This year I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary of both attending and speaking at PASS Summit, and therefore it seems appropriate to mark this milestone with a reflection of what PASS Summit means to me. My ten years have not been consecutive. My very first Summit was in 2002. At the time, I worked for a boutique consulting firm in Seattle. I was encouraged by my manager to get engaged with the SQL community and submit a session to speak and… it happened! At the time, I knew no one. Or practically no one. I didn’t go to sessions, I didn’t participate in after hours events. I simply showed up for my session, I spoke, and… I got heckled!!! By none other than Dan Bulos, who has turned out to be a very dear friend. (I’ll save the point of dispute for another day as I can envision an entire blog post dedicated to the topic.) We still agree to disagree about the particular point of heckling, but we have been conference pals ever since and he even hired my daughter, Erika, away from me in 2012 (with my blessing). Dan happens to be presenting two sessions this year:

I have many sessions that I want to attend, but for Dan’s sessions…. I plan to be there front and center…and perhaps heckle (with love). It seems only fair.

Because I worked for a consulting firm back in 2002, I couldn’t plan on attending PASS Summit every year thereafter. It was only when I went independent in 2006 that I had my next opportunity to participate. I was incredibly honored to be selected to speak that year and have continued to be honored to speak every year since then. But more importantly, I became engaged with the community. I attended other people’s sessions. I talked to people at coffee breaks and lunch. I went to after hours events. I met people. (You would probably be shocked to know that I was incredibly shy once upon a time and this “breaking out” was a very big deal for me!) The circle of people that I knew grew exponentially. So much so that every passing year becomes a greater challenge to spend time with everyone that I have come to know over the years. But it’s a challenge I embrace!

I have been to many technical conferences in my career, but none compare to the experiences I’ve had since I began participating at PASS Summit. Whether you’re a speaker or an attendee, your experience will be enhanced exponentially by participating. First timer? No problem! This community welcomes you and wants you to have a positive experience. How cool is that? All you have to do is engage with other people. Smile. Ask a question. Offer up something from your experience when you hear people discussing a problem. The interpersonal exchanges at PASS Summit enhance the value of session attendance. And who knows… you might even make a life-long friend. There’s a reason we refer to our friends from PASS Summit as #sqlfamily.