You know all about PASS SQLSaturdays already, I'm sure. If you don't, you may want to visit the SQLSaturday website for more information.
If you do, you'll be happy to note that (starting today, Wednesday, with this humble post) we'll be doing a weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?
The posts are all SQLSaturday recaps written in the last week. If you wrote (or are planning to write) a SQLSaturday recap on your blog and you don't see it posted on PASS Blog, let us know and we'll make sure to look out for your efforts.
LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...
+ Jen McCown presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas
+ Tim Mitchell also presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas
+ Jack Corbett helped organize SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando
+ Jorge Segarra presented at SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando
+ Jason Brimhall attended SQLSaturday #54 in Salt Lake City
IN OTHER NEWS...
You might also be interested in the thoughts and musings of Andy Warren, SQLSaturday co-founder and PASS Director. Andy's currently pondering new SQLSaturday sponsorship models as well as fresh ways to advertise events locally.
Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.
Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.
[cross-posted from http://thomaslarock.com/2010/10/pass-o-c-update/ in case you missed it - Admin]
As the PASS Summit approaches I am getting excited about our efforts to help first time Summit attendees. This year we will have two new additions to our list of Summit events. First up is the new attendee orientation session, which will take place for 30 minutes prior to the Welcome Reception. We will do our best to give all first time Summit attendees an idea on what to expect over the next few days and some tips and tricks to maximize their time. Hopefully they will get to make a few new friends while there and at the Welcome Reception as well.
The second event is the PASS O.C. itself. This is the program where we are going to have some volunteers donate their time to be a “Big Brother/Sister” to a new attendee. We have a limited number of volunteers so we will not be able to provide this service for all new attendees. But for a chosen few they will be given the opportunity to formally meet and greet other new attendees as well. The idea is simple: assign 8-10 first timers to an O.C. member, have the O.C. member initiate a dialogue with the individuals in the group as well as their group as a whole, arrange to meet with them prior to the Welcome Reception (if possible), and do their best to ensure that those 8-10 people are never, ever, ever alone during the Summit.
I want people to have the same type of Summit experience that I do: it’s like Band Camp but for professional geeks.
(cross-posted from http://www.sqlandy.com/archive/pass-update-44-budget/)
I had a question recently about how budgets work at PASS, and I think that’s something worth sharing, so I’m going to write an overview of that process today. Note that I’m not the Finance guy, so the “official” word gets published elsewhere, and for that reason I’m not quoting numbers, just talking about process from my perspective as a participant in that process.
First, we start with funding, how do we raise money to pay the bills? A big, big chunk of our revenue comes from the annual PASS Summit, and you can think of this as not just a community event but an “annual fund raiser”. Some of that is from paid attendees and some from sponsors. We also generate some funds from selling Summit DVD’s as well as sponsorships for things like 24 Hours of PASS. PASS does not take any portion of sponsorship funds from SQLSaturday events or Chapter meetings. [Note: That isn’t to suggest that we might, just to explain that we don’t.]
Also, we should have the budget for 2011 published shortly and I’ll post a note when you can review the full document.
Early each year we start estimating (aka guessing) what our revenue will be for the next year. So in Jan/Feb and up through May we’re looking at how much money we will have for the fiscal year that begins July first, with the added challenge that we won’t know how we did until mid to late December after we’ve finalized all the items related to the Summit. If we guess too low we hurt the organization by spending less in often critical areas, and if we guess too high, then that leads to painful discussions about what areas to cut. This is something that most businesses go through and certainly isn’t unique to PASS.
Then we switch to spending. It starts with the President assigning ‘portfolios’ to Board members, which you can think of a being about the same as a large department in most companies. Directors then submit a budget request to the VP of Finance outlining how much and the major areas where it will be spent. At this point it’s a wish list, but scoped based on anticipated changes up or down in revenue as well as the previous year budget. The VP of Finance (currently Bill Graziano) and our accountant then combine all that into a monster spreadsheet for the first round of review.
Next we typically look at that first cut and start talking about where we can make adjustments. Most requests are reasonable to start with, but sometimes there just isn’t enough to do everything, so we each review our list and find places to reduce our request. This has been for one of the best experiences on the Board for me, everyone working together and jointly trying to find ways to get to a budget that will let us accomplish our most important goals.
Then, finally, we vote to approve the budget. At that point we’re able to authorize spend against that budget as long as it generally fits within the plan. If it’s a minor change we’ll send a note to Bill asking for his ok. An example was the project to populate the SQLSaturday wiki. I requested to re-align some of the funds allocated for the project and as it was inline with the goals of the portfolio it was approved. A deeper change might be sent out to the Board for discussion. Once the budget is approved, getting ‘more money’ requires a budget exception, which in turn requires Board discussion and vote. That process is, by design, painful. It takes time to have the discussion, we have to find that ‘more money’, and in general we don’t like mid course changes. They do happen though, and perhaps once a year we’ll have one.
So, where does the money go? We maintain an office and staff, to do things like plan and handle Summit logistics, do SQLSaturday coaching, maintain an auditable set of financial records, and a whole lot more. A lot of it goes to costs at the Summit. I won’t go into numbers here, but the costs are significant. To give you a taste of the costs, at the upcoming SQLRally it costs $12,000 per day for the space, and anything we spend on food and beverage reduces that cost, hopefully to zero. We have to use the hotel for food and beverage, and a boxed lunch costs, wait for it, $35 per box! Our team does a lot to control, reduce, and negotiate these costs, but if you need a big venue, you’re largely stuck playing their game. We devote some money to all the other stuff; SQLSaturday sponsorships, IT projects, etc, etc, etc.
Board members are not paid. When we travel on behalf of PASS (usually just 3-4 meetings a year) we get per diem and reimbursed for airfare, PASS pays for the hotel directly. We do get “free” admission to the Summit. Individual Board members don’t have any personal discretionary spending authority or budget, if we buy drinks or appetizers or coffee when we sit to talk informally with members it’s all out of pocket.
Each year we grant free admission (a “comp”) to the Summit to our speakers and a small number of volunteers. Comps are built into the budget because they have a real cost. It’s not “free” to just let someone extra attend – they get a bag, require registration services, eat meals, drink water, and in general cost real money. It’s somewhat less than the cost of a full registration, but it is substantial. We’d love to do more comps, but ultimately it comes back to the budget. Faced with sponsoring a couple more events or buying SWAG or any of the other places where spending would help, we try to do the things that help most members.
All in all, it’s the standard process that any business goes through, making estimates and judgments and tradeoffs to try to do the most good. Hope that helps some. When Bill publishes the budget I encourage you to read it carefully, though I’ll tell you it’s not exciting reading! He’ll also be publishing an annual statement about our finances and you should read that as well. I think the thing I’d tell you is to look at it portfolio by portfolio and if you have suggestions, send them in.
In case you haven't heard, we're adding Lightning Talks to the PASS Community Summit this year. The idea of Lightning Talks is pretty simple:
- Every speaker has 5 minutes
- Slides are optional
- No demos
- When the 5 minutes are up, the speaker is done.
So, in order to pull this off, we need three volunteers from the audience. All you have to do is work an egg timer. Whenever a speaker starts talking, you start the egg timer. When they're done, you cut them off, shoo them off the stage, and then introduce the next speaker. You can think of the job as being like an M.C. because that's what it is (parachute pants will not be provided by PASS). One bonus is that you'll get to hobnob with the speakers and/or embarrass when you introduce them. It's all good fun until someone falls off the stage!
If you'd like to volunteer to moderate one of these sessions, let me know. Send an email to email@example.com. There are only three sessions, supplies are limited. Act now!
Update: I want to thank everyone who got back in touch with me about this, and there were a lot of you. We have our moderators selected - Matt Velic, Lance Harra, and Noel McKinney will be emceeing our Lightning Talks.
The ballots are in, the votes are counted, and the results have been confirmed. While PASS was lucky to have 9 fantastic nominees for this year's elections race, congratulations are in order for this year's three winning candidates.
Andy Warren, President of Fourdeuce Inc., and Douglas McDowell, CEO (North America) of Solid Quality Mentors, were re-elected to the Board. They will be joined for the 2011/2012 Board of Directors term by Allen Kinsel, last year's joint PASSion Award Winner.
This year there were 1084 ballots cast, a 188% improvement on the 576 ballots cast in the 2009 elections. 2796 unique votes were counted.
For biographies of all the candidates in the 2010 elections race, please visit our Elections website.
PASS HQ - Governance
Still trying to vote in PASS Elections 2010 but can't find your email anywhere? Well, we at HQ want to make sure you have your say.
If you know you are eligible (member as of May 1, 2010) but cannot find or have not received your ballot email, please follow these instructions:
- Go to http://tinyurl.com/passvotes - do NOT use Firefox!
- Enter your sqlpass.org login email address in the appropriate field
- You should gain access to the ballot at this point - your vote is secure
If problems persist, contact Hannes at HQ to resolve this issue. We want everyone to vote!
PASS HQ - Governance
It's official -- voting has started!
Ballots were sent out this morning at 9am Pacific Time to all PASS members who joined on or before May 1, 2010. Since the mail-out is quite large, they will be sent out in batches, therefore it may take a couple of hours for you to receive your ballot.
Voting will be open from September 1 to noon Pacific Time, September 15. A reminder with a link to your ballot will be sent out on September 13. If, at any point, you think you are eligible to vote but have not received your ballot, please email Hannes at HQ, but please check carefully first!
You will be allowed to pick up to 3 from the following 5 candidates for PASS Elections 2010:
- Allen Kinsel
- Andy Warren
- Douglas McDowell
- Geoff Hiten
- Mark Ginnebaugh
You'll find details about your candidates on the Candidate Campaign Space. Also, don't forget to read the candidates' answers to some excellent questions from the community in the PASS elections discussion forums. And, of course, there's a lot of additional information and debate in the community blogs listed on the Discussion page.
Results will be announced on PASS Blog by Wayne Snyder, Immediate Past President of PASS and NomCom Chair, at noon Pacific Time on September 17. The announcement will also be posted on the Elections Home page. Thanks to everyone for participating in the 2010 PASS Elections, and good luck to all the candidates!
PASS HQ - Governance
Dear PASS Community,
There has been a healthy debate in the community surrounding the election process and the outcome where Steve Jones, a well-known member of the community, did not make the slate. Despite the outcome, the process that was defined and vetted by members of the community and board worked extremely well and addressed the concerns that were laid out by the community during last year’s election cycle. I thank the Nomination Committee for their volunteerism and hard work through the process. The proposed slate was approved by the board. I fully support the process and the decision of the board.
We have also come a long way towards transparency. Our books are open to you. You now know the details of our revenues and expenditures. The board has risen to the challenge of ensuring that this organization remains a solvent and vibrant organization. I am proud of the achievements of this and former boards and certainly aware of our many failures as we apply our limited resources to your volunteerism and support to build a better and more vibrant community. Over the past years, we have steadily increased our support to the offline community and also made inroads into the online world with very successful virtual events like 24 Hours of PASS and hosted trials. Your support of these efforts has been invaluable and I hope that you also benefited from these efforts.
This brings me to a rather painful topic. It was brought to my attention today that some people in the community have created multiple twitter accounts impersonating PASS and also our management company
. The tweets have been divisive and are an attempt to sabotage an otherwise healthy debate. In doing so, these tweets are slandering personal reputations of people that have worked so hard to build this community and PASS. I place my trust in you to help bring an end to such divisive behavior and help protect the reputation of individuals that work for you.
In closing, I have one more thought – PASS is supported by an amazing management team that many of you interact with regularly, a volunteer board, and hundreds of volunteers around the world that work very hard with a single goal in mind– to build a stronger SQL Server community. We may not always succeed or make the right decisions, but we promise to keep working hard. All of us deeply appreciate your support and encouragement.
If you have questions, always feel free to send me a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I promise to do my best to answer your questions.
The Nominations Committee met last Thursday, August 12, to pick a slate to present to the PASS Board of Directors. The Board came together on Monday to discuss the slate with the Committee before voting to approve it. And with that, the candidate slate is set!
Congratulations to the following 5 candidates for PASS Elections 2010:
- Allen Kinsel
- Andy Warren
- Douglas McDowell
- Geoff Hiten
- Mark Ginnebaugh
The Candidate Campaign Space goes live at 5pm Pacific today (August 18). You'll be able to compare candidate applications and platforms there.
If you're curious to see the Committee's average total scores for all the interviewees, click here. The procedural documents used by the NomCom are available here. A summary of the NomCom's meeting to discuss the interviewees will be posted soon.
Our social media portals have been abuzz in the past few weeks -- thanks to everyone for staying involved! Keep your eye on the Discussion page for new elections blogs in the coming weeks -- you can catch Andy Leonard's interview series with the applicants there. Also, voice your opinions on the elections discussion forum, which launches at 5pm Pacific today (August 18).
Stay tuned for your email ballot which will be sent out on September 1. Voting will remain open until noon Pacific, September 15.
For more information about the process, click here. For more important elections dates, click here.
The Nominations Committee met on July 26 to determine which of the 9 applicants to invite back for interviews.
Using the applicants' ranking scores as a relative guideline, the Committee discussed each nominee's potential to serve on the Board. The NomCom reviewed the perceived strengths and weaknesses of individual applications and agreed that the major factor separating nominees was their dedication to and history of volunteering with PASS and its community. PASS is a volunteer-run organization -- the Committee felt that a history of volunteering in PASS is a crucial element in becoming a member of the PASS leadership.
While the Committee was impressed with all the nominees, consensus was that seven of the nine applicants had a significant history of volunteerism within PASS as well as strong overall scores. Of the applicants, Douglas McDowell, Mark Ginnebaugh, Andy Warren, Allen Kinsel, Steve Jones, Jack Corbett, and Geoff Hiten will be invited to interviews, while the Committee hopes that Denny Cherry and Markus Sprenger will help PASS move forward by participating in other committees and/or volunteer roles.
For more on the elections process, visit the Elections Site.
To see how the community's staying involved, visit the Discussion Page.