What do you get when you bring together a group of creative and intelligent individuals, arm them with some powerful productivity tools, and place them all in an environment bursting at the seams with creative energy (and amazing food)? The answer is the Microsoft Office Champion’s Summit, of course.
Just a couple of weeks agto, I was immersed in not only all things Microsoft, but also in the vibrant essence of the city of Seattle. As an Office Champion, I had the opportunity to not only learn about and experience all of the latest and greatest from Microsoft and Office (it’s some really exciting stuff, I promise!), but also experience the sights, sounds, and culture of a city with a unique flavor all its own. So, The Microsoft Office Champions Summit, without further ado let’s discuss!
Day 1 – Welcome to Seattle!
With my schedule, rare are the opportunities for me to venture out to the West Coast. Having been invited to the Summit, I decided to fly out a day early and get a head start on taking some of that wonderful Seattle culture in. Pumped full of caffeine (did I mention that Seattle has great coffee?!), armed with my selfie stick, and with my future hubby by my side, I took to the streets to get a head start on the whole sightseeing and food tasting thing.
Coffee, Pastries, and Chowder – Oh My!
Being of the bodybuilding persuasion, it isn’t often that I allow myself to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: eating yummy things. Putting myself in vacation mode, I made it my personal mission to eat my way through the Pike Place Market, so that I can share my experiences with all of you. We call such selflessness taking one for the team, by the way. Back to the Market – Anthony and I hit up the first Starbucks – because coffee – and then grabbed a couple of Piroshki (baked Russian pastries with yummy things like meat, cheese and veggies stuffed inside) from Piroshky Piroshky – just to satisfy that post-flight hunger. We then proceeded to hit up some of my favorite spots from my last visit – Beecher’s Homemade Cheese, The Flying Fish Market, La Buona Tavola, Pike Place Chowder and Kukuruza. We came, we walked 6.5 miles, we ate ourselves silly over the course of the day. Feeling rather time zone confused, but satisfied in a way only brought about by copious amounts of tasty treats, the Mr and I made it an early night.
Having arrived a day early, Anthony and I had the opportunity to explore (and taste, obviously) some more of Seattle before the Champion’s Summit festivities were to begin in the early evening. We hit up the Great Wheel, the Waterfront, Post Alley (home of the infamous gum wall), and a little more of Pike Place Market. After a more modest meal than that of the day before, we went back to the Edgewater so I could get ready for the main event – the Summit!
One of the best aspects of being a blogger is attending events where you are surrounded by creative and inspirational individuals that are as passionate about their niches as you are about yours. As I acquainted myself with some new faces and reacquainted myself with some old friends, I couldn’t help but feel both honored and humbled to be surrounded by such great company. Once settled, we got straight down to business with a delicious dinner (there she is talking about food again) and an intro to the new Windows 10. I can’t share too many details on what I saw there – yet, so in the meantime, here is what I ate.
Day 3 – A Trip to the Microsoft Campus and More Deliciousness
When last I visited the Microsoft Campus, I saw a beta version of the Xbox One, the workings of the Surface Pro 3, and Microsoft’s top secret device lab. This year’s trip to the campus was devoted to: a tips and tricks guide to OneNote (which rocks, in case you were wondering), giving us an inside look into both the thought and creative process that goes into Microsoft’s hardware (like the Surface and Surface Pro 3) and software (Office 365’s suite), and to a behind the scenes look at the devices and software of the future via the device lab. Champions were also treated to a discussion with Office’s design team, who walked is through the design and creation process for all those updates we see from the Office software family of applications. Somewhere in between all that learning and enrichment, we snapped a couple of pictures on the Microsoft lawn with that iconic logo.
Dinner that evening was an epic affair of the taste bud explosion sort – with some delicious Vietnamese food at Monsoon, followed by the most epic dessert of homemade ice cream sandwiched between homemade cookies at Hello Robin. Upon returning to my hotel and feeling full (in the literal and emotional sense), I was reunited with the Mr., who convinced me to take a quick trip to the Space Needle before I headed back to my room and officially passed out.
Day 4 – Microsoft’s Initiatives and Theo Chocolate Factory
Time flies when you’re having fun, and that was certainly the case at the Champion’s Summit. Before I knew it, there I was on the final day of my knowledge adventure. The day began with some pretty epic informational sessions: on Microsoft’s philanthropic efforts in YouthSpark – a program that works with children and teens to improve education, on the epic awesomeness that is the Microsoft Band (that’s getting its own post, obviously), and on the ultimate creative project management tool – Office Sway. We concluded the informational session with some inspiration and applications of Office’s tools, as utilized by some of our fellow Office Champions.
My day ended with a tour of Seattle’s own Theo Chocolate Factory – one of very few bean to bar chocolate factories. Honestly, I knew I was in for an epic experience when we were greeted by Huey and Dewey, right outside of the factory.
A bit on Theo’s
Theo’s is Seattle’s very own fair-trade and organic chocolate factory. Housed in what used to be a brewery, this inventive confectionary palace is one of very few worldwide bean to bar establishments, and makes over 60,000 bars a day. That’s a lot of beans and sugar. From truffles to bars, and even to caramels and toffees, this factory is one worth visiting if you ever happen to be in the neighborhood.
High on those dark chocolate endorphins, I returned to the hotel for the last time. It was time to pack up and go home, and to say I was sad would have been an understatement. It’s always hard to leave such amazing experiences, but leaving full of inspiration and with the tools that will ultimately make my life more productive and on the whole better- well that made it a little bit easier. If there is one thing I learned at the Summit it is that the future of productivity is here, and that it is looking pretty amazing. Please stay tuned for future posts, where I will dive more into depth on all the amazing things you could do with the technology that Microsoft provides. I’ll even show you how my wedding’s Sway is coming along.
Oh! For those interested in learning more about the places I visited (and ate at) in Seattle, be sure to click those links in this post.