T-SQL Tuesday #148 ‚Äď Building Community

This month, Rie Merritt is asking us to share advice about User Groups. I had the honor of running the Chicago Suburban User Group for over 6 years.

Build Community

My advice is something I stumbled upon by complete accident. Prior to our first meeting, we sent out a SurveyMonkey asking attendees what they wanted to get out of these meetings. Networking was a top answer. And on the drive over to our first meeting, I came up with an idea.

When we kicked off, I explained the survey results wanting networking, so I simply asked everyone to introduce themselves to whomever they were seated by. I said just share your name, your role, and what you do. I expected this to last maybe 2-3 minutes tops. Instead it transformed into 15-20 minutes of chatter!

As our group evolved, we offered food but had to locate to a common area to eat (food wasn’t allowed in our classroom). So I’d repeat the “introduce yourself” bit, remind people that this is their time to chat, etc. I always made the joke that “if you’re an introvert, you’re in luck… almost all of us in the room are!” And I said that if you cannot think of anything to talk about, just vent about something you’ve been struggling with at work lately – we ALL have work headaches and challenges.

And it worked. It worked really… really… well! I’m very proud of the community that we built with the Chicago Suburban User Group.


October of Awesome!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway through October! This month has simply flown by. But the best is yet to come!!!

This Tuesday, I will finally be presenting at my own Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group! I will be debuting my new and improved Why Your Datatype Choices Matter presentation.

Then a week from today, I am honored to be back at SQL Saturday Oregon. There, I will be presenting this year’s flagship presentation: Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse. I’ve had a lot of fun presenting this session over the course of this year, and it’s been a fantastic way to also showcase my sp_helpExpandView tool.

Finally, a week and a half from now, I will be making my debut at PASS Summit 2016, presenting Why Your Datatype Choices Matter! This improved session is a 200 level session, with some splashes of 400 level content thrown in! There’s something for everyone! I’m blessed to be in the very first speaking slot, Wednesday morning at 10:15AM in Room 2AB! Come see me after the introductory keynote!

I’m really looking forward to seeing friends, new and old, at PASS Summit. And if we’ve never met, do come find me and say hello!

What a Difference a Year Makes!

A year ago, last June, is the last time I wrote a “soft” blog update. Since then, a tremendous amount has changed.






And how I’ve felt since getting the acceptance e-mail last night.




Since last June, I’ve changed employers. But more importantly I shifted my career path. I’d spent the better part of 10 years in Database Development roles, and felt it was time for a change. So I took an opportunity as an Operational DBA in a company with an extremely large environment. Now I’m working at a Managed Services firm, with a large team of other DBAs, on a variety of clients with some very large infrastructures.


The Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group has continued to be a success. We’ve just hit our 2 year anniversary! We average 20-25 attendees a month, many of whom are regulars. And occasionally, depending on topic, we get more and/or even see new faces, which I always love!


I have also spent a lot of time speaking, over the past year. I’ve had the honor of being selected for a number of different regional SQL Saturdays. I was also flattered that SQL Saturday Portland accepted me. Portland was a big deal because that SQL Saturday preceeds PASS Summit, and often attracts many high-end speakers. I like to think of it as PASS Summit pre-partying! ūüôā


At the beginning of 2015, I developed a new SQL Session: Uncovering Duplicate, Redundant, & Missing Indexes. Like my first session, it has been growing, changing, and maturing, with each subsequent presentation. I’ve been very happy with it, as it addresses a niche of Indexing that one does not commonly see offered in sessions.

I decided to continue my “1 new session a year” rhythm, and spent a good chunk of Q1 & Q2 developing my new session “Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse.” I wanted to create a session to highlight my sp_helpExpandView (https://sqlbek.wordpress.com/tag/sp_helpexpandview/?order=ASC) community tool, while diving deeper into the technical “why’s” that drove me to write the tool. I presented it for the first time a few weeks ago at SQL Saturday Iowa and it was a huge success!


In 2015, I submitted to speak at the PASS Summit for the very first time. ¬†I only had one session in my speaking portfolio. ¬†I figured given the # of speakers & abstracts that get submitted, that I didn’t have much of a chance. ¬†And I was not accepted, but I was okay with that. ¬†I got some interesting feedback and I went on.

For 2016, at the time of Call for Speakers, I had 2 sessions in my portfolio and was developing my 3rd. ¬†So I¬†submitted all three. ¬†I also took lessons learned from my prior year’s submission, refined my abstracts, and provided far greater details in my submission application. ¬†And well, I’d like to think that paid off in spades!!!

I attended my very first PASS Summit in 2013. ¬†At the time, I never thought I’d get into speaking. ¬†But now 3 years later, I’m not only a speaker, but am absolutely flabbergasted, humbled, and blown away that I am been selected to speak!


Yes, that’s me… that’s really ME! ¬†EEP!

I will have more thoughts to share later, but I’m still absolutely floored by this honor. ¬†I want to thank everyone on the Selection Committee for all of their hard work! ¬†Congratulations to my fellow speakers, and to those who were declined, I’ve been there too – chin up and carry on, you guys are awesome too!


The show goes on…

And on and on and on! What have I been up to? Here’s a quick list!

In August, I had the pleasure & honor of present at SQL Saturday Indianapolis and at MADPASS. This coming weekend, I’ll be presenting at SQL Saturday Minneapolis. Then the next weekend, I’ll be travelling to Seattle for PASS Summit!

Additionally, I now have two extremely successful Chicago Suburban User Group meetings under my belt! In September, we welcomed Brent Ozar for our inaugural “reboot” meeting, then had the pleasure of welcoming the SQLSkills crew in October. Both meetings were filled to capacity!

Here’s one anecdote that I want to write about here – more to remember for myself than anything else. Prior to our first meeting, we sent out a Feedback Survey, asking our membership what they wanted out of the UG. One priority was “networking.” I thought really hard about how we could facilitate this – and came up with an idea only an hour before the meeting.

During our announcements, I explained the feedback that we had received. So I asked that everyone simply turn to the person next to them, and simply introduce themselves. All I asked was that they share their name and where they work. I went on to explain that the people in attendance will become faces that we will continue to see month after month. But having names to those faces, will hopefully help people build bonds and relationships over time.

I figured this would maybe last 2 or 3 minutes, before it died down, and we’d proceed to our Q&A segment. Instead people talked… and talked… for the next half hour! It was FANTASTIC! The following month, when I did it again, Paul Randal waved me over and noted that he’d never seen a UG do this before! It really surprised me by made me feel good that my simple idea wound up working out wonderfully.

So things are really looking up right now. I’m super excited about this next SQL Saturday & PASS Summit. If you’re at Summit, do come find me and say hello!