May 23 2016

PASS Board 2016: Update #3

I didn’t post an update last month, but I did do something more important: I elicited your feedback on a question the Board needs to act on.

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

First, based on your feedback (thanks) and conversations that I’ve had with members of the Board, I’m putting together recommendations for how we deal with payment and PASS-branded (but not PASS run, that’s already covered in the By-Laws) events. I’ll be presenting that in June at the in-person Board meeting. Speaking of the Board meeting, I’ve also been soliciting topics (although really, my priceless partner at PASS HQ, Vicki, is doing all the real work). We’re also preparing the budget for FY 2017 (again, the real work is being led by an equally priceless Sandy at HQ). Beyond a series of meetings with each of the portfolio owners, that hasn’t been too much work for me… yet. It’s coming up and will involve quite a lot of time to have everything ready for the June meeting.

…And spreadsheets (BLECH!).

I attended the Business Analytics Conference. While I was there, instead of going to sessions (and there were a couple on R that I really wanted to attend), I sat in on Focus Group meetings with various sets of attendees in order to understand how PASS can best serve the BA community. These meetings are an excellent way to gather a ton of information from people; good feedback on how we’re doing. I’m advocating for doing them at the Summit this year too. While I was there I got to have my first in-person meeting with the rest of the Executive Committee. We talk on the phone, through Skype, and over email very regularly, but nothing beats face-to-face.

Something special I got to do, thanks again to other peoples work (in this case Annette Allen (b|t), one of the PASS Regional Mentors over in the UK) was sit down with the user group, chapter, and community leaders during SQLBits (I was over there to present a session). We talked about a whole bunch of things, but focused around how PASS, as an organization, can better serve, especially locally, like in the UK and Europe. It was a really constructive meeting and quite positive. I can share a few things from it. Based on those conversations, I’ve already set up a Slack channel that Ryan can experiment with to help improve communication between the chapters and PASS as well as the chapters with each other. I think you may also see some other changes in communication in and around chapters in the near future. We’re also going to look into ways to get more swag to Chapters (but not shipping from Canada, as international shipping is costly and efficient for PASS or organizers).

That’s about it. My involvement with the Board continues to be educational and rewarding. I won’t lie. It’s a time commitment. It is however, one I’m very happy to have the opportunity to make. If you’re considering running for the board, talk to me. I’ll tell you all the good things it brings.

May 02 2016

How to Convince the Boss to Send You to PASS Summit

August two years ago I originally posted, Make the PASS Summit Work for Your Employer. After conversations at several SQL Saturdays over the last couple of months, I decided to refresh and update that original content and post it again.

I keep hearing how the job market has changed. That companies just don’t want to pay for training any more. However, I don’t recall any of my employers in the past ever actively wanting, desiring, begging me, please, oh, please, can’t you go out to a little training? In fact, for the most part, I pretty much always had to beg the boss to send me out to training. I had to sell it. I don’t think that’s a new development. Let’s review the selling points to help you convince the boss.

My Knowledge Base

That’s the easy one. Tell the boss, “I’ll learn more.” Maybe this one is obvious, but you should talk to your boss about the addition of more skills to your skill set, an improvement of your overall knowledge and, by extension, your worth to the company. There is a ton of excellent learning opportunities at the Summit covering the entire length, breadth and depth of Microsoft’s Data Platform and it’s attendant products. These sessions are lead by some of the most knowledgeable and skilled people in the industry. Further, they’re practically slavering at the bit to have you ask your difficult question so that they can exercise their skills and expand their knowledge by helping you. You can learn more, faster, at the PASS Summit than almost anywhere. That’s going too help your employer because you will be a better employee.

Our Current Problem

Just about every year in the 6-8 weeks leading up to the PASS Summit, I would start collecting questions. What particular pain points are we experiencing with Microsoft Data Platform products that are so severe I should grab 10 minutes with a Microsoft engineer to talk about? Oh, didn’t I mention that fact? Yeah, the guys who built the product are frequently at the Summit. You can take your immediate problems straight to these people. Further, there’s likely to be an MVP or MCM standing near by who might be able to help out too. Or, you can try the Customer Advisory Team (CAT) who always have a number of representatives there. In short, you can get pretty close to premier support without wasting a premier support ticket. All the vendors of all the tools you’re using are also there, frequently with some, or all, their development staff. Need some help with that software you purchased, go and get it.

Our Future Direction

Your company needs to make decisions about their technology future. You’ve seen the marketing hype. Now, what do the people who are working with the newest stuff every day have to say? Can you get more information by attending sessions that are not put on by Microsoft on emerging technologies? Yes, frequently. That’s not to say that a Microsoft session by the people who built the product won’t be useful too. The PASS Summit is the place to see this. Microsoft doesn’t just develop things and then toss them over the fence to see what works (mostly). Instead, they have companies and individuals working with them all the time to develop new directions for the product. Those people and organizations are frequently at the Summit, displaying new stuff on the vendor floor or giving presentations about the new directions they’re taking the technology. You can get a better understanding if your company’s plans are going to work well going into the future. Even if the plan is best summed up as “We’ll sit on SQL Server 2000 until it rots around our ears.” Others are doing it too. Find out how it’s working out for them. Or, why they finally decided to upgrade, maybe even moving to Azure.

Our Team Skill Set

Most companies are not going to want to send all of the database development team, DBA team, or development team away for a week. Instead, they’ll send one or two people from each team (maybe less). So your team loses out, right? Wrong. Two things. First, coordinate. If you have more than one person from your company at the event, make sure that you cover as many sessions as you possible can. Don’t overlap. When I was working on a team heading to the Summit we would divide up sessions to make sure things got covered that the company needed or that we needed as individuals. While I may want to see speaker X do her session on indexing again, my co-worker has yet to see it, so I’ll send them. And make sure you have a couple of sessions picked for a time period because the session you’re in could be a bad choice. If a session isn’t for you, for any reason, just walk out. Before you go, if you’re the only one going, head around to the teams and see if they have a request for a session that you can attend. This is a chance to enhance your image within the organization and make your boss look good by offering to help others. Send them links to the event schedule so that they can pick and choose. Finally, teach. You just spent a week getting data dumped into your brain. Teach it to your team. We made a pact that anyone who went off to a week of training had to present 2-3 sessions to the team from that event. You can even purchase the event DVD and show sessions to your team in meetings.

NOTE: This is not to say, steal these slide decks to become your internal training resource, unattributed to the original presenter. That is a bad thing.

My Retention

Who do you want to work for? The employer that says, “Heck no you can’t go to the PASS Summit. You’ll meet people and figure out that our company stinks and you’ll try to get a new job, or you’ll learn more and be more valuable and we’re not about to raise your pay.” Or, the employer who says, “Yeah, sure you can go this year. Let’s document what you’re going to learn and how it’ll help the company.” OK, it’s not going to be that easy. You may have to agree not to leave the company for a year or something afterwards. Be cautious about exactly what kind of strings get attached, but also be aware of the fact that the company is investing in you and would probably expect to get something for that investment. Just be sure it’s fair to both you and them.

I get it that some employers are smaller and just can’t foot the bill for this. See if they’ll meet you part way. You pay for the trip and lodging and they pay for the Summit, or vice versa. It can also be about timing. You’ve got a major software release that’s going to prevent you from going. I almost missed a Summit myself because of this. It’s just not always possible, but a good employer will find a way to make it possible, occasionally. If there is literally no support, of any kind, ever, you’re either working for a not-for-profit or, maybe, the wrong company.

I’ll Be On Call

Be on call. Carry the laptop with you. Keep your phone charged (ABC = Always Be Charging). Don’t enjoy the evening festivities too much (and yes, there are parties at the PASS Summit). Be a responsible employee. I’ve had to walk out of great sessions because of calls from the office. I missed half a day because of a failed deployment. But I was online and available, not falling off the face of the planet just because I was at the Summit. Make the commitment to be available as needed by your employer. Demonstrate that commitment by being available. However, as with all things, there has to be a happy middle, assuming a non-destructive total emergency, they should leave you alone for little stuff so that you can attend sessions and network. That’s why they sent you in the first place.

My Notes

Take lots and lots and lots of notes. You can type them into OneNote or EverNote or whatever. Or you can scribble them into your tablet or onto notepads. Anything that works. But write stuff down. Write lots of stuff down. Write down what you’re thinking about the information as well as details said by the speaker that may not be visible on slides or in code. Write down what you talked about with that lady from that vendor on the back of their card. Take notes while talking to the Microsoft engineer or CAT member. Then, turn the notes over to your employer. They act as an additional knowledge base about the event. It’s one more resource that you’re bringing back to your team, showing the enhanced value that you’re providing.

Our Swag

Bring home a t-shirt or two for those people who couldn’t go. If there’s a particularly cool piece of swag, give it to the boss or have it as a raffle at the team training event for the best question. Share the stuff you get as well as the information you get. A friend of mine and I once collected 56 t-shirts and a stack of other swag (and had a heck of a time getting it all back on the plane) which we then spent almost two weeks handing out in the office to our team, development teams, managers and systems people, etc. It made us look good and cost us nothing but a little time on the vendor floor. It’s silly, but it works. If nothing else, it shows the boss that you’re thinking about your team and the company while you’re away.

My/Our Network

Network. That means not being “that person.” That person is the one who comes to the event, shows up for all the sessions, doesn’t ask questions or talk to a single person all day, then leaves and goes to their hotel room (and then usually goes home saying “Wow, that was a waste of my time”). There are large numbers of opportunities to network. Waiting in line to register, turn and talk to someone. Ask questions of the presenter during their session AND follow-up afterwards (although, let them get unplugged and out of the way of the next speaker). Go to the vendor floor where you should talk to the vendors as well as others. Attend the First-Timers event. Go to the Birds of a Feather lunch. Wear a kilt on Day 2 of the Summit (SQL Kilt Day, you’re reading the words of the founder of the event). Attend the Women in Technology Luncheon. Track down all the places where people are getting together and talking. Go to them. Get together. Talk.

I’m an introvert (people laugh when I say it, but it’s true). I recharge with alone time, not at parties. I get being an introvert. But the PASS Summit is not recharge time. If you’re not almost literally crawling out of the venue on Friday afternoon, you’re doing it wrong. The flight home should be the most relaxing plane flight you’ve ever had because you’ll pass out before take-off and wake up when the wheels touch down.

Take the time and trouble to begin to build your network. And remember, a network is not a series of authors or MCMs or MVPs that you can call. It’s a collection of people, some may be presenters/authors/etc., but the best are probably doing the same job you do but for a different organization. Talk to everyone. Build that network.

How does your network help the company? Remember that you don’t know everything. You can’t. However, you can know the people who do know things that you do not. That effectively expands your knowledge set. That makes you more valuable for your organization.

Conclusion

As you can see, going to the event could be a ton of work. In fact, if you’re focused on maximizing the returns for your organization, it will be. You’re going to be working just as hard at this event as you do in the office. It’s all about showing the organization that they will receive benefits by sending you. They will profit from the expenditure. Never lose sight of the fact that it has to be a partnership with the business. You need to benefit as much as they do from the experience. The fact is though, if you follow all my suggestions, you will benefit, and you will deliver worth to your org.

Apr 20 2016

Payment and the Board

If you read the March PASS Board meeting minutes, you saw that there was a discussion around board members and payments related to SQLSaturday precons. The question is simple, for a PASS branded event, should a member of the PASS board receive payment?

There are a couple of relevant facts. In the by-laws it says:

“…provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to preclude any Director from serving PASS in an educational or speaking capacity and receiving compensation upon approval by a majority vote from the Board of Directors.”

That’s very clear. If a member of the Board wishes to receive payment from PASS to put on a precon, they have to get approval of the Board.

Next fact, PASS branded events, such as SQLSaturday, are not, because of legal and financial reasons, PASS run events. They are separate entities. This means they are, in terms of the law, not covered under the by-laws. They must remain separate legal entities from the events where PASS takes direct responsibility, such as Summit and the Business Analytics Conference.

The question then, is receiving money at a PASS-branded event a conflict of interest? Is it a negative perception? Is it not an issue at all? Further, does any of this apply to PASS-sponsored events?

I have my opinion, but I’m going to withhold it here. What do you think?

Mar 24 2016

PASS Board 2016: Update #2

Time flies. I didn’t notice that I hadn’t posted an update in February.

There’s been a lot going on since I last posted! I’ve attended the executive committee meetings. I’ve also hosted my first board meetings and I took part in my first Town Hall. I’ve been working with PASS HQ to set the agenda for upcoming meetings and we’re starting the budgeting process for FY2017. I’ve got a couple of blog posts I’ve put together on the Board Elections (for my blog) and on the goals and plans for the EVP (on the PASS blog) that are going through an editing process. I should be able to share those with you soon.

Today, I’m going to discuss a couple of things that I’ve been mulling over. They’re things that I think ought to help drive our organization forward, but I’d like to hear back from others. First up (and remember, this is just me thinking about things by writing them down; this isn’t a commitment, promise, goal, or solemn oath), I’m trying to come up with a good list of why people should become involved with PASS. I know my involvement has led to amazing things. I know lots of others who can say the same. However, I also know a lot of people who aren’t involved at all, or are involved but don’t see benefits because of it. I want to see people actively seeking out PASS: Chapters, events, knowledge. Connect, Share, Learn. I think we have a positive and unique story here.

Connect

  • We support Chapters around the world through the website, regional emails promoting local meetings, and the management tools.
  • We support the infrastructure that makes SQLSaturday events possible.
  • PASS Summit!
  • Business Analytics Conference!
  • Women in Technology.
  • Promotion of all these aims to connect people.

Share

  • Chapters again — offering people the opportunity to organize and run a local Chapter, but also a venue for sharing your knowledge.
  • SQLSaturday again, if you don’t start presenting at the local Chapter, you probably start here.
  • Summit and Business Analytics Conference.
  • Virtual Chapters.
  • 24 Hours of PASS (Incarnation X).

Learn

  • All of the above.
  • Recordings of much of the above.
  • A very productive relationship with Microsoft.

This is a unique and rich community that we have built. Frankly, I want more. I’m greedy. I don’t just want to add to this list, or improve on the stuff already on it, but make people actively want to get involved. Help me out here. Let’s get others to become as passionate about this stuff as we are!

Mar 17 2016

Opportunities To Talk

It’s weird being an introvert who likes to talk to people, but what can I do. I like talking to people. I have a number of upcoming trips, quite literally all over the world, that provide us with the opportunities to get together and have a chat.

First, I’ll be at SQL Saturday Boston (the 500th SQL Saturday event, HUZZAH!), this weekend, March 19th 2016. I’ll be talking about the Query Store and I’ll be doing a presentation for PASS since this is a milestone event. The first SQL Saturday event in Boston was #34, six years ago, which I helped organize. It’s been quite the journey.

I’m going to SQL Saturday Madison on April 9th. I’ll be talking about the Query Store and how to automate your database deployments. I haven’t been in Wisconsin for years.

Also in April, on the 19th, I’ll be heading down to Orlando. I’m pleased to be able to say I have the honor (and I really do consider it that way) to be able to take part in SQL Intersection. Check out the speakers there. Amazing. I’m doing a couple of new sessions on improving your T-SQL and on hybrid Azure environments.

Then things get busy. First, on May 2nd and 3rd, I’ll be at the PASS Business Analytics Conference. I’m going there to learn as well as support the event in my role as the PASS EVP. I’m very excited about it. Last year the BAC was great. This year looks even better.

On May 4th, yes, leaving one to get to the next, I fly out to merry old England where I’m presenting at the SQLBits conference. Bits is hands down one of the great events each year. I truly look forward to it and to getting to talk with all my friends from over the pond.

I get to come home for a few days, and then, something completely new. I’m off to Wroclaw Poland for the SQL Day Poland conference, May 16-18. This will be the furthest from home I’ve ever travelled to present. It will be my first time ever in Poland. I’m excited like a puppy dog about this event. I’m doing a pre-conference seminar and a couple of sessions, all about query tuning and execution plans. I don’t know when, or if, I’ll be back over there again, so please, take advantage of this special opportunity.

Back in the states, in June, I’m doing a road trip (still unnamed, I need help with that) through the state of Ohio hitting multiple SQL Server user groups. I’ll do another couple of posts on this event as we get it slightly more nailed down (I still haven’t picked a topic).

The last thing I have scheduled currently this year is another new trip. Remember that record I’m going to set by flying off to Poland in May? Yeah, well, it’s only going to stand for three months. In August, I’m travelling to India for the SQL Server Geeks Conference. There I’ll be presenting a pre-conference, all-day, seminar as well as a couple of sessions. And yeah, puppy dog time again.

I’m going to try to get to a SQL Saturday event in July and maybe another in August. Nothing picked yet. I’m open to suggestions.

Please, if you come to one of these events, introduce yourself. I do want to talk to you. That’s why I’m there.

Jan 29 2016

PASS Board 2016: Update #1

Hello everyone. Just because I’ve moved on to the executive committee doesn’t mean I’m walking away from these reports. I will continue to communicate all that I can about my role as EVP throughout the year. One of our commitments this year is providing greater insight into each of the portfolio roles, including the Executive. You’ll start to see more communications in the coming weeks of each of our roles.

The last month has largely been about learning my new role.

As EVP, my primary responsibilities include working closely with PASS HQ on finances and governance. Some of these responsibilities may seem tedious and mundane, but they are an essential part of ensuring that PASS delivers on its mission to provide our global community with the best professional development and networking opportunities.

My first tasks included reviewing the budget and becoming familiar with the by-laws. I’ve sat in on my first ExecCo meetings and approved my first round of bills. I have also held individual meetings with the various department heads at PASS HQ so that I can better understand their roles and day-to-day issues to help address them and better serve you all.

One of our in-person board meetings was this month. Unfortunately, I had to travel to the UK for work. But I still attended the meeting. That’s right; I’m not going to stop working for you just because I’m one-third of the way around the planet. I spent the evenings in my hotel after work, staying up late, to be online and at the meeting. I took part in the discussions and the votes. I thought it was a very productive meeting and we made good progress on some very important topics, further details of which will be revealed to you very soon. I’m impressed by the seriousness and capability of my fellow board members. You guys are being well served by this board.

Nothing else to report at this point. I’m still largely getting my feet underneath me in my new role.

Dec 14 2015

One More PASS Board Update for 2015

Remember that post I wrote about taking on SQLSaturday events as my new PASS portfolio?

Emily-Litella

Never mind.*

Instead, it seems I’ll be involved with a completely different role. Starting on January 1, I’ll be moving onto the executive committee of the PASS Board and taking on the role of Executive Vice President. You can read the announcement here.

While this means that I won’t be directly involved in Chapters and SQLSaturday on a day to day basis, I will continue my engagement with Chapters until a new Director comes onboard and portfolio assignments are complete. As EVP, I want to stay engaged as possible in SQLSaturday in every way I can within my new role. I love SQLSaturday (and I don’t mind saying, I was excited to receive that portfolio and I’m a little sad to let it go). I’ll continue to support both from the new role. It’ll just be different.

As EVP, I intend to continue to blog about PASS’ priorities and my own. I am going to make the same request of you I’ve made before: let me know how we’re doing. I need the feedback more than ever. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me through this blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or one of my myriad email addresses. I want to hear from the people that make up this organization. Please, consider this a personal invitation.

In terms of my personal goals as EVP, I should have more to report after the January board meeting.

Before I go, I want to formally thank the Board for the trust they’ve put in me.


*For all you youngsters, that’s the character Emily Latella acted by the late Gilda Radner from the original cast of Saturday Night Live (you know, when they were funny). Here’s an example (possibly slightly NSFW because of a single word at the end).

 

Dec 10 2015

Promote Community

When I present at any given event, I generally assume that the people attending have heard of the event that I’m at. For example, I don’t need to ask people at SQL in the City, “Who here has heard of Redgate Software?” Same thing goes for a SQL Saturday event “Did anyone here know that there’s a local, free, event being held that provides free training and networking in your area?” seems like a waste of time while at the event. However, what about the rest of the community?

If you’re working on your presentation skills, I’d like you to add one more bit of work to everything else you’re doing (yes, yes, you’re welcome). I’d like you to get in the habit of taking 3-5 minutes prior to the start of your presentation to promote community. If you’re at a SQL Saturday event, talk about the local chapter and any other nearby upcoming SQL Saturday events. If you’re at a SQL Server event, mention the upcoming BA event. Cross-pollinate your communities as much as possible. Be respectful though. If you’re at a paying event, it’s not really good form to promote another, competing, paying event. However, passing along word of a meet-up or virtual chapter where people can get additional information on the topic you’re presenting, that’s fine.

Don’t assume that everyone knows what you do. I’ve made a habit of checking at the beginning of my sessions, “Who attends their local PASS Chapter? Who hasn’t heard of PASS? Anyone here who hasn’t heard of SQL Cruise? Who is going to PASS Summit this year? Let me tell you about PASS Summit…” I know I’m introducing people to the size and depth of the community that we all take part in because over and over, I get large sections of the room who haven’t heard of the different topics I bring up.

Talking to the people in your session like this serves a dual purpose. First, and I’d argue most important, you’re promoting the community. Second, you’re warming up and you’re warming up your audience. They’re getting used to you and you’re getting a sense of them. This will help you deliver your session because you’ll know better how the crowd is responding.

Dec 09 2015

PASS Board Update: First Year

This represents my 12th month on the board so I thought I would recap my time there so you know what I’ve done, haven’t done, etc.

A year ago I took over Chapters as my area of responsibility, what’s known as my Portfolio. Wendy Pastrick had been ably running it quite well, so I had big shoes to fill. The first thing I had to prepare was a set of goals for the Chapters. I’ve blogged about them and the process and I reported on my success in meeting them (mostly) at PASS Summit this year. Over the year I’ve welcomed a number of new leaders, new Regional Mentors and new chapters into the fold. I’ve worked with Carmen and Karla at HQ, and we’ve done a good job (in my opinion) in meeting the requirements of the Chapters. We put together some very useful meetings at Summit for the Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors (even if I did scare the RMs, just a little).

I’ve put together 14 posts this year directly related to my time and work on the board. I’ve reported on the work I’ve been doing and my thoughts on various topics related to the organization and the community. One of my promises when I ran for the office was that I would be as open, as approachable, as communicative (without violating Board confidentiality) as I could be. I know that I’ve been pushed to be more communicative and I’ve tried to meet those challenges. I think I’m still probably a little overly conservative in what I say and share here, but I’m attempting to be as open as is appropriate. I’ll push myself on opening up more. Feel free to call me on this too.

I’ve been assigned a new portfolio for next year, SQL Saturday. I’m working with Tim Ford now to understand, in more detail, where everything is at, his current goals and status, and, frankly, create some goals of my own. I’ll gladly share what I’m thinking about. First, yes, we need to continue to improve the web site. There are a bunch of enhancements underway, but I’m not going to talk about any of that until it’s more under my control (and I know I’m not stepping on IT or HQ). Next, I’m thinking that, while completely and utterly protecting the brand, I’d like to find a way to increase the level at which we let people localize the event branding so that it feels more like their own. For example SQL Saturday in the local language instead of English. Possibly localizing the logo (again, we have to protect the brand and the trademark first, assume that). This comes out of the conversations I’ve had with people at Summit (I think those conversations, which I had last year and again this year, are the most useful thing I’ve done as a member of the Board. I’m going to continue doing that regardless of my role in the organization). I’ll be reviewing the notes I took from those conversations so that I can glean any other good goals from them.

We have another board meeting this week to round out the year. This makes 15 posts. I’ll continue to share next year, especially early on when addressing the goals, plans and delivery. As always, I’m actively soliciting your feedback. Let me know what you want done.

UPDATE: 16 posts for the year. I have an update to this post available here.

Nov 02 2015

PASS Summit 2015: Wrap-up

WHOOP!

Another PASS Summit is complete. This one was amazing. It’s my first time ever as a member of the Board of Directors of the PASS organization to attend the Summit and take part in the full process of making the sausage. It was hard. It was exhausting (more so than usual). It was one the most exhilarating, fascinating and wonderful experiences of my life.

First the sad news, Rimma Nehme and Dr. DeWitt have delivered their last presentation at the PASS Summit. It’s the end of an era. I was at the first session delivered by Dr. DeWitt. It was one of the most amazing technical keynotes I’d ever seen until the next one that he gave. The two of them became absolute rock stars in the SQL Server and PASS community because of their deep technical, hilarious, informative sessions. They will be missed. I think the Board has a challenge next year to attempt to match them. Just saying. Personally, I’m ecstatic that I’ve been lucky enough to attend every one of their keynotes. Just in case the two of you read this, thank you!

Thursday I attended my first Board Q&A. It was interesting. The recording of it will be published. I even got to answer a question on stage. I spent a lot of time in the Community Zone, any time I could between meetings, talking to people, anyone who would come up. I also had duties at the Redgate booth, but I was able to talk to people there as well about PASS. It was a great day.

Friday I spent even more time at the Community Zone. I’ve really tried to make every effort to be available to anyone who has anything to discuss about the organization. I took notes from a bunch of the conversations about issues people were having, suggestions for improvements and just general stuff about the organization, Chapters and SQL Saturday. I arrived late to the Speaker Idol finale (in a meeting), but I was able to see a session and see the winner crowned.

My biggest takeaways from the Summit were, first, that Christianson & Company, the management company for PASS, who runs the Summit (among a few thousand other things), does a fantastic job. It was pretty amazing watching them work. Second, my fellow board members are wonderful people. I’m learning so much from being able to work with them. Thomas LaRock… Hi Tom… is a rock (no pun intended, but hey) of stability. Adam Jorgensen, is a font of knowledge on technical topics and leadership that I wish I could just bring with me everywhere I go. James Rowland-Jones is the man who convinced me that I needed to run for the board and he continues to be an inspiration. Denise McInerney is gloriously brilliant, hilarious and fun to be around, and is helping me learn absolutely tons about the proper way to do marketing (and I want this information badly). Wendy Pastrick is a bundle of joy and passion who helps keep me in line and on target. Jenn Stirrup has a very quiet voice, but has huge ideas wrapped inside of it. Tim Ford is a great source of ideas and direction who can slice to the heart of a situation like a surgeon. Bill Graziano, our outgoing past-president, is not only a great guy, but acts as an excellent source of history and guidance.

Somehow, I’ve been lucky enough to get to sit in a room with these people and we do what’s necessary to create a space in which the SQL Family can realize the amazing results that it is capable of. I had a couple of moments this week where I just stopped for a second and looked around in amazement that I was able to be counted among them.