It’s 2017 – Where Have You Been Andy?

Hello everyone and Happy 2017!

Yes, it’s Feb 27th – is it too late to still say that? 🙂

I admit that I’ve been extremely quiet in this blog over these past few months. But that’s because I’ve been extremely busy elsewhere! Doing what you may ask? Here’s a brief recap!

* December – Presented at UP (Yooper) PASS User Group: I presented virtually as their debut speaker!
* January – Presented at SQL Saturday Nashville: a great SQL Saturday to kick off 2017!
* February – Presented at SQL Saturday Cleveland: another fantastic event that I was thrilled to be a part of!
* February – Idera Twitter #SQLChat: Idera invited me to host this monthly Twitter event. Was a fast & furious flurry of fun Twitter chatter (say that 3 times fast).
* February – Saturday Night SQL Virtual Chapter: This VC approached me back at PASS Summit and I had a blast presenting. Hope to return again!

So I’d think that that’s a decent amount of community activity, right? But it doesn’t stop there!

SQL Saturday Chicago

In less than two weeks, SQL Saturday Chicago will be upon us. I’ve taken on a new role, running pre-cons this year, in addition to helping keep the lights on with the rest of Team SQL Saturday Chicago.

One thing that makes SQL Saturday Chicago special is that it is the 600th SQL Saturday! In addition to that, ours is the first SQL Saturday to feature the new PASS branding! In fact, our first piece of attendee swag showed up earlier today, which is what prompted me to finally sit down and write this blog post.

Oh, you want to see it?

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We’re pretty jazzed! Our event hit the waitlist TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE! Can you believe it? We couldn’t! No pressure here, right? 🙂

SQLBits

Yes, you read that header right. I’ll be flying to the U.K. to attend AND present at SQLBits – the largest SQL Server conference in Europe!

Speaking at PASS Summit was the first pinnacle of my speaking career, which I attained last year. My next goal was to speak internationally. I just never expected this opportunity to happen so quickly, but the dates for SQLBits 2017 were favorable, so I submitted and was accepted to present not just one, but TWO sessions! Afterwards, I will be spending the week following SQLBits in London with my wife. Never having been before, we are both looking forward to exploring the magnificant city!

On The Horizon

Beyond this, I have a few SQL Saturday’s on my radar that I’m eyeballing. PASS Summit 2017 session submissions will be forthcoming as well. And I still have a new session that I will be developing for 2017, focused around T-SQL tips & tricks, so keep a lookout for that!
Here’s to a productive 2017 of learning, sharing, and SQL Server fun!

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!

Keep on Talking!

I’m happy to share that my SQL Presentation spree for 2015 is going strong! I wanted to highlight when/where I’ll be presenting again, in the next month.

SQL Saturday Iowa

After several years of conflicts, I’m thrilled to finally be attending SQL Saturday Iowa! I will be debuting a revised version of my Every Byte Counts presentation. The original version of the session had grown to 70 minutes of content and I needed to compress it to fit 60 minute speaking slots.

FoxPASS

My good friend Jes Borland (b|t) runs FoxPASS and I’ll be making the trek up there to present! This will be the second time I am presenting my other session: Cleaning House: The Indexing Edition. I had a lot of fun with it at MadPASS, so am looking forward to giving it again.

You can watch online too! Lync info is available on the FoxPASS website.

24 Hours of PASS

I am without words to describe how I feel about 24 Hours of PASS. I’ve been watching these semi-annual webinar events for years now, and now I get to present in one! I’m thrilled to be joining a fantastic line up of speakers. I will be presenting my Every Byte Counts session

Three presentations over the course of the next month – wow, that’s a lot! Nevertheless, I’m jazzed to share what I’ve learned. Hope to see you all soon!

SQL Saturday Madison Re-Cap

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.

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!

Presenting EBC at SQL Saturday Chicago Re-Cap

I don’t think I’ll ever forget, walking out of the Speaker room, rounding the corner, and seeing the hallway JAMMED with people. I thought to myself, why are all of these people out here?!? The rest of the classrooms are down the hall. Wait… these people are lined up to see ME?!?! WHOA!!!

Let’s flash forward a few more minutes. It’s was 3:50PM. I was exhausted, a bit nervous, but ready to rock & roll with my 2nd presentation ever. I look out at my classroom, and while it’s small, it’s PACKED! Then it hits me like a brick wall – the room is SILENT! There was no idle chatter – everyone was just sitting there staring at me. And that sure didn’t help my nerves!

I opted to throw caution to the wind and test my ability to engage in idle chatter with a room full of strangers. I asked the audience how they’ve been enjoying SQL Saturday. That nearly fell flat, but my friend & room monitor Gina Meronek helped save me & keep the chatter going. I eventually started sharing about community & SQL Family. I talked about how strong the community is, and how I value resourcefulness far above raw technical knowledge. By participating and involving yourself in this community, you gain an unbelievable resource to aid you in your career.

And to me, that’s what SQL Saturday is all about – community & SQL Family.

But back to my session. I’m pleased to say that it went really well. I made one key change from my first version I ran in Madison, adding in an audience interactive section, which went really well. I managed to successfully bait my audience into making one particular data type decision, then launched a curve ball at them. It was simple, but illustrated the need to really think about your data when choosing appropriate types.

I was also honored to have Grant Fritchey attend my session. His feedback was gold to me and I’m grateful for it. And as many of you know, he subsequently honored me.  I still don’t have words to describe how I felt about that!

I’m really excited to continue to tweak and grow this presentation, and to give it again at future events!

Am I giving it again? Where you ask?

* SAVO Group (my employer) – May
* PASS Performance Virtual ChapterJuly’s Palooza Event
* SQL Saturday Indianapolis – August; Submitted & hopefully accepted?
* MADPASS – August

Hope to see you somewhere soon!

SQL Saturday Chicago Re-Cap

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A year ago at SQL Saturday Chicago 2013, I had shown up to be a volunteer and stuff bags. Through some odd events, I wound up being in charge of all room monitors. After being drafted as a pseudo-staff member, I knew that I had to formally join the Wendy’s band of misfits to plan SQL Saturday Chicago 2014.

And boy howdy, we busted our tails getting everything together. The last few months have really been a whirlwind for me personally, as I combined SQL Saturday Chicago planning with assembling my first SQL Server presentation. But as a team, we worked really well together, and pulled off a fantastic event. I believe we clocked in with an estimated final headcount of 470 attendees! I heard lots of positive feedback all around. And as exhausted as I was at the end of the day, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Random Highlights & Memories for me:
* Scrambling on Friday, to pick up swag mugs from a freight warehouse 45 minutes south of DeVry
* Speaker Dinner at Schitzel Platz – OMG German Food!
* Tim Ford in a “large box”
* Poncho Man
* Hope Foley’s Geekiest Query Ever
* After-Party sliders catered by The Slide Ride

We’re already scheming for 2015! But until then, there’s many more SQL Saturday’s to attend! Hope to see you at one!