Speaking at PASS Summit – what does it mean to me

A couple of days, PASS sent me an email, asking to share my experience on what it means to me to speak at the PASS Summit. This is one of the easiest requests that I will do with a lot of pleasure!

For every Data Platform professional, I guess, there is one single event, that represents the highest point, the cherry on their cake, the highest mountain to climb – the Summit. For some, these are the Microsoft organised events, for others these are the community events. For some people it all around pure numbers of people attending, for others it is about the prestige, for some – it does not really matter.

So how do I see it ?
Very simple – presenting at the PASS Summit for me was and still is THE HIGHLIGHT of my professional career.
I do not value certifications and/or titles/pins, the value of the awards is high, but not too much. I value the knowledge, the discovery process and the challengers to the status quo.
PASS Summit is the one event that every single data professional should attend at least once in their lifetime, if possible.
You will learn more than you can imagine. Yes, more than that. :)

The Secret

I will share the secret about the knowledge with you. I have been already doing it in person, but I will share just here, just for you, the reader:

Want to learn some technology to the highest point possible? Start presenting on it.
Because once you start presenting – people will ask you questions and give you their point of views, some of which you have never considered and that will teach you a lot and make your future presentations more perfect.
Because once you start preparing for the presentations, you will have to work your bottom off in order not to look as a fool.
Because you will ask anyone and everyone to give their opinion and professional opinions will give you such an incredible knowledge that you most probably never reach by yourself, alone.
Because you will remember every single mistake made, and you will get better with every attempt. Much better. Incredibly better! :)
Because it will make you more confident and help you to establish your next professional and personal steps.
Because every one should present – this is a needed way to express something that they feel they have to share with the world.

The PASS Summit

Going back to the PASS Summit – there are a couple of things I want to share about my personal experience:

What about getting your first Lighting Talk/Session at the PASS Summit ?
It feels incredible – it feels like flying.
Its like becoming suddenly recognised for something you do and something that you do for a long time.
It feels gratifying, it feels terrifying (what if I fail? Am I good enough for this challenge?), it feels like you have won the lottery and now need to decide what is the thing you are going to do with it!

What about getting the PASS Summit Workshops ? How does it feels like?
I started considering to finalise my technical career, because there is no other significant technical conference that I valued higher than the PASS Summit. And I still do.
Self Pro-Tip: beware of the surroundings when you start jumping like crazy.

The Rejection

Does it hurt to be rejected?
I have submitted for the PASS Summit 2010 and my initial attempt was rejected. I had no profile (neither locally in Portugal, nor internationally) and I would reject myself on this basis most probably.
At PASS Summit 2011 I have got my first lightning talk, my 5 minutes of “fame”, to share my views on the community. All my technical content was rejected. I was not happy about it, but I knew I had the value and that it was nothing personal.
At PASS Summit 2012 I had another lightning talk, a session on becoming a master – mastering particular subject. Again my technical content was rejected. I was presenting internationally and thought to be near the “make it” line, but
At PASS Summit 2013 (woo-hoo!) I had 10 Minutes lightning talk together my friend, Scott Stauffer – the first technical one, on the incredible tool NodeXL. But this was a lightning talk and not a full-fledged session! No technical session sessions were picked whatsoever. I decided to proclaim myself “the king of the lightning talks at PASS Summit” and keep on submitting until someone would eventually give up and accept my session.
At PASS Summit 2014, for the first time I had my full technical session accepted into the official program – an unbelievable honor for me. One of my technical dreams was realised and I felt that finally I had an opportunity to be the speaker of the most important Microsoft Data Platform event.
After that, I had multiple sessions accepted at PASS Summit 2015 & PASS Summit 2016, which was an incredible honor and luck for me.
At PASS Summit 2017 I have had my workshop selected for the first time and I had a session together with my friend and colleague – Gabi Muenster, besides having the technical panel together with Bob Ward, Kevin Farlee, Jos de Bruijn, Ned Otter & Tejas Shah on the In-Memory technology.
Unless something extraordinary happens, I am definitely submitting for the PASS Summit 2018!

Let me share another secret with you:
I was lucky that my lightning talks were accepted,
I was very lucky when some people decided that my session was worth being presented on the PASS Summit,
I was the luckiest guy in this universe, when a star has fallen and my precon submission was considered to be worthy of the PASS Summit.
Why am so sure that I was lucky ? Ha-ha-ha! That’s an easy one!
There are so many people who are more capable, more talented, more hard-working, more technical, more entertaining, more challenging – so many people that I personally know, and thinking about all those incredible people that I have no idea about, makes me believe that my luck was truly incredible. There are so many sessions/precons that I would love to attend, so many things I would love to learn, so many views I would like to consider !!!

The professional part

As you improve as a speaker of your original content, your professional recognition will become bigger.
Correlation or Accident: since I work at OH22 I had my sessions accepted at PASS Summit, and a good point is that even when I was working for PASS, I had only a lightning talk accepted (so much about preferences).

What about YOU?

You, as a person will be no less talented or capable if your session will be rejected.
You are still a wonderful human being and incredibly talented specialist – nobody can take it away from you.
No rejection is ever can take a bit out of your technical capabilities or knowledge, nor will it ever affect you on the personal level – because a good professional organiser knows -there is nothing personal, just the best attempt of selecting the best content possible.
So many people had their sessions rejected,
so many GREAT people had their sessions rejected,
so many INCREDIBLE specialist had their sessions rejected – but one day, ONE DAY – their sessions were selected, ONE DAY – their content was found to be worthy and you are not different from any of those great names.

Show the courage and do not be afraid!
Start paving your path to the Data Platform Summit.
Submit and risk realising your dreams!

Submit your sessions & precons to the PASS Summit, as soon as it opens!

A cup of espresso is on me

Submit and if I am lucky to be selected as well, I will happily invite you for a cup of espresso in Seattle. Yeah, I know – enough people will invite anyone else to have a cup of coffee, in order to avoid me – but hey, I thought, if my personal invitation is worth convincing you to try – here it is.
This invitation is true for every new accepted speaker, who has never presented at PASS Summit (and given that I will be at the PASS Summit as well).

3 thoughts on “Speaking at PASS Summit – what does it mean to me

  1. Ernest Libertucci

    Love this post. I have already replied on Twitter about it, but I will just say that Ghost Alley Espresso is the best coffee I’ve had in Seattle.

  2. Mr. Fox SQL (Rolf Tesmer)

    Agree with your points, and nice summary too. PASS Summit is an excellent global forum of like minded professionals. So like yourself I absolutely encourage those with an interesting idea or topic in mind to submit!
    I presented in 2015 (on Machine Learning) — so if it helps anyone on the approach to get your submission together then see my blog post here — and GOOD LUCK – https://mrfoxsql.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/experiences-of-submitting-a-pass-2015-session/

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