Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 4/4/19)

I figured I was about due for an update of my speaking schedule. As of today, here are events where I am confirmed as speaking.

I’ve also applied to speak at the following events, but none of them are confirmed; there’s no guarantee that I will be speaking at any of these events. Stay tuned.

(Unfortunately, as much as I want to go, I am not applying to SQL Saturday #877, Boston, as I have a conflict with September 14.)

Additionally, these events are not yet live, but they are listed as “save the date.” I intend to apply to them once they do go live.

  • October 5: SQL Saturday, Pittsburgh

SQL Saturday events are held all across the country and around the world. I hope to be attending one near you!

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Speaking near Beantown

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I got an email last night announcing that SQL Saturday #813 Boston — BI Edition has been scheduled for March 30, 2019.  I went ahead and submitted my presentations.

Because the Boston Microsoft office (despite the name, it’s actually in Burlington, MA, about twelve miles northwest of Boston) is a smaller facility, events such as SQL Saturday tend to be smaller; it’s more difficult to be accepted as a speaker, and a wait list for attendees is not uncommon.  Nevertheless, if I am accepted to speak at SQL Saturday #813 (far from a sure thing), that is potentially three trips I’ll make to Burlington within a span of seven months.  I am already scheduled to speak at SQL Saturday #797 on September 22 (a week from this Saturday as I write this) and at a New England SQL User Group meeting on February 13.  SQL Saturday #813 would make it trip #3.

Despite the fact that the Boston area tends to be hostile territory for a Yankee fan like me, I look forward to my upcoming trips.  I’m hoping to make it three trips in seven months.

Hope to see you there!

SQL Saturday #797, Boston, Sept. 22

I received word this week that I’ve been selected to speak at SQL Saturday #797, Boston, MA (more accurately, Burlington, MA) on September 22!  This is the third time I’ve applied to speak at Boston, and the first time I’ve been selected.  I suppose the third time’s a charm!

I will be doing a brand-new presentation (that made its debut in Albany last weekend): “Networking 101: Building professional relationships” (formerly named “Networking: it isn’t just for breakfast anymore”).  This is an interactive session in which we will discuss networking — what it is, and why it’s important.  You’ll even have a chance to practice networking within the confines of our room!

Mark your calendars, and I hope to see you in Burlington, MA on September 22!

SQL Saturday #741 Albany — the debrief

Once again, we had another great SQL Saturday here in Albany this past weekend!  I don’t know how many people attended, but by my estimate, we had well over two-hundred people.  I had a great time (as usual), and it serves to remind me why this is one of my favorite events.

My own presentation went very well!  I had nine people attend my session.  Two people (not including myself) were in the room when I started, but more people started filing in after I began my presentation.  Everyone I spoke with told me it was a great presentation, and I got nothing but positive feedback!

I did, however, get one piece of feedback that I did not expect.  I spoke with a number of people who did not attend my presentation, and one who almost skipped it (but ended up coming, anyway).  They all told me the same thing: they read my presentation title and automatically assumed that my talk was about computer networking, not business networking.  Had they known that, they all told me, they would have been there.  So I missed out on a potentially larger audience, simply because of my presentation title.

My initial reaction was frustration.  Mt first thought was, “read the presentation abstract, people!”  I didn’t want to change it; I liked the title and thought it was clever (I’d taken it from one of my ‘blog articles with the same name).  At the same time, I also couldn’t ignore the feedback; it’s human nature to judge a book by its cover (or, in the case, the title), and first impressions are important.  So, reluctantly, I renamed my presentation.  At the same time, I also made a slight tweak to my presentation slides; I removed one slide that did not serve much purpose during my presentation.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a great event without talking about other great presentations.  I attended James Serra‘s session on presenting.  I’m always looking to improve upon my own presentation skills, and I got a lot out of James’ presentation (as always).  Not only did I pick up a few new tips, he also reinforced some points that I use in my own presentations.  This is always good to hear; it legitimizes things that I discuss.  I also sat in on a less serious presentation by Thomas Grohser.  At the end of the day, a little humor is a good thing.  James and Thomas are both excellent speakers, and I always recommend them.  I’d also heard great things about a session I’d missed presented by my friend, Deborah Melkin, another wonderful speaker that I highly recommend.

Unfortunately, part of the reason why I missed Deborah’s session (and others) was an issue that needed my attention.  When I arrived at the event site that morning, one of my tires went flat.  I didn’t have the time to address it, and I didn’t feel much like dealing with it, especially on a warm and humid day.  Fortunately, I have a AAA membership.  Let me tell you about how handy that became that afternoon.

Of course, there were also the events around SQL Saturday.  Friday night was the speaker’s dinner.  It was held at a Mediterranean restaurant about ten minutes away from my office.  I’ve driven past this place many times, and had no idea that it was there.  It was a good place, and I’m going to keep it in mind!  The closing and accompanying raffles are always fun.  My wife’s name was actually drawn for a prize!  Unfortunately, she couldn’t claim it, simply because she was not there, and the rules stipulate that you need to be present to win!  (Some people said that I should claim it by proxy, but at the same time, rules are rules!)  The post-event party was held at a place across the street, a great opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow speakers and event volunteers in a loose and casual atmosphere!

All in all, it was a great event!  This is one of my favorite events, and I look forward to doing this again next year!

SQL Saturday #741, Albany, NY — Come to upstate New York!

On Saturday, July 28 (a week from tomorrow as I write this), our local Albany-area SQL user group will host our fifth SQL Saturday!  I have participated in all five; I worked as a volunteer at the first one, and I presented at the other four (including next Saturday).  This is one of my favorite events, and I look forward to it every single year!

This year, I am debuting a brand-new presentation: “Networking: it isn’t just for breakfast anymore,” based upon my ‘blog article of the same name.  (An alternate name for it could be “Networking 101: networking for beginners.”)  This presentation is primarily for people who want to get better at networking but don’t know how to do it, although seasoned veterans might be able to get something out of it as well.  It’s one of the first sessions of the day (8:30 am!), so come early!

As much as I promote my own presentations, mine is not the only one on the docket.  There are many wonderful speakers and presentations being given at this event, and I encourage you to come out and check out as many as you can that interest you!

SQL Saturday is always a great time, a great opportunity for free learning, and a great opportunity to network with data professionals.  The Capital District region here in upstate New York has been my home for many years.  I hope to see you here in my home turf!

Birth of a user group

At SQL Saturday in New York City yesterday, I debuted a brand-new presentation: So you want to be a SQL Saturday speaker?  Although only two people showed up, they were very receptive and engaging, which is exactly what I want out of my presentations.  As someone once said, the size of the audience doesn’t matter; just play your best.

What I found fascinating, however, was the interaction between the two gentlemen.  Both were from Long Island.  They traded contact information, and started discussing the idea of creating a SQL user group around there.

It brought to mind a memory from eight years earlier.  It was in 2010.  I was traveling down to New York for my very first SQL Saturday.  I had exchanged messages with someone on a SQLServerCentral.com forum about the conference; he was also coming from the Albany area, and was attending the same conference.  We met on the train, we talked, and we discussed the idea of creating a user group in the Albany area.

The gentleman was Dan Bowlin.  Our forum conversation from eight years ago is still on SSC, and can be found here.  We became friends, and we still remain friends to this day (although Dan no longer lives in the Albany area; he took a job down in Connecticut a couple of years ago).  The group we ended up founding is now CASSUG (Capital Area SQL Server User Group).  We didn’t know what we were getting into with our initial foray into this endavor, but CASSUG now has a few hundred members, holds meetings every month, and hosts its own SQL Saturday (our next one is coming up in July).  From a simple beginning, a user group was born!

I’ve written before about the benefits of user groups.  I’m hoping that this dialog between these two gentlemen leads to the creation of another one.  And I hope to hear about meetings for the Long Island SQL Server User Group (LISSUG) sometime soon!

Maybe they’ll even invite me down as a guest speaker sometime!

Questionable administrative decisions (I’m looking at you, PASS)

It’s not often that I will call out by name a specific organization for what I deem to be questionable decision-making.  But today, I am making an exception.

Recently, the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS — the organization that administers SQL Saturday) made a very questionable administrative decision.  In order to submit presentations to SQL Saturday events, all submitters must first register for the event.  Previously, if a speaker’s presentation is accepted for a conference, he or she was automatically registered for the event.

This decision has resulted in an outcry from people affiliated with PASS and SQL Saturday.

I’ll start with an open letter written by my friend, Steve Jones.  (Steve, by the way, is one of the people who first organized SQL Saturday several years ago.)

Tamera Clark, who administers the SQL Saturday Facebook group, also posted the following.

If you haven’t seen the “news” Pass made a huge change to the SQLSaturday sites that impacts both organizers and speakers. There has been no general announcement only to “current” event organizers.

If an event is open and their schedule is not published yet and you have submitted, speakers must REGISTER FOR THE EVENT as an attendee. Organizers can’t approve sessions until you are registered as an attendee.

As a speaker in order to submit to an event, you must register first and are prompted to do so.

*Yes this means organizers will need to contact speakers to get them to register.

*Yes this means you must register for an event and if you are considerate go back and unregister if you don’t get selected or can no longer attend.

*I’ve been told this does not register you 2x for the event.

Things I don’t know:

*What happens to the lunch status if a speaker is selected. Does it update to “compt by event”?

*As a speaker if I change my mind before the event(prior to the schedule being made) and just cancel my registration what happens?

*As a speaker if I change my mind during the process of a schedule being made (ie. session approved but not on schedule) and I cancel my registration what happens?

*As a speaker if I change my mind and the schedule is published what happens when I cancel my registration.

For organizers it looks like we might have gone back in time, now you don’t know if speakers are still attending when not selected. Inflating numbers and causing wait list issues for some.

Finally, I wrote an email to PASS, and I wanted to share it here.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to strongly object to and to voice my extreme displeasure at PASS’s new policy about requiring speakers to register to an event in order to submit presentations.

This is an extra step that is wholly unnecessary, inconvenient, and detrimental.  All SQL Saturday speakers are volunteers.  The process for allowing speakers to submit should be made easier, not harder.  I have written ‘blog articles, and I have a SQL Saturday presentation, that encourages potential speakers to volunteer to this otherwise-noble event.  Requiring speakers to first register complicates the submission process, and may actually DISCOURAGE, not encourage, new speakers to sign up.

Additionally, if I register, and I am not selected to speak at an event, I will need to take the extra step of canceling my registration.  Number one, that adds to the inconvenience and complication.  Number two, if I should not remember to cancel (as is human nature), that is one more spot that I am denying a potential attendee who is on the waiting list.

I heard that this new policy is to enforce the terms and agreements for SQL Saturday.  This is not an acceptable solution.  If this is about terms and agreements, a more sensible solution would be to include the text along with the speaker’s registration — something along the lines of “if you are accepted to speak, understand that you accept the terms and conditions…” etc.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this policy.  Any policy that makes things difficult is more likely to discourage, not encourage, further participation.

Regards,
Raymond J. Kim
PASS Member
SQL Saturday presenter

I’ve written articles encouraging people to become speakers, as well as put together a presentation that encourages people to present.  In one fell swoop, PASS is threatening to throw that away.

If you are involved with SQL Saturday, and you are as outraged about this policy change as I (and many others) are, I encourage you to contact PASS to voice your displeasure.  By applying pressure to the organization, perhaps they will reverse course.