T-SQL Tuesday #153: Don’t Forget the Little Things

Welcome to another edition of T-SQL Tuesday!

This month’s edition is hosted by my good friend and former SentryOne colleague Kevin Kline (b|t). For his T-SQL Tuesday topic, he asks bloggers to “Tell us the story of how attending an IT conference or event resulted in an amazing career or life opportunity.

Been There, Done That

The thing is, I’ve already written about exactly that, when I first kicked off this blog after PASS Summit 2013: SQL Family Got Me Here. And nine years later, I’ve been blessed with a wealth of speaking opportunities, and two amazing jobs at SentryOne and Pure Storage.

Don’t Forget the Little Things

I’m not going to write about something that resulted in “an amazing” whatever. Instead I’ll share this story.

One evening, early in the week of my second PASS Summit, a friend was organizing a group to go out to dinner. I asked to tag along and they said sure, figuring the restaurant could accommodate one more. As we departed, we wound up picking up two more folks, who were also newcomers to PASS Summit and the SQL community.

When we got to the restaurant, we learned that they could not accommodate beyond the original reservation headcount at a single table, but could seat us three “tag-alongs” at our own table. Okay, that’s cool. Two of the three of us were relatively new friends and the third, I don’t quite recall if we were just Twitter friends at that point or what… but the point more was that we had a great time getting to know one another. We referred to ourselves at the “kids table.” Coincidentally because it was just the three of us and not a larger group, we managed to order, eat, and pay before the other table had even ordered their dinner!!!


That story is not an amazing life changing whatever… but it is one that has stuck with me, despite being insignificant in of itself. And the truly amazing thing is, I have many of these that I could share… mundane, but joyous gatherings of good people, who I am happy to have in my life in one way or another… and never would have met had I not gone to one of these conferences and pushed beyond my anti-social shell.

Thanks for reading.


Coming Full Circle to Start A New Chapter

They say that there’s a time in one’s life where you “come full circle” and you find that you go back to where things started. For me, one of those places, where many things started for me, is Charlotte, NC. In October, 2013, I attended my very first PASS Summit in Charlotte. In fact, I started this blog the day before I left for PASS Summit 2013! (SQL Family Got Me Here)

So how have things come full circle? Am I moving Charlotte, NC? No. But I will soon begin a new chapter of my SQL Server career, with a Charlotte based company.

I am honored to have accepted an opportunity with SentryOne. As of June 19th, I will be joining the SentryOne family as a Senior Solutions Engineer! The way I look at it, this is an opportunity where I’ll be mixing teaching, presenting, and consulting-lite.

What is even more mind-blowing to me, is not the position itself, but the opportunity to work for SentryOne. I was first exposed to them, back when they were SQL Sentry, as a SQLskills IE1 attendee in May, 2011. I was extremely impressed, not only with their tools, but with their community focus. I’ve also been a customer, having worked several different jobs that used their monitoring products, and built up a lot of respect for the company and what they were doing. And I have been extremely fortunate to become friends with a number of long-time SentryOne employees over the years.

It is humbling to have been given this opportunity to be join their ranks. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Microsoft Data Platform MVP Award

So I wrote a blog post yesterday, giving a quick update of what I’ve been up to.

And early this morning, I got a huge surprise in my e-mail.



Aaaand this was me for the rest of the day:


So yeah, I am honored & humbled to share that Microsoft has recognized me with a Data Platform MVP Award.


I remember years ago, when I was just beginning my career, when searching the Internet for information, I’d occasionally come across forum posts by people who were Microsoft MVPs. Back then, I wondered who these people were. They must be REALLY smart, like walking encyclopedias, to be recognized by Microsoft in that way!!!

Flash forward a number of years. I’ve just attended my first SQLskills Immersion Event in Chicago, met some fantastic people, and am slowly learning about the existence of the SQL Server community. I thought it was awesome to just have the opportunity to meet some of these folks and even forge friendships!

Then I started volunteering at events… and then help run SQL Saturday Chicago… and then started speaking (and occasionally blogging)… and here we are.

I’ve never “wanted” the MVP Award. I do what I do in the community, for many reasons. I’ve gotten a great deal out of the community, and want to give back in turn. I’ve built many wonderful friendships through this community. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy teaching & presenting. I do what I do, because it is definitely my passion.


Nonetheless, thank you all, who sent congratulatory messages to me. I am overwhelmed by your love and support and friendship. You are all a testament to why I do what I do! Thank you!!

SQL Saturday Madison Re-Cap

About one year ago, I made my speaking debut at SQL Saturday Madison 287.  And this past weekend, I had the pleasure of returning for SQL Saturday Madison 387.  In the course of that year, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of speaking at several SQL Saturdays, User Group Meetings, and a Virtual Chapter Meeting.  Becoming a speaker is one of the best decisions I ever made.

A year ago, I had maybe 15 people attend my session.  This year, I packed the room with over 40 attendees!  A year ago, I was a ball of nerves.  This year, I’m far more comfortable and have refined my presentation skills.  I know I have much more room for growth but am very pleased with the growth I’ve experienced this past year.

I cannot say enough positive things about the Madison planning team.  They managed to find a new venue, work around the SQL Saturday website being offline for the final week before their event, and pull off a spectacular event.  I spoke to numerous attendees who all enjoyed their experience tremendously!

On a personal note, it was awesome to meet new some folks who I only knew via Twitter.  I remember last year, at my first Speaker Dinner, I was a bit nervous since I hardly knew anyone. This year, many of my fellow speakers were now my friends! I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of new people throughout the day. Had a lot of fun sharing knowledge, answering questions, and just simply talking shop. Look forward to seeing those faces again at future events!


Both SQL Saturday Madison’s also happened to coincide with two other unhappy events.  Last year at SQL Saturday Madison, I found out that my SQLFamily colleague Brooke Ranne had passed away suddenly.  She was the Chapter Leader of the Chicago BI User Group & a fellow staff member of the SQL Saturday Chicago planning committee.  I learned about her passing in the middle of the morning, scrambled to make some phone calls, and it definitely put a damper on the day.

This year, last week, SQLFamily lost another – Larry Toothman.  The week leading up to SQL Saturday Madison was rough, as we in SQLFamily struggled with the news of his passing and coming together to try and support his family however we could.  I remember meeting him at a SQLSkills IE event in Chicago, then crossing paths with him on a number of occasions thereafter.  After seeing him at Summit 2014, I was looking forward to seeing him again in both Madison and in May at another IE event in Chicago.  The Madison team took a moment in both the opening and closing ceremony, to honor Larry and his memory.

As sobering as these two events are, they are important reminders of what is most important in life.  It further reinforces what SQLFamily means to me and many others.  This is why I try to give back to SQLFamily now as a speaker, Chapter Leader, mentor, and in whatever capacity comes my way.

T-SQL Tuesday #59: Pass It On

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is brought to you by our host Tracy McKibben (b|t).  Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and my good friend Wendy Pastrick (b|t) suggested we ride on that.  As Ada Lovelace had influenced her, we are all writing about Heroes who have influenced us.

For me, a key influence for me is a person I’ve never met, but read about.  In high school, I developed an interest in military history, particularly the exploits of various Special Forces units, including the Navy SEALs.  And this influence comes from retired Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko’s autobiography Rogue Warrior.

Early in his career, Marcinko served under a Navy Chief named Ev Barrett.  Here is an excerpt from Marcinko’s book, detailing a conversation they had before Marcinko left to enter Officer Candidate School:

(Chief Barrett): “Look,” he said, “you’ve learned a lot of stuff now. And you’re gonna learn a lot more.”
I nodded. “Yeah?”
“So I want you to promise me something. I want your word that what you learn, you’ll pass on.”
“Sure.” I wasn’t certain what he was getting at.
“You’re wondering what the fuck I’m saying, right?”
“Dick, it shouldn’t matter whether you work with a guy once or whether you serve with him for years – you gotta treat him the same. You gotta help him do his job. Like I helped you – now it’s gonna be your turn to pass it on.
. . .
“Think of it as Barrett’s First Law of the Sea… “

It’s been about 20 years since I first read that – hard for me to believe.  But even as a teenager, it made a huge impression on me.  Even then, I recognized that many had helped me directly and indirectly, and I had a responsibility and duty to do the same for others.

And now I find myself blessed to be a part of the pheonomen we know as SQLFamily.  I treasure it because we embrace Chief Barrett’s First Law of the Sea.

We pass it on.

T-SQL Tuesday #57: A #SQLFamily Story


I’m back for another T-SQL Tuesday! Today’s is hosted by Jeffrey Verheul (b|t) and the topic is #SQLFamily.

I’ve already written another post about how SQLFamily Got Me Here.  Instead of rehashing that, I thought I’d share a different story today.

The other day, Kathi Kellenberger posted this on the #SQLFamily Facebook Group Page:

Kathi Kellenberger – August 10 at 12:16pm
I had a nice conversation with Andy Yun yesterday at #SQLSat304. We met last year in Chicago during a Cards against Humanity game. This year, Andy is a speaker and getting recognition in the community. This is why we call it family. Sometimes we fight, but mostly we lift each other up.

“We lift each other up.”

Flash back to SQL Saturday Chicago 2013 & the After-Party. Kathi needed a lift back to her hotel, which I was more than happy to provide. It was extremely late, maybe midnight? During the course of the short drive back, Kathi noted that she needed to get a cab to the airport early in the morning. Being the Chicago suburbs, I pointed out that cabs don’t simply hang out at hotels. They must be pre-scheduled, especially for airport runs. I suggested she talk to the hotel front desk to see if there was a 24 hour cab company she could call to make a last-minute arrangement.

And this is where being SQLFamily comes in. I didn’t just stop with that suggestion, because I didn’t want her to risk getting stranded. As a contingency, I offered to come back in the morning and drive her to the airport. Let’s be clear to what this would have entailed. I would be driving 30 minutes back home, crashing around 1-2AM, then getting back up around 5AM, driving 30 minutes back to Kathi’s hotel, then driving her 45 minutes to the airport, before finally being able to go back home which would have been another 45 minutes. This wasn’t a trivial amount of driving, especially on very little sleep.

Yet I never hesitated to offer. In fact, I gave her my number and said that unless she was able to successfully make other arrangements, that I’d come back in a few hours to take her. This is a person I’d only met a few hours before.

Why did I do this without hesitation?

Because that’s what SQLFamily means to me. Going above and beyond, for those who are not simply just industry colleagues and acquaintences. Embracing the ideal of SQLFamily means taking it to the next level. And that’s what I was ready to do for Kathi.

SQL Family Got Me Here

What a journey it’s been… and still is!  In less than 24 hours, I’ll be travelling in Charlotte, NC, to attend my very first SQL Server PASS Summit!  And what a better way to kick off my first Summit experience, than to kick off my SQL Server blog!

But how’d I get here?  Even before I started my career, I still fondly remember my Database Design class from Marquete University. Taught my Dr. Mark Barnard, little did I know how much influence it would have on my career.

I’ve worked with SQL Server since 1999. Around 2005, I specialized as a SQL Server Developer, focusing on T-SQL & performance optimization.

Then in 2011, things really changed for me. I discovered SQLSkills.com, and had the opportunity to attend IE1: Immersion Event on Internals and Performance, which changed my entire perspective on SQL Server.

I discovered the SQL Server community!  I discovered the SQL Server community on Twitter! I discovered a couple dozen SQL Server blogs!  And I discovered a new career and personal goal – to get involved in that amazing community.

I got my feet wet slowly, lurking on Twitter.  I attended a SQLFriends lunch with Brent Ozar, who gave me some fantastic advice about getting out into the community.  I attended some more SQLSkills Immersion Events, and focused on networking.  I attended SQL Saturdays and am now addicted!  And most importantly, I started meeting people.

Over the past few years, I’ve met many wonderful people.  Someone had coined the term SQL Family, and it is something that I’ve really embraced.  We are blessed, not only to be part of a community, but part of a family!  And I’ve benefited greatly from what others in this family, have given back.  Now the time has come, for me to give back, in my own way.
I’ve chatted about blogging with a handful of members of SQL Family.  Every one has encouraged me to dive in.  But I really want to thank Allen White.  I had the pleasure of meeting him and by chance, having breakfast with him at SQL Saturday Indianapolis, a few months ago.  We talked about blogging and he encouraged me to start blogging.  He encouraged me to share my own perspective.  And that chat really stuck with me.

So here we are!  SQL Family has given me a tremendous amount, and I can only hope that this blog allows me to give back even a fraction of what others have shared with me.  But I can’t give back without trying, so here goes nothing!

Onto PASS Summit!