Hello Dear Reader. I find myself at this late hour unable to sleep. Yesterday the slate of speakers for the PASS Summit was announced. What should have been a happy moment was quickly darkened by the words of people that I know well within the SQL Server Community.
I would ask the MVP's and others in the SQL Server Community; Did you plan on intimidating new speakers yesterday?
Because you did. I have a few first time speaker that I've been working with. Not first time PASS Speakers, first time period. Encouraging and mentoring them to get involved in SSUG's and SQL Saturday's. At the beginning of the year I told one in particular that we should work on a plan so she would have the experience to submit to the PASS Summit this year.
Her first words to me when we spoke yesterday? "Thank God I didn't submit, because the MVP's would be talking smack about me right now!"
Wonderful work growing the next generation of SQL Server Speakers. Is this what community has become?
It seems every year with the speaker selection process the people I would normally count on as pillars in our community take the opportunity to bash the process.
If the process is broken so be it. We should discuss that. WE SHOULD NOT LEVEL PERSONAL ATTACKS.
That is ill befitting of the responsibility that we as speakers have in the community.
I remember what it was like to be a simple DBA that looked at speakers at conferences with awe and wonder. Instead of being a community where we encourage new speakers, what.... we encourage new speakers as long as they all are from different companies?
By attacking Pragmatic Works and suggesting that the speakers did anything less than earn their spots, you demean the volunteers, my co-workers, anyone who works for my company, and you demean me.
There were a couple issues that occurred yesterday that compounded one another. The presentation that occurred during the 24 Hours of PASS that I moderated, see Brent's blog.
Then Kendal a former board member who had knowledge of the process. Who praised the volunteers and the way the process works, as noted by absentee presenters who didn't receive sessions this year how a speakers name did not guarantee a spot. He instead implied that something improper had happened. Here's his blog. Until he accused me of having no integrity and not deserving my sessions it was a pretty interesting read, click here.
Here's the part to pay attention to:
- "3 Preconference sessions by Pragmatic Works employees are on the list, including one delivered by PASS Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen who is also President and Managing Partner of Pragmatic Works. I know a lot of folks that work at Pragmatic and they're good at what they do, but having 3 precon sessions (where presenters usually make good money from the sales) selected for the same company as one of PASS's execs...smells. I'd like to give PASS the benefit of doubt on this one, but I'll it's very hard to ignore, even if Adam wasn't one of the presenters."
HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT?
First I reacted in his comment sections. I was mad and I called what he wrote Bullshit. I stand by that.
I've reached out to Kendal. I hope to talk to him soon. This shouldn't be a conversation on Twitter or over the blog-o-sphere. I know him, I consider him a friend, and this accusation is beneath him and regardless of the intention it is deeply personal to me.
I reached out to Brent. Brent and I DM'ed very very ridiculously late at night. Brent I can't thank you enough for taking the time to reply. I hope to talk to you soon!
I completely understand Brent with the 24 HOP. The reason I reached out to him was because of his comment on Kendal's blog.
In the comment's Brent had this reply:
We discussed 2 different issues over DM. One is the transparency of the process the other was the selection. Giving vendors preferential treatment, and that this wasn’t the case here. Brent didn't have an issue with the Pragmatic Works folks having sessions and understood the level of community involvement that we have.
His issue was transparency. I was really glad we could discuss this, in-digital-person. Concerns like that should be communicated amongst friends so false insults do not fly. I consider Brent a friend, it meant a lot that he made himself so readily available to chat. It is what I would hope for in a friend.
This is how we should handle these things. If you have a concern with something I'm doing, reach out to me.
I remember well what it was like to be a simple DBA that looked at speakers at conferences with awe and wonder. Seeing people like Brian Kelly and Andy Warren, both of whom I know, comment on this blog and not try to reign in the personal attacks is disheartening. Andy’s were not inflammatory, but they also did nothing to suggest I or my other co-workers were above the board.
I understand I haven't been at this as long as you guys. I'm not an MVP. I've only been speaking the last couple years.
As a somewhat new member to all of this, I would ask the people that are supposed to be respected Sr. members of the community to conduct themselves with a little more Integrity.
If you know me. Yet you would say these type of things about me, how does that make new people feel looking at our community from the outside. Do you believe it makes them want to volunteer and participate in it?
My father taught me as a child you only have your integrity once and you should not waste it. This means something to me. When I invest in something, I invest wholeheartedly. I cannot love with half my heart. I cannot commit to something while sitting on the fence. If I did not earn something then I do not want it.
The greatest things that we get in life are the things we struggle to achieve. It is only through the labor of the struggle that the fruits of success are realized.
This year I have presented 26 times. From New Hampshire, to Boston, to Puerto Rico, to Orange County CA, to Denver, to Phoenix, to Atlanta, to Portland, Tampa, Orlando, and more. I have done deep dives, pre-con's, 1 day sessions, 2 day sessions, 5 day sessions, and this doesn't even include customer presentations. This is all community.
I have evangelized to user groups and individuals about how they should get involved, present, participate. I discuss with them how it will help them and help their career.
I would once again point to my co-worker who has not yet delivered their first SQL Community presentation said to me "And you wonder why new people feel intimidated. I would hate it if they were talking about me".
IT’S NOT BUSINESS IT’S PERSONAL
We've all heard the phrase before "it's not personal its business". It is typically used as the justification for doing some pretty crappy stuff.
There are some people out there that believe participating in the SQL Community is all about marketing. That it's business. Being out there and participating gets them business. If it is business to them, fine. It's not to me. To me the SQL Community is personal.
Right now I am away from home. I'm away from my kids. I presented at a user group in AZ last night. I didn't get paid for it, I didn't get "new" business leads. As a matter of fact I spent 15 minutes of my 1 hour presentation encouraging people to volunteer.
Why? Because I love this community. I have received a lot in my life from the SQL Community. I have a job I love, I've made new friends, and I’ve traveled to new places, volunteered in ways I never imagined possible.
I truly believe that within every person there is a story waiting to be told that we all want to hear. It could be brought to life during a presentation on Professional Development, a passionate Deep Dive, or a harrowing tale of lessons learned in the trenches. When I present I tell people there is a story in each of them that I would love to hear. They just need to have the faith in themselves to present and the possibilities of what they can do from there are endless.
This isn't business to me. I would never invest this much time into something I didn't love. It's personal.
Suggesting that I submitted to the same process as anyone else and received preferential treatment isn't business. It's personal. And it's wrong.
I hope from here we can clear the air. If anyone would like to talk to me about this I’m happy to. From here on out though please separate criticism of the processes from those that are here for all the right reasons.
As always Dear Reader, Thanks for stopping by.