Category Archives: Encouragement

T-SQL Tuesday #119 – Changing Your Mind

This month Alex Yates (B|T) is hosting T-SQL Tuesday which is a monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (B|T) and co-ordinated by Steve Jones (B|T)

The challenge that Alex has proposed this month regarding what have we, as data professionals, changed our mind about over time is a great one.

Starting out as a developer, becoming a database administrator, and morphing into management I have grown over time in certain areas. One of those areas is the specific need to understand all aspects of the various technical and business units. Particularly how they are intertwined with each other.

Let me explain. My mindset in the past had been fix what needed to be fixed, and on to the next innovative solution. If you didn’t take the solution provided then that’s okay; but expect the issues to persist. Having in depth knowledge of how the processes all flow together and what makes each business unit tick however is something that has helped over time.

I’ve learned that bridging gaps and bringing everyone together has helped immensely in trouble shooting issues, learning what business is trying to actually accomplish, and proving that developers, sysadmins, and DBAs can work together. Who knew right?

This type of mentality is ever challenging and always a moving target. One that will always require fine tuning. When it clicks though the fruitful gains are exponential. The key being to always try to figure out the “why”. Set emotion aside and work together reviewing the facts while partnering and collaborating as much as possible. I’m always enamored when teams who work for the same company struggle with this concept.

Thanks Alex for hosting this month and for what you do in the community. Cheers!

 

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5 Characteristics Every Leader Should Practice

leadershipTodayThe word leadership has many synonyms attributed to it. Something that can be learned early on in one’s career is that having a leader you can trust is very important. Trust is something that is earned; not given. As I reflect over the years I’ve noticed mistakes that have been made along the way; mistakes that have often been learning experiences for myself to hopefully improve areas that need improving.

Below are characteristics that, in my opinion, make up a good leader, but the list is not an exclusive set. No, in fact there are many more that won’t be listed. This post is just to get your thought process flowing and maybe spark some interest in areas that you (the data professional) might not have thought of before.

Communication

This topic in and of itself could have its own dedicated blog post. This is something that many data professionals have a hard time with – myself included at times. The art of communication is a key component in a data professionals tool belt; many only think of a tool belt that consists of technical utilities. I am of the opinion that one should add necessary skill sets such as communication in their every day repertoire for it is in this we get to interact with people on a daily basis.

  • Team based communication
  • Client based communication
  • Business unit based communication
  • Meeting based communication

Communication is all around us; it is how we interact. Are we one who people like to come to with problems? Perhaps people shy away from us because we constantly tell them how wrong they are? Whatever the case may be there are gaps in communication and this characteristic is something that will always have to be worked on daily.

Humility

Whether you lead a team or you are a sole data professional doing your thing there will be times we all need a dose of humility. I can honestly say, personally, that our team I’m on would not be where it is today without everyone included. I’m going to just say this here to get it out-of-the-way; there will always be something that someone else knows that you don’t. That’s okay; it is part of our journey we call gaining knowledge. What I’ve seen over the years that sets data professionals apart from one another are a few things:

  • Thirst for learning and gaining knowledge
  • When a mistake is made; own up to it. Learn from it and move on
  • Do not play the I’m right, you’re wrong game
  • Rest in the fact that albeit how smart one is; you can always learn

Some of my best mentors have been ones that are constantly asking “What can I do to help you” instead of  “That is wrong and here is what you have to do”. You cannot be afraid to fail; for in times of failure you can gain great knowledge. A fear of failure will cause you to not be innovative.

When my time with my group has gone there will be one thing I hope they can glean from me; do not be afraid to try new and innovative ways to accomplish resolutions.

Responsible

Responsibility is a key component to any data professional. I was brought up in life that if you give your word than you better follow through. This doesn’t mean that bumps or obstacles in the journey will not crop up. I’m here to tell you they will; it is then when that first characteristic pops up and you communicate out to the necessary parties with updates on what is going on. Transparency is key and goes hand in hand with responsibility.

As I sit back and I look at any company, heck even consultants, for that matter – the most successful ones are ones that you can rely on and people deem the “go to” people. That’s great Chris, but how to I get there? Responsibility is something you have to show day in and day out. It falls in line with communication and you have to work on it daily. Once you become responsible you will begin to garner trust. Once you have trust then you can begin bridging gaps between teams, groups, clients, and much more.

PASSion

For those that know me they know that I have a strong passion for what I do. I fall into the category of loving the work that I do on a daily basis and also have a passion for SQL Community. If you have a passion for what you do it will show and be a reflection of your work. To me I don’t have a job but a lifestyle; granted there are days that aren’t so rosy, but when we signed on to be data professionals we knew there would be late nights and sometimes exhausting issues. End of the day though do you enjoy what you do? Is it a passion?

One thing I think that has been beneficial to me is seeing the passion in team members. Being in a group, such as the one I am in now, we all drive and push each other to be a better data professional; having a passion for something doesn’t just mean having one from a technical perspective. It can be with your family, your hobbies, or your career. Whatever the case may be; find that fire from within and let it drive you to become as successful as you can be. Once you have passion you can become infectious and it takes just one to make a difference. Will you be that one?

Decisiveness

There will come a time when every leader will have to make the call. This is something that trips a lot of people up; I will tell you as I am typing this that I have made some good calls and I have made some not so good calls through the years. Any good leader will show the ability to make a decision; and once you make that decision you live with it. You don’t go and point the fingers at someone else because when we do one should look at how many point back at us.

Set up some time throughout the week and look at the decisions you made. You don’t need to be a manager over a group to do this; see what were the good ones and what were the bad ones. Learn from them; if there are gaps then look for patterns. What could you have done differently?

If you lead the team you are on then you are the responsible party. Make the decision and then own it; even if you’re not the one performing the action to get the job done – you are the coach so to speak and the buck stops with you.

Conclusion

These are just a few characteristics that make up a good leader. Believe me this is only scratching the surface and I hope to dive into more; end of the day a good leader should be able to look at the day and say they gave it their all. Leave 110% on the court and you had nothing left to give – this isn’t always easy, but then again being a leader is not always easy.

Another set of 5 characteristics I’ll touch on in another blog post will be:

  • Love your team
  • Give praise
  • Cast your vision
  • Surround yourself with a solid work force
  • Big egos can lead to demise of a team (including leaders)

Get after it and make it happen. You and you alone are the CEO of your career. Change is possible; you just have to be willing to make it happen.

Without Borders – Getting Involved

One of the things I enjoy about the SQL community is the many people that you come into contact with. Whether it is speaking, interacting, listening, or collaborating one can meet many data professionals from all walks of life. With that you get to know, invest, and follow individuals. Two people that I’ve come to know this past year via the SQL community is Argenis Fernandez (b|t) and Kirsten Benzel (b|t).

An initiative that they started last year at PASS Summit was Argenis Without Borders. When I first heard about this I was enamored and intrigued; both individuals are stellar data professionals and pillars in our SQL community so I decided to check this out and see what it was all about.

This year they are back at it with a new initiative and new goals. I encourage you to check out what this new initiative is all about, and if you decide to get involved – fantastic. If not pass the information along so we can continue to spread the word.

“People making a difference one day at a time”

Perspective

thNP3V0VT4It’s one small word, but that one word can pack an awful powerful punch. I got a severe dose of it Friday night. No, I won’t go into the great detail that provoked this word to come to light. What I will do is recognize that it has taught me some valuable lessons especially in my every day work life.

We live in a fast paced society. Work will never cease that’s a given; when is the last time you truly stopped, looked around, and appreciated where you are at in this point in time?

I used to struggle a lot with not blogging enough, not giving back to the community enough, not submitting to speak enough, arguments with other data professionals on what is the right way to do things versus the wrong way to do things, and the list could go on and on.

I look at SQL Family and what does it truly mean to me? I take great pride in my work, the people I am involved with daily, the many issues that come up that provide new solutions waiting to be found, but SQL Family is much more than that. It is shown daily by the likes of you and me. You see it in the generosity when one of our own passes away, you see it in others who rally around a good cause, you see it when a seasoned community member takes a newbie under his/her wing to guide them, and yes you see it shown when you receive heart breaking news that we all endure through the journey we call life.

There are intervals in life when you stop and asses priorities; nothing wrong with that. You start to look at if the he said she said argument was even worth it, you blast a newbie because he made a dumb mistake due to the fact that they just didn’t know, or you get on some ego trip because you believe you are entitled to something.

There will be things you can control and there will be things you can’t control; as a data professional and proud DBA I will continue to do the best I can day in and day out. I come from the school that you work hard regardless of the situation. You won’t find perfection, you won’t find a guy who knows it all; what you will find is a guy who has a passion for the SQL Community and a passion for learning and honing is craft.

To the new community member the days will not always be perfect; heck the days you will sometimes wonder what the heck you got yourself into; enjoy the ride. Don’t beat yourself up for things you think you could have done better; learn from them and move on. Realize that SQL Family IS the people, the interaction – it is what makes it thrive.

For the ones who have been around for a long time, with as much respect as I can muster, I just implore you to realize that when life does happen outside of our SQL walls; don’t let that time go by wasted. You need to cherish every minute of it; we (me included) rush around getting to the next event, next speaking engagement, next post and if we aren’t careful we will let those outside moments pass us by.

Some will take this post as me saying not to worry about the security breach that was caused by a pointless mistake, and some will read too much into it and be wondering if I’m speaking at anyone in particular. I get how it all works, these are just intended thoughts of mine that if I can take to heart myself, then it might help me in the future to become a better data professional and DBA.

Work hard, cherish the moments, and realize that taking one day at a time is okay.

Impact Player Series – Part 1

ImpactI wanted to start this series in regards to impact players that go above and beyond in the SQL Community. Coming from a sports background this resonates well with me and by the end of the year will have a 12 person roster.

I get asked a lot when I go to events, conferences, talks, groups who inspires me. Or I get asked where do I start. There are many fine folks in the SQL Community and I cannot encompass them all; believe me this 12 person team could easily become much more.

So, who the heck is the first impact player? Being that I am from Kentucky it pains me just a little to write this knowing that this person is an SEC rival (college sports) and is a true orange fan in Florida ~ Ed Watson (B|T).

Ed is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP who I have gotten to know over the past year. His tenacity alone has spoke volumes in how he approaches speaking engagements, obstacles, issues, SQL life, basically the things that make up a data professionals life. I would classify Ed as one of those exceptional data professionals that you hear about. If you not ever had the chance to hear him speak at an event I suggest that you keep your ears open and if he comes to a town near you attend ~ you would not be disappointed.

I’ve never one time have come to Ed and him tell me not today; he is always eager to assist and help and has been a strong voice in the community.

He is a frequent blogger over at the SQL Swampland and can be found on twitter; although don’t interrupt him while a University Florida football or basketball game is on. If you choose to do so then you have been warned up front.

Check out Ed’s blog or give him a shout on the twitter feed. Truly a standup guy and one worth following in the community.

While having a Fab Five intact I’m excited to build this out and see where it leads.  Check back next month for Part 2 in the series.

And Just Like That….Three Years

Time

Time is a constant. Anything and everything requires time it seems, and with that said I received a reminder today that three years have passed since I first started this adventure called blogging.

 

With this blog you will not find perfection, instead you will find a Data Professional who has grown more over the last three years of his career than he did the first ten. Is it by sheer circumstance? No, I don’t believe so. Don’t get me wrong; learning my first ten years was ongoing; I just wasn’t prepared for what the last three years had in store for me. Looking back I see phenomenal people who took a chance on me both from my career standpoint and from a community standpoint. People who pushed me never to give up when things didn’t necessarily go the way I would have liked for them to; or the countless hours of advice I would seek out from people who graciously pointed me in the right direction.

 

Attending PASS Summit 2011 was the career changer for me. Inspiration and collaboration ensued when I arrived back home and it has been an enjoyable ride. The blog has morphed from infancy (The SQL Corner) to what it is today (The SQL Professor). With steady growth over the past three years I’m pleased with the reception it has gotten and look forward to the future and what it holds.

 

I used to get discouraged at the quantity I was producing; I quickly realized that it isn’t quantity it is quality and that content is key and cannot be substituted. One of my favorite blog posts wasn’t even a technical post; no it was one of influential people that have helped me in my career and more so in the past three years. Investing time in others, writing, and continual learning will be my focus this upcoming year; focusing a lot more on the quality of content.

 

It’s an honor and privilege to blog about my SQL adventures as a Data Professional. I won’t always be perfect, but as with anything you’ll get a Data Professional who will give a 110% and try to provide solutions to everyday issues that are incurred in work life situations. I recently re-read an article by Grant Fritchey (Blog|Twitter) – Leadership Through Service; this is something that has resonated with me and is a thought that is a good basis for a strong foundation. I want to view this upcoming year as such “Leadership Through Service”

 

 I would be amiss if I didn’t thank Chris Shaw (Blog|Twitter) and John Sansom (Blog|Twitter) for investing time in me and pushing me to continue to grow and get better. I could easily throw an additional 10-12 people in there  but the two I mentioned have stood by me. They’ve seen me grow, stumble, fall, picked me up, and encouraged me along my journey. Is that not what our Community is about? If we continue to reach one person and that person reaches one person the SQL Community will continue to grow and thrive.

 

Time is a constant. Time is passing by. What will you make of your time?

PASS Summit – What Does It Mean To Me?

PASS_14_Google_240x400 (1)PASS Summitwhat does it mean to me? So listen, I’m not perfect. I will never claim to be and you will never her me utter those words. I make mistakes every day, but I try to learn from those mistakes as much as possible.

I was asked by several people yesterday via email and word of mouth conversations what PASS Summit meant to me and how are community is. During the work day I was not able to keep up with all the happenings since session selections came out, but I did catch quite a bit on my feed. Since being approached and being just one voice in this big game I thought it prudent to share with others what PASS Summit has meant to me.

For me personally, PASS Summit changed my career. I rolled into town (Seattle) back in 2011 not sure what to expect. Brand new to this scene; I didn’t know anyone from anybody. I can still remember to this day walking into the convention center thinking to myself, “What in the world did I get myself into?”

Each session I went to seemed to give me something I could take back and incorporate into my job. I was able to meet and interact with fellow colleagues in technology from all over the world. It exposed me to another part of what we call “The SQL Family” I had not known before.

I can recall purchasing the Deep Dives book and introducing myself to all the MVP contributors. Eating breakfast and lunch with 5000 people before going to learn and try to enhance my skill set. It lit a fire in me for my career that I hadn’t had before. Some of the techniques learned then are still part of my everyday work now. So, as you can see the PASS Summit has meant a great deal to me and where I am at today.

Fast forwarding to today; what spawned these questions to me by others stems from session selection discussions. I will not dive into processes or procedures as I am not privy to the background and the inner workings of selection of sessions. That’s not my goal nor do I want it to be with this post. I see many points some valid and some not in my opinion; however I do believe that is part of being a SQL Family / community. We can share our thoughts, opinions, concerns and review processes, policies, and procedures. It is the basis and foundation on how we grow and improve. At the end of the day we are all in this together.

I look forward to attending this year and learning from a great group of speakers. Heck all the volunteers, speakers, attendees take time out of their families lives, work schedules, and the like to attend. It is definitely a unique environment and one that I hope can continue to grow and overcome hurdles.  Who knows I hope in the very near future my session is selected maybe then I to can share what I’ve learned along my journey.

Looking back I can honestly say the conference in its entirety changed my career, my outlook, and my drive. I don’t have all the answers but I will continue to give it all I got day in and day out, and from a past attendee I thank all the speakers (both old and new) and the volunteers that make this happen.

What about you? What do you think about PASS Summit? What are some of your opinions on the process for selections? Can we improve; if so how?