Tuesday, April 9, 2013

T-SQL Tuesday #41 Becoming a SQL Server “Presenter” GET INVOLVED!

Hello Dear Reader!  It’s been a while since I participated in a T-SQL Tuesday, and this month Bob Pusateri (@SQLBob|Blog) is hosting it.    Bob is very active in the SQL Community, I met Bob briefly at the PASS Summit this year, and occasionally say Good Morning to him on Twitter.  His topic is one that really interested me, because it’s a story I’ve been meaning to tell but just hadn’t gotten around to.  Without further ado here’s Bob in his own words to describe the topic:

This month the prompt is how did you come to love presenting? What was the first time you gave a presentation in front of a group and really enjoyed it? Was it something that was required of you in school? Something you did in the workplace? Were you inspired by other SQL community members and thought “I think I can do that too”? Whatever your story is, I’d love to hear it. Not a presenter? Not a problem! Feel free to chime in with whatever you like that’s related to either presenting or SQL Server in general.

Sometimes I look at the things I’ve been able to do in my career and I wonder how did I get here?  First & foremost.  I have a tremendous support system.  Even to this day without the help of my ex-wife, friends within the SQL Community, and my co-workers (past and present) I wouldn’t be where I am today.  That support has helped more than I can say, which is probably why a lot of my blogs start with Thank You.  That support allows me to write the rest of this blog.


Not so long ago, I didn’t know what a SSUG was.  Two years and six months ago (roughly), I attended my first SQL Saturday.    I did not have a blog.  I did not tweet.  If you would have asked me who SQLBalls was, I would have probably said, “That sounds like a serious medical condition you should have checked out.”  I had left the Office of the President and went to work for Publix.

Over the years I had moved the family a lot for my career.  This would be the move where we didn’t have to move anymore.  I had attended the first 24 hours of PASS, I posted on the forums at SQLServerCentral.com, but that was it.  Did I mention, I didn’t know what a SSUG was.  Didn’t know where my local one was, Kendal Van Dyke(@SQLDBA | Blog) was still putting together MAGICPASS.  An interesting thing had happened when I went to the 24 hours of PASS.  I saw a presentation on a subject I was pretty knowledgeable in.  There were several things that I had done that the speaker didn’t mention, and I wondered “did he know about them”?
I looked at the speakers like some secret Fraternity, I’m just a regular guy.  I had no idea how you got to speak at one of those things.  So I let it go.  While working for Pulix my buddy Dan Taylor (@DBABulldog| Blog) told me about SQL Saturday #49 Orlando.  If I liked the 24 Hours of PASS, then I’d love this.  So away I went.

“So Balls,” you say, “Who did you go see?”

Great question Dear Reader!  I started off strong.  My first live SQL Presentation ever was watching  Tom LaRock(@SQLRockstar | Blog) talk about Wait Stats, What Are You Waiting For? Next up Argenis Fernandez (@DBArgenis | Blog) Multi-Server Management with SQL Server 2008 +, then Nathan Heaivilin (@SQLHeaven ) Introduction to Execution Plans, Lunch on the Lawn where I met my friend Noel McKinney (@NoelMcKinney | Blog), next Jeff Garbus (LinkedIn) Choosing Indexes for Performance, Jorge Segarra(@SQLChicken | Blog) Policy-Based Management in a Nutshell, and Kevin Boles(@TheSQLGuru) SQL Server Partitioning from A-Z.

Yes I remember it like yesterday.  A fog had lifted.  I found people that not only understood what I did everyday but faced the same issues I did.  It was like a support group for DBA’s, only we have beers after our meetings instead of coffee and donuts (those are for SQL Saturday’s in the morning).

The after event was just as important.  I knew no one.  I was a stranger.  Even though I’m social I was quite nervous to just walk up to this gathering and invite myself in.  It is there that I met Jack Corbett (@UncleBiguns| Blog) ½ of my future Law Firm of Biguns & Balls.  Jack is a nice and welcoming guy.  We struck up a conversation immediately.  I found Noel right after that, Patrick Leblanc (@PatrickDBA | Blog), and Jack joined us and we talked for over an hour about nothing and everything.  I found my community that day.  And it was good.


I wanted to get involved.  The next event that came around I wanted to submit for.  I figured I would get rejected, but I didn’t understand what SQL Saturday was for.  To grow local speakers, to give first time speaker’s a chance.  Little did I know my first shot was coming up.  I looked at what other speakers were doing and prepared.  Most had blogs, I set up the one you are reading now, got on Linkedin, Twitter.

The hardest part was coming up with the name I would use for Branding.  Several people in the community had written about that and I knew it was important.   It was a full days worth of work on the Saturday.  For the cost of the URL, signing up with Blogger, setting up a gmail account, and all the other stuff it was time well spent.  I’ve tweeked things over time, but it was quick and easy compared to the time it takes to blog J.

All of that underway I submitted to SQL Saturday 62 Tampa.  I don’t know that I’ve ever Thanked Pam Shaw(@PamShaw ) properly.  You see most of my presentations where not the final version I have now, and I tweek them constantly.  I find the more I present on a topic the more I learn about it.  She asked me for three topics, I gave her my three.  She picked the one topic that I didn’t expect.  Compression.  Whatever topic I present on, Compression will always be my first.  It set me on a very good path.

At the encouragement of Jack I submitted to SQL Rally.  I lost out on the voting but was a close second.  I got invited to present in a Wild Card spot.  I submitted to 5 more SQL Saturday’s and presented before the year was over.  I did 3 webinars, 2 on Compression (THANKS PAM!!!!), and on a whim submitted to the PASS Summit that year.

No way would I get selected.  It would be good experience.  I’d get rejected, I’d keep practicing, and next year I’d get my shot.  I submitted a Deep Dive that I had yet to finish writing.  Apparently they thought I was ready.  I got selected!

Me I’m still just a regular guy.  There are real stars out there in our community and they are awesome.  That’s not this story, Brent Ozar(@BrentO | Blog)  tells that one really good though, read Rock Stars, Normal People, and You by Brent.  It’s okay I’ll wait.  It’s worth the read.


So that’s me.  That’s how I started out.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It can happen quicker than you expected.  So where do you start?  Go to your local User Group.  Go to your local SQL Saturday.  Email a guy that works with a company that put’s on Webinars every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 am East Coast time.  *Cough* *Cough* <points to self> *Cough* *Cough*.

Tell me what you’ve been doing in the community, tell me where you’ve presented before.  If I’ve never met you have you done a webinar?  They aren’t always right for first time presenters, but give yourself a couple go’s and you’ll be ready.  Get in front of a crowd, let people ask you questions, take those questions and research them.  Write blogs, hop on forums, answer posts, research the ones you don’t know, and write blogs.  Sensing a trend?

Your story, if it hasn’t already started, can start here.  You Dear Reader have the ability to talk about something right now, that I would want to know about.  You have some insight that I would like to have.  The daily work you do gives you a perspective that no one else has.  That is valuable.  Your time, your work, your knowledge all make up who you are.

Every single one of us started somewhere.  If you’re well along that road Good Job, I hope it is paying off.  If you are just starting out, then you are in good company, because not all that long ago I didn’t even know what a SSUG was.

As always Thanks for stopping by.



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