Return To Where It All Started

They say you can’t go back home again. That is true, but this week I will be traveling back to where it all started. I am headed back to speak SQL Sat Nashville! Last year at this time (January 2018) I nervously arrived at SQLSatNash to present for the very first time.

With a ton of support from my friends and family, I created a session over Soft Skills and I was ready to present! I had prepared. I had obsessively gone over each and every word on the slides. I had practiced and practiced and had actually given a test run to my husband’s company. I was ready. I WAS READY!

Is it time to panic?

No sleep was to be had the night before my session. I was excited and nervous.. and very scared. The day was here and I could not be any more prepared. I walked in to set up laptop and the room was freezing. I swear I could see my breath when I talked! You see, the university had been closed the day before due to ice and snow, and the rooms had not yet warmed up. This gave me a new panic. How was I going to keep people’s attention in such a cold room? Would they even stay?

My knees were knocking, and it wasn’t just because the room was a balmy 40 degrees (F)! I was nervous and was constantly questioning my decision to step into the public speaking realm.

I loved seeing it snow at #SQLSatNash 2018

Calm down, you are amongst friends!

In order to calm my nerves, I started playing Can’t Stop the Feeling. This is one of my go-to feel great songs. People started filing in, and I kept it playing. I started dancing (to keep warm and also because I had no idea what to do with all that nervous energy!) and I was surprised to see others started joining me!!!  Much to my amazement and pure enjoyment, Aunt Kathi was on the front row to see ME and she started dancing as well! Actually I think she lead the dancing! ha ha (Seeing Aunt Kathi there in my session made me feel like a super star. Having her join me in dancing made me feel even more special. Thank you Aunt Kathi!)

I look out over my audience and see some amazing people. John Morehouse, Duke (#JohnsDad), Rie Irish, Allen Kinsel, Lance Tidwell, Jim Donahoe, my son Robert, Chris Hyde, and many others were there to support me! What an amazing group of #SQLFamily! The time was now, and I did not want to disappoint them! So here we go, the song was over and it was time to start!

I am thankful for my #SQLFamily

If you have not attended my sessions, they are… less than boring. I feel that my job as a speaker is to not only education, but to entertain. So, sort of edutainment I suppose. I was so full of excitement and energy, I felt like I was buzzing all over the place! I had a lot of great audience interaction and participation and before I knew it, the presentation was complete. WOW! That time sure flew by! I was shaking, I was excited, I was on a new-found high that I had never experienced before! I was totally bit by the Speaker Bug!

SQL Saturday?

I went on to speak at several SQL Saturdays in 2018 and had a wonderful time at every event. If you are wondering where the next or nearest SQL Saturday is to you, you can visit the SQLSaturday website and find out! Remember that just as important as the training you receive, the networking at SQL Saturdays can be greatly beneficial to you and your career. Don’t be afraid to approach a speaker and ask questions. We are there to share knowledge and to network as well.

I am super excited to be chosen to speak in Nashville again. It is such a great event put on by great people. This year I will be discussing something near and dear to my heart, Ethics in Data. I would love to see you at SQL Saturday Nashville 2019! You can find out more and register here!

And hey, if you want to start presenting but don’t know where to start, check out this blog (Just Start at the Beginning) and send me a message! I would love to help grow new speakers! You can do this.

Empower Gender Diversity in Technology

Hello from the blogger table for the #PASSSummit WIT Luncheon!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that delicious lunch, the uplifting music, and the welcoming atmosphere.  As I sit here at my table I hear the familiar hum of a thousands of voices lifting and carrying across the room.  I hear deep voices, high pitched voices, male voices, female voices, gravely voices, laughter, loud voices, quiet voices.  I hear voices of friends and newly made friends of all walks of life.  It is beautiful, it is loud, and my heart is soaring.  

As amazing as it is here at PASS Summit, this is not at all indicative of each and every workplace out in the world.  Not every space is as diverse and welcoming.  If you are in a workplace that is not as diverse, you CAN make a difference.  You can empower your space!

 

Lauri Bingham

Director of Technology, Engineering Project Management, T-Mobile is here today to discuss “Mobilizing Your Own Grassroots Movement to Empower Gender Diversity in Technology.” Throughout her 30+ year technology career, across the manufacturing, healthcare, and telecom industries, Lauri has always been passionate about leading diverse teams.  She is the Technology Chair of T-Mobile’s Women’s Leadership Network and leads the company’s Women in Technology initiative, to promote and retain gender diversity within Engineering and IT. Lauri is also an active member of the Project Management Institute’s Executive Roundtable.  

Start Today

Exacting change starts with one person who is passionate about making a difference.  From there draft 2 like-minded, passionate leaders.  Put in the work, be committed, and continue trying new things to get others involved.   Coordinate lunch meetings and open up the invitation to all.  Try new things to see what works.  Happy Hours may work better for your location.  Just keep trying.  Be sure to track your data so you will have a better idea what works for your location.

*Pro-tip, offering food at your meetings helps boost attendance!*

Suess

Look to the Future

Before I break out into a song about children being our future, let’s chat about how STEM events expose children to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  Opening up opportunities for boys and girls to learn about tech and engineering jobs expands their horizons and promotes diversity.  I am still shocked that many young girls are told that tech/science/engineering is “just for boys.”  On the other hand, many children from lower income families or disenfranchised locations may not know that these careers in tech would be a possibility for them.  We are stronger when we grow together.

Seven Keys to Starting Your Own WiT

Lauri shared some amazing keys with us and I want to share them with you.  Read these.  Re-read them.  Keep them close.  Tattoo them to your arm if you must!

  1. Don’t get stuck on how you measure success.
  2. There is no “one size fits all” solution.
  3. Show up!
  4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  5. You cannot do it all at once, don’t get discouraged.
  6. Bring people with you (not everyone is going to be ready).
  7. Say YES!

Be brave, you can do this.  We can make this change.
It will take all of us!

PASS Summit Introverts

In 2016 I attended PASS Summit for the first time as an attendee.  I was so excited and a little nervous.  I was certainly not a stranger to the #SQLFamily but I was not really a member of it yet either.  My intentions were to attend Summit, make a few connections, and learn as much as possible.  I had no idea what was truly in store for me.  I had no idea that some of the people I met there would become some of the best friends I have ever known.  I had no idea how my life would be so enriched by meeting and talking to so many diverse people.

Talk to People!

As many conference go-ers will attest, the most important thing you can do at a conference is networking! 

Look, Summit is like going to Disney World; there is NO WAY you will be able to see everything in that short amount of time.  So prepare accordingly and schedule in time to spend in the community center and go out to after events.  Summit is much bigger than you can imagine.  I knew I would meet some really cool people and would learn some amazing new things.  What I did not know is how vastly those three days would change my life!

I am very much a people-person gifted with the ability to talk with anyone about anything at any time.  I am an extrovert.  I thrive on meeting new people and gaining insights from others.  While this is totally me, I understand that many in the tech industry are not as ready and willing to start a conversation.  I am on a personal mission this year to help people enrich their lives one conversation at a time.

Calling all Introverts!

Sometimes all people need is an invitation to start a conversation.  My trick to starting conversations with shy people is to notice something we have in common, or to compliment something about them. Example: “Hi! That is a great bag!”  or “Oh hey, my hair is the same color as your backpack!”  These are small little introductions that may or may not lead to a full-blown conversation and maybe an eventual friendship!

You may be sitting there growing steadily uncomfortable at this thought.  (Mmmmm hmmm, I can see you squirming in your seat!)  Don’t fret.  I can help you!  If you are not ready to be the one who reaches out, give others something to start a conversation with you!  At Summit this year I will have a limited number of buttons to hand out to my Introvert Entourage!  Come meet me, ask for a button, and join the coolest group around:Angela’s Introvert Entourage!”

Come walk with me and we can meet new friends together!

Friends
Shown are Jim Donahoe (@SQLFlipFlopsDBA) Lance Tidwell (@Lance_LT) and David Stein (@Made2Mentor)

*You don’t have to be an Introvert to receive a button.  You can be an Introvert Ally!*

What We Leave Behind

I have been spending a lot of time being introspective as of late. From time to time I like to step back and take a good look at who I am, what I have done, and what I have yet to do. It is a good way for me to re-evaluate what is important to me.

Sometimes this can be a scary process. We don’t ever like to admit when we have tried and failed. However, failure should not be viewed as a negative thing. Failure is the result of our bravery and actions working together but maybe falling a bit short. We learn from those failures. We grow from those failures. Or we can allow those failures to steel us in fear of ever trying again.

I have Failed

My friends, I have failed numerous times. Lately I see that I have failed the ones who need me the most. I have failed my family and my friends. That is a very tough thing to say out loud. It is true though. I received a message the other day from one of my best friends: “I miss the fun Angela. I miss laughing with you. You are so serious and stressed all the time now. Bring back my friend.” I read that and the familiar sting of tears burned my eyes as the pang in my heart grew as large as the lump in my throat. I looked around. There was my ever-growing and attentive son. “What is he learning from me?”

2018 has been an incredibly hard year for me and my family, including some very close friends. I have seen a rise in my anger, a rise in my self-doubt and disgust, and a rise in my depression and anxiety. The scary thing is, I have seen this reflected in my 8 year old son as well. Think about when you were 8. What were your biggest worries? His worries are my worries. He hears the same self-criticism I hear:

“I am not fast enough.”
“I am not learning fast enough.”
“I am not doing enough.”
“I am not good enough.”
“I am not smart like ________”
“I don’t rise to their expectations.”
“What if I don’t succeed?”
“I am unworthy”

     Imagine having that conversation with a group of people, yelling those things at you. This is my every day, and I see now, this is his every day too. My heart is more broken than ever at the realization that he too feels this way about himself.

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What Would Happen?

If I were to die tomorrow, what would I leave behind? I would leave behind those people who love me, and who I love so dearly. And who am I leaving behind right now? I am leaving behind my friend who misses her “fun Angela”; I am leaving behind my son who needs his caring, loving, forgiving mom; I am leaving behind my husband who is the most amazing man I have ever met; I am leaving behind myself.

My father passed earlier this year.  It was devastating and I have still not fully recovered.  My heart is still broken.  One thing that my Dad always taught me was to work hard always and never give up.  In the end, his mind was gone and he was lost somewhere between here and there.  I miss his stories and miss his laugh. I miss the way he could make up a story and never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  For all his failures in life, I loved him still.  If I could have one more day with him, I would tell him to not worry about his shortcomings, that those are what made him human.   I would tell him to finish writing that book he always wanted to get published.  I would ask him to tell me stories again of the days when he was young and when my siblings were young.  Those are the things I miss.  I don’t miss his monetary gains or lament the monetary losses.  I miss him.  I miss making memories with him.  I miss being his daughter.

Image may contain: 5 people, including Robin E. Keith, Angela Tidwell and Robert Ware, people smiling, people standing and people sitting

Money is Not Happiness

My friends, no amount of money, no status in life, no name plate or corner office is worth leaving behind who you really are and who you really love. Take a moment to think about your life and the way you live it. Are you happy? Are you stuck in a toxic relationship? Are you stuck in a dark office wanting only to be able to walk in the sun? Why do we trade happiness for the pursuit of money? Money is only money, no matter how much you have you will need more. Money is fleeting, love is the currency that matters most.

I see now that I need to act quickly in order to better my life. I need to find my spark again.  I need to laugh and love and feel my heart swell as I experience new things with my friends and family. I need to really start living.

What are you leaving behind?

Image may contain: 2 people, including Angela Tidwell, people smiling, people sittingImage may contain: Lori Gage and Angela Tidwell, people smiling, people standing, stadium, basketball court, outdoor and closeupImage may contain: 2 people, including Angela Tidwell, beard and closeupImage may contain: 4 people, including Angela Tidwell and Doris Ware, people smiling

Paint Your Success

I like to listen to people.  Really listen.  Listen to what they are saying and what they are NOT saying.  Sometimes the answers are clear and other times the answers are hidden.  One conversation in particular struck me.  It was a conversation between two people and one was complaining that he was not being heard by his team.

This made my mind start thinking about ways in which we are either not heard, or are dismissed.  Perhaps this person was having that issue because he lacked clear communication of his ideas, or was not seen as a strong member of the team.  Verbal, written, and non-verbal communication are key to gaining ground in the areas you desire.

Communication Styles

Non-verbal communication is the ice breaker.  Think about the way you appear walking into a meeting.  Is your head held high?  Do you smile? Do you look people in the eyes when you speak to them?  The very first instance someone sees you is your first opportunity to make the impression you desire.  This first impression will set the tone for the discussion. Walk in confident and friendly.  Your audience will take note that you are there to do business and are invested in communicating with them.  They will feel welcomed and at ease.

Verbal communication skills truly are an art form.  Being able to craft sounds and thoughts into words and paragraphs comes easy to some. For others, this is a craft that seems daunting and elusive.  Being an extrovert helps me excel in my communication skills.  I am largely unafraid to speak with new people.  I thrive in meeting new people and sharing ideas.  However, for those who are more introverted, verbal communication is very uncomfortable and often crippling.  If you are one who has trouble with verbal communication, consider honing your written communication skills while you work on gaining comfortable levels with your verbal communication skills.

Written communication can emphasize your point, make an idea memorable, or totally destroy a project.  Of course we want to give our projects as much growth potential as possible, so being able to formulate a well written idea is just as important as verbal communication.  Written communication is tricky because the reader is not afforded the opportunity to see the facial expressions of the writer.  So often times, jokes come off as harsh criticisms.  The tone of a person’s writing is just as important as the words the writer uses to convey a message.

Painting

Bring Forth Your Inner Picasso

Think of creating a painting.  Before creating your masterpiece, you must start with a properly prepared canvas.  Stretching muslin onto a wooden frame is the first step to creating a painting.  The second step is to temper the muslin with a wash of water-thinned paint.  This will allow the muslin to harden and provide a strong base for the paint to stick.  The next step is to allow your creativity to flow through colors, shapes and movement.  Before you know it, you have created a lovely piece of artwork that is truly showing of who you are.

Being Picasso

That confused look on your face is one that I see often.  It is okay, I speak in odd metaphors at times.  I paint life with an interesting brush.  Let’s explore how you can become Picasso of the Morning Stand-up and get your ideas heard!

  • First, start with the way you enter the room for the meeting.   This is your non-verbal communication that sets the stage for the meeting or conference.  Head up, smile, look people in the eyes.  Assert your position in the room and welcome others into your space. (Stretch your muslin onto the frame and temper the canvas.)
  • Second, allow your ideas to flow through well-crafted words and examples.  Show data to back up your claims.  Explain what reports mean, show the ups and downs.  Give your audience the desired information in the most direct and informative way. (Paint that beautiful masterpiece!)
  • Third, a nice written follow up will concrete your ideas and give your audience a physical takeaway.  Concentrate on the content and intent of your proposal.  Pay attention to your tone and remember that there may be someone reading the report who was not in the meeting to see experience your passion.  (Hang that masterpiece in a gallery!)

Communication is just one of the many soft skills that can help propel your career.  I have a session called Become the Most Valuable Player: Soft Skills for the Hard Market.  This year I have been focused on presenting this session at various SQL Saturdays around the country.

The Words We Say

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The sharing of insights and ideas has always been very important to me.  I firmly believe that when people come together to share ideas greatness is born.  When you light a small fire, it can grow exponentially, given the right circumstances and atmosphere.  This, my friends, is why I have made it my mission to embark on public speaking and blogging.

My first SQL Saturday presentation was in Nashville, January 2018.  So as of this writing, I am only a few months into my speaking career.  However, I have been supporting and encouraging people to share their ideas and present sessions for years.

Are you listening?

The thing about the words way say is, we don’t really know the reach they have until some time later.  I have been singing the same words all of my life: “You can do this!” “Everyone has a story to share!”  “Your experiences are worth sharing” and so on and so forth.  Not really sure if my audience was listening, but truly hoping they were gaining comfort in the fact that I whole-heartedly believe in each and every one of them.

Recently I found out who WAS listening, who was being inspired, who was reaping the benefit of my unwavering support.  I was floored, and proud.

Unexpected outcomes.

On the drive back from SQL Saturday Dallas, May 2018, our 8 year old son suddenly piped up from the backseat and remarked “I think I want to become a speaker and speak at a SQL Saturday like you and Daddy.”  My mouth fell open and my heart soared.  He had been listening, and he had been inspired by my words, and our actions.

The next several minutes he described what topic he would like to discuss, gave an insightful play by play of exactly how he would discuss the issue, and discussed the benefits of doing such a presentation for adults.  My husband and I were sold.  I told him I would help him set up his speaker profile, we could write the abstract together, and my husband and I would help him build his presentation if it were chosen.  As soon as we returned home, I kept my promise and we submitted his session.  The next day we were notified that he was chosen to speak at SQL Saturday Houston 2018!

He broke out his laptop and I introduced him to PowerPoint, which he mastered at alarming speed.  He was off and running.  A few hours later he gave us a preview, and it was amazing to see that our second grader had built a presentation that rivals those of  some of our peers!

The takeaway.

This brings me to my point.  The words you say are powerful.  Choose your words wisely, you never know who’s life you are impacting.  Many times we only pay attention to the targeted audience, all the while forgetting that other ears are hearing.  Often small ears, attached to big dreams, are listening and taking note, being shaped by all you say and do.

My 8 year old son, Robert (many know him as “Reggie”) will be presenting The Benefits of Gaming on Saturday, June 23, 2018.  I am beyond proud; I am touched, I am honored, I am filled with the kind of feelings I had when I met him for the first time.

Never underestimate the power of your words.  Never underestimate the mind of a child.

REg 2018250

 

Speaking at SQLSat Dallas 2018

Here I am, the Monday morning after my second SQL Saturday speaking engagement.  I like to sit with a cup of coffee early in the morning and unpack all my thoughts and experiences from the weekend.  As I go over the events and feelings of the weekend, the thing that sticks out the most is just how much I enjoy these events!

Mindy Curnutt (t/b), Amy Herold (t/b), and all the SQLSatDallas organizers and volunteers did an amazing job!  The event venue was held at UT Dallas and it was a wonderful venue.

The nerves kicked in!

This was my second SQL Saturday at which to speak, and boy oh boy was it a big one!  There were over a thousand people registered to attend!  WOW OH WOW!  As I walked through the sea of attendees, I saw nervous faces, excited faces, scared faces, and happy faces.  There was an electricity in the air, people were there ready to learn and share.  I love that feeling!

I must admit, I was terrified.  I spent most of my time in the speaker room trying to calm my nerves and going over my presentation slides over and over (and fighting the ridiculous urge to change things at the last minute!).  At one point I said to Lance Tidwell (t/b) “I have got to calm my nerves, I need to go walk around and see people!”  At that moment, it was cemented that I TRULY am an extrovert.  Who in their right mind calms themselves by being around a lot of people?  Well…me.

How did I calm my nerves?

People calm the jitters in many ways.  I tried talking to other speakers.  I drank water.  I listened to P!nk (my favorite artist).  I even walked outside and sang several songs.  The time was drawing near, so I went with my best stand-by… dancing to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”  I put my earbuds in and danced through it twice….in the speaker room….in my seat.  True story, Tim Mitchell (t/b) took video. aaaaahhhh #SQLFamily!

It was time.

The time was upon us…..and here we go.  My fingers were tingly, my mind and heart were racing….and I was walking into a huge room that would soon be filled with people…looking at me, waiting for me to impart some wisdom.  (I might think too much)  I went in and set up and people started filing in.  Funny, the jitters started calming and I started really enjoying the moment.

Actually speaking in front of people.

I had an absolute blast.  My audience was full of people ready to listen and discuss. My session is very interactive, so that terrifies some people but also seems to bring them in by the end.  I try to be entertaining and enlightening.  My biggest thrill is to make people laugh.  As a very animated person, I never stand still.  About half way through my session I hit my step goal for the day.  It was so exciting, I just had to share!  Everyone laughed and some even applauded.  Inviting the audience in to my bubble is a way I hope to make them feel that they are truly important to me.  After all, strangers are just friends you have you yet to meet!

My take away.

Speaking at SQL Saturdays has given me a chance to share my thoughts and ideas with others.  If I can help even one person see things in a different way, or if they can gain some insight into their lives, I have given back and helped someone.  There have been many people in my past who have inspired me.  My hope is that I can inspire others to find a passion, find an answer, or find a way to give back and pay forward.

Thank you so much for reading!