Fabulous 40 with Mark Rackley

Published on: April 03, 2019

The Fabulous 40 video series, hosted by VP of Product Technology Dan Stoll (@_danstoll) interviews members of the Office 365 & SharePoint community. Dan delivers a rapid fire of 40 questions that let you get to know about that things that drive and inspire the leading minds in Office 365.

In episode 2, Dan is joined by Mark Rackley (@mrackleyOffice 365 MVP, and Partner at PAIT Group.

Mark shares his journey from falling into SharePoint consulting in 2007, to attending his fourth MVP Summit in 2019. Mark lets us in on his tips in getting up to speed with the new SharePoint Framework (SPFx) and the best resources to stay up to speed with the latest Office 365 and SharePoint news.



Full Transcript


Dan Stoll:                     Oh, hey, man. How you doing? It's good to see you.

Mark Rackley:           Hey, how's it going?

Dan Stoll:                     Good, good.

Mark Rackley:           Good to see ya.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah, what's going on?

Mark Rackley:           Oh, just visiting Redmond for the MVP Summit

Dan Stoll:                      I want to ask you some questions.

Mark Rackley:           Okay.

Dan Stoll:                      All right. Love your shoes, man. They're great.

Mark Rackley:           Hey, thanks. Appreciate that.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah. What brings you to Bellevue?

Mark Rackley:           Oh, going to the MVP Summit.

Dan Stoll:                     Awesome. How does Washington compare to our home state of Arkansas?

Mark Rackley:           Well, it's a lot more blue and a lot more expensive.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah, I know, right. What's the one thing everyone needs to know about                                                          Arkansas?

Mark Rackley:           Probably that it is a very natural state. In fact, their slogan is The Natural                                                         State. There's lots of hills, and mountains, and kayaking, and great outdoors                                                   stuff.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah, yeah. Did you visit the new buildings at Microsoft HQ this week?

Mark Rackley:           No, I didn't get a chance to do that.

Dan Stoll:                     All right. Nah, that's no good. How often do you get to visit HQ?

Mark Rackley:           You know, I'm up here about a couple of times a year, so yeah.

Dan Stoll:                     Oh, yeah. What's your favorite thing about the MVP Summit?

Mark Rackley:           Really getting to connect with the different product groups at Microsoft
                                           to really give them our feedback about what we think about what's going on.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah. What number of MVP Summit is this for you?

Mark Rackley:            I think this is number four for me.

Dan Stoll:                      Okay, yeah. For the non-MVPS, what's the best way to stay up to date with                                                    the latest Office 365 functionality?

Mark Rackley:           You know, I'd recommend that they go out to tech community site and look                                                   around there, and maybe follow #SharePoint or #Office365 in Twitter. Great                                                ways to stay up.

Dan Stoll:                    Oh, yeah, yeah. Do you remember your first SharePoint conference?

Mark Rackley:           I do. It was actually the SharePoint conference in Las Vegas in 2009. It was my                                             first ever Microsoft conference.

Dan Stoll:                     Oh, nice. Mine was in 2010, in Sydney, in Australia.

Mark Rackley:           Oh, great, yeah.

Dan Stoll:                     Was the first Microsoft conference.

Mark Rackley:           You're from Australia?

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You wanna go for a walk?

Mark Rackley:           Yeah, let's go for a walk.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah, cool. So, how many speaking engagements do you average a year?

Mark Rackley:            I usually do about 12 a year. It averages out to about one a month.

Dan Stoll:                      Okay, yeah, yeah. What's the coolest conference swag you've ever received?

Mark Rackley:            The hat that I'm wearing right now from my conference.

Dan Stoll:                      Nice, nice, not a Hyperfish t-shirt?

Mark Rackley:            No. Well, I've got a couple of those I wear.

Dan Stoll:                      You run the North American Collaboration Summit. Why did you start that?

Mark Rackley:            Well, so there's really no conferences in that part of the world. It's in                                                                  southern  Missouri, and I wanted to be able to create an event that anybody                                                  can afford to go to, and that I could also bring my friends from all over the                                                      world that are speakers down there, and kind of show them where I live and                                                  what it's like there.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah, nice. It used to be called the SharePointalooza. Where did that come                                                    from?

Mark Rackley:           So, it was kind of a play on the Lollapalooza thing they were doing because I                                                   used to have a couple of bands come play on a big outdoor stage at night, and                                               so technology and music.

Dan Stoll:                     Oh, yeah. Nice, nice. What sets your conference apart from the other Office                                                 365 events?

Mark Rackley:          So, what really sets apart is that it's the same speakers that you get at Ignite,                                                the same content as you get at the big, major conferences, but it's a much                                                        more smaller, intimate event. It's like 300 attendees instead of 30,000 you get                                            at Ignite, and it costs only $150 because it's nonprofit. We don't make any                                                      money.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah, yeah, and who's your longest connection in the SharePoint community?

Mark Rackley:          So, there's a guy names Mike Gilronan. I actually met him 12 years                                                                      ago, before I was even in the community itself.

Dan Stoll:                    Why do you love the SharePoint Office 365 community?

Mark Rackley:           You know, it's great because Office 365 and SharePoint are such a huge and                                                 big technology that nobody can do it all. There's no island. We all need each                                                   other, we all need the community. We can lean on each other, and learn from                                               each other. It's like a big support group. It's like we all stand up. "Hey, I'm                                                         Mark, I work with SharePoint."

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who haven't you worked with in the SharePoint community                                              that you'd really love to?

Mark Rackley:          You know, I've been lucky enough to work with a lot of friends in the                                                                   community, but I think it would be fun to be on a project with Wictor                                                                   Wilen. I think that would be a fun project to do.

Dan Stoll:                       What's the best thing about working with Stephanie Donahue at the PAIT                                                     Group?

Mark Rackley:            You know, the best thing about working with Stephanie is our skills are very                                                   compatible. We come from different sides of the world, we have different                                                       perspectives, different personalities, and when we go to visit clients,                                                                 someone's going to connect with one of us. It makes us a really, really                                                                 powerful force to work together.

Dan Stoll:                       Yeah, I'm super colorblind. What color are your glasses?

Mark Rackley:            They're blue.

Dan Stoll:                      Oh, they're blue?

Mark Rackley:            Yeah.

Dan Stoll:                       That's a great color.

Mark Rackley:             Hey, thanks.

Dan Stoll:                       So, what customer projects are you working on right now?

Mark Rackley:             Right now, we're doing a lot of migration with Office 365, and we're doing                                                       also a lot of mentoring, just educating our clients about Office 365, and what                                               you can do with it, and how you can take advantage of it.

Dan Stoll:                        Okay. What was your first impression of SharePoint?

Mark Rackley:              I thought-

Dan Stoll:                        Way back in the day, I guess.

Mark Rackley:             Yeah, yeah, that was back in 2007. I hated it.

Dan Stoll:                        Did you come from a different background, like Domino, or something like                                                      that?

Mark Rackley:             I came from a .net and Java, so it wasn't totally foreign to me, it's just back                                                     then, nobody knew what it was, really.

Dan Stoll:                       Right. What got you into the SharePoint consulting in the first place?

Mark Rackley:             Well, the money.

Dan Stoll:                       Yeah.

Mark Rackley:            I was working doing SharePoint development for a company, and then I was                                                  offered basically double my salary to go into consulting, so I thought let's give                                              it a shot.

Dan Stoll:                      Why not, right?

Mark Rackley:            Yeah.

Dan Stoll:                       Is there any retired Microsoft products you'd love to see resurrected?

Mark Rackley:            Yes. Bring back the Microsoft Band. Bring back the Microsoft Band. It was                                                       the only fitness band that's actually been exactly what I need, and they                                                            discontinued it. I'm so mad about that.

Dan Stoll:                      And other than your own podcast, what are your recommended podcasts?

Mark Rackley:            I have two podcasts that I like. I like, for technical, look at MS Cloud Show                                                      with CJ and Andrew Connell, and then for non-tech stuff, I like to listen to                                                      Stuff You Should Know.

Dan Stoll:                     Okay. Who has been your most entertaining guest on your podcast?

Mark Rackley:           We've only had a couple. Typically, we don't do them because there's four of                                                  us on the podcast, but Andrew Connell was also probably one of our best                                                        guests.

Dan Stoll:                      Right. Who's your dream guest to join you on the podcast?

Mark Rackley:           I think it would be fun to interview Elon Musk, and just get his thoughts on                                                      things.

Dan Stoll:                     Where would you point someone who wants to learn the new SharePoint                                                       framework?

Mark Rackley:            So, not to throw out Andrew Connell's name again, but Andrew Connell has a                                              website called voitanos.io, and he's got a full workshop on learning the                                                              SharePoint framework. My 17 year old son actually took it, and he now                                                            knows how to do SharePoint framework stuff.

Dan Stoll:                      Nice.

Mark Rackley:           Yeah. If you register on his site (https://www.voitanos.io/) with my last name,                                               Rackley, you can save 10% too, so there's a plug.

Dan Stoll:                      Plug, plug. What excites you about SharePoint after working with the earliest                                              versions of the product?

Mark Rackley:            I like how the product group at Microsoft are really listening to people, and                                                  taking their feedback into account, and listening to us. Things like user voice,                                                things like the MVP Summit, where we get to tell them what we think, and                                                      they're not being defensive about any of the recommendations we have.                                                          They're actually listening to us, which is fantastic.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah. What have you loved about moving from Skype for Business to Teams?

Mark Rackley:            The audio quality in Teams is just so far superior to Skype for Business.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah.

Mark Rackley:            Yeah.

Dan Stoll:                      And I really love that new feature they've got now, where you can blur the                                                      background in video.

Mark Rackley:            Yeah, exactly.

Dan Stoll:                       I think that's transferred into Skype as well, or is it just in Teams?

Mark Rackley:            I think I've seen it in Skype as well.

Dan Stoll:                      It's fantastic. I really love it.

Mark Rackley:            I've seen it in the Skype personal, I don't know if I've seen it in Skype for                                                           Business.

Dan Stoll:                       Right. Right, right, right. Why do you see customers gravitating to Teams?

Mark Rackley:            Because it's a new, shiny object, right. I mean, there's a lot of noise behind                                                      teams, and so people are like really looking into it right now without fully                                                        understanding what it is, but there's a lot of excitement there.

Dan Stoll:                      Yeah. Will you be hosting a party when Skype for Business is no longer                                                              supported?

Mark Rackley:           No, but I will when InfoPath finally dies.

Dan Stoll:                     Any challenges you see the customers having with Teams?

Mark Rackley:          Yeah, they're scared. They're scared of sprawl, they're scared of lack of                                                             governance, and they just really need to understand what's there, and put a                                                   good plan in place to tackle that.

Dan Stoll:                     Yeah. What's your recommended approach to Office 365 Groups?

Mark Rackley:          So, I don't give any recommendations without knowing the requirements.

Dan Stoll:                    Right, yeah. Great advice.

Mark Rackley:         Yeah.

Dan Stoll:                   What gadget is essential to getting your work done?

Mark Rackley:         So, for me, doing a lot of development, a lot of presentations, and a lot of                                                         teaching people, I use a tool called ZoomIt, which allows you to easily zoom in                                             on a screen, and move things around, and draw pictures. That's always helped                                             me a lot.

Dan Stoll:                   What business tool do you think is most underrated?

Mark Rackley:         I would say that SharePoint Search is actually one of the most underrated                                                       things because people just really aren't using it effectively, and I think they                                                     could really raise adoption if they used it.

Dan Stoll:                  Any hints on what was discussed at this week's summit?

Mark Rackley:        No.

Dan Stoll:                  Bummer. There are lots of bacon posts in your social media. Why do you love                                                bacon so much?

Mark Rackley:       It's like the perfect food. Bacon goes with anything. You cannot tell me one food                                         that bacon will not go good with.

Dan Stoll:                True, true, and any hidden talents you want to share with us?

Mark Rackley:      I can juggle.

Dan Stoll:                 All right.

Mark Rackley:      Yeah. I don't have anything to juggle.

Dan Stoll:                Oh, okay.

Mark Rackley:       Sorry.

Dan Stoll:                  Well, thanks, man.

Mark Rackley:        Yeah.

Dan Stoll:                  Thanks for joining me.

Mark Rackley:       Thank you, it was great.

Dan Stoll:                  Have a good day, have a good summit.

Mark Rackley:       Thanks.

Get more tips from Mark

Are you unsure of what to do with all the new tools in Office 365, and trying to figure out which is best for collaboration and communication in your organization?
Check out this free webinar from PAIT group that brings
 clarity on when to use to use OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and Outlook.

You can also catch Mark's expert tips in our Guide to Org Charts in Office 365. The whitepaper explores the different ways you can create and manage organizational charts in Office 365 to help your business and employees get the most from them.


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