UnSQL Friday 3: They Done Good

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It’s another UnSQL Friday. On a Wednesday. But that’s okay, UnSQL isn’t as hoitey-toitey as T-SQL Tuesday…

This week’s assignment, since I’ve chosen to accept it, is to blog about tech companies that I feel are getting it right. When Jen put up her poll and sent out the request for votes, I’ll admit that there were only one or two companies for which I didn’t vote, and that was because I hadn’t heard of them. The companies I’d like to mention directly are the four that I feel have boosted my career the most.

SQL Sentry, Red-Gate, Quest Software and MSSQLTips. Can you guess what these have got in common? These wonderful companies are the four original sponsors of SQL Cruise.

Think about it: all of these companies went out on a limb (Sorry, Brent and Tim, it’s true…) to sponsor a new kind of training. A training on a cruise. When I told our IT Director about SQL Cruise, he laughed. After I had won the contest and asked if he’d pay to send me down, he laughed again. I don’t think anybody in his right mind thought that any training would happen on a cruise.

Anybody’d be wrong.

SQL Cruise Conversation

Pro Tip: SQL Server is learned best
with a fruity beverage.

SQL Server learning happened around the clock. Being trapped on a vessel with 16 or so other people with similar professional interests, goals, and drive… you couldn’t help but learn. Folks sat together for meals, went on excursions at shore, hung out around the pool and the bar. Conversations would ebb and flow between family life and clustered servers, favorite books and execution plans. And so it’s these four companies that I felt got the SQL Server community in that moment, and I’m glad that they took a chance on Tim and Brent. And while it’s sad to see that MSSQLTips didn’t sponsor the upcoming SQL Cruise season, it is fantastic to see Idera and Confio join the ranks of sponsors.

Most of all, I hold SQL Sentry in the highest regard, because if it weren’t for their contest, I wouldn’t have gone on the cruise and (more than likely) would have not decided to take this career path. SQL Sentry’s “getting it” had a life-altering affect on me. I’m not at all surprised that they topped Jen’s poll: I’m living proof that they’re doing it right.

Thank you, Red-Gate, Quest Software, MSSQLTips. And thank you again, SQL Sentry. Please keep on getting it right.


UnSQL Friday 2: Giants of Tech

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It all started out with a question on Twitter, and turned into the topic for the second UnSQL Friday, once again hosted by Jen of the DBAs@Midnight. The question called:

Attn authors, MVPs, & bloggers: Who are the IT giants you talk to/read that make you feel like a technical poser? No fair saying “everyone”. (And we may as well rule out @PaulRandal, he’s a given.)

Yeah, I mentioned this might be a video, but you’re getting a blog post instead. It’s been a long day, including what I thought was a hacking attempt against my website a few others I administer. While everything appears to be fine now, and those passwords have been changed, my mind is a bit too flustered at this point in the week for that on-camera magic…


The fun part about Jen’s question is that she specifically stated that we can’t say everyone. Which is how I feel at times since I’m still a relative newcomer in the grand scheme of the technology. But I eventually ponied up some noteworthy individuals:

Not the biggest names, but as Jen said above, “Paul Randal is a given.” But I chose these individuals because they blog solid content for the beginner and intermediate SQL Server professional. That’s me. But it’s also the level to which I feel that I should be able to communicate my own ideas as well. And so it’s a treat to see these introductory posts by folks who could be blogging the technical and the deep dive: it means a lot.

Giant Lessons

While others in the community stated that they don’t “hero worship” or “think in these terms,” I don’t feel that it’s always a bad thing. I admire the individuals above because I feel like I am still learning valuable lessons from them. They’re showing me how to share. But I admire others as well.

I admire Brent Ozar ( Blog | @BrentO ) for his seemingly boundless enthusiasm and work ethic. I admire Mladen Prajdic ( Blog | @MladenPrajdic ) and Jeremiah Peschka ( Blog | @peschkaj ) for the way in which they explore and push the limits of the technology. And well, I think pretty much everything that Andy Leonard ( Blog | @AndyLeonard ) has to say on design, implementation and integration is the bee’s knees.

Of course, there are so many more great people that I don’t have the space for here.

Human Nature

In college, as I worked in the studio, I also studied artists. I took cues from specific artists and works and invoked them in my own pieces. It’s what is known as imitation. But it’s also learning. Children learn and grow by imitating the people around them. Artists learn to make art by imitating other artists. And now I study all these wonderful people in the SQL community, seeing what and how they share, and I begin to imitate as well. I’m learning. We’re all learning from each other.


UnSQL Friday 1: Branding

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My Personal UnSQL Logo

Thanks to the MidnightDBAs, we have a new, intermittent, community writing assignment. For this inaugural post, we’re to discuss branding. But not branding irons. So I’m going soup to nuts.

PASS Summit

The Summit was an interesting experience. I came to Seattle with the expectation that I was going to have to work hard to make contacts because I’m that lone weirdo in DC with a blog and an active Twitter account. And I did work hard because it’s not always easy for me to talk with people. But it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be because people knew who I was. That was completely unexpected.

I also had a few other unexpected surprises around the Summit. User Group leaders asked if I’d come talk with their chapters. I even had a request to write an article and the editor and I are figuring out an appropriate piece now. You’ll see in the next section why these were surprises to me.

Still, I know that I’ve got a lot of work to do because I’m “that SQL Cruise guy.” You know, “the one with the video.” And while I am proud of the work that I do at the Foundation, and I am proud of that video entry, I do want to be known for more.

Branding Plan

Small mirror

How do you present yourself?

I feel like my plan has reached a turning point. When I first started this blog, I was a complete SQL Server newbie – and I felt that I had to represent myself that way. Everything I wrote was geared towards the beginner, sharing tips and tricks that I learned along the way. While these kinds of posts have their place, I wasn’t giving up this beginner’s shtick even though my knowledge and experience had grown. I am not calling myself an expert in anything in any way, but I am beginning to recognize that I know more than I usually give myself credit for.

So what does that mean? It means that I’m adjusting my strategy. I’m going to begin to write more technical posts, and hopefully a few articles as well. The realization that I had at the Summit is that as much as people rely on their past experience, they also rely on research and observations. It’s scientific. I can do that too.

But I’m still that lone weirdo in DC, so I need to inject a little personality too. I’m a person, I’m personable: if I only see folks regularly around events, I want to share as well.

Social Channels

I implement my plan through three main channels. The first is this blog. Blogging is a great way to build a reputation, to share your knowledge, and to start conversations. I’ve blogged on and off for a long time before coming to the SQL community, but those times were difficult as I never knew if I had anyone listening. This time around I was encouraged to start again based on Brent Ozar’s blogging series. Tied in with this blog are my videos on YouTube. These have been relatively light, but I’m planning to ramp up again. The videos are a double whammy for me: I can teach and share my person all in one.

The second avenue is Twitter. Twitter is a good way to share my blog, but it’s also fantastic for sharing my opinions and having conversations with all you great folks that I don’t get to see in person all that often. If my blog represents my ideas, then Twitter helps to represent my voice.

The final component is my LinkedIn account. This isn’t as active a channel as the other two networks, but more of a final word. Once I think I’ve built a fledgling relationship with a peer, I’ll often send a request on LinkedIn to try to solidify it.


But all of this work is for nothing without goals. I’d like to speak at the Summit one day. (Well, more than Lightning Talks, as awesome as they were.) I’d like to be considered for and become an MVP. I’d love to land that dream job through the help of the community.

Most importantly of all, I want to grow in my experience, my knowledge, and my career. I brand myself in order to expand the number of opportunities that I have to learn and share.