This Wednesday we’re having a special joint meeting of oPASS and MagicPASS featuring Microsoft GM Mark Souza. For the past couple months we’ve referred to it internally as “Operation Souza” as we discussed how to best support his visit and do the most for our local SQL community. We contacted Mark originally to see if would speak at SQLSaturday Orlando, part of the annual outreach to bring new faces to Orlando. Mark had a scheduling conflict that ruled out SQLSaturday, but he graciously offered to speak at a Chapter meeting instead. That led to an interesting discussion – where should we hold it? oPASS is on the far north side of Orlando, MagicPASS on the far south side, far enough apart that we thought we’d have very low attendance from the non-hosting group. The alternative was a joint meeting which seemed like the right approach, but we had to find a free and central location to make it work. We finally found what looks to be a site that is just about perfect, Nova University in mid-Orlando.
With venue settled, we moved on to to the issue of sponsors – should we have one? We decided to go sponsorless, it just seemed easier and reinforced the message that this would be a special event. We did just a little messaging about it during the run up to SQLSaturday, but we didn’t want to dilute or confuse the SQLSaturday message, so early registration was mostly driven from the two chapters. We also sent out special invites to the area group leaders and influencers. At SQLSaturday we had some fun with some cardboard cutouts of Obi-Wan and Yoda with a Souza picture applied, but the real marketing was at the end of day when we could then move on to the “next” message.
As soon as SQLSaturday wrapped up we turned to logistics and meeting organization for Operation Souza. We’re trying to make it a normal meeting in most ways – greetings, Chapter deck, some networking. oPASS & MagicPASS will divide up all the usual tasks of running a chapter meeting. Food will probably be pizza because it’s easy, we’ll have water and maybe coffee. We’ll have some raffle prizes after Mark finishes what we expect to be a two hour presentation/discussion. My role in this is nice and easy, I’m the handler, charged with making sure Mark knows where to be, gets what he needs, remembers to drink water, and all the rest, which – Mark being Mark – means I will spend most of my time as an attendee.
I’m expecting this to go well, the two groups already do a lot of stuff together for SQLSaturday and while this is a bit different format, that’s offset by the lesser complexity. We’re at 117 registered as of today, and I expect a few more before Wed night. Even with some last minute cancellations we should wind up with very good attendance. I’m also hoping that this is a template for some other things I’d like to see happen, but we’ll come back to that after the meeting!