The first day of the Summit always gives me butterflies, especially because I have to give the keynote introductory speach.
We had our largest attendance ever for the 2005 Summit with at least 1800 paid attendees and a total attendance well into the mid-2000's. As I looked out across the audience, I realized that the crowd sitting there at the keynote was actually a good deal bigger than the total attendance at the first PASS event back in 1999 in Chicago. Who knows how many people were still asleep in bed. Wow! What a thrill it was to see how large our community had grown!
My keynote made several salient points, which I'll summarize here:
1. Highlights for the event - "Ask Me" buttons, our new (and very successful) SQLounge, the free license for SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition for all attendees, and the cohosted Microsoft SQL Server MVP Summit occuring during the week.
2. Membership growth - we now have almost 12,000 premium members with just under half of them joining internationally.
3. Volunteers are what engender this organization's success, whether they be speakers, committee members, chapter leaders, MVPs, or whatever. Personal engagement and helping the community has enormous impact.
4. Financials - PASS has reduced the total costs that we put into the North American summit while growing our European event. Among other things, I highlighted our "good steward" values when it comes to the organization's money and that 100% of our revenues that don't go into producing content and events are reinvested into the communities.
5. Volunteerism - Anyone who's heard me speak knows that this is one of my passions. PASS has some of the best volunteers in the world and they're what makes this organization so successful. We need more concerned and caring people to volunteer to serve on committees, help with their local chapters, and speak at events in addition to the multitude of other opportunities available to help the organization.
Finally, I wanted to mention Lynda Rab has the epitome of an exceptional volunteer. Lynda leads the DBA SIG (special interest group) and kept them on track and working on issues that are valuable to the entire community. She invested a ton of her own time, including vacation time, to drive some very important projects to completion. Her work saved PASS tens of thousands of dollars and provided a variety of new features and capabilities to the organization. Thank you LYNDA and congratulations on winning the Passion Award!
Finally, I got to introduce Bill Baker as the main keynote speaker. Bill is the Group Program manager for Business Intelligence at Microsoft. His teams do all of the Analysis Services, data mining, Integration Services, and tools for SQL Server. I mentioned, in my introduction, that I'd initially been intimidated by Bill. This surprised him. I should clarify that the mental image I had of Bill was what intimidated me. Once I met him, I came to realize that he was a really laid back and cool dude, in addition to being a celebrity in the industry.
Bill's keynote was very cool and, rather than tell you about it hear, I'll refer you to the PASS website (http://www.sqlpass.org) where you can watch and/or download the streaming video of his keynote address. Check it out and let me know what you think.