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.

Getting ready for my first speaking event: SQL Saturday #117 Columbus, OH

I’m sitting in the Panera Bread in Grove City, OH eating lunch, reminiscing about the vacation I just wrapped up in the Hocking Hills, and getting ready for my debut as a technical speaker tomorrow at SQL Saturday #117 in Columbus. It has taken a lot of patience, perseverance, and hard work to get to this point, and I’ve had to make a few sacrifices as well (like updating this blog…sorry about that). The one thing that surprised me the most is the amount of time I’ve had to invest into getting ready for a single session. I knew that there is a lot of work that goes into making a technical presentation, but I had no idea how time consuming it would be. Building the slide deck was the quick and easy part. After that came building the VMs and getting them just right (and remembering to take snapshots at the right times), building the demo scenarios, scripting and testing the demos, and then the really time consuming part: practicing. Just like in development, it seems like I need to take my time estimates, double them, and then I might be close to almost being right. 😉

The other tough part in all of this has been juggling life, work, and prepping for my sessions. I’ve been working on two different sessions and will be presenting each of those sessions twice in a one week period (split between three different speaking engagements: SQL Saturday #117 in Columbus, the Ohio North SQL Server User Group meeting next Tuesday in Cleveland, and SQL Saturday #121 in Philadelphia, PA that is a week from tomorrow). Having so much to do in such a short amount of time has been pretty tough to juggle and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks, but somehow I’ve managed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about any of this. In fact, I feel extremely honored to have been selected to speak at these events, and it’s a huge privilege to get to give back to the PASS community that has given me so much over the last year. However, I should have taken more care in submitting my abstracts, scheduling vacations, etc to give myself a little more time to prepare. I think my sessions will go fine, but it never hurts to have a little more time to practice and prepare.

Anyway, I think it’s time to grab another cup of coffee, sit back, listen to some smooth jazz music, and relax a little before my next batch of craziness kicks in. Take care, and hopefully I’ll see you at a SQL Saturday, user group meeting, or at the PASS Summit this year. 🙂