Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My First PASS Experiences

Getting to Seattle

I started my travels to the PASS Summit at about 9:30 am (EST) on Sunday and arrived at the Sheraton in Seattle at about 6:30 pm (PST) Sunday.  It was an uneventful trip on Southwest from Orlando to Albuquerque, then on to Seattle.  On the second leg I met up with Tim Mitchell (@tim_mitchell) which made that leg seem much shorter as we had great conversations about PASS, SQL Server, professional development, and family life.  I’m sure we drove the 3rd person in our row crazy as we talked the entire 3 hour flight.  When we arrived at SeaTac we met up with Wendy Pastrick (@wendy_dance) and Damon Ripper (@DamonRipper) and shared a town car to the Sheraton.

Sunday Night

Amazingly enough a lot of attendees made it on Sunday so there were some good networking opportunities.  Tim and I had originally planned to try to get together with Andy Warren (@sqlandy) who was having dinner with “Small Talk” expert, Don Gabor.  Well, since we had met up with Wendy and Damon and then met with a fairly large group of other attendees in the Sheraton lounge we decided to just hang with this crew.  Amazingly, I was able to meet several people on my list during the evening.  Some of the folks I was able to meet were:

Then there all the people who were not on my list including:

And the people I already knew like Jessica Moss, Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard), and Pam Shaw.  The only downside was that I stayed up until after midnight, but my body decided that it was still on the East coast and woke up at 4 am and refused to go back to sleep.


Started off the morning with a nice walk with my roommate Tim Mitchell to Top Pot Donuts to meet with Andy Warren and Don Gabor.  While there Robert Cain (@arcanecode), on my list, and Greg Larsen, popped in to talk with us, well, they know Andy, so they stopped to talk with him, but, of course, it was great opportunity to meet them.

After that I headed over to the convention center to check into the event and on the way I ran into Andy Leonard and Jim (from the Northern Virginia User Group) and stopped to talk for bit.  At registration I also saw Buck Woody (@BuckWoody) again and was able to introduce him to Tim Mitchell.  By then it was time for the Chapter Leader meeting, I wasn’t officially on the list, but as co-President of OPASS with Andy Warren I attended.  It was nice meeting where the chapter leaders got an opportunity to discuss what PASS can/should do to help chapters.  The meeting was led by director Greg Low (another person on my list that I met), he is currently in charge of chapters, assisted by Blythe Morrow (@blythemorrow) who is the community coordinator for PASS.  We discussed:

  • how PASS can better integrate chapter meetings and events into the PASS event calendar.
  • better list and messaging management for PASS-hosted chapter sites.
  • re-working the responsibilities of the regional mentors
  • holding chapters accountable for meeting and growing
  • PASS providing a speaker bureau
  • the use and viability of Live meeting as provided by PASS
  • training for chapter leaders, especially on using Live meeting and the DotNetNuke chapter sites hosted by PASS.
  • If PASS should consider hosting the Summit in locations other than Seattle.

The best part is that most of the items discussed were items I broached about PASS helping local chapters in my blog post, What Should PASS Strive to Be?.  I think it showed that PASS is trying to become more relevant at the Chapter level. 

I then went out to see who else was around and met Gail Shaw, who had the quote of the day, “It’s like a family reunion where you want to see everyone.”.  That might be a bit of a paraphrase, but the meaning was there.  I also met Bob Hovious, Brent Ozar (@BrentO), and ran into Kevin Kline (@kekline) and Steve Jones (@way0utwest).  I went to lunch with Steve, always a good time.  We ended up at the Fox Sport Grill where I got a very good burger.  It’s always good to sit and talk with Steve.  We spend more time discussing family and life in general than technical stuff, which is a nice change.

Let the Networking Begin

After lunch I attended a networking session for PASS volunteers with Don Gabor.  It was a great session about starting conversations and leaving a good impression.  It was fun with lots of exercise to help us apply the concepts.  The biggest thing I got out of it was how to remember names.  He shared his 5-second plan for remembering names, with, in my opinion, the key point being to concentrate on the other person’s name during the introduction instead of thinking about the next thing you are going to say.  During this session I met many people, whose last names I did not get, but there were several people on my list in the session that I did meet and, because they are on my list, I do remember their full names:

Following the volunteer networking session there was longer, Networking for Business Contacts session with Don, that covered the content from the first session, but also included more information about body language (Smile, Open arms, Forward lean, Touch, Eye contact, Nod).

Opening Reception and SSC Party

From networking to the opening reception where some prizes were given out including the Log Reader Awards for blogging (I didn’t win any).  Then three 2-person teams competed in the Quiz Bowl put together by Tim Ford and Louis Davidson.  It was done Jeopardy-style with all questions having some kind of relationship to SQL Server.  The three teams were:

  • Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp – who, not surprisingly won.
  • Brent Ozar and Kevin Kline – they really knew their pop culture.
  • Grant Fritchey and Joe Webb

I tried to practice my newly learned networking skills at the reception, especially in one case where I saw someone sitting alone, so I went over and introduced myself to Phil, but I think I failed as I took a quick break to grab some food and one I came back, Phil was gone!  Well Don, I think I need more practice. I also met Arlene Gray (@whimSQL).

From there is was on to the SQLServerCentral party where I met Kevin Boles and Wes Brown and saw many other old friends.  I played some Texas Hold’em and managed to win more than I lost, but not enough to win a prize.  There was no cash involved as you were given a ticket for chips and then played until either time or your chips ran out.  I was also able to meet Marc Beacom (@marcbeacom) and re-connect with Tony Davis and Brad McGehee (@bradmcgehee)

After the Party

Many people went out to karaoke later in the evening, but I stayed late at the SSC party, so I was left behind, and to be honest, I was ready for a break and an earlier night. 

The amazing thing is that my head is already spinning after meeting so many great people (many of whom I have not named because I only remember first names).  I can’t imagine what it will be like when the sessions start and everyone arrives.

Also looking forward to getting together with people of like-faith on Tuesday.


  1. Sounds like you're making the most of this opportunity and having a great time! The kids and I love you and miss you.

  2. It all seems like a whirlwind, and you realize later just how many people you meet - many for the first time.

    BTW, the correct URL to my website is TimMitchell.net :)


So what do you think I am?