Attending Summit as a New Leader

It’s that time again where everyone writes their post PASS Summit Blog and tells of the great time they had with SQL Family and all the exciting new things they learned.  While those are both very true for me as well, I want to talk about how it felt to go to Summit as a new leader in the community.

This year I became a Chapter Leader and spent Tuesday at Summit in the PASS Chapter Leader and SQL Saturday meetings. It was an honor for me to walk into those meetings and collaborate with such a phenomenal group of people.  It was even more remarkable to be called out by name by more than a few.  I even commented to a couple of people that I can’t believe I was there legitimately (yes, I have crashed a few speaker dinners in my day, while not being a speaker).  Since it was only Tuesday, being involved in these meetings really helped to set a positive outlook for the remainder of my time at the Summit.

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Now there were more than a few “old timers” there that had been running their chapter for years and wasn’t nearly as enthralled with some of the information being presented in the meeting. They had heard it all before, but for me it was all new and stimulating. As I sat back and listened to their input and looked at the slides, I was impressed to see how many active chapters PASS has and how many SQL Saturdays were delivered in 2015. The staggering amount of effort and time that people freely give to help build others and improve this community is astounding to me.  I don’t think people realize how much time, effort and passion goes into running a chapter or putting on a SQL Saturday.  I was inspired.

One of my favorite parts of the meetings were the question and answer sessions with vendor representatives. It really opened my eyes on how both parties need and support the other’s initiatives. It was a reminder that they are not just there to give us money, they also provide education, and give backing to community members willing to share their knowledge with others. Programs such as the Idera Ace Program and Friends of Red-gate do just that.  In return for their funding chapters and community members give them exposure, contact lists, and help promote their products. It’s very much a give and take. The vendors also gave great advice for chapter leaders as when and how to get sponsorship; timing and planning ahead are essential. I took lots of notes.

For the remainder of Summit, I talked to other leaders and got ideas to take back to my chapter. I worked on making even more connections and getting speakers lined up for our upcoming 2016 calendar year. I engaged in discussions on how to get more involved and build future leaders.

It was kind of different take on Summit for me. Don’t get me wrong I attended my share of sessions including a great Pre Con by Argenis Fernandez, David Klee and Jimmy May on Virtualization. I went to all the PASS Sponsored night time events and attended more than my fair share of Vendor parties. It was a fantastic week with the #SQLFamily as always.  There is nothing like spending a week with like-minded people discussing things you are passionate about.

Now that it’s wrapped up, I want to take that inspiration I gained and do something more with it. This year I have set a goal for myself to be an example of how to get involved and make a difference.  I would love to help inspire future leaders by spreading my enthusiasm through speaking at SQL Saturdays, running my chapter and volunteering where ever needed. I challenge you to do the same.

See you guys at the next PASS Summit I will be there for sure!

How I joined the SQL Family

For my first blog I want to talk about my experience as a member of SQL Family.

My Start

I started my career as a lone DBA, 15 years ago, with zero knowledge of what SQL Server actually was. I was promoted into a sole DBA job with expectations I would get certified and take the bull by the horns to manage the 50+ SQL Servers .  The company, The Port of Virginia, took a big risk with me, but within 6 months’ time the gamble had paid off. In the beginning, most of what I learned to do the job was from a site called SSWUG.org. This is where a man by the name of Chris Shaw “Shaw” (t|b) unknowingly mentored me for three years. Twice a year I would register for the virtual training conferences the site had to offer where I attended almost every session Shaw presented.

My First PASS Summit

After a several years as DBA, I was given the opportunity to attend my very first PASS Summit. This is when I began to find out what SQL Family was and when my exposure to SQL Server grew exponentially. Prior to going to Summit I registered for Summit’s “First Timers” program, I was assigned to a volunteer, SQL Family member, TJay Belt (t|b). His job was to tell us how to prepare for Summit and how to get the most out of it. In his first email, he suggested we setup a Twitter account before doing anything else. He said to use SQL as part of your handle and just start following the #summit11 hash tag. So I did. Creating a Twitter account was one of the best pieces of advice that I could have gotten.

On the first day at Summit, I attended a session given by Shaw and after the session I introduced myself to him. I told him that he was my mentor and thanked him for sharing his knowledge with me. For me it was like meeting a celebrity (cheesy, I know). I was pleasantly surprised how nice he was and humbled he was to hear how much his sessions had meant to me. Shaw ended up being the first SQL Family member I met in person. I ran into him a few more times that week and by the end of the week he made a promise to me to get me an autographed SSWUGGIE.  A “SSWUGGIE” is a Snuggie blanket with the SSWUG logo on it. Some speakers wore them in the virtual conference sessions and I thought they were cute at the time. A month later, I received it in the mail.

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During Summit I traded business cards with so many people, talked with so many different DBA’s, attended all the events, and some after parties. Luckily for me, I am very outgoing and just jumped in with both feet taking advantage of everything Summit offered (which I highly encourage others to do). I met more than a dozen active SQL Family members that week. Upon returning home I logged into Twitter and began following everyone who gave me a business card.

My New Virtual Co- workers

As a lone DBA, Twitter has given me an outlet and supplied me with thousands of new co- workers.  Over the years, I have relied heavily on these connections. I can find help by just tweeting questions or using the #SQLHelp hash tag. All hours of the day and night SQL Family will come out of the woodwork to help me and others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able work through an issue, talk through ideas, and just vent to them. SQL Family has generously shared their knowledge and guidance which has in turn helped me grow as a DBA.

Becoming a Valued Member of the Family

Now that I, myself, am a seasoned DBA with knowledge to share, I want to begin doing for others what SQL Family has done for me. I have started speaking at SQL Saturdays (thanks to being encouraged by SQL Family members), I am running my local SQL Server User Group (thanks to Derik Hammer (t|b)), and now look at me I am blogging. I find myself immersed daily in SQL Family. Each morning when I log into work I also log into Twitter and say good morning to them. I have Twitter open on my desktop all day looking to see what’s going on with #SQLHelp, reading blogs I see tweeted, and just staying part of ongoing SQL conversations.  Every day the SQL Family continues to teach me something new.

Thankful

I never imagined that when I started as a lone DBA that I would be able to walk in the footsteps of my mentor Chris Shaw and contribute to others in the SQL community.  I’ve been able to begin to give back to the family that helped raise me in the SQL world. Thanks to all of you that knowing or unknowingly impacting my career and for bringing me into the amazing community we lovingly call SQL Family.  Looking forward to our Annual SQL Family Reunion they call PASS Summit. I am proud to be a member.