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A Letter To A Younger Yates

31 Jan 2017 1 comment

deskphotoHello much younger Yates. Hope you’ve been doing well. Why don’t you pull up a chair and stay for a few minutes so we can talk and maybe help another data professional that is just starting out on his or her journey. Nah, it won’t take us a long time to get through our talk, but I think it is now prudent more than ever to share with you some of life’s journey’s you are about to embark on.

I know you are starting out as a developer and you won’t know where your career will take you at this point; you are just happy to have a job out of college and that’s okay. One thing I do want to iterate to you though, when you see variables in the code that reference the Gilligan’s Island characters it is not okay nor best practice to do such, and while we are on this topic please line your code up – the future you being a DBA will thank you; trust me.

Life is going to throw you some curveballs along the way, both professionally and personally. This is part of growing on both fronts; what you need to know is to learn from them and not to be afraid to make mistakes in either scenarios. You will fail; you need to accept that. However you need to take solace in the fact that if you fail it means you are trying and never be ashamed to own up to anything you do. Don’t try to hide mistakes; address them head on and remember that if you get knocked down nine times you get up ten. Hard work will eventually pay off and you can take those lessons learned and teach them to others who are coming up.

Explore all avenues of learning, you’ll eventually get to know a group of people called SQL Family. They aren’t a perfect bunch, but then again neither are you. It is there you will find new colleagues, friends, mentors and heck you may even find yourself helping run user groups and help plan a SQL Saturday – – bet you didn’t ever believe that would happen would you?

You’ve come along way from the basketball courts where you poured your heart and soul into being the best you could be. Your dreams may have come up short in your mind but oh my friend you couldn’t be more wrong. The lessons and injuries you learned from that time were molding and making you into the data professional you will become. The discipline you had then will still apply even more so later on. That coach that entrusted you with the rock at the end of the game will again be the same in business. As you become a database administrator who will eventually lead and serve alongside a group of dedicated professionals in which you will find again the ball in your court. Attack it the same way with hard work and dedication; don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something….remember when someone did that to you – – you ended up with a triple double.

There will be naysayers and there will be harsh critics – – this is life. I wish I could tell you the world will stop for you and you can hop on. That’s not the case; you’ll find yourself having a great family which in turn will teach you more lessons. You’ll learn that you’ll have a new hero in your life in a son who has Type 1 diabetes. In him you’ll find how resilient a kid can be and realize that you will have nothing to complain about. Sure you’ll lose a step as you get a bit older, but what that kid goes through on a daily basis you’ll never have to endure, at least not as of today. You will have the roughest day and you will go home and see smiling faces. When you step out of that car make sure you touch the tree as you walk by to hang up all the work related activities – – you won’t get that for a very long time but when that light bulb goes off you’ll know what I’m talking about. As you left basketball on the court; you in turn will need to leave work at work sometimes. It will be hard…trust me on this ~ your family will need you.

When you get older I ask that you reflect on where you came from and realize how thankful and blessed you are. Investing in others like others have invested in you will be a key component in your future. Don’t let corporate politics detour your outlook that you started with. A passion to grow and also a passion for helping others grow.

As we end our conversation today remember one thing. You’ll never know what other people are going through. Your family, your team, your colleagues, or other data professionals. Win each day and make a difference in someone’s life. Set goals and dreams and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve them. If they do use that as the fire to motivate you to do the extraordinary. Be thankful for your mentors both professionally and personally and don’t ever be scared to use the words “Thank You” and “Sorry”. Those aren’t a sign of weakness.

Be humble yet assertive and when you give your word on something you follow through on it. You will have no idea how much communication will come into play – you got this younger Yates – Let’s Roll

**To the young data professional out there**

You may think you are all alone and in a big ocean swimming helplessly around. I want to assure you that you are and were not alone. Each day is a learning day and the lessons you learn along the way will be your story. You are the CEO of your career – – take charge of it. There will be others that come and go in your life professionally; I implore you to build a good base of about 5 data professionals that you can learn from and model your techniques after – – the best of the best if you will. At the end of the day you be the best you and when you get to your future self; take time to give thanks and reflect back on where you came from.

Thanks,

Older Yates

5 Characteristics Every Leader Should Practice

24 Jan 2017 2 comments

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.

Categories: Encouragement, Leadership

Hold The Fort

stressHave you ever heard the phrase “Hold The Fort”? Long ago in battle supply routes were targeted by enemy regiments that would cut off rations to fighting units. As the battle ensued the enemy had driven back their counterparts to a small area on a hill. They were being overwhelmed with many wounded and dying; that is until in the distance they noticed reinforcements were on the way.

How many times have you, as a data professional, been stuck wondering the same thing? Battered, worn down, and flat-out exhausted until you look and see reinforcements on the horizon. Sure, we’ve all been there, but to some it is a question of how do I call in re-enforcement’s or how do I even go about sending out a help signal? Below are some various ways you can tackle problems:

Forums

There are several forums out there that can provide some great insights into similar issues that you may be experiencing. To a certain extent I think forums are a great avenue to explore potential solutions. With that said however you cannot take every answer verbatim. There can be some off the wall answers out there that shouldn’t be followed. It is important to test anything you find on the web regardless of who it comes from.

You can find some of the forums I frequently attend here.

#sqlhelp

One thing that I’ve learned about the community is the willingness to help each other out. Remember above when I stated “Hold the fort, and reinforcements are on the way”; this is a good twitter hashtag to be familiar with. Professionals from all over the world take this seriously and it is not to be mistreated on how it is utilized. I have received great assistance in the past on issues I’ve been stuck with.

Phone a friend

We all have our “go to group” we bounce ideas off of. Sometimes it is helpful to bounce ideas off of another data professional. You may surprise yourself and actually start talking through your problem and come to an answer you may not have arrived to had you not initiated the conversation.

Old Fashion Testing

As a data professional you cannot be afraid to get your hands dirty. Prove your theories and test the scenarios as you run across them. One should be doing this anyway, but in doing so a wealth of knowledge gained is at your fingertips. We stop learning when we stop trying; just because you encounter one failure doesn’t mean you stop. You keep fighting and beating down that door until you make it through the other side. How bad do you want it?

Is It A Vendor Product?

I have the opportunity to work with a plethora of vendors. Maybe your issue revolves around a vendor product and you are not able to make any changes. Great, this happens all the time to data professionals. Some questions I’ll throw out there are:

  1. Have you opened a dialogue with the vendor about the issue?
  2. Have you documented the issue; not just call and say I have a problem?
  3. Have you tried to reproduce the error?
  4. It it already a known bug?
  5. Is it something that we can address internally before we talk with the vendor?

I’ve worked with a couple great vendors in Red Gate and SentryOne over the years. As a data professional I’ve seen vendors (not all) take pride in a quick response time. If there is an issue with a product they will want to take care of it in a swift manner or provide feedback as to why, when, and what to expect.

Internal Resources

I’m going to say this here, and it may shock some of you. No one knows everything; there may be some who elude or perpetuate appearances that they know everything there is to know,  but that is not the case. Whether you are in a shop or maybe a consultant (who can tap into their contact base) there are internal methods to maybe approach a different business unit or tech unit on an issue to get an outside perspective. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes goes a long way.

Technical Blogs

There are many great technical blogs out there; I have listed some in my DBA Blogs section to the right of this page. Each person is different and has their own go to Blog for review. I receive questions all the time from readers and other data professionals; being respectful is key but I have not seen one data professional out there who would not extend a helping hand if presented in a respectful manner. DO NOT TAKE this as one will provide an answer. We may show you how to connect the dots, but it is important one takes the necessary steps to get to the answer on their own. Nothing is given….work hard for it.

User Groups

Maybe your issue is not a hot ticket item and it can wait to a user group meeting. These are great places to bring up questions and issues in a local environment with some pretty stellar professionals. I guarantee that if you ask a question and no one knows the answer then someone will do their best to find out that answer and further the discussion. An example of a user group can be found here.

PASS Summit

Perhaps your issue is ongoing and you are at the PASS Summit. Great, besides being at a conference with over 6k of our closest friends I would take advantage of the SQLCat and AzureCat Team’s hours. It is a great way to tell Microsoft of your issues and get advice from some of the top-tier people in our industry.

Conclusion

I don’t know what your situation is or will be. Obstacles will come from all angles this year; it is up to us on how we deal with them. I would be amiss if I sat here and didn’t tell you that it won’t always be easy. Nothing in life is easy; some days you will have to work and grind your way through until you get to an answer for an issue. In the end though, when you do find that answer (and you will) you will be able to learn from it and move on. It is part of a data professionals journey.

Keep fighting and keep working toward your end goals. Never stop learning; never stop gaining knowledge.

Looking Back At 2016

lookingback2016When this blog started back in 2011 I had no idea that it would continue to grow to where it has gotten to today. There have been many learning curves along the way – some fun and some not so fun, but that is part of the journey.

Each year since inception this blog has steadily gained steam in terms of increased traffic each year ; so I am thankful for that. The SQL Professor was not started for that sole purpose though. Rather it was a place to keep my thoughts regarding issues, ideas I have or have ran across over a period of time, and to write about happenings in my own professional career. Getting feedback from, you the reader, is an added bonus. Receiving both good and bad comments and discussions is an integral piece in helping this blog to continue to morph and grow – a living document if you will.

I’m reminded often that while producing good content is key; it is also key to write about what you love and enjoy doing. SQL has been a big part of my professional career and I look forward to creating additional blog posts in that area. Another area that I’ve come to have a strong passion for is leadership. In 2017 I plan on perhaps producing a series on leadership and how it pertains to one’s career.

Looking Back

Nope; not doing that. While 2016 was a great ride professionally I want to set sights on 2017 and continue to hopefully make an impact.

Looking Ahead

In looking ahead there are several things on tap for 2017. Some of them are:

  • Continue to grow the User Group base here locally.
  • Continue to help and grow the SQL Saturday event here locally.
  • Expand speaking opportunities where it makes sense.
  • Continue to help as much as I can with the HA/DR virtual chapter.
  • Dive further into PASS and continue to help the organization that I’ve come to be strongly passionate about.
  • Continue to lead and build a strong DBA team here in the current shop (very talented individuals. Extremely blessed to have an outstanding team).
  • Build on leadership qualities.
  • Continue to do the best work I can for the SQL community.
  • Continue to build on new and existing relationships within the SQL community.

Expectations

Something that I’ve learned long ago is that we can’t make everyone happy regardless of how hard we try. Mistakes will happen, and events will occur – that is part of the journey. I said the other day that 2016 slapped me in the face on various fronts, but I’m still standing. While it is important to reflect on what lessons were learned in 2016; I also want to encourage you to look forward to 2017. Change, if you want it, starts from within. Will you take the first steps? Break out of your comfort zone and explore new heights.

Here is to a solid end of 2016, and to new beginnings/adventures in 2017 ~ Cheers.

Categories: Leadership, Uncategorized Tags:

Is Today Your Last Day Working With SQL?

29 Jun 2016 11 comments

Please entertain this thought for a moment – If today was your last day working with SQL how would you spend it?

Now, this post is assuming you, as the reader, are working with SQL in some form or fashion; however take the question and apply it to some other form of technology if that fancies you.

I started thinking about this question not long ago. It got me to ponder (as my friend Tom Roush (B|T) would say ) a bit . If I woke up one morning knowing it was my last day as a data professional to work with the SQL platform how would I spend it?

Would those arguments with developers that have been encountered through the years be at the forefront, or maybe it is the conversation with my storage administrator on how much is being consumed.

Perhaps it is taking that extra moment to answer someone’s question instead of ignoring them due to “priorities” that need to have some form of completion.

As I type this I have my PASS Summit 2015 credentials in front of me and I am reading words such as “community zone” and “community appreciation party”. Have I done enough to help better this SQL community?

Answer to all those questions is – I don’t know.

I tackle each day as a new opportunity to impact something or someone. Whether it is in the shop, with some form of technology, a family member, or a friend – I think what has put some things in perspective for me here lately are life events.

My dedication to SQL and the community that I so richly am blessed to be a part of has not and will not waver – I’m just a data professional looking at a question that I really am not sure I can answer at this point in time.

Have you ever poured your heart and soul into something – yes many of you have and will continue to do so as will I.

I see posts on topics such as “What will I tell my future self” and “Someday”; those types of posts are starting to hit home to me. For me, everyone is different, but I do feel it is important to tackle each day as a new beginning.

Things can change in a heart beat; we work with some pretty awesome technology but even more so some pretty talented data professionals – don’t take that for granted. There will be a day and a time to hang it up and when that time comes, I hope I can look back and say with 100% certainty that I gave all I had, left it all out on the field, and that I have nothing left in me.

  • Continue to learn
  • Continue to make an impact
  • Continue to fight when you feel like fighting no more
  • Continue to be the best you can be; that means be the best you that you can be.

So, I ask you – If today was your last day working with SQL how would you spend it?

Interview with Warwick Rudd

 

Leadership-2

Part of traveling to various events and being a part of the SQL Community means one can meet some pretty awesome professionals. I was fortunate enough to run into Warwick Rudd (B|T) at one of the PASS Summit events held in Seattle, and he definitely lives up to all the hype.

Warwick is a SQL Server MVP, Microsoft Certified Master – SQL 2008, MCT, Founder and Principal Consultant at SQL Masters Consulting. He’s definitely an avid blogger, talented speaker, and a leader in our SQL Community.

After PASS Summit 2015 we kicked an idea around about getting something like this going where we could share a few questions and answers; the timing finally aligned right and well, without further ado:

  • How did  you get your start in working with SQL Server?

I was working as a UNIX scripting developer on an in house created scripting language. The company had a couple of web developers who had installed SQL Server 6.5 and the company needed someone to look after the SQL server environment. I moved in with the oracle DBA’s as there were no SQL server DBA’s and my first training course was delivered by Greg Low. Look where things have led me to now?

  • If there was another occupation you could see yourself doing what would it be and why?

Physiotherapy – I have played  a lot of sports and some to a very high level. Sports and sports remediation I find interesting and just naturally enjoy learning about it.

  • Being in technology we do play some pranks on our fellow colleagues. What is one that you are willing to share, that you have done in your past?

I was working in a bank and at the time we actually did not have pc’s but dumb terminals. We disconnected the keyboard and put sticky tape over the connection before seating the connection back just enough to make it look as though it was plugged in to pass initial inspection of why the keyboard was not working.

  • Where is one place that you would love to speak at someday (conference, SQL Saturday, event, etc.)?

Ha-ha this is a tough one as there are so many different things to take into consideration. But I guess I would love to speak at SQL Saturday in Colorado if it was ever available in winter as I love being in the snow and snowboarding – I would then get to do 2 things I enjoy. There are some bigger events, if I ever got the opportunity to speak at, that would be so humbling to be selected for, but I will keep those close to my chest so as to not jinx myself 🙂

  • For those out there that have not heard of SQL Community, what would you say in 3 words describes SQL Community?

Friendly, Supportive, Intelligent

Big thanks to Warwick for allowing us to take a glimpse into some of his thoughts. If you are ever at an event make sure you stop by and say hi to him; just a stellar individual.

The Next Chapter ~ A SQL Journey

14 Apr 2016 2 comments

 

Journey

The past five years have been nothing short of an amazing ride on this thing we call “The SQL Journey”. I never cease to be amazed by the many outstanding data professionals we have in the PASS community.

For me, this ride has been a great learning experience. In addition, I am very thankful for the sacrifice of time that Chris Shaw (B|T) made in my behalf so many years ago. He was kind enough to take a willingly motivated individual under his wing and show him the ropes. He could have very easily said that he didn’t have the time. But the willingness that he expressed epitomizes what I have come to appreciate and expect from the SQL Family.

Along this journey I’ve witnessed a “closeness” rarely experienced in other communities.

A group rallies around someone in need, searching for an answer to their problems.

Fund raisers are organized for causes that benefit the individuals.

Intimate conversations are encouraged between peers – especially at large events and major conferences.

Words of experience and wisdom are freely exchanged when real-world battles make the road difficult.

These continual acts of kindness and sacrifice often leave me in awe.

It is not a perfect journey. It is not always an easy journey. And I have yet to see a bed of roses along the way. But my, oh my, it can be a rewarding journey.  The fruits of knowledge, friendship, bridging of gaps, experience, and opportunities are priceless.

Given my current position at “the shop”, leadership has been on my mind a lot lately.  Along with having aspirations in the SQL community, these are some important traits that I hold close to the heart:

  • Authenticity
  • Integrity
  • Concern
  • Restraint
  • Humility

At the same time, I strive to gain and exhibit:

  • Confidence
  • Vision
  • Composure
  • Resonance
  • Practical Wisdom

With these things in mind, I am today pleased to announce that I, along with my good friend John Morehouse (B|T), will be serving as Co-Chapter Leads for the Louisville SQL User Group. John and I were introduced to each other by Chris Shaw, and his influence has been tightly intertwined with our respective journeys since their beginnings. Little did I know, after a simple handshake at a PASS Summit, John would someday move to Louisville and a new friendship be forged. I will go to battle with John on any day, at any time, and anywhere, and I look forward to what the future will hold.

I do appreciate all of the hard work that Dave Fackler (B|T) has put into this community. While he is a stellar data professional in his own right, he has also helped to provide us locally with an avenue of opportunity and growth. Ideals to which he has been dedicated. It is my primary desire to help cultivate our local user base. To bringing forth new leaders, new innovators, and new SQL family members.

For those that know me, I have a reputation for using this saying … “Let’s roll.”

So, without further ado…Let’s roll.

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