I had a great opportunity to go to a SQL Saturday event in Colorado Springs recently. It was my second time attending this event.
As a Regional Mentor for PASS, I have felt responsibility to contact and assist user group leaders in my area of stewardship. As I have contacted these individuals and fostered relationships with them I have become friends with many of them. Chris Shaw (blog | twitter) is one of these individuals that I have become friends with. Last year, Randy Knight (twitter|blog) and myself flew out from Utah to attend. The event was so much fun and we made so many great contacts that the next Utah SQL Saturday we had a large contingent from Colorado to attend our event. In response to this, I again felt the need to attend their event.
This time, instead of presenting during the regular SQL Saturday event, I had decided to try my hand at a Pre-Con session. I had discussed with Chris Shaw the possibility of combining our skills in presenting and dbaness to share a pre-con. It seemed like a good idea and I hoped that we would work well together. We had not really done anything together, so I was leery that we'd fit. I also didn't realize that when I asked him, he was the primary leader for the SQL Saturday event. With all that said, he agreed, and over the course of the months between SQL PASS Summit and the SQL Saturday event, we planed, schemed, and created presentations to present.
In an effort to sit down and do some final work on our session I asked if I could hang with Chris the night before the pre-con, staying at his house. This would simply afford us a lot more time to spend together as we prepared for the next day. Chris was a trooper and allowed me to hang with him, even picking me up at the airport in COS. I arrived a little after 3pm, and planned on spending the evening preparing for our presentation. What I had no idea that was going to occur was the quantity of stuff that needed to be done still for the event.
You see, Chris's wife, Gia Shaw(twitter), had been working like crazy to prepare for this event. Imagine your dining room in your house. A normal sized dining room, in a normal sized house. Now on the dining room table, picture boxes full of stuff. Now picture boxes full of stuff on the floor. In fact, picture boxes almost in every nook and cranny of your dining room. This is what Gia and Chris had produced in the past few weeks and days prior to the event. An incredible amount of stuff had been collected and needed to be transported to the event. AS soon as we got to Casa Shaw we started loading stuff up for a trip to Mr. Biggs event location to deposit items. We filled a vehicle up with gear. All in all, I believe 4 vehicles of stuff was transported to the event.
After dumping things off, we went to dinner nearby. My brother and his wife met us for dinner, along with Christina Leo (twitter|blog). We had a great dinner, actually being served dinner by a Tom LaRock (twitter|blog) look alike. After dinner and antics, Chris and I returned to his house and prepared for our pre-con. We ended up staying up later than we should have, but got enough sleep to get up early for the pre-con day of Friday.
The morning was without issue as we took loaded vehicles to the even location and got ready to present. We had to setup the projectors and get things situated to present, as attendees started showing up. And before we knew it, the event was underway and we were presenting on ourUtility Belt session. I felt that the session went well, lots of discussions occurred with the attendees. Happily, after the session was completed, I believe 5 different attendees handed us jump drives so that we could copy our slides, demos and templates for them. This always makes me happy to provide information as well as something tangible to assist folks in their day to day jobs. This is why those of us that present, present. To share. I love it.
I had no idea if I could make an entire day of presenting. Granted it was not a single pre-con where I talked the entire time myself, but it was not as hard as I thought it might be, and the time flew by. I was happy that I had enough information to share and had a great time doing it. I even heard from someone that heard from someone that it had gone well and they had enjoyed it. I'll take it. I love hearing that it went well.
After the pre-cons, we were able to make our way over to the speaker dinner just a bit north of the event location. Here we were able to see all the speakers, some sponsors, and many volunteers of the event. It is always a great time to spend with #SQLFamily prior to and after an event. This networking is always a great time and very profitable. Not always in the means of dollars, but profitable to your career. I had the unique experience of meeting one of my heroes, and was pleasantly surprised to have him introduce himself to me, eager to meet me as well. This always makes my day.
After the speaker dinner, my brother picked me up and took me to his house for the night. You can see that I try to spend as little as possible on these events. I try to scrimp where I can, so that I can attend more and more of these events. Bundling these events with seeing friends and family is a bonus. Seeing my brother and his wife and kids was a joy. We spent most of the time I was at his house wrestling and playing with cork pop guns. They were a blast to see and play with, and exhausting. We stayed up too late, as is normal for these events. We played. We talked. We enjoyed each other.
The next morning, Saturday, I got up early and took off, without seeing anyone from my brother's family. He lent me his truck to drive myself to the event. I made it a little later than I expected, but early enough to get some breakfast before the rocket of SQL Lurn took off. I love to volunteer for these events and learn as well as serve where I can. I was grabbed by Kieth Tate (twitter) grabbed me and asked for assistance as he presented. This was his first time presenting, and i was more than humbled to be asked to help. I sat in on his presentation and learned some things I took to my team to implement.
One of the favorite things with this event is the networking that occurs. Between certain sessions, games are played that thrust us attendees into situations where we must interact with each other. Bowling, pool, lasertag. You would think that these are simply fun activities, but they afford those that play a chance to interact with each other and build friendships, outside the normal SQL LURN. Its unique. Its a blast. It adds to the overall experience. I love it.
I volunteered to help run the SQL PASS desk, along with Sarah Strate (blog | twitter) and Jason Strate (blog | twitter), I helped out with lasertag. I helped organize the vendors end of day give-aways. I ran various errands. I learned from experts. I networked with friends and new friends. I discussed stuff with vendors. I made a great connection that may be monetarily profitable. I had a blast.
After the event we all retired to dinner at a nearby hotel. Some more final shmoozing and networking. Some great food. Great friends. Good times. I ended up leaving a bit early and heading over to another location with Red-Gaters Annabel Bradford (twitter), Max and Grant Fritchey (blog | twitter). Along with Tim Ford (blog | twitter). After some great food and talk, I retired early to visit with my brother and family again. I only had 1 more night in Colorado and wanted to spend as much time with them as I had with my SQL People.
The next day I flew home to Utah, after having spent the morning playing cork pop gun wars, shooting BB guns, tag with the kids and the dog, building a fire in the family room, taking pictures with the kids, making scrambled eggs, eating an incredible coffee cake, and a great talk with my bro about growing up and being a dad and all that that entails.
As usual, throwing myself into these events, and using as much time as possible to network, learn, and enjoy made for an incredible weekend. Its so full, so much fun, so quick, yet so full.
SQL Saturday. When are you attending your first? or your next? I can't wait for my next. I hope to see you there!