Speaking at PASS Summit—You Can Too!

As a SQL Server professional, speaking at PASS Summit is the highlight of my year. It’s an opportunity to share my knowledge and perspective with an amazing audience of other SQL Server pros who are seeking to deepen their knowledge of the SQL Server platform.

PASS Summit also offers me the rare opportunity to listen to a wide range of speakers—from known community experts to community speakers just getting started—all eager to share their experience and know-how.

Program Committee members have the tough job of vetting speakers and sessions to get the right mix. They review a large pool of speakers to ensure that you have access to a broad range of experiences. They also spend a lot of energy identifying new speakers for Summit—people who have displayed potential to be great speakers. Program Committee members then work with the new speakers to ensure they gain the experience and skills to deliver outstanding sessions.

I recall being a first-time speaker at PASS Summit 2002 in Denver. I was largely unknown in the community at that time. Although I had created and delivered training internally in my organization and at client sites, I had never spoken at a professional conference before. Trey Johnson, a PASS Board member and in charge of the Summit program at the time, was working on a project with me and simply asked, "Why don't you speak at PASS?"

Hmmm… Why would they accept me? No one knows me. I am not an author and never answered questions in forums. I am not an MVP—just your average consultant who loves his work. More important, what do I know that someone would be interested in?

I had been working a lot with user-defined functions, a new feature in SQL Server 2000, and teaching folks at my client site how to use them properly. So Trey suggested that I submit that topic. I ended up submitting two session abstracts: one on UDFs and one on using Web services. Well, my session on UDFs got accepted, and I spent countless hours creating, rehearsing, and re-rehearsing my presentation and demos to get them perfect—just in case someone did decide to show up.
 
It turned out that I had a room full of folks eager to learn about UDFs! It was very exciting—and to be honest, nerve-wracking. Following that fantastic experience, I decided to try and speak every year that I could. I have since presented at a number of other conferences, including SQL Connections and Tech Ed, but none of those compare with the thrill of speaking at PASS Summit, where audience members often include folks from the Microsoft product team who are interested in seeing how the community is using the products that they work so hard to build.

If you haven’t presented at Summit before but have speaking experience, I strongly encourage you to submit abstracts for PASS Summit 2010 in Seattle. Find a topic that you are comfortable with and submit that. Don’t get disappointed if you are rejected the first time. The process of submitting is valuable in itself. PASS also offers a number of other speaking opportunities that can allow you to hone your speaking skills and build your name as a speaker. They include local PASS chapters, virtual PASS chapters, online events such as 24 Hours of PASS, and SQL Saturday events.

The Program Committee has compiled a list of valuable speaker tips and resources that you should look at before submitting. And you might want to check out the current submitted sessions page to see what other speakers are proposing—or not proposing. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing you in Seattle this fall!
 

—Rushabh Mehta,
PASS President

SQLSaturday Update

Within the next 30 days or so, SQLSaturday should officially be in the PASS fold. And I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a quick update—and to thank the SQL Server community for its enthusiastic support of SQLSaturday over the past 3 years. We appreciate your patience as we work to transition the event logistics and administration with the least amount of disruption to organizers and attendees.

PASS is committed to keeping SQLSaturday as grassroots and community-driven as it has always been, with the added benefit of providing you more support as you plan and put on your events. We’ve been working intently the past couple of months to make the handoff from SQLSaturday’s founders to PASS as smooth and seamless as possible. Because PASS is a not-for-profit organization, our auditors have identified a few changes we need to make in the areas of liability, funds-management, and privacy policy. You can read a detailed report from Andy Warren about those changes, which will mostly affect event leaders.

However, the attendee experience and the vast majority of processes for organizing a SQLSaturday event will stay the same:

  • Free – SQLSaturday events have always delivered a full day of fantastic in-person SQL Server training for free, and they will continue to provide great content without charge.
  • Logo – The SQLSaturday logo is staying the same for the time being, so those Hawaiian T-shirts you picked up at the Tampa Bay event will still be 100% current :)
  • SQLSaturday website – The only change to the website at this point will be the addition of the PASS logo and wording around SQLSaturday being a PASS community event. Everything else is staying the same, but we’re open to any enhancements the community would like to see.
  • Event organization – Event leaders will also continue to be in charge of creating their own event program, selecting their own sessions and speakers, and producing the SQLSaturday that best meets the needs of their particular community.
  • Sponsorships – Event leaders will continue to be responsible for engaging with local sponsors and determining sponsorship programs and levels for their individual events.
     

To keep things simple, PASS HQ’s Blythe Morrow, who handles Community and Mentoring, will be your one-stop contact for everything SQLSaturday. Joining Blythe on the support team are Sanjeet Gandham for website logistics and sponsorships and David Yang for IT troubleshooting. You can contact any of the team members directly or just contact Blythe and have her direct your questions or comments to the appropriate person. And of course, Andy Warren is still available to share his wealth of SQLSaturday experience and advice.

We hope to have all the transition details worked out by early May and will communicate the changes directly to SQLSaturday event leaders as well as to the community. Until then, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working with you to make your SQLSaturday events the best they can be.
—Rushabh
 

Rushabh Mehta
PASS President 

 

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2010 PASS Summit Online

As we get deeper into the logistics and planning process for 2010 PASS Summit, Craig Ellis  from PASS HQ sent out an email today asking if we wanted to plan broadcasting a live track at the summit for the community not in attendance. This was based on some feedback and suggestions we had received from a couple of board and community members. I have put the discussion in front of the board and also want to solicit your input. Some of the considerations the board will need to weigh include...

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Upcoming PASS Board Meeting Agenda

 

Next week, the PASS board will be meeting in Person in Miami for our in-face board meeting. Following are the major agenda items for discussion during that meeting - please note that some of the agenda items may change. I will attempt to regularly post results of the board meeting as well as ongoing discussions/decisions. I will try and keep an eye out for any comments you may post here.

 

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

8:30am 9:00am

Breakfast  - Westin Diplomat 305 Conference Room

 

9am 9:15am

Board Welcome

Rushabh

9:15am -10:15am

Transparency

  • NDA vs. disclosure
  • Executive Committee Communication

Rushabh

10:15am  - 10:30am

Break

 

10:30am -12:00pm

Discussion of PASS’s three FY 2010 organizational Goals

  • 2010 Board Portfolios

Rushabh

12:00pm 1:00pm

Lunch

 

1:00pm 3:00pm

Business Plan/Accountability/Project Plan

Bill

3:00pm -3:15pm

Break

Bill

3:15pm 4:15pm

Project Prioritization (Hannes and Craig)

  • How the Board and PASS HQ review and prioritize projects
  • Includes online project tracking system for visibility

All

4:15pm -5pm

How to build two-way communication with PASS and the Community

Rushabh / Thomas LaRock

6:45pm

Board - Meet in lobby of Westin Diplomat

All

7:00pm 9:00pm

Board Dinner – Chef Allen’s (19088 NE 29th Ave Aventura FL)

All

 

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

 

8:45am 9:15am

Breakfast and Welcome – Westin Diplomat 305 Conference Room

Rushabh

9:15am -10:15am

Financial projections for FY 2010 revenues

  • Agree on a target attendee number

 

Bill

10:15am -10:30am

Break

 

10:30am 11:30am

Summit ideas - brainstorming

 

Rushabh

11:30am -12:30pm

Spring 2011 event discussion 

 

Rushabh/Judy

12:30pm  – 1:30pm

Lunch

 

1:30pm 2:30pm

Discuss election process

  • Goals
  • What we'd like to do differently
  • Improving transparency and gaining community input

Rushabh/Bill

2:30pm -3:00pm

Bylaw discussion overview – high level

Rushabh

3:00pm 3:15pm

Break

 

3:15pm 4:45pm

In depth Bylaw discussion

  • Focus on what we’d like to see accomplished rather than the actual wording

Rushabh

4:45pm 5:15pm

SQL Saturday status and discussion

Rushabh/Andy

Rushabh Mehta, President

 

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Follow on to Summit location survey

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply to the Summit location survey results blog post, blogged themselves, commented, tweeted, or otherwise shared their thoughts. I and the other members of the PASS Board value your feedback, whether you agree or disagree with the decision. We're listening - and reading - what you're saying and I wanted to follow up with a quick update.

HQ has been looking at mid-US and East Coast sites as part of its ongoing task to investigate potential Summit locations. We haven't historically announced locations, or even begun serious review, this far in advance but I've asked PASS HQ to continue its research into cities and venues for 2013 outside of Seattle. We'll keep you posted as we have more information.

All of us on the Board are passionate about Summit. We truly believe it's the best user conference in the world and are working hard to make sure it only gets better. And it's nothing without you - our amazing fellow SQL Server community members. Thanks again for your feedback, ideas, healthy debate, and respect you've all brought to the discussion.

-Rushabh

Rushabh Mehta, PASS President
 

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PASS Connector Editorial for January 13 - by Rushabh Mehta

Making 2010 a Year to Remember

2009 was a fantastic growth year for PASS. Our membership grew 51%, surpassing 50,000 registered members worldwide. And we saw a 57% growth in chapters, ending the year with 205 chapters in more than 50 countries.

Building on these and other successes, we have some lofty goals for 2010, in terms of growth as an organization and providing SQL Server readiness activities through online and offline events around the world. As I take the helm of PASS this month, I am very excited about the year ahead and building on 2009's growth.

This is a release year for SQL Server, with SQL Server 2008 R2 set for release in just a few months. Unlike normal mid-cycle releases, R2 will deliver exciting features, especially in the BI space with integration with SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010. I highlighted some of my favorite R2 features in the Database Applications and Trends article "BI in SQL Server 2008 R2: Empowering Business Users." I believe SQL Server 2008 R2 will be a game-changer in many ways, particularly for innovations in self-service BI capabilities and delivering true enterprise scale with the Parallel Data Warehouse.

Some companies are getting an early start implementing and taking advantage of these new innovations. And PASS will be on the front lines of delivering practical readiness information and guidance to the community so that you can make the right decisions for your organization and get up to speed on the latest skill sets in the industry.

We have strong leadership in place and an energized and amazing HQ team. We have strong partnerships with our founding members, Microsoft and CA, and solid support from the vendor community. And most important, we have a passionate community that is looking forward to making 2010 a year to remember. We're actively planning a number of exciting initiatives that will deliver solid value to our community; stay tuned to the Connector for some exciting announcements in 2010.

Rushabh Mehta
PASS President

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PASS Financial Update FY 2010 Nov-end - by Rushabh Mehta

 

We recently completed the reconciliation for the summit and I wanted to share the details with our members. If you recall from our 2010 budget that we published, we expected to end the year with a loss of ~$14,800. However, our revenues to date exceeded our budget by $ 134,000 and we expect to end our Fiscal year (Jul 1 - Jun 31) with net positive revenues of $155,000 over budget. Our expenses also increased, but not by that amount. As a result, our net income expectation for FY 2010 is $110,000! The board recently voted in a Budget exception of $50,000 for 2 in-face board meetings in the first half of 2010. This will reduce our profits by that amount. In this profit computation, we are not considering our European event profitability, but we expect it to be a financially positive event that will contribute to the bottom line of the organization.

 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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Assigning PASS Portfolios - Part 1 - by Rushabh Mehta

 

As most of you are aware, I was recently elected as the next President of PASS. One of my first duties as incoming President is to allocate portfolios. Traditionally, we have had a few portfolios (or programs) and board members get assigned to lead and drive much of what they do throughout the year. Some portfolio ownerships can be multi-year engagements as well. For example Greg Low managed the Chapter portfolio for 2 years and Lynda Rab has been managing the Educational Program portfolio that deals with pulling together and managing the summit program for multiple years. Portfolios certainly have their advantages - there is a clear owner that you can hold responsible and as Andy points out in his post, our budgets are created based on the concept of portfolios and so that portfolio owner is completely responsible for that portion of the budget (planning and managing).

 

Our traditional portfolios last year were…

  • Global Chapters - Greg Low
  • Educational Program - Lynda Rab
  • Volunteers - Pat Wright
  • Europe - Christoph Stotz
  • Virtual Chapters - Tom LaRock
  • Technology - Douglas McDowell
  • Virtual Communities - Andy Warren
  • Special Projects - Rick Heiges

 

The Special Projects portfolio was created a couple of years back to handle initiatives that did not cleanly fall in one of the canned portfolios. Our 24 Hours of PASS was an example of an initiative that was led under the Special Projects portfolio. The Executive Committee is responsible for managing the foundational services such as marketing, finance and resources that impact all portfolios and the organization.

 

The portfolio approach also has some downsides. Traditionally the board member in charge of a portfolio has full control over the direction of the portfolio. This meant that a new board member with a completely different vision could potentially steer the portfolio in a completely different direction than his/her predecessor. This of course can be good or bad. We do have some board level checks and balances to prevent that from happening, especially with drastic changes in direction. We hope that the community oversight will also help us catch that early on. Another downside to the portfolio approach is that while certain board members get the choice of portfolios that they are passionate about, most certainly other board members may get slotted into a portfolio that they don't much care about or are passionate about. It could mean that they get disillusioned or ignore the portfolio for the most part and just do the bare minimum. This impacts PASS.

 

This year, as I spoke to individual board members to get a feel for their interests, it became apparent to me that certain initiatives that they wanted to see at PASS had larger implications than a single portfolio. For example, the Speaker Bureau. This is a great initiative for Chapters. But, it is also something that would benefit Virtual Chapters and PASS Community Connections and other initiatives where Community Speakers participate. So, a board member responsible for thinking of this program or initiative without the confines of a portfolio will have a better chance of creating a program that works for the organization and not just a single portfolio. There would certainly be involvement from folks in individual portfolios as well to help with the right needs assessment and support execution.  Also, in my discussions, quite a few board members wanted to lead interesting initiatives that did not cleanly fall within existing or predefined portfolios.

 

When deciding how to best allocate portfolios/initiatives, I also had to ensure that existing portfolios and their ongoing needs as well as ongoing initiatives are continuing to be managed and there are clear owners. The process involved extensive discussions with individual board members, Judy Christianson who also acts as our Executive Director, the HQ team as well as the Executive Committee. We also have to have a clear vision of our priorities as an organization and our goals for next year to ensure that the assignments fall in line with our goals. I have to admit that at the onset, I thought that this would be a short easy process, but, the process has been more complex - probably due to us re-looking at how to allocate portfolios versus focus on initiatives. We may end up with the wrong answer, but in speaking with Andy about the change, he suggested that as long as we can review the process and portfolios at periodic intervals and be open to making changes, it's worth a try.

 

In a follow-up post, I will detail out the key goals, portfolios and initiatives as well as assignments. I am not ready to do that as yet before talking to each individual board member, outside of mentioning that Douglas McDowell is going to lead Strategic Chapters and Jeremiah Peschka will lead Educational Program. At present Andy Warren is going to start working on the much requested Speaker Bureau and continue to finish polishing the SQL Server Standard program so that it can continue to run smoothly without active board member involvement. Andy is also completing the PASS Online Store.

 

With the new structure, we will also have room for community leaders to take on initiatives. So, stay tuned for the same.

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Board Members at the 2009 PASS Summit in Seattle - by Rushabh Mehta

It feels like eternity, yet only 6 weeks back the PASS community came together in Seattle for yet another exciting summit. The educational content was cutting edge and the company comprised of who's who of the Microsoft SQL Server world. This year's summit certainly did not fail to excite and rejuvenate everyone who attended.

The PASS board and the terrific team at HQ worked extremely hard all year to build the community at large and support various community initiatives. The summit was a time for the entire team to reach into the community, to  receive input on how they had done so far and what they should do moving forward. Although the summit itself was demanding, it was also a time to celebrate successes.

As we went through the pictures from the summit, we found this collection of amazing pictures of our board members. We hope you enjoy them as well.

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PASS Summit 2008 Update: T – 3 days (Behind the scenes)

Preparations for the 2008 Summit are in full swing. It was amazing to also see the change in Seattle weather from being dull, rainy and cold to being sunny and absolutely delightful. It felt like a Seattle summer day! Last night for dinner, I got a chance to meet with Kate, Blythe, Nic and Craig from the PASS team that came in early to oversee on-site preparations. We went out for dinner at one of my favorite downtown Seattle joints – Wild Ginger at the corner of 3rd Ave and Union St. The food was absolutely delightful and it was great to meet some of the team members face-to-face for the first time after having communicated over email, phone and IM for the longest time. Here are some of us (minus our gracious photographer Craig) after dinner heading back to the hotel…

 

This morning, the team had an early start at the convention center getting prepared for the bag-stuffing ritual. Marcella and Sanjeet from HQ also arrived today. When I walked in this afternoon, it was quite a sight to see over 15 people stuffing the registration bags at full speed. They got done in record time! The room that will serve as head quarters for the PASS team (Room 211) was also completely set up and operational. All the speaker gifts were being organized to give to the speakers during speaker orientation on Tuesday. Marcella also walked me through the session evaluation process which is now a combination of online and offline in response to attendee requests last year. I also hear that the team also has a new cheer routine for the PASS Summit. If you are on-site, ask them about it at the PASS booth! :)

I also had a chance to meet with David Yang from PASS IT who got in to the convention center at around 3pm. We spoke briefly about the Attendee site for the summit that he was going to be working on this evening. He also showed me his new HTC Touch Diamond smart phone that he got just last week. I have been long considering getting its slide-out keyboard counterpart – the HTC Touch Pro. Talking about cool devices, the Sheraton has Microsoft Surface stations in the lobby. If you are staying at the Sheraton, check out the Surface stations. Speaking of the Surface, David showed me this very cool project by Johnny Chung Lee from Carnegie Melon University showing how to use a Wiimote to turn any surface into an interactive display.

In the evening, I met with Fernando Guerrero, Itzik Ben-Gan, Lubor Kollar and his wife, Andrew Kelly and Ron Talmage. It had been a while since we met face-to-face and it was great to catch up. On our walk back to the hotel, Itzik was trying to come up with an algorithm to remember my hotel room number! Unfortunately, as I realized later, I had given him an incorrect room number to remember! :)

Anyway check out a picture from the dinner. Seen in the picture here are Fernando, Ron and me.

Tomorrow I am having breakfast with Christoph Stotz one of the PASS board members from Germany who got into town this evening. Meanwhile at the convention center, the signs, the banners and the registration booths will be going up and the pre-conference rooms will start getting set up for Monday. The registration staff will be given their final training and pep talk right before registration opens at 4pm. Everyone is super excited about the new signage and the theme and how the south lobby is going to look tomorrow once the signs are up. I am sure that I will post a lot of pictures online. Also, tomorrow, ballots go out for the board election and we will also be posting additional information about the candidates on the site.

Stay tuned for more updates from the 2008 PASS Summit.

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