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The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

SQLSaturday Founders Celebrate SQLSaturday #1000

In celebration of publishing SQLSaturday #1000, we asked the three original SQLSaturday founders: Andy Warren, Brian Knight, and Steve Jones to share their thoughts and reflections on this incredible milestone.

Andy Warren

What an amazing milestone! I remember when announced our 30th event and we thought we were really moving. Then we got to #100 in Brazil - a 100 events! Then somehow we got to 100 events in a year. We have speakers now that have spoken at more than 100 events. Just amazing to watch and experience. I've been thinking about all of that over the last week, where did the magic come from?

  • Event leads! Events happen because someone cares enough to say "I will make this happen, no matter what" and that creates so many opportunities for speakers and sponsors and volunteers and attendees. One thousand times someone has made that commitment.
  • We have a great pattern but not many rules. Event teams are passionate because it is their event. They can innovate and experiment. It's not surprising that it turns out to be empowering, but it's worth noting!
  • We grow speakers and networks at a rapid pace compared to the days of just Chapters and the PASS Summit.
  • The community built SQLSaturday and SQLSaturday builds the community. The spirit of community and SQLFamily is a big part of the magic.
  • PASS and the Board of Directors have been great stewards of SQLSaturday. Keeping the site up and running, adapting to GDPR, funding improvements to the tools, all of that is necessary so that we can focus on organizing and speaking and attending. It's easy to take it for granted, but it makes a huge difference.

We've done some good in the world, here's to doing more, one event at a time.

Brian Knight

I’m so excited to see the SQL Saturday 1000 milestone. When we started SQL Saturday 1 in Orlando, we were making the playbook up on the fly. For my first one that I was the organizer for in Jacksonville SQL Saturday #3, the stress was equally immense as we had no idea if anyone would show up to a SQL-only event since Code Camps at that time only had SQL Server related sessions in a side room as an afterthought. Thanks to a lot of luck, goodwill from the entire tech community and a great partner university, we had more than 400 registrants for our first event.

What excites me about SQL Saturday is the amount of user groups that the event has helps grow and solidify relationships locally in a community. At each SQL Saturday, the user group welcomes dozens if not hundreds of new potential members into their local group. Since each event is run at the grass roots, it has created a new generation of speakers and volunteers to help with the user group. We now have speakers that have done more than 100 events by themselves and have gone on to become amazing speakers at PASS and other events as well.

PASS has been an amazing steward of the event, truly taking it to the next level by providing the infrastructure to help organizers thrive and replicate success of the organizers before them. They’ve helped bring sponsorships to first time events that may never have seen the light of day. True thanks and credit has to go to the hundreds of local leaders and volunteers who have each given up so much time to make the event work in their geography. Thanks for the amazing support for more than a decade!

Steve Jones

1000 is just a number, but it's two orders of magnitude beyond one of my early discussions with Andy Warren. After having SQL Saturday #1 in Orlando, and getting interest from a few user group organizers around the country, we wondered if we could actually get 10 events organized in a year and find enough speakers to staff them. Ten events at that time seemed like a lot of effort when there were only 4 or 5 large SQL Server conferences taking place in any given year.

The SQL Saturday phenomenon has grown tremendously since then. We have over 100 events a year for SQL Server most years, with BI focused events, as well as spin-offs for SharePoint, dot NET, the R language, and more. I would never have imagined this scale of grass root events, all over the world, driven by the spirit of volunteerism and sharing that the organizers have shown.

The organizers are certainly one of the most important reasons SQL Saturday has grown. These people have volunteered their time, knowledge, and even funds to help build and run events in their community. I’m amazed at how many people have come forward to run events, and I hope more will continue to do so in the future.

PASS has taken on the stewardship of SQL Saturday and provided the support that has enabled so many events to grow and thrive. Karla Landrum deserves special recognition as the Community Evangelist for PASS that helped mentor many organizers and drove the franchise forward to new heights. Her efforts, along with those that followed her have helped thousands of data professionals advance their careers.

Orlando will have its 14th event this year, and quite a few cities have had ten or more. A decade of training in many places, reaching data professionals all over the globe. I look forward to attending each SQL Saturday and hope to have that opportunity for many years to come.

Terence O'Shea
About the author

PASS is a not-for-profit organization run by and for a diverse community. PASS supports data professionals throughout the world who use the Microsoft data platform. PASS’ mission is to Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning.

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