T-SQL Tuesday #96: Thank You for Taking the Time

A lot of people have made a difference in my career. A LOT! I don’t think we ever thank those that make a difference as much as we should. Often, it’s not until years later when you look back on your career and reflect on how you got from where you used to be to where you are now that you really realize how much help you had along the way. Sometimes that help is incidental or accidental. Sometimes that help is simply a result of what that person does. Sometimes, it’s just another professional that sees a spark in your eye and they choose to fuel that spark rather than extinguish it. I want to touch on all 3 of these types of influences I have had in my career, and Ewald Cress ( blog
| @SQLOnIce

) has given me a broad forum to do so.

Ewald is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday #96
, and you too can participate in this monthly blog party. Just visit the announcement page, take note of the topic and rules, and write your own blog post. Or just visit the participating blog posts, get your read on, and maybe leave a comment or two.

Good Advice

Many years ago, a project manager I worked with, Stacy Randolph, explained to me that people did not realize how hard I was working. She pointed out to me that it was up to me to make people aware of the things I was accomplishing because others only see me doing stuff when something breaks. When she said it, it made perfect sense. It didn’t matter how hard I was working because nobody noticed what I did unless I was fixing something broken. Many others have said it as well, but the curse of being a good DBA is that your work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It’s the DBAs whose things are constantly breaking that gets the recognition without having to speak up for themselves.

There was a scene on the TV show 30 Rock where Matt Damon played an airline pilot who was fed up with everyone talking about what a hero Captain Sully Sullenberger was (he landed a plan on the Hudson River after hitting birds with his airplane). He shouted something to the effect of, “Sully wasn’t a hero. You know who’s a hero? Every airplane pilot that doesn’t hit birds and crash land.”

He’s got a point. I hear all the time about what a great DBA someone is because their production server goes down all the time, but they always get it fixed. You know what, my production servers don’t go down every day, and when they do go down, it’s not because of something I could have and should have prevented.

I was my own worse advocate. Stacy made me realize that, and I have learned to advocate for myself.

Good Learnings

From an educational perspective, nobody has been more influential on me than Paul Randal ( blog
| @PaulRandal
) and Kimberly Tripp ( blog
| @KimberlyLTripp
). For as long as I can remember, I have been learning from Paul and Kimberly. They are always willing to share their knowledge and experience with anyone eager to learn. I have learned from their blog posts, articles, in-person classes, other training they have given (the MCM program), and even more than that, just by being the type of professionals that they are and I aspire to be.

Good Mentoring

I think my whole career path can be traced back to a singular point in time. When I got my first job in I.T., it was as a database developer. I eventually became the head of the database development team. The company had an excellent DBA that managed the SQL Servers and such. Because what the database developers did replied very heavily on the merge replication the DBA had set up, we got involved with monitoring and troubleshooting replication. I wanted to know more about how replication worked, so one day I was looking at the various pieces of replication using the GUI. Our DBA, David Cates, and our systems admin, Bob Elder, came and asked me what I was doing because I was blocking replication. I shut down the GUI and told them I was trying to learn more about how it works.

David could have just told me to not mess around with stuff. I don’t know what he saw in me. Maybe it was just my curiosity or maybe he just wanted someone that could take some of the DBA load off of his back. Whatever it was, he took the time to explain a lot of things about how SQL Server works. I had an interest, and he really focused that interest and it became a lot more than just an interest. I eventually ended up taking the DBA position, my first DBA position, that he was in about 6 months after he left the position. I never heard from David Cates again, and I never got an opportunity to thank him because it wasn’t until much later that I realized how much of an impact he had on my career.

Bob also taught me a ton over the years. We worked at a small company, and as the lone DBA and lone systems admin, we were each other’s backups. I didn’t realize how extraordinarily good Bob was at his job until he left the company he worked at, and they hired 2 people to replace him, and they weren’t able to do so. There was no replacing Bob. Bob was the one that got me to join Microsoft working on the operations team he led, and even though we no longer work together, he is still a very good friend.

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