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PASS Summit 2009 Final Thoughts…or What I've Learned From The 2009 Summit

Welcome to PASS Summit Unite 2009 Last week I wrote a day by day recount of my PASS Summit experience (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday). Since then I've been tagged by The Midnight DBAs™  to talk about what I learned from the Summit…so I'm going to use the opportunity to share a few thoughts that didn't fit into my previous posts.

What worked

  • I rode the Light Link Rail from the airport into downtown for a whopping $2.50. That sure beat spending $40 on a cab!
  • To cut costs I split a room at the Sheraton. That put me right next to the convention center and lowered the amount to a rate acceptable for my company to cover, plus it gave me the chance to build a professional relationship beyond just chatting in the hallway between sessions. Win-win-win.
  • Twitter was a hot thing at the Summit this year. Because of the relationships that I formed on Twitter in the months leading up to the Summit I showed up feeling like I already knew 75 people there. It's a lot easier going to a party with people you know than going by yourself. Twitter also proved itself useful at the Summit in two ways:
    1. Entertainment: Reading the comments tagged with #sqlpass during the keynotes (e.g. Tuesday when the rack of servers were about to lift off and Thursday when Dell was…well, I have no idea what Dell was doing on Thursday. I don't think they did either).
    2. Value: Figuring out where people were at or what the nighttime entertainment of choice was.
  • I knew I wanted to meet as many people as I could so I pre-printed a lot of personal contact cards with URLs for Twitter, LinkedIn, and my personal email address. Exchanging information after a greeting was as easy as handing them my card. Surprisingly there were people who came to the Summit without any business cards to hand out.
  • Flying the redeye home. It gave me Friday to do some sightseeing around Seattle and sleeping made the long flight home easier.

 What I'll do differently next time

  • Bring a travel umbrella. Although I had a waterproof jacket, that only covered the top half. I was fortunate that it didn't rain more.
  • Arrive a day earlier. I flew on Monday which made for a loooong day after all the opening activities were done. It would have been nice to arrive on Sunday and adjust to the time zone difference.
  • I'm not 100% sold on staying at the Sheraton. Sure it's nice to be close by, but it wouldn't have been a big deal to walk an extra couple of blocks for $50 less per night.
  • Bring a real camera. I used the camera on my iPhone and it was OK, but I would have appreciated having zoom and higher quality pictures (especially at the keynotes). Fortunately other people have been kind enough to post their pictures on Flickr.
  • Get better contact cards. I printed mine at Staples at the last minute. They worked, but they could have looked much better if I had pre-ordered them from moo.com instead of leaving it to the day before I arrived.
  • Leave the extension cord at home. I brought a 16' cord with me so I didn't have to camp out for a plug along the outside wall at each session. I didn't even use it once. I either ran off battery power or just put my laptop to sleep and listened to the speaker.

imageOther random thoughts
Initially I complained about the Summit being in Seattle. "It's prohibitive for people on the east coast to come!" I said. However, after going to the Summit I realize that Seattle is a great location for it. Why? Public transportation into downtown and having everything within walking distance. I'd love for the conference to be in my hometown of Orlando, and we certainly have the facilities for it, but if you want to get anywhere here you need to drive. I don't think that having everyone drive away at the end of the day to get to their hotels, go to dinner, etc. facilities networking. Meeting people and getting the chance to build relationships with them is one of the biggest things I got out of the week. I'm not saying there aren't other cities that could host the Summit, just that I can understand why Seattle works well.

So what now?
Now it's back to the real world and time to put all those great things I learned into action! First off, I'm getting the Summit DVDs and sharing them with my coworkers. I got to go to the Summit, now they get to benefit from it. I'll hold lunch and learns every week and let them pick which sessions to watch. Second, seeing the emphasis that Microsoft is placing on BI reinforced to me that I need to learn SSAS and BI, and fast! I've already started identifying ways that my company can benefit from it; now it's time to put my head down and figure this stuff out. Finally, I'm already looking forward to the next Summit in 2010. You can bet that I'm going to do everything I can to make it back next year and make it even better!

Jason Massie, Michelle Ufford, and Aaron Nelson - tag, you're it!

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