PASS Summit 2015 – a quick reflection

PASS Summit 2015 is winding down and I am strolling through increasingly deserted hallways. This was my second PASS Summit, and I already know it will not be my last. I’ve been to Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco six times and compared to that conference this one is downright tiny. But the thing with the PASS community in relation to the Oracle community is like night and day.

A quick background: I started out with Oracle back in ’97 and SQL Server shortly thereafter, and let’s face it – SQL Server was not a serious contender back then. Both SQL Server and Oracle has come a good ways since then, and Oracle is ahead in many respects. I find that a product is very much dependent on it’s user base, and the more vibrant a community is, the greater success said product tends to enjoy.

The Oracle community is HUGE – quite a bit larger than the SQL Server ditto, but it is also, in my opinion, vey much more closed and, to be honest, spiteful. The thought of walking up to one of the big names in the Oracle community at OpenWorld is fairly alien to me, especially after having been rather rudely dismissed doing just that a couple of years back. Looking at the SQL Server community, the opposite is true. Someone tweeted something along the lines of “don’t be afraid to talk to an MVP – everyone was a beginner at some point”.

Last year I watched these mythical MVP and MCM creatures with awe, and I didn’t realize until the last day that they actually meant it when they say “come talk to me, I love to interact with the community”. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to quite a few MVPs and other speakers, and everyone has been kind, courteous, genuinely interested in the discussion and above all – very, very helpful.
This community feels like coming home after a long day’s work – kicking off the shoes and falling onto the couch, not needing to worry about anyone trying to badmouth someone else, block you from speaking at events or just messing with you out of sheer spite.
I’m sure readers from the Oracle community might disagree, but, well, this has happened to me and I’ve had enough of that. I’m closing on 40 and have been doing databases for half my life, and I’m fed up with people trying to screw me over.

I’ve been contemplating trying to get on the speaker’s circuit at events for quite some time, but have not had the balls to commit, to be honest. Sure, I’m an MCT and have no problem teaching a wide variety of subjects, but what if I screw my demos up and people subsequently hate me? Well, the tipping point came just a few hours ago.
I had the pleasure of attending a session on advanced restore methods given by the exceptional Jes Borland. Most of her demos bombed, and she smiled and told the audience she was terrified as this is the worst thing that can happen to a presenter.

And they laughed.

Not in spite, not at her incompetence, but at the fact that here is someone not so far removed from them showing that she’s human too. I’m sure most if not all of the people in the audience saw something of themselves in Jes as that moment.
Oh, and she did her usual stellar job of delivering the presentation despite the demo issues, and I’m sure everyone left the session happy and more informed. It dawned on me that I’m the only one holding myself back.

By putting this on my blog I’ve kind of painted myself into a corner – now I have to follow through. As soon as I get home I’ll start drawing up propolsals and make a sort of a map of where I am and where I want to go with my speaking carreer. Thank you PASS and thank you Jes for today. The future just got a lot more scary – just the way it’s supposed to be.

*UPDATE*

I think I was just taught a lesson in how Twitter works. I originally just tweeted the link to this post to Jes with a thank you note, and then she retweeted it. And then it got retweeted again. And again. More people than I could have imagined have seen the tweet (and link to this blog), and the website statistics have … changed somewhat from a normal day… 😛