Last weekend, I had the pleasure of both speaking and volunteering for SQL Saturday #403 in Louisville. What a blast! From feedback that we’ve received, it seems to have been our most successful event to date in Louisville. We maxed out our registration limit of 250 (a great crowd for our city), had great feedback from our sponsors, and generally seemed to exceed expectations of the attendees in terms of the sessions we offered, the speakers we had, the food we brought in, etc. Just a great event all around!!
After the event, I got an awesome email from my good friend Chris Yates (blog | twitter | linkedin), fellow volunteer for the event and all around great guy. Here’s the text of that email (posted with his permission):
A BI developer came up to me as I was leaving yesterday. I quote verbatim:
“Mr. Yates I owe you an apology”
I ask why?
“I’ve been doing things wrong for the last year and I didn’t realize it nor the trouble I was causing you. I’m going to work toward fixing my processes”
I ask what brought this on?
“I sat in a guy’s class named Dave Fackler at SQL Saturday, and I understand now why things have not been working the way they should”
BOOOOM ~ and you tell me what we do doesn’t pay off! Good job homie, and thanks for making my life easier here :-)
Talk about a great feeling! Yes, my head did swell a bit and my chest did stick out a bit farther for the rest of the day! But the point here is really the last sentence in that email from Chris – that we do what we do (in this case, volunteering to speak and volunteering to make events like this happen) in order to make a difference. Maybe we’re able to just make a difference because someone learns something, or maybe we’re able to make a difference in how someone does there job. And maybe either of those will make a bigger difference to the company they work for – either now or down the road. Sure, its fun to be a speaker and to have a room full of people hanging on your every word (while hoping beyond hope that your demos go well and that you don’t say something stupid!). But the reason most of us speak is to try to make a difference…
And events like this (along with other PASS events, local PASS chapter meetings, etc.) just wouldn’t happen without the volunteers who spend countless hours making it all work out. Most people don’t understand what goes into making a great event happen until they volunteer – at least I didn’t. And sometimes being a volunteer can be aggravating – but in the end, it is almost always worth it. To see the excitement of the attendees on the day of the event, to see the smiles of the speakers who appreciate the work that has gone into the event, and to hear the buzz as sponsors engage with people throughout the day – just WOW. It is all worth it in the end…
So, what have you volunteered for lately? If you’re passionate about SQL Server (and I assume the few people who might actually read this are), then there’s no better way to help your community of fellow SQL Server professionals (affectionately referred to on Twitter as #sqlfamily) than to volunteer – get involved with your local PASS chapter, help out with the next SQL Saturday event in your city, find out how to get engaged as a volunteer at the next PASS Summit. In the end, you’ll love it and you’ll think “Why didn’t I do this sooner??”