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So you want a PGDay in your City | PGConf EU 2023 | Teresa Giacomini Hettie Dombrovskaya

Citus Data
December 15, 2023

So you want a PGDay in your City | PGConf EU 2023 | Teresa Giacomini Hettie Dombrovskaya

Big events, like PGConf EU, allow participants to interact with a large group of top professionals from all over the world and choose from a variety of presentations. However, not everybody can afford long-distance travel and several days off work. Enter PGDays—local one-day conferences where Postgres users, developers and enthusiasts can gather close to home. PGDays are vital for PostgreSQL community development and growth as they provide smaller, more intimate opportunities for people to network and to learn from each other.

What if your city does not run a PGDay, but you really want one? What does it take to start a new PGDay? Are you the right person to start it? Can you do so alone? What’s in it for you? How can you help if you don’t want to drive the whole thing? Are there less time-consuming ways to help?

What if your city does not run a PGDay, but you really want one? How can you encourage a new PGDay? Are you the right person to lead one? How can you build a great team? How can you help without assuming a leading role? What’s in it for you?

In this session, we will share our experiences as part of the operations teams that organized the first PGDay Chicago and the first PgDay San Francisco, including successes you can copy, and hurdles to watch out for.

Citus Data

December 15, 2023
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  1. So you want a PGDay
    in your City?
    Henrietta Dombrovskaya
    Teresa Giacomini

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  2. Teresa Giacomini
    (She/Her)
    Senior Program Manager
    ● Co-chair PGDay San Francisco 2020
    ● Organized events from 15 to thousands
    ● Edits & publishes the Citus newsletter
    ● Worked at INGRES, Oracle,
    Sun Microsystems, Citus Data &
    Microsoft
    ● I love to grow fruits & veggies, and
    chase my chickens
    About me

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  3. Hettie Dombrovskaya
    (She/Her)
    Database Architect
    ● Working with databases for over 40 years
    (people do not live that long!)
    ● I love working with app developers!
    ● Local organizer of Chicago PostgreSQL
    User Group
    ● Author of PostgreSQL Query Optimization
    ● There is no “work-life balance” - it’s called
    “work-life integration”!
    About me

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  4. ● PG community likes to talk!
    ● PG conferences are not academic conferences
    ● PG documentation has it all, but what if you are not sure what you need
    ● You can ask anybody about anything in Postgres
    ● Everybody is happy to share
    Why PGDays?
    To summarize: knowledge + connections

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  5. ● Save time and money on travel
    ● Easier to get manager’s approval
    ● Attract speakers that a meeting might not
    Why Local?

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  6. Postgres User Groups & PGDays
    ● User Groups are important–you need to show to Pg.US that you have a local
    community
    ● Your primary audience to invite to your PGDay
    ● A ready pool of potential volunteers

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  7. What does it take to start a PGDay
    First and foremost - you need an advocate from Pg.US. What if you do not know
    anybody? See above: Postgres community loves to talk.
    ● Attend a conference
    ● Introduce yourself to somebody from Pg.US
    ● Tell them that you want a PG Day
    ● Repeat until you find somebody who will agree to advocate for your PG Day.

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  8. …and then you need
    Money People Time

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  9. What makes a PG Day happen?

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  10. What makes a PG Day happen?
    ● Org committee
    ● Set a preliminary event date
    ● Create a budget
    ● Get the budget approved
    ● Create a website
    ● Put together a CFP and CFP committee
    ● Finalize the venue
    ● Finalize the dates
    ● Promote
    ● Find sponsors
    ● …

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  11. Are you the right person to start a PGDay?

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  12. ● If you want, you are the right
    person!
    ● You might need to find other
    right people
    ● You might even need to find
    that person, who will
    spearhead the event
    ● But if you want, you can start
    Are you the right
    person to start a
    PGDay?

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  13. What can you contribute before the day
    given your experience?
    Finding
    Sponsors Promotions Graphic
    design
    WEB dev
    Be creative!
    Social Media
    Advertising
    Organization
    Speakers’ gifts
    Speakers/
    volunteers
    dinner
    Event bags*
    Venue details
    Budget
    Website
    banners
    Event logo
    Event t-shirt*
    Stickers
    Prompt
    updates
    *Optional

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  14. ● Staying at the venue to receive
    merchandise from sponsors
    ● Running around to order prints,
    receive supplies, etc
    ● Site setup
    ● Bag stuffing (optional)
    What can you
    contribute one day
    before?

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  15. ● Site setup (something won’t
    arrive until the day of!)
    ● Registration
    ● Room monitors
    ● Site takedown
    ● Time keeper
    ● Traffic director
    What can you
    contribute on the day
    given your experience?

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  16. What if you don’t know where to start?
    You’re here!
    ● Reach out to other PGDay organizers
    ● Talk to organizers of other events
    ● Watch this talk: Running a Community Conference,
    Stacey Haysler & Mark Wong @ PGCon 2023
    https://youtu.be/Np1IrgobzOE?feature=shared

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  17. Types of Lessons
    Planning People Execution

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  18. Planning Lessons

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  19. Lesson #1:
    Choosing a date can be
    tricky
    ● And it’s needed early to recruit your team
    ● Avoid holiday weekends
    ● Mid-week is best, Fridays work too
    ● Consider religious holidays too–all faiths
    ● Consider other events
    ● In your city
    ● In the PG world
    ● Examples: Oracle Open World, UN Week,
    Fashion Week etc

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  20. Lesson #2:
    Setting goals drives
    behavior
    ● # of attendees
    ● # of sponsors
    ● Accessibility
    ○ Venue
    ○ Captions
    ● One and done? Long tail?
    ○ Video recordings

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  21. Lesson #3:
    It takes money
    ● Creating a budget
    ○ Income: sponsorships, ticket sales
    ○ Expenses:
    ● Getting sponsors
    ● Working with PG Associations
    ○ Policies
    ○ Turnaround time
    ○ Cautious
    ● Doing your own thing (not recommended)
    Venue Speaker
    gifts
    stickers
    Speaker
    dinner
    Video
    recording
    Live
    captions
    Event
    signage
    catering Tables
    &
    chairs
    dishes
    linens
    wifi
    security
    printing
    Bathroom
    baskets
    design
    insurance swag
    childcare

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  22. Lesson #4:
    Event structure
    influences cost
    ● 1 or 2 tracks
    ● 1 or 2 days
    ● Talk length
    ● # of talks
    ● Attendee bags
    ● Event t-shirts

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  23. Lesson #5:
    Getting sponsorships
    the 1st year is hard
    ● It is hard in general!
    ● Building a prospectus
    ○ Look at other events for ideas
    ○ Levels
    ○ Benefits
    ● Brainstorming outreach
    ○ Get the whole team involved
    ○ Look at sponsors of other events

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  24. Lesson #6:
    Your venue matters
    ● Location within the city
    ○ Locals (easy to reach via transit,
    parking)
    ○ Out of town speakers (close to hotel,
    central)
    ● Amenities
    ○ Quiet room, Green room
    ○ Wifi
    ○ A/V
    ● Layout
    ○ Elevator if more than one level
    ○ Good location for sponsor tables,
    registration, meal service, storage
    ○ Flow
    ○ Meet your specific needs?
    Multiple tracks, tutorials
    ○ Stage
    ● Interesting? Fun?

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  25. Lesson #7:
    Catering options
    ● Do you need to use their vendor
    ● Can you contract on your own
    ● Food served in allotted time
    ● All day beverage
    ● Dietary options, labels

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  26. People Lessons

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  27. Lesson #8:
    Clearly defined roles &
    responsibilities
    ● Avoid making assumptions
    ● Lots of ways to organize your team
    ● Example: who determines # of talks, talk
    length

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  28. Lesson #9:
    A diverse talk selection
    team is essential
    ● Required to be a community conference
    ● Ensures broad range of topics are considered
    ● Real commitment is critical
    ● Meeting deadlines is imperative

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  29. Lesson #10:
    Not everyone has the
    same sense of urgency
    ● Things take longer than you think
    ● Examples:
    ○ Some people are slow in responding to emails
    ○ Budget approval may take more time than
    you think
    ○ Site launch might take way longer than you think
    ○ USPS takes way longer than you
    could ever imagine!

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  30. Lesson #11:
    There are lots of ways
    to skin a cat
    ● Some folks like big jobs
    ● Some folks like quick jobs
    ● Some folks like to be told what to do
    ● Some folks like to do the telling
    ● Structure your team to suit your volunteers
    ● Recruit folks to fill the gaps
    ● Remember community policies
    WHAT!??

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  31. Team structure
    PGDay SF:
    Team structure
    recommended by
    Pg.US:
    Lesson 11 examples…
    Team structure
    PGDay Chicago:
    Co-chairs,
    Talk Selection Chair,
    Web Dev, Design,
    Sponsor, Code of
    Conduct
    Planning was almost
    single-handed, help from
    Pg.US
    Operations, Program,
    Sponsor, Web, Marketing,
    Technical (A/V),
    Grants, Visa, Sprints,
    Code of Conduct

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  32. Lesson #12:
    Volunteers are a special
    kind of resource
    ● Different company cultures
    ● Different individual cultures
    ● Different communication styles
    ● Organization skills

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  33. Lesson #13:
    There are never too
    many volunteers
    ● Somebody will get sick a day before
    ● Somebody may have family emergency
    ● Somebody might not show up without
    explanation
    ● Somebody might abandon their assignment or
    turn out to be bad in it

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  34. Lesson #14:
    Consensus is good, but it
    takes time
    ● And money
    ● More comprehensive input
    ● Probably a better result, but not necessarily
    worth it

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  35. Lesson #15:
    So many ways to
    communicate
    ● Establish preferred methods up front
    ● Email
    ● Regular meetings
    ● Slack or Teams or Google Chat?
    ● Whatsapp
    ● International teams might have their
    preferences you never thought about!

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  36. Lesson #16:
    So many people to
    please!
    ● Sponsors
    ● Speakers
    ● Attendees
    ● Volunteers
    ● Postgres Association
    ● Companies volunteers work for

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  37. Execution Lessons

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  38. Lesson #17:
    It takes time
    ● Individual time
    ● Flexibility
    ● Similar to scoping a technical
    ● Rule of thumb = 6 months recommended

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  39. ● Speeds up the process
    ● … but you still need a second set of eyes
    Lesson #18:
    It helps to have a web
    dev on your team

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  40. ● This might be THE most important thing
    ● The social world is split
    ● More people promoting, the more people
    touched
    ● Encourage speakers to promote their talks
    ● Use the personal touch
    ● Stickers
    Lesson #19:
    Promotion is more important
    than you think
    I’m Here!
    HERE!
    I’m Here!

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  41. Lesson #20:
    Speakers need a place to
    stay
    ● No examples or learnings from us!
    ● A list of recommended hotels is nice to have
    ● Don’t sign up for room block if possible
    ● Close proximity to venue

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  42. Lesson #21:
    Merchandise arrives
    late!
    ● Negotiate earlier parcels acceptance
    ● Example: It can take up to 6 days for a parcel
    to be delivered within Chicago city limits!
    (Could you possibly know that if
    you are not in Chicago?!) LATE!
    !
    !

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  43. Lesson #22:
    Be ready for surprises
    on the big day
    ● Anything can happen on event day
    ● Brainstorm in advance what could go wrong
    ○ Weather
    ○ A/V
    ○ No show volunteers
    ● Have a go-to person or persons
    ● If possible have staff easily identifiable
    ● Recruit more volunteers than you need
    There’s no
    toilet paper…
    I can help…
    I got you!
    HEEEELP

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  44. Lesson #23:
    Social events are fun,
    but not required
    ● People want / need to have unstructured time
    ● Build community
    ● Have a list of nearby gathering places
    ● Consider noise - can people hear each other
    ● Consider a sponsorship to cover costs

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  45. Lesson #24:
    Showing gratitude
    ● Critical in a community
    ● Verbal gratitude
    ● Speaker gifts
    ● Volunteer team gifts
    ● Hand-written notes
    ● Public appreciation - at event, on social media
    ● Sponsor acknowledgement

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  46. Lesson #25:
    So VERY gratifying
    ● What do you get from being part of a team?
    ● Thrill from starting something new
    ● Satisfaction from seeing a job well done
    NEED IMAGE

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  47. PGDay Chicago 2024
    April 26, 2024
    Closes January 15, 2024
    CFP is open!
    https://2024.pgdaychicago.org

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  48. Thank You
    Hettie Dombrovskaya
    Teresa Giacomini

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