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T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and Tripping the Light Fantastique
Jeffrey Verheul (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. (Hey Jeff, what’s up?) If you are not familiar with T-SQL Tuesday, well it was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) five years ago and invites a different blogger to host a topic and various bloggers choose to participate when the subject so moves them. This month’s topic is regarding SQL Family and Community. I have blogged numerous times about SQL Family and if you never experienced the awesomeness that is SQL Family in person, find me and I will give you a #SQLHug and show you just how awesome of a phenomenon this truly is.
Personally, I have been gainfully employed in the IT field for almost twenty years and have been hacking (yes that is the correct term not the one bastardized by the media and laymen) since the Christmas of 1982 when I got a Timex Sinclair 1000. During this lifetime, I have never experienced the phenomenon that is SQL Family, ever. Let the weight of that statement sink in for a moment. In other words, having met all sorts of IT professionals over the years at many conferences, user groups and meetings, no one community has struck me dumbfounded and with wonderment like that of the SQL Community. It is unparalleled in my opinion.
(Ed please get to the point and stop skipping the light fandango)
In The Beginning
Several years ago, I was severely burnt out. I had started back to college to possibly change careers. (yeah it was that bad) I hated what I did for a living. I cannot stress how much I hated what I was doing for a living. At that point, my good friend and fellow DBA Brent Kraus (t) invited me to a user group meeting with the Tampa SQL User Group. “Free pizza,” he said and we could meet a couple of guys and get a better job. I said how do you know and he said “hey Jorge Segarra (b|t) sat in that same chair and got out of dodge and now he is a SQL rock star now making it rain with groupies to boot.” The story may not have gone exactly that way, but hey it’s called dramatic license for a reason. If the day Buddy Holly died was the day that the music died, then this was the day that the music was reborn like a phoenix rising out of the ashes that was my career. (This story is getting good…even I want to pay attention now and trust me I was bored with it up until this section)
The meeting was horrible, there was a speaker on a speaker phone. I do not remember who it was or what he spoke about but it was pretty bad mainly because of bad phone connection and a language barrier. I met a few people and I remember thinking “this blows!” Then Pam Shaw (b|t) gave me a free book for a being a first time attendee. Remember, I had a bad attitude about my career so this reflection had nothing to do with Pam or her user group. I remember on the drive home thinking hey free pizza and a free book (and don’t forget the SQL tchotchkes), maybe I will go back next month.
Enter Brent again…as he said hey they do this crazy, free training thing and you get to meet a lot of SQL people and we are sure to find a better job there. So we ride over one Saturday morning to Orlando. I liken this to the moment I heard my first Beatles record. I was hooked, an addiction was formed. I met so many people and I could name drop all day but there is one key figure that I met that day….Karla Landrum (b|t). She was welcoming and passionate about the community. Karla is definitely the mother of this SQL family. Actually she is more of a foster-mother, she takes in the strays feeds them some good food, acclimates them to the environment and then challenges them to succeed. Like any good Mom, she doesn’t take no for an answer. Within a year from that moment she had talked (coerced, dragged me kicking and screaming, or tricked? You pick!) me into speaking for the first time. I had a supreme fear of public speaking. How did she talk me into this? I wanted to run like Forrest, but I didn’t even drove through a flash flood that day to not let her down.
During that year, I became active in the user group, became a SQL community promoter on twitter, and attended a few SQL Saturdays. Suddenly I didn’t hate my career as much, oh do not get me wrong the job I had sucked but I was not ready to jump ship on my career just yet. What happened to Brent? Oh yeah, he got a better SQL DBA job. Mission accomplished.
That first time was horrible, I scripted the whole thing and barely looked up from my trembling body. They gave me an award for the funniest presentation. These people are nuts, I do not think they saw the same presentation that I did. Afterward, several people told me how awesome it was and that they were happy to see me presenting. Wait?!?! What?!?!? It was horrible. These people are my brothers and sisters in the SQL Family. They were loving and encouraging when I needed it. I am sure that they knew it was horrible but they had been there too. I am not going to call them out but I do try to pay it forward with every new speaker that I meet or see or even here about. I want to be that same awesome brother that tells you about dating and girls and how to…wait I digress, sorry.
It was at this point that I wanted to speak again, and again. All the world’s a stage and I wanted to get better, to be as good as they were, to teach and give back. I was learning SQL Server like never before because I was teaching it to others. I was now in love with my career again. Not the obligatory kiss your grandmother love, but the super smart, nerdy librarian looking girl who likes you because you aced Calculus passion making out in the reference section next to the map rack. Yeah you know what I am talking about.
All everyone talked about once you get inside the SQL Family is the SQL PASS Summit in Seattle. Like any good addict, I had to try this drug. Have you ever had that moment when you said to yourself “wow these nerds are my people, they get me!” That first year was my moment. Like any good Amway presentation, I wanted what they were selling. I met so many people…authors, bloggers, crazy people (yeah I bet two or three names came to your mind when I said that and yes that is who I was talking about), DBAs, developers, and rock stars of the SQL community. They all had one thing in common: SQL Family. At no point did I ever feel not welcome or like an outsider even with my First Timer badge on. If there was a funny story that they all knew someone was more than willing to bring me up to speed on how that one guy did that one thing that one time and it was epic. Yeah you know who you are and what you did that one time. Dude!
At that first Summit, I met several DBAs from Atlanta. I kept running into them everywhere I went around Seattle. They invited me to sit with them at the Chapter Lunch. I was home. These people were my people. One problem though…I lived in Tampa. (This is a foreshadowing moment, keep that in mind here)
In 2013, I decided that in order to take my career to the next level, I needed to move to Atlanta where the DBA jobs were flowing like wine and after 42 years in Florida a change of scenery would be good. Most people think leaving Florida was a Paradise Lost, but being a tourist is the greatest part of Florida at this point in my life as I grew up on the sunshine, beaches, and Disney. Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. However, I felt at home with the Atlanta group and they had become really, really good friends over the last couple of years. You see I was 42 years old with hundreds of friends or as I like to call them wonderful acquaintances. You know the kind, the ones that will go to a birthday party for a mutual friend and be happy to see you and hand you a beer from the cooler. But if you need someone to help you move, all of these friends that you have seem to be busy. My life was full of these friends. I had a couple of really good friends, do not get me wrong especially if you are one of them are you thinking to yourself what the hell dude!
However, with the SQL Family, those friendships always seem to be so much stronger. This was the impetus for me moving to Atlanta. Those friends there seemed to be the kind of friends that would help you move (and they did come 2014). Did you remember the foreshadowing moment? Good, you were paying attention. After moving to Atlanta, I began traveling across the country spreading my wings speaking in Nashville, Las Vegas, Louisville and I will hit Birmingham, Orlando (where it all began) and possibly Charleston before the year is done. All of that is on my own dime. Why? SQL Family. I love visiting different family members and spending time with them and sharing my love of SQL Server and SQLKaraoke with them. I look forward to breaking bread and sharing a pint with them sharing stories and dancing like a mad man. The social aspect of SQL Family is unparalleled as well.
I am now a Data Services Consultant, working for a dear friend from the SQL Family. She brought me on board here where there are about a hundred brilliant consultants including several other SQL Family members. I love my career, and I love my SQL Family and now I love my job. Thanks, Julie (b|t).
So after reading this and if you have met me in person, have you figured out which family member I am? I am that crazy uncle that everyone has who sings everywhere and is so much fun to be around (at least in my opinion lol).
Mi familia está loca! (For Jorge)
P.S. Did you get the title reference and all the tie-ins? Tripping the light fantastic means to dance about with the music and being in the SQL Family makes me want to sing and dance every day. Milton (tie-in) and Shakespeare (tie-in) spoke of such phenomenon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles (tie-in) had an album entitled Tripping the Live Fantastic. Tarantino (our greatest living director) used the line as I did in “Inglorious Basterds” for the final tie-in. Those were chosen because of my love of those things and my ability to wax poetic about my passions. Long Live the SQL Family! Oh, I almost forgot the “skipping the light fandango” tie-in (glad I proofread this before submitting it) but that’s a line from “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harum. So now you have my passion for poetry, movies, music and SQL Server, all that in one blog post for the low, low price of $19.95…but wait, there’s more….stay tuned next time.
PASS Women in Technology Luncheon #PASSWIT
For the second consecutive year, I had the privilege of sitting at the blogger’s table during the Professional Association for SQL Server’s Women in Technology luncheon at the annual Summit conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This luncheon was over a week ago and today is the first chance that I have had to sit down and really put my thoughts together. Therefore, I apologize for the delay.
The theme for this year’s luncheon was “BEYOND STEREOTYPES: Equality, Gender, Neutrality, and Valuing Diversity.” The distinguished panel consisted of Rob Farley, Erin Stellato, Cindy Gross, Kevin Kline and Gail Shaw. The luncheon was moderated by my dear friend Mickey Stuewe. The bloggers present included Jes Borland, Mark Stacey, Karen Lopez, Grant Fritchey, Jen McCown, Jen Stirrup and Laerte Junior. As you can see it was very humbling to be chosen amongst that lineup.
It has become a tradition at the #PASSWIT luncheon for men and women to wear #SQLKilts to support the Women in Technology. Next year, I should be able to wear a kilt, however this year I wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. This luncheon was very moving for me this year and I found myself caught up in the conversations instead of taking notes. However, I did manage to grab some very good quotes outlined below:
Gail Shaw was asked if she had to make an effort to fit in within the technology community to which she replied: “No I don’t because I can’t literally be bothered.”
Cindy Gross later said “Every single person is prejudiced about something…”
Kevin Kline said that stereotypes are the index pages because our brains cannot know intimate details for more than maybe 150 people, for the rest we rely on stereotypes.
Rob Farley said for us to “Stand up and be the person who champions what is right.”
Erin Stellato when asked by a question from the floor about how to make it in the industry with all of the stereotypes working against you said “How am I not going to make it? Push through the stress and win!”
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!
The Chocolate Beach: SQL Style
I am humbled and honored to have been selected to present my “Backup Strategies are for Losers” presentation at the inaugural SQL Saturday for Cocoa Beach, Florida. This is SQL Saturday #231 as well as being the first for the Space Coast SQL Users Group, so please make your way to the chocolate beach on July 27th for a great day of SQL Learning.
You can register here, come on you know you want to hit the beach for the weekend. There is also a group rate code for the Hilton (SQLP), where the event is being held, that expires tomorrow (June 28th). You can reserve your room here. However, I will be staying just down the road at the Courtyard where my wife and I stayed on our wedding night before our honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas. I look forward to seeing you there. 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!
SQL Saturday Updates
It is an honor and privilege to be selected to present at SQL Saturday Tampa on March 2, 2013. We will be at a new location this year, Hillsborough Community College in beautiful Ybor City, due to our growth over the last couple of years. In addition, we have three pre-cons this year and I will be attending the “Creating Your Best Technical Presentation: A Speaker Workshop” by Buck Woody (b|t). Hopefully, after this session, my presentation skills will continue to improve before my session on that Saturday. If the winter blues got you down then head down to beautiful Tampa for a warm weekend of SQL learning and register for SQL Saturday #192.
This year I will finally get to attend two other SQL Saturdays that are in the relative vicinities. In the past there was always something going on during those two weekends. As it stands, I am planning on submitting my newest session, Backups: Getting the Most Out of Your Storage, to both of those events. Curious as to what they are?
SQL Saturday Jacksonville (#SQLSat215) will be April 27th and SQL Saturday Atlanta is tentatively scheduled for May 18th. Come on out and join me at all three of those events and maybe one of them will have some SQLKaraoke for the after event! 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.