bring my “social center” back to the real reason why I enjoy social media. I’ve been “blogging” since before it had a name. I’ve been managing communities and forums since before major corporations employed armies of staffers to do it. I love this stuff, and I freely admit it’s an addiction. I engage in social media because it’s a way to keep up with family, friends, co-workers, vendors, partners, customers, etc, in an open and accessible way.

I love to learn new things and to facilitate the free exchange of ideas.


On Wednesday morning, during my morning Starbucks cold-brew run, I received a shocking message from my friend Jon Hildebrand.

“Congrats on EMCElect”

I seriously thought he was kidding.

But then he sent me the link to the announcement, and there was my name, just a couple under Michael Dell. Yes, that Michael Dell.

I’m not new to the concept of these influencer marketing programs. I’ve been a member of the VMware vExpert program for five years. In the past, I’ve been a member of the Cisco Champions for Data Center program but missed a deadline to reapply the next year. I’m aware of the numerous other ones, that have sort of sprung up in the wake of the vExpert program within the data center infrastructure community. I take a lot of them for what they are, marketing programs, and not necessarily reflective of any pinnacle of particular expertise.

I’ve also known about EMC Elect program for a while, and I’ve always considered it to be one of the most elite of the many groups, mostly due to the size and the process they go through to determine who gets in. Despite working for one of the largest EMC partners in the midwest, truthfully, I’ve never considered myself anywhere on the level to be an Elect member, simply based on the contributions of the previous members of the program. I have never nominated myself before. I didn’t nominate myself this time. With the other things going on in my life right now, I didn’t even realize nominations were open. But someone did, and the trustees felt that I belonged, and so I thank you immensely for that.

According to Mark Brown, there were over 600 nominations, trimmed to 300 finalists, and then eventually 153 Elects were selected.

Because of the completion of the Dell and EMC acquisition/merger last year, the new “Dell EMC Elect” program combines the previous “EMC Elect” with the “Dell Tech Centre Rockstar” programs.

Mark elaborated on his blog more about the process, and shared his views on why these programs continue to be important:

From my perspective as the trustee, this was indeed a challenging time, effectively putting together a new influencer and advocate engagment program. It’s a larger world we are in, now with Dell EMC. And things are moving fast technologically in a challenging market and an uncertain world.

That is why, we need programs like this. We need communities of trust and skill to sort the signal from the noise in” Tech”. We need to establish these communities into innovative networks. Because technology is a tool of the people, not the other way round. Thats why I firmly believe this List of Dell EMC Elect of 2017, is a community of people, who are engaged in getting their hands dirty and getting things done for their customers and stakeholders . And its never been a more important time to have such a community, that is for the people in technology, nominated by the people in technology. It is a marketing program, but it is so much more than that. It’s a community of very skilled peers in technology, who are curious and most of all authentic. And I am vey happy to be in their midst and see the world as a slightly brighter place having these people recognised for all they do.

In light of my stresses and anxieties around social media in general, to be recognized in this way, and to really connect with the meaning behind it, was well timed.

With all sincerity, I consider this to be an extraordinary honor. My hope with this program is that I won’t let down those who nominated me, and those who found me worthy of inclusion.