PASS Summit 2014 Recap

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Just moments ago, the PASS Summit 2014 wrapped up, and will be forever in the history books. When I got back to my hotel room, I started thinking about the event, the awesome people that I met for the first time, the old friends that I was able to reconnect with, the completely mind-blowing experience of being a first time speaker at the Summit, and everything else that has gone on over just one short week. I quickly realized that I wanted to take a moment to blog about it and share some of my experiences, but to also act as a journal of sorts. Below are just some of the awesome things that I’ve done, or that have happened to me this week:

  • I finally got to meet Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp, and Jonathan Kehayias of SQL Skills and I was able to attend Paul’s pre-conference session on Performance Tuning Using Waits and Latches. As expected, the pre-conference session was awesome, as were Paul, Kimberly, and Jonathan.
  • I was able to network with other people from the Cleveland area, as well as from around the world, and I was even able to recruit at least one person to apply for a job at my company.
  • I was able to attend volunteer meetings and the SQL Saturday Roundtable meeting for the first time and to get some insight into PASS as an organization and how other community members approach their events. In addition, I was able to hear from several sponsors about how the community can better engage them.
  • I volunteered as a Summit Ambassador for the first time and was able to assist attendees with finding their way around the conference center.
  • I was interviewed by PASS TV to speak about local events and was able to give a shout-out to both the upcoming Cleveland SQL Saturday and Columbus SQL Saturday.
  • I presented my Introduction to AlwaysOn Availability Groups session to one of the largest audiences that I’ve ever presented to in-person (it was also video recorded), and even had a Microsoft employee attend my session and offer some insight into where AlwaysOn Availability Groups are heading in future versions of SQL Server. I was also paid a visit by the Demo Gremlins when my demo laptop decided to reboot while I was presenting the first half of my session. Fortunately, I was able to recover from the issue on the fly and still presented a successful, working demo of an Availability Groups (it just had 2 replicas instead of 3 😉 ). My audience was energetic, enthusiastic, and engaged, and I even had a swarm of attendees approach me after my session to say hi and to ask follow-up questions. As a speaker, I couldn’t be happier with how things worked out.
  • I was able to visit the Experience Music Project (EMP) museum for the second time for the PASS Community Appreciation Party, and it ROCKED!
  • I was also approached by Pluralsight to produce a training video about AlwaysOn Availability Groups, and by Apress to write a book about them as well. We’ll see how these opportunities pan out, but I’m cautiously optimistic about them at this point. *fingers crossed*

As you can see, it’s been a busy, exciting, fun, and exhausting week for me. I’m still blown away by the fact that I was selected to speak and that I was approached by Pluralsight and Apress, and it’s all thanks to PASS and to amazing friends and mentors like Allen White, Erin Stellato, and Brian Davis who got me started as a speaker and helped me grow over these past several year. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this community has an amazing ability to change peoples’ lives and to help them grow by bring them together for a common cause. It’s been a wild ride, and the best part of it is that it’s only just the beginning.

PASS Summit 2014 – I’m Speaking!

Summit14 - I'm SpeakingWell, with a title like that, I think the cat’s out of the bag…I’M SPEAKING AT THE PASS SUMMIT!

I still can’t believe it, even as I typed those words and added the graphics from PASS to my site to promote the Summit. I have been selected to present my session “Introduction to AlwaysOn Availability Groups” as a 75 minute regular session at the Summit! It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been a member of PASS for 4 years now, starting with my very first SQL Saturday event in Columbus, OH on June 26th, 2010. Although, even sitting at that first SQL Saturday as a quiet, timid, and more than slightly confused database geek, I knew that PASS would change my life and my career as I knew them, and that has most definitely held true.

You see, it was that first SQL Saturday that introduced me to the concept of local SQL Server user groups, and it was at my local user group that I met and eventually became very good friends with Allen White (twitter | blog) who is now not only a friend, but a mentor to me. At the beginning of every Ohio North SQL Server Users Group meeting, Allen says something to the effect of “Every single one of you has something to share that everyone can learn from.” It’s part of his usual introduction to the meeting, but more than that, it’s a mantra that has inspired me (and many others) and that I have tried to live by over these past 3 years as I’ve spoken at various PASS events.

It really is amazing, as I look back on the last couple years, how much I’ve grown as a database professional, as a speaker, and as a person. I’m more confident, more outspoken and self-assured, and more knowledgeable, largely in part to PASS and the experiences and friendships that I’ve gained from becoming a member of this organization. In fact, if it weren’t for PASS, I would never have met Erin Stellato (twitter | blog), another good friend and mentor who was the connection that ultimately led me to my current job with Hyland Software. It’s funny how such a simple thing as one organization or one event can have such a profound impact on someone’s life, and I know I’m not alone in my experiences. It’s this and this alone that keeps me coming back and keeps me giving back to this awesome organization.

Thank you PASS, and more importantly the volunteers that give up their time and energy to make PASS events happen, for changing my life and giving me an awesome group of people that I’m proud to call my #SQLFamily!