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.

Is Today Your Last Day Working With SQL?

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

 

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.

Time Management–Leadership

TimeLeadershipTo many times data professionals flounder in what some call a pool of uncertainty. The countless tasks, tickets, projects, and emails that may flow in without prioritizing will leave individuals searching for what is needed to be worked on now.

Organize or Agonize

Face it, we all influence someone. Whether you are a sole DBA out in the field or a leader of many there will be times when one will have some form of influence. There will be times when a data professional needs to juggle a multitude of tasks; being a leader in this area is key – either you organize or you will agonize over what all has to be done.

Here are some tips in how to organize and become better at time management:

  • High Importance / High Urgency – tackle these projects first
  • High Importance / Low Urgency – set deadlines around completion dates and work these into your daily routine
  • Low Importance / High Urgency – find quick and efficient ways to get this work completed without much personal involvement
  • Low Importance / Low Urgency – this is busy or repetitive work (think about automation if possible)

Too Many Priorities Can Paralyze You

The papers on the task keep growing, emails keep coming in, automated jobs are failing, on call is ringing off the hook, and you suddenly get that “frozen feeling” of what in the world am I going to do? If you’ve been in this business long enough than you know what I am talking about. If you are feeling this way go ahead and get the tasks organized then approach your boss about how best to approach them and what their advice may be. True leaders want to help their employees as much as they can and this is one of the areas that all of us can work on. All good leaders have learned to say no to the good and yes to the best, and one of the keys to success is keeping that line of communication open with your boss.

Monica Rathbun (B|T) has a great post on The Shield. I suggest after you finish reading this post you go check hers out; a superb written post that provides insight into a lone DBA’s world.

Leader or Follower

A person is either an initiator or a reactor when it comes to planning. In my past dealings I’ve found that these hold true; note the difference:

Reactors

  • React
  • Listen and wait for the phone to ring
  • Spend time living day-to-day reacting to issues
  • Fill the calendar by requests
  • Spend time with people

Leaders

  • Initiate
  • Lead; pick up the phone and make contact with people
  • Spend time planning and anticipate problems
  • Invest time with people
  • Fill their calendar by priorities

Often times we see that when people lack ownership of an idea, they usually are hesitant to change. It affects routine, causes a disruption, and at times creates fear of the unknown. Uncharted territories cause insecurities to rise; four important cycles that will stand out around effective change are create, conserve, criticize, and change.

As a data professional there will be times when you are faced with bringing about change; here is a checklist that you may be able to garner some ideas from and assist you in helping you to bring forth implementing or requesting changes.

  • Will this change benefit others?
  • Is this change compatible with the purpose of the organization?
  • Is this change specific and clear?
  • Is it possible to test this change before making a total commitment to it?
  • Are physical, financial, and human resources available to make this change (what else is on the plate?)
  • Is this change reversible?
  • Is this change the next obvious step?
  • Does this change have both short and long-term benefits?
  • Is the leadership capable of bringing about this change?
  • Is the timing right?

The wrong decision at the wrong time = disaster

The wrong decision as the right time = mistake

The right decision at the wrong time = unacceptable

The right decision at the right time = success

Closing Thoughts

The above are methods that I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me not only become a better data professional, but a leader. I’ll leave you with a few insights into what a solid foundation could be built on; it will be up to you to become the leader that you want to be; along with honing in your time management skills.

The definition of leadership is influence.

The key to leadership is priorities.

The most important part of leadership is integrity.

The most ultimate test of leadership is creating positive change.

An extra plus in leadership is attitude.

What is your most appreciable asset – people.

The indispensable quality of leadership is vision.

The price tag of leadership is self-discipline.

May we never lose sight or focus of our dreams and goals. Obstacles will occur, but they are just that obstacles with solutions waiting to be had. Take the hard knocks as lessons that can be learned. There will be many, life’s journey is full of them – what kind of impact will you have?

Leadership and the Data Professional

 

Leadership

Many traits make up data professionals and the many who find themselves in leadership roles. The traits being shared in this blog post are ones that have helped me on my journey not just in a leadership role, but from a data professional perspective as well.

I debated often on sharing these; maybe even turning them into a session somewhere down the road. Also knowing that these are not set in stone traits for others; each data professional has their own thoughts and the way they conduct themselves on a day to day basis, but if someone can glean any insight or help by this post then it would be worth the share.

Jumping right into it then shall we? Many of you know my sports background; it is something I am not ashamed of nor try to hide. A lot of traits have carried over from my sports background into my career and as I go through these traits you will see some similarities shine through.

The Base – Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Enthusiasm

Building a house means you start with building a solid foundation. These traits are ones that stick out to me as building part of that solid foundation:

  • Industriousness – “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick no easy way.” – put forth that effort
  • Friendship – “Strive to build a team or be part of a team that is filled with camaraderie and respect: comrades-in-arms.”
  • Loyalty – “Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead.”
  • Cooperation – “Have utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right.”
  • Enthusiasm – “Your energy, enjoyment, drive, and dedication will stimulate and greatly inspire others.”

The Second Layer – Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, Intentness

  • Self-Control – “Be disciplined” – enough said.
  • Alertness – “Constantly be aware and observing. Always seek to improve yourself and the team.”
  • Initiative – “Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.”
  • Intentness – “Stay the course. When thwarted try again; harder, smarter. Persevere relentlessly.”

The Third Layer – Condition, Skill, Team Spirit

  • Condition – “Ability may get you to the top, but character will keep you there – mental, moral, and physical.”
  • Skill – “What a leader learns after you’ve learned it counts most of all.”
  • Team Spirit – “The star of the team is the team. ‘We’ supersedes ‘me’.”

The Fourth Layer – Poise, Confidence

  • Poise – “Be yourself. Don’t be thrown off by events whether they are good or bad.”
  • Confidence – “The strongest steel is well founded self-belief. It’s is earned; not given.”

The Final Layer – Competitive Greatness

  • “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

Do I follow these principles every day? I wish I could say yes, but nevertheless I do not. I strive for these as in my heart I believe them to be solid foundations for me as a data professional, but I am human.

With success does come failure, but what defines you as an individual is not how many times you get knocked down. Instead it is how many times you get back up from the knockdowns that you will receive on your journey.

I’ll leave you with these lessons I’ve learned both in sports and being a data professional:

  • Good values attract good people
  • Love is the most powerful four letter word
  • Call yourself a teacher
  • Emotion can be your enemy at times
  • It takes all team members hands to make a team; not just one set
  • Little things make big things happen
  • Make each day your masterpiece
  • The carrot is mightier than the stick
  • Make greatness attainable by all
  • Seek significant change
  • Don’t keep a scoreboard of who is right and who is wrong
  • Adversity is your asset

Whatever you build your foundation on as a data professional make it yours and own it. You are the playmaker of your career, and orchestrator if you will.

Coach John Wooden is behind a lot of these thoughts in which I have built these foundations on. A statement he made resonated with me when I heard it, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

I ask you, are you becoming the best of which you are capable of?

New SQL Blogging Challenge

SharingI recently came across Tim Ford’s (B|T) challenge to the technical blogging community. The challenge is to write one introductory level blog per month for the community.

A simple statement with a profound substance to it. How many times do you and I take for granted the knowledge we have and share both privately and socially on a daily basis?

More recently, I was approached with a question along these lines that I interpreted to be simplistic in form. The data professional however was sincere and it made me realize that there are still a lot of gaps to bridge…..and more so, who am I to judge what is simplistic or not?

It’s time to set ego’s aside and the game of “can you top this” with our knowledge and continue to bridge these types of gaps amongst members in our community and beyond.

No question is a “dumb” question for it is how we learn and grow as professionals. To the new community member or data professional keep asking those questions and being ambitious.

A huge thank you to Tim for bringing this challenge more to the forefront; it is something I, myself, have taken for granted. It was an eye-opening experience to know where I came from, where I am now, and where I want to go. May we never stop learning and sharing.

Onward….let’s roll!

Reflections and Looking Forward

ScoreboardTime is slowly ticking toward 0:00 on the clock. As I look around I couldn’t help but reflect back on the game – the game being 2015. Did I give it my all? Did I leave everything out on the court, and lay it all on the line? Sadly, I’m sure I could have done more – – I took some plays off where I needed to dig deep and give it all I had.

With just a few more days left in the year 2015; the coach is drawing up one final play. I, you, we have to finish strong; it is what defines us; it is character; it is leadership; it is seeing things through and finishing strong.

We’ve done some great things this year; nothing can take those things away nor negate the fact that we gave it, in our minds, all we could. So as people approach me and ask me what are my plans for 2016; I don’t know what the future will hold. Some of my thoughts though…..

Failing

That’s an odd word and sometimes one that we don’t’ associate well with. I expect to fail; if I do not then it means I am not trying; I’m not trying to be innovative and test the boundaries. Embracing the struggles that one goes through helps with the learning process of our job. It defines us; failing forward – don’t be scared and run from it – embrace it.

Failing is not in our nature; it is not something we like. It is however an aspect of growth. Keep moving forward, take the hit, learn from it, own it, and move on.

There will be times in your life when you are kicked down and you feel like you don’t want to keep going with figuring out the issue at hand;  the weight of the world is on your shoulders and it is up to you to get it done…..this is when you find the way and you dig deep to find something within you to keep pushing forward. I, we, you eventually will get through the test of the will and grit – mental toughness if you will.

Motivation

Pain is temporary, I heard this over and over again when training in sports. Keep moving one foot in front of the other; you have to work through it. Is it something new you are tasked with to learn? Is it a company directive that is “impossible” to get through? We’ve all been there; even the great ones in the industry. The difference is, in a lot of people, the great ones don’t quit. Anyone can be good when times are good; will you show up when times are bad? Will you show up when those tough times come up – – two words “Bring It”

The Past

It takes courage to let things go; 2015 will be in the past soon. 2016 will be in front of us; what is in front of you is greater than what was behind. It will be up to you to make it yours….

Do you want to embrace your destiny or flutter on the ground in your history? The new year represents new beginnings; if you want to learn something new within the industry then set your sites and – Let’s roll.

Don’t be distracted on what used to be or what could be…..if you do that then everything that is will slip by you. Everyday when you wake up you can go pursue that piece of technology that you want to learn.

Investment

I remember the sprints I used to run in the middle of the street at 3:30 a.m.

I remember the 1000 jump shots I would take in the morning before school.

I remember the countless hours of training off hours from practice that were put in.

I remember people holding brooms up in the air as I took shot after shot to get that arch down right when shooting over a 7’ tall player.

All that work; all that planning – it has made me realized that the same investment in yourself has to be done as a data professional. Each one of us are designed to be who we are; not like everyone else. I have a ton of people I look up to in our SQL industry – John Sansom, John Sterrett, Jes Borland, Aaron Bertrand, Tim Radney, Brent Ozar, Steven Jones, Grant Fritchey, Erin Stellato, Chris Shaw, and many more that I cannot name as it would fill this whole post up…As much as I look up to these people I cannot be them. They are each their own person and I am me; what I can do is put forth and effort and continue to learn just as they have. I can be the best that I can be; same for you.

That mountain you are trying to climb right now in learning? We’ve all been there; it’s part of growth and I’m here today to say you can do it; just keep putting one foot in front of the other – that is action and that is progress.

So 2016; what about it?

Heading into 2016 I can only say that I will give you my all, give you everything I can, and at the end of the game I can look each of my SQL team members in the face and say – I gave you all I had; have nothing left in the tank to give.

When the lights are off and the game has been played continued work will still be being done. Putting the time in; putting in the effort to be the best SQL Data professional that I can be in 2016. Some of the following are areas am working in:

  • Speaking at different events
  • Continued article, blogging, and case study writing
  • Mentoring
  • Leading
  • Certifications
  • Vendor programs and feedback
  • Virtual Chapters

So I ask you; what will you do in 2016? Finish the game strong; leave it on the court and make today better than yesterday – Let’s roll

 

 

Addicted To Busy

payattentionOur world is made up of technology and being plugged in 24/7. As you walk down the street you may notice on either side of the sidewalk people walking and looking at their phone. Texting, emailing, social media, and the like is all the buzz. I fall victim to this very thing quite often; so much so that I will admit running into people and then having to apologize for not watching where I was going.

It reminds me of the movie I saw with my kids, Wall-E, where all of a sudden their screens go down on their motorized vehicles that takes them back and forth, and they see the swimming pool for the first time. They had no idea it was there, oblivious to the things going on around them.

In reality, we find ourselves in this same mindset whether it is with work, family, or friends we are plugged in 24/7. Have you ever been talking to someone, a colleague for example, and while talking you or them are answering emails – I have. Have your kids been running up to you in your house to ask a question, and you are half listening because you are answering a text you got from a family member or friend – I have.

Listening

I heard this statement last week and it got me thinking about this topic, “Wherever you are, be there”. Simple enough statement; being the analyzer that I tend to be I had to study that and think on it over and over again. As I type this my mind even wondered to the daily activities I need to get done at work, the 2 articles I am behind on in writing, and the countless blog posts I want to get out the door.

Am I addicted to busy?

 

Application

John Sansom (B|T) gives a good example of character traits of what an Outstanding DBA looks like. It is a great interpretation of my mindset with one I’d like to add as a bold point – listening. This past week I realized that it is okay to put the phone down, to spin the chair around from your busy day and have a conversation with others. When you are approached at work with an issue listen to that issue. It is then when you can apply some of these character traits to the conversation and be a difference to someone.

Wherever you are, be there

phoneCall it the “aha” moment or something else, but I’ve come to realize that having meaningful conversations with colleagues, family, and others is just as important in cultivating relationships on all levels. There of course will be times when we all will stumble – heck I do it daily; in the end don’t be so addicted to busy that you miss opportunities.

Now don’t take this blog post and twist it in a way to say we shouldn’t be responding to SLA’s, or if you are on call not answering alerts in a timely manner. That’s not my point and hopefully that comes across. It’s okay to step back from time to time, re-evaluate, and make adjustments.

 

Addicted To Busy

It’s hard not to be this way; I encourage you to cultivate those relationships and pick up on some of those missed opportunities that might have passed you by before. A fine balancing act it will always seem to be; being involved on a call the other day for work the person on the other end told me that they were so glad I took 15 minutes out of my day to call them to discuss the issue without sending an email.

Be that difference maker; be that game changer.