Tag Archives: SQL Community

Interview with Warwick Rudd

 

Leadership-2

Part of traveling to various events and being a part of the SQL Community means one can meet some pretty awesome professionals. I was fortunate enough to run into Warwick Rudd (B|T) at one of the PASS Summit events held in Seattle, and he definitely lives up to all the hype.

Warwick is a SQL Server MVP, Microsoft Certified Master – SQL 2008, MCT, Founder and Principal Consultant at SQL Masters Consulting. He’s definitely an avid blogger, talented speaker, and a leader in our SQL Community.

After PASS Summit 2015 we kicked an idea around about getting something like this going where we could share a few questions and answers; the timing finally aligned right and well, without further ado:

  • How did  you get your start in working with SQL Server?

I was working as a UNIX scripting developer on an in house created scripting language. The company had a couple of web developers who had installed SQL Server 6.5 and the company needed someone to look after the SQL server environment. I moved in with the oracle DBA’s as there were no SQL server DBA’s and my first training course was delivered by Greg Low. Look where things have led me to now?

  • If there was another occupation you could see yourself doing what would it be and why?

Physiotherapy – I have played  a lot of sports and some to a very high level. Sports and sports remediation I find interesting and just naturally enjoy learning about it.

  • Being in technology we do play some pranks on our fellow colleagues. What is one that you are willing to share, that you have done in your past?

I was working in a bank and at the time we actually did not have pc’s but dumb terminals. We disconnected the keyboard and put sticky tape over the connection before seating the connection back just enough to make it look as though it was plugged in to pass initial inspection of why the keyboard was not working.

  • Where is one place that you would love to speak at someday (conference, SQL Saturday, event, etc.)?

Ha-ha this is a tough one as there are so many different things to take into consideration. But I guess I would love to speak at SQL Saturday in Colorado if it was ever available in winter as I love being in the snow and snowboarding – I would then get to do 2 things I enjoy. There are some bigger events, if I ever got the opportunity to speak at, that would be so humbling to be selected for, but I will keep those close to my chest so as to not jinx myself 🙂

  • For those out there that have not heard of SQL Community, what would you say in 3 words describes SQL Community?

Friendly, Supportive, Intelligent

Big thanks to Warwick for allowing us to take a glimpse into some of his thoughts. If you are ever at an event make sure you stop by and say hi to him; just a stellar individual.

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The Next Chapter ~ A SQL Journey

 

Journey

The past five years have been nothing short of an amazing ride on this thing we call “The SQL Journey”. I never cease to be amazed by the many outstanding data professionals we have in the PASS community.

For me, this ride has been a great learning experience. In addition, I am very thankful for the sacrifice of time that Chris Shaw (B|T) made in my behalf so many years ago. He was kind enough to take a willingly motivated individual under his wing and show him the ropes. He could have very easily said that he didn’t have the time. But the willingness that he expressed epitomizes what I have come to appreciate and expect from the SQL Family.

Along this journey I’ve witnessed a “closeness” rarely experienced in other communities.

A group rallies around someone in need, searching for an answer to their problems.

Fund raisers are organized for causes that benefit the individuals.

Intimate conversations are encouraged between peers – especially at large events and major conferences.

Words of experience and wisdom are freely exchanged when real-world battles make the road difficult.

These continual acts of kindness and sacrifice often leave me in awe.

It is not a perfect journey. It is not always an easy journey. And I have yet to see a bed of roses along the way. But my, oh my, it can be a rewarding journey.  The fruits of knowledge, friendship, bridging of gaps, experience, and opportunities are priceless.

Given my current position at “the shop”, leadership has been on my mind a lot lately.  Along with having aspirations in the SQL community, these are some important traits that I hold close to the heart:

  • Authenticity
  • Integrity
  • Concern
  • Restraint
  • Humility

At the same time, I strive to gain and exhibit:

  • Confidence
  • Vision
  • Composure
  • Resonance
  • Practical Wisdom

With these things in mind, I am today pleased to announce that I, along with my good friend John Morehouse (B|T), will be serving as Co-Chapter Leads for the Louisville SQL User Group. John and I were introduced to each other by Chris Shaw, and his influence has been tightly intertwined with our respective journeys since their beginnings. Little did I know, after a simple handshake at a PASS Summit, John would someday move to Louisville and a new friendship be forged. I will go to battle with John on any day, at any time, and anywhere, and I look forward to what the future will hold.

I do appreciate all of the hard work that Dave Fackler (B|T) has put into this community. While he is a stellar data professional in his own right, he has also helped to provide us locally with an avenue of opportunity and growth. Ideals to which he has been dedicated. It is my primary desire to help cultivate our local user base. To bringing forth new leaders, new innovators, and new SQL family members.

For those that know me, I have a reputation for using this saying … “Let’s roll.”

So, without further ado…Let’s roll.

Time Management–Leadership

TimeLeadershipTo many times data professionals flounder in what some call a pool of uncertainty. The countless tasks, tickets, projects, and emails that may flow in without prioritizing will leave individuals searching for what is needed to be worked on now.

Organize or Agonize

Face it, we all influence someone. Whether you are a sole DBA out in the field or a leader of many there will be times when one will have some form of influence. There will be times when a data professional needs to juggle a multitude of tasks; being a leader in this area is key – either you organize or you will agonize over what all has to be done.

Here are some tips in how to organize and become better at time management:

  • High Importance / High Urgency – tackle these projects first
  • High Importance / Low Urgency – set deadlines around completion dates and work these into your daily routine
  • Low Importance / High Urgency – find quick and efficient ways to get this work completed without much personal involvement
  • Low Importance / Low Urgency – this is busy or repetitive work (think about automation if possible)

Too Many Priorities Can Paralyze You

The papers on the task keep growing, emails keep coming in, automated jobs are failing, on call is ringing off the hook, and you suddenly get that “frozen feeling” of what in the world am I going to do? If you’ve been in this business long enough than you know what I am talking about. If you are feeling this way go ahead and get the tasks organized then approach your boss about how best to approach them and what their advice may be. True leaders want to help their employees as much as they can and this is one of the areas that all of us can work on. All good leaders have learned to say no to the good and yes to the best, and one of the keys to success is keeping that line of communication open with your boss.

Monica Rathbun (B|T) has a great post on The Shield. I suggest after you finish reading this post you go check hers out; a superb written post that provides insight into a lone DBA’s world.

Leader or Follower

A person is either an initiator or a reactor when it comes to planning. In my past dealings I’ve found that these hold true; note the difference:

Reactors

  • React
  • Listen and wait for the phone to ring
  • Spend time living day-to-day reacting to issues
  • Fill the calendar by requests
  • Spend time with people

Leaders

  • Initiate
  • Lead; pick up the phone and make contact with people
  • Spend time planning and anticipate problems
  • Invest time with people
  • Fill their calendar by priorities

Often times we see that when people lack ownership of an idea, they usually are hesitant to change. It affects routine, causes a disruption, and at times creates fear of the unknown. Uncharted territories cause insecurities to rise; four important cycles that will stand out around effective change are create, conserve, criticize, and change.

As a data professional there will be times when you are faced with bringing about change; here is a checklist that you may be able to garner some ideas from and assist you in helping you to bring forth implementing or requesting changes.

  • Will this change benefit others?
  • Is this change compatible with the purpose of the organization?
  • Is this change specific and clear?
  • Is it possible to test this change before making a total commitment to it?
  • Are physical, financial, and human resources available to make this change (what else is on the plate?)
  • Is this change reversible?
  • Is this change the next obvious step?
  • Does this change have both short and long-term benefits?
  • Is the leadership capable of bringing about this change?
  • Is the timing right?

The wrong decision at the wrong time = disaster

The wrong decision as the right time = mistake

The right decision at the wrong time = unacceptable

The right decision at the right time = success

Closing Thoughts

The above are methods that I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me not only become a better data professional, but a leader. I’ll leave you with a few insights into what a solid foundation could be built on; it will be up to you to become the leader that you want to be; along with honing in your time management skills.

The definition of leadership is influence.

The key to leadership is priorities.

The most important part of leadership is integrity.

The most ultimate test of leadership is creating positive change.

An extra plus in leadership is attitude.

What is your most appreciable asset – people.

The indispensable quality of leadership is vision.

The price tag of leadership is self-discipline.

May we never lose sight or focus of our dreams and goals. Obstacles will occur, but they are just that obstacles with solutions waiting to be had. Take the hard knocks as lessons that can be learned. There will be many, life’s journey is full of them – what kind of impact will you have?

Reflections and Looking Forward

ScoreboardTime is slowly ticking toward 0:00 on the clock. As I look around I couldn’t help but reflect back on the game – the game being 2015. Did I give it my all? Did I leave everything out on the court, and lay it all on the line? Sadly, I’m sure I could have done more – – I took some plays off where I needed to dig deep and give it all I had.

With just a few more days left in the year 2015; the coach is drawing up one final play. I, you, we have to finish strong; it is what defines us; it is character; it is leadership; it is seeing things through and finishing strong.

We’ve done some great things this year; nothing can take those things away nor negate the fact that we gave it, in our minds, all we could. So as people approach me and ask me what are my plans for 2016; I don’t know what the future will hold. Some of my thoughts though…..

Failing

That’s an odd word and sometimes one that we don’t’ associate well with. I expect to fail; if I do not then it means I am not trying; I’m not trying to be innovative and test the boundaries. Embracing the struggles that one goes through helps with the learning process of our job. It defines us; failing forward – don’t be scared and run from it – embrace it.

Failing is not in our nature; it is not something we like. It is however an aspect of growth. Keep moving forward, take the hit, learn from it, own it, and move on.

There will be times in your life when you are kicked down and you feel like you don’t want to keep going with figuring out the issue at hand;  the weight of the world is on your shoulders and it is up to you to get it done…..this is when you find the way and you dig deep to find something within you to keep pushing forward. I, we, you eventually will get through the test of the will and grit – mental toughness if you will.

Motivation

Pain is temporary, I heard this over and over again when training in sports. Keep moving one foot in front of the other; you have to work through it. Is it something new you are tasked with to learn? Is it a company directive that is “impossible” to get through? We’ve all been there; even the great ones in the industry. The difference is, in a lot of people, the great ones don’t quit. Anyone can be good when times are good; will you show up when times are bad? Will you show up when those tough times come up – – two words “Bring It”

The Past

It takes courage to let things go; 2015 will be in the past soon. 2016 will be in front of us; what is in front of you is greater than what was behind. It will be up to you to make it yours….

Do you want to embrace your destiny or flutter on the ground in your history? The new year represents new beginnings; if you want to learn something new within the industry then set your sites and – Let’s roll.

Don’t be distracted on what used to be or what could be…..if you do that then everything that is will slip by you. Everyday when you wake up you can go pursue that piece of technology that you want to learn.

Investment

I remember the sprints I used to run in the middle of the street at 3:30 a.m.

I remember the 1000 jump shots I would take in the morning before school.

I remember the countless hours of training off hours from practice that were put in.

I remember people holding brooms up in the air as I took shot after shot to get that arch down right when shooting over a 7’ tall player.

All that work; all that planning – it has made me realized that the same investment in yourself has to be done as a data professional. Each one of us are designed to be who we are; not like everyone else. I have a ton of people I look up to in our SQL industry – John Sansom, John Sterrett, Jes Borland, Aaron Bertrand, Tim Radney, Brent Ozar, Steven Jones, Grant Fritchey, Erin Stellato, Chris Shaw, and many more that I cannot name as it would fill this whole post up…As much as I look up to these people I cannot be them. They are each their own person and I am me; what I can do is put forth and effort and continue to learn just as they have. I can be the best that I can be; same for you.

That mountain you are trying to climb right now in learning? We’ve all been there; it’s part of growth and I’m here today to say you can do it; just keep putting one foot in front of the other – that is action and that is progress.

So 2016; what about it?

Heading into 2016 I can only say that I will give you my all, give you everything I can, and at the end of the game I can look each of my SQL team members in the face and say – I gave you all I had; have nothing left in the tank to give.

When the lights are off and the game has been played continued work will still be being done. Putting the time in; putting in the effort to be the best SQL Data professional that I can be in 2016. Some of the following are areas am working in:

  • Speaking at different events
  • Continued article, blogging, and case study writing
  • Mentoring
  • Leading
  • Certifications
  • Vendor programs and feedback
  • Virtual Chapters

So I ask you; what will you do in 2016? Finish the game strong; leave it on the court and make today better than yesterday – Let’s roll

 

 

Community Involvement–Why Wait?

PleaseWaitEveryone has a story; some stories are similar while some stories are vastly different. People always make the statement that you shouldn’t “assume” because if you do….well then you know what happens!

I will go out on a limb and gather to say that many fall into the category I did when it comes to the SQL community. From the years 2000-2010 I had no clue that the SQL community existed yet alone any conferences. It was when I was hired on at my current shop did I learn of this thing they called PASS Summit.

From 2011- to present I can honestly say it has been one heck of a ride. A lot has transpired over the course of soon to be 5 years and I’m thankful for it; I wouldn’t change a thing. I look back at those first 10 years and I was floundering – man o man was I floundering. What that time means to me now though is a light into the future and to know where, as a data professional, a direction I want to go in.

I’m starting to get asked more and more the question of “What can I do to get involved within the SQL community?” or “I’m not good enough to get involved”.

My answer to that is simple, let’s roll. Below are five avenues in which you can get started with community involvement. All they require are you; yes that’s right you to take the initiative and get involved.

Blogging

I can tell you that blogging was not an easy thing for me to get started on but has been well worth it. I’m not the most talented writer; nor am I one of the most captivating individuals you will ever meet. What I do feel that I can bring to the table is real world life examples that have helped me along my way in my SQL journey, and guess what – you can be the same. Some things to keep in mind when starting out to blog are:

1. Don’t beat yourself up if you start to write, but have mental blocks.

2. Get a few blog posts in the pipeline and scheduled to help get your feet wet.

3. Find a good platform; there are several out there such as WordPress.

4. If writing examples; then prove your examples. Don’t just write to be writing. Have a point prepared.

5. If you reference someone’s work then give credit where credit is due. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Social Media

In this day and age it is almost impossible to not be connected through some form of social media. You can find many groups, hash tags, companies to follow, and other viable sources to become involved with. Some different types are:

1. Twitter – pay attention to hash tags such as #sqlfamily, #sqlserver, #tsql2sday, #sqlhelp

2. LinkedIn

3. Facebook

4. Instagram

One caveat I want to add here is be professional; companies do look at your involvement.

PASS Active Member

Become an active member in PASS; it doesn’t cost you anything and can provide various forms of volunteering. This type of involvement has changed my career allowing me to see on a more global scale of how impactful our SQL community can be.

Learn more about the PASS Summit here.

SQL Saturday Events

These events are free. Let me ask you this; does your company not want to provide you with any training; or better yet maybe they do and just don’t know how. These events are free except for lunches and has some very talented speakers that attend. Take advantage of these; you can get a current listing on my blog here or go visit SQL Saturday’s home page here for further information.

Mentor

Maybe you have been in the community for a while and it has become stale. One idea would be to mentor someone; doesn’t have to be someone in a different state; how about someone you work with that is needing help. Do you remember when you started out? I sure do and I would have loved to have some guidance and help earlier on in my career. Five years ago I was fortunate to learn and model some of my ways from a group I called my “fab five” – give them a read here; truly thankful for these individuals.

Mentoring someone ignites the passion to keep those knowledge juices flowing; each one reach one effect.

Recap

I’ve come to learn through my 5 years of involvement with the SQL community that it is not always a bed of roses and flying unicorns but SQL family is composed of not only some of the brightest minds in the business but also individuals who care for one another and who genuinely step in and help when needed.

So I ask you, why wait? How many years will you let go by like I did before you become involved? There has not been one day where I have regretted becoming involved within the SQL community and if you would like to talk more about how to get started let me know. I will be happy to discuss with you offline if need be.

It’s GameTime folks; Let’s roll and keep this community moving forward.

Impact Player Series – Part 1

ImpactI wanted to start this series in regards to impact players that go above and beyond in the SQL Community. Coming from a sports background this resonates well with me and by the end of the year will have a 12 person roster.

I get asked a lot when I go to events, conferences, talks, groups who inspires me. Or I get asked where do I start. There are many fine folks in the SQL Community and I cannot encompass them all; believe me this 12 person team could easily become much more.

So, who the heck is the first impact player? Being that I am from Kentucky it pains me just a little to write this knowing that this person is an SEC rival (college sports) and is a true orange fan in Florida ~ Ed Watson (B|T).

Ed is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP who I have gotten to know over the past year. His tenacity alone has spoke volumes in how he approaches speaking engagements, obstacles, issues, SQL life, basically the things that make up a data professionals life. I would classify Ed as one of those exceptional data professionals that you hear about. If you not ever had the chance to hear him speak at an event I suggest that you keep your ears open and if he comes to a town near you attend ~ you would not be disappointed.

I’ve never one time have come to Ed and him tell me not today; he is always eager to assist and help and has been a strong voice in the community.

He is a frequent blogger over at the SQL Swampland and can be found on twitter; although don’t interrupt him while a University Florida football or basketball game is on. If you choose to do so then you have been warned up front.

Check out Ed’s blog or give him a shout on the twitter feed. Truly a standup guy and one worth following in the community.

While having a Fab Five intact I’m excited to build this out and see where it leads.  Check back next month for Part 2 in the series.

Windows Functions; Who Knew?

CollaborateImage

SQL windows functions, it would seem, get lost in the shuffle most of the time when dealing with SQL. Why do you think that is? I honestly think that it is more or less developers, DBA’s, and data professionals are oblivious to some of the cool features that can be accomplished with its utilization. To put it simply windows functions could be viewed as looking in “windows” of your data. That is about as simple as an explanation as I received when I first started using these types of functions.

Example

Take the below table structure that I created on my local environment in SQL. My table name I created is called CustomerLog within that table I have two columns CustomerFirstName and CustomerLastName (represented below):

CustomerLog

For example(s) sake lets say I have a vast amount of data in this customer table and I want to partition it out and view just how many (categories) or windows I am looking at. This is where the windows function comes in nicely. With the below query I can find the results I am looking for pretty quick and easy:

Code

As you can garner with the above SQL windows function code you can derive how many customers share the same first letter in their name (result set below)

CustomerLogResult

Bottom Line

As you go through the SQL journey note that with any aggregate function being used you can turn that into a windows function by utilizing the over clause. You can only use windows functions though within the select or order by clause. This example only showed you how to partition using windows functions and only scratched the surface. It would behoove you to do some more research on what all you can do with SQL and window functions. Also, while you are at it; check out some of my colleagues as well

Mickey Stuewe: A Date At The End of The Month

Jeffrey Verheul: Write readable and high-performance queries with Window Functions

Julie Koesmarno: ABC Classification With SQL Server Window Function

Don’t sell yourself short. I guarantee once you start utilizing windows functions  you will want to use them everywhere. Just make sure you know the positives and negatives and as always just don’t blindly copy code from the net. Explore it, set something up on your Dev or VM sandbox. Failure to learn is not an option!