Category Archives: Personal Development Plan
Happy New Year! For some reason, I did not do a year in review post for 2013 or make any resolutions for 2014. So let’s fast forward and do one this time. This last year was an amazing year for me professionally: I moved to Atlanta, started working for an amazing company (Innovative Architects), traveled across the country speaking at different SQL Saturday events, and ultimately Microsoft named me a SQL Server MVP for 2014. How do you top that? I am not sure that it is possible, but I plan on trying.
So now I think I have a plan for 2015. Are you ready?
I am planning on speaking for at least five out-of-state SQL Saturdays, helping coordinate our event here in Atlanta again, attending PASS Summit again in Seattle, volunteering with the PASS organization again, and submitting to speak again. As a speaker I will continue to grow, and I am doing my first pre-conference session in Nashville on January 15th with my good friend Mike Lawell (t|b). In addition, I have been named an Ambassador for IA for 2015 and will continue to be vocal about our #WorkSomePlaceAwesome campaign, help with recruitment, and giving back to the community.
While we are on the subject, this company that I work for has a motto that ‘we work with people who do not suck.’ This mentality leads to an amazing and fun work place. It is by far the best job that I have ever had and that is saying a lot since I once had a dream job around the turn of the millennium. Anyway, since being named MVP by Microsoft, we now have three working at IA and I am going to try and help encourage a few others to be more active in the community and possibly grow some more MVPs. In addition, there are a few other speakers in my Atlanta MDF user group that I believe can or should be MVPs as well. The theme for this year professionally I believe will be to help others grow as I grow.
So let’s get to the fun resolutions while we are here.
I will double my live concert output from last year and see at least 25 this year alone (have tickets for four upcoming shows currently). I am a season ticket holder for the Braves this year and that will double the amount of games that I went to last year. I will also aim to do at least five other sporting events next year (Falcons, Hawks, Gwinnett Braves, the GT-UGA football game, and possibly the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team). Let’s also throw in a few Broadway shows and plays (I have tickets to Wicked already for February) as well as some cultural events as Atlanta has epic festivals and events such as Dragon Con. Finally I also plan to try to finish my Atlanta bucket list (which has 50 items that every person should see or do in Atlanta…I did nine of them in 2014).
Oh I almost forgot that I am moving in a couple of weeks to the Old Fourth Ward area of downtown Atlanta which is a culturally rich area and will start a new chapter of my Atlanta journey. I am moving into a renovated nearly hundred year old Sears & Roebuck warehouse, now called Ponce City Market which will be the epicenter of awesomeness in 2015 and has already been recognized in several publications. If you are passing through Atlanta in 2015, come see me after the winter and the mixed use development should be completed and in full swing. Then we can play putt putt on the roof or have a drink in an old train box car on the roof viewing the gorgeous Atlanta skyline as well as visiting some of the stellar restaurants located inside the building.
I hope you have an epic 2015! Happy New Year!
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!
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!
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.
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!