Archive for SQL Saturday

Summit 2014 Experience Or My Week With the Aussies

Summit may officially only have three daysfive days if you count the two pre-con days, but my “Summit 2014 Experience ” this year was two weeks long. How can that be? Well, I hung out with my favorite Aussies.

(I will apologize right here. This is a looong post. I created a timeline for those that want the short version.)PASSSummit2014Experience

JulieAndMickeyAtFrys#SQLAussieFamily comes to visit

Some of you may know that I’m really close friends with Julie Koesmarano and she lives way too far away. So I asked her to come visit a week before Summit. That is when my “Summit 2014 Experience” officially started, when Julie arrived on my doorstop. After she settled in, we headed out to lunch, and then shopping at Fry’s for adapters. By Thursday (before Summit) two more Aussies came to visit, Martin Cairney and Ben McNamara.I hadn’t met Ben before, so he gets to be the official first networking opportunity of my “Summit 2014 Experience”. He’s also the one I spent the most time with during Summit. The next day we hopped on a plane heading to Portland and their SQL Saturday.


I’m born and raised in California. We drive everywhere. Aussies, on the other hand, do things differently, and I loved it. We didn’t stay in a hotel. We used Airbnb and stayed in an old Victorian parsonage. It was wonderful. We could have taken a taxi to the house we rented, but instead we took our suitcases on a tour of Portland via the light rail, the street cars, and our feet. We even picked our dinner location based on walking distance from our house. So much fun.

Since I don’t want to leave any of my “flat mates” out, we were joined late Friday night by the lovely Heidi Hastings, straight from Australia.

SQL Saturday #337 – Portland

I love SQL Saturdays. Attendees get to learn for free, I get to teach about the things I love, I get to meet new people, and to top it all off, I get to see and hug all my SQL Family. At this SQL Saturday, I gave my presentation called: Changing Your Habits to Improve the Performance of Your T-SQL.


I found my favorite moments to be in the bathroom. I know, you’re scratching your head, but it’s true. While I was heading out of the restroom, I was stopped by one of the other speakers. She introduced herself to me and told me how she has been reading this very blog for the last two years and she has enjoyed watching me grow. Wow, that touched me. I’ve never been told that before. It made my day.

Believe it or not, my Aussie friends and I were the very LAST people to leave the event. Mostly because we needed to wait for a taxi and we waited to the last minute to call one. Once our taxi arrived, we headed for dinner. Someone had found a restaurant/bar that had whiskey called The Library. WOW! If you like whiskey, and you’re in Portland, you need to go there. They had ladders to get to the top shelves!


IMG_3202Make sure you get reservations though. We had to wait 1.5 hours! Which we did at a wonderful restaurant called Cassidy’s. The food and company were wonderful. They even let me order a plate of bacon as an appetizer.

All aboard!

Sunday we needed to get to Seattle, so Neil Hambly joined our little Aussie Posse and we took a ride north on the train. This was a very relaxing train ride for Ben, Heidi, and Neil. Martin and I spent most of the time trouble shooting some domain controller issues on my laptop. In the end, Martin prevailed, and we all left the train happy. (And there was much rejoicing.)



IMG_3205Red Gate had a speaker dinner that night, just as I arrived into town at a wonderful restaurant called Tango’s. I have NINE different foods that I can’t eat. Annabel (from Red Gate), gave the chef my list of allergies, and they made me a custom meal. It was SO delightfully delicious. Here is a picture of what I considered my desert. A salad with fruit and BACON! Yum!

SQL in the City

IMG_3210Monday was spent with my favorite vendor, Red Gate. They put on an amazing free event called SQL in the City. I was honored to be a speaker for the 2nd year in a row. This year I had two presentations. I gave a lightning talk at the end of the day called: Finding the delta with SQL Compare and backups. I also gave a full session in the middle of the day called: Customize your faux test data with SQL Data Generator. I was very pleased with this presentation. I showcased a tool that isn’t talked about very often and demoed the new features that have been implemented over the last year or so, including the ability to use Python to better customize the faux test data. It was quite a bit of fun to present.

While I was wondering networking, I ran into John. The two of us participated in the First Timer’s dinner that was put on in 2012. He told me that he had been reading my blog ever since then and that he enjoyed watching me grow from a first timer at Summit to a First Timer Speaker at Summit.

Has Summit started yet?

No, Summit hasn’t officially started yet, but networking has. After networking throughout the day at SQL in the City, I had dinner with a couple of friends on our way to the beloved Tap House, whereI did more hugging and networking.

SSIS Pre-con and Mickey

Every day of this amazing “Summit 2014 Experience”, I was giving back to the SQL community. Either through speaking at an event or doing some other volunteer duty. But TuesdayTuesday was for me. I took a pre-con from Brian Knight and Devin Knight called: SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution. They are amazing presenters to watch, and I enjoyed the content I learned.

That evening I ran around with my head cut off trying to say hi (and hug) everyone I knew. I’m pretty sure I was still saying hi (and still hugging) people on Thursday that I hadn’t seen in a year. In fact, there are a couple of people I missed completely. That’s not too surprising, there were only 5000 people wandering around.

IMG_3221It was really fun getting to meet some of my Twitter friends whom I hadn’t met in person yet, like Andre Ranieri, Anil Mahadev, Annette Allen, and Adam Machanic. Now I have voices to go with the faces. (hhmmmMy data is skewed. All the people I listed have a first name that starts with “A”.)

Woot! First Day of the Summit

I started the day off at the Bloggers Table at the first Keynote. This was very exciting. You see, I was invited to live blog the keynote. I’m no Brent Ozar when it comes to live blogging, but I had a great time and I had at least one reader following the live blog.

After Julie and I had breakfast, I prepped for my very first Summit session, which was scheduled for Thursday. I’m so glad that I prepped mid Wednesday, because I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Which brings me to the last session of the day and the first session that I was able to attend. I took Mladen Prajdic’s  class called: SQL Server and Application Security for Developers. Anyone who has to write any inline SQL, should take his class. It was great.

I’ll just tell you right now. I networked EVERY single night. Why? Well, I got laid off right before I left for Summit. If you are going to get laid off, do it right before Summit, because it is the absolute BEST place to get the word out. I came home with several potential opportunities. I even gave up taking classes so that I could make deeper connections in the SQL community.

JessAndMickeyTHE BIG DAY

I was bummed to miss the Keynote on Thursday, but I don’t sit still well before a big presentation. I thought it was more important to have a good breakfast.

Since I was up first for the day, I went to my classroom forty minutes earlyand there were people already there! It gets better! I asked the room proctor if she could tell me how many people attended my session after it ended. She thought I was someone else, and started telling me about how many attendees they expected for my session. She told me that there were 232 people who added my session to their schedule and that I was on the “overflow watch list”. (Yeah, that made me a tad nervous.) That is a big class! Do you want to hear the best part??? I ended up with THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE attendees in my session. That’s 35% more than expected. There were only 12 empty seats. That’s more people than the number of students in my youngest daughter’s elementary school! Did I mention this was the FIRST time I was speaking at PASS Summit?

While those numbers still blow my mind, it wasn’t my favorite part of my session. Not even close. There were two other much more exciting events that happened in my session. The first, was the attendees themselves. They were engaged. They were so engaging that I ran a bit over. I felt bad about that, but my class was so interactive and I love that. The second happened during the six minutes prior to the session starting.

BenAndMickeyI was completely ready to start and didn’t know what to do with myself. There was a very low murmur in the room, but I could see many people just sitting there waiting for the session to start. So I turned my mic on and announced, “My favorite thing about Summit is the Networking. I want everyone of you to turn to the person on your left and the person on your right and introduce yourself. I will then know you have networked with at least two people today.”and the room exploded in conversation. I even introduced myself to two people in the front row. I then waited for my session to start with a huge grin on my face. I even had to quiet the room down when I started. Man that was awesome.

My Thursday is not done yet

I didn’t get to attend any sessions this day, because I was busy doing other things. I attended the Women in Technology lunch. I hung out in the community zone for an hour. And I was asked to live blog a Q & A session with the Executive Board. This was a way for the bloggers to ask questions of the Executive Board and blog about them before the Q & A session that was held on Friday. I was honored to be asked to participate. I really have a lot of respect for our Executive Board. It’s not easy pleasing the entire world of SQL professionals.

That evening I was invited to a special dinner put on by Red Gate for their Friends of Red Gate members. I’m mentioning it here, because of where we had dinner. We ate at a special restaurant called FareStart. This amazing restaurant helps the homeless get back on their feet by training them, housing them, and feeding them. All proceeds from the restaurant go back into the program. The chef and main waiting staff are all volunteers and there is even a waiting list to work there. I encourage you to follow the link and read about the restaurant. (This restaurant was also great about my food allergies. I had an AMAZING meal.)

ChrisJulieAndMickeyAnother great thing happened at the Friends of Red Gate dinner. I was able to introduce Chris Yates to Julie Koesmarano. The three of us, plus Jeffrey Verheul from The Netherlands all blog together under the hashtag, #SQLCoop. This was the first time that Chris and Julie had met in person. It’s the little things, like introductions, that make me happy.

And you know what I did after dinner. I networked… and celebrated this amazing day.

Friday already?

I actually was able to attend classes all day on Friday. I was quite happy about that. I was even able to attend Martin Cairney’s session called:Thinking Out of the Box: Manage SQL Server Using Built-in Tools . He had the very last session of summit and it was wonderful.

At lunch I lead one of the Birds of a Feather lunch tables in the discussion of Data Models. Our table was pretty full and we had a great discussion about someone’s data model challenges.

2014-11-07 21.39.38

Summit may officially end at 5:15 PM on Friday, but the “Summit 2014 Experience” doesn’t end until you’re buckled into the seat of an airplane, train, or car. (Hopefully, not a straight jacket.)

Two of my Aussie “flat mates” and I snuck off to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant for dinner. The food was great, but I could have done without the steep hills to get there. I guess it is a requirement to walk up and back down at least one steep hill while you are in Seattle. After dinner we went to a birthday party and finally ended up at… the Tap House where I continued to network.


My “Summit 2014 Experience” started with the Aussies and ended with the Aussies. We all went out to breakfast one last time at the Daily Grill. It was a great breakfast, but still sad that I probably wouldn’t see these wonderful people for another year.



Thanks for all the fish

I wish I could give a shout out to all the SQL Family members I spent time with, but there are far too many of you. I do want to thank everyone for being part of a fabulous community. It is a rarity in the computer programming world and we are all very fortunate to be part of it.

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family to the Rescue of a Local Community

My good friend Jeffrey Verheul(b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The party was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) in December of 2009. This month’s invitation is on the topic of SQL Family and Community.

I was very happy to see this topic this month since I just had an amazing SQL Family kind of day a week ago and this is the perfect venue to share it.

The Community

The beginning of this year I took a leap of faith and started a local PASS chapter focusing on BI in Irvine, CA. It’s called BIG PASS Community. I’ve been slowly growing the group steadily each month. I have a hand full of people who come every month and we usually have 1 or 2 new people as well. A couple of months ago, I was approached by a SQL Family member, Rob Hatton, who was a recent transplant from Florida. He wanted to help with my new community, so now we are co-leaders.

Before each meeting, we eat dinner together in the kitchen at our venue so that we can get to know each other better and network. Not only is our venue really nice, but Rosalyn, who is a Sales Rep there and stays late for us, is a wonderful hostess. She helps promote our meetings and helps take care of little details. We’re really blessed to have her.

The phone rang on a Friday afternoon

Rosalyn often calls me before our meetings to find out who our latest speaker is and if they will be presenting locally or not, so I wasn’t surprised to receive a phone call from her. This time she had some bad news for us. She had decided to leave the company to pursue a new opportunity, but she couldn’t find another person to host us in the evenings at their facility. We were now without a venue.

I was really worried about loosing our venue since I’ve seen other user groups unable to meet for months until a new location was found. Our group also doesn’t have any financial resources to pay for a venue either. What was a girl to do?

Twenty-four hours

I spoke with my co-leader about the situation and we developed a plan. We would change the next meeting to a networking event at a restaurant. That would allow us to still have a meeting and give us a month to find a new venue. I sent out emails late Sunday night to our community members letting them know what had happened and the new schedule for our next meeting.

Monday morning I received an email from David, who is one of our community members, “We have a classroom at work. Do you want me to see if we can use it?” I replied, “YES!” He kept updating me throughout the day with his progress on getting approval. Then I received an email from another community member named Ted. “We can use our classroom at work. We also have a nice break room for our dinners together.” We now had a venueand a potential backup venue.

This is a perfect example of the heart of SQL Family. They step in when someone needs help and lend a hand.

Building relationships

I want to share with you how I met each of the people I mentioned above.

In the spring of 2013 I was at the after party at the Orange County SQL Saturday. One of my friends wanted to introduce me to someone who recently moved near me. His name was Rob Hatton. I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know him and his lovely wife Barb better that night. We then crossed paths at two other SQL Saturdays over the last year.

Last year, at PASS Summit I helped host the Southern California User Group tables at lunch. I wanted to connect with more people in my area. We had several new people join us for lunch who weren’t aware of the local user groups. Two of those people were David and his co-worker James. We had a great time getting to know each other at lunch and was delighted to see them at many of the evening events where I had the opportunity to speak with them further. When I started the BIG PASS Community user group, they started attending it as well.

This past April was the local SQL Saturday event in Orange County. That was where I met Ted. He attended both of my morning presentation. We crossed paths again at lunch, where we had time to network further. I was able to tell him about the local user groups and encourage him to attend them. I was really happy to see him at the June meeting.

Why am I sharing this with you? Wellto show you how integrated our community is. To show you how the roots travel far. SQL Family connections don’t all start in a classroom or on twitter. They start at lunch tables, Karaoke bars, and walking between presentations.

Thanks for all the fish

Thanks go out to Jeffrey Verheul for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. He is one my favorite SQL Family members who I met through my T-SQL Tuesday participation. While seven time zones and a large ocean separate us, technology has allowed us to be friends, co-bloggers, and SQL Family members.

Foreign Key Constraints: Friend or Frenemy?

This month has been wild and crazy for me. I’m still in Louisville, Kentucky after a very successful SQL Saturday yesterday (#286). While I’ve been in Louisville, SQL Server Pro magazine published my first article with them. I talk about all the problems that can be caused if you don’t have Foreign Key Constraints in your database. So grab some coffee and your favorite e-reader and enjoy my article: Foreign Key Constraints: Friend or Frenemy?

Catching Up With Mickey

IMG_0555I can’t believe the year is almost half way through. I keep trying to slow the days down, but it just isn’t working. This year I’ve already accomplished so much, and I still have a long list before the year ends. Here is a recap and some events to look forward too!


I started the year off with a bang by starting a brand new Business Intelligence chapter in Irvine called Business Intelligence Group, A PASS Community (AKA BIG PASS Community). We consistently have 15 people every month and I’m really happy to announce that I have speakers lined up for the rest of the year! (Yippee!)

I also had the opportunity to participate in Pragmatic Work’s Training on the T’s. This is a free webinar series they have every Tuesday and Thursday.  I was able to present my Scalable SSRS Reports Achieved Through the Powerful Tablix presentation. You can still go to their website and view it.

I also had the honor of presenting remotely to the LA SQL UG for their 10th anniversary!


This month was spent writing abstracts for the year…and still understanding my new user group. I was also being courted for what became my new job. You can read about it here.


March was extra special. I had the opportunity to present at the Silicon Valley SQL Saturday. It was extra special, because it marked my 1 year anniversary for speaking in the SQL community. I also had my largest class to date! 97 people! Here was my favorite tweet of the day too. (Thanks Glenn!)


This month was full of meetings for our local Huntington Beach SQL Saturday that I helped host at the end of April. It was great having SQL Family come out to my neck of the woods beach.


I didn’t speak anywhere this month, but I did spend time every weekend writing. (Actually, I write every month.) I really enjoy participating in the T-SQL Tuesday Blog Parties, writing for myself, and participating in #SQLCoOp with my friends Julie, Chris, and Jeffrey.


And here we are in June, where I decided I would do EVERYTHING. I’m writing, speaking, leading, writing, and participating in #SQLHangout. Oh, and I’m getting my first dog. (More on her in a moment.)

My friend Boris Hristov (b|t|f), from Bulgaria, invited me to participate in an “episode” of SQL Hangout. We hung out in our two countries with 10 time zones between us and chatted about data types. You might not think this is an exciting topic, but it is a cornerstone to all databases. We came up with some great reasons why all database professionals should care about the data types of every field in their tables. So grab some popcorn or a glass of whiskey and hang out with us for half an hour.


You can find out about up and coming SQL Hangouts by following #SQLHangout on twitter, and you can find the full list of recorded SQL Hangouts here.

This month, I’ve also been blessed with a co-leader for my (now our) BI user group. His name is Rob Hatton, and I’m really happy he asked to lead the group with me.

I also had the opportunity this month to drive out to Riverside to speak with the Inland Empire User Group. This is the third time they’ve had me present, but the first time I’ve actually presented in person. Riverside is not a quick drive from where I live, but my boss, Steven was happy to be a carpool buddy for me. It ended up being a perfect presentation for him to hear, since it was on source controlling your SQL scripts with Red Gates’ SQL Source Control.

Now we get to look into the future…

2014-06-15 22.26.14Well, not to far into the future. Tomorrow (Wednesday) I’m heading out to Kentucky for a week. One of the events on my vacation will be speaking at SQL Saturday #286, Louisville. I’m really looking forward to the event since I enjoyed it so much last year. My husband and I are also going whiskey tasting with friends, we’ll hopefully be visiting the Corvette factory, and we’ll be picking up this adorable Labradoodle puppy who we’ve named Lucy. She will be 10 weeks old, and I can’t wait to hold her.

Here is a list of other events that I’ll be speaking at this year. You can also go to my 2014 Speaking Engagements page for an updated list through out the rest of the year.

I’ve applied to a few other events, but the accepted speaker lists have not been sent out for those events yet.

I’ll also be attending PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle in Nov this year. I hope to see all of you there.

T-SQL Tuesday #47: SWAG And A Hit

Kendal Van Dyke (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The party was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) in December of 2009.  The topic this month is a fun one, just like last month. Kendal wants us to brag about our favorite SWAG.

Wow, my favorite SWAG. Only one? Can’t do that. So I will give you my top 3.

Number 3 on the list

Tim Ford (b|t) gives the best All Inclusive Package of SWAG when you partake in his SQL Cruise conference (b). When I went on SQL Cruise this past January curtsey of SQL Sentry (b) (Thanks guys for paying for my classes!), we received the coolest fabric cooler. Inside this cool bag, was more awesome SWAG. There was a beach towel, several gifts from various vendors, and the coolest little multi-tool. (I unfortunately learned the hard lesson that multi-tools can’t be part of carry on luggage. Sad Panda.)

I use this bag when ever I need a simple cooler, which is ever SQL Saturday. I have so many food allergies, that I usually need to bring something for me to munch on. This bag does the trick.

Number 2 on the list

The PASS Summit 2012 backpack. I love this backpack. It’s sitting next to me right now while I type this post at the Las Vegas airport. This backpack is comfortable to wear and full of great pockets. My absolute favorite pocket, is the little pocket right under the handle. It’s great for putting my phone and wallet.

This bag is my laptop’s home. Timmy my Think Geek monkey gets to ride on the side of the bag, and my laptop gets to ride in the center. I can quickly store all my odds and ends for my speaking needs.


And Number 1 on the list

When I spoke at my first SQL Saturday in Silicon Valley (b), the speakers weren’t given speaker shirts, but were given jackets. The jackets were made by Port Authority and are absolutely wonderful.

Being that Southern California doesn’t “really” ever get cold, this jacket is now my new “winter” jacket…which means I wear it a couple of times a year.


Thanks for all the fish

Thanks go out to Kendal Van Dyke for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. Please visit his website at

Fall Speaking Engagements

A year ago I had no intentions of speaking this year. I didn’t think I was mentally ready for public speaking once again. Boy was I wrong. Not only was I ready, but I’ve become addicted to speaking at various SQL Events. I even found a SQL Saturday to speak at on my family vacation in Louisville, Kentucky. Between September and October I will be speaking at 5 venues and moderating two Women in Technology (WIT) panels. That will be a total of 8 sessions. Here is a bit about each of them.

SQL Saturday #249 takes place in San Diego, CA on Saturday, September 20th. This year, instead of a pre-con the day before , Red Gate will be hosting a half day called SQL in the City Seminar.

Dev Connections takes place in Las Vegas, NV between September 30th and October 4th at Mandalay Bay. I’m very excited about my two brand new presentations.

SQL in the City takes place in three different cities in October. I will be speaking at two of them. I’ll be in Pasadena, CA on October 9th and I’ll be in Charlotte, NC on October 14th the week of the PASS Summit.

PASS Summit takes place in Charlotte, NC between October 15th and 18th. This is the most amazing conference for the SQL community. While I’m not speaking at it this year, I am participating in other ways including being a buddy to a new attendee or two.

SQL Saturday #237 also takes place in Charlotte, NC on Saturday October 19th.

  • This is my last SQL Saturday of the year and it is the “BI Edition”, so I had to do my session, Scalable SSRS Reports Achieved Through the Powerful Tablix.

I’m looking forward to these sessions and to meeting new people as well as reconnecting with my old friends. I hope to find you in my sessions and that you have the time to introduce yourself. I really enjoy meeting new people and sharing the knowledge that I have.

SQL on my friends.

T-SQL Tuesday #41–It All Started with A Flower

T-sql Tuesday
Bob Pusateri (B|T) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. (Thank you Bob!) The party was originally started by Adam Machanic (B|T) just over three years ago. The topic this month is “Presenting and Loving It”. This is an interesting question for me, because it touches most of my life.

For those that know me, I’m very artistic, in fact I have an art minor and even tried to be a full time artist for a couple of years. The first time I remember teaching others about a topic, was in 6th grade. I taught my class how to make paper flowers by cutting out individual petals. Answering the class’ questions was my favorite part of the presentation.

Jump to 1994, which is when I graduated from college. Jobs were not the easiest to find. Probably because hadn’t been written yet. So my first job out of college was teaching Microsoft Office to professionals, and within six months I became an MCT. I taught Visual Basic for two years before the travel got to me. I had some great classes and some boring classes, but I don’t think it was as exciting as presenting at SQL Saturdays.

At the beginning I found that most of the students in the classes were not very engaging. It was like pulling teeth to get them to ask questions or even to voluntarily answer the review questions. So I devised a plan. I brought a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures and I tossed them to the students who asked questions. Let me tell you, by Friday they were all asking questions. As time went on, I tried other things. I brought in monopoly money and handed out a pink $5 for leading questions. They loved that too, but the best idea was my version of Jeopardy. I divided the class into two teams and they had to name each other. Then they answered the review questions and any questions I made up as a team. Now I had team spirit, cooperation, and fun in my class. The best was the class that named each other “The Banana Slugs” and “The Sage Hens”. (Why sage hens? Because if you scare them, they can die. True story.) That one week class had so much fun that one of them wrote me a letter thanking me. But speaking at SQL Saturday is still better.

In 2002 I was so fed up with the way I was treated as a programmer that I tried to leave the field. I had always wanted to teach math, so I went back to college that spring and taught high school algebra that summer. (What was I thinking?) Presenting at SQL Saturdays is WAY better than that.

Which brings me to 2013 and SQL Saturdays. At SQL Saturday I get to present on whatever I want, providing they pick my abstract of course. At SQL Saturday the only people in my class are people who want to hear what I have to say. When I was an MCT, some of my students were there because their boss made them. Nobody is forced to attend a SQL Saturday. At SQL Saturday’s I can be me because I’m representing myself, not the company I work for. This also means I can give my friends hugs, eat lunch with my friends, and not talk for five days straight.

When it comes right down to it…

The number one reason why I like presenting is the same reason as 30 years ago, I like to answer questions and teach people. (And I still like to bring chocolate to my sessions too…all though I might try bacon.)

Speaking Engagements–Engaging Speaking

71 VetteThis past September (2012) I attended my first SQL Saturday in San Diego. After the SQL Saturday event I went to the after party where I had the opportunity to network with some wonderful people. One of them being Benjamin Nevarez (b|t). He asked me if I had thought about speaking at a SQL Saturday. I told him that I wasn’t considering it for another year. He told me, “Why wait? Speak at the next SQL Saturday. There will be one in Orange County in the spring.”

I thought the idea was insane. I hadn’t done any technical speaking in years, like over 15 years….and I’ve never written my own content.  OK, once I wrote my own content, but that was also over 15 years ago.

But he got me thinking…

By November I had decided I would submit an abstract to TWO SQL Saturdays one in Orange County, and the other in San Diego in the fall. By December I had bought myself a laptop and had decided to speak at FIVE events in 2013. It’s the end of March, and guess what? I’ve already spoken twice, I will be speaking again on Thursday, and then I finally get to speak at the Orange County SQL Saturday. I added up all the possible engagements and I have a possible NINE events for the year (4 User Group Meetings, 4 SQL Saturday Events, and if I’m a lucky ducky the coup de grace… PASS Summit). I’ve also just agreed to organize and moderate a Women’s In Technology (WIT) panel for the Orange County SQL Saturday. I’ve very excited to have a panel of women talk about how to get our youth involved in STEM programs (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

I’m addicted

I’ve enjoyed myself so much speaking at the events. Yes, I was nervous, but it is so gratifying to share knowledge, to help solve problems, and to watch the light bulb go on when they see how they can leverage their new found knowledge.

Where to find me this year

If you would like to hear me speak about SQL Server Reporting Services, you can find me at these events.

My Come Back From The Speaking Grave

I started my career in 1994 at a training company, QuickStart Technologies (now QuickStart Intelligence). I spent my first 2.5 years there as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) teaching Visual Basic 3.0 and 4.0 amongst other classes. I was one of their best trainers and I can thank them for that. They didn’t just hand us our Microsoft curriculum and told us to “Make it so”. They invested time and money into us. We took classes each year from outside trainers on how to give presentations. They were some of the most helpful training I’ve ever had, boring as hell, but incredibly helpful.

In 2006 I helped start and become the president of The Southern California Glass Guild for LA and Orange Counties. The training I received at QuickStart paid off. I was able to lead the monthly meetings and occasionally present on a topic.

This last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting my first SQL Saturday Session (#177) up in Silicon Valley. My presentation was on the tablix controls (Table, Matrix, List) in Reporting Services and was entitled Tablix – The Rubik Cube of Reporting Services.

When I first finished the session, I thought I had done so poorly. I had technical difficulties with my monitor which meant I had to present with my back to my audience, which I hated. …. But then something happened. My students smiled at me. They thanked me. They asked questions. They didn’t leave in the middle of my presentation.  And my friends who attend my class told me I did well. So now when I’m asked how it went, my answer is it went great.

The biggest difference between being an MCT and a SQL Saturday trainer, is the materials that you teach from. As an MCT, my materials were created for me, even my demos.  As a SQL Saturday trainer, my materials were typed by my own fingers and my demos came from my own imagination. Which meant, I had to buy a laptop because I didn’t own one. I had to think up what I wanted to talk about it and how I would get my points across. I spent 2 months on and off preparing for my one hour session, probably about 30 hours of time.

What advice would I give to a new speaker?

I would actually give this advice to anyone who wants to improve their speaking.

  • Invest time into your presentation skills. I was lucky to take classes on speaking, but if cost is an issue, then there are other ways.
    • You can join local Toast Masters group.
    • You could also have an experienced speaker critique you and give you pointers.
  • Go watch other experienced speakers, even if you aren’t interested in their topics. You are there to watch how they present and how they engage their audience. I have three favorites and if you ever get an opportunity to watch them speak, take the time to do so.
    • Grant Fritchey (b|t) – He is lively, he LOVES questions, and he has great demos.
    • Kevin Kline (b|t) – He has the best voice which means he speaks clearly, he looks at home while speaking, and I swear he uses mind control to get the slides to change. You don’t even see his hand move.
    • Jason Strate (b|t) – Jason has the same attributes that Grant and Kevin have. The first time I took a class from him, I was so impressed that I changed my schedule to take the other two classes he was teaching that day. That wouldn’t have happened if he was a bad presenter.
  • Video tape one of your presentations (make sure to get permission first). I will warn you, you won’t like looking at it, but you need to.
    • Look at your posture. Are you standing up straight? Do you look like you want to be there?
    • Look at your clothes. Are they distracting? Are they neat and clean?
    • Listen to your speech. Are you loud and clear? Do you use filler words like “um” or “like”?
    • Look at the use of your mouse and/or pointer? Are you moving it so much that a cat would pounce on it?
  • Make sure you know how long you will be speaking. (For some reason I thought I had 90 min. Nope, I had 60 min.) Bring a clock. The one on your phone is fine. I wrote down the following times on my cheat sheet. That way I didn’t have to do math in my head between remembering the next step in my demo and changing slides.
    • The time the session Started
    • The half point time
    • 10 minutes before the session ended
    • The time the session ended.

More pointers

My mentor gave me some great advice before I gave my first presentation, and on Wednesday when we meet, I know he’ll have some more for me. I’ve also observed from other great instructors some tricks that I used that worked for me.

  • Make 3 backups of your slides and demos, including the databases you need. Store them 3 different places you’ll have access to.
  • Install ZoomIt by Microsoft and practice with it.
  • Be prepared if ZoomIt doesn’t work (that is what happened to me).
  • Practice with your screen resolution at 1024 by 768.
  • Have a cheat sheet with any special code or numbers that you will be typing in your demo. Allen White (b|t) uses notepad in the background so that he can copy and paste. I LOVE this technique. It worked great for me. Nobody wants to watch you type a formula out. They want you to explain the different parts of it.
  • Look and sound confident, even when you’re nervous.


I know there are things I need to work on, but there always are. I enjoyed coming back from the speaking grave and teaching other’s technical content that I use and they might need. I hope that someday you can attend one of my classes.

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