Category Archives: Personal Development Plan

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!

Additional Goals for 2013

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!


Personal Development Plan for 2013

After yesterday’s review of 2012, it is time to set the bar a little higher for 2013.  Let’s soar to new heights!


  1. 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 less than stellar 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I am setting a goal of 600 followers on Twitter which would increase my existing followers 33%.
  4. I will attend at least ten of the twelve Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meetings.
  5. I will attend three to five other User group meetings, such as the Tampa BI group, Orlando’s MagicPASS, or the Tampa VMUG.
  6. I will attend at least one other event that interfaces with SQL Server such as the Orlando IT Pro Camp.

SQL Conferences & Training Events

  1. I will attend at least one formal Microsoft SQL training course this year.
  2. 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.
  3. I will volunteer to help with at least one SQL Saturday this year.
  4. I will attend the SQL PASS Summit in Charlotte.
  5. 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.


  1. I will be in better physical shape in time for Summit 2013.
  2. I will lose 100 pounds by the end of the year.

Five Year Goals

  1. 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.
  2. I would like to become a Microsoft Certified Master within five years.

Personal Development Plan, End of 2012 Review

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. I will attend at least ten of the twelve Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meetingsIn the end I only missed one and it was due to illness, goal accomplished!
  5. I will attend three to five other SQL User group meetings, such as the Tampa BI group or Orlando’s MagicPASSThere 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 class and I am also attended the PASS Summit in November.
  9. 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.
  10. I will volunteer to help with at least one SQL Saturday this year. I volunteered in March and spoke in June and September.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

Books that I Read in 2012

The year 2012 was a great year for me in many regards, but today I want to acknowledge that I read fifty books this year!  Reading is great for your mind and your soul so this year I made a concerted effort to read more and I believe this is the most books that I have ever read in a year.

There was a few books on the list that I have read before, but they were read so long ago that it was great to re-read them and experience them all over again especially the Hobbit and A Stranger in a Strange Land.  I read and enjoyed them as a child.  In addition, a few of the Star Wars books I read in my younger days but I would like to read the entire Expanded Universe and I thought it was a great refresher to read them all at once.  Enjoy!

Title Author
The Associate John Grisham
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi  – Outcast Aaron Allston
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi  – Omen Christie Golden
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Abyss Troy Denning
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Backlash Aaron Allston
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Allies Christie Golden
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Vortex Troy Denning
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Conviction Aaron Allston
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Ascension Christie Golden
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi – Apocalypse Troy Denning
Star Wars Cloak of Deception James Luceno
A Stained White Radiance James Lee Burke
Star Wars Darth Maul Shadow Hunter Michael Reaves
Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace Terry Brooks
Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith Adult Comic
Star Wars Rogue Planet Greg Bear
Star Wars Darth Plagueis James Luceno
Star Wars Outbound Flight Timothy Zahn
A Stranger In A Strange Land Robert Heinlein
In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead James Lee Burke
Star Wars The Approaching Storm Alan Dean Foster
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones R. A. Salvatore
Dixie City Jam James Lee Burke
Burning Angel James Lee Burke
Cadillac Jukebox James Lee Burke
Star Wars Shatterpoint Matthew Stover
Cestus Deception Steven Barnes
MedStar I: Battle Surgeons Steve Perry & Michael Reaves
MedStar II: Jedi Healer Steve Perry & Michael Reaves
Jedi Trial David Shermann
Yoda: Dark Rendezvous Sean Stewart
Labyrinth of Evil James Luceno
Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare A.C. Crispin
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Matthew Stover
The Rise of Darth Vader James Luceno
Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt Gambit A.C. Crispin
Han Solo Trilogy: Rebel Dawn A.C. Crispin
The Awakening Kate Chopin
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zore Neale Hurston
A Good Man is Hard To Find Flannery O’Connor
The Ballad of the Sad Café Carson McCullers
The Color Purple Alice Walker
The Testament John Grisham
The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien
Star Wars Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire William C. Dietz
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope George Lucas
Swimsuit James Patterson
Heir to the Empire (Thrawn Trilogy Book 1) Timothy Zahn
Dark Force Rising (Thrawn Trilogy Book 2) Timothy Zahn

Personal Development Plan Part Dos….

The fourth most popular post from 2012 on

SQL Swampland

Having posted yesterday about my Personal Development Plan, I read a blog post from Neil Hambly regarding his 2012 goals.  Now, I realize that my goals were somewhat vague and easy to worm out of.  Here are the goals that I had mentioned yesterday:

  1. I want to dedicate time everyday to this blog and giving back to the SQL community that has helped me so much over the years.
  2. I want to continue to dedicate time to the SQL community in social media.
  3. I want to attend at least ten events this year consisting of SQL Saturdays, training, code camps, and possible SQL Rally and/or SQL PASS.

Let’s revise those goals to the following:

  1. 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.
  2. I will spend time daily helping people on twitter, SQL blogs…

View original post 453 more words

To Mac or Not To Mac

I have been debating internally for months on the decision to buy a Mac. I have been wanting one for a while now mainly because I want to learn to write iOS apps and return to my programming roots. After having an iPhone and iPad for several years this is the next logical step, obviously.

I have programmed in Unix, Linux, DOS scripting, Windows with Progress, Delphi, C++, and Visual Basic as well HTML. Do not get me wrong my passion is SQL Server, but I enjoy creating things as a hobby now mostly.

I think I will buy one but I think the timing is off, probably better to wait until after Christmas. Enjoy!

Moving On Up, To the Eastside

Yesterday was a good day, I was officially promoted to Senior Administrator late in the afternoon.  Same job, a little more pay, but mainly recognition by my employer that they appreciate my performance.  That is always a great feeling and a great way to start the weekend.

How will that change my day-to-day routine?  It will not, except maybe that I will walk a little taller and have a bounce in my step.  It is interesting to note that there have been rumblings of creating additional pay grades so that technical people like myself can advance further without going into management.  However, if that does not happen then I have reached the proverbial glass ceiling as I prefer to be a DBA instead of  a manager, to be honest.

I truly cannot see myself at the same pay grade for the rest of my career.  Money isn’t everything, but raises on a regular basis say that you appreciate me and my work and that you value my performance.  Always the optimist, I think everything will work out for the best, so no worries.

Enjoy your weekend!

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone.”  ~ Neale Walsh

For years people told me to get outside of my comfort zone, to which I replied no thanks.  Besides, I like it in here, they all know my name.  For years I did not venture outside of the zone.  At the same time I was bored and found little excitement in life.  That all changed in 1998 when I was 27.  I had no intentions of traveling outside of the United States for fear of the unknown.  I rarely did new things because the change may be uncomfortable.

The company I was working for at the time sent me to Italy for a month to finish off and deliver our software and ensure that it was implemented properly for our client when it went into production.  I was skeptical and scared to leave the country but thought at least they have a vested interest in my safety and ensuring that I return home.  I had a prime opportunity to explore Italy being there for a month and I rarely ventured out more than a couple of blocks from my hotel.  Looking back, I wasted an opportunity of a lifetime staying in my comfort zone.

A year later I was a consultant traveling around North America.  Having realized the opportunity that I missed in Italy, I ventured out a little more but not nearly as much as I should have.  Two golden opportunities to see the world down the drain.  Over the last couple of years, I have stepped further outside the zone to begin networking and meeting new people as well as traveling.  In that time frame, my life has been more fulfilled, so much so that I look for new opportunities to step out of the circle.   Don’t get me wrong, I am not all the way there yet.  I still have to coax myself away from my iPad and force myself to talk to people and step away from the introversion.  But I can see with each step brings new opportunities and new adventures and my life has been forever changed.  Enjoy!

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