SQL Saturday Louisville–Bout That Time

IMG_20170804_064418SQL Saturday Louisville is less than a week away!! A lot of hard work has gone into putting on this event by some great organizers and volunteers. It has been awesome to be part of the journey with them. You can check out the event homepage here and if your keen on checking out the schedule then you can check that out here

Fortunate this year to be co-presenting a lunch session with Justin Randall (b|t) “Break Through Your Data Performance Barriers with SentryOne” It’s going to be a fun time as we look into a case study that our shop partnered with them on – going to be an epic time!!

This year will be our 10th event and while I have been a part of these for the last three years I would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment and just thank the many who paved the way for our local community to get to where we are now. If you are coming to the event; please do look around and when you see a volunteer please give them a hearty thank you – believe me; it does go a long way.

Big thanks to our sponsors below for helping support us this year:

Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting

Redgate Software

PASS

Tek Systems

KiZAN

COZYROC

BITracks

SentryOne

DELL EMC

Quest Software (GAP Sponsor)

PureStorage

Schneider Electric

Look forward to seeing everyone there and please; do stop and introduce yourself.

SQL Saturday Louisville Re-Cap

IMG_20170804_064418And like the wind another SQL Saturday Louisville has come and gone. This past weekend seemed to be a huge success, but it didn’t come with some take-away’s and that is okay. I think every time we put on an event like this we are always looking for ways to make things better the next year. So, enough yapping. What are some of the highlights?

VENDORS

I’m privileged to work along side one of the other co-organizers in John Morehouse (b|t) when it comes to vendors. We were very thankful this year to have the following sponsors on board with us:

It was awesome to see each and every one of these vendors at the event. Most of them have been prior years and the attendees seem to enjoy speaking to them about their products. We truly appreciate the support they have shown us over the years and look forward to many more events ahead with them.

IMG_20170804_163609

SPEAKERS

Once again we had a very talented pool of speakers that came in town. I won’t take the time list all of them out here, but do go over to the SQL Saturday Louisville website if you are interested. As a speaker, it always amazes me that they come from all over to these events to give their time and hone their craft. If you ever attend one of these events I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Say thank you – believe me, it goes a long way.
  • Give serious session feedback; we look for ways we can make our presentations better.

A huge thank you to all the speakers that came out to our event; we had some great times together and look forward to seeing each of you somewhere down the line. I think everyone did a phenomenal job in their sessions and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from attendees; even after the event.

PRE CONS

This year we had Grant Fritchey (b|t) and Josh Luedeman (t) in the house. Both had packed sessions, I know Grant’s sold out and Josh wasn’t very far off from the numbers I was looking at. A full day of training from a couple of the best in our SQL community made for some great times. Observing and listening to attendees during the breaks again, nothing but positive things. Huge thank you to both of them for taking the time to spend a day with us before the event to share their knowledge with the attendees.

SQL SATURDAY CREW

I can’t say enough about the volunteers that help out with this event. It is no easy task to put one of these things on and the countless hours leading up to the event are many. The “behind the scenes” action is huge. A few things that stand out to me are the character, selfless acts, time given, and pride everyone takes in trying to make this the best event we’ve ever had each year. Doesn’t mean times are always easy; have a cohesive unit with single sight focus to knock out tasks and obstacles as they arise are pretty awesome. In any sense; can’t be more proud to serve along side these individuals.

This year we lost one of our very own SQL crew members. Dave Ingram passed this year. He was one of the earlier on volunteers that gave time to help make the event what it is today. In the three years as co-organizer, I knew him for 2 of those. It was evident his passion was helping the local community base here in Louisville. I was honored to be able to say a few words at the end of the day. It was touching to have the opportunity to meet his daughter, whom we did not know would be there, we were able to take a moment and recognize her and her dad with a round of applause. It’s because of men and woman like this who have forged the way for others like me to pay it forward. Thank you, Dave!

Dave

RIP Dave Ingram. SQL Saturday Louisville volunteer(7 years), SQL Cruise and PASS Summit Alumni. We miss you.

 

NEW SPEAKERS

IMG_20170805_153122It was awesome to see first time SQL Saturday speaker Kat Edrington (t) presenting a session for our attendees this year. This is what it is about for us. We need to continue to cultivate and bring in new leaders of tomorrow. Hats off to Kat on an excellent job well done!!

 

ATTENDEES

Thankful for the many conversations with the attendees that were had. From the questions regarding products they know that I am associated with to conversations on local tech news, to asking where things are at the venue. We at SQL Saturday Louisville strive to make it the best experience we possibly can; doesn’t mean we always get it right – but we will go down swinging trying. Thankful for the all the conversations that I was able to have with the everyone and look forward to much more.

At the end of the day, we had about half of the attendees who raised their hands stating it was their first SQL Saturday.

MARKS FEED STORE

Okay, so if you are from around here then you know about Mark’s Feed Store. The barbecue they have is simply amazing and they were are caterers for this event. Once again they were spot on and provided some great food for all of us at the venue. If you are ever in town go check them out.

TRUE PROFESSIONALS

As I said before there will always be something that comes up at an event. This time around we had a sound system issue in one of the rooms. Rie Irish (b|t) handled things without any issue and we took a field trip to a new room. These types of issues are things that bug the heck out of us hosting, but at times they are out of our hands. Appreciate the flexibility by Rie along with the attendees for being patient; putting a speaker behind in their session is not what we want to do here people.

As I am walking down the hall checking on things I hear a huge humming noise. As I enter the room I see Lori Edwards (b|t) in her session and Andy Mallon (b|t) providing assistance to the problem. After the humming subsided the bulb in the projector decided it was time for it to go. Once again we found ourselves taking a field trip across the hall. Once again, hats off to the ability to adjust and the attendees were very accepting.

Why do I bring these up you ask? Few reasons, but mainly that no matter how much you plan and get things orchestrated issues will arise. It’s important to address as quickly and politely as possible and move on. BTW if you aren’t following the people above in this section please do so…stellar data professionals.

THE WHY?

So at the event, I was asked why do you do this? Why do you help? Why do you speak? I keep saying the same thing but it holds true. In 2011 when I attended my first PASS Summit it changed my life and career.You don’t have to wait until you can go to Seattle Washington though; you can attend these local events all over the globe to learn, network, and test the waters. I know there are other Chris Yates’ out there who, like me, was wanting to get plugged in but didn’t know how. Wanting to make a difference locally, but yes also globally I will always try to be me and help others along the way. Appreciate, encourage and value everyone ~ we got this.

THAT’S A WRAP

Another Saturday has come and gone. I hope everyone from the speakers to the attendees had a great time. Next year will be our 10th year which is a special milestone. Look forward to what the journey holds and hope to see many of you there.

Is ROI for Vendors Worth the SQL Saturday Investment?

networkingPiggy backing onto the recent SQL Saturday post here in Louisville, I wanted to take a more in-depth look, from my perspective, on how vendors all fit into these events.

Having the opportunity to work alongside these vendors has been both a learning experience for myself along with forming new bonds along the way. Louisville has been fortunate enough to have some of the best vendors in our industry who see the importance of investing time in others for a few reasons.

  • Networking
  • Getting their products name out
  • Growing their local community pool
  • Bringing exposure to their company

SQL Saturday events provide a much more intimate setting with a lower number of attendees. Example our event for the past two years had over 220 users sign up. This is a much smaller scale then say what a PASS conference has signed up where over five thousand of your closest friends attend.

The SQL Saturday events allow the attendees to get up close and personal with the vendors on products that they may or may not use. That’s great Chris, but I’m a vendor and how would I get ROI out of it; because at the end of the day if I want to sponsor an event there needs to be some gains on my end?

This therein is a valid question and one that is not taken lightly. In speaking with a vendor they had this to say about our event:

Our sponsorship of SQL Saturday allowed us to connect with a wealth of developers and DBAs, in a single day. The event was organized, productive, and time well spent furthering our business in Louisville.

I am starting to see soft metrics, such as intangibles, in determining the business value sending data professionals for respective vendors to such events. What kind of intangibles? They’re the stuff that doesn’t show up in traditional cost-accounting methods but that truly makes a difference in maximizing the potential knowledge growth of the organization. These include employee learning, vendor interaction, business relationships, and networking. Some of these are clearly more quantifiable than others, but all are important to a vendors success.

Some outside thoughts on how ROI for vendors is applicable:

  • You have to evaluate your audience.
  • Make sure your input channel, in this case your interaction with attendees, has some new features for viewing.
  • List of attendees for potential future clients.
  • Make your presence known prior to event (outside the marketing done by said event).
  • Commitment from potential attendees
  • Flexibility

End of the day, vendors are a huge part from all angles in regards to SQL Saturday events. Getting a great local base at events like this continues to build and solidify companies advancement in the technology space; specifically around the Microsoft stack.

Conclusion

If you are interested in getting involved you can check out or view upcoming schedules at the SQL Saturday home page here.

From personal experience I know that talking with vendors at said events it has opened doors and opportunities for business in my current and previous shops along with building a network base for future discussions.

Are SQL Saturday’s Worth It?

VenueThis past weekend I was fortunate enough to be a part of Louisville’s (for those local the ‘ville) SQL Saturday event held at Indiana Wesleyan. Most of you who end up on this site are probably familiar with it, but for those that aren’t familiar with SQL Saturday events you can check out their site here.

Now to put on an event like this is nothing short of an incredible effort from volunteers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees. Being able to help co-organize the one here in Louisville has been a humbling yet gratifying experience. Let me see if I can break it down a different way for you, the reader, who may not have had the opportunity yet to volunteer or attend such an event.

Volunteers

You can see these people usually with matching shirts on and a lanyard with their name and a ribbon that only says “volunteer.” In the past when I’ve attended such events I knew people helped out to put something like this on, but never in my wildest dreams did I envision all that it took until I volunteered.

Volunteering is not for glitz, glamor, or glory. Instead volunteering is what helps the cogs in the wheel move to get the steam engine running down the track. It is the staple of helping afford the opportunity for free learning to attendees and colleagues in our field.

Many, many, and many hours go into planning and organizing an event; if you attend one of these events make sure you seek a volunteer or organizer out and say thank you for their time; they are doing this for free and on their own time away from their families.

Mala Mahadevan (B|T) as a founding organizer of our event I thank you for allowing me to be a part of it these past few years.

Sponsors

Over the years, SQL Saturday Louisville has been blessed with some great sponsors. For the previous two years, John Morehouse (B|T) and I have taken great pride in working with some stellar companies. Without them, we would not be able to do what we do which is concentrate on the attendees and helping people learn.

Our Gold sponsors this year were:

Gold

  1. EMC
  2. Farm Credit Mid-America
  3. Imperva
  4. Microsoft
  5. Republic Bank
  6. Pyramid Analytics

 

Our Silver and Bronze sponsors this year were:

SilverBronze

  1. Idera
  2. PASS
  3. PureStorage
  4. Tek Systems
  5. Click-IT Staffing
  6. Homecare Homebase
  7. Datavail
  8. SQLSentry

A major thank you for all of their contributions and it is always a pleasure to work with all of you.

Speakers

It always amazes me at the number of speakers we have who send in sessions to our event. These speakers are people from all over the U.S. who are willing to travel and give their time so attendees can learn. Getting to spend time with each of them is not always an easy task, but always thankful to catch up with many friends at the speaker dinner.

It was awesome to see the attendees interacting with the speakers asking their questions and getting insight into the variously presented topics. And, because of so many good sessions to choose from, there was a buzz in the air.

As is the case with the volunteers mentioned above, speakers also travel on their own dime, away from their families – a simple thank you goes a long way. Also, for these sessions, I do want to point out that feedback cards are provided; please please please take a moment and make sure you provide good insightful feedback to the speakers. Each speaker uses this feedback to improve their sessions or have take-a-ways on what may or may not have worked. Yes, folks, these are important!

I won’t list every speaker we had; that is not the intent of this topic. But I will take a moment and say to each and every speaker who attended SQL Saturday Louisville 531 we thank you.

Attendees

Two words – – THE PEOPLE. As I have stated, these last two years has been nothing short of amazing. Seeing light bulbs go off with attendees who are learning from some of the best, and having discussions with attendees is why we do what we do.

When individuals come to us stating it was their first time at the event, and they had no idea that there is a local Louisville SQL User Group opens the doors to help reach people in our tech community.

Steve Jones (B|T), who is part of my Fab Five, talks about Dreaming of SQL Saturday. If you have not had a chance to read his post, check it out. Attendees travel from quite a distance. Which tells me the people are eager to learn.

Conclusion

So, the question I opened with “Is SQL Saturday Worth It?” Considering what I know now versus what I knew then the answer is yes. Personally, being a product of these types of events, I am living proof of what can grow from the SQL Community.

Whether you volunteer, speak, sponsor, or attend, all of these make the wheel turn. It’s a team effort with a lot of hard work. So, next time you attend one of these events, please don’t take them for granted.

Here is to continued learning, as we move forward to grow this community!

SQLSat403 – Recap

SQLSAT403_header

The doors close, lights turn off, and cars begin to pull out of the parking lot. Another SQL Saturday event has come and gone, but this time it was different. The reason for this was from the hard work, effort, countless hours, and collaboration that took place.

This past year I wanted to embark on a journey that I hadn’t done before which was volunteering for a SQL Saturday event. Malathi Mahadevan (B|T) afforded me this opportunity to get involved along with John Morehouse (B|T) . Little did I know what I was about to embark on.

Listen, most attend these events by showing up and listening to a talented speaker pool. After the event attendees stick around for a raffle, and share some laughs with friends. I know because I’ve attended several of these events; I’ve also spoken at a lot of events other than SQL Saturday’s and given presentations. In those times you get to talk with other speakers, attend some nice dinners, and kick back with some deep conversations. What is missing?

SQLSaturday403 in Louisville, Ky changed my mindset drastically. If you have never been apart of something in this nature then I would recommend it; I don’t care if you are a speaker or an attendee at a user group. The hard work and effort that goes into pulling an event such as this off is phenomenal. I walked away with a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes along with learning a few things:

  1. People are hungry to learn
  2. It takes a strong team behind the scenes to pull something like this off
  3. Dedication and determination are prevalent
  4. Organization is key

We had a very talented speaker pool come in to town this year who provided attendees with a number of good sessions. The vendors on hand were second to none and put on a great show for everyone to see. What really got my attention was seeing all the hard work we, as a group, put into it. As we crossed that finish line and the day of the event came we saw a record crowd which maxed out our venue with people beating the door down on a waiting list to get in. That means two things to me:

  1. Shows just how eager people were wanting to learn
  2. We were doing something right

Twitter wall

Enter stage left > the twitter wall.

Something new that I have not seen before was, what became, the infamous twitter wall. The idea stemmed from a colleague/friend of mine John Morehouse.

The wall was located in our eating/silver sponsor area and was a big hit throughout the day. It also provided a glimpse into some of the fun we were having:

Photo provided by John Morehouse

Photo provided by John Morehouse

One of the cool things that I liked about this idea was seeing all the attendees thoughts as they were sitting through the sessions. The #SQLSat403 was generating quite a buzz, this was proof that what was happening in Louisville was a great thing. The vendors located in this area were pretty stoked about the twitter wall as they were getting some love as well!

Feedback

All of the above shows signs of success, or so I thought, until I got blindsided again by feedback I received from the attendees, vendors, and speakers. Some of the comments that will remain anonymous are:

“I apologize; I’ve been doing this wrong for so long with my code and I am rejuvenated to fix it and make it more efficient

“This event is free; how is that possible?”

“I am missing out on #SQLSat403; that seems like it is the place to be today”

“I definitely will be coming back to this next year”

Those are some pretty encouraging comments. As with anything, our group realizes that we had hiccups. Some may not have even been noticeable, but the organizers noticed them. Guess what, we are making a list and looking for ways to continue to improve on this event. There is a buzz going on here in the city of Louisville around this event; know that we have a dedicated team in place that will continue to work hard in order to make this one of the best events around.

What can you do?

If you attend one of these events in the future, anywhere in the world, I implore you to walk up and thank the volunteer. I know the group I am associated with are an amazing bunch, and that will go for the rest of the organizers worldwide. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve; looking forward to many more.

How about you? Will you volunteer? Will you speak? You can check out a full schedule on the SQL Sat website here.

Thank You

To my fellow organizer – it truly was an amazing ride and I thank you for the opportunity.

To the attendees – it was a blast to see you all along with seeing a lot of light bulbs go off and discussions we had. Hope you guys had as much fun as I did.

To the speakers – spent a lot of quality time with a lot of you and I look forward to coming to your venues to speak in the future. Thanks for investing time in our community so others may learn.

To the vendors – we couldn’t have done it without you; look forward to cultivating that relationship with you as we move forward.

It’s game time folks; let’s get it done. If you reach one then it is a success.