Taking Risks

risk \’risk\ noun : the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen

[reference: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/risk]

There are risks in life every day.  Some we see very clearly.  Others we don’t even notice.  Some are related to relationships with family and friends.  Some are related to our careers.  And some involve the hundreds of other components in our daily lives.

When I first started attending user group meetings in Cleveland, every month Allen White would say, “If you are interested in speaking, please consider submitting.  Everyone has something to share, and everyone else has something they can learn from you.”  I admit, at first I kind of thought it was just rhetoric.  I was wrong.  If you know Allen, you know that he really means it when he says it.  And I know he’s right.  I love asking people what they do in their job every day, because rarely do people do the same thing (especially in the SQL Server world) and I always learn something new.  Everyone in the SQL Server community is extremely well-versed in some SQL Server topic – enough so that they could put together a presentation and talk about it for an hour.  But many don’t, for a variety of reasons.  Some people just have no desire to speak in front of a group, and that’s fine.  You can share knowledge in other ways (hello blog posts).

But for those of you that have considered speaking, or are just a little bit interested, I give you:

Evelyn Maxwell

I tweeted about her SQLSaturday Cleveland submission yesterday (it’s on Improving Your PowerPoint Skills, in case you didn’t click through), but a lot of people aren’t on Twitter so I wanted to mention it here, particularly because many people commented that if a 7th grader has the chutzpah (my word, not anyone else’s) to submit to a SQLSaturday, then others can too.  Yes.  Exactly yes.

Now, Evelyn’s not all alone, her dad is David Maxwell (who just won speaker Idol at the PASS Summit) and I’m sure she’s getting some guidance from him.  Anyone who is speaking at a SQLSaturday for the first time is hopefully getting some mentoring – it’s a daunting task to take on all alone!  But if you want to try it, then do it.  Submit to your local SQLSaturday.  Find a mentor.  Take that risk.  I know there’s a fear of failure there.  Your session may not get accepted.  Evelyn’s may not, and she knows that.  But she tried.

Fly...  photo credit: Jonathan Kehayias
Fly… photo credit: Jonathan Kehayias



2 thoughts on “Taking Risks

  1. Well said, Erin!

    I can remember my first year of speaking, where I wouldn’t dare eat before presenting, because I got physically ill. I got through it, though, with the help of mentors like you and Allen, and too many others to mention individually. Sure it was rough at times, but I have received so much from doing it. I’ve learned a ton from some amazing people, I’ve grown my network, I’ve changed jobs and gotten a promotion (more than tangentially related to my speaking and this community), and I’ve made some fantastic friends along the way. It sounds cliche, but you really do get more out of it than you put in. Thanks for being a mentor to me and to everyone else that you’ve helped or will help along the way. 🙂

  2. Thank you once again for your kind words, Erin. Evelyn and I are looking forward to seeing you both at our local user group meeting next month, and at SQL Saturday Cleveland.

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