PASS SQLSaturday (Fiscal Year) 2012 in Review

I still remember the buzz in air and the renewed passion for SQL that came from my first PASS SQLSaturday. Unaware there was a community full of other database professionals just like me, my eyes were opened wide as I sat in sessions and talked with other attendees and sponsors. Not only did I learn new things and meet new people but I went home eagerly anticipating the next user group meeting and the next PASS SQLSaturday. I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone - week after week, year after year, that experience has been repeated tens of thousands of times.

PASS SQLSaturday has gained unstoppable momentum and fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, saw the biggest year ever for PASS SQLSaturday. The following comparison between 2011 and 2012 shows just how much PASS SQLSaturday has grown:


There are a lot of things to feel good about in those numbers! Read in between the lines and you’ll also find the speakers that had their first experience presenting, the leaders who organized their first community event, and the attendees who had their first introduction to PASS. These are the people we’ll see at future chapter meetings, in the halls and on the stage at the Summit, and serving as Regional Mentors and Directors. As PASS SQLSaturday grows and goes, so does PASS.

On that note, while the majority of PASS SQLSaturdays have been based in the US, the 450% increase in non-US events in just one year serves as a reminder that there are a lot of people we still haven’t reached yet. Shanghai (China), Curacao, Sydney (Australia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Istanbul, Bangalore, and Dublin (to name just a few) all held their first PASS SQLSaturday in 2012. It wasn’t too long ago that our goal was to hold a PASS SQLSaturday in every state; now it’s time to think even bigger - just imagine where else in the world you’ll see a PASS SQLSaturday next!

Thank You

I’d like to extend a thank you to all of the leaders, speakers, and volunteers who contributed to the success of PASS SQLSaturday during the last year. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, and hard work to make each event happen.  I’d like to thank all of our sponsors for your support, without which there would be no PASS SQLSaturday. It’s a special feeling knowing that you have helped over 12,000 people connect, share, and learn with each other.

And of course I’d like to thank everyone who attended a PASS SQLSaturday in the last year. I hope that you enjoyed the experience, learned new things, made new friends, and were motivated to become even more active in the PASS community.

Looking Ahead to FY 2013

Although we’re 2 months into fiscal year 2013 there have already been 12 PASS SQLSaturdays, 26 more officially scheduled, and even more in the pre-planning stages. Current estimates suggest we’re in for at least 80 PASS SQLSaturdays  this fiscal year, including first time events in Cambridge (UK), Munich, Lima, Bulgaria, and Pordenone (Italy) along with a host of others in the US.

Karla Landrum, PASS’s Community Evangelist, has done a tremendous job scouting out new locations and coaching event leaders but it’s become apparent that we need to add to the team if we want to reach that goal of at least 80 events in the next year. Last month we accepted applications for another Community Evangelist and received an incredibly enthusiastic response. We are currently in the interview process and expect to have our second Evangelist on board with PASS HQ in time for the annual Summit in November.

Finally, we’re continually focusing on how we can make the PASS SQLSaturday experience from the planning stages all the way through to the after party smoother for everyone. We’re always making improvements, but we also realize that the best ideas come from the PASS community. We welcome your suggestions and feedback – simply email them to webmaster@sqlsaturday.com and they’ll get to the PASS SQLSaturday team at PASS HQ.

FY2012 was a breakout year for PASS SQLSaturday and I can’t help but be excited at the possibilities for what will come in 2013!

How Can I Help You Go To SQLRally?

[Cross posted from Kendal Van Dyke's blog at http://www.kendalvandyke.com/2011/02/how-can-i-help-you-go-to-sqlrally.html]

I bet by now you've heard of SQLRally, be it from the blogosphere, Twitter, the PASS Connector bi-weekly emails, word of mouth at SQLSaturday or a user group meeting, or one of the other umpteen places that it's been mentioned. Until now our marketing efforts have been focused around building the brand by getting the word out, figuring that if we keep repeating it people will get the message and sign up to attend.

While chatting with attendees during last week's MagicPASS UG meeting in Orlando Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) and I had an epiphany: we've done a lot to let everyone know what SQLRally is and that they should go but we haven't done a good job of actually helping them get there. What we discovered is that most people have heard about SQLRally and want to go but for a variety of reasons they aren't…or at least aren't yet - I'm hoping we can find a way to remove whatever barriers are keeping them from signing up.

So here's my question for you:

What can I do to help you go to SQLRally this May?

I'm looking for your honest feedback here. Tell me what's standing in your way and, if there's something I can reasonably do to help, I will.

Tag, you're it!

PASS SQLRally Update–Voting Pushed Back

[Cross posted from Jack Corbett's Blog at http://wiseman-wiseguy.blogspot.com]

In our original plan for PASS SQLRally we had set this week as the week to start voting for sessions.  Unfortunately we are having to push back the voting for 1 week.  The original schedule was:

  • Professional Development: Jan 4-9
  • Database & Application Development: Jan 10-16
  • Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment: Jan 17-23
  • BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration: Jan 24-30

This has been changed to:

  • Professional Development: Jan 10-16
  • Database & Application Development: Jan 17-23
  • Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment: Jan 24-30
  • BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration: Jan 31-Feb 6

Why has this happened? 

There are a variety of reasons beginning with the fact that we put the event on a very aggressive schedule and didn’t plan for enough time between the PASS Summit and SQLRally voting, especially with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years being sandwiched in between.

It took longer than anticipated to break down the submissions into categories within the tracks.  Our goal was to have 11 categories (one of which would be Summit Showcase) for each of the main tracks (DBA, Dev, BI) based on the distribution of topics within the track.  That becomes more difficult when a third of the submissions in a track are locked into the Summit Showcase category.  Yes, that many Summit speakers are interested in SQLRally as well.  Another sign that this will be a great event.

We needed to communicate with some of the people who submitted abstracts to clear up some confusion we had when reviewing their submissions and we had to give them adequate time to respond.

Finally, we decided that we wanted to make the voting process an opt-in process.  So we will be sending out an email to the PASS member list with a link asking you to opt-in to the voting process.  Only those people who opt-in will be emailed the voting link each week.  The planning team was concerned that PASS members who are not interested in or able to attend SQLRally would consider the voting emails to be spam, if we sent each voting announcement out to the entire PASS member list.

What’s the final outcome?

The event team believes that delaying the process by a week and giving the voters more time to review the abstracts will lead to a better event.

The planning of SQLRally has been a learning process for all involved as it is the first one.  We are identifying issues in the process so that the next group planning a SQLRally will have a solid foundation to build upon.

Thanks for your patience. 

PASS SQLRally Call For Speakers Update

[cross-posted from Jack Corbeett's blog at wiseman-wiseguy.blogspot.com]

 

Well, we have 3 days left in the PASS SQLRally Call for speakers and we are doing well.  We have over 70 completed submissions, there may be more in a “saved” state, with a great mix of topics across the three main tracks of Development, DBA, and Business Intelligence. 

One area where we currently have a limited number of submissions is in our Professional Development category.  Our goal is to have 3 professional development sessions (one a deep dive) so we’d like to have double-digit submissions in this track, so that the community will have nice group of sessions to choose from.

With our goal of having 48 unique speakers, we are still looking for more submissions across all tracks and for all levels of ability, from 100 level to 400 level topics.

So, have you submitted yet?  If not, what's holding you back?  Here’s a post by Brent Ozar that talks about how community involvement helped propel his career forward: Rock Stars, Normal People, and You.

(Note - if you have submitted you might want to double check that your abstracts are in a "submitted" state; we've noticed some abstracts are in a "saved" state which means they're still considered a work in progress)

 

 

PASS SQLRally Pre-con Voting Is Open

I'm happy to announce that voting for the 2011 PASS SQLRally Pre-con sessions is now open! There are four tracks: BI; DBA; Dev; and Miscellaneous and the PASS SQLRally program team has narrowed down the field to 3 session choices per track. You can review the choices here:

After you've looked over the abstracts you can go HERE to cast your vote for which ones you'd be willing to pay up to $199 to attend. Voting is open until 8 AM PST November 2, 2011. The winning sessions will be announced at the 2010 PASS Summit in two weeks.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted an abstract and good luck!

PASS SQLRally – Session/Speaker Selection

SQLRally Winner
 

Hopefully by now you’ve heard about the PASS SQLRally event that will be held in Orlando, May 11-13.  Andy Warren, Kendal Van Dyke, and I are the local members of the planning team and we are making our best effort to give you a look behind the curtain to see what it takes to make an event like this happen.  Session/speaker selection is an area we are concentrating on because we would like to have the selection process be one of the differences between the SQLRally and the PASS Summit.  Andy has already shared his thoughts and Arie Jones has a very well-thought out response on his blog here. This post focuses on the regular community sessions while Andy had already blogged about the Pre-Con process.


So what are our goals in the session/speaker selection process?

  1. Provide a high-quality event that provides a “taste” of the Summit. 
  2. Provide a growth path for speakers. 
  3. Involve the community in the process. 
  4. Build a process that can be used as a template for other events.

So what are our plans for meeting the goals?
It really starts with being transparent in the process and getting input from the community along the way.  This is why we are making the effort to blog about what we are doing and thinking.  Some of our thoughts on session/speaker selection have been:
 

  1. Solicit abstracts similar to the Summit process but with a twist.  A selection committee, likely consisting of a representative from the host chapter and 2 representatives from other local chapters, would rate the sessions and present at least 3 sessions (as available) for each slot to the community for vote.
  2. For 8-12 sessions, invite 24 previous Summit speakers to take part in SQLRally.  We’d provide this list to the community who would pick the 8-12 speakers that they would like to hear from.  These would be the “name” speakers for the event that get your boss to foot the bill.
  3. Invite best of Summit speaker for each track to present their 2010 Summit sessions.
  4. Solicit topics from the community and then have speakers submit sessions for those topics.
  5. Allow chapters to “nominate” speakers.  Invite those speakers to submit abstracts.
  6. Assign session selection for different tracks to local chapters.  For example, Orlando and Richmond might vote on DBA sessions, Tampa and Atlanta on BI, etc…

These ideas lead to some questions where we would love to hear what YOU think:
 

  1. Is there anything wrong with the Summit process?
  2. Who would/should be on the selection committee?

Having selected sessions for SQLSaturday and been on the Program Committee for the PASS Summit 2010, the hard part is deciding what is more important the content or the speaker.  A great speaker can make poor content look good, while a poor speaker can make good content look bad.  So should the community vote on the speakers or the sessions?  Maybe a combination of both?
Speaker requirements:
 

  1. Except in special situations such as those Summit speakers invited to submit and voted on by the community, not a Summit 2010 presenter.
  2. Experience presenting at chapters, SQLSaturday’s or similar events.  We’d ask where, when, and what they have presented.
  3. Preferably a session that has been presented before.  As Arie points out this may mean we miss some “new” features, but when I pay for an event I want to know that the material has been done before.

A key point in all of this is that we want the process to be repeatable so subsequent events can re-use and build on the process.  While I wouldn’t say that the next local group that puts on the SQLRally would have to use the same process we use, I do hope that the framework we have laid will be able to be used to make their job a bit easier.
Please leave comments on the blog as we definitely are interested in YOUR thoughts on the process.  There are no guarantees that your ideas will be included, but they WILL be considered.

Jack Corbett
Cross posted from Jack's Blog

SQLRally Meeting Minutes

The starting point for a good meeting is an agenda and minutes. It took us a bit to catch up, but the minutes of our planning meetings so far are now available thanks to some work from PASS HQ, you can see them at http://www.sqlpass.org/Events/PASSSQLRally.aspx. I hope you’ll read them. I know minute aren’t page turners!

As I read them and think about all the discussion, it’s interesting how there are so many small discussions to be had and so many small decisions to be made. At a high level I think the formula is simple and direct, and now we just do all the things we can think of to make it work. In some ways I wish I could ask all of you on a lot of these, but that just doesn’t scale. Instead, we’ll share the minutes along with supplemental posts, and ask for your input on things that I think you’re most interested in or consider to be fun; picking the logo, pre-con process, and speaker selection.

Anyway, read the minutes.

Andy Warren
Cross posted from http://www.sqlandy.com/archive/sqlrally-meeting-minutes/

The PASS SQLRally Logo Winner Is…

With 63% of the total votes our winner is Speedometer! Congratulations to azzam on 99designs and thank you to everyone else who submitted logos and took the time to vote for their favorite design.

Vote For The PASS SQLRally Logo

We received over 100 submissions for our 99designs contest to design the SQLRally logo. The SQLRally planning team, with help from the PASS Board of Directors, have narrowed the list down to 3 finalists. Now it's up to the SQL community to help pick the winner! Check out the 3 logos below, then head on over to the voting page and cast your vote for the best design. Voting is open until Monday, August 9, 3 PM Eastern\12 PM Pacific time. Don't wait, vote today!

Checkered Flag

SQLRally Logo Contest - Fame & Fortune Up For Grabs!

Now that the PASS SQLRally (formerly known as the spring event) has a name it's time to start building a brand…and you have a chance to help! We're running a logo design contest and you're invited to enter. At stake is fame, a $310 prize, and consideration for bidding on the SQLRally website design if you're picked as the winner. Remember we're targeting the cost of the SQLRally at $299 so if you win you could cover the cost of admission.

The contest is open now and runs until 1 PM EDT, July 29, though we reserve the right to extend it depending on the quality and number of entries we receive. So what are we looking for?

  • Logo to be used on website (we will be creating a new event site, ideally with the logo designer), conference name badges, simple onsite signage, possibly on bag or tshirt
  • Consideration to racetrack/car rally imagery
  • Require both one color (B&W) and color versions
  • Future requirements include website design. Preference will be given to the logo designer to bid on future design extensions.
  • Should give some consideration to the existing PASS organization color palette/font however not at all restricted to using existing:
    • Black and White PASS logo used primarily in print applications
    • Grey: 70% Black
    • PASS Red: Pantone 1795 C, CMYK 0, 94, 100, 0
    • PASS Blue: Pantone 294 C, CMYK 100, 58, 0, 21
    • Light Blue: CMYK, 100, 30, 0, 0
    • Font: Helvetica Neue

Think you've got the winning design? Head on over to 99designs to check out the full design brief and submit your entry!

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