<disclaimer> This is not a dream, this really happened.</disclaimer>

This is the story of how SCN has been extremely important for me in my career. SCN has helped me grow on professional and personal level. I hope this blog post will inspire others to step up and take action.

None of the below is made up, this is real, this happened and it could happen to you too.

Getting introduced into the world of SAP – March 2007

In 2003, when SAP’s Community Network originated I started studying for a bachelor degree in informatics. Only in 2007 when I started as a junior SAP basis administrator I got introduced to SAP’s Community Network. In my first years on the job I mainly used the community network to look up information, read blogs and solve problems.

Digital detox – December 2010

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Late 2010, I was in Bruges during what nowadays would be called a digital detox vacation and I stumbled upon a book of Seth Godin: Purple COW – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.

Writing blogs – January 2011

The book inspired me to step up and take action. My first idea was to start blogging on SCN.

I still remember that after only a few blog posts, Marilyn Pratt mailed Mark Yolton. I don’t remember the exact wording anymore but she pointed out to him that they should keep an eye on me.

This one mail inspired me to an extent that is almost impossible to describe. I practically lived on SCN for months to come because of it. It shows how one small thing, one e-mail, can be the source of massive change.

One change, one interaction, one blog post, one e-mail can be like a snowball, being tossed down a mountain. The snowball might hit the slope but it could also turn into a bigger snowball and eventually cause an avalanche.

My first SAP event, ever: SAP TechED – November 2011

Once I was active on SAP’s Community Network, I started to make a lot of new, digital friends. While the digital world can be a marvelous place I longed to meet them in real life. During that first year, I already realized how important SCN was going to be for me. In October 2011 I wrote the blog post “A word of thanks” to express my gratitude towards those who believed in me. This is one of my blog posts which I still feel today. Reading the outro will give you a sense of what I was feeling.


I got my chance at SAP TechED Madrid, in November 2011. My active participation in the community had propelled me on stage. I was called on stage as Top Contributor for the category SAP Netweaver Platform. Listen carefully to the words of Mark Yolton and try to live in the moment, feel what I felt at that particular moment as if someone was saying those words to you, right now.

For me, it was a magical moment. I was so amazed by the whole thing that I even forgot to clap for the first few minutes for the other top contributors because I was nailed to the ground still trying to work through what had just happened.

It didn’t stop there either. Natascha Thomson introduced me to the #SCNotty awards and convinced me to participate. To participate I had to create a 30 second video to introduce myself to other community members. Right before going to SAP TechED Madrid, my SCNotty entry for SAP TechED Las Vegas received the award “Best Impression of Flavor Flav”.

In the embedded video above, you can see my second rap video entry for SAP TechED Madrid. My wife asked me “Who is this HANA girl” and I had to explain SAP used HANA as a product name. It was not easy to convince her that it was really a product name.

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Because of my continuous participation in the community, I was asked if I would want to help by hosting the SCNotty award show at SAP TechED Madrid. Together with Gali Kling Schneider and Sylvia Santelli we put up a little rap show and we had a blast showing the participant videos and announcing the SCNotty award winners.

During the course of SAP TechED I met a lot of community members, SAP employees and SAP Mentors and I really liked it. Everyone was very friendly, open and welcoming. Connections were forged that have been strengthening ever since. Again, the snowball effect was at work.

All the little things caused other little things to happen and before I knew it, big things were happening. It’s a dish that consist out of the opportunity presented to you, a sniff of courage, serendipity, a pinch of luck and a whole lot of positive energy.

First SCN Member of the month – March 2012

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I became SCN’s first member of the month in March 2012. By that point in time I was already convinced to a large extent that all that I had been doing before made sense. I wrote multiple blog posts on the effect of SCN and the importance of being active in the community and writing blog posts. A set of co-authored blog posts provide the evidence. How has blogging changed my everyday life?

In the meantime, my blog posts on technical topics where influencing SAP and behind the scenes, I had also gotten involved in influencing SAP. I was testing SAP products, providing feedback and seeing SAP introduce certain changes caused by my feedback.


New Year New Spring New SAP Mentors – April 2012

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In April 2012 another big thing happened. I started the month by going to the Virtualization&Cloud week in Palo Alto (CA). My first trip to the US in my life and I enjoyed every second of it. Ever since I started blogging on SCN, everything led up to this moment. My involvement became stronger and stronger and now I was meeting up with community members and even the actual community team on the other side of the world (well, almost the other side of the world).

I came home and shortly after, the new SAP Mentors were announced and I was on the list!!! This was just amazing. The easiest, most understandable explanation I can provide people when they ask me “What does this title SAP Mentor mean?” is that it is comparable to being “knighted”. Everyone understands what that means. You get recognized for something you did, something good, something extraordinary.

Being active on SCN and in the SAP Community at large has without a doubt led to this particular moment in time where I became a SAP Mentor.

My first SAP TechED as a SAP Mentor – November 2012

Since I became a SAP Mentor, the snowballs have grown and have a larger impact, a higher chance of turning into an avalanche. The SAP Mentor program opens doors and provides me with a lot of opportunity. Without a doubt, it has had the largest impact on me and how I see the world around me.


SAP TechED Madrid 2012 led to the writing of Empathy + Serendipity = #likeneverbefore which describes the importance of empathy, the intriguing nature of serendipity and the amazing feeling, the atmosphere that was caused by SAP TechED. With over 27.000 views it’s safe to say it went beyond the boundaries of SCN.


This is huge!

As I’m being sucked into the SAP world more and more, I’m finding it to be ever more interesting and fascinating. My involvement in SAP has grown tremendously over the course of the past year and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier in my life.

As I write this blog post and continue to write it past midnight I realize just how important SAP and in particular the SAP Community has been in my life so far. I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring us. I truly believe we are only at the beginning of a new era.

As a SAP Community Member you can be on the front row to witness it.

What do you need to remember from this blog post?


SCN is a unique community and you can really shine here.

You will find community members to be extremely helpful to guide you in this maze of possibilities and opportunity.

You will find a motivated community team that is ready to place its members, who add value to the community, into the spotlight.

You can make friends here, meet them and learn from them.

This community is created by SAP but it is not just about SAP, it reaches beyond SAP.

The sky is the limit and you can start right here, on SCN!

Outro

Remember the disclaimer which started this blog post? You can say this one closes the curtain:

<disclaimer>In fact it didn’t stop happening. The dream goes on. </disclaimer>

Happy 10th anniversary my dear friend.







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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Tammy

      Thank you.

      I tried to keep it condensed because there is so much I could write about it I was afraid the blog post would become too lengthy since it’s already pretty long.

      I was planning on writing a blog concerning the design thinking workshop I attended just recently so maybe I can also write one about my involvement with CEIC.

      Marilyn is great and she really knows how to motivate people.

      I loved the collaboration with Gali and Sylvia as well, it was great fun.

      I can definitely say many fellow community members and SAP Mentors inspired me and have helped me along the way.

      Best regards

      Tom

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    2. Marilyn Pratt

      Too kind, Tammy. I think the real common theme is that those who care really “Pay it Forward” (and a hat tip to Gali Kling Schneider and xMoshe Naveh (Old Acct) for Blog it Forward) .  It seems the throughline from inception here were passionate people who amplified new voices and welcomed critique, honest feedback and gave critique too.  I can’t imagine anyone as responsive (and quick) as you Tammy Powlas .  If there was a mission for “most remarking” (Remarkable?) you would be on that leaderboard. 😉  

      There are many folks who from early on set that tone: Piers Harding Brian McKellar DJ Adams  Thomas Jung Benny Schaich-Lebek Alan Rickayzen

      Darren Hague to mention some of the early few that I had the privledge to read and indirectly were mentored by and of course those I had the privledge to work with and be mentored by as peers: Craig Cmehil  and the piped piper: Mark Finnern

      I found this historic thread that made me laugh.  Can you guess why?

      http://scn.sap.com/thread/3558

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  1. Marilyn Pratt

    Being remarkable, how very apt, Tom.  I think one of your secrets is that you take the time, energy, and care to notice and make remarks to others here.  You voice your opinions yes, but you spend a good deal of thought in recognizing others.  I remember thinking about that in your blog A word of thanks .  Yep Remarkable Member.  Thank YOU. Very humbled by your mention of me but then again it is so very like you.

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Marilyn

      Thank you so much. I might not have been here without you motivating me along the way. I really feel that becoming active on SCN was a major milestone in my life. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and it changed me for the better. There is a good reason why SCN is mentioned in very good books like “The power of pull” which deal with how a community can drive succes.

      The reach of SCN, the beyond SAP aspect of the community is also something that still amazes me. The topics that I have been introduced to which are not pure SAP for example are of huge importance towards my perspective on almost everything I come in contact with.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  2. Sylvia Santelli

    That picture! How could I forget. It was great getting to collaborate with you and Gali Kling Schneider on such a fun project. I still remember many of the submissions from that SCNotty awards. Thanks for sharing your story. It really is more of a success story and we don’t even know how it really ends yet. Cheers!

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Sylvia

      It was great fun and indeed those submissions stick, I also still remember many of them.

      A SCN success story, sounds good to me 😉 .

      Thanks!

      Tom

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  3. Akshay Gupta

    Hi Tom,

    Very much appreciate your blog.

    SCN really is doing wonder’s no doubt, even I have felt that since i started using it however not long ago.

    But hey your story is totally the real deal.

    Very leading and inspiring.

    Actually someone to look forward to.

    I can truly see the SAP Mentor badge shining on you 😏

    With all the optimism of opportunities, determination and motivation, now I have an example to look forward to. You are the role model man, like many others 🙂 . Just the thing I was looking for around.

    All the little things caused other little things to happen and before I knew it, big things were happening. It’s a dish that consist out of the opportunity presented to you, a sniff of courage, serendipity, a pinch of luck and a whole lot of positive energy.

    The snowball has indeed turned big causing avalanche, and way to go now.

    I am keeping my heads up.

    Super nice and congrats for the accomplishment.

    Regards,

    Akshay

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Akshay

      Thanks for your comment and nice words.

      You’ll find plenty of role models right here on SCN so you are definitely in the right place.

      It does me great pleasure to see the blog reaches it’s intention.

      “The power of pull” is a great read on how you can connect to others, around the world and learn from each other, share and become better and better doing just that. A recommended read if you ask me. SCN is featured in the book as well which makes it super interesting.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  4. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Tom,

    Good Day!

    Fanastic Blog! It really motivates ppl to post more blogs in SDN. Very touching words and explained very clearly about your achievement.

    I wish you good luck for your career. Keep rocking!

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Hari Suseelan

      Good morning.

      Thanks for commenting and letting me know! Best of luck to you as well.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  5. Nicolas Varga

    I have the chance to work in the same office as Tom, I have to admit that he is really motivating and he always has good advices about work, carreer and life in general.

    Thanks for this motivating blog post and sharing your passion !

    Regards,

    Nicolas.

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Nicolas

      Thanks for commenting and thanks for the nice words.

      I know it when I see passion to thrive and I see the passion you have inside you. The SAP Community can have a big impact on your future so I’m very happy to see you being active on SCN and in the SAP community at large for that matter by attending events like the SAP Inside Track in Belgium.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  6. Wouter Peeters

    Hi Tom,

    Very inspiring post for me! Glad to see some Belgians influencing in SAP.

    I’ve known SCN since I started developing in ABAP for getting help on more complex problems. After half a year I found so many ‘golden’ blogs with so many good discussions about best practices, architecture on how to develop. Since than I try to catch up with all the new blogs.

    Eventually I also found the Twitter community of SAP, I was amazed at howmany enthousiastic developers are out there, wanting to go the extra mile.

    I try to be active on Twitter, but the combination with a customer project and the want/need to learn more about different SAP technologies in the first years makes this too difficult

    But many times, thanks to NL SAP Twitter people such as Fred Verheul I can still catch up about new blogs and other news. It’s not because I’m not active, I don’t read everything!

    Also, I’m happy that there’s a first Belgian SAP CodeJam by David Pierre  !

    Anyway, great post, glad to have you representing Belgium.

    Best regards,

    Wouter

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Wouter

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Belgium rocks.

      SCN is a great source for SAP, it contains tons of valuable information from SAP and it’s community members.

      Twitter is good to get news scoops on SAP and it can be more readable / manageable if you use it against Flipboard for example so you can read your Twitter newspaper in the morning and in the evening for example which helps you to go through the huge amount of content in a faster way, picking out important content.

      RSS feeds can help you keep an eye on SCN http://www.netvibes.com for example is a possible application which can help you out on that front, I definitely like it to keep an eye on new content. Of course other community members can help you identify quality content as well, certainly persons like Fred Verheul who are very active in the community.

      Great to see other community members hosting events in Belgium! +1 for David Pierre .

      Best regards

      Tom

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Ganesh

      Thanks for reading & commenting. SAP has a great ecosystem to work in, you can learn SAP and you learn topics beyond SAP in this community which is great.

      Best regards

      Tom

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      1. Ganesh Sadula

        Hi Tom,

        I am in to SAP FI Module … its very challenge role .. then previous job…. Hope SAP community will definitely help me , while i am in problem,

        Thanks,

        Ganesh

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        1. Tom Cenens Post author

          Hi Ganesh

          You can learn by sharing what you have learned. It’s a great method. I’m convinced that if you can add value to the community, you will get value back out of the community, this bi-directional stream works best and will provide you much more value vs only reading and asking questions for example.

          Best regards

          Tom

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      2. Ganesh Sadula

        Hi Tom,

        I am in to SAP FI Module … its very challenge role .. then previous job…. Hope SAP community will definitely help me , while i am in problem,

        Thanks,

        Ganesh

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  7. Nidhi Mukhija

    Hi Tom,

    Your journey has indeed been phenomenal and highly inspirational.

    Thanks for posting this blog, this is certainly going to inspire many of us out there to interact, collaborate, learn, grow and eventually help others grow.

    Best wishes

    Nidhi

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Nidhi

      As you have read: “small things matter” and you can definitely start small and grow from there.

      I can recommend anyone to be active in the community as I’m convinced of the added value it has brought me and can bring to others as well.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  8. Raquel Pereira da Cunha

    Hi Tom,

      It’s such a pleasure to read your blogs. You are a great inspiration, I already said that. Following you in SCN pushed me to start blogging and made me look for you at SAP Teched 2011 to meet in your person (I remember it was easy to find you with that red t-shirt with a QRCode!).

    SCN is a fantastic place to meet great people and make new good friends like you.

    See you in November! And looking forward to reading your blog about the Design Thinking workshop!

    Cheers,

    Raquel

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Raquel

      Thanks for the kind words. You know I’m a fan of your work as well 😉 . I was very glad to be able to meet you at SAP TechED Madrid and I remember I said to you “You can be a SAP Mentor”, I believed in you and I still do.

      Yes, the red t-shirt. I must have been the only one wearing a red shirt, it was amazingly easy for my colleague to find me back although thousands of persons where present, he could spot me from miles away 😀 .

      I’m proud to be a SAP Community Member, it is a wonderful place and I’ve made a great bunch of friends here already and I keep making more friends.

      Definitely see you in November! I plan to release some more blogs shortly (next week hopefully already).

      Best regards

      Tom

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  9. Carsten Nitschke

    Tom,

    great story of yours ! I fully second your thoughts that SCN is a great place to meet people who share thought and passion. This has been great and I will need to find more time to be more active. Yet the inputs I can see on SCN from Mentors like you as well as from others are always inspiring.

    Looking forward to see you in November !

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Carsten

      Thanks! Community spirit can go great lengths and I’ve witnessed that here. This really is the best community in the #ENSW space and probably even beyond that it would rank very high. SCN is referenced to in multiple books that deal with community aspects.

      I’ve learned a great deal by being active in this community and as a SAP Mentor. Things like being open minded and trying to understand different perspectives, even going for experiencing different perspectives. It has been one hell of a ride already and I’m very eager to see where the road will take me.

      Looking forwards to meet up in November!

      Best regards

      Tom

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  10. Fred Verheul

    Hey Tom,

    Reading your blog post I’m starting to realize what a tremendous ride it must have been for you. An amazing story really.

    I only were under the impression you were appointed an SAP Mentor earlier than 2012! Now I wonder what that means 😉 .

    Just like Raquel Pereira da Cunha I’m looking forward to that blog post on your DT workshop.

    Good luck in the next 10 years!

    Cheers, Fred

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Fred

      Thanks, it has been one hell of a ride and I left out some really nice stories because I didn’t want the blog to become too lengthy. I don’t mind sharing it over a beer some time though.

      So much has happened on such a short amount of time that sometimes it feels like I have been launched into a dream world. Sometimes it really does feel like that. Many of my friends thought I had gone nuts when I started my journey but they kept supporting me and it worked out fine. I just love to do what I do and that is great. That is what I aim for and it keeps getting better and better.

      Every day is a new opportunity to learn & thrive.

      For the DT workshop post, I have to check with SAP which content I’m allowed to use (slides etc) so I’m awaiting feedback on that actually at the moment.

      I planned in two expert networking sessions at SAP TechED Amsterdam to discuss the workshop, the outcome and actions taking place in terms of SAP Certification / SAP Education.

      Same counts for you my friend, best of luck 😉 .

      Best regards

      Tom

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  11. Gretchen Lindquist

    Tom,

    Thanks for sharing your story; it is very inspirational. I am sure that many readers will relate and become more active on SCN, thanks to your paying it forward.

    Cheers,

    Gretchen

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  12. Martin Grob

    Hi Tom 

    After seeing your comment on my blog I had to find your story. This is huge! I happy if I get to expirience only some of your story..

    thanks for sharing

    Martin

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Martin

      Glad you like story. It shows what is possible within the SAP community. It’s great to see you started sharing and paying it forward;

      Best regards

      Tom

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  13. Gali Kling Schneider

    What a beautiful blog post recounting an amazing journey. You are a one of a kind Tom, your enthusiasm for learning and expanding beyond your comfort zone is inspiring.

    Keep snowballing!

    Gali

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  14. Natascha Thomson

    Tom:

    your blog brought back a lot of great memories.

    That rapper video you made for SCNotties was priceless!!!

    Of course, I can’t believe that we still have not managed to meet in person, but I know it will happen, and I love our virtual friendship that started through SCN.

    Now that I am no longer at SAP, it’s amazing to see how I am still connected, just because there are so many great folks there like YOU.

    Today I was on a call with an SAP person I had never met but we both “knew” about each other. LOL. It’s so great to have this network.

    Thanks for being so fun but also smart and kind! See you here and on email.

    Best,

    Natascha

    PS: You could call your next pet “HANA” 🙂

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Natascha

      It brought back memories for me as well, it has been one hell of a ride 🙂 .

      Thanks for inspiring me to actually do a SCNotty award. Each step along the way matters.

      We’ll meet 🙂 it’s just a matter of time and a pinch of luck 😉 .

      It’s great to see you are still active here although you are no longer at SAP. It shows how strong this community is and how it’s not just about SAP. It spans beyond SAP.

      Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated 🙂 .

      Best regards

      Tom

      PS: nice idea hehe 🙂

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  15. Kumud Singh

    Tom,

    Anyone reading your blogs (me included) would know your enthusiasm and hard work towards achieving what you are today! We both have Marilyn as a common force for getting us to the next levels. Looking at the huge number of community members inspired by Marilyn, Laure may have to design some exclusive badge for Marilyn. 🙂

    Regards,

    Kumud

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Kumud

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂 . We should have another call soon 😉 . As always things have been hectic. I really like the idea of a special badge and I’m really fond of the new badge systems and specifically some of the recently added badges 😘 . I very much enjoy connecting & dining with Laure Cetin and her colleagues on my yearly trip to Palo Alto. They have done great work on the gamification system already and I’m sure this is just the beginning.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  16. Mark Yolton

    This is an amazing story – I loved it. Thank you for sharing it, Tom, and for being such a positive force on SCN and in the SAP ecosystem.  (on a personal note, I’m proud and humbled to have played a small supporting role… it’s this kind of thing — impacting people’s lives — that makes work so meaningful.) All the best for continued success!

    Mark Y.

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Mark

      Thx a lot for all the support I’ve received from you, thx for inspiring me and thx for the kind words 🙂 . SCN is a top notch community and you can be very proud of what you and the team have achieved at SAP. Good luck in your new adventure!

      Best regards

      Tom

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  17. Gail Moody-Byrd

    Tom,

    Yours is an amazing story – I never knew all the background, starting from 2007. I have watched your contributions increase over the years. So appropriate that you were the 1st Member of the Month. I will always have fond memories of dinner with you, Laure and other SCN ers in Palo Alto a couple of years ago. I value your friendship and contributions and expect your dream to continue. It’s one I will use to inspire others, for sure!

    Thanks for all you do,

    G

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Gail

      Thank you! I left out a lot of milestones because so much happened, there were so many amazing moments in such a short timeframe. I still remember that like yesterday 🙂 . I actually stayed in the hotel across Nola’s this year and I went back for the same dish 😉 since the food was so good there. I really liked that get together and I remember we had a great time, lots of laughs and lots of stories.

      Likewise, thanks for your support and I hope to meet up again soon.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  18. Cailin Yates

    Tom, thank you for writing this.  I have been trying to express the potential of this community to various consultants over the years and your post did a beautiful job saying just that. Regards-

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Cailin

      Your welcome, thanks for taking the time to read. A book you might be interesting in is the “Power of pull”. It also demonstrates what is possible through communities & serendipity.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  19. Suman Sardar

    Great Post man 🙂

    Very much inspiring.

    Also find it very interesting that how SCN inspires us in the same way you felt it.

    Will follow your valuable advice to become a member of the same segment.

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