From “writing” big queries to “speaking” about BigQuery - How I became a GDG speaker.

GDG Pura Vida Speaker Lanyard.

“A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something,” said Plato.
I’ve always wanted to share everything I knew. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment. So, my friends and colleagues have been the
victims, till one day I found a tweet that said “Call for Papers for DevFest 2019” — by GDG Pura Vida,(Costa Rica) one of the many GDG’s across the world.

Usually, I would have ignored the tweet, but GDG sounded familiar and the colors in the logo resembled the most common thing I do in my life — “Google”.

Being an ardent fan of Google, its products and services, I became curious. That GDG sounded familiar because I heard it from my own brother, who is an organizer for GDG Houston, Texas. So, I called him up and inquired what the fuss is about this GDG and what this call for papers mean. And I had an amazing introduction to probably one of the biggest developer communities in the world.

So, till that moment I had my knowledge sharing sessions with my friends, lover, did not leave my ex too, my family and my colleagues.

Looking at a tweet, connecting the dots, my vehement desire to share my knowledge, I felt these are all signs that have something to say, wise enough, right :).

I decided to try my luck to become a public speaker at GDG PuraVida. I had my professional Data Engineer certification in GCP and I was confident that I have something to say about Google Cloud. So, I decided to speak about BigQuery considering my DWH expertise then.

With no hopes of getting my talk approved, I applied and voila, I received an email stating that my application to speak about BigQuery has been approved!

I was on Cloud 9, 10, 11 …. etc.,

Till then I thought if my application gets approved, I definitely have something to say, but then I realized actually I have a lot to say.
That’s BigQuery!

Just the way the hills appear smooth from a distance, everything was fine so far. Slowly, reality sunk in and I started thinking why did I even apply? What for? I was doing well sharing my knowledge with my dear ones and I had enough troubles when they teased me because of the simple, but stupid analogies. I started wondering if people would love my talk. If I can do justice to the topic. If I can actually speak in front of hundreds of folks, that too mostly experts. I was cursing myself. I had second thoughts. I was planning to email GDG PuraVida organizers that I shall be unavailable and I cannot present my topic by quoting something stupid.

But, something stopped me from doing so. Fear? Desire? Maybe a combination of both? Not sure, but I could not cancel it. Instead, I was seeking guidance from my brother and slowly getting comfortable with the idea that I shall be presenting and talking about BigQuery at a GDG event for the first time. As if it is another sign, I was requested to join a slack group where all the discussion was happening and the amazing GDG PuraVida organizers have actually thought this through! They planned a public speaking workshop
so that speakers can feel comfortable talking!

Voila, what else do I need, I thought. Unfortunately, I realized the session is in
Spanish, so I dropped off. Well, Costa Rica is a Spanish speaking country and no blame there. But the very thought that even organizers realized that not every speaker is the same has comforted me. So, I decided that I am not gonna give up on this challenge I took myself and I read Google’s research papers on Dremel, which almost took a week for me to sink in. So tough for me,
I thought my understanding can help others and I have written a medium article itself.
(https://medium.com/@pallerlaakshay/wrapping-head-around-repetition-and-definition-levels-in-dremel-powering-bigquery-c1a33c9695da)
I went through a lot of comparisons for Google’s BigQuery against its competitors and swam through plenty of documentation for BigQuery.

When I thought I was almost ready, once again, there was another hurdle, this time a genuine one. I was requested to travel to the US on business for my client immediately with almost one week left for my presentation. Now, I have a valid reason to skip my presentation which I actually wanted to do a couple of weeks before, but the reason did not stop my resolution now. I declined the invitation and I said I can only travel the day after I finish my presentation, on Nov 3rd, 2019. So, 2nd November 2019 I had this amazing day in my life. From that day, my life has changed its course, probably forever.
The moment I walked in, an enthusiastic team started wishing me realizing that I was a speaker. Honestly, I was surprised if they were referring to me when they got so excited. A small kid, apparently who was also a speaker with her dad, came to me for a photograph. I was not believing what was happening to me. Really? Am I a celebrity or what? First off, organizers got so excited looking at me and I was like whoa! what did I do to deserve such an exciting welcome.

Second, a kid comes and seeks a photograph with me.
I started feeling like I am a celebrity there.

Wait, before you start thinking, reality comes again :D

Then, I realized the kid was seeking a photograph because organizers challenged her to take a photograph with all the speakers :D. Well, my celebrity stature has kinda had its run and the reality sunk in again, I spoke to myself.

I spoke about BigQuery, I had my friends capture a lot of photographs and answered almost all the questions and when I finished my talk, something amazing happened —
People clapped. Never before in my life, I realized those claps can be so soothing. I did not hear to those claps, I heard music. I heard voices saying you Did It!

I met a lot of people at the event, I carpooled with one of the most amazing persons I have ever met, who is a Kubernetes expert, I received a lot of attention, a lot of swag, a lot of networking, plenty of excitement and even a job offer to become an authorized Google Cloud Instructor.

I started wondering what did I fear? Why did I curse myself? Maybe, before every adventure a small voice says “Idiot, why did you come till here and a plethora of “reasons” start jumping in to tell you, don’t do it. But, you only need one “resolution” — to do it.” And after the adventure, all the reasons start disappearing leaving your resolution, the solution.

That day on, I have become a regular public speaker at a lot of events in my company. The sound of claps still haunts me. The celebrity stature, which I thought had its run and passed away, actually keeps coming when people recognize me when I roam out and appreciate me for my talk.
With a tweet, a small connection, amazing support I took a turn in my life with an unknown destination towards creating a destiny!

Thank you GDG PuraVida for the opportunity and Thank you Google for creating an amazing environment

My presentation is available for public here — https://speakerdeck.com/akshaykumar/introduction-to-gcps-bigquery-gdg-puravida

Jai Hind, PuraVida.
- Signing off
Akshay Kumar Pallerla

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