In case this is your first time hearing of it, PASS is the single largest community of Microsoft Data Platform professionals on the planet. It consists of local groups, virtual groups, multiple online events, SQLSaturday, and, to pay for it all, PASS Summit. However, that’s not true. It consists of a whole bunch of our peers, people, data pros and developers, trying to do better and be better.
I’m currently serving, as an unpaid volunteer, on the Board of Directors of the PASS organization. Actually, truth be told, I’m sitting as president of the board. That means that I’m responsible for the whole shooting match. Our goals are really simple. We want to create as many possible ways for you, me, and all our peers to connect, share and learn.
However, what the heck does that mean? Couldn’t you just go to a MeetUp without involving some larger organization? Yes. Wouldn’t it be possible to put together a code mash or something on your own? Heck yeah, please, do it. Aren’t there other events out there that offer the same things as Summit? Yeah, not as big and don’t have Microsoft’s involvement, but yeah, there are events that offer training.
“Cool! So I don’t need PASS.”
Hang on. Let’s talk about it.
I’ve never tried to hide this particular light of mine under a bushel. I love this organization. I credit the opportunities that the organization has given me with my current status as an MVP and my MAGNIFICENT job with the amazing and wonderful organization of Redgate Software (sorry, little plug, couldn’t help it). I think I was pretty good at my job before I ever went to the PASS Summit or attended a SQLSaturday. However, getting involved with PASS turned a corner for me.
Let me tell you a story, but it’s not mine. This was relayed to me by Kevin Kline. When they founded PASS back in 1998, like today, there were alternatives. Why would people go to this event and get engaged with these people rather than go to that event and get engaged with those people. It was a question they were trying to answer. The realization that they didn’t have as much money or big names to draw people in meant that they had to differentiate themselves another way. The idea they came up with was to be aggressively friendly. They would be better people and make that a part of the organization.
That, to me, is THE differentiator. Why PASS? Aggressively friendliness. It permeates the organization. By setting that as the foundation, and enforcing the message and the approach, it influenced every single volunteer afterwards. PASS volunteers, PASS speakers, all the people involved with running all the things that the organization does, aggressive friendliness just fills the air.
What’s that do? It makes you want to engage. Engagement leads to conversation. Conversation leads to connection. Once you’re talking, you’re sharing with each other. When you start to share, you learn.
It took me two times at Summit to get the message (I’m a very slow learner), but I did get the message. I took it to heart. I started trying to do better, to be better. While I did earn my little nickname as the Scary DBA (and my not so fun nickname of Rant), I started using the same things I was learning from PASS at work to connect with my team, to share with other teams, and to learn from everyone. PASS did that for me.
When I hear that PASS is just another organization, I just don’t believe it. It’s not. We’re not. PASS is about the people and the attitude. First and foremost, it’s about the people and that attitude. That attitude is being aggressively friendly. We’re going to remain aggressively friendly. That means we’re going to try to be the people who reach out, who care, who want to help. By keeping that attitude in place, hopefully, we can help each other do better, be better. For me, that’s what it’s all about.
I’m serving on the board, working my bottom off occasionally, because I’ve received so much from this organization. I believe that the organization has to continue because, while there are other events out there, they are not aggressively friendly. We are, and we’ll continue to be.
So, please, join me. Come to a SQLSaturday event. Attend your local groups. Come and join 5,000 of our peers at PASS Summit. Find me. Say hello. I promise, I’ll shake your hand (or give you a hug if you want one) and welcome you to the event. Got a technical question I can help with? Ask it. We’re aggressively friendly around here, so it’s all good.