How do you become a Rockstar? – Paul Slade Co-Founder of Rockstar 365 tells us

I recently wrote an article about Rockstar 365 because I had noticed more and more people were putting links to their Rockstar 365 profiles and I was wondering why it was becoming popular.  So the first thing you should do is get yourself over to Rockstar, have a look around and create yourself a profile –

The next step is to read my first article by clicking the link below

Why are so many people using Rockstar 365 and what is it for?

I also made a youtube video, giving you a quick tour Rockstar 365

Whilst I was looking at Rockstar I emailed Paul Slade to see if he would answer some questions about Rockstar 365 and as luck would have it he was a reader of the blog and agreed to answer questions which are below.

Before we get to the questions lets see what we can find out about Paul, here is the bio on the Rockstar page and you can read about the other co-founders –

Paul Slade

thatCRMguy / Chief Brains
Debate continues to rage as to what name is actually listed on his birth certificate.

What is certain is that when audiences aren’t enjoying his unique CRM presentations, thatCRMguy is trusted as an advisor on South Africa’s most complex and innovative CRM projects.

Paul is a postive guy, when I sent him a great big long list of questions to answer he replied with this

Great questions!

Ill begin crushing these this evening.



We should also his Rockstar 365 profile of course

Interestingly Paul worked at Microsoft for nearly 2 years and he has loads of experience working with Microsoft products

lastly before we get to the question, a big thanks to Paul for answering the questions and he has created a really interest blog post for people who want to know about Rockstar 365 and people who might want to start up their own internet business in the future.  Thanks to Paul and looking at the energy ethusiasm Paul and the other Rockstars have, I think Rockstar 365 is going to grow rapidly over the next couple of years.

The interview is a great insight into how Rockstar started, where it is now and where it’s going.  There is also lots of interesting facts like there are 3000 companies signed up to Rockstar.

here are the questions

1. Please list your name, job title and social media

Paul Slade
Co-founder and CEO of Rockstar 365
@Rockstar365 (Company Profile)
@thatCRMguy (Personal Profile)

2. On your LinkedIn profile I see you have a bunch of things in your honors and awards section – 2008 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sales Person of the Year

That’s right. 2008 was a big year for BMO Software, a Dynamics CRM practice that I started with Dylan Haskins. A business we eventually sold.

The rest of the awards speak to my time at Microsoft. CPE stands for “Customer Partner Experience”. These awards are given internally to employees who go above and beyond for customers and partners. The team at Microsoft are fantastic, so it was a real privilege to receive the award twice. 

3. First tell me about the grand title of sales person of the year and secondly this data is missing from your rockstar 365 profile?

As co-founder at BMO Software I looked after sales and marketing. I had no IT or formal sales background before starting BMO, so I created a learning system for myself. I attended any sales training sessions that were on the go, wangled free tickets when we didn’t have budget (which was often), read more than 40 books in the my first year, and continually tested theories and methodologies to improve the solution sales cycle. 

Having a great technical co-founder like Dylan really helped, which meant that I learnt to solution sell, build my own CRM demos and get technical enough to avoid having to pester the delivery team with basic questions. 

Most sales were actually made while contracting to other Microsoft partners who needed assistance with their pre-sales, sales presentation and even their delivery. So sales was profit centre for BMO, and generated a lot of license sales for Microsoft. 

Rockstar 365 will have sections to showcase these kinds of achievements in the near future. I’ll add it then. 

4. When did you start Rockstar 365, do you think the recruitment process is worse for the recruiter or the recruitee? 
The site went live on the 7th of March 2013, so we’re just over a year old now.

Our larger goal is to help Microsoft professionals do three things: Win more business; Land the perfect job; and get recognised for their efforts. 

Right now we’re doubling down on solving the hiring process because, frankly, it SUCKS!
Hiring managers are bombarded with tons of recycled CV’s by recruitment agencies who are trying to show that they’re actively working on finding candidates for the vacancy. The painful task of sifting CV’s into yes/no/maybe piles and then arranging interviews, negotiating offers and hoping that your first choice accepts, is made worse by the exorbitant fees which have to be paid to the recruitment agency on acceptance.

It’s these fees that allowed certain recruitment agencies in the UK to gross over 50 million pounds last year from Dynamics placements alone! Imagine what Microsoft partners and companies could do if the bulk of that was invested back into developing people, building templates and solutions, marketing more effectively etc.

The same for Microsoft professionals. Searching for a new job or finding more consulting work is stressful. Initially we rely on our personal network. But what if the network is tapped out or not big enough? Life would be so much easier if we could simply change our status, include information on where we’d like to work, how much we need to earn, what our ideal role would be and then receive a few direct introductions to cool companies that meet our criteria.

Rockstar 365 makes the hiring process easy for both the individual and the hiring manager. And we do it for a fraction of the price. 

5. Do you work full time on Rockstar 365?

We do take a few hours off each day to eat, sleep and see our families, but generally we’re working flat out on Rockstar 365. It’s not uncommon to work really long hours, especially with users across so many timezones. 

6. How did  the three of your combine to create rockstar 365 (please list names and rockstar 365 profile links)

I can’t overstate how important the selection of co-founders is for a new business. The absolute best people need to combine to even have a chance of succeeding. Both Lawrence Cawood and Sven Laurencik have been incredibly successful in their own right, it’s my privilege to work with them. 

Lawrence has built solutions that are in use within Fortune 500’s, banks, universities, law firms, hospitals, government departments and even capital cities in the US. He’s able to solve challenges in the most novel, simple ways imaginable. Lawrence’s solutions generally start with him opening photoshop. 

Sven was one of the youngest partners ever at the law firm Eversheds. And was voted as one of the top “200 Young South Africans You Must Take To Lunch” by the Mail & Guardian. He’s a critical thinking and is able to apply the best of enterprise governance within our startup and ensures that our users, and their data are really well protected. 

The team’s strengths really compliment each other. 

7. Can you give a little history/highlights on the progress of Rockstar 365 (in general terms)

7th March 2013 – Launch
17th March 2013 – 200 users in 8 countries

18th March 2013 – Ranking system goes live

18th April 2013 – New profile pages and Ranking awards badges

15th May 2013 – ORDO version 2.0 released with new indicators

21st May 2013 – Rebranded to Rockstar 365 (from CRM Rock Star) to incorporate all Microsoft tech.

28th June 2013 – Featured in

15th October 2013 – 10 000 users in 65 countries

30th October 2013 – Featured on TechCentral

26th November – New Company Pages released – Showcase culture and highlight vacancies

27th January 2014 – Ranking removed in favour of Highlights.

1st April 2014 – Featured on Hosk Dynamic CRM Blog (OK I admit it, The Hosk added this line)

8. How has the Rockstar 365 journey been from your eyes
We have a vision of what we’d like to see exist in the world. An understanding of the challenges that our fellow Microsoft professionals face daily, and how we’d like to solve them. 

Until that vision becomes a reality, we’ll probably always feel a little impatient. 

We’ve just double our team size so expect to see the release of new features accelerate of the next few weeks.

9. What do you say to people who say – I don’t get it or isn’t this just like linkedin without connections

Great question! We learn so much from questions and feedback. 

If someone says they don’t “get it”, they generally follow the statement with their current understanding of the platform. We use that info to either improve our messaging, tweak our features or add votes to items on the backlog. On the odd occasion we have to accept that we’re simply not solving their specific problem just yet.

10. I view linkedin as your main competitor, How do you compare Rockstar 365 with Linkedin

It’s the most common comparison we get. 

If solution sales has taught me anything, it’s that the best solutions are targeted and then go deep. 

LinkedIn did an amazing job of creating a place for professionals to connect and then worked on changing the way that recruiters sourced talent. But they’re broad. So broad that it becomes tougher for them to solve really specific challenges for their user base.

We’re about focus. Using our own experiences in the Microsoft ecosystem to zero in on specific challenges and then solve them in a targeted and comprehensive way. If we do that successfully, we’ll add value to the Rockstar 365 community. That’s a win in my book.

How many people, sorry I mean Rockstars are registered on the site, what is the yearly growth rate

The last official stats we release we’re when we crossed 10 000 users. We’ll update this number publicly again when we reach a specific milestone so stay tuned for that announcment.

11. How did you persuade or why are there so many MVP signed up?

MVP’s listed on Rockstar 365 signed up of their own accord. In some cases people became MVP’s a while after having signed up, which has been really cool to see. 

The MVP’s really give back to their respective communities, and Rockstar 365 is no exception. Many of them make a special effort to provide ideas and constructive feedback on our platform which has been hugely valuable. 

12. There is not much information you can put into Rockstar 365, how did you come to this conclusion, what is a conscious choice or are you getting the important stuff down first and building up.

When designing the profile, we’ve had to be incredibly specific about what information can be captured. So the initial focus on projects and certs has been by design.  

We’re building up the profile sections quite rapidly now. This will include more generic sections like Work Experience and Education as well as some not so generic sections. But we’ll share more information on that soon.

13. How (without revealing too much obviously) does ORDO work, what sources of information does it use.

ORDO primarily uses the data provided within your profile (for now) and then creates the unique Project and Certification Insights. This information is then compared to other Rockstars in your country and across the world to create Highlights.

He is also in-charge of matching Rockstars with company vacancies, but only does so once the individual specifically flags their profile as someone considering or actively looking for a change in jobs.

The engine is really advanced with tons of capability running in the background. More and more of ORDO will be exposed to users over the next few months.

14. I have one highlight –, is this because I need to improve my profile and projects

Short answer, yes. 

ORDO will include more highlights as additional sections are released, but for now the comparison mentioned above still applies.  

15. Why did you replace highlights with the previous rankings.  Are there still some rankings under the covers.

Ranking meant that for someone to win, someone else had to lose. So in the end ranking only served 5% – 7% of our user base. 

That just wasn’t good enough, so we spent huge effort building Highlights. ORDO analyses millions of data points and is able to automatically generate thousands of unique sentences. 

This means that we can really showcase what makes an individual unique. As we add new sections, additional highlights will become available on Rockstars profiles. 

16. Events and publications are coming soon, can you tell me about that.

A massive amount of effort has been going into the planning and testing of these sections. Let’s just say that if you host, attend or speak at events you’re going to really want to be part of Rockstar 365. 

Right now we’re testing elements of this in the field. 

17. is there a popular enhancement people ask for?

You mean besides the constant stream of recruitment agencies asking how they can get access to the user base? Which, by the way, is not going to happen any time soon. 

Since we’re always listening to feedback from our users, we tend to add their user stories and votes to the product backlog. The most common request at the moment is for better quality company pages. 

This is the responsibility of the company page admins, but very shortly ORDO will be taking over some of the workload and automatically adding power content. 

18. Are you going to in the future release league tables so user can see their rankings. e.g. see the top 50 people in CRM exams?

Yes we will be, but I can’t share too much on exactly how this will be done just yet. We hate “list ranking” so you can be sure that our execution of this will be different to the run of the mill listing that other sites do. 

19. What does the future hold for Rockstar 365

Our primary focus right now is adding value. We need to keep doing the right things, adding the right features and solving those frustrating challenges that Microsoft professionals face each day. 

If we do that successfully we expect to see significant growth across the user base over the course of this year.

We’re also working hard to become self sustainable. To date we’ve funded the effort ourselves, but as the team grows so do our demands on cash flow. Our intention is not to take on any additional investment despite having had three rather significant offers. 

Exciting times ahead! 

20. Any big enhancements/updates planned for Rockstar 365

We’re always releasing new features, but there are a number of huge enhancements expected through this year. 

In the short term, expect an announcement next week regarding company pages but get ready for some really mind blowing updates over the next few weeks and months. 

21. How many companies are featured in Rockstar 365

Over 3000 companies are officially on Rockstar 365. Of those, just over 250 have content on their pages in order to take advantage of the job vacancy listing capability, but as you can see only a few are published for public consumption. 

We expect that to change dramatically with some of the upcoming announcements.

22. Where are the jobs advertised mainly placed it seems South Africa (where you are based) and America, is there any plans for UK companies/jobs to be listed.

Only a small number of jobs were actually listed on the Jobs Listing page. These were used to test one of the hiring business process.

As of last night, the Job Listing page is no more. From now on, ORDO will continue to do the work in the background for Rockstars looking for jobs and for companies looking to hire them.

23. Why do you have two fantastic interviews with Scott Durow and Joel Lindstrom.  Are you planning to do any more interviews with Rockstars

Thanks! Yes we are. If anyone would like to contribute to this initiative, feel free to ping us. 

24. You current advertising is blogging and making it easy for people to tweet their highlights, do you have any plans to do more aggressive marketing in the future.

We sure do. We’ve been getting a lot of support from the Microsoft BizSpark team on building out our marketing strategy. So watch this space.  

25. Finally what do you think of CRM 2013?

The Dynamics CRM product team have done a fantastic job! 

It’s been amazing to see both the product and the partner community evolve over the years. We can’t wait to see what business challenges partners and CRM professionals solve with this amazing technology stack. 


CRM 2011 – Common CRM interview questions but what do they tell you?

Yesterday MS CRM interview questions and CRM 2011 interview questions where the two top searches for people finding their way onto my blog, although they were only 8 searches.  Interview featured in 5 different search terms.

So that’s 13 searches out of 557 different search terms for yesterday.

It got me thinking about interview questions, what would I ask people and is it important for CRM developer/consultants to know the answer.  There is always a debate on the benefits of people knowing syntax of programming languages etc, do you really need to have this knowledge with google there to help you?

Amusing I once went for an interview and the person said when they Google interview questions or information about CRM they kept coming to my blog.  So it was quite amusing when they asked me what the difference was between a workflow and a plugin for my brain to go blank and not really know the answer.

I searched google for CRM 2011 interview questions.  I found a book on CRM 4 interview questions, it’s seem a bit of a small area to base a whole book on, especially if you put a CRM version to it.  Have a look here if you are interested.

I found two forums where CRM MVP’s and experienced users put forward some suggestions, the forums are here and here

The forums did supply quite a few links

although not my blog post CRM 2011 – common interview questions

one user

Israel Pradeep Gujjarlapudi

supplied some very interesting questions

1. Difference between PlugIn vs Workflow (Asynchronous vs Synchronous)

2. What are basic security permissions at domain level (priv reporting group, privUser group, SQL Reporting group… total 5 groups availble google it.)

3. for plugin deployment, Difference between GAC, DataBase, Disk deployments.

4. Difference between CRM webservice Vs CRM.SDKProxy namespaces.

5. Calling Dynamic Entities (knowledge on Moniker, INputParameters, OutPutParameters, and MetaServices.)

6. Difference between GUID and Key, Lookup and String

7. Knowledge on Java Script and SOAP webservices, most important how to call XmlHttpRequest. (Bold questions are high priority quesitons, you will get answers in google. if not ask me.)

8. how many max number of tabs available in MS CRM Entity Form (officially max 8 tabs, unofficially we can do plenty(Its not recommended by Microsoft CRM))

Although when I read them they are based on CRM 4 but I still wondered if knowing how many tabs you can add is actually very useful and would it really count against hiring someone if they didn’t know it was 8.

The user KSDev19 supplied some really excellent questions because there were not just about technical knowledge but can be answered if you had done CRM development.

1. explain in details about the event execution pipeline.

2. when do we register a plugin in child pipeline. give examples

3. What are images. Why are they used.

4. What is early binding and late binding. How is it used in CRM

5.How do you debug a plugin

7. What is PrinciplalObjectAccess table why is it used.

8. What is the use of stringmap table.

9.How do you set a recurrening activity in CRM

10. when can infinite loop occur in a plugin. How do you avoid infinite loops in plugin code.

11. How do you avoid sql deadlock.

12. How many types of relationships are available in crm

13. What is the difference when the ownership is user vs organizaion for a custom entity.

14. what are filtered views?

15. if you delete a record from UI, what happens in database. can you bring the record back?

16 what is deletion service? can you change its schedule

Although they are still a bit technical, although it does depend on what role you are hiring for.

All the questions were not really focused on CRM 2011 but I would like question which you could see the though process of the person as well as their technical knowledge.  So after questioning the questions, I quickly wrote some of my own.

1.  How is Linq used in CRM 2011

2.  How would you automatically create cases from

3.  Can you call a plugin using Javascript

4.  What new features were included in Rollup 5

5.  In what circumstances are dialogs useful

6.  What limitations does the sandbox have on plugins in the cloud.

7.  How do you configure Sharepoint to work with CRM 2011.

8.  When would you use a pre validation plugin and when would you use a post validation plugin

9.  Why use images with plugins.

10.  How would you Autonumber functionality to CRM.

11.  Explain how solutions work, managed and unmanaged.

8.  How do you debug a plugin

9.  How do you debug Javascript

10.  What does the CRM asynchronous service do