Tag Archives: SQL Server

Pass Summit 2017

It’s about that time of year again when there is a buzz in Seattle in regards to PASS Summit. Many data professionals will be heading out to one of the biggest SQL related events of the year. There is excitement for many along with a sense of being overwhelmed for some. The minute you step off that plane, bus, car, etc. you are immediately geared up for the unknown. Guess what – enjoy the ride!

This year due to previous business engagements scheduled I will not be attending; however, I will be there at times virtually along with social media. I will miss seeing many of my friends from around the globe; however, this post isn’t about that. Why? Because I know I will see everyone again real soon somewhere down the line and even back at the event in 2018. Instead, here are some tidbits for you, dear reader, that may help you along your journey in the upcoming week.

Network

That’s right, you will find yourself among the best speakers in the world, thousands of your closest friends, and a plethora of vendors. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and mingle around; talk to someone you don’t know. Spend some time at the vendor booths learning about the various products that may help you in the future.

Sessions

img_20161026_103752In reviewing all the sessions, yes I still review them even if I am not there, there are so many good ones to choose from. You will hear many people say they can’t see all the ones they want to – that’s okay as well. Attend the ones that you feel will help you the most; you can always check into purchasing the recordings while you are there or even after the event. Just soak it all in, ask a question yet be respectful.

Speakers

IMG_20161025_092017_01.jpgYou will find yourself immersed with speakers from all over the globe; some of the most talented individuals and data professionals we have in the community. Please provide feedback for the speakers for the sessions you are in. Believe it or not, it helps speakers hone their craft. How do I know, because I am one and it has helped me. Also, please be respectful of time.

After Events

fileThere will be events after the sessions are done for the day. Enjoy yourself, but do remember it is okay to network with others at these things. One of the highlights I’ve read so far is the mentor program this year. Truly stoked to see that happening. I remember last year when I was able to help Steve Jones and Andy Warren pair up people for their event to help plug people in. Seeing the smiling faces and knowing that they were excited to meet others said a lot.

First Time Ribbons

If you see a first-time ribbon don’t just run by. In the past events, I’ve made a point to go up to people and introduce myself and ask how they are doing. If you remember your first time attending the PASS Summit then you can relate to how overwhelming it can be. I remember Andy Leonard and Mike Walsh invested time in me early on when I attended and it made a world of difference in my life. You be that impact player for someone else.

Volunteers

img_20161025_074203You may not notice the volunteers as you are rushing up the escalators at the convention center. Take a second and a breath and if you see one of the many volunteers working the event stop and say THANK YOU. You will be surprised at how others may be having a bad day and a simple thank you for what they are doing will change their outlook for the day. No seriously, try it.

Community Zone

img_20161026_074256As you go toward the food one (it’s what I call it; where you go eat at the convention center) you will come upon the community zone. It is there you will find all kinds of community members hanging out. Go up and get to know some of the members. You’ll find a wide range of people there from organizers, speakers, etc. Hang out a bit and get to know some of your fellow data professionals

Key Notes

img_20161026_093230There will be morning keynote sessions before the day gets started. I encourage you to attend these; there is a lot of valuable information that comes out of these. Yes, I know there will be some late nights, but I do encourage you to do your best to get to these. Fantastic speakers with a fantastic message. I’ve been blessed to live blog the keynotes for the past 2-3 years. Each time presents new and exciting messages to be heard.

Summary

Again, I will miss everything about PASS Summit this year. Personally what has started off as an eager data professional has turned into much more. I deeply care about the event and everything it entails. Walking through the vendor areas talking with old friends, to spending time at the after events catching up. Or the one-off conversations in the halls – some of those have impacted me more than anything.

If you don’t catch anything I’ve said thus far, then please, listen to this. Enjoy yourself, learn as much as you can, and maybe…just maybe the PASS Summit will mean a bit more to you than when you first got there this year. Until we meet again down the road my friends ~ Take care and Let’s Roll.

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SQL Saturday Louisville Re-Cap

IMG_20170804_064418And like the wind another SQL Saturday Louisville has come and gone. This past weekend seemed to be a huge success, but it didn’t come with some take-away’s and that is okay. I think every time we put on an event like this we are always looking for ways to make things better the next year. So, enough yapping. What are some of the highlights?

VENDORS

I’m privileged to work along side one of the other co-organizers in John Morehouse (b|t) when it comes to vendors. We were very thankful this year to have the following sponsors on board with us:

It was awesome to see each and every one of these vendors at the event. Most of them have been prior years and the attendees seem to enjoy speaking to them about their products. We truly appreciate the support they have shown us over the years and look forward to many more events ahead with them.

IMG_20170804_163609

SPEAKERS

Once again we had a very talented pool of speakers that came in town. I won’t take the time list all of them out here, but do go over to the SQL Saturday Louisville website if you are interested. As a speaker, it always amazes me that they come from all over to these events to give their time and hone their craft. If you ever attend one of these events I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Say thank you – believe me, it goes a long way.
  • Give serious session feedback; we look for ways we can make our presentations better.

A huge thank you to all the speakers that came out to our event; we had some great times together and look forward to seeing each of you somewhere down the line. I think everyone did a phenomenal job in their sessions and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from attendees; even after the event.

PRE CONS

This year we had Grant Fritchey (b|t) and Josh Luedeman (t) in the house. Both had packed sessions, I know Grant’s sold out and Josh wasn’t very far off from the numbers I was looking at. A full day of training from a couple of the best in our SQL community made for some great times. Observing and listening to attendees during the breaks again, nothing but positive things. Huge thank you to both of them for taking the time to spend a day with us before the event to share their knowledge with the attendees.

SQL SATURDAY CREW

I can’t say enough about the volunteers that help out with this event. It is no easy task to put one of these things on and the countless hours leading up to the event are many. The “behind the scenes” action is huge. A few things that stand out to me are the character, selfless acts, time given, and pride everyone takes in trying to make this the best event we’ve ever had each year. Doesn’t mean times are always easy; have a cohesive unit with single sight focus to knock out tasks and obstacles as they arise are pretty awesome. In any sense; can’t be more proud to serve along side these individuals.

This year we lost one of our very own SQL crew members. Dave Ingram passed this year. He was one of the earlier on volunteers that gave time to help make the event what it is today. In the three years as co-organizer, I knew him for 2 of those. It was evident his passion was helping the local community base here in Louisville. I was honored to be able to say a few words at the end of the day. It was touching to have the opportunity to meet his daughter, whom we did not know would be there, we were able to take a moment and recognize her and her dad with a round of applause. It’s because of men and woman like this who have forged the way for others like me to pay it forward. Thank you, Dave!

Dave

RIP Dave Ingram. SQL Saturday Louisville volunteer(7 years), SQL Cruise and PASS Summit Alumni. We miss you.

 

NEW SPEAKERS

IMG_20170805_153122It was awesome to see first time SQL Saturday speaker Kat Edrington (t) presenting a session for our attendees this year. This is what it is about for us. We need to continue to cultivate and bring in new leaders of tomorrow. Hats off to Kat on an excellent job well done!!

 

ATTENDEES

Thankful for the many conversations with the attendees that were had. From the questions regarding products they know that I am associated with to conversations on local tech news, to asking where things are at the venue. We at SQL Saturday Louisville strive to make it the best experience we possibly can; doesn’t mean we always get it right – but we will go down swinging trying. Thankful for the all the conversations that I was able to have with the everyone and look forward to much more.

At the end of the day, we had about half of the attendees who raised their hands stating it was their first SQL Saturday.

MARKS FEED STORE

Okay, so if you are from around here then you know about Mark’s Feed Store. The barbecue they have is simply amazing and they were are caterers for this event. Once again they were spot on and provided some great food for all of us at the venue. If you are ever in town go check them out.

TRUE PROFESSIONALS

As I said before there will always be something that comes up at an event. This time around we had a sound system issue in one of the rooms. Rie Irish (b|t) handled things without any issue and we took a field trip to a new room. These types of issues are things that bug the heck out of us hosting, but at times they are out of our hands. Appreciate the flexibility by Rie along with the attendees for being patient; putting a speaker behind in their session is not what we want to do here people.

As I am walking down the hall checking on things I hear a huge humming noise. As I enter the room I see Lori Edwards (b|t) in her session and Andy Mallon (b|t) providing assistance to the problem. After the humming subsided the bulb in the projector decided it was time for it to go. Once again we found ourselves taking a field trip across the hall. Once again, hats off to the ability to adjust and the attendees were very accepting.

Why do I bring these up you ask? Few reasons, but mainly that no matter how much you plan and get things orchestrated issues will arise. It’s important to address as quickly and politely as possible and move on. BTW if you aren’t following the people above in this section please do so…stellar data professionals.

THE WHY?

So at the event, I was asked why do you do this? Why do you help? Why do you speak? I keep saying the same thing but it holds true. In 2011 when I attended my first PASS Summit it changed my life and career.You don’t have to wait until you can go to Seattle Washington though; you can attend these local events all over the globe to learn, network, and test the waters. I know there are other Chris Yates’ out there who, like me, was wanting to get plugged in but didn’t know how. Wanting to make a difference locally, but yes also globally I will always try to be me and help others along the way. Appreciate, encourage and value everyone ~ we got this.

THAT’S A WRAP

Another Saturday has come and gone. I hope everyone from the speakers to the attendees had a great time. Next year will be our 10th year which is a special milestone. Look forward to what the journey holds and hope to see many of you there.

SQL Summer Vacation–SentryOne

sqlvacation2017We are having an extra Louisville SQL Server and Power BI User Group meeting this month due to the SQL Summer Vacation coming into town. SentryOne’s Kevin Kline (B|T) will be rolling into town for a fun filled 2-hour event on Wednesday the 25th. This is a fun event that Kevin and family travel around for every year, and for our SQL community is a great time to sit in multiple sessions learning from a Microsoft SQL Server MVP.

Seats are filling up fast and should have a packed house over at Homecare Homebase whose gracefully opened their doors to host this event. John Morehouse (B|T) and I will both be in attendance and as PAC Ambassadors for SentryOne we would love to talk to you and answer any questions that you may have of us.

Look forward to seeing you all there; going to be a great and fun time. Head on over to the user group site here and check it out available seating.

T-SQL Tuesday #92, Lessons Learned The Hard Way

TSQL2SDAY-150x150Wow, hard for me to believe it has been a little bit since the last T-SQL Tuesday block party. This month Raul Gonzalez (b|t) has chosen the topic of what lessons one has learned the hard way. Before we get into the story, however, let’s take a look at who, what, when, and why of T-SQL Tuesday.

What Is T-SQL Tuesday?

T-SQL Tuesday was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) and is a monthly blog party. It occurs on the second Tuesday of each month; where a designated host picks a topic and fellow community bloggers publish a piece. It has been a very useful tool in my opinion and I’m looking forward to doing many more of these. It has been one avenue for others to share their experiences while learning something new along the way.

If you are interested in hosting a T-SQL Tuesday on your blog then reach out to Adam.

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

A lot has transpired over a sixteen-year career thus far. Many lessons have been learned along the way some were more difficult than others. I think it is important to note that not all lessons learned by a data professional have to be of a technical nature as well. Let me see if I can split some up technical vs. non-technical that I’ve learned over the years.

Technical
  • Unit testing – who knew that this would be so important right? As a developer starting out and then becoming a DBA I have an appreciation for making sure things test out as they should; rigorous testing. Earlier in my career, I thought that’s what we have QA for, right?
  • Backups – yeah I’ve been burned before early on regarding backups and not having them in place as they should have been. You want a dose of reality real fast? That’s a good way to start.
  • Blinders On – become so focused that you only take into account a certain area of the picture when in essence what is being changed can affect a multitude of things.
  • Knowing vs. Doing – putting comments in code such as “this is probably not the best way to things” is not the attitude to have when fixing the problem – been there done that.
Non-Technical
  • Listening/Heeding Advice – this is key and something I did not learn until later on in my career. It’s not a skill set that I came out of the gate with, having a mentality that you are always right is not the best approach to take.
  • SME (Subject Matter Expert) – I enjoy helping people; it’s part of who I am. This is both a good and bad trait to have at times. If you are not careful you can find yourself overextending into areas where you think you know something but you don’t. Over the past several years I’ve learned that it’s okay to help people even if it is pointing them in the right direction to someone else. But be as sure as I’m typing this, I’ll always be willing to help and will never apologize for that.
  • Conflict Management – over the years I’ve seen many data professionals and worked with various people. All of these experiences have equipped me over time to become a better professional in dealing with conflict which is never easy. A lot of lessons learned along the way on this one.
Failure

I want to bring this topic up in a section all by itself. Having a sports background for most of my life, and then morphing into an avid runner I’ve had “failure is not an option” instilled within me since a very early age. This saying is okay, but in the same token, one cannot be afraid of failure. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned both professionally and non-professionally have come of a result of something I’ve tried and failed out. The key is not staying knocked down, but look at it in a light of if you aren’t trying then you aren’t failing and pushing the envelope.

In Summary

This is a great topic this month. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of your journey and past failures or lessons learned. These are the things that mold and shape us into being the people are to become in the future. May we continue to push the envelope both in technology and beyond; impacting and coaching others along the way. Always remember you started somewhere; remember how that felt? Pay it forward.

Built My Presentation, Now What?

IMG_20161025_092017_01Over the course of several years, I have given many technical and non-technical presentations. It is fun for me to put a new slide deck together, but it also requires a lot of hard work and can be time-consuming. I’ve had a few mistakes, to say the least, over the years where that one typo slips through or something doesn’t go according to plan ~ guess what? It happens.

I compare articulating a presentation to similar fashion in testing something. Yeah, you go over it again and again just like you would test a backup process or verify indexes are actually working. For me the same concept applies; I can’t remember who in the SQL Community always mentions having a checklist handy. I know I’ve read that somewhere before but cobwebs are thick right now so, please, forgive me if I don’t remember. Through the years, I’ve managed to build my own checklist regarding presentations. It is the nuts and bolts of what works for me; it doesn’t necessarily mean it, in turn, will work for you.

Given light of some past conversations I’ve had, I figured I’d share it with you all and maybe someone out there will benefit from it.

Presentation Checklist (a.k.a. Project Double Check Yourself)

What is the purpose – fully understand the purpose of the presentation. By that I mean, what outcome are you seeking?

  • To inform
  • To convince
  • To generate insight and discussion
  • To drive action

Know your audience

  • Do you know who my audience is? Have I provided adequate context to make it easier for them to understand?
  • Are there any personal motivations that you need be aware of?
  • Is the audience familiar with the topic? Have you included adequate detail and background information?
  • Is the presentation tailored to fit the audiences communication style?

Know the message

  • If applicable, do you know the problem or issue you are trying to address?
  • Do you have three to five key teaching points you want to deliver? If so, have you tied those teaching points logically and clearly to the original problem?
  • Have you clearly linked your teaching points to key data or trends along with explaining how the analysis supports, confirms, or denies beliefs about the problem and/or possible solutions?
  • Have you limited the data to what matters most?
  • Have you clearly established relevance? (why would your audience care? Have you clearly highlighted how this aligns with the target audience?)
  • Have you clearly established urgency (why would the audience act now; why is it critical?)

Structure

  • Is the presentation clearly marked with markers and sign posts? Is it easy to follow?
  • Is there an agenda that clearly identifies the different elements and how it fits together? Key point up front?
  • Are there additional details about internal or external sources that were consulted for the included information? Give credit where credit is due

Narrative

  • Does the presentation include insights that will be most influential to the audience? Is the scripting memorable and powerful?
  • Does the presentation identify key assumptions?
  • Does the presentation articulate immediate actions that you believe the audience should take?

Graphics

  • Do you know the purpose of each graphic? Is it tied to a teaching point in the message?
  • Do the graphics present information in a logical, visually appealing manner? Are there other ways of interpreting the graphic other than your intention?
  • Is the page balanced?

Formatting

  • Does the presentation have a standardized look and feel (same headings, colors, fonts)?
  • Are page elements consistent (background, title, body text)?
  • Are colors used judiciously (to emphasize, highlight, and organize)

Conclusion

Checklists; they are everywhere. They don’t necessarily have to be for technical related activities; heck we use checklists for grocery items. They are a part of our daily lives; so when you get that presentation built and you are ready to give it at your shop, on the job, a conference or a client take a few minutes and review a checklist. Make sure you have your house in order and that everything makes sense.

Remember, you get out what you put into something. Continue to work hard and hone in on your speaking and presentation talents that lie within. Like I said, these are some of the things that have helped me over the years; doesn’t mean they are for everyone. The flip side to that, you may have some of your own to share. I encourage you to do so.

 

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.