Category Archives: Personal Development Plan
For me I am not sure that I am at that point. I love being a presenter, I love going to the speaker dinners for SQL Saturday events, I love meeting other speakers and talking about presenting, but in all honesty I am not sure that I am in love with presenting. But I am getting there. Presenting still terrifies the hell out of me, but it is a fear that I set out to conquer last year as a goal in my personal development plan.
For a long time, if an activity involved a public speaking component I avoided it like the plague. Seriously. I am not kidding here. I coached Dixie Youth baseball and Pop Warner football and every year I had to give a first practice speech. I would spend a couple of sleepless nights and I would vomit several times before muttering something from my note cards and then quickly move on to begin the practice. The last few years I stopped doing it all together and went around to the parents individually and this worked much better for me. Crisis averted. Problem put back on the shelf for a later date.
After several SQL Saturdays, I started to think that I could do this again. Some time ago, I was a consultant that also provided week-long training courses in addition to programming and DBA work in Progress 4GL RDBMS, but all of the material that I presented was created by a team (similar to a Microsoft training course) of professionals. Whenever I got nervous in those courses, I could always go back into the material as it had notes on the slides. It was fool-proof, and after doing them over and over I was a pro at it. But after not doing this for twelve years, the fear took over again.
After presenting a lightning talk in Pensacola, a couple of user group meetings and a few SQL Saturdays, the fight or flight reflex has lessened and the vomiting is non-existent. I can do this, I am doing this, and I will conquer this. I can proudly say that I brushed the fear back and now think that I am getting better at this. I am starting to love presenting, it has a foothold in the depth of my being. What about you?
To be blunt, I am horrid in interviews. You and I can have a nice conversation normally, but call it an interview and I am a blundering idiot. Nerves. Anxiety. Judgement. If it wasn’t so sad it would make a great farcical comedy. Oh I have gotten better over the years, but at almost every stop someone took a chance on me and later commented that they were glad they did because I totally blew the interview. It would drive me mad to think about all of the lost opportunities over the years but everything happens for a reason.
In many of my positions we have wondered how some people got their jobs and it almost always boiled down to the fact that they interviewed well for it was obvious that it was not their skill. Which begs the question, does the interview even work anymore?
Many people have told me that it is a good indicator of personality and seeing if the person will mesh well with the team. That smacks of prejudice to me. If your team is like a fraternity house, who will show you that personality in the interview process? How will you know if you have a Blutarsky or a Dorfman or even a Chip Diller (sorry could not resist a Kevin Bacon Animal House reference). Enjoy!
This past weekend was SQL Saturday 192 in Tampa. Being my home user group event always makes this event special, however this was the first time I spoke at my home SQL Saturday and that made it an event that I will always cherish. In addition, this year, I took in a full day pre-con training on Friday with Buck Woody (b | t) and quite frankly it changed my life. How many times can you say that about a SQL training, let alone a $99 training?
I know what you’re thinking, believe me I do. How can a one day training change your life? I have spoken at two SQL Saturdays prior to this event and a couple of times at a couple of user group meetings so to say that I was a speaking novice would be an accurate term in my eyes anyway. In addition, I have had no formal training in public speaking except for the semester speech class that I nervously tried to avoid and almost vomited every time I stood up in front of the class.
This journey began in 2011 as I resolved myself in Andy Warren’s Professional Development Plan session at the Tampa BI SQL Saturday. I wanted to conquer this fear of public speaking and give back to the community. It seemed pretty simple. I had no idea how hard it would be and with my fight or flight instincts many times I wanted to just run away, but I did not want to embarrass myself in this community and that held me accountable.
After taking Buck’s class entitled “Creating Your Best Technical Presentation: A Speaker Workshop,” I now feel that I have the skills necessary to put together a decent presentation and deliver it without embarrassing myself. The presentation this past Saturday went well considering that I did not rewrite it, I also did not want to run or vomit and those are great things in my book. Now I have to go back and rewrite my presentation with the skills that I have learned. If you ever get the opportunity to take this class at a local SQL Saturday near you, do it!
Being methodical and logical as I am, I have set forth a plan to achieve my Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate as noted earlier in my goals for 2013. Having not found much in the way of preparation material as noted in this post , I decided to rent the 70-462 Training Kit from Amazon and transpose some of the objectives there to fit the 70-457 and 70-458 since I am taking the upgrade exams the materials for the regular exams should suffice in preparation.
Now I have outlined a calendar below and the hard dates to hold me accountable to the task especially since the book has to be returned in June. Let the journey begin!
|70-462 Training Kit – 70-457 Objectives|
|Install and Configure|
|Install SQL Server & related services||1||2||1/20/2013|
|Implement a migration strategy||4||1||1/27/2013|
|Configure additional SQL server components||3||1||1/27/2013|
|Manage SQL Server agent||11||1||2/3/2013|
|Maintain Instances and Databases|
|Manage and configure databases||3||3||2/10/2013|
|Configure SQL Server Instances||2||1||2/17/2013|
|Implement a SQL Server clustered instance||8||1||2/24/2013|
|Manage SQL Server instances||2||2||3/3/2013|
|Optimize and Troubleshoot|
|Identify and resolve concurrency problems||10||2||3/10/2013|
|Collect and analyze troubleshooting data||9||1-6||3/17/2013|
|Audit SQL Server instances||6||3||3/24/2013|
|70-462 Training Kit – 70-458 Objectives|
|Configure and maintain a backup strategy||11||2||3/31/2013|
Implement and maintain indexes
|Import and Export Data||4||2||4/21/2013|
|Manage logins and server roles||5||1||4/28/2013|
|Manage database permissions||6||1||5/5/2013|
|Manage users and database roles||5||2||5/12/2013|
|Implement High Availability|
|Implement database mirroring||7||1||6/2/2013|
At the start of the new year, I began a lifestyle change (not a diet) to follow the Paleo lifestyle from recommendations from NerdFitness.com. If you are unaware the paleo lifestyle is to basically eat like the cavemen. You essentially eat meat, nuts, fruits and vegetables that would have been available to the cavemen and remove dairy, grains and sugars from your diet. I removed cokes (cherry pepsi to be precise) from my daily routine a couple of years ago and drink flavored water. Before this move, I eat a good portion of this diet previously only with added grains and enough dairy and cheese to choke a Wisconsinite.
Nine days into this lifestyle change and I have never felt better in my life, however It did take a couple of days to feel better and get adjusted. Now, I am rarely hungry in the late morning, afternoons, and late nights when I would usually run to snacks which is where my additional weight generally came from. Late night bowls of cereal, afternoon sweets, raiding cubicle candy jars, and mid morning energy bars were all within my realm of daily consumption because I never felt full. I was always hungry an hour or two after good size meals. I noticed this week that those feelings are all but gone.
It is also a good idea to eat a good breakfast and a big lunch followed up with a light dinner to provide the necessary energy for the day. I also walk daily and try to do cardio two to three times a week but those are outside of the meal plan as I have done those in the past and did not see significant and permanent weight reduction.
A typical day’s menu for me:
2 eggs scrambled with mushrooms, banana peppers, and jalapeno
Dinner (Lunch for non-Southerners)
Chicken or red meat with a hearty serving of vegetables (baked chicken breast with broccoli and cauliflower)
Half the portion of what I had for dinner.
Bowl of fruit or coconut milk ice cream (surprised that this tasted like regular ice cream)
In 2012, I made a resolution to begin presenting at the local level. That sounds like a normal enough resolution for most, however being an introvert standing in front of people is quite terrifying. After attending many user group meetings and SQL Saturdays, I decided that since I have met many of these speakers and they are not much different from me, I should be able to stand up and do that too!
In the past, when called upon to speak in public or in front of a group my fight or flight instinct would kick in and generally I would want to run with every fiber of my being. Sometimes, I did run shamefully. Interviews are no different in many cases therefore it is safe to assume that I do not interview well. In the past, I have probably missed out on some good job opportunities simply because they thought I was an idiot based solely upon my presentation skills. It is because of this that I resolved to improve upon the skill.
Sounds good, huh? Make a resolution and then you do it, right? Easy as pie.
Not so fast, my friend. I still wanted to run Forrest run! Karla Landrum (b|t), the SQL Community Evangelist for SQL PASS, realized what was going on and she gently nudged me along to speak at the Pensacola SQL Saturday last summer. This is not unusual as historically I have been talked into doing stuff by women (and I probably should not have put that out there, so now you know).
That day in Pensacola, my fight or flight instinct kicked in again all morning long, but now I was on the hook and I did not want to disappoint Karla. Plus many of my colleagues knew I was speaking. Quite honestly this held me accountable for I did not want to ruin my reputation in the SQL community before I really even had one. My resolve that day held firm and I spoke quite nervously. But I did not run. I climbed the proverbial mountain and planted my flag upon its peak.
Since that time I have spoken at SQL Saturday Orlando and a user group meeting. It is getting easier with each event, but I still need to resolve myself to get better each time. Maybe one day I can speak at the PASS Summit? I will resolve myself to accomplish that goal and now you can hold me accountable. Enjoy!
Today I thought I would set forth a course of action in order to accomplish my goal of passing the 70-457 (and eventually 70-458) in order to achieve the Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect (how hard is it not to say Systems Administrator). I know what you are thinking, experience is the best trainer, but I like to be well prepared before I spend money to take an exam.
Sadly, Microsoft’s page for this exam has no content as far as a book, training, or even practice tests available for either exam. I understand that I could use the limited materials for exams 70-461, 462 and 463, but those are all assuming that you do not have an MCTS. I would like to limit my preparation to only what I need to pass the exam. I was able to find one book on Amazon, but I am not sure of the series. I have never used one of these books before. I think I will rent the 70-462 book from Amazon and that will force me to finish it by June.
Now in order to accomplish this goal I need to set aside at least four hours a week in preparation with book learning and using my 2012 Developer license at home. That will be tough, but now I have told you so I am now accountable. Please let me know if you have any tips for studying for this exam, I would appreciate your input. Enjoy!
Yesterday I posted my personal development plan for 2013. After reading a few other similar blogs by colleagues yesterday, one haunting thought stayed with me all night that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until this morning. My goals were lofty, but they were no more so than last year. That would not be stepping out of my comfort zone. There was really no challenge in the list when compared to 2012, where there were some serious steps on the ledge for me.
How do I resolve this? Not sure at this point, but I have some ideas so this may evolve over the next week. The first idea I had would be to upgrade my SQL Server 2008 MCTS to the new MCSA 2012 (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate). This would consist of two exams, 70-457 and 70-458, both aptly titled ‘Transition Your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA SQL Server 2012, Part 1 and 2.’ I waited for all of the dust to settle with the new certifications before I pursued moving forward in my personal growth as it does not appear that I am anywhere ready to tackle the MCM, thus I have made it a five-year goal. This would put me on that path and force me to commit to the preparation needed to pass these exams. Now that I have talked this out with you here I think I will add these to the list! Enjoy!
After yesterday’s review of 2012, it is time to set the bar a little higher for 2013. Let’s soar to new heights!
- I will post daily during the work week to this blog in order to give back to the SQL community. Last year I had planned to blog 365 days of the year, but there were many days when the content was subpar because I was on vacation, holiday, or simply having fun with my family. I think this year if I limit it to the days that I am actually working on SQL Server then the content should stay consistent.
- I will spend time daily helping people on twitter, SQL blogs, and various SQL-related websites such as SQL Server Central. This was hard to do last year but it is still a noble goal and thus should be listed.
- I am setting a goal of 600 followers on Twitter which would increase my existing followers 33%.
- I will attend at least ten of the twelve Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meetings.
- I will attend three to five other User group meetings, such as the Tampa BI group, Orlando’s MagicPASS, or the Tampa VMUG.
- I will attend at least one other event that interfaces with SQL Server such as the Orlando IT Pro Camp.
SQL Conferences & Training Events
- I will attend at least one formal Microsoft SQL training course this year.
- I will attend every SQL Saturday offered in the Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville areas. I would also like to attend some others, if possible, within driving distance.
- I will volunteer to help with at least one SQL Saturday this year.
- I will attend the SQL PASS Summit in Charlotte.
- I will submit to at least two different SQL Saturday events in addition to SQL PASS. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to present somewhere in 2013.
- I will be in better physical shape in time for Summit 2013.
- I will lose 100 pounds by the end of the year.
Five Year Goals
- I will continue to take at least one to two classes a semester online in order to complete my degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. All those Engineering and Computer Science classes I took 20 years ago are not relevant today and I would like to possibly return to consulting in five or ten years and that degree would be more beneficial in that long-term goal.
- I would like to become a Microsoft Certified Master within five years.
With today being the first day of 2013, I thought it would be good to review my goals for the year and see where I finished. I will italicize the updates at the end of each of the original items.
- I will post daily to this blog in order to give back to the SQL community that has helped me so much over the years. I published 364 blog posts for the year! It was difficult on holidays and weekends, but I am glad that I persevered through it. It became a habit and I think my writing improved because of the effort.
- I will spend time daily helping people on twitter, SQL blogs, and various SQL-related websites such as SQL Server Central. I have tried to do this regularly, but it is harder than blogging daily. I thought this one would have been easier. I simply did not have enough hours in the day.
- I am setting a goal of 300 followers on Twitter which would double my existing followers for 2011. I am at 465 followers today, thanks everyone!
- I will attend at least ten of the twelve Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meetings. In the end I only missed one and it was due to illness, goal accomplished!
- I will attend three to five other SQL User group meetings, such as the Tampa BI group or Orlando’s MagicPASS. There is a new Hillsborough SQL Users Group that I have attended every session. However, I did not get the chance to attend MagicPASS or the BI group this year!
- I will attend every Tampa VMWare User Group meetings which occur quarterly. I am 100 percent on this one (mainly because there hasn’t been a meeting since December of 2011! There is hope as I believe there will be a meeting in February.
- I will attend other events that interface with SQL Server or VMWare such as the Orlando IT Pro Camp scheduled for January 21, 2012. I missed the IT Pro Camp.
- I will attend one Microsoft SQL training course this year, but I cannot say at this time what that course will be as that will depend upon my employer . I would like to attend Course 2778a (Writing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Transact-SQL) and Course 6234 (Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services. I did even better than that, I attended a SQLskills.com class and I am also attended the PASS Summit in November.
- I will attend every SQL Saturday offered in the Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville areas. I would also like to attend some others, if possible, within driving distance. I am already registered forSQL Saturday #110 in Tampa on March 10, 2012. I missed the Jacksonville SQL Saturday but made up for it with Pensacola. I attended the March one in Tampa, the one in Orlando in September, but missed the BI one in Tampa in November due to the flu.
- I will volunteer to help with at least one SQL Saturday this year. I volunteered in March and spoke in June and September.
- I would like to attend SQL Rally in Dallas this year and I would definitely like to attend the SQL PASS Summit, but with one child in college this year and two more entering over the next two years, I may have to pass on this one for a couple of years until they are situated and my bank account returns to normal. I did not get to go to Rally, but I was able to attend the Summit and I cannot imagine myself ever missing that event in the future no matter what the cost! The friendships made were priceless.
- I will continue to take at least one to two classes a semester online in order to complete my degree in Business Administration. All those Engineering and Computer Science classes I took 20 years ago are not relevant today and I would like to possibly return to consulting in five or ten years and that degree would be more beneficial in that long-term goal. I am still on track here and was accepted to return to the University of Florida for the Summer of 2013.
- I will continue SQLAndy’s recommendation to meet at least three people at every SQL event. This is a great recommendation for networking. It is hard sometimes to break out of our introverted ways. I have been working hard to do this every time and it pays off so much so that when I went to the Summit I had no trouble walking up to strangers and introducing myself.
- I will attain my VMWare Certified Professional 4 certificate this year for VMWare. This did not happen as VMWare came out with a new version before my window closed to take the exam. Now I will have to take a version 5 class in order to take the exam. Personally, I am not that interested in pursuing this certification anymore choosing instead focusing primarily on SQL Server.
- I would like to speak somewhere this year, my local SSUG, VMUG, or even a training session at work. I need to get over my fear of public speaking. 2012 is the year to step it up and take it to another level. I have spoken at my user group and SQL Saturday and it is addictive.
This has been a great year for me, and I hope it has been for you too. Enjoy.