About one year ago, I made my speaking debut at SQL Saturday Madison 287. And this past weekend, I had the pleasure of returning for SQL Saturday Madison 387. In the course of that year, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of speaking at several SQL Saturdays, User Group Meetings, and a Virtual Chapter Meeting. Becoming a speaker is one of the best decisions I ever made.
A year ago, I had maybe 15 people attend my session. This year, I packed the room with over 40 attendees! A year ago, I was a ball of nerves. This year, I’m far more comfortable and have refined my presentation skills. I know I have much more room for growth but am very pleased with the growth I’ve experienced this past year.
I cannot say enough positive things about the Madison planning team. They managed to find a new venue, work around the SQL Saturday website being offline for the final week before their event, and pull off a spectacular event. I spoke to numerous attendees who all enjoyed their experience tremendously!
On a personal note, it was awesome to meet new some folks who I only knew via Twitter. I remember last year, at my first Speaker Dinner, I was a bit nervous since I hardly knew anyone. This year, many of my fellow speakers were now my friends! I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of new people throughout the day. Had a lot of fun sharing knowledge, answering questions, and just simply talking shop. Look forward to seeing those faces again at future events!
Both SQL Saturday Madison’s also happened to coincide with two other unhappy events. Last year at SQL Saturday Madison, I found out that my SQLFamily colleague Brooke Ranne had passed away suddenly. She was the Chapter Leader of the Chicago BI User Group & a fellow staff member of the SQL Saturday Chicago planning committee. I learned about her passing in the middle of the morning, scrambled to make some phone calls, and it definitely put a damper on the day.
This year, last week, SQLFamily lost another – Larry Toothman. The week leading up to SQL Saturday Madison was rough, as we in SQLFamily struggled with the news of his passing and coming together to try and support his family however we could. I remember meeting him at a SQLSkills IE event in Chicago, then crossing paths with him on a number of occasions thereafter. After seeing him at Summit 2014, I was looking forward to seeing him again in both Madison and in May at another IE event in Chicago. The Madison team took a moment in both the opening and closing ceremony, to honor Larry and his memory.
As sobering as these two events are, they are important reminders of what is most important in life. It further reinforces what SQLFamily means to me and many others. This is why I try to give back to SQLFamily now as a speaker, Chapter Leader, mentor, and in whatever capacity comes my way.