Archive for Reflections

Year in Review for 2015 and Future Goals for 2016

AdobeStock_96432559This has been another spectacular year in the SQL world. Unfortunately, I can’t find my list of goals, so I’ll have to wing it. I can say, that I have had some unexpected surprises this year.


Level up!
  1. I have two favorite activities in the SQL world. One of which is speaking. This year I presented 14 times to over 1300 people. I spoke at two conferences, one of which was my second year at PASS Summit in Seattle. I spoke at 6 user groups, one of which was presented remotely in Australia. I also spoke at 5 SQL Saturday’s and once for Pragmatic Works.
  2. My second favorite activity is writing. This year, I started writing for SQL Server Central. I wrote two articles for them, which had more than 20K views. I have my third post scheduled for Jan 4th/5th, so keep your eyes open for it. I also had 17 blog posts on my website. My metrics for the year were off the wall. An 82 % increase in sessions, a 403 % increase in session duration, a 97 % increase in page views (that’s 23K page views!), and my favorite, 52% increase in Users, which yields 9.5K users. Thanks viewers!
  3. I created my meet and greet list for PASS Summit and I was able to meet most of the people on my list. Some of them I knew through conversing on Twitter, like Pinal Dave. I (finally) had an opportunity to give Buck Woody a big hug too. I also met some people that I didn’t know: Wawrick Rudd, Mellisa Lord, Michael Upton, Denis Horner, and many more.
  4. This is my second year co-leading our local BI user group with Rob Hatton.
  5. I had the honor of being part of the Friends of Red Gate program again. This is my third year.
  6. My husband granted me my wish for our 20th wedding anniversary of going on my second SQL Cruise in the Caribbean AND he went with me on it. When I mentioned I had been on a SQL Cruise in my interview for my current job, they thought I was kidding. If you have never heard of SQL Cruise, I highly recommend checking it out. There is no where else you can get 6 amazing instructors for 30 students. Those speakers are trapped on a ship with you, so you can actually spend time with them over drinks or dinner asking them any question you want. I had that opportunity with Jes Borland, Grant Fritchey, Kevin Kline, David Klee, Tim Ford, and Amy Ford.
I have some new goals for 2016 as well
  1. I was hoping to speak at least once a month again, but after looking at 2014 and 2015 it will be easy to speak an average of twice a month. I have a goal of of 9 SQL Saturdays. Hopefully, I will get another opportunity to speak at PASS Summit. And I plan on speaking over the inter-webs as many times as I can. Here are some of the speaking engagements, I already have planned.
    1. SQL Saturday 461 in Austin, TX, Janurary 30th, 2016.
    2. Pragmatic Works on Feburary 9th.
    3. Profession Development Virtual Chapter in March.
    4. SQL Saturday 497 in Huntington Beach, CA April 02, 2016.
    5. DBA Fundamentals Downunder Virtual Chapter in May.
    6. All the others will slowly appear on my Speaking Engagements page.
  2. I plan to continue writing for my own blog and for SQL Server Central with a goal of one post each month for each site. That is a lofty goal for me since almost all my writing is done on Sunday’s, in a little coffee shop with my daughter. (I also spend that time writing abstracts.) Wish me luck!
  3. I’ve enjoyed speaking on SSRS, but I’m going to change it up. I’ll continue speaking on writing better SQL, but I’m also going to take up another SQL subject. Stay tuned!
  4. I’ll continue co-leading our local BI user group.
  5. I plan on mentoring one of my colleagues, Ly Nguyen. He has a goal of becoming a DBA or a Database Developer. I’m super excited about this, since he is eager to learn.
  6. This next year, I want to spend more time on forums, helping others.
  7. Hopefully, I’ll be part of Friends of Red Gate for another year.
Stretch goals

I think it’s a good idea to have some stretch goals to help push yourself past your comfort zone. Here is mine.

  1. Create a full day session to present. This seems so overwhelming, but I was a Microsoft Trainer for two years at the beginning of my career, so I know it’s possible.
  2. Speak (physically) in another country. My Australian friends, have been pushing encouraging me to speak in Melbourn, AU. I’m not sure if it will be possible, since my oldest daughter will be attending college next year, and most of my speaking money will be redirected to her tuition. If I accomplish the first of my stretch goals, then this might be possible.
  3. Writing another book. This is a big commitment of time. The good news is, my family is willing to support me in this endeavor. This is great, since they would hardly see me, except at dinner, until the project was completed.
I want to thank…

There is no way I could accomplish what I do without the support of friends and family. Here is this year’s shout out.

  1. My husband is definitely number one on this list. Whenever I have a really bad week, or I get bummed out about something, his first question is, “When is your next SQL Saturday”? Also, he is encouraging me to speak and write until my heart’s content.
  2. I always say, my first language is SQL and my second language is English. Luckily I have my daughter Victoria to help with my grammar and spelling. She is now one of my official editors and will continue to be my editor through college.
  3. Ben McNamara is my second editor. While Victoria can catch my English mistakes, Ben can catch the technical ones. He is also one of my touchstones when I get nervous about speaking or am taking criticism personally.
  4. Jes Borland, Chris Yates, Julie Koesmarno, and Nghi Nguyen are my other touchstones in my life. They are great at keeping me grounded.
  5. Steve Jones asked me to write for SQL Server Central and I was very honored. He also has the most relaxed manner that I wish I had. I can learn how to be more laid back from him, since I see him at SQL Saturdays and at Summit.
  6. I want to thank you, my readers and those that attend my presentations. Without you, I wouldn’t be having any fun.
Now it’s your turn.

My question to you is, what are your technical goals for 2016? Do you have some achievable goals and some stretch goals? Here are some ideas.

  • Start a blog. Most people start writing a blog for themselves, to remember how to do something in the future.
  • Start speaking. This can be very scary, but there is always someone out there who needs to know what you know. It can be as simple as rewriting a cursor or as complex as setting up replications.
  • Mentoring. Speaking might be too scary, so instead take someone under wing. Not only can you mentor them in a technical capacity, but you can also mentor them in how to deal with different parts of a team or how to gather requirements.
  • Volunteering: Every organization that is run by volunteers, needs more volunteers. You can help out at your local SQL Saturday or at PASS Summit to name a couple of places. (I volunteered at Summit this year. I directed people to the WIT lunch or to the normal lunch. I had a blast!) You can also volunteer at local community centers that have programming classes for kids. We need to help encourage the next generation.

Caribbean: The Final SQL Frontier

20150211_154238These are the voyages of the SQL Cruise 2015 cruisers on the ocean liner Getaway. Its 7 day mission: To seek out new SQL knowledge and new islands; to boldly ask questions that no woman or man asked before.

– Cruiser Mickey Stuewe

Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.07

Dan and I embark on our first day. We plan to explore new islands and learn more about SQL. We meet several of our shipmates during the boarding process. At twelve hundred hours, we met up with our captain, Mr. Tim Ford and his first officer Ms. Amy Ford. While I begin the process of SQL knowledge transfer, Dan decides to get the lay of the ship.

Captain Ford wastes no time on our voyage. Our first class is given while our ship is still docked in port. We have a wonderful presentation by Jeff Lehmann on what is available to us with Amazon Web Services.

That evening we gathered again for an opening party where we were able to meet all the students, instructors, and families (like my husband Dan) that were joining us for the voyage. It was great to meet new people and also to catch up with fellow alumni cruisers like myself. Bill, Joe, and Matisse were all on my SQL Cruise 2 years ago. Matisse and one of the two Patricks were international students.

After the opening party, Captain Ford divided the students into groups for a scavenger hunt sponsored by Amazon Web Services. This is one of my favorite activities. We are not allowed to be in a group where we know anyone. (That meant Dan and I were on different teams.) This is a great way for the students to break the ice and start building friendships. I had so much fun running around taking pictures of the clues we found….and photo bombing the other teams. I am very proud to announce that my team won.

IMG_3910Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.09

The last two days, I have seen some intense training, while Dan has seen some intense relaxation. In the last two days my classmates and I have been in six 1.5 hour sessions with David Klee, Kevin Kline, Jes Borland, and Grant Fritchey leading the way. These classes have been amazing. Why? Not only are they all amazing speakers whom I can listen to for hours, but the class sizes are small and the sessions are longer than what I normally see. Do you know what that means? It means technical dialog with a room full of experts. Can you give me a Boom Shaka Laka?

We also had “office hours” the last two days. We were able to ask our instructors and our fellow classmates’ questions in a relaxed environment. Our office hour topics varied from day to day. Some of the topics I participated in included sharing examples of PowerShell, understanding the consulting world better, and solving problems on VMs.

IMG_3933Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.10

Today was our first day in an island port. We docked in St. Maarten for the day. We took a taxi with some friends to the airport beach where we rented beach chairs and watched the tide come in almost to our toes. It was very relaxing. I did go in the water, which was amazing. We ate lunch in town where our group split into two. My new friend Deidra and I went shopping, while everyone else walked leisurely back to the ship and hung out at a bar near the ship.

Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.11

Today was our second day in at island port. We docked in St. Thomas. This was the only day we set up a planned excursion and I’m so glad we did. Kevin Kline, Jes Borland, Justin Borland, Dan and myself took a sailboat out to St. John’s for some snorkeling and sun bathing. This was an amazing adventure with great memories. The ocean was wonderful, it wasn’t too hot, and we saw sea turtles while snorkeling. On the way back, they served drinks and snacks. I discovered that I like rum. I’ll leave it at that.

When we returned to the ship, we had some more office hours. Dan and I then had dinner with Kevin Kline, David Klee, and the lovely Molly Klee. Since Dan and Molly are not data professionals like the rest of us, I didn’t want us nerding out the whole night. Well, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Both Kevin and David enjoy woodworking, which my husband is very into. This gave Dan the opportunity to interact with my SQL Family, which I was thrilled with.

IMG_3908Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.12

Today was another day at sea, which meant we spent another day in class. This day has been just as amazing with sessions from David Klee and Kevin Kline. Again the sessions were full of great knowledge and interaction of the whole class (especially Jared).

After our sessions, we had our second group dinner. This gave us yet another opportunity to ask questions and get to know more about our classmates and their families.

IMG_3943Ship’s log, star date 2015.02.13

Today was our last day on an island. We docked in Nassau, in the Bahamas. And guess what? We had another amazing day. Thirteen of us walked up to an old fort. Along the way we picked up two non-SQL cruisers. (More the merrier.) Grant Fritchey, Tim Ford, and my husband Dan all REALLY enjoy history, so they loved visiting the fort. On our way back into town we stopped at a local eatery on the beach. They couldn’t have been nicer. They literally built us a seating area out of old upholstered benches, added umbrellas, and served us food and drinks. That was the best.

Afterwards, we broke up into two groups. One going back towards the ship and the other off to see a rum distillery. Guess which group I was in? Since we weren’t part of an organized tour, the grounds were relatively quiet. This allowed us to leisurely stroll around and ask questions. We also sat for a bit and tasted the various rums they produced.

When we returned to the ship, we had a closing party. We were all very sad that our voyage was at an end, but we were all very happy to be spending the last evening together.EveryoneAtSQLCruiseAtEnd


This was my second SQL Cruise and it will not be my last. Tim and Amy Ford have really made an exceptional environment for learning. The environment is nurturing, fun, intimate, including, and friendly. You get to spend quality time with the instructors AND with your fellow SQL Family. I absolutely love PASS, but I feel very torn about who I will spend the few evenings I have with. On SQL Cruise, it’s a small group of people and you are all stuck on the boat together. Also, there is plenty of time to ask questions. There are many times at conferences where I don’t get to ask my questions because there is a 30 minute wait AFTER class to speak with the instructor. Not so on SQL Cruise. There’s office hours. There’s dinner. There’s the hot tub. There’s breakfast….

Thanks for all the fish

I want to thank Tim and Amy for spending their time putting the cruise together and handling all the logistics so that we have a place to meet on the ship for the classes, office hours, and group dinners. I also want to thank the sponsors who help keep the cost of the cruise down. Thanks go out to Amazon Web Services, SQL Sentry and Red Gate.

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Reflections in the 2014 Mirror

DSC03551-BWLast year I read an article about setting goals that are measurable. So I did just that. Instead of having a goal of speaking at more SQL Saturdays than the previous year, my goal was to speak at 7 SQL Saturdays. While I only spoke at 6 SQL Saturdays this year, I did deliver 9 SQL Saturday presentations. I would consider that a completed goal.

Level up

Here are some other achievements for this year.

  1. I received the Best New Community Voice award from Red Gate.
  2. I delivered 25 presentations to roughly 1,740 people across 20 physical and virtual events.
  3. I founded the BIG PASS user group in January for Orange County, California and have been joined by Rob Hatton (l) over the summer as my co-leader.
  4. Chris Yates, Jeffrey Verheul, Julie Koesmarno and I started a collaborative blogging series called SQLCoOp.
  5. I had the honor of being part of the Friends of Red Gate program for a second year, speaking at SQL in The City for a second year and getting to work very closely with the SQL Prompt team. (Yes, they are my favorite team too.)
  6. I wrote 31 posts this year that were viewed in 116 different countries. This happens to be the same number of posts my friend Jeffrey Verheul (b|t) had this year. So I am publicly throwing down a challenge to him to see which of us will come out of 2015 with more posts.
  7. At PASS Summit I networked, live-blogged two events, hosted a Birds of a Feather table, networked, hung out at the Community Zone, networked and the feather in my cap this year…
  8. I gave my first presentation at PASS Summit to a full room of 361 people. My favorite part was not the number of people, but how engaged they were. That made my day.
IMG_3197-001I raise my glass to my friends

We never accomplish anything in a vacuum, so I want to thank my friends who had the biggest impact on my life this year. There are many that are not listed, because if I did, this would be a very long post.

  1. Ben McNamara (t)
  2. Jes Borland (b|t)
  3. Chris Yates (b|t)
  4. Jeffrey Verheul (b|t)
  5. Julie Koesmarno (b|t)
  6. Brian Moran (b|t)
  7. Ted Krueger (b|t)
  8. Grant Fritchey (b|t)
  9. Tim Ford (b|t)
  10. Jason Horner (t)
  11. Argenis Fernandez (b|t)
  12. Red Gate (b|t) staff – Specifically Carly Harding, Aaron Low, and David Priddle
My next adventure

What will 2015 hold? I have some ideas and I’m setting some new goals, but only time will tell. I’ll see everyone on the flip side. Happy New Year!

SELECT Thankfulness FROM Person.Person

ThankYou500Hi. I’m with Bob

I love how blog posts can cascade into each other. I follow Chris Yates’ (b|t) blog. He wrote a post that started with Bob Pusateri (b|t). And here I am joining the blog party. Hopefully you too will join the blog party and write about something you are thankful for.

I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful for a lot and not appreciative of enough. One of the non-SQL things that I’ve learned more about is the world. Some of my SQL Friends have gotten to where they are at the hard way, through the school of hard knox. Every time I hear another story, it makes me think of how lucky I have been. I am very thankful for the sobering stories.

I’m thankful for my Holistic Nutritionist, Kristi Acuna (b). Without her, I could not be an active member in the SQL Community. I started seeing her in 2009. She immediately found foods that I was eating that my body did not function well on. Things like gluten, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. As I slowly took those foods out of my diet, I started to have more energy. Enough energy to start things like blogging on the weekends, attending SQL Saturdays, speaking at conferences, and staying up late to network after the conferences. Without her, you wouldn’t know me.

I’m thankful for my husband, Dan. He supports me and encourages me to be me. For some of you that may seem obvious. Why would he not allow me to be me? But not all are so lucky. I know men and women a like who participate in local SQL Saturdays only, or in user groups occasionally because their spouse needs them at home. Dan encourages me to write. He encourages me to lead my user group. He encourages me to present at conferences. In fact, when I was really bummed about work this past summer. His first question was, “When do you see your SQL Family again?” How cool is that?! He knows I’m an extrovert and he makes sure I get that interaction.

I’m thankful for this AMAZING SQL Community we call SQL Family. The first half of my career I was a Visual Basic programmer. VB 3.0 through VB.Net. I left IT twice because of the way I was treated by co-workers. I came back kicking and screaming. I was blessed to land in the world of SQL and to find an amazing community who accepts, supports, and encourages each other.

Down to the details

I want to thank some specific people, but some of them are private people. So I’m going to send out some digital “thank you cards”. I encourage you to do the same. Say thank you to the people who have touched your lives and made you who you are today.

Thanks for all the fish

Thanks go out to Bob Pusateri (b|t) for this great idea.

Reflections in the 2013 Mirror

2013Reflections-lake2013 was a wild ride. I had set up my goals in December of 2012 and surpassed some of them half way through the year. I hope that I continue reaching my goals in 2014. If I do, it will be another amazing year.

Here are the goals I had and how I measured up.

Being Mentored

I knew I wanted to be mentored, I even wrote a post about it here. I had no idea how valuable it would turn out to be. After I wrote my post, one of my friends convinced me to ask Grant Fritchey (b|t) if he would mentor me. I really like his speaking style and the topics he speaks on. So, I held my breathe, sent him an email, and he said yes. I couldn’t believe it.

We Skyped all through 2013. Our meetings were very valuable for me. You see, like many people, my confidence isn’t that high, but Grant believes in me. He encouraged me to go after my goals. He critiqued my abstracts and even my first speaking event. This was definitely an achieved goal.


This goal I blew out of the water. My goal was to speak at 5 events. I picked this number because there are 5 SQL Saturdays in California where I live. I ended up speaking at 15 different events. I exceeded my goal by 300%! Here is the full list of 2013 events and here is a summary of the events:

  • 6 User Group Meetings
  • 5 SQL Saturdays
  • 3 Women in Technology panels (I moderated 2 at SQL Saturday’s I was already attending, so I didn’t count them in the total count)
  • 2 Red Gate events (You can view one of my sessions here.)
  • 1 Conference (Dev Connections)

I’ve already listed the SQL Saturday’s I plan to apply for. The conferences will be added as I’m accepted as well as the user group meetings. Here is the list of 2014 events so far.


My blogging goals were only half met. The first part of my goal was to write on my personal blog (this one) at least once a month. Since I like to participate in the T-SQL Tuesday Blog Parties, I knew this was most likely achievable. The other half of my goal was to write once a month for I did not reach this goal at all because there just wasn’t enough time. I was only able to submit one tip this year.

For my person blog, I exceeded my expectations. Since this was my first full year having a blog, I compared the first half of the year with the second half of he year. In that time, I doubled my page views. I had 40 posts for the year, 18 of which were in December, 8 of which were for the T-SQl Blog Party, and 1 was an incredibly fun (and funny) story based on the pictures that Pat Wright (b|t) took at PASS Summit.

Here are the 3 posts that had the most hits this year:

Obtaining a New Job

It took six months of carefully identifying exactly what I wanted to do and going through interviews and talking to recruiters, but this past July I finally took a leap into a new job and I’m glad I did. I miss my former colleagues, but I’ve acquired some pretty cool new ones too.

Friends of Red Gate (ForG)

Red Gate has my absolute favorite tools. They also have some amazing people working for them. This year had the privledge of being part of their Friends of Red Gate program. This program conects various proffesionals who are power users of their products with developers and project managers at Red Gate. We get to disucss new features and how to improve existing features. It’s a wonderful program and I think their product is better for having the program.

Unexpected Surprises

Those were my goals for 2013, but I had some surprises along the way that have shaped me this year and are worth mentioning.

Jan 2013 SQL CruiseSQL Cruise

In December of 2012 I won a trip (the registration) on Tim Ford’s (b|t) SQL Cruise from SQL Sentry. The cruise was for a week in the Caribbean. Three wonderful days at sea listening to amazing speakers like Kevin Kline (b|t) and Allen White(b|t). And three wonderful days in port. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and recommend it to ALL of you.


Half way through the year, Marlon Ribunal (b|t) approached me and asked if I wanted to help finish the book he was writing on reporting services. I was very honored that he asked me and I said yes. Marlon and I had our book published this past October. It’s called SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services Blueprints.

I also had the honor of being included in an ebook by Red Gate called 45 Database Performance tips for Developers. I’m very honored to be included in this endeavor with Grant Fritchey (b|t), Jonathan Allen (aka Father Jack) (b|t), Phil Factor (b|t), K. Brian Kelly (b|t), Ike Ellis (b|t), and Louis Davidson (b|t).


I was so impressed with the first SQL Saturday that I ever attended, that I agreed to help out with two local SQL Saturdays (Huntington Beach and San Diego). Since I enjoyed the planning and running around with my head cut off, I’ve agreed to help out again this next year.

I also help the Women In Technology virtual chapter (WIT). I had the honor of moderating three panels this past year, one of which was at PASS Summit in front of 600+ people. You can view the event here.

One of my most proud moments occurred this month, but it really started in September. (You can read the back story here.) I created an event for Jason Strate (b|t) and Bradley Ball (b|t) so that they could speak in Orange County. I had no idea if one person would show up or 100. QuickStart Intelligence hosted the event and they helped find attendees by calling all of their former students. Between my contacts, QuickStart’s former students, and Jason and Bradley’s reputations I was able to get 48 people sign up and around 30 people attend the event. I also found a sponsor for the pizza so it didn’t cost me or any of the attendee’s a dime. I call that a win!


I thought that my 2013 SQL year was at a close once December hit, but I was wrong. Red Gate put out a call for nominations for their new Tribal Awards and I was nominated for Best New Community Voice. I wrote about it here. All that I can say about this one, is that I’m pleasantly surprised and that I’m secretly hoping that Koen from Belgium wins.

2013CheersThank You

I want to thank all of you for reading my posts this year, for the comments that you leave, and for coming back time and time again. Cheers to you!

Where am I going now?

So what does 2014 hold for me? You’ll have to wait for my next post. (Evil grin inserted here.)

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