SQLCruise: I’m No Longer On a Boat…So I’m Sad

Pirate Cat can haz ur Swag?

Well it’s the first Monday back since this amazing trip and some folks have wasted no time in putting up their posts. I WAS going to do a recap of the week but over at SQLCruise.com Brent has done a great job recapping the week in detail. Instead this post will focus on the value returned from the experience. Before I start I’d like to give a HUGE thanks to the sponsors for making this event possible:

It’s hard to talk about SQLCruise without first talking about the SQLSaturday that preceded it. SQLCruise was purposely scheduled to coincide with SQLSaturday #40. As any SQLSaturday event, it was great but what really made this one special was its tie-in with the cruise event. Tim Ford (Blog | Twitter) and Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) kicked off the event with a great keynote speech. The general theme of the talk was that the true value of this event was not what you were learning up on screen (which is also important) but the real value is what you learn from everyone around you at the event and the relationships you build. This theme was solidified by Brent and Tim’s personal stories of how they journeyed from being the ones in the chairs listening to speakers to being the ones up front presenting to the crowd. If you ever get a chance to hear these two give this talk/presentation I highly recommend it, especially since it starts off with an especially cool high-wire video.

This focus on the relationships you create and foster at technical events became a recurring theme throughout the week. After SQLSaturday the revelry of the presenters, attendees and SQLCruise-ers carried over to the after party at On the Border. The next day was an event that was not officially planned for SQLCruise but Gareth (Twitter) and Jen Swanepoel (Twitter) were kind enough to host the SQLCruise attendees at their house for a bon voyage BBQ. A huge thanks goes to Gareth, Jen and their amazing neighbors for putting on such a great event! Being able to interact with everyone in a relaxed, casual environment made it that much easier for everyone to get to know each other before departing. The funny part about this whole event is that many of us already “knew” each other via Twitter/Facebook/blog interactions but for many of us this was the first time we’d met face-to-face. In addition to meeting all the great SQL folks this was also an opportunity to meet everyone’s significant others which is always great.

Finally Monday rolled around and we got to finally board the Carnival Imagination and set sail on SQLCruise! As I mentioned earlier, and as Brent said in his recap, some of the most valuable things you learn during events like this are not on a slide deck. Be it the gatherings on the back of the ship on the “SQL Lounge” or the intimate classroom settings, it was invaluable to be able to interact with everyone freely. Another great advantage of being out in the ocean the distractions are kept to a minimum as the usual hub-bub of calls from work, email-checking, and A.D.D.-fueled internet browsing was not to be found. Brent and Tim had both mentioned one of their initial plans was to keep the class size to a small size specifically for the advantages a small group provides. One of the great benefits that came out of it in the formal class schedule was the flexibility of changing up the lesson plan. Initially we had a session on “Hidden Booty in SQL Server” scheduled but as conversations developed we all realized that the entire group was more in the intermediate to senior skill level. In addition to the higher-than-exepected skill sets, many of us had lots of questions of Brent regarding the Masters program he had recently gone through. Based on this scenario Brent put together a new presentation on MCM Trivia. I believe he put this together before watching Matlock reruns on his laptop and burning the midnight oil until 7pm!

SQLCruise was an absolutely amazing experience and thankfully this social experiment went so well that there are already plans in the works for two more next year! Not only did I walk away from this class-cation with a wealth of new technical knowledge (now I know what round-robin is/how it works as well as what a merry-go-round scan is!) but also some extremely valuable relationships and friendships. When was the last time you walked away from a training event and actually MISSED the attendees and classes? I cannot stress to you enough how highly I recommend you attend one of these events in the future! I guarantee not only will you better yourself as a SQL professional but you’ll have a greater appreciation for what an amazing community we’re fortunate enough to be a part of. If you’re interested in joining a future SQLCruise adventure make sure you sign up for the mailing list to get all of the latest news and updates. Thanks again to our sponsors and Tim and Brent for putting together such an amazing event!