Eliminating Hassles

TimeForChangeIt is easy for me to fall into the trap of the “who” versus the “what”. If we are not careful we can get caught up in a web entangled mess. I often get asked how do I go about handling each day and staying organized. Let me be the first to say it isn’t easy, and just because it works for one person doesn’t always mean it will work for the next. However; with that said I am happy to disclose some of my methods in what I call eliminating hassles.

Ask What Rather Than Who

Usually, a problem that arises many people tend to throw out the “It’s not my fault; it’s your fault” card. Some do it with quite precision I’ve found out over the years. When an issue arises instead of immediately looking at someone to place blame on; step back and look at how the issue got to where it is. Example, perhaps a procedure or policy that has been mandated for years contributed to the said issue. Don’t get me wrong and confuse this with letting discipline go by the wayside; there will be instances where it is in fact needed. For future reference, I try to think about the problem at hand and how we got there first then go from there. Who knows; maybe a problem has existed for a while now that is due to a standard and it can easily be changed to help all parties involved. Just because something has been done one way for years doesn’t mean it is right.

Listen To What Others Are Saying

Within IT, we provide a service, to both our external and internal customers. A necessity for survival is keeping a pulse on what is going on around us. Many times we can find process failures if we just listen. We have grown accustomed to having information and data at a moments notice. Being in the financial industry myself I realize how important it is for processes to work as quickly, smoothly, and efficiently as they can. I once had a coach who told me not to listen to how he was saying something but rather what he was saying. I didn’t realize then what that means; all we heard was yelling – I get it now from a business perspective. Listen to the complaint or concern that others are initiating and see if there are some improvements that can be made.

Always Think Ahead

This may be easier said than done, but don’t just wait for issues to appear; continue to find ways to improve upon process before the issues arise. One key aspect I’ve learned in leadership over the years is to anticipate problems and be prepared to handle them. As sports teams go through practice day in and day out preparing for a big game by studying and anticipating what their opponent will be doing and vice versa. The same concept applies here; we as data professionals should be proactive in our day to day efforts. Continue to review disaster practices, processes that may have become stagnant through the years. Don’t become complacent.

Review Your Own Processes

Let’s leave everyone else out of this next topic. Time for reflection of yourself; everyone has their own routine – some are good and some are bad. Some leaders I know often say that routines can be bad and I get that. However, there are some good routines that if correctly put in place can garner stability for an environment. One headache I’ve seen over and over again with many data professionals (myself included) is organization. So, me personally, below is my routine for myself:

  • BROWSE THROUGH YOUR EMAIL. Is there anything that needs to be done today or tomorrow? This week? This month?
    1. What did I not do well yesterday, in any area of my life, I need to go back and fix?
    2. What went well?
    3. What did not go well?
    4. What did not get done yesterday?
  • What can I start working on today that will not pay off for 5, 10, 20 years from now?
  • What is important for me to be working on right now?
  • What is the biggest problem in my personal life? My business life?

That’s it; I start off with those same questions each morning; will it work for you? Not sure but this is just an example of what my routine is in the morning before I get going. Time is key and time management is even better. I will not go into my routine on time management, but maybe I will turn that into a future post.

Resistance = Yes

Anytime changes are made to existing processes or procedures you should expect resistance. This goes hand in hand with listening to what the major problems and complaints are both internal and external. Processes that I’ve encountered in my own shop that was put in place say 8 years ago were put in place for a reason; however, that reason may have outlived its purpose. With that being said working through resistance is a skillful mastering that doesn’t occur overnight. One lesson I’ve learned over time is how your words are interpreted and what people take from your words is crucial and key. There may be times that you have to garner support for your ideas and that is okay; this is where it is key to know what you are doing and to present the idea thoroughly and skillfully. As a data professional it is our duty to continue to look for and implement new and better processes to help streamline processes making them the most efficient as they can be.

One thing I would like to say in all this doesn’t sacrifice what is right for the sake of speed. Remember, do it right the first time and don’t cut corners – chances are if you do it will come back to bite you in the end.

Reflect On Changes Made

Going to let you in on a little secret. Every change that I’ve made has not always gone according to plan. Yes, I’ve taken risks in the past – calculated ones and ones that I felt were right. There are times when you have to re-evaluate those changes made and that’s okay. This is part of the journey and growth. Introducing new ideas to a team, the culture at a shop, or individually is easy – making them stick is not always as easy. I recall an assistant coach of mine would meet me at the gym at 3:30 a.m. before school so I could get in 800 jump shots and conditioning. This was a change I wanted to make so that I could get better at what I was doing at the time – was it easy – – um no. The same thing has carried over into technology for me. When change is made it is not always going to be easy – it is then when true leadership and character come into play. Lead by example and if you have made a mistake own up to it and make the necessary change.

Take A Ways

  • Don’t look to pass blame; rather identify failure points
  • Eliminate hassles
  • Review processes and keep them up to date
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes when required
  • Expect resistance
  • Ask why something is done one way
  • Get organized
  • Listen to your internal and external customers – what are the pain points

TSQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

TSQL2SDAY-300x300.pngI was intrigued by this month’s T-SQL Tuesday topic presented by Ewald Cress (b|t) “Folks Who Have Made a Difference”. Digging a bit deeper the comment of “Who has made a difference in your career?” was made.

I’ve stopped and restarted typing this blog post several different times. I’ve trashed countless drafts and have now ended back up here – starting from the beginning….ground level. So many thoughts have run through my mind, a time of reflection, on different stages of my life. There are a ton of folks in the SQL community who impact me each and every day; so much so that I can’t list them all. If you stop and look around you will be inspired by so many – I think the key here is to actually stop and listen.

I would be amiss however if I didn’t share a few people, some SQL related and some not, who have impacted me heavily along the way. From a SQL perspective I can say without a shadow of a doubt I would not be involved or plugged in if it weren’t for Chris Shaw (b|t) taking his time and investing in me early on. I met Chris back in 2011, my first PASS Summit. He has not only been a mentor to me but a great friend. He took a chance on me when he didn’t have to and for that, I will always be thankful.

From a business perspective, Brad Cunningham and Chris Howard have played an integral role in my career path and development. Without them, I doubt I would have been pushed as much as I have to be the best that I could be. Having an open mind to doing community work within SQL is not found everywhere; they have shown me what a true data professional looks like with integrity, character, leadership, mentorship, and an attitude of you can vs. you can’t.

Then there are the naysayers. You might say this is rather odd to have in here, but for me, it isn’t. I’ve had people tell me my whole life that I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that. I guess you can say I’m in the business of proving people wrong. From the basketball days on the courts to the coding and DBA work of today, to the board meetings of various groups I’ve heard I can’t – – all that has done is provided the fuel within me to push myself and say I can. So, you see, in essence, they deserve just as much credit for inspiration. There are a lot of times when I felt like giving up in many areas….then that small voice of “hey you can’t” chimes in. That extra strength then comes through.

Thanks Ewald for hosting this month. Was a great time of reflection for me; so many numerous people who have inspired me on this journey. Definitely too many to list in one sitting.

Pass Summit 2017

It’s about that time of year again when there is a buzz in Seattle in regards to PASS Summit. Many data professionals will be heading out to one of the biggest SQL related events of the year. There is excitement for many along with a sense of being overwhelmed for some. The minute you step off that plane, bus, car, etc. you are immediately geared up for the unknown. Guess what – enjoy the ride!

This year due to previous business engagements scheduled I will not be attending; however, I will be there at times virtually along with social media. I will miss seeing many of my friends from around the globe; however, this post isn’t about that. Why? Because I know I will see everyone again real soon somewhere down the line and even back at the event in 2018. Instead, here are some tidbits for you, dear reader, that may help you along your journey in the upcoming week.

Network

That’s right, you will find yourself among the best speakers in the world, thousands of your closest friends, and a plethora of vendors. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and mingle around; talk to someone you don’t know. Spend some time at the vendor booths learning about the various products that may help you in the future.

Sessions

img_20161026_103752In reviewing all the sessions, yes I still review them even if I am not there, there are so many good ones to choose from. You will hear many people say they can’t see all the ones they want to – that’s okay as well. Attend the ones that you feel will help you the most; you can always check into purchasing the recordings while you are there or even after the event. Just soak it all in, ask a question yet be respectful.

Speakers

IMG_20161025_092017_01.jpgYou will find yourself immersed with speakers from all over the globe; some of the most talented individuals and data professionals we have in the community. Please provide feedback for the speakers for the sessions you are in. Believe it or not, it helps speakers hone their craft. How do I know, because I am one and it has helped me. Also, please be respectful of time.

After Events

fileThere will be events after the sessions are done for the day. Enjoy yourself, but do remember it is okay to network with others at these things. One of the highlights I’ve read so far is the mentor program this year. Truly stoked to see that happening. I remember last year when I was able to help Steve Jones and Andy Warren pair up people for their event to help plug people in. Seeing the smiling faces and knowing that they were excited to meet others said a lot.

First Time Ribbons

If you see a first-time ribbon don’t just run by. In the past events, I’ve made a point to go up to people and introduce myself and ask how they are doing. If you remember your first time attending the PASS Summit then you can relate to how overwhelming it can be. I remember Andy Leonard and Mike Walsh invested time in me early on when I attended and it made a world of difference in my life. You be that impact player for someone else.

Volunteers

img_20161025_074203You may not notice the volunteers as you are rushing up the escalators at the convention center. Take a second and a breath and if you see one of the many volunteers working the event stop and say THANK YOU. You will be surprised at how others may be having a bad day and a simple thank you for what they are doing will change their outlook for the day. No seriously, try it.

Community Zone

img_20161026_074256As you go toward the food one (it’s what I call it; where you go eat at the convention center) you will come upon the community zone. It is there you will find all kinds of community members hanging out. Go up and get to know some of the members. You’ll find a wide range of people there from organizers, speakers, etc. Hang out a bit and get to know some of your fellow data professionals

Key Notes

img_20161026_093230There will be morning keynote sessions before the day gets started. I encourage you to attend these; there is a lot of valuable information that comes out of these. Yes, I know there will be some late nights, but I do encourage you to do your best to get to these. Fantastic speakers with a fantastic message. I’ve been blessed to live blog the keynotes for the past 2-3 years. Each time presents new and exciting messages to be heard.

Summary

Again, I will miss everything about PASS Summit this year. Personally what has started off as an eager data professional has turned into much more. I deeply care about the event and everything it entails. Walking through the vendor areas talking with old friends, to spending time at the after events catching up. Or the one-off conversations in the halls – some of those have impacted me more than anything.

If you don’t catch anything I’ve said thus far, then please, listen to this. Enjoy yourself, learn as much as you can, and maybe…just maybe the PASS Summit will mean a bit more to you than when you first got there this year. Until we meet again down the road my friends ~ Take care and Let’s Roll.

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Thank You–#PASSElections

This week has been a whirlwind; as the results came in earlier this week on the election I wanted to take a moment and say Thank You. It is with great honor and privilege to be elected to a seat on the PASS Board.

This position is one that I don’t take lightly and with it, I will strive to do the best I can for you (us, community). I do want to take a moment and thank all those that ran for board positions. I applaud and am in awe of their tireless efforts in the community.

Thanks again for all the support and messages the community has shown me. Will only make one promise and that is to give my best effort every day to make our community the best it can be. I look forward to meeting and speaking to many of you in the near future.

Four PASS Questions–My Take #PASSElections

As part of the campaign material for this years election for Board of Directors; the candidates were asked to answer four questions. While I did put together a short two-minute video for PASS that will be published soon on the election site regarding these questions; I felt it prudent to also do a bit more justice to the questions.

What is PASS to you?

In simple terms PASS to me is the people that embody PASS in general. We are fortunate and blessed to have some great events worldwide at our disposal. To name a few events offhand:

All of the above are great avenues to learn, and we are fortunate to have them. If it wasn’t for some of these above I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t be here before you today on a slate to run for the PASS Board of Directors. However, with all that said, in my heart what makes PASS is the people (our community).

  • PASS is the one-off conversations that you see members having at the PASS Summit.
  • PASS is seeing a member helping another member with an issue or a problem.
  • PASS is the countless volunteers that devote their time to help others to connect, share, and learn.
  • PASS is speakers who devote their time and knowledge to helping others learn.
  • PASS is providing data professionals the ability to get ahead of the curve by keeping them out front of today’s technology.
  • PASS is when someone in the community is struggling and someone stops and offers them encouragement offline.
  • PASS is having healthy debates.
  • PASS is not just an event.
  • PASS is in everyday life; it doesn’t have to be regulated to confined events. It has no boundaries or walls.

We, as a community, have grown and made great strides over the years. There is still, and always will be, room for improvements. We cannot become stagnant nor can we be afraid of change when it merits it. I’m a byproduct of PASS and what PASS can do for you.

What one change would you like to see in PASS for the 2 years you serve, if any?

I think with any organization you have to keep improving on key aspects. For me, personally, I would like to see the following occur:

  • Continue to build on transparency with the community. Being more of a “grass-roots” data professional I would love and welcome to see additional collaboration efforts with community members.
  • Continue to build on PASS being a global entity. We cannot just view PASS as a US entity, but rather a global entity that is impacting data professionals from all over the world. I’m amazed thus far at the progress made in this area; still, with so much progress we still have so much more work to do.
  • Look at leadership paths for community members and also for existing Board of Directors. We should all continue to grow in this area regardless of where we are at in our careers.

What are your goals as a Board member

This is a great question and one that is not taken lightly. My stance on this question is simply to go in each and every day; put on the PASS uniform jersey, and make an impact in some form or fashion. Whether this is making some tough decisions or reaching out to bridge some gaps. I would love to continue the excellence in what I believe PASS to be; listen if I didn’t believe in PASS and what it stood for I wouldn’t be devoting the time these past six years. I’ve seen it at work first hand; I believe in it, and I also believe that with anything we can make it better for future PASS members.

In my original post found here regarding running for the board of directors I stated I would not make promises and that holds true. All I can say is that I will give it all I got every day. Will I make mistakes, yes. What I can guarantee is that the drive and passion are real along with a work ethic that wants to see success for PASS for many years to come.

How can the community stay current with the ever-evolving world of data?

I think the foundation has had a good starting point with the BI and BA tracts coming into play. We have to continue to hone in with the changing times from all angles of the life cycle. We need to continue to partner and collaborate with one another from Dev, DBA, BI, BA, Data Scientists, Data Professionals in general and provide mechanisms that help drive thought leaders within their respective industries.

We need to continue to provide the tools within the infrastructure side of PASS that enable cross-collaboration across local events – what worked for you vs. what didn’t work.

I’m excited about what the future holds and where data and solutions will lead us.

Summary

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this post. Leadership is something that I don’t take lightly. One of the sayings I’ve kept close to me is from John Wooden, “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” I think it’s imperative that we, as leaders, in the community view leadership as not creating followers, instead we should be creating more leaders.

I will have the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of the community and fellow board members. We should be able to demonstrate what is possible and continue to build future leaders within our community.

Again, it’s an honor to share the time with all of the candidates whom I respect. Whether you vote for me or not I do encourage you to go vote when balloting goes live on September 20th. It’s our community; let’s shape it together.

 

 

Running for the PASS Board of Directors #PASSelections

Someday_20564This year I decided to take “someday” to heart and do something that has been on my mind for awhile – submit my application to run for the PASS Board. Going through the process so far has been a humbling experience; one that I’ve learned a lot from. I’m excited to say that my application was accepted and with that this is my formal announcement and the beginning of my campaign for election.

You may ask who is Chris Yates and why is he running? By the end of this post, my goal is to answer that question for you. I am a by product of what PASS can do for you as a data professional. There are so many stories that people have shared who have had similar experiences such as mine. My first time I heard of PASS was in 2011; it is then I was afforded the opportunity to attend my first PASS Summit – information overload ensued! Unknown to me at the time it was the foundation being laid for the journey to arrive at this day.

The Question – Who Is Chris Yates?

Well, that’s easy enough. I’m a 17-year vet of SQL server who views his job as, well not a job. I work for a stellar company in Republic Bank located in Louisville, KY. It is there where my first break with PASS was given to me. I help John Morehouse run the local Louisville SQL and Power BI user group along with helping co-organize the local SQL Saturday event here with Malathi Mahadevan, John Morehouse, and many volunteers. I enjoy helping others succeed and leadership is a strong passion of mine to which I’ve dedicated time to leading a Center of Excellence initiative around leadership for our IT folk at the shop.

You can read plenty more over on my bio page on PASS’s web site located here.

You can view candidates rankings here

The Why?

So this is the meat of this post – the why? Chris, why now. Listen, earlier I mentioned that I’m a by product of what PASS can do for someone and their career. I’ve been blessed and fortunate in my career and more so over the past six years since PASS and I got to know each other. I want others to experience that same success and want to continue to help lead PASS to many more successful years.

PASS is the people, it is the networking at events from big to small, it is staying ahead of the curve that will provide and give our members the edge in their data professional careers. If you’ve been around me long enough then you’ve heard me say over and over again that if we just reach one it’s worth it; I truly believe that. For me it was a guy by the name of Chris Shaw who decided to take a chance on me and become my very first mentor after that 2011 PASS Summit – that is PASS. It is the one off conversations you have at events, email, phone calls in helping each other to learn – that is PASS.

There are plenty of Chris Yates’ out there who are still looking for something and don’t know about PASS. It’s time to step up to the plate and pay it forward like so many before me.

So What Do You Bring to the Table?

I’m not perfect; never will claim to be. If you come here looking for that then it is time to move on. Heck, I’m not even going to make promises that I won’t be able to keep. What I can tell you is this; each candidate running for this board is more than qualified. I’d even go as far as to say I would support all of them if I could. I can tell you that I have a passion for seeing this community succeed, and seeing PASS succeed. I will attack it like I do everything else and give it 110%; at the end of the day, there will be nothing left on the table and nothing left in the tank. Along with the passion and effort; I will tap into my previous board experiences along with being cognizant of my grass roots mentality. I truly believe that we can make an impact anywhere at anytime. Doesn’t have to be at an event; nor does it have to be on a call. Each one of us can impact someone’s life both as a data professional and on a personal level. This will be one epic ride and I ask that you take that journey with me.

Summary

There will be no “what if’s” nor will there be no looking for that someday. That someday came knocking on the door and I’m ready to answer that call and step through it hoping to make a difference for all you and our community. Whatever the outcome may be when this is all said and done; know one thing. The people make up PASS and without you (us) we couldn’t do what we set out to do on a daily basis – help each other to connect, share, and learn. If elected; I’ll give you all I got.

Now whether you vote for me or one of the other candidates I implore you to go vote; what you are doing is helping shape the future of the PASS organization.

To all the other candidates running; it’s truly an honor to share this stage with you. Thank you for laying it out on the line and accepting the call.

My name is Chris Yates and I’m running for the PASS BoD – for more information please go and visit here

SQL Saturday Louisville Re-Cap

IMG_20170804_064418And like the wind another SQL Saturday Louisville has come and gone. This past weekend seemed to be a huge success, but it didn’t come with some take-away’s and that is okay. I think every time we put on an event like this we are always looking for ways to make things better the next year. So, enough yapping. What are some of the highlights?

VENDORS

I’m privileged to work along side one of the other co-organizers in John Morehouse (b|t) when it comes to vendors. We were very thankful this year to have the following sponsors on board with us:

It was awesome to see each and every one of these vendors at the event. Most of them have been prior years and the attendees seem to enjoy speaking to them about their products. We truly appreciate the support they have shown us over the years and look forward to many more events ahead with them.

IMG_20170804_163609

SPEAKERS

Once again we had a very talented pool of speakers that came in town. I won’t take the time list all of them out here, but do go over to the SQL Saturday Louisville website if you are interested. As a speaker, it always amazes me that they come from all over to these events to give their time and hone their craft. If you ever attend one of these events I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Say thank you – believe me, it goes a long way.
  • Give serious session feedback; we look for ways we can make our presentations better.

A huge thank you to all the speakers that came out to our event; we had some great times together and look forward to seeing each of you somewhere down the line. I think everyone did a phenomenal job in their sessions and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from attendees; even after the event.

PRE CONS

This year we had Grant Fritchey (b|t) and Josh Luedeman (t) in the house. Both had packed sessions, I know Grant’s sold out and Josh wasn’t very far off from the numbers I was looking at. A full day of training from a couple of the best in our SQL community made for some great times. Observing and listening to attendees during the breaks again, nothing but positive things. Huge thank you to both of them for taking the time to spend a day with us before the event to share their knowledge with the attendees.

SQL SATURDAY CREW

I can’t say enough about the volunteers that help out with this event. It is no easy task to put one of these things on and the countless hours leading up to the event are many. The “behind the scenes” action is huge. A few things that stand out to me are the character, selfless acts, time given, and pride everyone takes in trying to make this the best event we’ve ever had each year. Doesn’t mean times are always easy; have a cohesive unit with single sight focus to knock out tasks and obstacles as they arise are pretty awesome. In any sense; can’t be more proud to serve along side these individuals.

This year we lost one of our very own SQL crew members. Dave Ingram passed this year. He was one of the earlier on volunteers that gave time to help make the event what it is today. In the three years as co-organizer, I knew him for 2 of those. It was evident his passion was helping the local community base here in Louisville. I was honored to be able to say a few words at the end of the day. It was touching to have the opportunity to meet his daughter, whom we did not know would be there, we were able to take a moment and recognize her and her dad with a round of applause. It’s because of men and woman like this who have forged the way for others like me to pay it forward. Thank you, Dave!

Dave

RIP Dave Ingram. SQL Saturday Louisville volunteer(7 years), SQL Cruise and PASS Summit Alumni. We miss you.

 

NEW SPEAKERS

IMG_20170805_153122It was awesome to see first time SQL Saturday speaker Kat Edrington (t) presenting a session for our attendees this year. This is what it is about for us. We need to continue to cultivate and bring in new leaders of tomorrow. Hats off to Kat on an excellent job well done!!

 

ATTENDEES

Thankful for the many conversations with the attendees that were had. From the questions regarding products they know that I am associated with to conversations on local tech news, to asking where things are at the venue. We at SQL Saturday Louisville strive to make it the best experience we possibly can; doesn’t mean we always get it right – but we will go down swinging trying. Thankful for the all the conversations that I was able to have with the everyone and look forward to much more.

At the end of the day, we had about half of the attendees who raised their hands stating it was their first SQL Saturday.

MARKS FEED STORE

Okay, so if you are from around here then you know about Mark’s Feed Store. The barbecue they have is simply amazing and they were are caterers for this event. Once again they were spot on and provided some great food for all of us at the venue. If you are ever in town go check them out.

TRUE PROFESSIONALS

As I said before there will always be something that comes up at an event. This time around we had a sound system issue in one of the rooms. Rie Irish (b|t) handled things without any issue and we took a field trip to a new room. These types of issues are things that bug the heck out of us hosting, but at times they are out of our hands. Appreciate the flexibility by Rie along with the attendees for being patient; putting a speaker behind in their session is not what we want to do here people.

As I am walking down the hall checking on things I hear a huge humming noise. As I enter the room I see Lori Edwards (b|t) in her session and Andy Mallon (b|t) providing assistance to the problem. After the humming subsided the bulb in the projector decided it was time for it to go. Once again we found ourselves taking a field trip across the hall. Once again, hats off to the ability to adjust and the attendees were very accepting.

Why do I bring these up you ask? Few reasons, but mainly that no matter how much you plan and get things orchestrated issues will arise. It’s important to address as quickly and politely as possible and move on. BTW if you aren’t following the people above in this section please do so…stellar data professionals.

THE WHY?

So at the event, I was asked why do you do this? Why do you help? Why do you speak? I keep saying the same thing but it holds true. In 2011 when I attended my first PASS Summit it changed my life and career.You don’t have to wait until you can go to Seattle Washington though; you can attend these local events all over the globe to learn, network, and test the waters. I know there are other Chris Yates’ out there who, like me, was wanting to get plugged in but didn’t know how. Wanting to make a difference locally, but yes also globally I will always try to be me and help others along the way. Appreciate, encourage and value everyone ~ we got this.

THAT’S A WRAP

Another Saturday has come and gone. I hope everyone from the speakers to the attendees had a great time. Next year will be our 10th year which is a special milestone. Look forward to what the journey holds and hope to see many of you there.