Promotions and Conflicts of Interest

I noticed my co-worker, friend, and PASS board member, Grant Fritchey, posted a note on members of the PASS Board of Directors (BoD) presenting pre-cons at SQL Saturday events. It’s potentially a legal issue, and conflict of interest. I’m glad that the issue is being raised, and discussed publically. Here’s Grant’s question:

The question is simple, for a PASS branded event, should a member of the PASS board receive payment?

There’s two parts to this, because there are two events. There are events that the organization runs and takes legal and financial responsibility for, and there are events associated with PASS, but run by others who have responsibility.

My short answer is yes to local events, and no to events run by the PASS board. I’ve read through some of the comments and I have some thoughts.

PASS Run Events

First, events run by the organization, such as the Summit and BAC, are different. The BoD can vote on aspects of these events, and can override the decisions on which individuals are chosen. With that being the case, I think there is a clear conflict of interest here and for the limited time the BoD members serve, they should not be a part of these events. Whether they receive direct payment or not, I’d say no.

There was a conflict about this a few years ago, and I think it was justified. If you serve, you can’t present a pre-conference (or post) session. You have other duties, and a responsibility here.

If your business or your employer wants you to be a part of this event in a different way, resign one position or the other.

SQL Saturdays

Really this could be any event that PASS might support or lend their name to, but doesn’t have any financial (or likely, legal) responsibility. This is trickier, as certainly the ability to bestow favors on the organizers of these events in terms of choosing them for PASS run events is possible. However I’d say that this is very unlikely, and hasn’t been an abuse of power. If that changes, I’d change my opinion

I think that the BoD members are still speakers and well respected trainers, and I really have no issue with them being accepted to present a pre-con and being paid by the events. I’d like the fact disclosed, but this doesn’t seem to be a conflict of interest to me at this point.

It’s also good for the community.

Looking Back at Summit 2015

Last week was the 2015 PASS Summit in Seattle. It’s the largest SQL Server specific gathering of data professionals in the world, and it’s an exciting week. If you work with SQL Server in the US and have the opportunity to attend, I’d recommend you go. If you’re in Europe, I prefer SQL Bits, but either of these events is exciting and inspiring.

The week began for me with SQL in the City 2015 – Seattle. As I work for Redgate I was tasked with presenting the event. The day started with my helping our CEO deliver the keynote. We’d done this a few weeks earlier in London, so we’d had some practice. I think the opening went well, and I enjoyed it.

Photo Oct 26, 4 46 43 PM

Immediately after I had a session on database version control. There were lots of great questions, so many that I ran a bit long. However it was good to see some great advocates of VCS in the audience as well as people interested in the topic.

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I also ran a panel on DevOps and smoother database development. I often don’t like panels, but this is a great topic, and with a number of consultants on stage, we had some good discussions. I would like to see more of these at events, especially with people that are building software successfully. They have great stories to tell.

The Monday night networking dinner went well. It was a bit crowded at the Yard House, but Andy and I spoke with the managers Tuesday and we have some different plans for next year. However we had over 150 people stop by, which is a great crowd.

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It’s always a pleasure catching up with friends who I rarely see in person. Especailly the great Pinal Dave, one of the few that’s been to the ranch.

Tuesday was a quiet day for me. I went to the SQL Saturday organizer meeting, seeing some changes coming to the SQL Saturday site as well as concerns and requests from organizers. With most of the people in Seattle at a pre-conference session on Tuesday, things were quiet. I also had some rehearsals for my testing talk to go over, so I spent the afternoon in my room going over demos.

I did take a break for #sqlyoga with Daniel de Sousa. I have come to enjoy yoga, and would like to see some organizations at other events. It’s just as enjoyable as a #sqlrun. It was the two of us and lots of young people in downtown Seattle, but a great break.

Speaking of which, Wednesday morning I met up with Allen White and a few others for a morning #sqlrun along the water. This has been a bit of a tradition for many people, and we had a good group of 20 or so jogging along.

The rest of Wednesday was a few lightning talks at the Redgate booth and a couple live practice sessions of my talk in my hotel room. Not very exciting, but this was the end of a stressful month with lots of travel.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday night have evening events at the convention center. Tuesday is the opening reception, with lots of people milling around a large room with some appetizers and drinks. Wednesday is in the expo hall, with dinner and drinks and the chance for vendors to meet attendees. It was a large crowd both nights, with the chance to see lots of friends in the SQL community and meet new people.

Thursday had me watching Dr. Dewitt and Dr. Nehme’s keynote on my laptop while I did a little other work. I have to say that the live keynote was probably better, but this was an interesting topic on IoT. You can rewatch it if you missed it. Then I went to a DocumentDB session, supposed to show case studies of who’s using the technology. We heard a little of that, but not much technical detail, and the session went sideways with lots of antagonistic, almost angry, questions from the attendees. I really wish SQL Server people wouldn’t be so upset about NoSQL technologies. They work in places, so let’s discuss where things work well.

Lunch had me in the expo hall for a bit before taking our Argenis Without Borders 2.0 picture. We raised $25k for Doctors Without Borders, which is amazing. Thanks to everyone that participated.

Photo Nov 01, 8 02 33 AM

My session on testing T-SQL code went well. Lots of questions, lots of people. I walked in a few minutes before my start time to find 150 or so people in the room, which was amazing. I thought I’d get 15 people to talk testing, and I’m glad so many people are interested in the topic. Hopefully I inspired a few people to start testing code.

Photo Oct 29, 4 19 47 PM

That was really the end of the event for me. I had missed most of lunch, so I went for a short snack before the Friends of Redgate dinner. A late night hour with the Varigence Biml crowd before getting to bed. Then I was off Friday for home, capping off 18 days of travel for the month.

Photo Oct 30, 8 47 59 AM

This was a quiet conference for me. With pressures to deliver a good presentation for the first time, I spent more time than I expected getting prepared. However it was great to see so many friends and fellow #sqlfamily people at the event, and I enjoyed the conversations and pictures on Twitter throughout.

I missed being there Friday, hearing about everything online, but I was also worn out from the month. My apologies if you wanted to say hi and couldn’t find me. Thanks if you took a few minutes to chat with me.

The event comes back to Seattle next year, and hopefully I’ll spend more time at the event.

No Live Blogging

The PASS Summit opens today with the first keynote. This is one of the few times that I’ve declined the blogging table at PASS. The table has grown, it’s become a bit loud at times, and the pressure to take notes and push them out distracts me from listening and thinking.

As  a result, I’ll be in trying to think about what’s happening and what it might mean for our industry. Having given keynotes and developed them, I know it’s a marketing show, and a bit of entertainment. However it also can generate some excitement, and certainly the ideas shown can influence managers and executives, which can free up money for us to play with.

I’m a bit excited to see what’s coming, and what Microsoft might announce. If you’re not at the Summit, jump on the PassTV channel and watch live.

SQL in the City Comes to Seattle in 3 Days

Last week I spoke at SQL in the City 2015 in London, and it was a great event. We had a wonderful event, and I’m looking forward to Seattle. Lots of good questions and comments in my version control talk, good feedback on the keynote, which I really enjoyed. I thought our end of day panel was outstanding, and I wish we had 2 hours for that as the questions were amazing.

I’m looking forward to a duplication of SQL in the City in Seattle on Monday, just a few days away. We’re going to be at the Hyatt in downtown Seattle, and we’d love to have you come. You can register and join us, but please don’t register unless you can come.

There are also a few workshops in Seattle on Tuesday, so if you want hands on practice, come sign up for on of these.

A Week Before Networking at the PASS Summit

It’s a week before the Networking Dinner at the PASS Summit. Andy Warren and I are hosting the event next Monday, October 26th, at the Yard House in Seattle. The address is at 4th and Pike, just a few blocks from the convention center.

Register here if you can come.

There’s no cost, other than you covering your own food and drink expenses. We would like registration just to try and ensure we have enough staff at the restaurant.

This is a great chance to network with fellow data professionals. If this is your first or second time at the PASS Summit, please come and meet some people.

Congrats to Jen, Tim, Ryan, and Argenis

Last week we received the results of the PASS Board of Directors elections for 2015. Jen Stirrup and Tim Ford were re-elected to new terms. They’ve served for the past few years as members of the BOD. Ryan Adams was elected for the first time, and I supported his candidacy, so I’m glad he won.

Argenis Fernandez didn’t get elected, but I still applaud his decision to run. He was one of only four out of the thousands of PASS members that did so. However in reading Andy Warren’s notes, perhaps Argenis will end up being on the board anyway.

If that’s the case, I’m glad. I think Argenis brings a fresh, new, different view, which is needed.

In any case, I’ll publicly thank them here, and in person when I see them, as their volunteerism should be appreciated and acknowledged.

Costumes at the PASS Summit

tl,dr; We’re raising money for Doctors without Borders. Donate and a few of us will dress up at the Summit. You don’t have to attend the Summit to have some fun here.

Last year a bunch of us agreed to get silly to raise money. We ended up getting over $13,000 for Doctors without Borders and it was fun. Quite a few people had laughs along at the Summit.


This year we’re doing it again, with Argenis Without Borders v2. Donate money and Argenis will be in a Ted suit at the Summit. I haven’t decided, but I’ll pick out something entertaining, and colorful.

It’s a great cause, and it if speaks to you, donate.

Argenis and Ryan

It’s the time of the year when PASS holds its annual elections for the board of directors. This year we have four candidates for 3 slots: Jennifer Stirrup, Tim Ford, Argenis Fernandez and Ryan Adams. Jennifer and Tim have been serving on the board the last few years, with newcomers, Argenis and Ryan, seeking to join the organization.

I haven’t been too involved the last few years with PASS formally, though I do try to support the SQL Saturdays as best I can throughout the year. I’m still amazed at how well Karla does in facilitating so many events each year. I can only hope that continues.

This year I’m writing to endorse two of the candidates. Argenis and Ryan are both members of the community that support both events and people, giving to others where they can. They have strong, and thoughtful opinions, both of which I value. I also like change, and I’d like to see the focus and mission of PASS change a bit to consider its membership more than its profits.

This isn’t to say that I think Jennifer and Tim haven’t done a good job. They are also fine candidates, well qualified, and thoughtful. If either, or both, of them are elected, the organization will do well.

I just like change in leadership. I like new ideas and fresh perspectives.

I do urge all of you to take a few minutes of your time and look at the candidates. Read what they’ve written and then spend a few more minutes voting when elections open. This is a small request that can help us our professional organization continue to thrive.

Share Your Passion at Summit ‘15

Every Monday night on the week of the PASS Summit. Andy Warren and I host a networking dinner. This year we’re at the Yard House, and we’d love for you to come by if you don’t have plans Monday night. The event is from 6-9, but come early, come late, whatever works.

You are responsible for paying your own way. You don’t have to eat dinner, but Andy and I will greet you and then introduce you to a few others that we hope you can enjoy an our or so with. All we ask is that you register so we know how many people are coming.

We Can’t Do It All

We set up the dinner as an event that people might enjoy if they didn’t have other plans. While there are a number of parties going on all week, most of the attendees don’t get invitations.

We want to help everyone have a good time.

With that in mind, we have asked a few people to think about hosting their own events after ours on Monday. The event could be anything from going to taste beers at the Tap House to having a cup of coffee at Barnes and Nobles (Andy’s choice) to listening to a local band at a bar somewhere near downtown. Pick anything you like to do and host a small event. It doesn’t have to cost anything, and who knows who you’ll meet.

We have a few suggestions if you’d like to do something.

  • Choose an event you enjoy.
  • Pick something within walking distance from the Convention Center. The Space Needle is about as far as I might go from downtown.
  • Setup an event on EventBrite, Meetup, or somewhere else. Set a small limit to your tickets.
  • Let people know if there’s a theme or what you are looking to do. For example, chatting about good books at Barnes and Noble is a great choice.
  • Let people know if there is a cost. I’d highly recommend someone try to get people to do the Underground Tour. However you probably need to let them know to buy tickets in advance.
  • Enjoy

This is a great way to meet some of your fellow data professionals. I’d love to see a few dozen events pop up every night during the week.

If you’ve got questions, ask. If you have events, let me know, and I’ll try to publish them. We already have one, from the Midnight DBAs. Register for their Top Po Donuts get together on Monday night, or feel free to come to our networking dinner.

Register for the Networking Dinner Monday, Oct 26

Growing Pains for the Networking Dinner

A few years ago Andy Warren had this idea for a networking dinner. We had been chatting about all the parties and events at PASS, with many of them limited to select individuals. We talked about trying to get more people involved in the community and giving them something to do, so they wouldn’t get stuck in a hotel, as Tim Mitchell did years ago.

This has been a success, but we have growing pains, and we’re looking for some ideas from people in the community, especially those of you going to the PASS Summit for the first or second time.

Skip the history part and drop down if you want to know the issues.


We decided we’d host this as a meet-up, just publishing a location and seeing who showed up. We choose a small restaurant in the Pike Place Market that wasn’t busy on Monday night and put the word out. Evidently we know a lot of people because the place was packed. The staff struggled, service was slow, it was hard to move around, but it was fun.

We moved the location to the small mall and the Gordon Biersch in downtown Seattle the next year and sent a notice out earlier. Once again, Andy and I met people at the door, tried to pair them up in groups of four, and let them eat. Once again, it was a bit of a madhouse.

Last year we had a reservation at Buffalo Wild Wings, but apparently some wires got crossed and they lost our reservation. Andy couldn’t make the Summit, but fortunately some friends helped me out, finding a good spot at The Yard House. A couple of us greeted people at BWW and sent them down to the Yard House. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.


This year we’re having some trouble nailing down a location. The invitation is up, as is the EventBrite, but we don’t have a location. Here are a few of the issues.

Busy Places – A few places we’ve checked are busy on Monday nights with Monday Night Football promotions. Many don’t take reservations. We could just go, and we’ve asked them if they might bring in extra staff, but we worry that the waits will be ridiculous there.

Reserving a Bar – We did find a couple places that take reservations, but they’ve asked for $600+ for the space, before food and drinks. Andy and I don’t mind spending some money on this, but we weren’t really looking to rent space at $300 apiece.

Possible Solutions

This is where you come in. We’ve talked about a few different ideas, but we don’t like any of them. Let us know what you think.

Using the Convention Center

We could probably get space from PASS. However, food and drink is expensive in the convention center, it’s not great, and it’s a pain. Plus we’re spending all week there, so we wanted to get out.

Finding a Sponsor

I work for Redgate Software, and both Andy and I have good relationships with lots of vendors. We could try to get a sponsor for the event and cover the cost.


If Redgate sponsors, someone will be upset. If someone else sponsors, my boss might be upset. However I’m OK with most of that. What neither Andy or I want is someone using a casual networking event to promote something. We don’t really want to be in the stadium name game and sell the name of the event. We don’t want to push emails out to attendees from a vendor.

In short, we don’t love this plan.

Charging Attendees

We’ve gotten around 200 people each year, and I bet we’ll get the same. Certainly we could charge $3-5 for tickets, and I think people would pay. We’d rather not, but it’s an idea.


We could raffle off something. Prizes cost money, however, and they could easily turn us more upside down than we are already for the space. We did think about raffling off easy things, like:

  • a private dinner with Andy or I (or some well known volunteers) – We’d fund part of the dinner, or ask our hosts to donate this. However then we’re asking others to spend their own money.
  • some old swag, like some of my Friday shirts. Not sure how much money this raises
  • Some mentoring time – Perhaps some dedicated,private time for mentoring from Andy, myself, or others. Personally I don’t like this as I think mentoring is a gift, and gifts should be given, nor purchased.
  • ??

Staggering Times

We’re already getting tickets reserved (no charge), so we hesitate to change things, but one idea is to limit the number of tickets to a set number every half hour. Say 30-40 people, with multiple sets of tickets. We’d probably do

  • 5:30 – 30 tickets
  • 6:00 – 30 tickets
  • 6:30 – 30 tickets
  • 7:00 – 30 tickets
  • 7:30 – 30 tickets
  • 8:00 – 100 tickets

This might make it easier to just pick a restaurant, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be waits or that any additional staff will be on hand.

Multiple Locations

We’ve thought about picking 3-4 places in a small area, having attendees meet us somewhere, and we’d pair them up and send them out to restaurants, round robin style. This could work, but I dislike splitting up the crowd.


A Good Solution

We haven’t come up with  a good solution, but we’re still looking. If you’ve got ideas, especially if you’ve been to one of the other dinners, let us know.

Ultimately this is about getting people to meet each other and interact, so we’d like to keep it low key, low cost, and casual.