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The Giving Back Workload

By Steve Jones,

One of the amazing things about the #sqlfamily is that we often help each other in a very giving way. Certainly other technical communities have lots of sharing and helping, though often with more of an RTFM attitude. I don't know how well many other industries share information with each other, but the nature of being connected with technology through blogs, free events, #sqlhelp and more certainly seems to facilitate lots of sharing.

When SQL Saturday first started, Andy Warren and I worried that we would struggle to get speakers to donate time for a number of free events. The first year we had discussions about how to find speakers if we were to get 10 events scheduled in a year. That proved to be a non issue. It's amazing to think that these days we have 6 or 7 events on a single date, and I'm looking forward to the time when there are actually 10 events on one Saturday.

Our speakers donate a lot of their own time and money to give back to others. In 2018, I'm particularly impressed by Kevin Feasel, who I was lucky enough to see at a number of events and even share a bus ride on a double decker in Cambridge. I've also met a number of volunteers and attendees who have had similar schedules during a year or two, where they have lots of excitement. What often happens is that after a few years, they scale back, some of them even giving up on all of their efforts.

It's wonderful that people give back, but I do worry about sustainability, both for events and individuals. Andy Warren wrote recently about volunteer time and the load in life. I haven't tracked my time, but I know that it sometimes is quite a load. While Redgate often covers my expenses, the time away from home to speak at events comes out of family time as I still need to work a normal week when I'm speaking on Saturday.

I do think it's important to volunteer and give back to others. Help those getting started, those less fortunate, or those that are inspired to move forward in life. There's a time and place for all of us, and I do hope all of you think about where and how you can help others, either in this field or in other ways. If not now, then at some point in the future.

Time is a valuable resource, and while I think Andy underestimates the amount spent on his endeavors, I think it's good that after many years of helping others, he is trying to quantify the time spend and perhaps inspire some of you to think about where you might do the same. 50 hours a year is both a lot and a little. What are your plans for the coming year and could you spare 50 hours to help others? Leave a comment here, and let Andy know what you think of his plans.

 
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