On Community and Recognition

Even though way early in my career I had a SQL Server MVP as a mentor (by pure chance), it wasn’t until 2008-2009 that I sort of researched a bit more about the program, and what it really meant. I was beginning to understand how powerful networking in our community really is, and how attending and participating on SQL Saturdays and other events would make all the difference in my career.

I thought having that “badge” would be cool, but I really didn’t know how to get one.

I remember I asked K. Brian Kelley [twitter|blog], somebody who I consider a friend (even though I’ve never met him in person) how could I become a SQL Server MVP. He mentioned helping others through any vehicle (forums like MSDN’s, SQL Server Central, etc.) would help, but that I really needed to ask myself what it would mean to me to be an MVP. And I often wondered, really, what it all meant. Was it just an award given to somebody who would answer questions from others relentlessly? Would it be just some award given to members of this semi-secret inner circle?

Over time I became more and more involved with the community. I started speaking, and continued helping others, mostly through #SQLHelp on Twitter (funny how a hashtag changes your life!). I was seriously turned off by forums (still am) and didn’t care much about blogging very frequently. After all, other folks out there blog about just about every single topic on SQL Server, and I didn’t one to be just one more guy. Yet I blogged, but it was only when I thought my post could really make a difference to somebody facing a similar situation or working with an under-documented feature.

The fact that I tweeted incessantly helped get my name out there, and I kept being accepted to speak at SQL Saturdays and even the PASS Summit. Then I got my MCM certification, which really gave my name some exposure out there.

I was really becoming influential.

I eventually delivered pre-conferences at premier events like SQLBits, spoke at massive events like DevConnections and TechEd, and started toying with the idea of helping PASS even more. Then, with the help of Robert Davis [twitter|blog], and also from K. Brian Kelley himself, we launched the Security Virtual Chapter for PASS.

I was doing all this high profile stuff, which was fantastic, but I never lost sight of my roots: volunteering and helping others. I kept signing up to help PASS as member of the Program Committee, something that I have proudly done for 3 years in a row (and I’m not going to discuss current controversy on the subject here), helped moderate Lightning Talks at the Summit even when I wasn’t chosen as a speaker, spent hours talking to people at the Community Zone at the Summit and the BA Conference, moderated online web casts for the Security VC, and helped moderate online events like 24 Hours of PASS. And, all along, learning and sharing on #SQLHelp.

All the little things that not a lot of people sign up for (or avoid altogether), I happily help with.

Yet “MVPness” is not something that I feel entitled to. Not something that I demanded every quarter. I find it funny that I look forward to the MVP Summit taking place in Seattle because that means I get to hang out with that group – I have met a LOT of them along the way, and some of them I consider extremely close friends. These are people that I deeply respect. Still, I am not expecting an award by association.

I do the things I do for the SQL Server community because I love it, not because I want another three letter acronym on my resume.

Earlier on this year I was nominated for the award by several very influential folks in the community (Thank you!!). I seriously thought I wasn’t going to get it, because I thought I hadn’t done enough for the community to deserve it.

Today, I am _insanely_ honored to be recognized for my contributions to the community.

This is one badge I will wear with pride.

Today I was awarded the SQL Server MVP award.

Microsoft_MVP_logo

And now the real work begins.

This award is yours, #SQLFamily, and also goes to the unsung heroes of this community that have been working hard for YEARS and still have not been awarded; you know who you are. Never give up, my friends. Stay true to your north.

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