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?


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


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.

Oct 29 2015

PASS Summit 2015: So Far

It’s Kilt Day!

I want to give a quick assessment on how the Summit has been for me so far. Monday, as is true for the rest of the week, I served two masters. In the morning I went to the Redgate SQL in the City event. In the afternoon I attended our in-person board meeting. The minutes for the meeting will come out after they’re approved. The meeting largely consisted of reporting on how we had done this year and starting the process of getting going for next year. I left that meeting and went back to SQL in the City. Yeah, I’ve been running all week.

Tuesday was my community day. It’s been announced that I’m moving from the Chapters portfolio to the SQL Saturday portfolio. I went to the two hour meeting we had with all the organizers of SQL Saturday events from all over the world. It was a celebration and a chance for feedback. What things do we need to stop, start or continue. Here are a few of the notes I took during the meeting:

  • We need a better way to share sponsor info, a report or forum
  • Regional Mentors (RMs) could be a clearing house for sponsors in regions
  • We need to promote having people bring a friend (actually, this is something I’d like to find a way to formalize or reward somehow)
  • We need a better way to automate lead generation for the sponsors
  • Sponsors would like to get the layout ahead of time
  • If you want to get sponsor money, get them a list of topics and speakers as soon as possible

There was more discussion around improvements in the web site and speedpass. Overall, it seemed like a successful meeting.

Next I met with your Regional Mentors. We had a private discussion that I sort of stirred up (maybe even on purpose a little). I started the discussion by saying, “So, let’s disband this program.” We went from there. The feedback we generated for improving the program is great. A few items I’ll share are:

  • We need to ensure that the RMs are involved in Chapter communications from the org
  • RMs need a way to easily send emails to their org
  • RMs have to communicate better with the board

Finally, I met with the Chapter Leaders. It was, again, a celebration of everything they do for the organization. Also, I reported on my progress on their behalf. I set three goals, increase the number of chapters, find a way to use the PASS email list to market for the chapters, get the chapters access to our extensive speaker list. We’re succeeding in the first goal, easily. You guys form community easily and well. The second goal we’re meeting because marketing has started generating regionalized emails and we’re supplying chapters links in those emails. We’ll continue to work on this. Getting access to the speaker lists is not yet complete. We have a couple of legal hurdles that we have to clear and it’s going to require a few technical changes. The plans are to finish this before the end of the year which means I’ll have met my goals for my tenure as the leader of Chapters.

Tuesday… woof. I spent a lot of time in the Community Zone talking to anyone that wanted to provide feedback on Chapters, RMs, or SQL Saturday or any other thing related to the PASS organization or the Board.

It’s been an exciting Summit so far. It’s very different doing this from the Board. I hope these reports about my perspective of how things are going there are useful.

Oct 23 2015

Talk to Me at PASS Summit

If you’re going to PASS and you want to have a chat, I want to talk to you. If it’s about the Board of Directors for PASS, PASS Chapters, execution plans, crossfit or something else, here are a few places where I’ll be doing my best to make myself available:

Redgate Booth – I’ll be here quite a bunch all next week. Swing by and don’t just talk to me, get a demo of one of our fine products.
Community Zone – I’ll make a point of going here to hang out when I can so you can track me down.
Board of Directors Q&A – Thursday in 307/308 at 3:30 PM, I know exactly where I’ll be.
Receptions – Tuesday night is the welcome reception for Summit. I’ll be somewhere. Wednesday is the Exhibitor reception. Look for me at or near the Redgate booth. Thursday night is the party at the EMP. You’re welcome to try to find me there.

Summit is a crazy busy time. I’d love to say that if you see me in the halls stop me, but if you see me in the halls, I’ll probably be running because I’m already late to the next event or session, so don’t stop me there.

As a member of the PASS Board, in order for me to deliver what you need, you have to let me know. Please, take the opportunities above to get in touch and provide me with the feedback on how we’re doing with PASS.

Oct 22 2015



I’m at least one of the people who yelled Zoomit during a keynote at PASS Summit.

I want to take a moment and explain why I did it and why it was wrong.

I was frustrated. I’m watching a presentation on a HUGE screen, from about mid-way in the room and the presenter is earnestly showing off a cool new feature of SQL Server in about 3 point font and saying “… As you can see …”.

No. No I couldn’t. After a little while of staring at the blur on the screen and hearing the person say I could see this or see that, I popped. I was interested. I was paying attention. I really and truly wanted to see what was on the screen and I honestly could not. So, I yelled at the stage.

I was wrong.

The person on stage probably didn’t have Zoomit installed. Nor did they know how to use it. They probably also didn’t know that Windows has a magnification utility built in (don’t like it, but it’s there). My yelling didn’t help them at all to discover this information. Further, it probably made them even more nervous. Neither of these improved the experience for anyone in the audience. Finally, it was unprofessional behavior. That’s the important one.

What should I have done? Find a positive solution. Get a hold of someone, anyone, from PASS, from Microsoft, and let them know that we can’t see. Nothing is going to get fixed at the moment, but the feedback has to be delivered. It can just be delivered in a way that’s helpful, not hurtful. Write a blog post? Sure, but try to make it a positive and helpful one. Tweet about it at the time? Yeah, why not? Just make the tweets informative as opposed to negative. Communicate the necessary information (and yeah, it was necessary) in a way that does two things 1) It gets heard and 2) It provides help to those who need it.

I seem to frequently serve as a negative example. “Don’t do what I’ve done. It hurts” is a repetitive message I deliver. Please remember. PASS Summit is a blast. It is. The event has changed my life in a positive way and I’ve grown to truly love the giving community that built and continues to improve the PASS organization. So don’t do what I’ve done. Have fun at PASS, yes. SQUEE and hug your friends. Wear a kilt. Go to the parties and imbibe. Just remember, through it all, you’re still expected to behave as a professional. Don’t follow my bad example. Instead, build on the positive aspects of PASS and the community in a positive fashion.

See you next week!

Oct 20 2015

Statistics for the New Data Pro

Next week at the PASS Summit I’ll be presenting a session called Statistics for the New Data Pro.

You can read the abstract at the link. I just want to emphasize that this is a beginner level session. I think way too many people who are just starting out with SQL Server don’t understand the role that statistics play in determining how your queries are going to behave. What’s more, too many people don’t know how to get and read statistics to understand how it is that the optimizer thinks you have X number of rows in your database that match a given value. I’m going to make darned sure that the people who attend this session come out with a full understanding of how to read the statistics. This includes the good information available in the header, how the density graph is used, and a complete understanding of the monstrosity that is the histogram (it’s not that bad).

We’re also going to talk about statistics maintenance. You need to know how stats get updated because they absolutely impact how your queries are going to behave. There are a couple of ways that statistics are automatically maintained and I really want to be sure that you know what those are. We’ll also talk about manual maintenance, which must be done.

Overall, this is meant as a session for those who have stumbled into a position at work that requires them to be a Data Professional. You can call it accidental DBA, or reluctant database programmer, or just the poor individual who was left standing when everyone else stepped backwards one pace. If you already feel you have a firm grasp of statistics, awesome. You might not want to attend this session. It’s Summit. There are others during the same time slot. But, I have a request. Could you please direct your junior DBA to this? If you know someone who’s just getting started writing T-SQL code, maintaining a server, developing applications and reports, I think this session would do them good, so please send them on over.

Also, on the topic of statistics, I’d like to suggest that you go to Erin Stellato’s session, Statistics and Query Plans. That’s going to add a bunch of information in addition to what I’m covering. Plus, she’s a great speaker. It takes place the day before my session, but that’s OK. We’re covering different information. They’re very complementary sessions.