Category Archives: Volunteer

Come For The Education Stay For The Networking


I am really excited about SQLSaturday #97! In just a few short hours we will be opening the doors to a crowd of people wanting to learn about SQL Server.

We have a crazy good lineup of speakers and a truly awesome group of sponsors to come see and hang out with. For all of that, you should really come to meet new people, make a connection and carry that forward after SQLSaturday #97 is in the books. You have a great opprotunity to meet some new folks and maybe see them again at the PASS Summit in just a few days as well.

Again, I can’t thank my core team AJ Mendo, Jim Murphy, Mike Byrd, Richard Heim and Amy Muehleman enough for the months of work that went into this. If you bump into them tomorrow make sure to thank them, pat them on the back and let them know it was worth your time to attend.


SQLSaturday #97 Speaker Selection Process

Hard Choices

First, thank you for submitting to speak at SQLSaturday #97 in Austin, TX. Myself, Richard Heim and Mike Byrd had a good time reading and discussing all the abstracts.

Now that we have rapped up the selection process let me say it was no easy chore. I’d love to tell you that it was a completely unbiased and the selection committee didn’t have any agenda at all. That simply isn’t the truth. Queue ominous chung CHUNG here….

The Most Un-secret Conspiracy Ever

SQLSaturday is a very unique thing. It’s a free regional event. It provides training. It also provides a venue for local speakers and teachers to sharpen their skills. If you have ever spent any time talking with Andy Warren about SQLSaturday you will find that he also thinks it is an opportunity to promote local over more well known national people. I also have a pragmatic view of things. There are three groups of people you are trying to make happy. In a perfect world there would only be one group, us. That just isn’t so.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy


There are a lot of speakers these days, I know I’m one of them. SQLSaturday has been a huge boon to the new group of up and coming teachers and leaders. One of the things not to lose site of that a scant 3 years ago this pool was much, much smaller than it is today. There is a significant group of very active speakers on the “SQLSaturday Circuit” and we do rely on them to kick start things. If you are in a region where there just isn’t a very active local pool these fantastic speakers are a true asset. For me, it was a reassurance that we would have enough speakers and topics to meet the community need. Luckily for us in Texas we have a pretty sizable group of speakers between Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth and Houston there are easily 30 or more speakers. It can also be a bit of a problem. Part of me wants to load up with the most seasoned and well known speakers to help draw a crowd. That isn’t the whole goal of a SQLSaturday though. So, I reached out to people in the area and made sure they submitted sessions. I worked with some of them personally to help with abstracts and presentations. I also made sure they had a spot to speak at the local chapter meeting to get them a little experience. You will see people on the schedule you have NEVER heard of. You may not know them. They are some of the best at what they do in our region. This also means I may have passed up a more season speaker to promote someone new. Remember, someone gave you your first chance to speak don’t begrudge me for doing the same thing for others.


This event wouldn’t be possible at all without vendors, end of story. It takes money to put on a SQLSaturday no matter how big or small. There are a finite number of dollars to put on these events and vendors have to pick where they think the money will do the most good. Not just in marketing terms, but in bolstering their local communities as well. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’ve been the guy that had to choose where those dollars went. I had to look at the size of the market. Did we want to pull in more of the market share in that region. Would we be able to support a push by sales to continue the initial drive. All of these things are a factor. At the end of the day, will there be a direct or indirect benefit to the company. Why should I put dollars into your event and NOT into some other marketing channel? To that end, I want to see that you are stacking the speaker list to put as many butts in seats as possible. This isn’t 100% against the goal of getting some new people on the roster, but it isn’t a guarantee that we will maximize eyeballs on product ether. You will find that 99 times out 100 a vendor will gladly take that gamble.


Big names do draw a part of the crowd that attends a SQLSaturday. Not as much as most people think. You may look and see someone well known speaking but there is usually a lot of other content that you want to see. What I have seen is people going to the sessions that are teaching something they want to learn. What a shocker! Yes, people will pack a session if there is a topic that is hot and there is a well known speaker presenting. I’ve also seen well known speakers speak to a hand full of people. What I’ve found is a lot of the attendees have never been to a SQLSaturday or any event like it. They may not know that you, the veteran speaker, are totally awesome and they should come see you. Even if you are talking about turnips. You, as an attendee, may choose to come because there are some super stars speaking. Trust me on this one, you will learn from every session you attend.

It Ain’t Always Easy

Myself and my team have made every effort to balance the needs of all three groups as best we can. If you submitted this year and didn’t get a slot to speak, please don’t let it stop you from submitting again next year! If you opted not to be a sponsor I completely understand that too. If you choose not to attend that’s OK, there are other events in the region I hope you can make it to. We did our best to promote local, balance the schedule and make sure that there was enough solid content to make this a true learning experience. I hope everyone, speakers, attendees and vendors all get some benefit from our event.

I will make you this promise. I will never put myself on the schedule. I’ve been blessed with a job that allows me to travel and with the support of the community, I have been given lots of opportunities to speak. I will gladly make sure that a slot is held open for the next new person in hope that they grow into the next rock star and give back to the community.


A huge thanks to everyone that submitted a session, I cannot express how humbled I was to see the number and the quality of submissions. I look forward to having this same problem next year.

Plucking Wallflowers

Wallflowers Bloom

My friend Tim Mitchell wrote an awesome personal account a while back and shared it again recently. It’s a tale I have seen and heard all to often. A tale of a really smart guy who just lacks the courage and confidence to step forward and participate in the social aspects of our great community. If you have had the privilege of meeting me at the Summit, or anywhere else for that matter, you know I don’t suffer from “Wallflower Syndrome”. As a matter of fact I have the incurable reverse of that infliction.

Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?

If you meet me for the first time this year at the Summit, or the second time my memory isn’t what it use to be, I will ask you that question. Usually, in a very loud and assertive way. I get a lot of smiles, some shocked looks and sometimes brushed off completely after asking. Oh, and I may just come up to you out of nowhere to ask you. You got it, I come up to complete strangers and engage them with confidence and good cheer. I’ll let you in on another little secret, if I see you sitting alone and shunning the crowd I will make it a point to come shake you awake. I pluck wallflowers. As Tim pointed out, if you aren’t engaging in the social aspect of the Summit you are missing half of the reason to be there at all.


That’s right, even if you blow me off my memory is so shoddy I will forget that you gave me the stink eye and come back for a second round. I may even send in others to help me in my task of drawing you in to the crowd. You have to fight kicking and screaming to get me off your back and let you sit on the wall all alone, you know like at your last high school formal. I will get the message eventually though. There are so many people that do come to the Summit secretly hoping that they will be invited to go sing karaoke, or a least go hang out and socialize that I will forget about you (shoddy memory again) and just go have a good time.

Making Lasting Connections

To me, the Summit is more than just education from the best minds in our field. It is about making connections with others. You will meed the greats at the Summit, you know who I’m talking about, the Paul Randal’s, Brent Ozar’s and Steve Jones’s of the SQL Server world. You will also meet peers, people just like you that grind out the less glamorous parts of our job every day. You may end up being a mentor to some, even though you don’t think you are anything special. You will also be mentored by those whom have something to share with you. I still get emails and stay in contact with people I’ve only ever met at the Summit. I got emails this year from people that haven’t been to the Summit in two or more years to let me know they would be there this year and are looking forward to reconnecting. That’s the kind of deep connections you can make with people too. It isn’t just all about “expanding your network”, it’s about making lasting friendships with people who are in the same boat with you.

Fine, Be That Way

If you choose not to do anything social at the Summit that’s OK too. Not the outcome I was hoping for, but not the end of the world ether. Maybe you will make one new friend or go to just one of the after hours events. At the end of the day you did make the effort to come to the Summit. Hopefully, you will be back again, and I’ll have another chance to get the stink eye from you (damn my shoddy memory!).

Why You Should Attend SQL Saturday 97

Reposted from :

By AJ Mendo

Free Training

Part of the mission statement of SQL Saturday (read the full statement here) is to provide a day of free training to SQL Server Professionals and those new to SQL Server an event that combines training and networking as well as find and grow new speakers (see Calling All Local Speakers) that means you!

Take a look at all the sessions submitted. The tracks are not finalized yet but so far we have sessions submitted for DBAs, Developers, BI professionals, dotNet, and an Advanced. As you can see there is something for everyone.

Cool People To Meet

For me networking is one of the best parts of any SQL Saturday event. You can catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I especially like meeting the people I have chatted with on twitter and not met in person. That’s part of what makes the SQL community so strong and always growing. You can have conversations (all be it short ones) on twitter and when you actually meet them it’s almost as if you have known them for years.

The Weather Is Fine Wish You Were

I am sure you have seen something in the news about how hot it has been and the serious drought conditions down here in Texas recently. Yes it’s true; we have many days during the summer over 100 degrees and have not had measurable rain in several months.  However, our fall weather is usually very, very nice.

The normal high temperatures for October are in the low 80s and the normal low temperatures are in the upper 50s. Our average monthly rainfall is below 4 inches. That is not too shabby when compared to other areas of the country or world for the month of October. This year will be no different it is going to be a beautiful weekend to be in Austin.

Things To Do

After getting your learn on during the day, and after you have hung out at the Networking Social post event party you can stroll along 6th street. Checkout the clubs the people and maybe, just maybe run into the world famous Leslie (

Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World! Every weekend for sure and just about every week night you can find live music to your liking in Austin. Whatever you decide to do Austin has the nightlife to support it.


Vendors are a big part of any of the SQL Saturday events and ours is no different. They support the events financially and with people. Please make it a point to visit the vendors, talk with them, and check what they have to offer, get a free pen or a splat ball, and if they are giving something away, throw your name in hat for a drawing at the end of the day. Who knows you may win something and get more than just free knowledge. I was at an event in the spring where one of the attendees won several things in a row. That could be you this time.

Final Thoughts

When you look at the wide range of session topics submitted. The speakers on the list, then networking possibilities, not to mention it is FREE, there is bound to be something for every level of experience.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am really excited to be a part of CACTUSS and that we can give a little back to the community by SQL Saturday 97. If you are attending, find me and say hi. I’ll be the one grinning from ear to ear.


What It Means To Me To Be A Volunteer

Hi my name is Wes, and I am a volunteer

I am not unique. There are others like me, who give time, money or both. I am not the biggest giver. There are some who dedicate their lives to helping others. I couldn’t stop being a volunteer even if I wanted to. It is simply part of who I am.

All Shapes And Sizes

People from all walks of life are volunteers. I’ve met people who had very little in the way of material goods still giving to those who had less. I know people who have found success in the highest levels of their professions still take time to give back. Does the person who has millions of dollars and gives the same amount of time as the person who lives paycheck to paycheck valued less as a volunteer? I don’t think so. The rich person may give because he can while the poor person gives because he must, doesn’t diminish the gift.

Why People Volunteer

There are no wrong reasons for being a volunteer. I’ve had some heated debates on this one. Some people feel that if you gain materially through being a volunteer it cheapens your contribution. I personally don’t agree with that assessment. I know several people that are private consultants that give their time and money to the SQL Server community. In return they may get some business. I know some people that it is literally their job to interact with the community. I’ve heard people say things like “He gets paid to do that.” and it is true. It doesn’t change the fact that someone’s life has been enriched by their activities. We consider some paid volunteer positions noble in nature. Take teachers for example. They touch our lives in ways that just can’t be measured. A great educator can effect whole generations and have a lasting impact long after their teaching years are over. Sometimes being a volunteer is encouraged by your employer. It may be part of your improvement plan and factored into your bonuses or promotions. It doesn’t lessen your contribution to the community just because you get direct or indirect benefit from it.

Should You Volunteer?

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know. Would I like you to give back to the community? Without a doubt I would. Should you volunteer is a personal question I can’t answer for you. I can tell you about my choices and introduce you to others that have made the choice, but I can’t choose for you. I’ll share another little secret with you, if you choose not to volunteer you aren’t a bad person. Even if you benefit from my work and don’t share in return I’m fine with that.

How Volunteerism Impacts My Life

As a life long volunteer I can say it has changed my life in many ways, none of them I regret in the least. I will say it is getting harder to give time without impacting my professional  and personal life. I try to balance my desire to be a volunteer with my duties to my family and work. It isn’t always easy. Since I’m a volunteer my wife is also a volunteer. When I am away from home she has to shoulder all the parenting duties. My son is also a volunteer. Even though he is only three he gives up time with me and does crazy things like ride in the car eight hours so he can be with me when I travel. It also diverts money away from my family. I’m not saying I’m broke or anything, but when I give money in support of the community it means that some things may get delayed at home. We may not get to save as much. Again, I’m not the only one giving in my house. My family gives when I give. Without the support of my family it would be almost impossible to be as active as I am.

Community Reactions

It always surprises me when people come up and thank me for doing what I do. Do I like the praise? You bet I do. It lifts me up and makes me want to do more and try harder. Would I still do this without the pats on the back? Yep. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work where there was zero recognition from the community. Sometimes people tell me I’m a good person for doing this when I don’t have to. What most people don’t understand is I really don’t have a choice. I have to volunteer. I can’t imagine my life without it. It may be something my parents instilled in me or a genetic defect for all I know but it is an imperative that I cannot avoid.

Final Thoughts

If you are a sufferer of chronic volunteerism I’d love to meet you and hear your story. Even better I’d like to see you write about it too. Trust me, there are people that look at me and say “I don’t know how he does it.” I then turn to someone else who does more than I do and say the exact same thing. I wonder what they are giving up to help me be a better person and what I can do to pass that on to others.