Personal Ownership–The Vision Within

vision-imageIt has been said that the very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It has to be a vision you can articulate clearly and precisely on any occasion. There is a vast difference between a person that has a vision and what is called a visionary person. Think of it in this manner:

  • A person with a vision talks little but does much.
  • A visionary person does little but talks much.
  • A person with a vision finds strength from inner convictions.
  • A visionary person finds strength from outward conditions.
  • A person with vision continues when problems arise.
  • A visionary person quits when the road becomes difficult.

Some of my personal experiences have taught me the following:

  • The credibility of a vision is determined by the leader.
  • The acceptance of a vision is determined by the timing of its presentation.
  • The value of the vision is determined by the energy and direction it gives.
  • The evaluation of a vision is determined by the commitment we the people have.
  • The success of a vision is determined by its ownership by both the leader and the people.

Take a look around you; what is happening to others

A good idea can become great when the people are ready. The data professional who is impatient with people can become defective in their leadership. The evidence of strength lies not all the time in blazing a trail ahead but instead adopting our stride at a slower pace while not forfeiting the end goal. If you run too far ahead then you run the risk of losing your power to influence.

The ability to decipher the big picture

The ability to decipher the big picture is oftentimes what separates leaders. They are concerned with the shop’s basic purpose of why it exists and what it should achieve. Some things to think about that may hinder a vision:

  • Limited Leaders – everything rises and falls on leadership.
  • Concrete Thinkers – see things as they are and say why?
  • Dogmatic Talkers – to be absolutely sure about something one must either know everything or nothing about the problem. At times knows nothing but conventionally says something.
  • Continual Failure– many people look at past failures and fear the risk of pursuing future visions.
  • Satisfied Sitters – people who strive for comfort which sits on the heels of complacency, predictability, and boredom.
  • Census Takers – some people are never comfortable stepping out of the crowd.
  • Problem Receivers – some people can see a problem in every solution.
  • Self-Seekers – people who live for themselves.
  • Failure Forecasters – extract only discord; outlook is always gloomy and times are always bad.

Summary:

Spend some time and think about the dreams and vision you have as a data professional. Whether you are in an organization or a consultant I challenge you to consider the following:

Refuse to accept failure with self-worth.

Don’t restrict thinking to established, rigid patterns.

See the big picture.

Welcome challenge with optimism

Don’t waste time in unproductive thinking.

Don’t Duck On Responsibilities

ResponsibilitiesBeing a data professional you assume a certain amount of responsibility. It often requires having the right attitude and an action plan in place for finding the solutions to our problems at hand. Too many times we attack the symptoms causing the issue, but overlook the root cause. The quick Band-Aid fixes are found many times over, whereas our jobs should be identifying the real issues that lie beneath the symptoms. Now, don’t get me wrong – I understand at times you have to stop the bleeding. In the end though one should uncover the root cause and make the permanent fix.

Prioritize the issue at hand

Chances are you, dear reader, encounter many problems throughout the day. Never try to solve all the problems at one time; instead make them line up for you one by one. Might seem odd but make them stand in a single file line and tackle them one at a time until you’ve knocked them all out. You may not like what you find when uncovering the root cause issues, but that is part of the process. Be careful of this uncovering and be cognizant that what you find with the issues may or may not be the root to all the problems.

Take time and define the problem

In it’s simplest form, take time out and ask yourself this question – “What is the problem?” Sounds easy enough doesn’t it; you’d be amazed by the many accounts of knee jerk reactions data professionals make all over the world. You  may be thinking to yourself that there has to be more to it than that. Think about it in four easy steps:

  • Ask the right questions – if you only have a vague idea of the situation, then don’t ask general questions. Do not speculate but instead ask process related questions things relating to trends or timing. What transpired over the course of the week that may have led to this issue.
  • Talk to the right people – you will face people who inevitably will have the all-knowing and all correct way that things should be done. Heed caution to such as you may find resistant to change and blind spots by these individuals. Creativity is, at times, essential to any problem-solving skill.
  • Get the “set in stone” facts – once the facts are all laid out and defined you may find that the decision is pretty concise and clear on action that should be taken.
  • Be involved – don’t just let the first three steps define you; get involved in the process of being the solution.

Questions to ask yourself regarding the problem

  • Is this a real problem?
  • Is it urgent?
  • Is the true nature of the problem known?
  • Is it specific?
  • Are all parties who are competent to discuss the issue involved?

Build a repository

Once you’ve come to the conclusion and provided a solution to the issue – document it. I know I just lost several readers there. Believe it or not documentation will save your bacon at some point. Maybe not next week or next month, but at some point down the line it will. Some things to consider are:

  • Were we able to identify the real cause to the problem?
  • Did we make the right decision?
  • Has the problem been resolved by the fix?
  • Have any key people accepted the solution?

I am reminded by a saying I once ran across:

Policies are many, Principles are few, Polices will change, Principles never do

Summary

Each day we encounter issues and problems. Don’t let them define you but rather you define the issue. Often times we overlook the root cause; remember to go through your process, policy, and standards in rectifying the problems at hand. It is better to tackle the problems when they are known than to sweep them under the rug for the next data professional to come along and then they are faced with fixing them.

Hopefully this short post will provoke you to think about the issues you deal with on a daily basis and how best to tackle them.

A Letter To A Younger Yates

deskphotoHello much younger Yates. Hope you’ve been doing well. Why don’t you pull up a chair and stay for a few minutes so we can talk and maybe help another data professional that is just starting out on his or her journey. Nah, it won’t take us a long time to get through our talk, but I think it is now prudent more than ever to share with you some of life’s journey’s you are about to embark on.

I know you are starting out as a developer and you won’t know where your career will take you at this point; you are just happy to have a job out of college and that’s okay. One thing I do want to iterate to you though, when you see variables in the code that reference the Gilligan’s Island characters it is not okay nor best practice to do such, and while we are on this topic please line your code up – the future you being a DBA will thank you; trust me.

Life is going to throw you some curveballs along the way, both professionally and personally. This is part of growing on both fronts; what you need to know is to learn from them and not to be afraid to make mistakes in either scenarios. You will fail; you need to accept that. However you need to take solace in the fact that if you fail it means you are trying and never be ashamed to own up to anything you do. Don’t try to hide mistakes; address them head on and remember that if you get knocked down nine times you get up ten. Hard work will eventually pay off and you can take those lessons learned and teach them to others who are coming up.

Explore all avenues of learning, you’ll eventually get to know a group of people called SQL Family. They aren’t a perfect bunch, but then again neither are you. It is there you will find new colleagues, friends, mentors and heck you may even find yourself helping run user groups and help plan a SQL Saturday – – bet you didn’t ever believe that would happen would you?

You’ve come along way from the basketball courts where you poured your heart and soul into being the best you could be. Your dreams may have come up short in your mind but oh my friend you couldn’t be more wrong. The lessons and injuries you learned from that time were molding and making you into the data professional you will become. The discipline you had then will still apply even more so later on. That coach that entrusted you with the rock at the end of the game will again be the same in business. As you become a database administrator who will eventually lead and serve alongside a group of dedicated professionals in which you will find again the ball in your court. Attack it the same way with hard work and dedication; don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something….remember when someone did that to you – – you ended up with a triple double.

There will be naysayers and there will be harsh critics – – this is life. I wish I could tell you the world will stop for you and you can hop on. That’s not the case; you’ll find yourself having a great family which in turn will teach you more lessons. You’ll learn that you’ll have a new hero in your life in a son who has Type 1 diabetes. In him you’ll find how resilient a kid can be and realize that you will have nothing to complain about. Sure you’ll lose a step as you get a bit older, but what that kid goes through on a daily basis you’ll never have to endure, at least not as of today. You will have the roughest day and you will go home and see smiling faces. When you step out of that car make sure you touch the tree as you walk by to hang up all the work related activities – – you won’t get that for a very long time but when that light bulb goes off you’ll know what I’m talking about. As you left basketball on the court; you in turn will need to leave work at work sometimes. It will be hard…trust me on this ~ your family will need you.

When you get older I ask that you reflect on where you came from and realize how thankful and blessed you are. Investing in others like others have invested in you will be a key component in your future. Don’t let corporate politics detour your outlook that you started with. A passion to grow and also a passion for helping others grow.

As we end our conversation today remember one thing. You’ll never know what other people are going through. Your family, your team, your colleagues, or other data professionals. Win each day and make a difference in someone’s life. Set goals and dreams and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve them. If they do use that as the fire to motivate you to do the extraordinary. Be thankful for your mentors both professionally and personally and don’t ever be scared to use the words “Thank You” and “Sorry”. Those aren’t a sign of weakness.

Be humble yet assertive and when you give your word on something you follow through on it. You will have no idea how much communication will come into play – you got this younger Yates – Let’s Roll

**To the young data professional out there**

You may think you are all alone and in a big ocean swimming helplessly around. I want to assure you that you are and were not alone. Each day is a learning day and the lessons you learn along the way will be your story. You are the CEO of your career – – take charge of it. There will be others that come and go in your life professionally; I implore you to build a good base of about 5 data professionals that you can learn from and model your techniques after – – the best of the best if you will. At the end of the day you be the best you and when you get to your future self; take time to give thanks and reflect back on where you came from.

Thanks,

Older Yates

Looking Back At 2016

lookingback2016When this blog started back in 2011 I had no idea that it would continue to grow to where it has gotten to today. There have been many learning curves along the way – some fun and some not so fun, but that is part of the journey.

Each year since inception this blog has steadily gained steam in terms of increased traffic each year ; so I am thankful for that. The SQL Professor was not started for that sole purpose though. Rather it was a place to keep my thoughts regarding issues, ideas I have or have ran across over a period of time, and to write about happenings in my own professional career. Getting feedback from, you the reader, is an added bonus. Receiving both good and bad comments and discussions is an integral piece in helping this blog to continue to morph and grow – a living document if you will.

I’m reminded often that while producing good content is key; it is also key to write about what you love and enjoy doing. SQL has been a big part of my professional career and I look forward to creating additional blog posts in that area. Another area that I’ve come to have a strong passion for is leadership. In 2017 I plan on perhaps producing a series on leadership and how it pertains to one’s career.

Looking Back

Nope; not doing that. While 2016 was a great ride professionally I want to set sights on 2017 and continue to hopefully make an impact.

Looking Ahead

In looking ahead there are several things on tap for 2017. Some of them are:

  • Continue to grow the User Group base here locally.
  • Continue to help and grow the SQL Saturday event here locally.
  • Expand speaking opportunities where it makes sense.
  • Continue to help as much as I can with the HA/DR virtual chapter.
  • Dive further into PASS and continue to help the organization that I’ve come to be strongly passionate about.
  • Continue to lead and build a strong DBA team here in the current shop (very talented individuals. Extremely blessed to have an outstanding team).
  • Build on leadership qualities.
  • Continue to do the best work I can for the SQL community.
  • Continue to build on new and existing relationships within the SQL community.

Expectations

Something that I’ve learned long ago is that we can’t make everyone happy regardless of how hard we try. Mistakes will happen, and events will occur – that is part of the journey. I said the other day that 2016 slapped me in the face on various fronts, but I’m still standing. While it is important to reflect on what lessons were learned in 2016; I also want to encourage you to look forward to 2017. Change, if you want it, starts from within. Will you take the first steps? Break out of your comfort zone and explore new heights.

Here is to a solid end of 2016, and to new beginnings/adventures in 2017 ~ Cheers.

A Data Professional’s Story – PASS Summit 2016

This year is different. Why? I’m not sure yet. There is a lot of reflection going on since my return from PASS Summit 2016. As I look at the long laundry list of “to do’s” to get completed in the office; this past PASS Summit reminded me to slow down and take a minute to breathe – to take it in so to speak.

The recap post you are about to read will be a bit different from my past ones; gone is the synchronous order of how each day went. Instead, this post will be more relaxed and share view points through my eyes on how I went through the conference in which I’ve come to have a strong passion for.

The Story

As you first come into Seattle it is very difficult not to see a lot of its natural beauty. It never ceases to amaze me when the plane flies past Mt. Rainier and the breath-taking views that it holds. I often wonder to myself what it must be like to be near something on such a grand scale. I remember back to my first PASS Summit when I would be in such a hurry to get to where I was going; I took things like this for grantednot anymore.

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One thing I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy is noticing all the “first timer” ribbons. The look of excitement and overwhelming elation of knowledge that has been received all over their faces speaks volumes. If you are ever walking around and notice someone with this ribbon on please take a moment and see how their day is going; offer them some encouragement if needed. I was once in their shoes and I remember how I felt at my first conference.

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This year I had the pleasure of speaking at  SentryOne’s Boot Camp.  One thing is for certain; this shop knows their stuff and have a stellar crew in place to bring excellent products to the community. Some colleagues of mine (Monica Rathbun (b|t), John Morehouse (b|t), and Chris Wood (t) in the community shared how SentryOne has helped in our respective shops and businesses. I spend a lot of time in slide decks for my current work and this was no different; I had some slides made up and was planning on talking from the slide deck, but as I got up on stage I had a “change of heart moment”. I wanted to divert attention away from the slides and just have a heartfelt conversation with the attendees on what I felt was important. After initiating the “wave” in the crowd (yes folks Kevin Kline (b|t) was involved) we had a good talk and I was happy to be a part of it. Some better terms in being a part of the boot camp are thankful and blessed.

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The keynotes were nothing short of amazing. For the second year in a row I had the privilege of live blogging. It’s always fun to provide data professionals who are not able to attend an avenue to get the information from the conference. I did get a kick out of sitting next to Rob Farley (b|t). We’ve become friends over the years and always look forward to seeing him; not sure how he gets hand delivered coffee while live blogging, but then again – – it is Rob Farley.

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Speaking of friendships; a good friend reached out to me earlier in the week letting me know he’d be near by. After some going back and forth on timing I felt it was important to leave the conference and share some time with him. Tom Roush (b|t) has been an inspiration to many and he allowed me into his life a little bit that day. It was the first time I got to meet his wife Cindy in person; together all 3 of us were able to share a cup of coffee and just talk for about 30 minutes. This, to me, is what PASS is all about. I would have never had the opportunity to meet Tom several years ago had it not been for PASS and the mentality of Share, Connect, Learn. The PASS Summit is much more than just a technical conference; it is a people conference. It is a place where friendships are made, ideas our bounced off of each other, and a place to grow. Tom, here is to you buddy ~ cheers!

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Sponsors are huge at events like these; wouldn’t be able to put on a good show without them. As I walked through the vendor area my mind began to wonder just how many people each of these vendors have reached. If you look past all the swag and fluff you’ll find that these vendors are doing some phenomenal things for the community. I’ve already mentioned SentryOne above, but another one that has had a huge impact on me personally is RedGate. Yes, I am a Friend of RedGate and yes I utilize their products at the shop – one thing that stands out to me is their strong passion for the community in which they serve and have built a business for. I cannot go through and name every vendor, but from me to every one of you ~ I thank you.

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The conversations had this year were amazing. You’ll find these happening in one off’s all over the convention center, restaurants, hotel lobbies, etc. I’ve never been to a PASS Summit where I haven’t had a conversation that has either helped or inspired me. Mike Fal (b|t), Mike Walsh (b|t), Warwick Rudd (b|t), Wendy Pastrick (b|t), Tom Larock (b|t), TJ Belt (b|t), Tim Ford (b|t), and Steve Jones (b|t) had a huge impact on me this year. It’s humbling when individuals take time out of their day and just pull up a chair and talk. Investing in others is key; I’ve had a lot of people invest time in me; what am I going to do now? It’s time to invest in others the same way and build up another generation of data professionals.

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One aspect of the conference I was extremely pleased to help with was Steve Jones and Andy Warren’s idea for a networking dinner. I had spoken briefly to Steve prior the meetup as he was needing some hands to help. It was after the sessions had ended and we were to congregate in the lobby at the convention center. I didn’t know what all to expect; just knew that help was needed. What unfolded next was pretty amazing…..seeing people from all around coming up to talk about their interests and have the ability to meet new people. Saw a lot of “first timers” again and getting them paired up with 4-6 people in a group was something to behold. The event itself was very successful and hopefully if one person was reached or changed then it was all worth it. Nothing but respect for Steve and Andy, would gladly go into battle with either of them any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

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This year had a twist for me in that I was invited to eat lunch with Rimma Nehme, Mark Souza, and Mitra Azizirad from Microsoft. This opportunity, along with five other data professionals, was nothing short of amazing. A casual conversation over a myriad of topics on how we as data professionals relate to Microsoft at our respective shops. I could see quickly that we were in the midst of some great minds, and trying to be a sponge is an understatement.

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Another highlight was getting to see, as I was live blogging, Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) receive the PASSion Award for 2016. I’m a product of the hard work she has put in over the years. Her tenure has spanned a decade now here in the Louisville, or as we call the ‘ville. It has only been a few years since we have crossed paths; little did she know when she started down this path for SQL Community how big of an impact she would have. It’s an honor to serve along side her and a testament to what hard work can do; sticking with something through both good and hard times. Job well done and well deserved. You can read her blog on the award here.

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We were able to meet and send Karla Landrum (t) off with appreciation in the community zone. For those of you who don’t know Karla she has been a steadfast presence in PASS as a Community Evangelist. She has gone above and beyond in her tenure and from the many people who stopped by to wish her well it is obvious she has hugely impacted a lot of data professionals. No, this won’t be the last we hear from her, but here it to a job well done ~ cheers

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As the halls are emptied and we close up another successful PASS Summit I can only hope that the future remains bright. It is my understanding that we had a record crowd on hand this year; may we continue to build on what has been started. If I may leave one thought with you I will leave this (again my viewpoint and opinion). At the very core of what we do day in and day out as data professionals we find data and people. People make up the PASS Community, people make up the shops you are in, and yes it is people that make an impact on one another. I personally, am blessed to have been one of the ones impacted. May we continue to give back in avenues that we can whether it’s volunteering, speaking, organizing, mentoring – – whatever the case may be. This community; this is our community

Thank you to all the PASS volunteers, staff, sponsors, speakers, convention help, caterers, attendees, etc. It takes all of us to make the wheel go round…..until next year.

Be an impact player ~ let’s roll

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PASS Summit Live Keynote – Release 5

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Julie Koesmarno, Senior Project Manager at Microsoft, takes the stage to talk about business analytics utilizing War and Peace.

Tracing emotions of each key characters via a heat map…..pretty cool to see application of SQL Light language.

Cognitive capabilities managed with big data……


Deep learning is everywhere; this means that SQL Server 2016 falls into that category. Seeing a demo on drone functionality and feeling the pulse of the power grid


Jen Stirrup (Data “Whisperer”) takes the stage and talks Pokemon…..yes folks Pokemon but there is more than that.

Utilizing Power BI for the activity for each Pokemon sprinkled in with some “R”. The data itself is stored in the Azure SQL Database with utilizing the Azure Services.

 

 

PASS Summit Live Keynote – Release 3

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Justin Silver, Scientist Pros, takes the stage……

Taking data science out of the lab settings and placing it into real world scenarios.

Azure has tremendously been able to allow enhanced functionality into the realm of data science bridging the gap 100x faster with SQL Server 2016.

Microsoft is the only vendor that has the depth and breathe to handle the capacity the Pros company needs in order to succeed.


Sneak preview after Just leaves the stage……HTAP solution scaled out.

What can we do to solve a data visualization problem within SQL server and how can we expand its capabilities. SQL Server 2016 shipped with Polybase to  help provide this type of solution….the always on functionality can replicate 10 times the data from where we were in the past.


Intelligent Database Service – machine learning to capture behaviors for intelligent capabilities.

Better together with Windows Server – unparalleled SMP capability

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Yes folks…just saw a restore onto SQL Server running on Linux…..installed SQL; restored backup from windows…..keeps getting better.

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