That’s it! — I’m joining the Circus!
Yes, after many many years with SAP I am trying something new. Not the circus, although I am convinced that playful elements of the circus would do wonders for engagement, creativity and innovation within all enterprises.
One of the major SAP Mentor Magic pillars is playfulness, and I am endlessly grateful to my managers at SAP: Ziv Carthy Mark Yolton Michael Bechauf Maggie Fox and Malin Liden for letting me create an environment of trust and high level engagement that enabled playfulness to flourish.
It is the fertile ground where:
The #suithugger campaign developed:
Picture by Oliver Kohl
Where SAP Mentors brought Hugh MacLeod prints to our executives
Picture by Martin Gillet
Where a ragtag team of runners nudges the SAP TechEd org team to create a 5K Fun Run, which is now a tradition in Las Vegas:
Where the #GeeksCanDance SAP Jam band brought people together to sing and dance, so much so that spontaneously Sam Yen joined the band and is now a fixture in the lineup:
Picture by Frank Koehntopp and others
I remember Bjoern Goerke years ago saying at the end of a totally intense webinar with the SAP Mentors, where the questions were flying back and forth and a lot of content ground was covered: “You guys always seem to have fun!” That serious fun combination is what SAP Mentors are so amazingly good at.
That energy was what nudged SAP into open sourcing their UI Technology
Even Jim Hagemann Snabe acknowledged in a press conference that the idea spark for the free developer license for SAP HANA One came from SAP Mentors
I announced my departure this week to the SAP Mentors, and I wasn’t expecting such an outpouring of support. I am humbled by the stories of SAP Mentors whose lives have changed for the good because of what we created with the SAP Mentor initiative:
SAP Mentor Alumnus Darren Hague wrote:
Thanks for so many things, not least: Community Day at SAP TechEd 2007 Munich, and the chance to get drunk with Bruce Sterling; the inspiration to do our own Community Day in London, kickstarting the whole SAP Inside Track movement; and the chance to meet so many amazing people in the SAP ecosystem leading to my career working for SAP itself.
SAP Mentor Clint Vosloo wrote in an email:
… THANK-YOU and REMIND you that by YOU starting and including me in the Mentor program you have forever changed my life and those of my family for the better and I will also be eternally grateful ! As I sit here in Australia after having just dropped my kids off at school I know there futures are safe here and they will be safe. I owe a lot of that to you !
SAP Mentor Twan van den Broek
… Thinking of all the opportunities you have created for us Mark Finnern, don’t know how to say thanks for all that. You’ve been the real SAP Mentor entrepreneur, building and shaping our community. And on top of that you brought us Werewolves, Collaborative Crowd Poem Writing, Sing a song for new Mentors, fun, friendship and way more … Thanks for all these good times.
While this all makes me feel how meaningful the Mentors have been for my life, it also makes me super joyful about what we have done for each other and together. Please celebrate this three ring circus by sharing your own community / SAP Mentor stories in the comments.
SAP Mentor Ronald Konijnenburg wrote:
… You have created a fantastic place for the Mentors, you can be extremely proud of that. Thank you for making me part of the family. You’re leaving behind a great foundation for Jeanne and team to build upon further.
In my old neighborhood the San Mateo Highlands I organized the 4th of July Marching Band and one of the greatest joys for me is to know that it is still going strong even though I moved away years ago.
I am endlessly proud about the SAP Mentor initiative, and it is time for a new team to implement their ideas. We have laid the foundation, but nothing would make me prouder than for the SAP Mentor initiative to continue to blossom into its full potential. The beauty is that the new team will define what the full potential is now, and I can’t wait to see it implemented.
Happy that all SAP Mentors have a voice in where this is going, sometimes I feel like not enough are taking full advantage of that opportunity. Jeanne Carboni and team are listening intently — but please Jeanne draw the line at the color of the shirt. 😉
Biggest regret? We almost had Hasso Plattner join the #GeeksCanDance Jam band in Berlin. We were just not able to rearrange the schedule for it to work. My hope is that the #GeeksCanDance SAP Jam Band tradition at larger SAP events continues.
What is Next?
What am I going to do? As I was so much in the trenches, creating opportunities for the SAP Mentors, organizing events, bringing new SAP Mentors on board, I seldom had time to write down the background stories of how things came to be and how you can create such an engaging, energized advocacy program / community too. One of theses is the Don Finleone story.
As you can derive from the quotes above, the SAP Mentor Initiative makes a huge huge difference to the people as well as to the enterprises involved. I want to help other companies to replicate this kind of playful deep engagement. It is such a win for everyone. Playful Enterprise is where this idea is going to be further developed. Join the mailing list.
At the opening of the HanaHaus a father came up to me and said: When is the next Future Salon. These events where so special I took my son there, and I really miss them. My partner, Jean Russell who wrote the book Thrivability, and I will bring back the Future Salon spirit paired with the ideas around Thrivability and encourage you to join us in creating Thrivable Futures for all.
Let’s continue to make a difference in the lives of the people around us, in the end that is what counts.
Words can not describe how much you have meant to me and this little corner of the interwebz. I would say I was "sad to see you go", but you aren't going anywhere (in my life) anytime soon. We are friend beyond SCN....Friends till the end....means till the END. 😉
I am just super excited to see what you do now. I don't think SAP realizes they have "unleashed the beast" into the free world. haha
(*FYI that quote on the Thrivable Futures web site is just awesome!!! ....and yes, this is to drive folks there to check it out!
Seems everyone wants to head off at once! I'm sure whatever you turn your hand to will... be playful!
San Mateo Highlands, eh? I (mis)spent part of my childhood in the Highlands, from about 77 to 82 or so.
The Highlands seems to be a great place to grow up. I really enjoyed my time there.
Thanks for sharing, Mark.
All has been said. I can only add that there will always be a place in my home in Berlin, a couch to sleep or a cocktail to sip, for you when you need it. You changed my life and many others profoundly.
A simple 'thank you' is not enough.
We had big plans with strong engagement of SAP Mentors within the community part of the 1DX program. I hope you reach out and make it happen even without me.
Great to know that there is a place for a suitcase in Berlin 😉
Love the town and will be there hopefully soon.
Ping me when you are in the Bay Area and/or if you need a place to crash, Mark.
Great write-up, like the fact that your adventure does not stop at SAP, but will be spread into other enterprises. The power of a mentor program is still underestimated in the corporate jungle I believe.
Anytime you're in NL remeber there is a beer/red wine with your name on it.
You've been an inspiration and living proof that having fun makes good business sense.
"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction your choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way."
- Dr. Seuss
Was great catching up during d-kom in San Mateo the other week.
Love that Dr. Sues quote.
Mark, wow! you have been THE face of the Mentor program longer than I can remember! The program will not the be same without you
Best of luck in your new circus...err I mean adventure.
That is exactly one of the problems that is holding back the SAP Mentor initiative, that it is perceived to be the Mark Finnern show. It isn't and by me stepping to the side, it will make room for hopefully many SAP Mentors to step up and make the difference in their area of expertise. It's like in the Hydra Greek mythology: I step to the side and 140 SAP Mentors step up. It is going to be glorious 🙂
Love the hydra meme... worlddomination 😉
By helping this community of SAP Mentors, you have contributed beyond yourself. You gave something back to the world. Thank you so much, not just for doing that, but also for inspiring all of us to keep our mission as SMs.
I'm not sure if I've accepted the fact that you're leaving to join the circus yet.
It's been a pleasure working with you Mark. My career at SAP wouldn't be possible today if you hadn't made the mistake of hiring me 🙂
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into until I joined the "future of CRM" mentor call.
There are so many stories and memories to think of but the jam band practice session under the bridge before SAP Inside Track Palo Alto topped them off when we marched around the EBC with two saxophones and Martin Lang on the guitar as we passed by the telepresence room. Let's say the look on Abdul's face was priceless when he opened the meeting room door to see a marching band outside.
Thanks for all you've given to the community and for being a great friend.I look forward to hearing about your future adventures in the circus 🙂
That is too funny. I didn't remember these stories. Thanks for sharing. There is even a little video. Mystery to me, why that catchy tune hasn't been picked up by any of the CRM players in the market yet, or at least once referenced by Paul Greenberg 😉
[embed width="425" height="350"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/FDZV8p7Ajqo[/embed]
Thanks to all the support that you were giving me all these years, often catching the balls that otherwise would have fallen on the ground, when again I threw too many into the air. And yes the under the 280 freeway bridge sax rehearsals are classics.
Well, there is something new ... it's not exactly every day that an SAP Community veteran of the first hour AND an SAP Palo Alto veteran leaves the stage. My friend, I've known you for 20 years. You've always been the wild man, and sometimes (more often than not ...) you drove me crazy with your wild, unstructured ideas. But I must say, the moment I saw the idea of "Playful Enterprise", I immediately got it. That is so you. You've done a wonderful job to take Mentors and put it into your unique brand, and there is no better way to describe it as "playful".
Best of luck, and don't be a stranger. You'll do great.
q q q q q q q q q q
Thank you seems be so inadequate,
but thank you.
Words fall short at times like these, but I think the pictures in your post tell a story of something magnificent that you were the driver behind. Many others were sparked by this and took this forward to try to make SAP (and beyond) better. Adventures were had, and lifelong bonds formed. I give SAP tons of credit for providing continued investment behind something that has not always been easy to define or control.
Yes, sometimes the Mentors screwed up, we talked a lot about humility but there were times where we ended up in hubris instead. However the future of the enterprise is full of open conversations.. Hopefully SAP will continue to see the value of such open dialogue as the Mentors at their best sparked under your watch, even when that dialogue is a bit chaotic, messy, and/or playful. It's also what has made this community matter to so many.
In life an accounting always comes due. I'm not sure how the ROI of such things are measured, but I know that you and the others you tricked/roped/inspired into such jam sessions changed lives. Endings are also beginnings, for you as well as the Mentors as a whole, so, jam on....!
Your words mean a lot to me, actually you were always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, with the best solid tips on how to go forward when I was unsure and just being a friend.
Thanks so much for all you have done over the years, Mark.
Still digesting the news and as many others I fail to picture the tribe without you Mark . I'm among those fortunate enough to get to experience the mentor magic on many levels... mentormagic
On the professional side it opened up a door to a whole new world and it showed me "how deep the rabbit hole" really is (Note: turtles all the way down!). Being in a room with soo many heavy-hitters (many of which have become alumnis already!) for the first time was a humbling experience - to say the least. That's when I realized I would have to up my game if I want to justify my spot on the roster.
Well, for many (definitely for me)... the sapmentors lounge has always been the right room. therightroom
But all of that falls short compared to what I experienced on a very personal level when my family was going through a very rough period. Many a times people have wondered about the mysterious selection process for SAP Mentors, but for me personally I can only say that whatever it is this group is more than just a bunch of like-minded professionals in the SAP space. It's unique and I personally experienced a Mentor Magic that goes way beyond our charter and manifests on a personal level. I always knew I was privileged to be part of this group from a professional angle, yet the friendship I receive from this group is soo much more valuable and humbling.
And... ultimately that's your heritage Mark. You were the one that formed the group, brought the tribe together and ensured that we constantly get out of our comfort zone - and having a whole lot of fun along the way. totallyfrickingamazing
Thanks for all that... but above all for being a great mentor and friend! All the best for your adventure ahead of you... can't wait to hear more details!
If you should ever pass by Cologne on your world tour please note that there's always a Mentor basement available here for you to stay!!!
I also loved how the SAP Mentors stepped up when your family was going through rough times. I experienced it too and it makes such a difference to know there are friends out there all over the world caring for you and the well being of your family.
Thanks for sharing and being an amazing SAP Mentor. Ping me when you are around, Mark.
what shall I say? It's hard to imagine that after so many years with us here at SAP and being a "veteran" of Labs Palo Alto -- I think you must have been there forever! --, you're going to leave SAP to take on new endeavours!
I always enjoyed working with you and all the Mentors and I always admire your -- "playful" is probably the right word -- playful approach to create enthusiasm, motivation and positive mood towards even the most boring topics at SAP (how come all of those seem to be in my area of responsibility???). You have indeed created something very special with the SAP Mentors program and you can be very proud of that! You can be sure that your "heritage" of the SAP Mentors program will continue to thrive and the Mentors will successfully carry forward what you have created jointly with them.
I am absolutely convinced that whatever you're now going to take on as a next challenge, you've got all the right talent, all the right motivation and all the right attitude to turn it into a success story! And I am sure you will look back in a few months to this very moment here and see that the change in itself was the best thing that you could have done -- because what you're up to next will even be more important and rewarding than what you've achieved in the past.
Thank you very much for the unique impact you've had on all of us!
All the best, stay "playful" and don't ever forget to have fun,
Two of my favorites that I made for Mark over the years....(*and yes, he redeemed himself for the juggling the following year haha)
[embed width="425" height="350"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/8wj7tpj-Ppw[/embed]
[embed width="425" height="350"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/IkQPQLWGrnI[/embed]
You were one of the more quiet SAP Mentors, but what you did in the background, really made a huge difference.
Loved the little videos you put together. The juggling is one of the playful tinkering examples. These were glow rings leftover from the TechEd concert we just left. I tried and tried and it wasn't happening that year, but that was totally OK.
Years later DJ Adams spontaneously jumped up during my Networking lounge session and helped me juggle 5 SAP Mentor key chains.
Loved it, Mark.
I am already missing you 😥
Thank you for everything you have done for us Mark! You will be missed. Please stay in touch.
I wish you bon voyage, a fantastic journey, and great success in your next adventure.
I've written some of this internally but my age grants me the privilege of a little repetition for the last paragraph I'll write here. But there are some things I need to say publicly that I haven't yet. 😏
Mark, when I first looked at the SAP Developer Network (in stealth mode) I dreamed of working with the community and saw you as its tribal leader.
The first picture-image I have of you is a slide you shared of storytelling around the "campfire" . How very "un" corporate I thought. I LOVED it! That story-telling ability/art haunted me and drew me closer to the fire. It warmed and it burned.
I once said to you I wished to "be" you when I grew up.....a piped piper of magical talents. You shared with me your music and we sang together. Sometimes a little off-key and not always in harmony but always with passion and commitment. We even had "no fun here" Bjoern Goerke drumming and stomping as you highlighted.
In Latin the word community comes from "munus" (gift) for all or with all . So community literally means to give amongst each other.
Mark, as many of us experience you, you are an "un-common" community member..."sui generis" (one of a kind). But indeed as is obvious in the many comments here, a gift giver.
Mark you must feel very gratified to leave your indelible mark and unique gifts with this community. All of us in the extended tribe will watch with rapt interest where you next embed your sui-generisness. We will want to see where next you light your fires and what listeners you draw to you and where and what you gift.
Long live the gifts! May you succeed and prosper.
It is hard to believe, that there was an SDN time before you 🙂
Love that Vijay Vijayasankar calls us the Godmother and Gofather of the SAP Community.
There are so many community members that you nudged into being an SAP Mentor it was a joy to see you operate. I also love that you would almost never engage in my frustrations with any of the SAP Mentors, you would just move on.
I have to laugh, every time I hear your compliment, that I am at the same time treasure deeply, that you want to be me when you grow up.
Oh the things you are able to move like lately with the Doctors Without Borders folks is super inspiring. You don't have to be chaotic me, you fill the world with your own joy, playfulness, and laughter any day.
We both are moving on, leaving room for others to step up and make the SAP community shine, Mark.
Indeed it seems to be the season of moving along (me included very soon).
Mark Finnern & The specified item was not found. - my first face to face interaction with you at Community Day Bangalore 2007 remains etched in my professional life and shall remain forever till my last day.
Sad could not make it to my annual pilgrimage to TechEd Bangalore but would miss you next time if I make it to TechEds.
If I can humbly say "may the Force be with all of us" and hope we hear from you Mark from time to time on SD(C)N which has been my professional home.
Sad could not make it to my annual pilgrimage to TechEd Bangalore but would miss you next time if I make it to TechEd.
Best of luck to you, fellow birthday sharer! I remember way back when we were both in the Simplification Group and sat across from each other. It's fantastic that you've been able to be such a positive force for so many over the years. I wish you the best in the future.
Mark - I first spent time with you back in 2011 - we survived the 2011 Tsunami together while attending the SAP University Alliance Congress
I have always admired your enthusiasm, creativity and passion - look at how you set up this display of our Mentor booth:
Also during that event, you said to me "no one's tweeting during this event" - so to me, the message was "step it up" 🙂
This was a great event back in 2011 and I still have great connections and collaboration today with some of the attendees.
I want to thank you for all you have done for the Mentors, SAP and me. We will miss you. I like what Vijay says here Wishing Godspeed To Marilyn and Mark, The Godmother And Godfather of SAP Community | Vijay&#039;s thoughts on all th… - that we owe it to you to continue the program and pay it forward.
Best of luck on your new adventure.
I remember the event in Monterrey well too, traffic from the Bay Area was bad, so that I just walked in when they said from the main stage and to talk about the SAP Mentors we have Mark Finnern, where is he? 🙂
Love that we used the now famous first year SAP Mentor Rugby Shirt as the poster for our little standing table sign.
I think the "no one is tweeting" at this event was just a surprise to me, not necessarily a nudge. Still thanks for picking it up and doing so much for the community and the SAP Mentors, Mark.
thank you for what you've done for me and what you've enabled me t odo for others.
I wish you all the best.
Mark, you were definitely the heart of the mentor program! A person with so much passion...it is really hard to think about the time when you are no longer here.
You have created something great on which you can be so proud! I wish you all the best!
Mark, thank you for all years of dedication and work for our community! And should you stop in Wrocław for any reason - I'll have the set of couch+drink ready for you too! Good luck and take care, man!
you, like Marilyn, have left an indelible mark on not only the community, but SAP. It's an honor to have worked on the same team as you.
Here's one of my favorite photos of you, because it captures that playful spirit so well.
Oh Yes Audrey,
The whimsical SCNotties [2011 winners and contenders] and their award ceremony.
Absolutely a highlight of my career to have played Elvis in Vegas together with Greg Myers, Natascha Thomson and Sylvia Santelli +++ to honor the little videos like this one:
[embed width="188" height="155"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/CrvYF59Oyjc[/embed]
It was something that you could only understand if you were really immersed in the SAP Community Network, I am sure a lot of head scratching was going on by people that were trying to understand it, which was some of the charm of it, Mark.
I remember my very first conversation with you in 2007 in the courtyard at the old building across the street, where you schooled me on the German heritage of SAP and the world I was entering into. I was taken by your approach to SCN and community and your overall brilliance. Since then we've shared many conversations about community, marketing, anti-marketing, building tree houses and marching bands. You've allowed me to tag along on your Mentor Wolfpack romps and meet some of the most genuine geeks on the planet (like that night you had Jimmy Wales doing some crazy game). I've truly enjoyed every moment of it and will carry it with me always. YOU built the best customer advocacy program on the planet. You'll always have that (and Nina...). I can't beat the Elvis pic above, so won't even try.....
Thanks so much. I hope I didn't raise my right finger during the "schooling" on your first day 😉 and it helped you with your work at SAP.
Also really appreciate your assessment of my work:
YOU built the best customer advocacy program on the planet. You'll always have that (and Nina...).
I am figuring out how to bottle what I have done and bring the essence to other organizations as we all will be better off, the participants as well as the companies with many more such community advocacy programs.
this is a big loss for the company. Still remember the times when SDN was started and had to be defended as a usefull thing.
I wish you to be as successfull as with SCN in whatever you do in the future. That would be the most prosper way I can think of.
All the best,
Yes Benny thanks for your support in the critical early days, your Compuserve group moderation experience was critical for the success of back then SDN in Walldorf.
Love that you are still engaged in the community, Mark.