SQL Quiz #4

Chris Shaw has started up round 4 of his excellent SQL Quiz series. I was tagged by that crazy dynamic SQL guy, Jeremiah Peschka, who was tagged by the SQLBatman, who was in turn tagged by Mr. Shaw himself.

The question this time is…

Who has been a great leader in your career and what made them a great leader?

I’ve had some great managers, and I’ve known some great leaders. It’s hard to differentiate, and even harder to narrow it done to just one person. But if I have to choose just one, then I’m going with the person who first had a major impact on my career: Richard.

Richard is the type of person that just commands silent respect. When he speaks, people listen. But the other side of that is, when other people speak, he listens too. You never have a problem doing what he asks, because you know that he’d never ask you to do something that he would not do himself. In fact, chances are he’s already doing the work of two people, just so he doesn’t have to overload *you*. You know he has your best interests at heart, even when it’s not necessarily the best for him or the company. By the time something comes up where he needs help, he’s got a contingent of people willing to bend over backwards for him, whether it’s working late or just making the coffee, because he’s earned their trust, respect, and admiration.

No doubt about it, Richard is a great manager. But take all of these great managerial and interpersonal traits and add vision, and now you have a great leader who’s capable of moving proverbial mountains. And Richard has vision in spades.

I’ve unfortunately lost touch with Richard over the years, but I’ve never forgotten the lessons I’ve learned from him. Richard, if you ever stumble across this… thank you.

Tag! You’re it. Don’t break the chain, or SQLBatman will break YOU.

SQL Quiz 3: Are you being treated fairly?

In his latest SQL Quiz, Chris Shaw (aka @SQLShaw) asked,

“Do you feel like you are being treated fairly at your current or past employers? The question stems from the fact that very few people today stay at a company 20 to 30 years like they did when I was growing up. Do you feel like the company feels a loyalty toward the employee or do you think that they look at you just as head count?”

Wow. Talk about a loaded question!

I guess first we need to settle on a definition of “being treated fairly.” For my purposes, I’m going to interpret this as a mutually beneficial relationship in which my contributions are acknowledged and rewarded, and I’m able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

So let’s take a look at the question again.

Am I being treated fairly at my current place of employment?
Absolutely. I love this company. It’s a good, positive work environment, and I’m encouraged to maintain a good work-life balance. For example, when I put in extra hours during a big project or an unexpected crisis, I usually get to leave work a little early on other days.

Side note: today’s my team’s Employee Appreciation Day. This afternoon, we’re going out to eat at a Japanese steakhouse, then out for a movie. All on the company’s dime and time. How cool is that?! Yes, we have openings. ;)

Have I been treated fairly at previous places of employment?
Umm… ermm… various sounds of hesitation…

The short answer is “no.” But, really, it’s been my own fault. I’ve let companies take advantage of me. I’ve worked too many hours, taken on too much responsibility, let myself be paid crap wages. So really, if anything’s to blame, it’s my eager-to-please nature. The reality is, if you open yourself up to being taken advantage of, you will be. This is true of people as well as companies.

If you don’t feel you’re being treated fairly at your job, schedule a meeting with your boss and explain your concerns. Don’t be all whiny about it, either. Be professional and stick to facts, such as “This last month, I’ve averaged 70 hours a week. Either reduce my hours, pay me overtime, or give me comp time.” It’s a pretty fair request. If they don’t address your concerns, then it’s probably time to start looking for a new job.

Do you feel like the company feels a loyalty toward the employee or do you think that they look at you just as head count?

It depends on the company. I think, realistically, most companies don’t feel any loyalty to an employee. That doesn’t mean the employee’s not appreciated and valued, and the company doesn’t want to retain the employee. But rather, at the end of the day, the company will do what’s best for the company, and if that means letting a valuable employee go for the “greater good of the company”… so be it.

Tag! You’re It.

This can be a pretty sensitive topic, so I’m going to tag the one guy I know who’s ballsy enough to do it. Hey, SQLAgentMan (@SQLAgentMan)… yeah, I’m talking about you.

Source: http://sqlfool.com/2009/03/sql-quiz-3-are-you-being-treated-fairly/

What was your first computer and what were some of your favorite games?

Denis Gobo tagged me in his post, “What was your first computer and what were some of your favorite games?” Tom LaRock, aka SQLBatman, also tagged me. Ah, memories…

Packard Bell

Packard Bell

My first computer was a Packard Bell 286 in 1992. Packard Bells would later go on to receive the dubious honor of worst PC ever, but I only have fond memories of that first computer. My father brought it home one day, quite unexpectedly; after setting it up, he handed my brother and me several games, including Ultima Underworld, Aces of the Pacific, and Sid Meier’s Civilization, and told us to figure out how to install them if we wanted to play. We figured it out pretty quickly and were immediately hooked; I’m pretty sure this began my lifelong love of computers and gaming.

Ultima Underworld

Ultima Underworld

Ultima Underworld was my favorite game, hands down. This was my first introduction to the world of Britannia and to Avatar. UU was an RPG game, and apparently the first 3D RPG game ever made. It went on to win a buttload of well-deserved awards.

Civilization

Civilization

Sid Meier’s Civilization was my 2nd favorite game. You basically begin the game back in the dawn of civilization (4,000 BC), and lead a tribe to take over the world, either through conquest or culture. It really cast ancient civilizations in a different (and perhaps not entirely accurate) light, and made history class a lot more interesting for me. My entire family used to take turns at the game, seeing who could do the best.

Aces of the Pacific

Aces of the Pacific

Aces of the Pacific was a WW2 flight simulator game. At the time, I thought the graphics were really impressive. It took me a little while to get a hang of the controls, but I then spent hours bombing bases and attacking the Japanese.

Thanks, Denis, for prompting that little trip down memory lane! :)

Now I’m tagging:

Source: http://sqlfool.com/2009/02/first-computer/

Things You Know Now…

Mike Walsh tagged me in his blog post, Things You Know Now…, and asked, “It doesn’t have to be DBA skills, but what do you wish you knew when you were starting?” This is a really great question, and I’ve given it some pretty serious consideration. Here’s my top 3:

Just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you know nothing.
It’s taken me a few years to figure this one out. I’ve come to the hard realization that, no matter how much I know about something (*coughsqlservercough*), I will never know everything. There will always be some new feature, or some new language, that you just won’t have the time or need to learn. And while there’s value in being a Jack-or-Jill-of-all-trades, there’s probably more value in knowing a few things really well. Pick what you love and dive into it wholeheartedly. Make sure you stay current on technologies, so you don’t get outdated, but do so within your specific area. You’ll love your job and be a more valuable employee for it.

Give back to the community, and don’t be afraid of looking stupid.
Whether you’re afraid to ask a question or provide an answer, don’t be. I’ve found that, as long as you approach it intelligently and politely, you’ll be fine. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” I believe this wholeheartedly. For me, starting a blog wasn’t nearly as scary as the decision to put my real name on it. And responding to questions on the MSDN forum? I was pretty nervous that some MVP or Microsoft employee would ridicule my suggestions. But you know what? It hasn’t happened yet, and I gain more confidence with every blog post, every forum response, and every published article. And if I don’t have the right answer? Then I read up on the correct answer, which is just another opportunity to learn.

Work yourself out of a job.
That old adage, “work smarter, not harder,” definitely has merit. Write good, thorough code. Plan for growth. And automate the hell out of everything (without losing quality). Afraid you’ll lose your job? It’s certainly possible, but not likely. Any boss worth his salt will notice you get more work done in less time than your co-workers. This will lead to better reviews, increased responsibility, and possibly even promotions (side note on this: if you like code, don’t do it! I learned the hard way, meetings are boring. :) ).

Tag! You’re It.

I’m calling these guys out to post their own responses to Mike’s question:

Regards,

Michelle Ufford (aka SQLFool)

Source: http://sqlfool.com/2009/02/things-you-know-now/

Back from Vacation!

I’m back from Europe! We had a fantastic time, and saw some incredible sights, but I must say I am glad to be back home. :)

A couple of quick items to mention. First, we now have an official PASS Chapter for the Cedar Rapids area, called I380 Corridor PASS! A special thanks to the folks at PASS for all of their help. If you’re in the Eastern Iowa region and interested in attending or volunteering, please e-mail me at michelle @ sqlfool dot com.

Also, I’ve received a couple of comments about my latest codebox plugin. It appears that in an attempt to fix one issue, I’ve caused another. I plan to work on a solution this weekend, but in the mean-time, if you try to copy code from the codeboxes, you’ll need to do a find/replace on the single quotation marks. I apologize for the hassle and hope to have this resolved soon.

Finally, the very knowledgeable and prolific Mr. Denny wrote a post regarding Wordle and challenged me to post the results of my blog. I’m just now getting caught up from vacation, so I’m a little late in responding, but here it is:

Wordle.com

Wordle.com

Pretty neat, huh? Thanks, Mr. Denny, for sharing! And to keep the fun going, I’m tagging Brent Ozar and Jonathan Kehayias (The Rambling DBA).

Update:
The codebox plugin issue should now be resolved. Please let me know if you have any issues with it.