Tag Archives: community

Looking Back: 2016 was Awesome!

With 2017 starting this week I would like to take a moment and reflect on 2016. I have to admit that 2016 was a great year for many different reasons, both personally and professionally. It’s nice just to stop and acknowledge some significant accomplishments that occurred last year!

2016 in Review

I always try to keep my Community contributions up to date here on my blog. I would have never gotten to where I am today without others who helped me along the way, so I am always happy to give back.  It’s been an honor to host another SQL Saturday in Austin for over 250 attendees, be a leader for the Austin SQL Server User Group and continue to grow the High Availability and Disaster Virtual Chapter to 2145 members.

Professionally, it was also a great year in 2016.  I was able to obtain two major goals on my career bucket list. I completed the Microsoft Certified Solution Expert for Data Platform certification (Yes, my procrastination took me to the

Microsoft Certified Solution Expert on Data Platform

Microsoft Certified Solution Expert on Data Platform

last work day in 2016, but I got it done!).  As Tom LaRock says, “They do not hand out certifications like candy. You have to earn them.” I also was acknowledged as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP which goes to about 100 people in the USA.

In 2016, I was also able to continue to grow as a speaker.  Once again, I was blessed with an opportunity to speak at the prestigious PASS Member Summit. I never take getting accepted lightly. This year even though I was sick and almost

Almost a perfect score for the biggest stage.

Almost a perfect score at the Superbowl for SQL Server Speakers!

had to cancel I was able to deliver my session while obtaining my best evaluation score to date (ranked 1 to 3).  I gave 15 sessions in 2016; my highest attended session of the year was at the Data Architecture Virtual Chapter to 457 attendees.

My company, Procure SQL LLC also achieved some great milestones in 2016. I was able to hire an employee, Angela Tidwell as our Marketing DBA. We were able to procure our very first office as well. Finally, after spending several hours working with an excellent health care broker, I was proud to announce that we were able to set up our very first group health plan at Procure SQL. While this isn’t required, it was a huge goal of mine to help make sure that our employees are taken care of as we grow in the future.

Personally, I was able to catch up with some great friends and spend some quality time with my family.  We took the family to Galveston, TX for our very first beach trip as a family.  I learned that it was Nina’s Dads first time in the Gulf as well.  Bonus; the weather was so nice in December my Brother and rootsportsroyjohndecided to bring our kids back for a weekend.  During my birthday weekend, I was able to see my Pirates and Wheeling Nailers in person in Dallas which is both very rare.   During the weekend I was able to hangout with one of my best friends from college.  We even made it on Root Sports Pittsburgh raising the jolly roger.

Finally, my loyalty with some friendships was tested in 2016. While one could have only focused on themselves,  I decided to help my real friends in need in 2016. I remember asking myself (yes I talk to myself), “what would I hope my friends would do for me in my hour of need?” I then tried to do that.

2017 Goals

These days, I am not a huge fan of publicly sharing my goals.  With that said, I wanted to share three goals to help keep me accountable.

Build Two Local Speakers

In the past, I have had the opportunity to help build some new speakers. I cannot think of a more rewarding experience in the SQL Community than helping someone grow. While I have more than two different people in mind, I hope to have at least two new speakers give their very first SQL Server presentations in 2017. Who knows? Maybe they will love it, and it can change their careers like it did for me.

Fill My Office

While I plan on getting us a fridge, when I say, “Fill My Office” I wasn’t just planning on filling the fridge with adult beverages. Our office fits one more person easily, and I hope to find that FTE employee in 2017.  I will provide more details on this later on as we get closer to that point of pulling that trigger.

Building Training Plan


Testing out the new office white board.

Literally, this was the first thing written on our new six-foot whiteboard

With the hiring of Angela last year, one of my goals was to build some high-Quality training material that could help someone become a SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA). I want this to be online content that could be used on demand to help as many people as possible to get a great start as a DBA. I hope to have this implemented in 2017.  It might also force me to get out of my shell and focus on building some great video content which will be a new challenge.


Three Reasons Why I Am Attending PASS Member Summit 2016

Three reasons why I am attending PASS Member Summit in 2016

Three reasons why I am attending PASS Member Summit in 2016

Over the past few weeks, I saw on social media that many of my #sqlfamily members were not attending the PASS Member Summit conference this year.  It made me want to blog about why I am attending this year.

Many years ago, I heard that the PASS Member Summit conference could change your career as a data professional. I thought that statement was a great marketing pitch until I attended for the first time in 2011.  These days, I get more excited for other people than myself. With that said, here are three reasons why I am attending this year’s PASS Summit.

Local Grass Roots

Being a chapter leader, I always want to do everything I can to help my local user members, and I love seeing them succeed and grow.  In fact, it’s been fun watching some of the members grow professionally and in the community. One of Austin’s Finest SQL Server presenters, Lance Tidwell will be doing a full session at 3:30 pm on Friday on Parameter Sniffing the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. There is not another session I look forward to seeing more this year (Yes, I am also presenting but luckily not at the same time as Lance).

The Dream I Never Had

After coming back from my very first PASS Summit in 2011, I had all kinds of thoughts on how my career would evolve. I had dreams of making six figures, working from home, being my boss.  I even had mentors in the PASS community who helped me realize all those dreams were possible.  I never imagined that I would hire my first my first employee directly from conversations I had with a local user group member. I tried to help Angela Tidwell (Yes, Lance’s wife) break into the IT field a few times.  After several conversations, I learned we could help each other out so this week Angela became my second employee.  Angela is at the PASS Member Summit this week as a first timer.  I hope I can do a good job introducing her to everyone just like Tom LaRock did for me when I was a first timer.

If you are at the PASS Member Summit and you see Angela, please say hello. Just please don’t do it during the middle of Lance’s session on Friday.

The Speaker That Almost Never Presented

Many years ago, I had a boss who I knew would be a great speaker in the PASS Community. Like most people, he was afraid of public speaking. I had to dare him to go to the local Pittsburgh SQL Server User Group with me and co-present. When I say co-present, I meant just stand next to me and share some real-world stories while I do demos.  Now he is speaking at the PASS Member Summit for the second time in a row. I love being able to say I knew him when. Now he is a superstar, and I look forward to watching him succeed and continue to grow in the SQL Server Community.

[Update 9:48 PST]

Why are you attending this year’s PASS Member Summit? I would love to hear your reasons. If you couldn’t make it this year you can still watch parts of the conference live on the internet.

SQL PASS Summit 2010 on a Budget

The following is some information I would like to share with the community about how I plan to travel to Seattle for the SQL Server Pass Summit.  Please take my information with a grain of salt because this is the first time I am attending.  Everything below comes from research and tweets. If you are a regular please leave comments so others can see your travel tips.

Summit 2010

Can we fast forward to November?

The SQL PASS Summit 2010 is the best opportunity for SQL Server DBA’s to connect, share and learn. Your first obstacle towards getting into the Summit is to well pay for general admission to the summit. You basically have two options here, either you pay the general admission fee (this is what I am doing this year) or you can get someone to sponsor you. A great option here would be your employer. Your employer also isn’t your only option for sponsorship. Speaking of getting someone else to sponsor you MSSQLTIPS and Idera is currently looking to send someone to PASS.  Give it a shot it could be you!

If you are paying for yourself you will want to pay ASAP because PASS has a sliding scale.  Just like many other conferences there is a price before sessions are announced and different prices as you get closer to the event.  You want to avoid paying at the door because the price is usually a lot more.

The following are some links that will help you save some money on attending the 2010 Summit.

How do I get there?

How you get to the PASS Summit will depend on your location and its distance to Seattle.  I  live in Wheeling, WV which is an easy hour drive to Pittsburgh so I will be flying.  If you are also flying you might want to checkout bing.com and setup email alerts to track the change in flight prices.  At this time I see that there are round-trip flights under $300 from Pittsburgh.

In order to travel through the Seattle Metro area check out the public transportation system.  It looks like they have bus, and a monorail.  The Seattle Center Monorail can take you from the airport to downtown for $5.00 round-trip.

Where Should I stay?

The PASS website recommends the following two hotels.

Looking at bing.com and  traveladvisor.com I found a few hotels within a miles of the convention center under $100 per night.  If you are trying to stretch your money I would recommend checking them out.

Do you have any friends that are attending PASS? If so, you might want to recommend sharing a room. This is a great way for you to split the costs of a hotel room.

Where should I eat?

If you are attending the Summit there is good news. Breakfast and Lunch is included daily. This means you will only have to worry about dinner.   There will also be some evening events where you might be able to snag a bite to eat.  On Monday night you can attend the PASS Summit 2010 Welcome Reception.  On Tuesday night you can also attend the Exhibitor Reception.

Another thought towards saving some $$ on dinner is to talk it up with the vendors.  They are there to get to know you and see if their products can solve your problems.  If your team has a budget for SQL tools (I really hope your team does) I bet you could convince a vendor to take you out to dinner.  Even if you don’t have a budget for SQL Tools I bet you could convince some vendors to take you out to dinner.  Remember most people in sales try to build relationships before they sell you on a product or idea.

Can you buy me a drink?

I never really was a big fan of beer and alcohol until I started my career in Information Technology (we will leave the company name out of this story). There were several internal functions to attend for networking and they all had beer.  I quickly noticed that all the bigwigs always had a beer in their hands. Being fresh out of college I followed suite and soon fell in love with beer (a trip with the wife to tour Samuel Adams in Boston also helped).

Anyways back to saving money. If you like to grab a drink (I defiantly fall into this category) it looks like its cheaper to go away from the convention center.

According to @SQLDBA its cheaper to go to the Tap House across the street from the convention center. If you also like to sample local beer the Rock Bottom Brewery is another  recommended place within walking distance from downtown.

What are your travel plans?

PASS Summit vets what am I missing? How else can people save some $$ on their quest to their first Summit conference? Let us know we are all looking forward to your recommendations.