SQL Saturday Indianapolis: Everyone remembers their first time (recap)

Note: If you attended my talk and you’re looking for my code examples, you can find them over on GitHub. Also, please leave comments! I’d love to hear what you thought.

Way back when

In May of 2014, I was seated in the main room of the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago, reviewing some findings of one of my production servers with Kendra Little. I was in town for one of Brent Ozar Unlimited’s SQL Server Performance Troubleshooting classes, expanding my skill set. While she reviewed my troubled servers and provided insight, the conversation drifted over to how someone can get more involved with the SQL community. I mentioned to her that I wanted to start speaking at some point in the future.

“You should!” she said, enthusiastically. She then gave me a rundown of how to prepare topics, directed me to towards PASS, and wished me luck.

Flash forward to this past Saturday

Almost a year and three months later, there I was: standing in front of a group of about 60 or so people. I was in Indianapolis for SQL Saturday #402 and this time, I was speaking. For me, this was a milestone: I am used to speaking locally to small-ish groups, but this was a huge opportunity to take my contributions to the SQL community to the next level. When the session was all said and done, and the room applauded… I was overwhelmed, really. My feedback was all positive as well.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure when or if I would have ever seen myself standing up there. I had made the decision earlier this year to make it a personal goal to go out and get involved in the greater SQL Server community; it started with registering my blog back in January of this year. From there, I sought out and obtained a board position on the local Columbus PASS chapter, spoke at the local chapter meeting a couple months ago, and helped plan and pull off a local SQL Saturday here in Columbus. It was like a whirlwind; I kept finding opportunities to get out there and volunteer and be part of the community the more and more I looked. And it’s been such a blessing and journey and I can’t wait to continue it.

As for my topic, PowerShell and SQL Server still is a tricky subject to teach. But I had some awesome people in attendance, such as Ben Miller, Pat Phalen, and David Maxwell who were there to give me great feedback on my session. Afterwards, Pat came up to me and told me about how when he presents he takes a “Reading Rainbow” approach vs. “A Sesame Street” approach. When I asked what he meant, he said that a lot of speakers will focus on “how” to do something (Sesame Street), while he explains “why” you should be doing something (Reading Rainbow). And I’d like to think that in my session, I took a similar stance. My goal wasn’t to teach a room full of people how to use PowerShell; I can’t do that in an hour. Instead, I wanted to show off demos and get people excited about what’s possible with SQL Server and PowerShell. And in that, I think I succeeded. I had one attendee say that I convinced him. To me, there’s no higher compliment.

Nobody is perfect

That said, I learned a lot this weekend. Both good and bad. Here’s a quick run-down of things, in no particular order of importance:

  1. My abstract needs work. While people were generally pleased with my session, I heard from more than one person that what I presented and how I presented it didn’t match up well.
  2. Every speaker is like a peer supporter. I had the pleasure of attending a lot of great sessions from a lot of great and well-known members of the community, but then they turned right around and attended me session. I was humbled, really.
  3. Presenting on a Surface Pro 3 tablet is a pain in the butt. The extra resolution doesn’t translate well to secondary “monitors” when presenting.
  4. No matter how hard you prepare, the mish-mash of resolutions of projectors will almost ensure that your demos won’t look right. Best to get in the room as quick as you can and get set up.
  5. I need to get better with ZoomIt for magnifying my screen when simple font size increases won’t cut it.
  6. There is a Chipotle in Richmond, Indiana. It’s right about half-way between there and Columbus. Makes a great place to stop, in both directions.
  7. Not enough people use twitter. The speakers all advocate it, but in my session and the others I attended, very few people raised their hands when asked if they were on twitter. They should be!

All told, this was an amazing weekend and experience for me. I can’t wait to do it again in a couple weeks in Louisville. As for all the people I need to thank, no one needs more thanks than Hope Foley and the awesome Indy PASS crew for putting on a great event. I hope I was able to add the value they were looking for, because that was a fantastic event all around!