PassSummit 2017 First Timer – Recap & Thoughts

I posted about each day I was at Summit, here are the links to the daily posts –

Day 1Day 2  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

I’ve read a lot of stuff on Pass Summit from previous years, and all of it was helpful.  It was my hope that putting together my own recollections and tips might help a few people who are thinking about going to the Summit in future years.  As I think of things or people comment, I’ll update this list.  Please feel free to comment!

Planning on posting more on how to prepare, etc, once it gets closer to  Pass Summit 2018.  (Boss liked a lot of it and was really glad he came with me.  Hoping that means I’ll be back!)

General Thoughts/Tips/Advice

First and most importantly – if you’re thinking of coming to Pass Summit, find a way to make it happen.  They have so many different sessions to offer and I’m finding so many things that I can start planning and so many things I can implement immediately just based on things that I learned in sessions, meeting with vendors, and talking with other attendees.  If you’re having problems convincing the powers that be, Grant Fritchey put together a great post on it in 2016 that covers a lot of great points.

Second – prepare accordingly.  Work on making some connections through twitter or slack and I can almost guarantee you they’ll introduce you to so many more.  I tweeted a pic of me and my location in the convention center so someone I was meeting for breakfast could find me.  Ended up meeting two people I was acquainted with from Twitter because they saw it and found me.  Pass Summit and SQLSaturdays are important for the content that they bring to the table, but in my opinion, the real benefit of these events are the people and the conversations you can get into at the events.  When are you going to be able to discuss an idea with so many people in the same boat?  When will you have access to the clinics and the vendors that are onsite the whole time at Pass or possibly at the SQLSaturday event?

Third – Talk to people, sit down at a table that has some people you’ve never met and introduce yourself.  Tell them who you work for and what you do.  Focus on asking questions about them if you aren’t comfortable talking about yourself.  Discuss the food, the weather, SQL, how much you love MS Access!  (yeah, okay maybe not).

Fourth – Pace yourself.  I’m an outgoing, gregarious introvert.  I love talking to people and being at this event, but we all have limits.  I realized quickly that I do need to take time to be alone, or recharge, or just get enough sleep.  I took a flight in on Sunday and had plenty of time to adjust to the time change and the hotel.  Went out, had a nice dinner, and got plenty of sleep that night.  I took the Red-Eye out on Friday – don’t know if I’d do that again, Saturday was a complete wash.  Someone I ate with on Friday called over to someone she knew and said: “Hey, come join us, or are you done?”   He definitely was, but appreciated the invite and smiled at us.

Fifth – BRING LOTS OF CARDS!  I had mine printed up right before I went and on the suggestion of several, kept some in my lanyard, some in my backpack and some in my room.  If you can, write down what the conversation was about on the card and giving it to them helps remember who and what.

Lastly – enjoy yourself.  Know your limits, and where you can push them at times.  When it comes to alone time or sleep, I had to be careful.  When it came to my propensity to not want to walk up to people and introduce myself, I pushed myself.  I think I got a picture with about 10-20 people I follow/chat with on Twitter and posted them.

Network, Network, Network

Preparing for Summit or SQL Saturday:

  1. First – you’re probably already signed up for an account since you’re thinking about Pass Summit, but if not, go to Pass.org, sign up for a free account, and look for Local Groups and SQLSaturdays near you.  SQLSaturdays are like the Pass Summit, but it’s local, they’re all over the place, and it’ s one day.  The entry is free – lunch is usually a few bucks but it’s worth it.
  2. Get a twitter account.
  3. Go to Tweetdeck and sign in.  Create a search column and use #sqlhelp as the criteria.  This hashtag is used when you have a question about things SQL Related.  It’s not a free for all so word your question properly and do your homework.
  4. Find people who are posting things and follow them.  I found that following one person I connected with what they tweeted/blog led me to 10 more who had just as much to say on other topics.  Pretty soon I was off to the races.
  5. Feel free to follow me – @sqlkohai – and look at the people I’m following.  There are a lot of really amazing people I follow, too many to name, but you can’t go wrong starting with @AndyLeonard ‏, @patrickdba@grrl_geek @BrentO, I can go on and on.  You might have different people you like to read blogs of or enjoy their tweets.  Follow them for a while and see what they have to say.
  6. Some people also have websites for blogs, videos, scripts, tips, etc.  As you refine your online profile and figure out what you like, check out their stuff.  Smart, smart people. 
  7. Slack is also another great resource that’s becoming more and more viable.  There are channels for a lot of the events besides Summit.  The specific site you want is https://sqlcommunity.slack.com
  8. Engage people, see if you can add to the conversation, ask for advice.  The #SQLFamily community is an amazing example of people who are going to help you in any way they can and encourage you to do likewise.  I lost track of the number of times people talked about volunteering or speaking or just lending a hand.
  9. Try to take some of the people that you’ve gotten to know from above, and see if you can plan to meet them at some point for something organized – Welcome Reception, First Timers Networking reception, Sponsors Reception -, or unorganized – for breakfast before, coffee during, lunch, etc.
Sessions
  1. There’s a difference between regular sessions and pre-con sessions.  Pre-con tend to be longer and more intense on the subject.  I did both days at Summit this year and my brain almost exploded I learned so much.  Just a note – I don’t think the Pre-cons are recorded at Summit or Saturday events.
  2. If it’s the Summit or SQLSaturday, check out the schedule ahead of time, and see what is being offered.  If possible, have a backup for each timeslot.  The descriptions are really good at telling you what to expect, but if you find yourself not feeling it for the session you’re in, bounce and hit your alternate.  (For one timeslot, I had 4 things marked, and by word of mouth, attended a 5th that was not even on my list – no regrets, learned tons!)
  3. Take the time to talk to people while you’re there.  If you get into a good conversation about a topic, keep the conversation going – don’t run off to a session.
  4. In response to the last point at Summit – get the recordings, it’s worth it.  If you get the All in One package, the recordings come with it.  Regardless of how you get the recordings, you can pick and choose and won’t lose out if there’s more than one thing you want to see.
  5. Make sure you fill out the evaluations and give feedback.  “That was awesome” or “That sucked” doesn’t help the speaker improve their technique/slidedeck/delivery.  Be honest, but give actionable advice.  “More demos like the one with the chart” or “Dude, there’s a typo on the slide for This or That” or “You’re so excited which is great, but at times you sped through what I thought were important things” are much more helpful.

Lessons Learned

  1. There are a bunch of events that are going on connected to the event, as well as sponsored by vendors.  There’s a SQLKareoke event sponsored by different vendors just about every single night, and plenty of pop up gatherings and bars and restaurants around Seattle.  I volunteered to help at SQLGameNight, which was a great gathering of people to play board games and talk.
  2. If it’s your first time, sign up for both the First Timer event as well as the SQLBuddy program.  Both REALLY excellent opportunities for you to meet people and have someone to sit and eat with.
  3. Someone told me to bring cards, so I got them set up so they had my Twitter handle on the card.  Bring lots, and give them to people you’re talking with.  Might want to highlight your twitter handle, it helps people identify you.  Hat tip to Kevin from DallasDBAs.
  4. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you are in awe of.  They’re all very cool and chill and welcoming as hell.  Bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet Brent Ozar or Pinal Dave, but from what I gleaned, they’re very nice and totally approachable.  Grant Fritchey mentioned in the Thursday keynote and mentioned that people should really just come up and introduce themselves.  He really meant it!  Couldn’t find him, but again, heard from others that he’s super nice.
  5. Put your badge somewhere you won’t forget it.  Getting to the convention center only to have to walk back and get it, is annoying!!!  Especially when it’s early and your starving!
  6. If you’re taking notes in a notebook, put your name and contact info on the cover or first page.  I thought I’d lost mine (was buried in my bag), but I freaked out for a while thinking of all the great stuff I’d put into it over the week, only to lose it.
  7. If it doesn’t come with your registration, buy the recordings!
  8. The PreCon sessions are all day on Mon and Tue.  SOOOOOO worth it.  Those two sessions alone were worth the price of the convention.
  9. Be careful, you might end up getting what you asked for.  I was really nervous to go and meet all of these people I’d been talking with, and in some cases – in awe of, but when it all panned out, I had a really great time with some really amazing people.

For the Foodies

  • (caveat – I have celiac disease so I have to eat gluten-free, which makes things interesting, to say the least.  Also, my wife and her best friend came with me for the trip, they bounced all over the city doing stuff while I was working!!! 😉  They had a ball trying to track down the best Dungeness crab eggs benedict.  From what I gathered, the restaurant in the Four Seasons, Goldfinch Tavern, had the winner.)
  • If you’re like me and grateful that your company sent you and are trying to keep expenses down, the food in the convention center was really good and had everything allergy related clearly marked – gluten, lactose, nuts, etc.  Made eating really easy for me.  (Should see if we can get my company, Applegate Farms, to sponsor part of the convention! :))
  • Capitol Cider – Would go back for as many meals as possible, would walk if I had to.
    • Haven’t had fish and chips in more than 6 yrs, and this did not disappoint.  The whole kitchen is gluten and nut free, and DAMN that was good.  First time I’ve been able to get app, entree, and dessert at one place for a meal.  Hushpuppies were excellent.
  • Cafe Yumm – Would not go back
    • It is just fast food, but really Not a fan.  We were so tired from walking around on Sunday that it was okay to get something quick.  Added grilled chicken to my rice bowl with veggies.  The chicken was like jerky, tough as hell.  Wife and her friends’ meals seemed to be decent, but wouldn’t recommend unless you were like us and had really sore feet, and didn’t want to go far.
  • Blueacre Seafood – Would go back
    • Had brunch here on Sunday when we got in.  Nursing a major headache, the eggs benedict was really good (yeah, that seemed to be the breakfast theme for the week).
  • Wild Ginger – Would go back for as many meals as possible, would walk if I had to.
    • Great food, great service.  Wings were nice and spicy!  We fell in love with this place when we were here in 2007 and it’s still just as wonderful.
  • Blue C Sushi – Would go back
    • Stuff on big screen was entertaining as hell, cool conveyor belt sushi
    • Met up with a SQLFamily member, Andy, and a few people he knew.  It’s fairly good sushi, but the chance to get conveyor belt sushi was too good to pass up.  I know, weird, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

Stuff to look at, investigate, etc.

  1. I didn’t even know about Pass TV, well I think I’d heard of it but I’d been so focused on going to the event, I didn’t look at it much.
  2. 24 Hours of Pass – want to see what’s up with that.
  3. Work on first Abstract to speak.  Yeah, all of the talk about volunteering and giving back, I want to put several together.  I believe that Cathrine Wilhelmsen gave me the idea for the first one – Event Networking 101.  This post is making my brain spit out lots of content for it I think.
  4. BIML & Powershell – two things I knew zip about before attending, but sessions during make me want to see where I can use both.

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