Monday, November 9, 2009

PASS Summit 2009 – Wrap-up – What’s the Value?

I’ve already written four posts (1, 2, 3, 4) that discussed what I did at the Summit, including what I learned, now I want to discuss my thoughts on the event.

This being my first PASS Summit, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had spoken with several people who have attended in the past, but I don’t think they could really explain the experience. 

It’s All in the Family

As I mentioned in another post, the Summit has been described as “A family reunion where you like everyone.”  This really sums it up well.  I did not expect the community to be so much like a family.  Regular attendees would run up and hug each other (men would usually shake hands).  The excitement everyone had to see people again was unbelievable!  Then the way everyone was welcomed into the community family was great!.  By the end of the week it felt like I knew more people than I didn’t know. 

I went with a list of about 50 people I wanted to meet, and in every case they were happy to meet me and have a discussion with me.  The only people on my list that I did not meet were either sick (Lynda Rab, hope you feel better) or did not attend, and I met more than enough other people to make up for the ones who weren’t there.  It also didn’t matter if they were the SQL elite, like Paul Randal, or the relatively unknown like me, everyone was excited to meet you and help you if they could.

The Learning Never Stops

Tuesday through Thursday the day started at about 7am and ran until midnight (later for the karaoke folks), and there was always something to learn at any hour.  From the breakfast discussions to sessions to late night talks, I felt like I was bettering myself and hopefully having the same affect on the people I was with.  I felt like I was always with someone smarter than me and that made me feel smarter. 

The sessions helped me realize how much I actually know about SQL Server.  There were definitely things I learned, but much was familiar to me, which I did not expect.

Meeting Other SQL Server Professionals of Like Faith

If you visit the New Tribes Mission website, you can see what I believe and that I try to live what I believe.  I’m not pushy about my faith, but I don’t hide it either.  It was great to meet several other people who share my faith.  This was something that made the Summit even more special for me.  In the past I have thought that I was in very small minority, but this event helped me see I’m not alone, but I have friends in the community that I can lean on when it comes to faith.  See Mike Walsh’s and K. Brian Kelley’s blogs as well.

The One Bad Thing about PASS

It ends before you can meet everyone!  I’m already looking forward to next year.  If I can attend I plan on doing things differently.  My changes are:

  1. Attend sessions about areas I normally do not work in.  This probably means more BI.
  2. Do more to make other attendees feel welcome.  I will seek out people sitting or standing alone and speak with them.  This year was about me meeting the big wigs of SQL Server, SQL Server Twitterati, and SQLServerCentral friends, next year will be about others

I can’t recommend the Summit enough.  It is refreshing (even though you are worn out) and inspiring.

Thanks to all those who made it such a great event, the PASS Board, the PASS HQ Staff, volunteers, speakers, and attendees.

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