It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since I had an idea, booked a cruise, and emailed a few friends:
I really didn’t expect anybody else to join in with me – there was a ton of risk, and there hadn’t been anything like that in the SQL Server community before. Other communities were doing it, though: Burleson offered Oracle classes at sea, and a company called Geek Cruises (now defunct, archived PDF brochure) had done something similar with geek superstars like Wozniak and Linux Torvalds. I figured my buddies would poke holes in the idea, and that’d be the end of it.
They all seemed to think it was gonna work, but Tim Ford (TheSQLAgentMan.com – @SQLAgentMan) was the only one crazy enough to join in. It looked easy in the rear view mirror, but I totally don’t blame Andy, Jeremiah, and Tom for not joining me in starting the company – there was a ton of risk, and success was by no means assured.
Amazingly, the first voyage was a success.
When I look back on photos of the first SQLCruise, I break out into giggles. I met so many people who later became MVPs, went to work for Microsoft, became consultants, and are giants in their fields. It was even where I met Kendra for the first time, picking them her from Palm Beach due to a travel mixup.
SQLCruise was a total success in the metric that mattered to us: not money (I don’t think we even broke even because of all the prizes we gave out), but building relationships in the community. It was all about meeting other fun-loving community members, talking about databases, and hanging out at sea. As the photos & tweets filtered back to land, it was obvious from the outside that it was a great formula.
We ended up doing another, then another. Tim wasn’t just “a speaker” – he and his wife Amy quickly became the driving forces behind the event. They’d clearly found a calling.
Tim & Amy took it over, growing and changing it.
Within about a year and a half, I bowed out to focus on growing the consulting business, and Tim and his wife Amy took SQLCruise over and ran with it. They not only made the event their own, but they took it to the next level. When you look at my 2010 email, and compare it to what it’s become today, it’s clear how much work they’ve put into it to make it a serious event. Ain’t no free casual tweetup anymore.
By charging admission and taking on sponsors, Tim & Amy were able to add more guest instructors. The 2017 cruises had a total of 8 instructors, including 2 Microsofties:
Damn, that’s a list of smart people.
This week, they’re on a boat.
You should be with ’em next year.
You might be seeing the #SQLCruise tweets in your timeline this week – they’re on an Alaska cruise this week. (Funny timing, it’s the same week as our company retreat, but we’re on a different boat.)
I’m not associated with SQLCruise at all anymore, but I still believe it’s one of the best investments you can make for your career. The outside-of-class interaction time between attendees and instructors means you can accelerate your career and build valuable relationships. You get a ton of valuable time with some of the sharpest people in the industry – people who can help you make connections you wouldn’t able to make otherwise.
And now, the Fords are taking it to the next level again, renaming it as Tech Outbound. They’ve already announced their 2018 cruises, and they’re talking about doing events above and beyond cruise ships. I’m so excited to see what they come up with.
If you love data and you want to meet other people who are just as passionate about it as you are, but also love getting out and seeing the world, check out their upcoming events. Life is short – get started building relationships that you’ll cherish for years.
Thanks for sharing these details on the birth of this pivotal event that catalyzed so many people’s careers. I’m glad I was able to assist gaining then SQL Sentry now re-branded SentryOne’s support of the event. After the enthusiastic response from the SQL Community to the “Win a SQLCruise” contest, CEO Greg Gonzalez quadrupled the investment by giving away FOUR free SQLcruises! He has always understood the long-term value of supporting the SQL Community.
As I’ve said in my blog, “I can’t take all the credit and certainly not all the blame for introducing Erin, Matt, Jorge and Rebecca to the SQL Server community. But I will tell you; I am proud to witness their growth and contributions back to the community.”
Finally I hope you enjoy another look at SQLChicken’s video entry: https://youtu.be/s_0yvW2cm-w
Peter – my pleasure, sir! Yeah, definitely thanks for Sentry’s help – what a great crop of community members we ended up with.