Pragmatic Transition: Lighthouses and Shipwrecks

Sometimes your mistakes are the greatest lessons...

This is the next post in my series about transitioning from a DBA to a BI consultant for Pragmatic Works. This post is a particularly sensitive one as it pertains to a lesson I had to learn the hard way. My hopes are that by writing and publishing this maybe you can spare yourself or someone else from making the same mistakes. This post is basically to teach one thing: Sometimes you’re a lighthouse, shining your light and showing people the way to safety. The lighthouse is steady and helps others through with a clear message and action. The other half is the shipwreck. Sometimes seeing the wrecks on the rocks gives others a warning about what NOT to do in a given situation. Throughout your life you will probably play both roles many times. For me, in this particular situation, I’m playing the role of shipwreck.

Before I begin let me quickly set the stage for my current position in life. For the last few years I’ve been a SQL Server DBA in shops where I was pretty much the only one. Due to this, along with very lenient bosses, I was allowed to leverage social networking on a daily basis. If you follow me on Twitter then you know I tend to tweet more than any human being should a lot. I’ve come to think of the network of fellow SQL professionals on Twitter as my extended DBA team. I would consume tons of knowledge via conversations, monitoring (and participating) in the #sqlhelp channel, reading blog posts and checking out all the various webcasts and events. This was before taking on the role of a consultant.

As a consultant you have to remember one thing: you’re no longer on YOUR time, you’re on your CLIENT’S time. When someone hires you the expectation is that you’re there to do a job and focus on that job. When you deviate from that, especially on a public platform like social networking sites, the perception is that you’re using up their time. And by using up their time, I mean wasting it. While I may be working hard on whatever client work I’m doing, yet tweeting throughout the day, the perception is that I’m not really working and my focus isn’t where it should be. Even if I scheduled every single tweet throughout the day the perception is still the same, and this is the key: perception is reality. That being the case, the “reality” I was broadcasting by tweeting all the time (as a consultant) is that I was not busy, not focused and to some extent not caring about my client. While none of these are true the fact is I should’ve been more cognizant of the perception I put out to the public, and for that I apologize to the community as a whole.

So now what do we do? Well, we move forward and learn! I now understand a little better what’s expected of me in my new role. The beauty of mistakes is it gives us a chance to learn from them. The important part of mistakes is that you DO learn from them and most importantly: MOVE ON! Mistakes happen. Not only do they happen, they happen to everyone. What matters is how you deal with it and move forward. A really great example of a shipwreck-turned-lighthouse would be a recent situation with Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) and his business partnership at SQLSkills. You can read the saga here, here and here. Brent’s public dealing with his situation also helped inspire this post. He took what could have percieved as a terrible situation and turned around and made it a fantastic learning opportunity for anyone looking to pursue a similar partnership in the future. He turned a shipwreck into a lighthouse!

Just remember if you make a mistake that it’s okay. Stuff happens. It’s how we deal with those mistakes that matters in the end. How about you? Have you had a shipwreck/lighthouse moment? Share your stories in the comments!

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BIxPress 3.0: DBAs Welcome!

Much like the USA Network here in the States welcomes characters, I’d like to formally let the world know that BIxPress also welcomes folks, and this time it’s looking at you DBAs out there!

You may be thinking, “But Jorge, the product is called BIxpress, why as a DBA would I give a flip about it?!?” Glad you asked! I’ve recently made the transition from a DBA to a BI consultant and as part of my learning process for learning the BI stack I decided to take a crack at creating an SSIS package that would take a bunch of video files from a conference, compare the file names to the actual session titles (files came down named with their session codes, not names) and rename the files according to their formal session titles. If you’re interested in that, I’ll be posting another blog post soon detailing how I did it as well as you’ll be able to download the package yourself and try it out!

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SQL University: State of the Union

The new SQL University Logo

Well the new year is here and SQL University is back and better than ever! I just wanted to take a minute to bring everyone up to speed on what’s going on with SQLU.

First off the last semester we had (Spring 2010) started rather late, which pushed the rest of the schedule quite a bit. One of the unique facets of SQL University is having our coach Tom LaRock (Blog | Twitter) posting on EVERY topic, EVERY week which is quite the impressive feat! That being said, since the last semester ran a few weeks late it not only made a lot of work for him so I wanted to give him ample time off as that is a TON of writing he’s doing, which I think we can all agree, is pure awesomesauce. Also Tom has undergone a job transition, as well as I have, so it’s been a little hectic on that front as well. Due to the schedule shifts, job changes, moves and generally hectic life we decided to skip the Fall semester for 2010, hence you’ll find it missing from the overall SQLU main page.

Another reason we went quiet for awhile was we were busy putting together another major project: SQL University – The Book! No, sorry, no movie deals in the works but I think you guys will like this even better. What we’re doing is compiling all of this awesome material our professors have put together for you guys into an organized e-book companion! My hope is that we can it formatted properly for distribution via Amazon’s Kindle store but if that doesn’t work out we’ll probably just PDF it and let you guys go to town! As with the rest of this wonderful project, this is absolutely free to everyone and will be released as SQL University: Volume I, Freshman Year which includes the first two semester’s worth of blog content! This is taking a lot of time to put together so bear with us as we get that worked on.

Another big change you may have noticed, and one of the most exciting parts about this new year, is our re-branding! Our new logo comes courtesy of the wonderful folks at Revealed Design Inc. (Facebook| Twitter) and a big thanks to Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter) for hooking me up with them. This is a much cleaner design and look than my atrocious attempt at designing a blogger badge from before. When you visit each professor’s sites this time around you should see the new badges displayed.

Finally the other huge addition this year is our partnership with SQLLunch.com to bring you the live lecture series. We had our first one featuring Josef Richberg during SSIS week. We’ll be bringing you more this semester with some big names so stay tuned! The best way to keep up to date on all the latest news and additions to SQL University is to join our newsletter.

One More Thing…

If you’re enjoying SQL University and learning from all of these great folks in the SQL community you’ll get a chance to experience all of this in person! This Spring at SQLRally we’ll be hosting a Lightning Talk session featuring the professors of SQLU as well as some other special surprise guests. SQLRally runs from May 11-13 in Orlando, Florida and only costs $299  and $199 for pre-conference sessions (optional). Hope to see you there!

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