Why I refused a session at SQLBits; it’s not about your rank, but your legacy

In martial arts it is not your belt rank that matters but the legacy you leave.” – Grandmaster CK Leow, Founder, Moodukkwan Malaysia
I’ve attended every SQLBits except two: the first one, because I didn’t know about it, and SQLBits 6, because I had been made redundant the previous day and I didn’t feel up to it.
Overall, I have spoken at every SQLBits since SQLBits 7, where I was fortunate enough to be picked to speak at the event in York. Since then, I have spoken in most of Europe and in the United States. I also held a Diversity in Technology event at the last SQLBits, and I am considering doing another event.

I was also lucky enough – and hard working enough! – to be elected on the PASS Board of Directors last year, winning the election outright with a convincing majority. I continue to work really hard on that role, and I will blog separately about what I’ve been doing since a lot of it isn’t ‘visible’ and SQLfamily members probably don’t see it.
I’m fortunate to be holding a precon this year, which is called the DataAnalysts Toolkit. We will look at R and PowerBI for a whole day. What’s best is, I will be giving you hands on labs and notes – if you bring your laptop, that is! I will announce in due course what software you need to install.
I’m holding a Friday session, which is a one-hour version of the precon.
However, I turned down the opportunity to speak on the Saturday. Why?
– I have worked, really, really hard to be a speaker at SQLBits. I am extremely proud to have been chosen, so this was a difficult decision. 
– however, I believe in fairness and the promotion of new speakers. I think that other people should be lucky enough to get a session too. I was concerned that I would be greedy in taking two sessions. There are plenty of people who would like to speak at SQLBits, and I refused, saying that the slot should go to a new speaker who hasn’t done it before.
Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the community, even if it is a wrench for yourself. 
I was lucky to get votes and to be picked, but I do worry about the time when the votes stop and I don’t get picked any more. This is a perfectly natural response. I also don’t go around my friends and family and ask them to vote for me, because that isn’t fair. If I get picked, I want it to be picked on a fair community vote and not because I emailed everyone in my department and asked a boatload of people to vote for me. I’d like to thank everyone who did vote for my session.
At the same time, I think it isn’t about the rank you hold or the number of sessions you give; it is about the legacy you leave behind. So, when I sit in sessions and see people talking about Excel and trellis charts, for example, I remember that I talked about that at SQLBits a few years ago. I was the first to talk about these topics at SQLBits, and I am happy that I trailblazed and now other people are talking about data visualisation as part of other sessions. 

I’m not criticising others who have two sessions, and I am happy for them. My focus is slightly different, particularly since I hold an elected seat on the Board of Directors. I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for me, and I hope that this is a visible sign that I am working for the SQLFamily and the technical community.
At the same time, I think it is important to leave a legacy, even if people don’t see it. I don’t know whom they picked instead of me, but by making a sacrifice myself, it does mean that someone new can have the opportunity that I got. 

That said, I look forward to seeing people at my session and you can be assured that I will do my best, as always.

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