An aim in my career has been to push myself to the edges. Get away from the average and do stuff that makes me uncomfortable at times. This discomfort has, to a large extent, improved my life and career beyond what I ever imagined.
After starting to speak at conferences, I noted how these events are run. What I liked, what I didn’t like. What seemed to work, what didn’t work. Then I started a user group, which has it’s own special challenges that single-shot events don’t have.
Once the user group ran for a year, a celebration was in order…. A BBQ…. Being in Germany, that means “Grillen”. So, of course, we had a couple of speakers talk about SQL Server and then had a few Bratwursts and some Bier.
That was nice, so we did it again the following year. This time, there were even more attendees and speakers. We needed more room, Bratwursts and Bier…….
Then, by pushing myself to change (and almost by accident), SQLGrillen was born. A SQL Server event, with a different spin on how an event would run. Less “overhead” and more focused on the content and getting speakers and attendees to interact. More relaxed and less stifling, some may say/think less professional. But this is the sort of push against the status quo that I seem to gravitate towards.
SQLGrillen grew from that 20 attendee user group celebration to a 180 attendee event in 2018 (in just 4 short years). We reached the capacity of the venue and of the sessions we could host. We also introduced a brand new idea in 2018 – a newcomer track. This track was filled exclusively with speakers who had never spoken at a “real” event before. It was a full success and the idea has been copied by other events already.
Things were going great.
Then I sat down after SQLGrillen 2018 and the thoughts of needing change re-appeared.
The Microsoft Data Platform has moved along so much in the last 4 years. At SQLGrillen 2018 we had a large portion of the audience that don’t directly work with SQL Server. The cloud services offered by Microsoft now mean that the Data Platform stretches to areas that were never seen before.
What to do? I had an event that was obviously successful, but the focus on SQL Server was not going to keep people’s interest in the long run……. Of course, it’s time to change things.
SQLGrillen is now DataGrillen. Nothing revolutionary, but certainly evolutionary. The previous, narrow, focus on SQL Server gives way to a focus on the entire Microsoft Data Platform. This will allow a wider selection of session topics and hopefully keep the event relevant to attendees and speakers alike.
DataGrillen has also grown. Previously, SQLGrillen ran on one day with 5 parallel tracks. As the image above shows, DataGrillen is now a two-day event with 5 tracks. The attendee feedback from SQLGrillen 2018 made it clear that one day wasn’t enough and that 60 minutes was also not enough. So we have extended the sessions to 75 minutes for “regular” sessions and 90 minutes for a select group of “extended” sessions.
This set of new challenges means that I will also have to revamp how the event is run. I will be relying on support from volunteers – something I have never really done before.
The Call for Speakers for DataGrillen 2019 will begin on 2018-10-01 and run until 2018-12-14.
That should at least keep me occupied for another year!