What The Doctor Ordered

I recently went to our local pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions. There was one for my boy and one for me; at the time I didn’t think much of it to check. I had seen the last name on the slip for both and moved onward with the business of the day. What I didn’t realize is that I had picked up a totally different prescription for a gentleman with the same last name as me for something that had nothing to do with me.

A number of emotions ran through my mind some not so good, but some actually made me think of my day to day routine and work as a SQL Data Professional:

◾ What was the root cause of how the issue occurred?

◾ Was it a manual process or automated?

◾ What processes are in place for this to not happen?

◾ Security in general (information was on the slip for the other gentleman)?

◾ What could have been the outcome based on taking the prescription?

Sure, I’m human, and you bet I was frustrated by the situation. The questions above come into play every day if we look around. Think about it for a minute if you will. How many times are we going about the business of the day and truly aren’t paying attention? Or maybe we are working on an issue at work or in a shop and giving an issue a “what for” only to come to find out we weren’t correctly diagnosing the root cause of the issue, to begin with.

What is the root cause of how the issue occurred?

This seems like a logical question we would ask when dealing with a scenario. I’m guilty at times for triaging quickly and moving on; it is only when I step back and look at the true issue at hand will it then become extinct and truly eradicated. A wise boss I have once told me to always look for and identify the root cause; sure you will have to remedy the problem, but to truly fix the problem you need to address it at times further upstream. There will be times where you are not the one to fix the root cause and guess what? That’s okay. Yep – it is okay but you do your due diligence and bring that to the attention of others who may be able to fix that root issue.

Was it a manual process or automated?

For anyone who knows me knows that I love automation. Some may look at this as it pushing me out of a job. Quite the opposite for me; it has helped me to become more efficient and streamline many mundane daily activities. When I first became active in the SQL community six years ago I came upon a post by John Sansom (B|T) that dealt with automation. The concept has stuck with me and I am glad it did. Look around you in your daily routine; what can you automate? What should you automate? What processes can you enhance that will allow you to become more innovative in other areas?

What processes are in place for this not happen?

If you, dear reader, don’t get anything out of this post then I hope you tune into this section. If you identify a problem address it or get it addressed; too many times I’ve seen issues just get swept under the rug only to have the same problem happen again for the next data professional to fix. As I type this I’m even taking inventory of my own practices. Always have the mindset of making your practices better; don’t become stagnant. If you become stagnant then you are not innovating. Challenge yourself daily to make an impact – you be the game changer.

Security in general?

How many times have you seen security become an afterthought? I’ve seen it my whole career; it can quickly become the end of a project. Or better yet, if you work with a lot of installs and vendors, you will have the fun ability to just make everything SA. That should do the trick; just let me hop on your network and do whatever I want to do for the install. As a data professional and more specifically since I am a DBA, it is your duty to protect the information you are responsible for. Security is something that you should take seriously from day one. Do not make this an afterthought; if you do then the repercussions could be detrimental to any business.

What could have been the outcome based on taking the prescription?

As you work through any issues think about the outcome of what you are doing and the impact you will make. If you are changing architecture or schema how will that affect something else down the line? Maybe you just throw in an index not knowing if it will work better or affect something else down the line. Backups????? Eh, who needs them. Let’s just shut those things off. Oh yeah, I have backups but I’ve never restored one (don’t let this be you).

These are all scenarios I’ve seen over and over again. Think about working into your daily routine and thought mentality to think about the outcome of what is being done and the impact it will have on other business functions.

Conclusion

As we move through our daily routines and become frustrated at times with issues think about these 5 questions. They are simple in essence; don’t overcomplicate things. Look for the root cause and think about how to address it properly so it does not continue to happen. Don’t sweep issues under the rug. I still remember the saying from when I was growing up ingrained in me and I’m sure some of you have heard it as well ~ “Don’t put things off until tomorrow what you can get done today.”

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.

img_20161031_124917

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