How To Become Rich And Famous In One Step

You read that right, just one step! Are you ready for it? Here’s how: marry a premier league football player! If that’s not your thing, too bad but then it’s going to take a little more effort. As it wasn’t my thing either here’s my story on how I became an MVP.

  • Valentino Vranken
  • 17 februari 2015

Let’s start at the beginning: the year 2008.  Yes, that’s been a while hasn’t it.  But remember, as the saying goes: patience is a virtue!


I decided to quit my in-house software developer job, something which I’d been doing for about ten years, to become a Microsoft Business Intelligence Consultant at Ordina.  This meant I had some reschooling to do.  I wasn’t new to SQL Server, not in a long way, but I was more or less new to BI.  So I bought some books and learned how to use SSRS (Reporting Services) and SSIS (Integration Services) all by myself.  I also learned SSAS (Analysis Services) and Ordina was kind enough to send me on a one-week training course for that challenge.

As part of the learning experience I started participating on technical forums by answering questions.  The best ones are those for which I have to do research before answering because it means I learned something new!  I’m active at several forums but my favorite one is Experts Exchange, a name which I’ll mention a couple of times more in this article.

During my experiments with SQL Server I came across some, well, less-than-obvious functionality and thought it could be interesting for others if I wrote my experiences down.  So I started my own personal blog at http://blog.hoegaerden.be

To conclude my 2008 activities: I did something crazy and participated in two beta exams for SQL Server 2008, more precisely the DBA and the BI exam.  These were exciting times because with beta exams you don’t get the result straightaway, they first need to process all answers and scores are calculated based on that.  Some weeks later I got excellent news from Microsoft: I passed both!  My patience was rewarded.


I earned my first Experts Exchange T-shirt, their reward for experts who help others solve their problems.  This first shirt certainly wasn’t the last one!

And I started republishing my articles at Experts Exchange, an activity from which I learned a lot.  For one, it improved my writing skills and also, it gave my content more exposure!


I participated in and passed two more SQL Server 2008 exams: both the MCTS and MCITP Developer exams.

I also got great news from SQLServerPedia (nowadays known as Toad World): one of my articles won the SQLServerPedia 2010 awards in the Business Intelligence category!  This was my first real award obtained by using my knowledge and writing skills!

In 2010 I also became a Core Member of the Belgian SQL Server User Group.  If you’re reading this, you’re using SQL Server and you’re not familiar with the SQLUG yet: check out www.sqlug.be and even better, www.sqlserverdays.be!


I participated in the book publishing process as Technical Reviewer of a book on SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services.  A tough job but I learned MDS and I got a free book out of it.  Yes, one.  And one digital book (PDF) of choice as well.


I repeated my certification trick from 2008, went out there and once again passed two beta exams on SQL Server 2012: Querying SQL 2012 (461) and Implementing a DWH with SQL 2012 (463)!

In this year I also got upgraded to Board Member at SQLUG.be.  Are you receiving our newsletters?  Well, I’m the one who writes the content for them!

Last but not least: in 2012 I was honored to be among the select number of people (12) who got awarded as Most Valuable Expert in the first-ever MVE Awards over at Experts Exchange.  Besides the honor I got a nice personalized Nike polo and a laptop bag out of it!  This award was a really nice surprise, something which I wasn’t expecting at all!



Continuing my community activities I got the opportunity to fulfill an additional role at Experts Exchange and I became a Topic Advisor.  The short description of this is: it’s a sort of moderator function but with less power than a real full-blown site moderator.  As Topic Advisor we do have the power to call them in should there be a need for it though, so be careful with what you post! J

This same year I once again participated on a book as Technical Reviewer.  The book is titled SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services Blueprints.  This resulted in another free paper book and one digital book.

As part of spreading the knowledge I delivered an evening session on automating SSRS deployments for the SQLUG.  I was also a speaker at Community Day where I shared some Data Visualization Tips & Tricks with the audience and I spoke about data cleansing at SQL Server Days!  This was one busy year!


On April 1st it happened: I received the “Congrats you’re an MVP!” mail.  To be honest, I never thought this day would ever come.  So I surely was surprised and honored by this achievement!


This didn’t get me any free clothing but I did receive another laptop bag.


Am I rich?  Well no, not at all, but similar to football players I do get shirts and other stuff for free!

Am I famous?  Not exactly but I do get recognized on the streets now and then!

Was it a lot of work?  Ow yeah, it certainly was.  But I enjoyed every minute of it!

Moral of this story

Don’t expect anything and you’ll be surprised by everything!