The PASS Board of Directors election campaign season has started, and candidate Ryan Adams asked if I had any questions I’d like to ask him. Sure! Here goes:
Brent: First, thanks for everything you’ve done over the years as a volunteer. I know you work your butt off, and I’m impressed with what you’ve accomplished. How many hours a week are you putting into the community, and what does that week look like?
Ryan: I would say I put in about 15 hours a week on average. That time varies wildly and it is all very sporadic. There might be a week where I get a few questions from user group leaders in my region, I need to follow-up with my VC team to make sure we are ready for our monthly meeting, or I might need to reconcile and do our user group quarterly financials. When the Performance VC is doing our annual Performance Palooza or my local user group is planning a SQLSaturday those times go up.
Brent: You’ve done local volunteering, regional volunteering as a Regional Mentor, and global volunteering as a leader of the PASS Performance VC. I can see why the Board is a next step. What experience have you gained along the way that makes you a good Board member?
Ryan: I have learned a lot of great things along the way like thinking about things from different angles, putting myself in other’s shoes, taking off the blinders to see the whole picture, being transparent, and motivating volunteers. Those are all great things, but one of the biggest things I have learned is to put yourself aside and listen to the needs of the community. The first time I met Bill Graziano he took out a notebook and wrote down all of my concerns and ideas and more importantly he followed up on them. That left a lasting impression on me and why I try to listen and help anywhere I can.
Brent: What’s your favorite memory as a volunteer?
Ryan: One of my favorites was the day we heard we won the petition to have SQLRally here in Dallas. Our team worked hard to provide venue options with a cost analysis, and we were so excited to have this event coming to our home town. That was an exciting day!
Brent: What’s the hardest thing about leading and recruiting volunteers?
Ryan: I think the most difficult thing is motivation. At work we are motivated to keep getting that paycheck to feed our families, but that doesn’t exist in the volunteer world. For volunteers that motivation has to come from a desire to help others and have a job well done. You’re more likely to have success with volunteers if you ask them to help on tasks that they have a personal interest in. The real trick is to think long term and how you can keep them involved and helping in the future. I believe a little appreciation goes a long way toward that goal.
Brent: What personal challenges or weaknesses do you have that would make you a really bad Board member, and how do you work to offset that?
Ryan: I am an extremely organized person and although that helps me execute on my goals I can get mired in the details. I have to constantly ask myself if it’s time to move on or delegate a task.
Brent: Let’s say you don’t win a seat in the election. (It happens.) Will you run again?
Ryan: I will absolutely run again. Not winning a seat in the election is not a reflection on the good I know I can do, it just means I need to campaign differently next time.
Brent: Let’s say you do win. (Yay!) How will you measure success for yourself during your seat on the Board?
Ryan: There are two things I’ll be looking at. The first is keeping the ship moving, by ensuring that current financial goals are met while measuring that against the results of the portfolio I am given. The second is harder to measure, because my goal is to have an impact on the lives and careers of the community. It’s tough to put a number on that, but I believe that if I am transparent in what I do folks will let me know when I have impacted them.
Brent: How do you measure the success of PASS as a whole?
Ryan: This is another one that is hard to put a number on. You could look at the budget and as long as it is balanced and income has growth year over year you could call that success. However, I think that is a secondary measure that contextually tells me about the health of the organization and not the success. The success is if folks learned things so their job is easier, connected with folks who might lead them to their next job, or found a best friend in the industry. Those are things that are hard to measure, but mostly because we don’t ask about them in that context. These are questions we can start asking and gathering that data to measure the impact PASS has on the lives of its members.
Brent: Eligible PASS members will get a ballot via email this week, and voting closes next week. There are four candidates in the running for three positions, and I respect all of ’em for volunteering their personal time to make the community better. If you’d like to ask questions to the BoD candidates, head over to the PASS election discussion forum. You can also check out posts about Ryan from Erin Stellato and Denise McInerney.
There are four people running for three spots, and I’m not going to tell you who to vote for because…hell, I don’t know who to vote for. They’re four fantastic people, and I don’t think you could go wrong with any three of ’em.