PASS Summit #FreeCon2015: What We’re Talking About

FreeCon SQLSaturday Chicago 2012
FreeCon SQLSaturday Chicago 2012

On the Monday before the PASS Summit in Seattle this year, we’re putting on another one of our FreeCons. The FreeCon is different from a typical conference pre-con – it’s free, and it’s about the SQL Server community, presenting, marketing, branding, networking, and yes, some technical stuff too.

In the past, they’ve been invitation-only, but this year we opened up applications to the public. One of the application questions asked, “What’s the one thing you want to learn from the Brent Ozar Unlimited team?”

The answers were really enlightening, and we figured you’d like to hear ’em too, so here’s some of the highlights:

Business / Branding / Marketing Answers

How some of the brilliant marketing initiatives come about (brainstorming, creativity, etc) .

Tips on protecting IP and what works for you.

How to know when you are really ready to become a consultant.

Shameless self promotion 🙂 I’ve got skills and I want to market them better. I know about many different aspects of IT and SQL Server, but aimed at the small to medium shops. A more personal relationship with my customers is key.

How to build brand. I’m not a consultant or self-employed, but I am interested in expanding beyond the user group core of my local community. I don’t really know where to start or have a very solid idea of what it would entail–aside, of course, from the limos and champagne…

Presenting Answers

How to build demos that don’t suck.

How to build an plan to move from being a known speaker to one of the best speakers. I have had some great success but would love some help getting to the next level.

How to approach New technical initiatives at work and how to approach upper management correctly to gain buy-in.

Tips about presenting and stage-presence.

Technical Answers

Performance tuning especially query optimization and hardware optimization.

SQL 2014 in-memory tables; service broker; pushing the limits of availability groups, interesting stuff with larger/distributed setups

Best arguments to convince my employer that my unofficial, very-time-limited accidental DBA-ing isn’t going to cut it (especially since I got primarily other responsibilities), we need a dedicated DBA.

Community / Volunteering Answers

Finding the right mix of technical ‘up-keep’ and community leadership/involvement.

What you define as community success

Why public speaking at SQL events is so important.

I would love to learn how you guys structure your days and manage everything that you do (working, speaking, blogging, training). What are your personal stories, how did you get to where you are today, and what have you learned along the way?

Your Answers Help Us Build the Agenda – and the Community

As I wrote five years ago in my post Rock Stars, Normal People, and You, building a successful community means reaching out to those around you, giving back, and propelling the community forward. It’s been so exciting to hold these events and see the graduates go on to do amazing things for themselves and the community.

This year’s FreeCon is about finding 50 people who are excited to keep pushing the boundaries of community, and then us all helping each other fill in the gaps to multiply our efforts.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • “Finding the right mix of technical ‘up-keep’ and community leadership/involvement.”

    That one’s a doozy for me.

    Combine that one with a work/life balance thing and I’m all over it.

    My big thing is communication – the soft skills. Interestingly, the technical stuff is secondary. Important, but you can be technically brilliant and still turn people off. (I’ve worked with some of those).

    Figuring out where that fits into community involvement and the like would be very useful and appreciated.

    • Tom – yeah, my favorite post on that time balance subject is this one – warning, NSFW:

      Juggling Writing and Work: Figure It the F*ck Out:

      This is why I tell people that if you’re going to get involved in the community, it has to be doing something that you’re absolutely, wildly passionate about. It has to be something that energizes and motivates you. Every hour I spend working on SQL Server community work feels like an energizing vacation, not work, so as a result I love doing it to help me recharge. (I’m typing this from an airport lounge at 9PM, having a good old time, ripping through all kinds of community blog posts and emails.)

      If it felt like work, I’d never make progress on it. (And for the record, if I wasn’t doing the SQL Server thing, I’d be involved in the automotive community. Like the SQL Server community, that feels like total fun for me too, and I’d do a ton of work in that community without any payment too.)

  • […] a month before PASS Summit, someone told me about a “FreeCon” that Brent Ozar Unlimited (blog|twitter) was putting on in Seattle just before PASS Summit. […]


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