Interview: Marques Lyons, Director of Consumer Camp

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Founded by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Marques Lyons, Consumer Camp is a series of events designed to educate, engage, and empower people using what Microsoft has to offer. We sat down with Marques to get an inside look at what started out as a one-man show and turned into a nationwide initiative.

Pocketables: Thanks for joining us, Marques. Can you tell us what Consumer Camp is all about?

Marques: Consumer Camp is an education program. It’s designed to empower people to be at their best when using Microsoft products, whether that’s the phone, the tablet, the PC or the Xbox 360 console. The idea here is to show people how their life, work, family, hobbies, joys can all be connected so they can be productive and purveyors of life no matter where they are.

Pocketables: Consumer Camp started out small, but now it’s being rolled out nationwide. How did it get started and what is it like to see your project take off like this?

Marques: It started off with the most basic of ideas. I wanted to utilize the Microsoft stores to bring awareness to the Zune brand (back when Zune was a thing). It then popped into my head that maybe other Microsoft MVPs would love to share their knowledge in this capacity but probably don’t have a real organized way to do so.

Therefore, I set out to do this even if that meant being my own agent and client for a while until others saw the potential and came on board.

As far as what it’s like to see it go where it’s going. It’s overwhelming. For all that I post and tweet about how awesome it is and how I’m glad to see so much support, behind the scenes I’m an emotional wreck — in a good way. There have been moments in the run-up to these events where I could not help but stop and tear up. It’s like watching your baby grow and now you’re sending it out into the world. You hope that you took all the right steps and showed your baby the correct path to prosperity.

With Camp, I’m watching others take the reigns in their areas and make it happen. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting. It’s humbling. It’s awesome.

Pocketables: Can you give us a little background on the MVP Award program for those who may not be familiar with it?

Marques: The MVP Award program is designed to reward individuals who go out of their way to help the average consumer get the most of Microsoft products. It doesn’t have to be something on the scale of Consumer Camp, but if they help in forums, run a site, write a blog, author books, or what have you, as long as they’re giving consistent, high quality help then they get rewarded. There’s only 4000 MVPs in the world, so you’re put in pretty high company when you get the award.

Pocketables: What is your favorite thing that Microsoft has to offer this fall?

Marques: Frankly, for all the ups and downs I have with it, it’s Xbox Music. To finally not have to piecemeal how I consume music is a huge step. It’s wonderful to have one system that offers me the best way to discover new music, sample new releases, and purchase just those songs that I want. Plus, have the ability to have that music available to me no matter where I am without requiring that I do any syncing or PC connection.

Pocketables: What is the number one thing you want people to take away from Consumer Camp?

Marques: That technology is never something to be afraid of. People should never fear asking for guidance or offering feedback. The ultimate goal is for everyone to live simpler lives so that they can get more work done and have more time for family, friends, and fun.

Pocketables: Consumer Camp is all about helping people. Do you have a favorite memory from a past event?

Marques: Yes. There’s a picture of three girls who are holding Windows Phone shirts. They were so excited to be part of the event that they had no problem posing for that photo. It was just so awesome to see how excited they were (even at their age) about the technology they were learning about. For me, it really boils down to watching individual light bulbs go off as they find out how these new tips and tricks are going to make their life that much better.

Pocketables: This sounds like a great way to learn about Microsoft products, devices, and services. How can someone attend one of these events?

Marques: The best way is to follow the @consumercamp Twitter account or go to Consumer Camp’s Facebook page. There they can find out about all of the events that are taking place. This holiday we are aiming to have more than 70 events throughout the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. These events will also cover a ton of topics from Windows 8 to Windows Phone, Office, and Xbox. There will be something for everyone, I think.

We’d like to thank Marques Lyons for taking the time to answer our questions. For more information about Consumer Camp, head on over to the official website. And don’t forget to check out the Facebook page or your local Microsoft Store’s event schedule to see if Consumer Camp is coming to your area.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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