For this TSQL Tuesday I am thankful for the non-technical topic and the reason for that is the exact topic of this post.
4 days ago I hosted the only free data platform event in Glasgow & even Scotland this year, #SQLGLA. This was by no means a solo effort of course & I’d like to first thank my co-leader of the Glasgow SQL User Group, Robert French and our two great volunteers, Paul Broadwith & Edith Serrano but none of that would have happened without William Durkin.
I’ll start from the beginning…
SQL Bits 2016 was the first community event I have attended. My colleague John suggested it in passing, about 3 months before it took place and it sounded like exactly what I’ve been missing. We started small and planned to attend the Saturday, arriving on the Friday, coincidentally, just in time for the party!
We went along, not knowing a soul and soaked in the atmosphere and the impressive costumes. John, being the wiser of the 2 of us, retired around 11 for the early start so I went back to the bar to use up my last token. Standing alone like a chump, someone came up to me with a bunch of drinks tokens and introduced me to William, standing nearby in a wookie costume. We got chatting about what we do and the SQL community and basically everything I have been missing out on the first 10 years of my career. This was where I also met Andre Kamman and Enrico van de Lar. I had a great time and felt genuinely welcome in their company.
Getting up bright and early the next day (prove otherwise!) I was blown away by the content and delivery of some amazing sessions I attended that day & headed home inspired to say the least. It was then that I took up blogging seriously. Over the course of the next year I spoke with William a few times, picking his brain or asking advice. I got more involved in the SQL community through Twitter & reaped the rewards with instant answers from the likes of Riccardo Muti about questions or issues I’d been considering for months. It was towards December that I was then approached to write for SQL Shack, based on the content on my own blog. I was in such disbelief that I immediately emailed William to see if this was likely to be genuine.
Over a few civilised drinks at SQLBits 2017
William suggested he get some great speakers together and make a trip to Scotland to help our community flourish. It was this idea that had me immediately approach my once colleague Robert French, who had founded the Glasgow SQL User Group to offer my help in leading and managing the group with William’s idea coming later in the year. I was like a dog with a bone and with the effort between us, we soon managed to organise bigger, more frequent meetings and get some amazing speakers lined up like Dr Greg Low, Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul Randal. William then got back in touch shortly after his SQL Grillen event with his all-star MVP line-up and a suggested date. Chrissy LeMaire, Andre Kamman & Rob Sewell on the 10th November! They would be there, I then had to make it happen.
I spent months cold calling out to potential venues & sponsors and eventually the effort started to pay off. We secured the Tontine building in Glasgow with an amazing space and some fantastic sponsors. Everything was a learning experience and I messaged William regularly for direction, which I can’t imagine he loved. All this time I continued blogging, I contributed to GitHub, I even wrote my first TSQL Tuesday post on PowerShell. I then attended SQL Relay in Birmingham and got a wealth of knowledge from Alex Whittles and Alex Yates. That’s also where I met our final sponsor, DataCore!
In the end we had a fully booked out event, with 4 amazing speakers, 7 very generous sponsors, great catering and a lot of people there to learn. A few attendees even thanked me after the event but just seeing people talk animatedly after each session, I knew there would be others bursting with ideas like I was after my first SQLBits and that made it entirely worth it.
I have made friends, both locally, in other communities and across the world! I have volunteered for SQLBits 2018 because I really want to give back everything I got out of the last 2 years.
None of that would have been possible without the SQL community as a whole, but specifically William who gave his time, advice and enthusiasm to some guy he shared (one or two) beers with at a conference. Thank you!