(Condensed from my Community Pollination blog – read the full version here.)
If you are part of the SQL Universe, you know that SQLSaturday #100 was held in São Paulo, Brazil, a week ago. I can hardly put into words just how epic this event was and how thrilled I am that I was able to be there to witness not just SQLSat 100, but the very first of these events to take place in Brazil.
Our journey began on Thanksgiving Day (Rodney luckily had enough SkyMiles to go with me and present), and we arrived in São Paulo Friday mid-morning. We were greeted at the airport by two of the main SQLSaturday event organizers, Felipe Ferreira [blog|twitter] and Laerte Junior Poltronieri [blog|twitter].
These two gentlemen have been putting up with my twitter “pushing and prodding” to host a SQLSaturday since February. When I saw their official event request come through in July, the very month I began working for PASS, it was like the icing on the cake for me! I don’t think they really believed at first that a SQLSaturday could happen in Brazil, but these guys and energetic volunteer Andressa Martins [blog|twitter] totally brought it! They had a lot of support from Microsoft Brasil’s João Nunes and Viviane Ribeiro [blog|twitter], as well as expert speakers from all over this large country, several of whom are PASS user group leaders. Right away you could sense that there is a strong SQL community across Brazil, and it was wonderful to see them all supporting each other at this event!
The event had a cap of 300 attendees, which it reached within the first month of being posted. The wait list was over 200 by the day of the event, and around 250 people attended. The event team released 40 from the wait list, but hadn’t forecasted what the drop-off rate would be. They plan to make sure to release more for their next event – a good lesson learned for all of us.
Bright and early Saturday, we headed to the event venue at Microsoft’s offices, which were donated as part of their sponsorship. The event was held on the 31st floor, making this not only the first SQLSaturday in Brazil, but at least for me, the highest one! The event came staffed with Microsoft employees handling the check-in process, while the volunteers filled nice backpacks donated by sponsor Ka Solution with swag. In addition to Ka Solution and PASS, SQLSaturday Brazil sponsors included SolidQ, Mainwork (a Confio partner), RedGate, and SQLSentry. It was nice to see the continued support of these companies for a SQLSaturday outside the US.
The line of registrants quickly grew very long, snaking from the bottom floor (where they were checked through security) up to the 31st floor, and all the way down the hallway, past the elevators. The SQLSaturday opened with a keynote from Microsoft and remarks from the organizers – all in Portuguese. The event had three tracks totaling 18 sessions, with two coffee breaks/delicious snacks and sub combos for lunch. (Personal lesson learned: Do not try to drink Nespresso by the gallons, like you do coffee in the states!)
The day closed with sponsor raffles and end-of-day announcements. When it was my turn to talk about PASS, I started to ask the attendees if they wanted to see more of these events in Brazil – and before I could get the words out, they were all cheering and clapping. Needless to say, we have several conversations going on now with leaders and volunteers to host several more SQLSaturdays in Brazil. My guess is that a country its size could easily sustain 4 or 5 events a year.
The after-event get together featured some of the most amazing food ever and lots of cold beverages, supplied by João Nunes. Besides all the great conversation, we enjoyed entertainment by a Big Band – full on with saxophones, trombones, and drums! The room filled with cheers to the end of a very successful SQLSaturday and thanks for PASS’s support in helping to bring this event to Brazil.
Below are just a few links to the many blogs and photos from this event. You can find more by searching for the #sqlsat100 hashtag on Twitter (this event has more post-event tweets than I’ve seen for any other SQLSaturday – the buzz is still going strong).
This weekend marked the 20th SQL Saturday that I have attended, SQLSaturday 84 in a place until now I had never heard of, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Well, I can tell you, that this one broke into my top 3, as this small town, “home like” feeling event, literally warmed my heart! It was admittedly very reminiscent of the first event I hosted in Pensacola in 2009.
When I arrived, with Tommy LaRock who happened to be on the same flight, volunteer Shelly Noll picked us up, the first sign of hometown hospitality. After checking into the hotel, Shelly swung us by the event venue where we met up with the other volunteers. Their event was held at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and let me tell you, one of the very nicest community colleges I’ve ever seen. This large venue was gorgeous, with trees growing on the inside, beautiful gardens and courtyards, and amazingly donated for FREE for this event. NICE WIN!
There were at least 8 volunteers, likely more just didn’t count, all working diligently on preparing things for the big day. Right off the bat, you could tell this group was super organized as they were nearly done, and it was only about 3:00 in the afternoon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such calmness the day before a SQLSaturday.
Things kicked off that evening with the speaker party, a get together at Tim Ford’s beautiful home and was sponsored by SQLSentry. In attendance were so many top notch notables of the SQL world that I am not even going to begin listing them all, as I will surely miss someone. Tim and his lovely wife Amy prepared quite a spread of delectables, from homemade guacamole to apple cobbler (and one cobbler wasn’t enough, there was a peach one as well!), assorted chips and dips and cheeses I’ve never even heard of that were to die for! Plenty of delicious food and then the doorbell rings, as if we needed more, gourmet pizzas show up. A cooler full of frothy beverages out on the deck, again, many I have never heard of, with a wonderfully warm fire roaring in the pit (which was MUCH appreciated by THIS Florida girl, as it was like 50 degrees there!). As chilly as it was (okay maybe not for the others), most everyone ended up gathering out on the deck, surrounding the fire like we were at camp, telling tales of SQL. It was so relaxing, lots of good humor and stories. This by far is now my top Friday evening party for these events. It was like being home. The evening ended, at least for me, of an announcement that someone had eaten all the bacon off all the remaining pizza. One guess!
Early the next morning, once again, Shelly was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel and head on over to the venue to get things set-up. Others were there and much of what was needed done was well on its way to completion. I cannot say enough, what a super, efficient crew of volunteers! I was there on behalf of PASS, so I went to work setting up our table in the sponsor’s area. This I would say would be the only thing that I would recommend they look at changing up at next year’s event, the placement of sponsors. Unfortunately it was the only place with outlets all the way around the walls, hence why they chose this spot, but it was pretty far from the registration check-in, and tucked off to one side. It was at least near the doors to where three of the sessions were being held, so Tim the quick thinker, placed a big billboard they had with the rooms and sessions posted directly by those doors, so we could sway folks over to our area as they stopped to find their way. This worked out, as I do think many attendees managed to get their raffle tickets into the drawings all the sponsors had. Maybe next year they can find some other way to get the registration and the sponsors closer together.
The day went by very quickly, probably because I spent most of the day working and in discussions with Alison MacDonald from PASS Marketing, oh, and that other person who seems to never stop talking, no, not Rob Farley, Tom! (I hear Rob out talks Tom, I find that really hard to believe after this weekend). Throughout the day many attendees, as usual at these events, were commenting on how great the event was and how happy they were that it came to Kalamazoo. The turnout was very close to the numbered registered, I think they ended up with only about a 12% drop-off, even though there did seem to be a lot of food leftover, but I think that is typical when you do food trays with sandwiches. I think sandwich shops under state really just how many people one tray will feed. This was the first event that I attended that we had the new SQLSaturday laptop stickers and patches, and those went over big time, everyone wanted those. Looking forward to seeing how many of these make their way to the Summit next month. For their event, they had a WIT Panel during lunch led by Shelly, which unfortunately I missed due to talking too much myself! The WIT Panel was a great line-up of Kendra Little, Wendy Pastrick, Yanni Robel, and Erin Stellato. Since I missed it, I can’t do it justice, but Sarah Strate did a full detailed blog about it, that you can read up on here: http://sarahsjolander.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/3-questions-for-the-wit/
As the day was winding up, Tim needed someone to head over early to the after party venue to let them know we were coming, as they did not allow reservations ahead of time. So Amy, Austin and Trevor (they ever so entertaining boys) and I all headed over, which meant I wasn’t there for the raffle drawings, which was fine, but I did miss out on a very special moment for Tim. Josh Fennessy, who was that day announced as the new chapter leader for the West Michigan SQL User Group, presented Tim with a plaque of recognition for all his years of contributions to the SQL community. Check it out http://lockerz.com/s/139887810
The after party was at a very cool restaurant/bar in downtown called Kalamazoo Beer Exchange . Great food, but the absolutely coolest thing about this place was the Beer Market. At 6:00pm, on various big screens throughout the three story facility, the Beer Market would open. Think Stock Market. You watch the price of beers go up or down based on consumption. I had never seen this anywhere, and it was so cool! When the price of the beer changed, it stayed at that price for 12 minutes. There were arrows, just like the stock market, that showed if the price was going up or down. At one point the beer market crashed, and all the beers were 2 bucks! Drink, drink, drink!
After a while we all made our way to a nearby piano bar, something we do for the after party at Pensacola each year, and in my opinion, great entertainment and fun for all no matter where you live. I had hoped to make my way to a third place that had bull riding, as I am determined to do this someday, but was just too tired and had an early flight out. I was smart and booked my ride with Joe Fleming earlier in the evening, stating “make me go with you no matter how much I insist I want to stay longer”, so thank you Joe, I made it to the airport on time that next morning. Which by the way another hospitable thing happened, my cab driver, Cliff, insisted on not charging me for the lift to the airport.
In closing, I want to say to the SQLSaturday Kazoo team, GREAT JOB! Thank you so much to all of you for bringing this event to your community. On a personal note, thank you to Amy and Tim for making me feel so welcome and having us all over to your home. You are such good people, and I hope to spend time again with you some day. I feel like I not only had a great opportunity to network, but made connections with some folks that I would consider good friends now. And special shout out to Josh, don’t forget our date in Seattle, your christening of the Hurricane Café. Rodney and I are both looking forward to it!
At SQL Saturday #57 in Houston I sat in on Geoff Hiten’s [blog/twitter] “Bad SQL” session, which I had missed while at the Tampa event, and had heard it was a great presentation. (Sorry Geoff, this post isn’t about your session, although it was really good, I learned a lot). At the beginning of his talk, which I’ve seen many other presenters do, Geoff took a hand count of who was in the audience, DBAs versus Developers versus Something Else (that would be the one I fall into). More than half of the room was developers and only a handful actual DBAs. I knew that in Pensacola our experience has been along these same lines, both at our SQL Saturday events and our user group meetings, but I was surprised to see that a city the size of Houston seemed to show the same demographics in the audience. This really peeked my curiosity about what the numbers must be like globally.
When I returned back to Orlando, I logged into the SQL Saturday admin site, in hopes that there was a report I could pull to see just what the percentages were for attendance at the two Pensacola events. No such luck. Wrote to PASS HQ, asked if they happen to have a report handy, or better yet, were they already collecting these stats, and would be so kind to share those results. Again, unfortunately they did not. So, had to do some manual calculating, luckily in a spreadsheet it is easy to do, just a bit time consuming. (and yes, I put in a wish item to change the website to have checkboxes for job titles, so that a report could be produced neatly off the results, but certainly didn’t want to wait on that to get analyzing this data). With what I did have access to, here are the results of the two Pensacola events combined:
· 25% - Developers
· 23% - DBAs
· 16% - Analysts
· 11% - IT Help Desk/Support
· 10% - Other (teachers, students, unemployed, just to give you a general idea)
· 8% - Administrators
· 7% - CEO/CFO/MGMT
Now really this doesn’t surprise me, like I said, our user group meetings in Pensacola pretty much mirror these same results. And based on who is signed up so far for Hawaii SQL Sat, those numbers are already showing a much higher figure for developers. So why is this? Why are so many developers attending SQL Saturdays? My extremely humble opinion is that more and more companies are not affording true DBAs, hince the “accidental” DBAs, which I know for many companies this is the case. Developers are handling their own backup/restores, indexing, performance issues, etc (this is actually the case with the software development company where I work). Which leads me to another question, being I’m so involved with sponsorships for many events and user groups, why aren’t more developer tool vendors sponsoring SQL Saturdays? Seems to me the SQL Saturdays are pulling in just the right amount of crossover for them.
So as this post is titled, who is attending your SQL Saturdays? I’d really love it if you’d post some of your results here or blog about it, so we can compare, especially the larger cities versus the smaller ones. Is there a difference? Would love to hear your thoughts on why you think more developers than DBAs are attending SQL Saturdays. I think the numbers will surprise a lot of you, not to mention, might help pull in more .NET tool vendors to sponsor SQL Saturdays! YES, I am ALWAYS wearing my marketing hat! You are SQL gurus, I am the community marketing guru backing all of you up…yes, cheesy pun not accidental.
April 1st will be the first ever Hawaiian SQL Saturday in beautiful Honolulu. Not only is the first SQL Saturday for the islands there, but it is also the first SQL Saturday in history to be held outside of the mainland (notice I didn’t add USA to that, as there is an event happening in Vancouver on Feb 26th). Special thanks to Jeff Bloom, one of the krewe of the .NET Users Group there in Hawaii for locking down the venue, Honolulu Community College, which has so generously offered the venue for FREE for our event, SWEET!
Now I know by now you are already looking at the calendar and saying, “What, a SQL Saturday on a Friday?” Yes, we had to concede to a Friday event primarily for two reasons. The HCC only has security until 2:00 on Saturdays, and the bigger reason, they turn off the air conditioning in the buildings at noon. (Plus there is the argument that who would want to give up a Saturday in Hawaii!). If you know your SQL Sat history, then you know this won’t be the first SQL Saturday held on a Friday. SQL Saturday #58 was held on a Friday in Minnesota and had a turnout of over 200, so we are confident that a Friday event will do well. And besides, what better reason to ask for the day off from work…free training that benefits their companies, what employer would say no to that. With what sounds like to be the most expensive place to live, free training should be welcomed by these employers there.
Now you are also probably realizing that there are two other SQL Saturdays happening that weekend, Boston and Dallas. We really did try to avoid this weekend, not because we felt there would be conflict for attendees, but for those who had already expressed interest in speaking at Hawaii’s event. But unfortunately we had to go with what we could get, so we realize we will lose some great speakers to these other two events as those locations will of course be more cost effective for them. Luckily this date did work out for Buck Woody (blog|twitter), as he is presenting a full day pre-con for us the day before the event.
For those still interested in presenting in Honolulu, note, there will only be 3 tracks. Two devoted to SQL and one devoted to Developers. For those traveling over, we will do our best to give you at least two timeslots, so if you do register to speak, please post up more than one abstract. For speakers being sent by a sponsor of the event, we will guarantee you at least two timeslots. We of course are very interested in local speakers. If you are local to Hawaii and are interested in speaking, please register on the website, but also DM me on twitter (@karlakay22). Sponsors, we will have the sponsorship details posted over the weekend. We plan to make it very affordable for our sponsors, as we hope that you will consider actually coming over or sending someone to represent your company.
Time to get cranking on the website! Hope to see some of you there!
[cross-posted from Karla Landrum's blog - http://karlalandrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/what-is-a-pass-regional-mentor/ ]
This is one of the questions I get when I email or tell someone that I am now a PASS Regional Mentor for the Heartland region, which usually leads to their next question “but don’t you live in Florida?” I’ll admit when I first expressed interest to PASS that I wanted to be an RM, I had hoped it would be covering the SouthEast region, but each region has two mentors, and the SE had been assigned already to Jorge Segarra (Blog | Twitter) and Adam Jorgensen (Blog | Twitter), two fantastic contributors to the SQL Community. However, I can now say that the path I was put on was meant to be, as it enabled me to immediately contribute and help out the SQL Community in some very rewarding ways.
Originally I had been assigned to the MidWest, because at the time there wasn’t anyone to cover that region. Well at the same time that I became RM, I had finally broke down and signed up for twitter. In following various different personalities on twitter, I quickly came to recognize some of the very strong and positive influencers out there. Immediately I wanted to start finding myself a co-RM for the MidWest, and was delighted to see that Arie Jones (Blog | Twitter) was up in Indiana, a super energizer that had presented at my first SQL Saturday up in Pensacola two years ago. Finding someone living in the MidWest region I felt was necessary since I needed someone to be “onsite” to help cover the turf “up close”, such as speaking/attending events and user group meetings in that area, so I luckily still had AJ’s email and did a shot out to him to see if he’d be interested in being an RM, and long story short, he said YES! So off I sent an email to Douglas McDowell (Blog | Twitter) to arrange a call between the two of them. So great, I now had a partner that I knew was going to be as excited as myself in this new role. So mission complete, but oh wait, who is this @wendy_dance person, so full of positive energy and feedback and apparently loved by many! Continued to check out her profile on twitter and wouldn’t you know it, she
is a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Director lives in Illinois, another MidWest region state. Well it just seemed to make sense that she should be an RM, with all her influence and great following, so I sent her a DM and asked if she thought she might be interested, tagged Douglas and her together, and voila, Wendy Pastrick (Blog | Twitter) was on the PASS RM train. Ok, so that left just a few regions that still needed someone, so I volunteered for the Heartland region to work along with Cincinnati’s SQL User Group leader and PASS RM, Matt Rigling (Blog | Twitter). Why Heartland, it was closer to the SE, almost anyway. This region includes some very northern states, Michigan and Ohio, but also what I consider southern states, Kentucky and Tennessee. Also having clients in two of these states will help to get me at some of the events in these areas. (Already looking forward to SQL Saturday #60, although Florida girl in Cleveland in February, yikes!)
That answers question two, why Heartland, now back to question one and title of what will be the first of several blogs while on this journey as a PASS Regional Mentor. I am finding that many chapters don’t know what a Regional Mentor is primarily because they just either didn’t have an RM or state that they never had their RM ever contact them. I believe some realignments of regions occurred and created more RM territories, so that would explain if they really didn’t have an RM assigned to their region prior to now (although I do believe that even though fewer RMs existed, fewer chapters existed as well, hince why now there are two for each region). If you are a Chapter Leader and are not sure who your RM is, you can find all of them listed under the PASS Chapters tab at www.sqlpass.org. As far as those who say their previous RM never contacted them, personally that wasn’t the case for me when I led a chapter. Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter) was our RM here in the SE, and he checked in with me at least once a quarter, and I was able to reach out to him anytime I needed anything. Maybe other RMs just weren’t that available, I don’t know, as I really can’t answer to what might have happened in the past. I can only share with you what I know as of now, and over the next several posts, will share with you our plans and how we intend to execute our ideas.
In general, a PASS Regional Mentor can be defined as the following:
• Passionate community volunteer
– Dedicated to PASS and the SQL Server community
– Understands the value of giving his/her time and talents to helping others increase their knowledge and skills and improving the overall community
• PASS ambassador
– Understands PASS and its mission and represents the best of PASS to Chapters in his/her area
– Works to keep PASS accountable, on track, and meeting the needs of its members
• Primary point of contact for Chapters
– RM facilitates 2-way communications: resources, benefits, and news from PASS to Chapters and Chapter needs and feedback back to PASS
– RM knows who to contact at PASS, at the local/regional Microsoft office, area sponsors, etc. if Chapters need something or have questions
My goals are quite simple. Stay closely connected with Matt and the chapters in our region. Encourage and mentor folks on hosting SQL Saturday events where they haven’t had one yet. Help chapters with filling empty speaker slots at their monthly meetings. Connect sponsors to those hosting user group meetings, SQL Saturdays and other events. Work with chapters and speakers to possibly “piggy back” nearby user groups. Volunteer at as many events as I can this next year (so far the most I’ve done is 6 in one year, not counting user group meetings). Pretty much all the things I did as a Chapter Leader, so why be a Regional Mentor? Guess that brings us to question three. I think being an RM is going to give me a much farther reach in helping chapters that are truly “in the need”, and at the same time assisting PASS in getting those needs heard and met.
I’ll keep you posted on how things are going, good or bad. And hey, feel free to share your comments on what you feel as RMs we should be doing for you and the SQL Community. We are working to retool and define this new RM legion every day, and since we are here to benefit you, your input is very much welcomed.