Category Archives: Personal Development Plan

Presenting at Summit 2013

Today I was thinking about the SQL PASS Summit which begins next Tuesday and I just realized that I have yet to announce that I was chosen to speak for the very first time at the Summit.  I am so humbled and excited at this opportunity. I cannot begin to thank the program committee, PASS headquarters, and the SQL community enough for everything they have done for me in the past few years.  At this point in my career, I truly feel that my career has exploded thanks to my involvement with SQL PASS.

Rob Volk (b|t) and I had this idea to do a humorous session where we play Laurel and Hardy depicting the interactions between junior and senior DBAs.  It should be a good time for all.  Our session is Wednesday at 3pm, come by and say hi.  Enjoy!

A Month, Really?

Wow, I just realized this morning that an entire month has passed since I last blogged.  Surprisingly, much has happened yet I could barely find time to blog.  That isn’t necessarily true, but it sounds better than I’ve been lazy for the last 30 days.

So let’s do a rundown real quick of the last month.  I spoke at the very first SQL Saturday in beautiful Cocoa Beach, Florida and had an amazing time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  I completed my dizzying full-time college schedule with resounding success in my first semester back to the glorious University of Florida in pursuit of a Business Administration degree. Last but not least, Rob Volk (b | t) and I were selected to present our Lightning Talk for the PASS Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.  That is an extremely humbling and terribly exciting feeling.  Our session, titled “DBAs in Toyland: Here’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into!” is going to be a lot of fun to present as Rob and I are thoroughly enjoying the process of putting it together.  Enjoy!

 

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What Motivates You?

What motivates you?  Every time I think about work and motivation, I am reminded of the quote from Office Space:

Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

Bob Porter: Don’t… don’t care?

Peter Gibbons: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.

Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon?

Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses.

Bob Slydell: Eight?

Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

I see this all the time. When I started at my current position and I worked hard on projects, everyone said: “Why bother, it’s not going to get you anywhere.” After working here for two years, I am starting to understand that logic sadly enough.  However, It goes against how I was raised.

In addition, money is the ultimate motivator, but not the only motivation.  For me it is growth, I am not out to break the bank.  But, I do want to be acknowledged with regular raises.  I personally need something to work for, a goal whether it be financial or a clear path for potential growth.  Currently I have reached a glass ceiling, there is nowhere to go and without raises, I must rely on personal motivation.  Yet, everyone around me is performing less and less due to the lack of motivation.  It is difficult not to become Peter Gibbons.  Maybe it is time to move on?  However, I must fight to remain motivated.

T-SQL Tuesday #41 – Why I Love Presenting

T-SQL Tuesday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog meme is brought to us by Bob Pusateri (blog|twitter) and the subject is “how did you come to love presenting?

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?

The Interview: A Necessary Evil?

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!

SQL Saturday 192, Tampa Has Come and Gone But Left Its Mark!

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!

Enjoy!

70-457 and 70-458 Game Plan Part Uno

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
Objective Chapter Lesson Date
Install and Configure
Plan Installation 1 1 1/20/2013
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
Manage Data
Configure and maintain a backup strategy 11 2 3/31/2013
Restore databases
11 3 4/7/2013
Implement and maintain indexes
10 1 4/14/2013
Import and Export Data 4 2 4/21/2013
Implement Security
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
Troubleshoot security 6 2 5/19/2013
Implement High Availability
Implement AlwaysOn 8 2 5/26/2013
Implement database mirroring 7 1 6/2/2013
Implement replication 7 2 6/9/2013

Paleo Lifestyle

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:

Breakfast
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)

Supper
Half the portion of what I had for dinner.

Dessert
Bowl of fruit or coconut milk ice cream (surprised that this tasted like regular ice cream)

T-SQL Tuesday #38: Speaking of Resolve

This month’s topic for T-SQL Tuesday #38 hosted by Jason Brimhall (b|t) is an aptly themed variation on the word resolution.  I personally chose the word resolve.

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!

70-457 Course of Action

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!

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