The people, plain and simple.
I encourage you, if you are not part of the local MySQL community, then why not? Find a local MySQL Meetup group, attend the MySQL Conference, get online to IRC @ freenode#mysql, subscribe to some lists or read the forums. I didn’t meet these people being an observer, but part of the community.
As I wrote recently with some vacation time and the need to pick the brain of some experts I organized a quick trip to Germany to specifically visit Jan Kneschke and Paul McCullagh to improve my MySQL skills in certain areas on my own time (something I’d find harder to want to do at Sun when they owned all IP & copyright even during my personal time, so what incentive is there?)
As with the best laid plans of mice and men, the mention a few weeks earlier of skiing (my number one passion) and the chance to do this with Michael Zinner in Austria was too much a golden opportunity to miss, so this was added to my trip.
But it didn’t stop there. These were my plans yet news of my visit brought out others to want to see me during my visit. With Jan, additional events organized included my chance to see Kai Voigt, and then Jens Bollmann and Ulf Wendel. With Paul, lunch was organized with Lenz Grimmer. This is one beauty of a distributed company such as MySQL, people in lots of different places and something I am most glad that will not be lost just simply because I’m no longer an employee.
In the past year I’ve spent quality time with other MySQL Community people and also not just from MySQL. This past twelve months has included time with Sheeri Kritzer Cabral in Boston many times (including her wedding), Jay Pipes in Columbus (including also going there for Thanksgiving), Chad Miller in Orlando (even just to visit one day to see a shuttle launch), Gary Whizin in Santa Cruz, Baron Schwartz in Charlottesville and of course Farhan Mashraqi in New York. It’s great to get to know people better personally, to meet spouses and partners and to just consider life in general. People and their own goals and dreams are far more significant then just our own careers.
During my time at MySQL I’ve also made friends with several clients and have spent time with them in varying locations in the US including New York, Jacksonsville, Chicago and San Francisco.
In the past week following a request for any Linked In recommendations of my work, I’ve exceeded my goals of 25, and I’m now at 31 of 166 contacts, many from members of the MySQL community and clients.
I’m sure 2008 will be no different. Any offers for me to visit are always most welcome and to live by my motto “Life is Short. Live Life. Life is an Adventure”.