Interview With Matt Gordon

Interview1I’ve been wanting to share a little bit about Matt’s story for a while now and this past week I reached out to him to see if he’d be up for an interview for the blog. As is usually the case he was happy to oblige. I’ve known Matt for, O gosh, a couple of years now. Met him when he first came down from Lexington to speak at our Louisville SQL and Power BI User Group. It’s pretty awesome to see how he’s grown over that amount of time not just as a data professional but also as a speaker.

Check out the interview below:

Tell us your name, what you do, and how you got started as a data professional?

My name is Matt Gordon (b|t) and I’m a Data Platform Solution Architect for DMI. Basically, I’m a data architect and consultant in our Data Platform & Analytics group. While I had done basic maintenance on SQL Server machines for a year or so before this happened, my real start as a data professional was thanks to a wonderful manager of mine. I was working as a support analyst for an enterprise asset management software company and we had a reporting platform that allowed customers to write their own queries against their data that we hosted. As you might imagine, those queries did not always perform well and several of our customers wanted help tuning them. My manager thought I would do well with that, I did decently with it, fell in love with data, and here we are.

I see you speak a lot at SQL Saturday’s; what would you say to someone who is just starting out speaking and wants to get involved?

I would say that there is no better feeling than helping your fellow data professionals solve a problem or think through an issue in a new way. I would also say that involvement in the PASS community will benefit your career and personal knowledge base in ways that you can’t even fathom at this point in time. It certainly has mine.

That said, the one thing I would say to somebody starting out is not to let anything stand in your way. As an example, when I was younger, I stuttered. It would have been easy for me to duck any community involvement and public speaking (and for years I did, even as I attended SQL Saturdays and PASS Summits) by saying that nobody would want to hear me talk. I wasn’t a good enough public speaker, I didn’t know enough, other people knew more. Maybe all of that is true, but people have told me that my community talks have helped them and that feeling is invaluable. If you need any further motivation, just read Mr. Yates tweets every morning!

If you could go back in time; what would you tell your younger self in regards to being a data professional?

I would tell myself to never settle for a title and never stop learning. Don’t say “I’m a developer” or “I’m a DBA” and decide that’s all you will ever be. I completely understand that job roles sometimes aren’t fluid at all – I’ve had my fair share of jobs like that through the years. Being involved in computing (and data specifically), however, almost demands a certain amount of continuing education. I wish I had understood that earlier in my career but I’m glad that I understand it now. I happily pass that advice on to my younger self.

What advice do you have for new data professionals coming into the community?

Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to people who you think are “famous”. There are people in the community who will likely hear about via blogs, webinars, etc. Those people, in almost every case, are just normal people looking to help folks within the community. Whether they’ve headlined a pre-con, spoken at PASS Summit, been on a podcast, etc. they want to teach people what they know and how they came to know it.

I was very intimidated by this for a couple of years until I had a technical issue at my job that really had me perplexed. I happened to be going to Summit so I made a point to go outside my comfort zone and talk to somebody I didn’t know in hopes of resolving the issue. I spoke to Denny Cherry (b|t) on the exhibition floor near his booth and he gave me incredibly useful advice that set me on the path to resolving the issue. Denny was “SQL famous” (and he still is) but he listened and was kind to me despite the number of people queued up to barrage him with questions. In my experience, most names in the Microsoft data community live up to this standard.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I played street hockey in college at the Clemson Street Hockey Club (on sneakers). As much as I enjoy hockey thanks to sending half of my formative years in the Chicago area (go Blackhawks!), I can only skate well enough to stand up on skates and make slow circles around the rink. Ice hockey was never going to be an option for me. That is the only time in my life I was ever able to play competitive hockey and I did manage to score one goal. It was against my roommate, we’re still friends to this day, and it still bugs him when I bring it up!

Conclusion

One thing I am a big supporter and fan of is how integral the local user groups are all over the world are. I probably would have run into Matt somewhere down the road whether it was at an event or conference, but meeting him at a local user group is a story that runs rampant in the SQL community. Being able to meet, cultivate, and grow friendships as such it a key proponent of keeping our community fresh and alive.

Matt, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and share a little bit about yourself. I look forward to watching you for many years to come as you continue to impact others in the community, including myself.

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.

 

 

The New PASS Logo and More

pass-core-logos-for-delivery-02Change is not always easy. In fact, change is hard.

“Change” is a word from which some people shy away, and it can hinder the daily life of quite a few of us. However, change doesn’t always have to be negative.

It was only a few months ago, as I sat at the blogger’s table at PASS Summit 2016, that Denise McInerney (b|t) made the announcement of a new logo being rolled out this coming year. I will admit that I was caught off guard. Not because of the change that is coming. But simply because the existing brand is the only one I have ever known.

The “analytical” person inside me begins to wonder what the new logo represents. I am starting to get what the organization is trying to accomplish by encompassing what PASS represents and the members therein.

Change also means that not everyone will be happy. I know this firsthand. When making decisions on a daily basis that may affect various types of business, it is near impossible to please everyone. However, it is more important to look at the end game and the various umbrellas that will now fall under PASS. One example is the new event for PASS BA. The hybrid or mixture of both brands, while the old is phased out, will take some time. That much is apparent. And I agree that any new type of events that fall under the oversight of PASS should have the new branding and logo. This just makes sense from an executive standpoint.

This change in branding will represent many adjustments in the upcoming year of 2017 – websites, logos, and much more. Embracing change…it is something not always easily attained. Nevertheless, it is something that must be given much thought as we move forward.

One thing I think, and I’m looking at myself in the mirror when I say this, is that what often gets overlooked is what goes on behind the scenes to even remotely pull something like this off. It is something that should be worth mentioning that the many hours that go on behind the scenes to traverse the waters such as this should be commended.

For more information on what the Old to New branding will represent you can visit here

For a short video on how PASS has progressed you can visit here

Together We Are PASS

PASS Summit Recap and Experience

IMG_20151027_142416The day finally came and I was fortunate, no I was blessed to be a part of the PASS Summit held out in Seattle, WA. This year would be my fourth year attending in five years. I did miss when it was held in Charlotte, go figure it was closer there to me. In any sense this year did not disappoint.

It’s almost hard to put into words the experience you get when attending, by that I mean the learning, sessions, people, community, and much more. I am always pleased to see all the first timer ribbons on badges as I remember when it was my first time attending the conference and the overwhelming factor you may feel. I try to make a point to seek out a few first timers and introduce myself, oddly enough I had a few actually say hey, your Chris this time around – very weird to me.

I doubt I can do it justice with a blog post, but nevertheless I will do my best to let you have a look into what kind of an experience can be had by attending such an event.

FreeCon

IMG_20151102_135407I started my journey a bit earlier due to being invited to Brent Ozar Unlimited (blog | twitter) FreeCon put on by Brent Ozar (twitter), Kendra Little (twitter), and The Doug Lane (twitter). A full day of learning on a wide range of topics got the week off started on the right foot. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to Brent in the past; this year I had the pleasure of getting to know Kendra and Doug a little. All three are some phenomenal and stellar individuals who truly care about the community.

One thing that stuck out to me was the authenticity shown by both Brent, Kendra, and Doug along with the 50 or so of us who were asking questions. It was very nice to hear real world issues from other colleagues and walking through thought processes. Very captivating.

Some of my cohorts in crime from the community from Mike Fal (blog | twitter), Mala Mahadevan (blog | twitter), Gareth Swanepoel (blog | twitter), Mike Hillwig (blog | twitter), and Vicky Harp (blog | twitter). The event was truly an awesome experience and one that I am not taking for granted. I walked away from it with a ton of notes and things to implement in my own career!

Live Blogging

IMG_20151029_075507Interesting enough I found myself at the Live Blogging table for some events this year. I was able to cover the two Key Note addresses on consecutive days right after breakfast, and let me tell you this was one of the highlights to my week. I’ve attended the Key Notes in previous years; however picking up key pieces was essential along with having a good plug-in to the blog for doing live blogging. I did some homework prior to and talked to a few individuals who had done live blogging before at the event just so I could prepare a little. Being able to capture events such as Dr. Dewitt and Rimma Nehme (twitter) talking about their last Key Note at PASS Summit was something that sent chills through me.

It was truly and honor and privilege to be a part of the event with so many people I have looked up to in my brief time in the community – Tim Mitchell (blog | twitter), Allen White (blog | twitter), Jes Borland (blog | twitter), Erin Stellato (blog | twitter), and many more.

The People

IMG_20151028_080141This is definitely one that I could spend a whole topic on from community zone, to side bar meetings, to talks with vendors, and the list could go on. I will say that I spent a majority of time having face to face meaningful conversations with peers, vendors, and colleagues. I cannot list them all here nor would I attempt to; many of you took the time to come up to me – even individuals who I did not know or met before and I appreciate that. I wish I could have spoken to more individuals, but if you ever see me around feel free to reach out.

Community Zone and Community Wall

IMG_20151027_122501This was some time well spent where you could meet friends, peers, other data professionals from all walks of life. I was first enamored by this last year in 2014; it’s a cool place to hang out or just detox from what you have learned. Many insightful conversations happen here; not just from work load or issue perspective, but ideas on what others are experiencing and doing as well. If you have not taken advantage of the opportunity to speak to some of the community members I strongly urge you to if you make it back. Community is a big aspect of the PASS Summit and you will not be sorry for taking advantage of such

The Sponsors

IMG_20151028_180828One of the big reasons we can do what we do are the sponsors, volunteers, and tireless countless numbers of workers who put in hours, money, and sweat into pulling an event off for 5k-6k individuals. A huge thank you goes out to them for their hard work and effort.

I did like the fact, not sure how many others feel this way, that PASS Summit recognized the sponsors where people could see as they walked back and forth to the community zone, breakfast and lunch area, and vendor area. It allowed me to take a quick snapshot of the pic to the left.

If you haven’t had time yet, some of you may even be customers. Shoot them a thank you note; they do appreciate it.

For me specifically a big thanks to Red-Gate, SQL Sentry, PureStorage, and Linchpin People.

Argenis Without Borders

IMG_20151029_125707This year alone this initiative brought in over 22k dollars. Argenis Fernandez (blog | twitter) and Kirsten Benzel (twitter) started this a few years back; now some of you maybe have wondered why people were all dressed up for in the middle of the community zone; well certain targets needed to be hit for certain, shall we say, fun to take place. Not to many places you can see people dressing up and Mike Fal playing a trombone. Heck they even through in some individuals getting tattoos since record numbers were broken.

In all seriousness this is for a great cause put on by some great people. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be a part of it take a look here; every little bit helps.

Highlights

There were a ton of highlights for me. Conversations that were had along with meeting some new people along the way such as Warwick Rudd (blog | twitter), Ben McNamara (twitter), Karla Landrum (twitter), Alex Yates (blog | twitter) to name a few made my day and getting time to spend with a lot of my friends made for a good week.

I am pleased to say that I will begin helping with the HADR Virtual Chapter in the very near future. More to come on that in future posts, but am thankful that John Sterrett (blog | twitter) and David Klee (blog |twitter) are taking a chance and investing some time in me.

Sessions were strong this year. I got to see a few from my good friend John Morehouse (blog | twitter), Mike Fal’s awesome session on PowerShell, to the outstanding session Erin Stellato gave on XE. If you missed any make sure to visit the PASS Summit website and purchase the sessions; you won’t be disappointed and it is an investment for your company.

Closing

Being part of the PASS Community is something that has changed my career. I’m living proof that what we do on a daily basis works and is working. If each one reaches one then our mission is complete ~ I’m thankful yet humbled to be on this journey.

It’s always a pleasure to see everyone at PASS Summit and look forward to many more conversations, collaborations, speaking engagements, and demos. Let’s keep moving this community forward one day at a time and keep investing time in others. What you do today influences someone else tomorrow – Let’s Roll!

IMG_20151027_151532

Heading To PASS Summit 2015 – Now What?

PASS_2015_200x200You’ve heard about it for some time now, and you finally got the gumption to ask your boss if the company would send you to PASS Summit 2015. A few days or weeks elapse and you get word that you were the chosen one from the company to attend – FANTASTIC, you say….but wait – – what in the world am I supposed to do? What should I expect? Will someone throw a fish at me in Seattle?

First off, relax. I want to share some advice with you that may help ease your mind and make your trip a ton of fun. Pull up a chair and stay a few minutes; this is a blog post and not a dissertation so I won’t take to long.

What Can I Expect?

PASS Summit 2014Simple question with profound meaning. I can only tell you of my experiences and what I’ve been through as alumni to the conference.

My first PASS Summit was back in 2011 (documented here) and it was one that changed the outlook on my career forever. I was green to the community thing and come to find out I was not the only one.

A ton of sessions, a ton of speakers, a ton of people – with all that said the experience was hands down  the best professional work conference I’ve attended.

Fruits of Attending?

Community ZoneWhat can I gain from attending? Beside the knowledge of sessions you have a plethora of opportunities to network with speakers, vendors, and other data professionals on a daily basis?

Do you have a question for Microsoft? If so, head on over to their triage center to get some direct help or visit the community zone.

Even better; this last trip resulted in me meeting an individual at a table. Out of 5 k data professionals I strike up a conversation with this person and we talk over breakfast. This person is from the exact same city I am from – who knew? As I get back into town I had a position become available; guess what I ended up hiring the individual after an interview process and it has worked out very well for both of us. You never know what may come out of attending this conference.

What Do I Bring?

Everyone is different; normally what you will find with me at the conference are (but not limited to):

  1. Business cards
  2. Laptop or Surface
  3. Battery Stick
  4. Mifi (although they have WiFi there)
  5. Chargers
  6. Cell phone
  7. Batteries
  8. Mouse
  9. Thumb Drive (cause you know, why not)
  10. Pens
  11. 3×5 cards (some form of paper in case I need to jog something down real fast)
  12. Hand Sanitizer

I tend to keep a second bag in my back pack of other essentials. Be creative, this is just a list to help you get started.

The Sessions

You won’t be able to see all the sessions you want to. I suggest you create your schedule online at the PASS site. This gets you a head start, but keep in mind that part of the fruits of being there is to meet people and talk.

You can purchase all the sessions for the conference; just ask one of the many volunteers where you need to go. It’s fairly inexpensive and most companies I know will reimburse you for it as you bring them home to the team or the ones who could not go. Plus it helps you see the other sessions you didn’t get to attend.

Have Some Fun

Lastly, as I bring this to a close, have some fun. It’s easy to get overwhelmed I get that. Just enjoy yourself and embrace the journey you are about to embark on. You won’t regret being involved with something so great within the PASS Community.

I look forward to seeing you there; if you run into me say hi. I don’t mind stopping and talking to new and old faces a like.

Stairs

Im At Summit Now What?

Pass Summit 2011 - Photo Provided by Pat Wright

Pass Summit 2011 – Photo Provided by Pat Wright

We are a week out from PASS Summit 2014 and there will be many there attending for the first time. You are in the same boat I was in back in 2011. To be quite honest, I’ve never seen or attended anything quite like it before.

No, it’s not some mythical place that you hear about. It is a real conference with real people who are in the daily trenches just like you are. The key that I learned back in 2011 is to step out of your comfort zone, meet some new people, network, speak with the vendors, and get your learn on.

Will you be overwhelmed, perhaps, but keep in mind that you are not the only one. This event is by far, in my humble opinion, one of the best learning opportunities in our industry and field. There will be plenty of sessions to go through and attend along with some other activities once the sessions end ~ get involved.

 

Here are some things to note that may help you along your way:

  1. Pass Summit Schedule Builder
  2. PASS Evening Events
  3. SQL Karaoke @ Busch Gardens – Thursday night ( (check out some of the past ones here)
  4. Twitter feeds to watch for (#TSQL2sday, #sqlpass, #sqlrun, #sqllongrun)
  5. Twitter handles to watch (@sqlpass)
  6. Download the EventBrite app; if you are scheduled for things such as the sql run your event will remind you through this app
  7. Download the GuideBook app; this app will remind you of the schedules you build out
  8. Vendor booths – yes go meet them. Some of the tools you utilize everyday will be there; stop by the RedGate booth and see some of my friends
  9. Community Zone – take advantage of some of the best in our industry
  10. Eating – this might look weird putting that on here but take advantage of eating at a table with others you don’t know. Introduce yourself I promise it won’t hurt.
  11. Miss a session – yep you will because there are so many to attend. PASS has you covered and you can purchase the full tracks

I have some commitments while I am there this year, but make sure you stop me and say hi and introduce yourself. Without a doubt I look at my career and there is one thing that stands out that helped change my career outlook – attending PASS Summit.

Safe travels to everyone attending and hope to see you there.