SQL Saturday: Lessons Learned

Posted by Ben Weiss on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 @ 18:12 PM

By: Ayman El-Ghazali (@TheSQLPro) - Guest Contributor

This article originally appeared on Ayman's blog, TheSQLPro.com.

About the Author: Ayman El-Ghazali is a SQL Server DBA/Developer and BI Developer. He hold a MSCE Data Platform, MSCA in SQL Server 2012, and a MCITP SQL 2008 DBA certification and I’m also a MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) and is passionate about spreading useful knowledge. See more of his work at thesqlpro.com.

17194886 s (1)This past weekend I attended SQL Saturday #233 in Washington DC. I presented a session this year titled “Backup and Recovery Fundamentals.” There was a great turn out with the room filled. Although there were some technical issues at the start, I got great support from the volunteers there. The feedback from the session was excellent, which means people learned and my goal was achieved. As for myself, I attended three sessions that day and I learned a lot more than just technical information.

Here are the top three lessons I extracted from the day:

1) Humility – Arrogance, in my humble opinion, is one of the worst characteristics anyone can possess. Many people confuse it with confidence, but rather arrogance exceeds even over confidence. It’s great for someone to have confidence, but there must be humility with it.

The first session I attended was with Allan Hirt and was non-technical in nature. It felt like a “heart-to-heart” session with a SQL Therapist. It put everything in perspective for me. Allan is an MVP in Clustering which is very rare for a SQL Server professional. When you talk with him, he’s very down to earth and admits that he is not a walking encyclopedia and regularly needs to look things up. We all have to take a step back and realize that we are not perfect and then start to move forward in improving ourselves without looking down at others.

When I was in the speaker’s lounge, I was surrounded by speakers with more experience in both speaking and in SQL Server. I can honestly say that I was definitely the least qualified of all the speakers at the event. But, nobody I interacted with - including MVPs like Steve Jones, Grant Fritchey, Tim Radney, Wayne Sheffield, David Klee, Brian Moran, Mike Walsh, Adam Belebczuk, Jason Brimhall and Allan Hirt - made me feel that way.

2) Paying it Forward and Giving Back – One of the greatest things about PASS is all the free training. There are no strings attached when it comes to SQL Saturday, local chapter events and virtual chapter events. The training is free, provided by passionate professionals willing to give up their time to pay it forward.

One of the best moments for me was during a discussion with Tim Radney in the speakers lounge. He was talking with me and some of the other speakers and mentioned he was looking forward to giving the Backup and Recovery talk this year. Last year, I attended his talk and he gave me a free book on Backups and Recovery that I studied and then used to prepare for my presentation with the DBA Fundamentals Virtual Chapter (you can see the recording in the archives if you like).

PauseSo Tim was saying how he looked through the list of presentations to see who was going to give the Backups talk since he was not selected and he was happy to see my name. It made him feel great that I took the knowledge he gave me and I am passing it on. This is the spirit of true learning and mastering of anything in life.

There must always be a group of passionate people willing to give back and teach others. The SQL Server community is built upon paying it forward and being there for each other as professionals. This mentality resonates with everyone that participates in such events and it is why I love attending so much. If you are blessed to have some special skills or knowledge, share it with others! If you are selfish, well just know that sharing it makes you even better at it because a person only masters something when they can teach it.

3) Dedication – Everyone at the event was dedicated from the volunteers to the attendees. Obviously the speakers and attendees are giving up their valuable time to both learn and give back to the community. The volunteers do a ton of work behind the scenes and are rarely recognized. I hope that everyone had the chance to thank the volunteers or consider volunteering at a future PASS SQL Saturday event; or any other PASS event for that matter. It’s a great way to learn, but it cannot be done without the hours of dedication put in by the organizers and volunteers.


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