Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 PASS Summit 2014 Board Q&A Notes

As has occurred in previous years at the PASS Summit the PASS Board of Directors held an open Q&A session on the final day. I was able to attend most of the session but had to leave a few minutes early for my scheduled presentation. I didn't count but estimate around 30 people attended - about average for the Q&A (I wish it were more!). PASS will publish meeting minutes but in the meantime here's my notes sans commentary.

Review of Board Commitments From Last Year (Denise)

  • Evals of chapter leader meetings, done, adjusted schedule is year, will do the same again
  • SQLRally - Nodic continuing to hold events, interest in LATAM. (No US still)
  • Hotel rates for 2014 summit - complaints that tableau conference had lower rates. Denise said PASS was unable to renegotiate rates this year due to existing agreement.
  • Committing to publish budget summary for 2015
  • Find out sharing summit reg details with chapters (e.g. attendees near a chapter), followed up with legal, found out PASS cannot share


  • JRJ sharing that global growth focus moving from EMEA to LATAM, goal is to create a regional board seat for LATAM. Expecting to bring on a LATAM board advisor in the near future.
  • Wendy highlighting new chapter agreement, hiring Carmen internally at HQ as CE focusing on chapters.
  • Sri mentioned new volunteer portal launched this week
  • Tim focused on SQLSaturday website rewrite, first round of changes feature complete by end of year. 86 events in Last FY, 113,000 hours of training delivered. Goal is 100 events in current FY
  • Amy says number of abstracts , speakers, sessions grew over previous year, spent time on improving schedule builder and using analytics to place sessions in right-sized rooms.
  • Jen Stirrup - 8,000 training hours so far this FY for VCs, goal for FY is 16,000. business analytics VC revamped, new excel VC.
  • Jennifer Moser - MS continuing to support SQLSaturday financially outside of the US and logistically within the US

Open Floor

  • Comment that 50% of world's population within 5 hours of China, question - what's the business plan for holding a summit like event in that area of the world?
    • JRJ says LATAM has more demand (based on activity and growth potential), that's why LATAM is where the bod Is focused. Complexity of holding an event in APAC region is more difficult than LATAM. PASS is better off supporting existing communities in the area for now.
  • Andy Leonard - Thanks for hard work & responding to the community, happy about decision made to extend voting. Commented that regional mentor program is underutilized. Would like to know what the thinking is around moving summit to over locations.
    • Wendy says RM program grew from a good idea into something that lacks framework, struggling with RMs understanding what's expected of them, expecting to see changes to the program.
    • Adam says summit needs to be booked years in advance, Seattle is the best location for Microsoft support, travel in, accommodating growth. "In Seattle for the next few years"
    • JRJ commenting that moving to a new venue is hard due to cost & logistics, continuing to hold summit in Seattle allows HQ to fine tune, reduce costs yearly
    • Jennifer Moser says moving summit is a risk to sponsors because it was not an optimal experience for them.
    • Andy reiterates that moving is a good idea, allows us to reach an audience that can't make it to Seattle.
  • Another comment that lots of conferences in Vegas these days, why not there?
    • Denise says data shows "program, program, program" is what drives attendance, location secondary
  • JK Wood asking about PASSWatch pointing out lack of communication from BoD, if PASS will establish guidelines around blogging, etc. by non-exec members
    • Denise says board members always authorized to speak on their own behalf and portfolios, bylaws stipulate exec are the only ones that can speak for the org
  • Kendal asked about PASS rebranding, why, what feedback did the board solicit, etc.
    • Denise reiterated why the name change took place, conceded that it wasn't handled well, communicated poorly. Yes, we (PASS) rebranded, similar to how IBM is just IBM
  • Allen Kinsel asked for commitment by board to quarterly Q&A meetings with board members, board agreed
  • Karen Lopez asking if it's time for pass to have a "chief data officer" to look at policies, procedures, etc, around managing pass data.
    • Adam says data is a first class citizen within pass, yes we are focusing more on it
  • JK Wood expressing concern about IT issues (de-duping, security, etc.) and lack of community partnership in improving/correcting. Happy to see Dev Nambi project, wants to know if we can do more.
    • Adam: yes, data is important, upcoming projects across portfolios will engage community experts
  • Carlos (?) asked about dedicated LATAM board member, when?
    • JRJ reiterated focus on LATAM & working through RMs to help grow the region, bringing on board advisor from LATAM next year if all goes according to plan
  • Ryan Adams asks what happens if no one runs for a regional LATAM board seat
    • JRJ says seat not created for LATAM yet, board has to vote for it, provisions already in place for filling seat if no one runs
  • Ryan Adams asked Jennifer Moser about Microsoft marketing efforts in SQLSaturday, how to make it easier for subsidiaries to fund SQLSaturday in their areas
    • Jennifer working on moving funding through PASS rather than through district offices, improving relations between local MS offices and RMs/CLs to help with logistical support

Left @ 2:15 PM, refer to forthcoming PASS minutes for what happened at the remainder of the meeting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PASS Chapter Leaders - Remember To Talk About Elections With Your Chapters!

Last week before our monthly MagicPASS meeting I went through my usual routine of grabbing the PASS chapter deck and noticed that there are no slides mentioning the upcoming Board of Directors elections. I'm surprised because the elections are a great discussion topic for people who might not otherwise be exposed to how PASS is run, or for that matter might not think they're qualified or informed enough to vote.

I took a few minutes to add a slide to the deck and talked about it during our meeting - why it's important to vote, the impact Board members have on the organization (and ultimately them), where to start to learn more about candidates, etc. Will someone who wouldn't have previously considered voting do so now? That's my hope, anyways, and I know that there's a better chance of that happening than by not saying anything at all.

Chapter leaders, you can grab the September MagicPASS slides from OneDrive. Elections are on slide #8 but feel free to use any or all of what I added as examples for things to include in your own monthly decks. If your meeting has already happened it's not too late to remind your members via LinkedIn, Facebook, or your mailing lists that voting opens tomorrow, Sept 24.


2014 Elections

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Presenting At OPASS August 2014 Meeting On 8/28

OPASS_newlogo_4Thursday night (8/28) I'll be presenting Inspector Insert And The Case Of The Mistaken IDENTITY for the Orlando SQL User Group (OPASS). Identity values seem like a straightforward topic but as SQL Server has evolved different methods for working with them have been introduced and each has caveats to be aware of. My goal for this presentation is to make you aware of all the different ways - both good and bad - to work with identity values and motivate you to double check your TSQL code when you go back to work on Friday to make sure you don't wind up with a case of mistaken identity.

If you're in the Orlando area and need another reason to come for the evening, here it is: Mark Souza - General Manager, Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Team at Microsoft and otherwise regarded as "Mr. SQL Server" within Microsoft - is coming to Orlando in October for a joint OPASS/MagicPASS meeting and everyone who attends OPASS this month is guaranteed a seat. We've reserved enough space for 200 people in October and we expect to reach capacity so wouldn't it be nice to know you've got a spot?

You can see full details about the August OPASS meeting and RSVP at - and note that this month the group meets at a new location, ITT Technical Institute in Lake Mary, FL.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoughts On The 2014 PASS Summit Selections

The session lineup for the 2014 PASS Summit was announced today and I'm honored to be selected as a presenter. This will be my 6th year at the Summit and 5th as a presenter, and every year it's tougher to be picked as the PASS community - and the number of sessions submitted (over 900 this year!) - grows.

The increase in submissions year over year also makes it tougher on the program committee to review, select, and schedule the lineup. The committee is made entirely of volunteers who put a ton of hours into the selections - often a thankless task done behind the scenes - so I want to make sure the acknowledge their efforts. Every year there are people not happy about how the selection process works, that they didn't get selected, etc...and while there are things that can be improved on I don't fault any individual on the committee for having put the time and effort into trying to put together the best lineup of sessions possible.

As I look over the selections there are a few things that stand out worth mentioning. But first, a eye-candy filled analysis of the numbers for this year:








What do I take away from looking at the numbers and the list of accepted sessions?

  • Most speakers are scheduled for 1 session. The majority of speakers with 2 (or more) are because they're delivering a full day precon in addition to a regular session.
  • There are some notable names missing from the list of Summit regulars who submitted but were not selected. I'll avoid naming names so I don't play favorites, but I think it shows that you don't get a session just because you're well known in the community. I do hope people who weren't selected are able to find other ways to attend.
  • No 90 minute spotlight presentations this year. First year that's happened?
  • No 500 level precons - maybe in part due to lack of submissions, maybe the ones that were submitted weren't the right fit...still, I'd easily pay for a 500 level DBA precon. Maybe next year?
  • Comparing the list of accepted speakers against the current PASS Board Members shows two sessions accepted, one by Jen Stirrup (a half day session) and one by Adam Jorgensen (a precon with John Welch and Buck Woody). I wish it were none - the Board has plenty to do that week on behalf of PASS without having to worry about delivering a session on top of it. I can understand why Jen wants to make the trip worthwhile since she's travelling to the US from Europe, but the other...
  • 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.
  • The last chart highlights that 39% of the General sessions are BI focused. If the Summit were the only paid conference organized by PASS I'd be OK with that number, but now that we've got the Business Analytics conference I'm wondering if that percentage should be lower. I'd also be curious how many BA conference sessions are repeats at the Summit, though I realize that most of the people who attend Summit probably do not attend the BA conference.

All in all it looks like a good lineup - one that I'm happy to be a part of. I'm looking forward to this year's Summit and I hope that you are, too!

EDIT: Buck Woody is not one of the speakers for Adam's precon as I had initially written.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I'm A Candidate For The 2014 PASS Nomination Committee

The 2014 PASS election cycle begins today when voting opens for the Nomination Committee (NomCom) and I'm one of eleven candidates running for three seats on the committee.

Why am I running for the NomCom?
  • It's a chance to use my time and experience to do something good for PASS.
  • This year's NomCom will have the chance to review the election process and recommend changes. I was vocal about this after last year's election and I'm putting my money where my mouth is - I'd like to help improve the process.
  • It's a change for me personally to do something new while doing something to help PASS.
Why am I qualified?

I have been involved with PASS since 2007 at all levels: speaker, chapter leader, regional mentor, SQLSaturday organizer, and I served as a member of the Board in 2012. I have also run for the Board of Directors twice so I have a good understanding of how the NomCom works. My familiarity with PASS from the grassroots all the way up to HQ gives me invaluable experience to draw on when evaluating the candidates running for the Board. I was also called on as an advisor for the original Election Review Committee a few years ago; that means I know how we've gotten to where we are today and can use that to make recommendations for improving future elections.

What can you expect if I'm elected?
  • I'll ask difficult - but relevant - questions. In past NomCom interviews I expected tough questions about strategy, vision for PASS, etc. and being surprised that they weren't asked. I appreciate that Board members are volunteers, but we're asking them to be a part of managing a community with an annual budget of $8 million USD and it's the NomCom's job to ensure each candidate has the right mix of business acumen and connection with the community that make them qualified to run for the Board.
  • I'll be fair to all candidates. No bias because I may know someone or passing judgment because I don't agree with how they think PASS should be run.
  • I'll push for changes to the voting process that reduce the possibility of duplicate votes. The current NomCom process works (for the most part) and doesn't require any major overhaul, but having the possibility exist for duplicate votes is a problem that we cannot ignore and need to fix. I understand that it's not a simple effort so understand that any changes will likely take effect in the 2015 elections.
  • I'll be transparent about the NomCom experience - if elected I commit to blogging once every 2 weeks (or more) about NomCom timelines and progress, lessons learned, and what to expect next. Note that some parts of the NomCom process are under NDA so I can't blog about them, but I will be as open as possible.

Ballots should be mailed today and I encourage you to take a minute to review all 11 candidates along with my application and qualifications before casting your vote.

Thanks for your support!