RSS

Tag Archives: Summit

Paul and the Butterfly Effect


So now that most of you reading this have come back home from either PASS Summit or MVP Summit and are trying to get your heads around being back home and/or in the office again, so grab a cup of coffee and allow me to share a story with you…

(for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – imagine a bunch of introverted computer geeks getting together, eating together, drinking various liquids together, learning together, and quite often having an amazingly good time while they’re at it)

This story started out as a response to a note Paul Randal (blog | twitter) wrote just after summit almost a year ago, and for any of you who’ve read my stories, you’ll be familiar with the phrase, “And it got me thinking” – usually about halfway down the story.  But this time it starts at the beginning, see, Paul wrote about this thing called “the butterfly effect” and he was talking about how making one small change in something could make major changes later on…

The links above are Paul’s, the links below will likely reference my own stories, which you’ll understand as you read along.

Paul asked for feedback on what he wrote about the butterflies, and I started writing, and thinking, and thinking, and writing.

And it went something like this:

Gosh, Paul,

It’s hard to figure out where the first butterfly flapped its wings in this story…

And please forgive me – it turned out longer than I expected, but you’ll understand when you get to the end.

I was working at Microsoft (1996-2000), and over time had sent out stories about my then 7 year old son (like this one) – and one day, I got a surprisingly snarky reply-all response back from a fellow I’d considered to be a friend.  We’d worked together (he in England, me in Redmond) – and while I wanted to fire back with all the self-righteousness in the world, how he, a young, single man, didn’t understand the joy that comes from having the privilege of having children, I backed off.

I checked with a trusted friend for advice, and then suggested to him, kindly, that in time, he would indeed understand the joy one can have experiencing a story like the one above, but he was not yet old enough to understand that.  I wished him well, and told him that I hoped that someday he would be able to experience that privilege.  I made sure not to burn any bridges, because his comment was based on youth and inexperience, and I truly valued his friendship.

Fast forward 10 years.

We’d both grown, we’d both lived, but most importantly, we’d stayed friends.

He’d moved to the US, worked for several companies, including the one I work for now, and is now back at Microsoft, based out of Chicago.

Some time back, he heard I was looking for work, and within a day, had written a letter of recommendation based on years of trust, years of both personal and professional friendship, and in part due to that – I had an opportunity to interview and was subsequently hired.

I had/got/made/took opportunities to speak (I did sessions down at SSWUG.org for a few years) and then got involved in the SQL community, starting, as I recall, with Chris Shaw (blog | twitter ).  He was one of the speakers at one of the SSWUG sessions at the time (I didn’t know about PASS then), and I was just being me, flipping him crap, and he flipped it back.  We laughed, then he asked if I wanted to speak.  I couldn’t imagine him asking that, but he did, and the conversation went like this:

“Have you ever done any public speaking?”

“Only Eulogies.”

<crickets>

“No really.  One was for my dad, and one was for a friend in my cancer survivor’s support group.”

I couldn’t imagine anything more stressful than doing a eulogy for your own dad, or for a friend who had died of the same disease you were fighting, too, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  How hard could it be, right?

Little did I know – but I worked hard, made some presentations, and I did it for three years. I met wonderful people there (Chris Shaw & Wendy Pastrick  ( blog | twitter ) were with me in the studio one of those times) and met others through the sessions.

Wendy Pastrick, me, and Chris Shaw

Wendy Pastrick, me, and Chris Shaw

…and Paul, I had a ball doing it.

This year I spoke at the SQLSaturday in Portland just before Summit – on communication, and how important it is, and how hard it is to do well. (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a Master’s in Visual Communication (photojournalism) and am still learning)

And it got me thinking, as so many stories do…

Had I gotten mad at John (the friend in Chicago) and burned that bridge way back in 1997 when I sent that original emailed story out (I think it says 1998 in the one on the blog) – then I wouldn’t have had him as a resource to get the job I have today.

Had I not gotten that job, I wouldn’t have had the speaking opportunity in Tucson.

…nor would I have gone to Summit.

Or had the opportunities to speak.

Or made the friends I’ve made.

I wouldn’t have realized there were other people just as lonely as I was out there who worked in their own little cubicle, being one of very few people in their companies doing what they do.

I wouldn’t have learned about #sqlhelp, and #sqlfamily, and summer camp for geeks (Summit)

I wouldn’t have learned that just by tweeting something with DBCC in it, in short order you could get an answer from the guy who wrote it.

As a result, my mind has been in a state of continuous bogglement (if that’s a word) for the last 7 years.

(you realize this list could go on for a good long while.)

But I did learn – and I know a little about these things now.

I know there are folks out there who will help, who will encourage, and who will cheer me on should I need it.

Just today, I found myself on the cheering/encouraging end of that equation (one member of the SQL community came home from Summit to one less family member in the house)

I don’t know if in doing that, I was a butterfly helping someone in their own life journey. I don’t know..

And I don’t think any of those things (that family member excluded) would have happened had I gotten mad at John those many years ago.

Yes, I do think about that.

Oh, speaking of John… He and his wife now have two boys – and he understands.

Take care Paul – thanks for making me think – that was fun.

Tom

PS: not to overload you, but to take the butterfly back even further – almost 100 years ago, there was this little piece of Russian Shrapnel

if it hadn’t hit where it did, you wouldn’t be reading any of this.

And I sent it…

And just now – it got me thinking some more…

Some of the butterflies in life are good ones.  Some are bad ones.

All of them got you to where you are today.

So I’ll end this one, uncharacteristically, with a question:  As you think back, What are your butterflies? What got you to where you are today?

Take care out there, folks,

Tom

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

T-SQL Tuesday #60– Something New Learned


 

So – as I write this, it’s the Monday evening after Summit

Emotions are still fresh, but my mind still trying to double-clutch its way back to thinking about how to apply all the things I’ve learned and I’ve been struggling to find words to answer the question asked for this one, but I think it was narrowed down to one tweet that we’ll get to in a moment.

Like many of you, while I work around a lot of people, and work with people, most of the work I do is fairly solitary. I don’t often get a chance to learn with or just relax and chat with folks outside of work who are fighting the same battles, have similar goals, and are struggling with similar  issues.

I’d been working quite a few overtime hours, plus getting ready for my first presentation in a long time for SQLSaturday 337, so I was a little frazzled coming into Summit14, and was, frankly, looking forward to what I’ve taken to calling “Summer camp for Geeks”.

Take the best thing you can remember from any summer camp you’ve ever been to. (For me, regardless of the camp, it’s the camaraderie – so let’s go with that).

Take that camaraderie – and add to it the concept of a support group. Oh, for those who haven’t been part of a support group, let’s just go to our old friend Wikipedia, which states, in part:

In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks.

Wait – let’s look at those last two sentences again one at a time…

“Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community.”

Uh – yeah – there’s 5,000 of us from all over the planet, most of us working in pretty solitary kinds of positions, where it’s often hard to talk about the issues we’re facing, often because we’re the only ones in the company facing them. Interestingly, we’re often introverts, which means at some level, we’re okay with the whole “working by ourselves” thing. But it is nice to know you’re not the only one out there trying to invent this particular wheel, or shove this particular boulder up a hill… Again… (see Sisyphus). That brings us to the second of the two sentences:

“The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks.”

Just read that again… I know, it’s likely the third time… Right – then look at the picture of the community zone below from the tweet by Neil Hambly (B|T)

I was just stunned at the simplicity of Neil’s comment, “This what #sqlhelp is like in the flesh Many folks just in the community zone waiting to help others”

Just from this shot, I see Kevin Kline (B|T) chatting with someone on the floor on the left. Wendy Pastrick (B|T) is chatting with someone about dead center. I think that might be Grant Fritchey (B|T) there in one of the blue shirts in the background. I know for sure there was at least one SQUEEEE! (B|T) there. 😉

I know there are other folks I didn’t get a chance to meet or can’t recognize in this shot – but I was in the same spot that Neil was when he took that picture and saw the same thing.

And heard the same thing.

And it was people simply wanting to help others who were going down the same path. People would come to that blue carpet and be welcomed in. They’d reach out for help, and there was someone in there, reaching back. Understand, there were folks just starting their careers in there mixed right in with folks who were pillars of the SQL community, there were beginners, MVP’s, and MCM’s, and all were reaching out to each other to help.

That help took all forms. Sometimes, someone just needed to talk something out. Other times, it was a deep conversation. Often there was laughter, and what became known as #sqlhugs as those of us who’d emailed or tweeted with others for years finally got to meet them face to face. In the shot, you see people talking with each other, you see people on their laptops while on support calls during the conference itself (it was obvious on some, you could hear one side of the conversation, “…Okay, now click ‘next’…”)

And for some, just like Neil said, it was #sqlhelp in the flesh.

If you’re not familiar with the #sqlhelp hashtag – click on that one on the left there – it’ll take you to the post Brent Ozar (B|T) put out on his blog to explain how it works, with the opening line: “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.”

And at summit – sqlhelp wasn’t just something we typed.

We got to see some of the people behind it (that’s be all of us)

We got to meet them.

And we got to experience that camaraderie of summer camp and the warm embrace of a support group.

We got to hear the laughter behind an LOL as someone got a joke, or got to actually see, talk to, and listen to the folks behind it.

And over time, what became clear to me is that while I’ve used #sqlhelp in the past and monitor it in the present, #sqlhelp isn’t just some search engine that spits out answers like ones and zeroes. . It’s real people, with real experience (and real questions), again, some just starting out, some, like I said, pillars of the community, but who all take or make the time to get an answer for you, and then, often, check back with you to make sure you got it.

#sqlhelp is folks who care, folks who’ve reached forward to others in their careers and are now reaching back to help those who need it.

That’s one thing I learned at Summit this year. Not just in my head, but in my heart.

And in case no one’s said it out loud, it’s appreciated.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,