A Data Professional’s Story – PASS Summit 2016

This year is different. Why? I’m not sure yet. There is a lot of reflection going on since my return from PASS Summit 2016. As I look at the long laundry list of “to do’s” to get completed in the office; this past PASS Summit reminded me to slow down and take a minute to breathe – to take it in so to speak.

The recap post you are about to read will be a bit different from my past ones; gone is the synchronous order of how each day went. Instead, this post will be more relaxed and share view points through my eyes on how I went through the conference in which I’ve come to have a strong passion for.

The Story

As you first come into Seattle it is very difficult not to see a lot of its natural beauty. It never ceases to amaze me when the plane flies past Mt. Rainier and the breath-taking views that it holds. I often wonder to myself what it must be like to be near something on such a grand scale. I remember back to my first PASS Summit when I would be in such a hurry to get to where I was going; I took things like this for grantednot anymore.

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One thing I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy is noticing all the “first timer” ribbons. The look of excitement and overwhelming elation of knowledge that has been received all over their faces speaks volumes. If you are ever walking around and notice someone with this ribbon on please take a moment and see how their day is going; offer them some encouragement if needed. I was once in their shoes and I remember how I felt at my first conference.

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This year I had the pleasure of speaking at  SentryOne’s Boot Camp.  One thing is for certain; this shop knows their stuff and have a stellar crew in place to bring excellent products to the community. Some colleagues of mine (Monica Rathbun (b|t), John Morehouse (b|t), and Chris Wood (t) in the community shared how SentryOne has helped in our respective shops and businesses. I spend a lot of time in slide decks for my current work and this was no different; I had some slides made up and was planning on talking from the slide deck, but as I got up on stage I had a “change of heart moment”. I wanted to divert attention away from the slides and just have a heartfelt conversation with the attendees on what I felt was important. After initiating the “wave” in the crowd (yes folks Kevin Kline (b|t) was involved) we had a good talk and I was happy to be a part of it. Some better terms in being a part of the boot camp are thankful and blessed.

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The keynotes were nothing short of amazing. For the second year in a row I had the privilege of live blogging. It’s always fun to provide data professionals who are not able to attend an avenue to get the information from the conference. I did get a kick out of sitting next to Rob Farley (b|t). We’ve become friends over the years and always look forward to seeing him; not sure how he gets hand delivered coffee while live blogging, but then again – – it is Rob Farley.

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Speaking of friendships; a good friend reached out to me earlier in the week letting me know he’d be near by. After some going back and forth on timing I felt it was important to leave the conference and share some time with him. Tom Roush (b|t) has been an inspiration to many and he allowed me into his life a little bit that day. It was the first time I got to meet his wife Cindy in person; together all 3 of us were able to share a cup of coffee and just talk for about 30 minutes. This, to me, is what PASS is all about. I would have never had the opportunity to meet Tom several years ago had it not been for PASS and the mentality of Share, Connect, Learn. The PASS Summit is much more than just a technical conference; it is a people conference. It is a place where friendships are made, ideas our bounced off of each other, and a place to grow. Tom, here is to you buddy ~ cheers!

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Sponsors are huge at events like these; wouldn’t be able to put on a good show without them. As I walked through the vendor area my mind began to wonder just how many people each of these vendors have reached. If you look past all the swag and fluff you’ll find that these vendors are doing some phenomenal things for the community. I’ve already mentioned SentryOne above, but another one that has had a huge impact on me personally is RedGate. Yes, I am a Friend of RedGate and yes I utilize their products at the shop – one thing that stands out to me is their strong passion for the community in which they serve and have built a business for. I cannot go through and name every vendor, but from me to every one of you ~ I thank you.

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The conversations had this year were amazing. You’ll find these happening in one off’s all over the convention center, restaurants, hotel lobbies, etc. I’ve never been to a PASS Summit where I haven’t had a conversation that has either helped or inspired me. Mike Fal (b|t), Mike Walsh (b|t), Warwick Rudd (b|t), Wendy Pastrick (b|t), Tom Larock (b|t), TJ Belt (b|t), Tim Ford (b|t), and Steve Jones (b|t) had a huge impact on me this year. It’s humbling when individuals take time out of their day and just pull up a chair and talk. Investing in others is key; I’ve had a lot of people invest time in me; what am I going to do now? It’s time to invest in others the same way and build up another generation of data professionals.

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One aspect of the conference I was extremely pleased to help with was Steve Jones and Andy Warren’s idea for a networking dinner. I had spoken briefly to Steve prior the meetup as he was needing some hands to help. It was after the sessions had ended and we were to congregate in the lobby at the convention center. I didn’t know what all to expect; just knew that help was needed. What unfolded next was pretty amazing…..seeing people from all around coming up to talk about their interests and have the ability to meet new people. Saw a lot of “first timers” again and getting them paired up with 4-6 people in a group was something to behold. The event itself was very successful and hopefully if one person was reached or changed then it was all worth it. Nothing but respect for Steve and Andy, would gladly go into battle with either of them any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

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This year had a twist for me in that I was invited to eat lunch with Rimma Nehme, Mark Souza, and Mitra Azizirad from Microsoft. This opportunity, along with five other data professionals, was nothing short of amazing. A casual conversation over a myriad of topics on how we as data professionals relate to Microsoft at our respective shops. I could see quickly that we were in the midst of some great minds, and trying to be a sponge is an understatement.

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Another highlight was getting to see, as I was live blogging, Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) receive the PASSion Award for 2016. I’m a product of the hard work she has put in over the years. Her tenure has spanned a decade now here in the Louisville, or as we call the ‘ville. It has only been a few years since we have crossed paths; little did she know when she started down this path for SQL Community how big of an impact she would have. It’s an honor to serve along side her and a testament to what hard work can do; sticking with something through both good and hard times. Job well done and well deserved. You can read her blog on the award here.

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We were able to meet and send Karla Landrum (t) off with appreciation in the community zone. For those of you who don’t know Karla she has been a steadfast presence in PASS as a Community Evangelist. She has gone above and beyond in her tenure and from the many people who stopped by to wish her well it is obvious she has hugely impacted a lot of data professionals. No, this won’t be the last we hear from her, but here it to a job well done ~ cheers

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As the halls are emptied and we close up another successful PASS Summit I can only hope that the future remains bright. It is my understanding that we had a record crowd on hand this year; may we continue to build on what has been started. If I may leave one thought with you I will leave this (again my viewpoint and opinion). At the very core of what we do day in and day out as data professionals we find data and people. People make up the PASS Community, people make up the shops you are in, and yes it is people that make an impact on one another. I personally, am blessed to have been one of the ones impacted. May we continue to give back in avenues that we can whether it’s volunteering, speaking, organizing, mentoring – – whatever the case may be. This community; this is our community

Thank you to all the PASS volunteers, staff, sponsors, speakers, convention help, caterers, attendees, etc. It takes all of us to make the wheel go round…..until next year.

Be an impact player ~ let’s roll

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PASS Summit Live Keynote – Release 5

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Julie Koesmarno, Senior Project Manager at Microsoft, takes the stage to talk about business analytics utilizing War and Peace.

Tracing emotions of each key characters via a heat map…..pretty cool to see application of SQL Light language.

Cognitive capabilities managed with big data……


Deep learning is everywhere; this means that SQL Server 2016 falls into that category. Seeing a demo on drone functionality and feeling the pulse of the power grid


Jen Stirrup (Data “Whisperer”) takes the stage and talks Pokemon…..yes folks Pokemon but there is more than that.

Utilizing Power BI for the activity for each Pokemon sprinkled in with some “R”. The data itself is stored in the Azure SQL Database with utilizing the Azure Services.

 

 

PASS Summit Live Keynote – Release 4

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Document DB: Blazing fast planet-scale NoSQL:

  • Guaranteed Low Latency
  • Elastically Scaling Storage
  • Elastically Scaling Throughput
  • No Impedance Mismatch
  • Choice of Consistency
  • Enterprise Level SLA

Azure + DocumentDB with leading game technology. A game and TV show integration of Walking Dead that brings exclusive clip content into the game using Azure media services.

15 million installs

120 GB of new data each day

11,500 DocumentDB requests per second

43 million Walkers eliminated each day

1.9 million matches made each day utilizing DocumentDB

1 million guilds

10 million chat messages per day

250 million leader board entries


Integral Analytics Scott Smith VP of Product has come on stage that discusses how data science and software company that provides core operational, planning, and valuation applications for utilities and other participants in the electric-energy industry.

Visualization of data that is important being able to keep lights and data centers running with giving respect to the electric grid – – all using the Azure Data Warehouse capabilities.

Electric Grid: from 100K to 500M records per 1M customers a day in the past 5 years

PASS Summit Live Keynote -Release 2

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Rohan Kumar, General Manager of Microsoft, takes the stage hyping up SQL Server 2016. We keep hearing the word “Sharing” among databases.

Intelligent Database:

  1. In-Memory Analytics
  2. In-Memory OLTP

Wow, 100X faster analytics + 30x faster transactions

Azure SQL database is the first in the world to support HTAP technology

Two worlds coming together – industry leading in-memory enhancements with built-in advanced analytics with R

One million transactions per second using SQL 2016 – that’s right….you heard that.

R services integration into SQL 2016 – is pretty powerful

 

PASS Summit Live Keynote – Release 1

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Joseph Sirosh taking the stage by first telling us a story with over 400 million children in India. Only 50% of them attend school regularly. Consider the loss of potential that could have been a doctor.

Millions more like these children; a world of lost human potential. Millions who drop out on opportunities. Enter the term Data. The school infrastructure and other parameters will allow them to predict school drop out and the risk of under performance.

All this from data? Over 5 million children will be scored by data machine learning and the Azure cloud?

A.C.I.D. Intelligence – Algorithms/Cloud IOT/Data

Intelligence of software in every piece of software that we have. Finished applications like office 365 to many more by sprinkling the so cold pixie dust of A.C.I.D into the mix.

Intelligence DB – Intelligent Lake – Deep Intelligence

Intelligence DB – pushing intelligence to where data lives. Sharing machine learning around marketable applications is key. This pattern will allow intelligence to become just like data.

SQL 2016 is truly becoming the platform for data intelligence

 

 

T-SQL Tuesday #83: We’re still dealing with the same problems

tsql2sday-300x300It’s about time I got back into participating in the T-SQL Tuesday block parties that are hosted by community members each month. First, let’s take care of some house keeping rules.

Who Is Hosting?

This month Andy Mallon (b|t) is hosting and has chosen a topic of We’re still dealing with the same problems. This topic can have very many avenues to go down; with that said Andy….great topic sir. I suggest you stop by Andy’s blog when you get a chance; he has some great posts along with Shortcut’s Cheat Sheet that I ran across the other day.

So what are some of the same problems?

Again, we can take this path down several different roads. We can get extremely technical or we can get extremely general. For the sake of time and having you in mind as I type I may sprinkle a little of both into this post.

Professional Level

From all different levels of a database professional’s life one can see repetitive things being done:

  • Resume fluff – by this I mean interviewees having a little to much fluff on the resume that has to be weeded out.
  • Dev/DBA/Infrastructure – do I need to expound? The age old silos that are often built with blame moving to and from each unit.
  • Overworked personnel – being in management my team is key. It’s time to look at the people as that, people, and not just a number.
  • Routines – we all get stuck in a routine at times; how do we get ourselves out of so called “ruts” and light the fire that we once had?
  • Meetings – this topic can have its own blog and how to handle them. These are important in some cases and in some cases they aren’t, but the fact remains I still see a lot of shops with an endless supply of meetings.

SQL Level

Up next are the SQL scenarios I still see as ongoing battles:

  • Max Memory Setting – when installing SQL please check this setting.
  • SA – every vendor wants SA for their app; it’s how the world goes round.
  • Backups – yes I take backups….that is great news; have you ever restored any? Nope…..you see where I’m going with this.
  • Trace Flags – I see a lot of people not taking advantages of these across all SQL platforms.
  • SQL Versions – a lot of shops are not keeping up to date with their SQL versioning as often as they should.

Automation

You may ask why I put this topic in a section all by itself? I learned earlier on from John Sansom (b|t) that automation is key to becoming a successful DBA. I don’t see enough of it really? There are a lot of new tools and methods that are available to data professionals that, if taken the time, can be set up to automate a lot of the mundane tasks I see small to medium shops experiencing. Heck, even some bigger shops still struggle with the art of automation.

Professional Development

Anyone who knows me knows I like to challenge myself. Each and every person has their own set of goals and desires as they move through life and no one else can define that. I see over and over again where we tell people that they need to do this and need to do that. No, I’m not talking about mentoring or leadership. Those are separate entities; this section is meant to encourage the readers of this post that you control where you want to go in your career and not the other way around. Some knew technology comes out and you want to learn it then go for it.

What Is T-SQL Tuesday Anyway?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Adam Machanic (b|t) started this party about (I’m approximating here) 7-8 yrs ago. Each month a new blogger is chosen to host the party and they in turn get to pick the topic. If you blog about SQL and have been keeping up to date with it for a while now then drop Adam a line and let him know you are interested.

Conclusion

As you can see there are still items that occur all around us on a daily basis in the same manner. I challenge you to see, if what, can be changed. Where can you make a difference? Time to get after it ~ Let’s Roll.

Thanks Andy for taking the time out of your day to host this month.

PASS Summit Advice For First Timers

As I scrolled through the twitter feeds I ran across one from Tom LaRock (b|t) on PASS Summit being three weeks away:

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Now, what caught my eye was the fact that he mentions the word “advice” to first timers. It wasn’t that long ago when I attended my first PASS Summit. In fact it was the first year at my new shop and I knew nothing about the PASS Summit. The year was 2011 and I had made the trek out to Seattle with a colleague. From the moment I stepped into the convention center I was caught hook, line and sinker.

I got to thinking about what I could share with you, the reader, who may be attending your first PASS Summit and what to expect. Can it be overwhelming? You bet it can be, but guess what? That’s okay.

I’m excited that this year will be my fifth year attending, and it has been one heck of a ride. I’ve learned and have grown so much from it over the years that I would recommend attending to any data professional.

Things To Expect

  • The People – You will find out quickly that there will be numerous opportunities to interact and network with an endless supply of data professionals from all over the world.  I’m not here to tell you how you should step out of your comfort zone; you do what you feel you should do. I will say, for me, getting to know several people over the years has been beneficial to my career growth as a data professional.
  • The Sessions – There will be sessions you want to go to at the same time. Don’t fret; PASS Summit has an offer to purchase all the recordings so you can go back and review a play by play. This is something that I and my shop have taken advantage of over the years and it has proved beneficial.
  • The Community Zone – When you are on your way to the cafeteria you’ll notice a community zone section filled with bean bags and people; stop in and say hello if you get a chance. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with other professionals, leaders, and speakers.
  • The Volunteer – You will see these people all over the convention center. Do me a favor, stop and thank one of them while you are there. Doesn’t take long and a thank you goes a long way. I remember back in 2012 I stopped and thanked a volunteer standing by the entrance to the main room. They proceeded to say they were having a rough day and that it meant a lot for someone to stop. You and I will never know what someone else is going through; take time to make an impact on someone.
  • The Key Note(s) – I suggest you attend these if you can; they are a great way to get a wealth of information from some of the most talented individuals you will ever meet. You will learn direction of products, some new features coming on various platforms, along with some humor thrown in for good measure.
  • The Excitement – You will be excited yet overwhelmed – I know I was. It’s okay to feel this way and don’t beat yourself up if you miss opportunities. Consider it part of your growth on your journey. If you want to ask a question and feel you don’t want to in front of people then fine; go up to the speaker or catch them in the various spots of the community zone. Never met a speaker who does not like to spend some time talking with other data professionals.

The Why?

Back in 2011, my first PASS Summit, I was trying to take it all in. We brought back a lot of information to the shop and implemented some things such as CMS etc. It was a great learning experience, but something struck a chord in me with what is known as the “SQL community”. A few weeks went by and I couldn’t shake the concept so I reached out to Chris Shaw (b|t) who would one day become one of my good friends and mentors in the community. He helped me to get on a path that has led to some outstanding things:

  1. Community Involvement
  2. Blogging
  3. Article writing
  4. Contributor for DBA Jumpstart
  5. SQL Saturday Co-Organizer
  6. Speaker
  7. Co-Chapter Lead – Louisville SQL and Power BI UG
  8. HA/DR Virtual Chapter Marketing

And the list could go on. Why am I telling you all of this? If I can go out and set my mind to accomplish these things then there is no reason why you, the reader, can’t do the same. There will be many opportunities for you, the question that you will have to ask yourself is if you want to pursue them? If you do pursue them great; and if you don’t great. Your career path is just that – YOURS. Only you, yourself, will be able to answer that question and whatever your answer is it’s okay because it is yours.

The Leadership

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I am living proof of what PASS Summit can do for someone. It is time we harvest more leaders and continue to cultivate the very essence of our growth and community. We need to continue to be transparent yet candid all the while staying humble in realizing the journey that we take is sometimes not the journey all data professionals take.

Networking

This conference will be your chance to meet data professionals from all over the world. Take advantage of the many opportunities you will be presented with on a daily basis. One thing to keep in mind are the vendor areas, community zone, and Microsoft Engineers who are onsite to assist you with various questions that you may be encountering.

Conclusion

While PASS Summit will be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge, grow as a data professional, and network galore; I do realize that it can be overwhelming especially if it is your first time being to the event.

Take a second and catch your breathe; realize that you are not alone; we all have been in the same shoes you were in at one point and time. Feel free to reach out to me or if you see me walking around, talking at the community zone, or outside the convention center don’t hesitate to walk up and introduce yourself. I’ll be happy to help you out as much as I can.

Is ROI for Vendors Worth the SQL Saturday Investment?

networkingPiggy backing onto the recent SQL Saturday post here in Louisville, I wanted to take a more in-depth look, from my perspective, on how vendors all fit into these events.

Having the opportunity to work alongside these vendors has been both a learning experience for myself along with forming new bonds along the way. Louisville has been fortunate enough to have some of the best vendors in our industry who see the importance of investing time in others for a few reasons.

  • Networking
  • Getting their products name out
  • Growing their local community pool
  • Bringing exposure to their company

SQL Saturday events provide a much more intimate setting with a lower number of attendees. Example our event for the past two years had over 220 users sign up. This is a much smaller scale then say what a PASS conference has signed up where over five thousand of your closest friends attend.

The SQL Saturday events allow the attendees to get up close and personal with the vendors on products that they may or may not use. That’s great Chris, but I’m a vendor and how would I get ROI out of it; because at the end of the day if I want to sponsor an event there needs to be some gains on my end?

This therein is a valid question and one that is not taken lightly. In speaking with a vendor they had this to say about our event:

Our sponsorship of SQL Saturday allowed us to connect with a wealth of developers and DBAs, in a single day. The event was organized, productive, and time well spent furthering our business in Louisville.

I am starting to see soft metrics, such as intangibles, in determining the business value sending data professionals for respective vendors to such events. What kind of intangibles? They’re the stuff that doesn’t show up in traditional cost-accounting methods but that truly makes a difference in maximizing the potential knowledge growth of the organization. These include employee learning, vendor interaction, business relationships, and networking. Some of these are clearly more quantifiable than others, but all are important to a vendors success.

Some outside thoughts on how ROI for vendors is applicable:

  • You have to evaluate your audience.
  • Make sure your input channel, in this case your interaction with attendees, has some new features for viewing.
  • List of attendees for potential future clients.
  • Make your presence known prior to event (outside the marketing done by said event).
  • Commitment from potential attendees
  • Flexibility

End of the day, vendors are a huge part from all angles in regards to SQL Saturday events. Getting a great local base at events like this continues to build and solidify companies advancement in the technology space; specifically around the Microsoft stack.

Conclusion

If you are interested in getting involved you can check out or view upcoming schedules at the SQL Saturday home page here.

From personal experience I know that talking with vendors at said events it has opened doors and opportunities for business in my current and previous shops along with building a network base for future discussions.

T-SQL Tuesday #080–Round Up

TSQL2SDAY-150x150The roundup is finally here, and cheers to all of you who participated. We had a great turnout this month with many returning participants along with some newcomers.

We had a wide range of topics with many great insights from everyone, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the links below and see what your colleagues from around the SQL Community had to say:

 

Jason Brimhall – SQL Server Desired Enhancements

Riley Major – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Jon Morsi – SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 2

Melissa Connors – DBCC CloneDatabase

Aaron Bertrand – Create Or Replace

Lori Edwards – SQL Server R Services

Robert Davis – SQL Birthday Present

Allen Kinsel – SQL Server’s Birthdays

Matt Gordon – Change Always On Endpoint Ports

Bjorn Peters – My Open Points for SQL Knowledge

Chris Bell – The Gift of the Basics

Andy Yun – Give Yourself a SQL Gift

Kenneth Fisher – Default Database File Sizes

Dave Mason – SQL Server Shutdown Event

Shane Eillis – Can Powershell Get What T-SQL Cannot

Raul Gonzalez – Using the Query Store For Read Only Database

Rob Farley – Finally SSMS Will Talk To Azure SQL DW

Kennie Nybo Pontoppidan – I want DBCC ConeDatabase Available on all (supported) Versions of SQL Server

Ginger Grant – SSIS Projects, Packages, and Deployments

Mike Walsh – Happy Birthday Chris, Have Some Changes

Wayne Sheffield – SQL Gifts

As you can see we had a great turnout and everyone continues to share their knowledge daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Thank you again for all who participated, and a big thank you to Adam Machanic (B|T) for allowing me to host another block party. Hope you all have a good one and look forward to next month.

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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?