This past weekend I traveled to Iowa City to hold a session on SSIS basics. The drive was worth it (even the hours looking at the back of a semi while the highway was at a dead stop). My session went extremely well and the group that attended the session was interactive and we all had a great time together. Interactive groups always make sessions more enjoyable. Ask questions and give your own experiences! Even the speakers gain more from speaking when the group gets into it. There were some takeaways of my own that I will write up based on some questions and promises to the group (yes, I haven’t forgotten). I hope to have those posted very soon. One was the baseline collection that I have mentioned over the past few weeks. This was based off a blog series that I discussed on collecting and making baselines a must with your SQL Server environments. I’m writing a new series of packages to handle this in a friendly and portable upload for everyone and hope to have it done soon.

I’d like to single out the team that organized East Iowa SQL Saturday. If the measure of success is measured from the people reviewing the actions of others, then I’d like to say, the East Iowa SQL Saturday team is nothing short of a very successful group of leaders and organizers. One thing that really stood out to me was the time allocated per session. My session alone was a revamp of a user group session. We know that user group meetings run hours so it was difficult but doable to make this session shrink to the normal SQL Saturday 45-50 minutes times. What the team did for this SQL Saturday was allocate an hour and fifteen minutes per session though. That was a great change and I heard from other speakers that they also thought it was a really good time to be given. I’d like to thank them personally for the excellent job in organizing and changing it up to make it that much better.

SQL Saturdays are an excellent way for everyone to network. This event gave me the chance to finally meet and have great conversations with people that I have wanted to meet for a very long time. I had some excellent conversations with Kathi Kellenberger (blog | twitter), Kendra Little (blog | twitter) and Arie Jones (blog | twitter). I have wanted to meet these great community contributors for some time. I also had the chance to catch up with Jason Strate (blog | twitter) and Sarah (awesome honorary SQL peep), Jes Borland (blog | twitter), Wendy Pastrick (blog | Twitter), and Bob Pusateri (blog | twitter). Oh and watch Michelle Ufford (blog | twitter), Ed Leighton-Dick (blog | twitter) and Jeff Belina (twitter) with help from Chris Leonard (blog | twitter) run around like crazy as the event rolled on. Being a former SQL Saturday organizer, I have great respect for these people. A lot goes into these events and the day of is very stressful to say the least. This one went smoothly from the outside looking in and that is a successful event in anyone’s eyes. I managed to find Chris a few times while walking the halls from the speaker lounge back to the main event and thank him for the great organizing efforts. Having the chance to talk to these talented individuals is enough value in coming to these events. (I even had the chance to heckle Arie and Jason a bit). If you did miss this SQL Saturday and want to chance to heckle those guys, no worries. Click the blog links by their names and have at the comments section. I’m sure they will love me for that.

This SQL Saturday also played out a WIT (Women in Technology) lunch panel. The setting was my very good friend, Jes Borland, Wendy Pastrick and Kathi Kellenberger up in front of the entire SQL Saturday attendance discussing what WIT is and how to achieve the goals of bringing more women into technology based careers. I enjoyed hearing all the sides of the discussions. This event has me looking very much forward to PASS and the WIT sessions that will be held there this year.

Final note on SQL Saturday Events

Weekends are a time that many spend with friends and family or relaxing by doing the things we simply work to be able to do. We recap the long weeks that we have at work, daily schedules and laugh about the events that we all enjoy so much with others. Needless to say, work typically isn’t part of a normal weekend outside of a yard that has grass growing out of control or weeds for flower beds more so than flowers. This past weekend I traveled to Iowa City for the second East Iowa SQL Saturday to hold a session on SSIS. You may think that this sounds like work. In fact, it is the furthest thing from work. Speakers, organizers and volunteers alike do not look at putting our energy into events like SQL Saturday as work at all. See, the SQL Community is most of our friends and family. We cherish these events and look forward to giving all that we have back with them.

If you are in the position of not being a past speaker, organizer or volunteer, ask yourself: why am I not doing the same thing? You should consider it. If I’ve learned one thing over the years as a community member, it is that the knowledge, memories and camaraderie that comes from this great community matches no other. SQL Saturday events hold true to that and being part of them only gives back to you in growth as an individual and community.

As an attendee or one that is thinking about attending a SQL Saturday or even your local user group, what you read is the absolute truth. Just that aspect of the power that goes into forming these and other events should show you that attending these events is not going to be a letdown. And if you are or ever have been letdown by a SQL Saturday or other community event, please, send me or any other community member an email about your experience. I guarantee that even if I don’t speak for everyone you may talk to, I will do everything I have to correct your experience so the next one will be an event you will recap the same way as I have here.

Thanks again to the East Iowa SQL Saturday Team. I truthfully cannot wait until next year so make the trip across the state to Iowa once again to see you all.