Posted in Professional Development, Speaking

New Stars November

I stared this post on my way home from Pass Data Community Summit 2022 and finishing it on Thanksgiving here in the US. There’s something that feels appropriate about this fact. Maybe because it was being inspired after attending PASS Summit 2016 and thinking about what I’m grateful for are intertwined in this one topic.

New Stars of Data is the brainchild of Ben Weissman (t) and William Durkin (t) as a platform for new speakers to get a start in the community. They paired the speaker with a mentor to help them prepare. I was lucky enough to be picked as a mentor and then moderator for this. It’s been amazing to see so many of these speakers become stars in the community so quickly. As a continuation, they have asked other speakers to contribute by writing a blog post about their experience getting started as speakers. (They also have a library of resources for speakers as well so definitely check out the New Stars website!)

Me standing in front of a water fountain at the SQL Saturday Albany venue wearing my speaker shirt.
Wearing my very first SQL Saturday speaker shirt. Thanks, SQLSatAlbany!

I went to Summit in 2016 after having justy launched this blog about 5-6 months prior to that. I was starting to connect with members of the community by participating in the T-SQL Tuesday monthly blog post challenges. I still love contributing those as it helps as a reminder to write a post – any post. But it was the T-SQL Tuesday after that summit when Andy Yun hosted a challenge for new speakers. And I added my blog post for that month. What amazed me was that after the wrap-up for that month, Andy contacted every one who participated who said they weren’t speakers and helped them on their journey. What’s amazing to me is to look at Andy’s recap and see the names of some of the new and novice speakers at the time and to see where they are now.

I used that encouragement to reach out to one of my local user group leaders, Robert Padilla, to say I would be interested in speaking with some ideas. With that extra bit of encouragement, he connected me with another local group he knew of as well – a local tech group geared towards women – and I had my first tech talk – Intro to SQL. It was introducing the basic SQL SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE statements. Robert even set up time to do a run through and give me feedback along with another speaker who was presenting soon. With that help, I felt confident going into the session. It was about 35-40 attendees, which apparently a larger group than they normally had as well.

I took that confidence and submitted this session to my first SQL Saturday – Albany. With a little bit of reworking, this session became ”Back to the Basics – T-SQL 101”, fully directed towards the SQL Server community. I wrote about my whole experience here. There were two things that still amazed me. One, the first was seeing Andy Mallon’s (b) complimentary tweets – including a seemingly random one the next day. Andy also gave me some great feedback on my presentation later that I was able to use to make some tweaks and really improve the slide deck. The other was at the after party that SQL Saturday Albany held when Greg Moore (t | b) came over and asked me to speak to their user group. This was my only presentation so we had to figure out what I would I speak about. So Greg sat with me as we figured out what came after T-SQL 101, which is where my “Beyond the Basic SELECT” session was born.

(If you want the more complete story of these two events, here’s the post I wrote at the time.)

But this was the snowball that started me on my journey.

If you’ll notice, there has been another quiet theme running through this post – and that’s the support from other speakers to mentor and guide those who want to get involved get started. My guess is that this is going to be theme from a lot of other speakers in the community. We know that we got the support when we started out and we feel it’s only appropriate to pay it forward. I’ve volunteered to mentor new speakers whenever there is an opportunity and I make the same offer to anyone who would like the help. There has been another website for resources, SpeakingMentors. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s still active in a while but maybe this will be another boost to help that site if there is still interest in the community. (hint hint, nudge nudge!!!)

It doesn’t matter how experienced a speaker you are, we all get stuck sometimes. What I love about this community is that we are all here for each other to help us achieve our goals. If speaking is one of your goals, feel free to reach out – to me or any of us. We’re here to help!

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