SQL Saturday Lessons

Here I am at my keyboard on a Monday morning after #SQLSatDallas 2019, drinking my coffee and contemplating the sessions I attended and great info I received this past weekend.  There were so many presentations I wanted to attend!  I always have the best intentions to attend a session each hour.  It never works out that way.  Why?  Because I often get caught up answering questions, sharing stories, talking to sponsors, and helping others.  Mind you, I am not complaining at all, I absolutely LOVE helping others, sharing stories, and meeting new people!

Learning Path

One lady in particular, (I wish I had gotten her name!) asked me for help finding sessions that would suit her best in the quest to learn SQL.  She and I stood a while and sifted through each beginner session, I tried my best to steer her toward the presentations I thought might give her more guidance in the areas she was seeking.  It was so awesome to be able to help create a learning path for her.

New Ideas

As an organizer for the upcoming SQL Saturday Austin, this has given me some ideas to try to formulate.  More on that after it happens.  If I devise a plan that works, I will share it in a blog post for you!

I Challenge you

As a speaker, I am putting a challenge out there to other speakers: offer to help attendees customize their schedule.  For so many, this is their first SQL Saturday experience and we want them to leave with as much pertinent knowledge as possible!  We also want them to go back to work telling their coworkers and friends how much they learned as well as  how awesome of a community they are now part of!

More Than Tech

In one of these chance meetings, I ran into Mohammad Darab and Brent Ozar chatting by the water coolers.  Not wanting to interrupt, I gave a quick wave to both of them and was instantly invited into the conversation.  The three of us chatted about this and that, SQL and personal stuff.  We took the opportunity to connect and share.  Thank you Brent and Mohammad for the wonderful conversation, insights, and laughs.

 

A bit later I joined Brent, Kenneth Fisher, Hasan Savran, and Leslie Andrews for lunch.  We sat and chatted about SQL, careers, families, personal stuff, theology (bet that surprised you!), shared photos and ideas.  We talked blogging, presentations, and just general interesting topics.  Brent and Kenneth both gave us all some great books and blogs to check out.  I even got to share how cool my camera phone is, check out the pics!

 

While we were sitting at the table, several people came up to say hello and asked Brent  for a photo.  I get it, he *kinda* looks like Tony Stark.  It was cool to see that no matter what we were talking about, attendees still felt comfortable coming up to the table.  There was no air of superiority coming from the table, no elitist vibe, just a group of friends chatting and leaving space always for one more to join.

lunch
Thanks Alicia Moniz for the photo!

This is the coolest thing about our community, the inclusiveness of it!

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot at SQL Saturday Dallas about branding, containers, Kubernetes (K8), Python, and Docker.  The most important lesson I learned this past weekend was something very personal just to me.  I found my place.  I found what I bring to the industry.  This is something I have been searching for a while now.

Special Offerings

We all have something very special to offer.  For some, like Buck Woody, it is his superior knowledge, quick wit, and verbal prowess.  For Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman, it is her amazingly vast knowledge of all things tech, personal strength, and interesting life stories.  For Chris Hyde, it is his ability to pick up coding languages and easily make them not so scary for others to learn.  What is your very special thing to offer?

The Human Side of Technology

For me, I learned that my special offering is my love for the human side of technology.  I know how to code in Python, build a Power BI dashboard, how to query a database, and how to create a solid machine learning model.  However, my strongest and most unique quality is the ability to easily connect and create meaningful relationships with people who are sometimes too shy to reach out.  Inclusiveness and celebrating our differences has always been important to me.  This is where I need to focus in this industry.  Tech is great, humankind is glorious!

Thank You for Saying Hello

A few people came up to say hello and to tell me that they follow me on twitter, read my blogs, and/or remember my session from last year.  Thank you so much for stopping to say hello!  It means the world to me that someone will take a moment out of their day to speak with me, so please keep doing that!  Thank you in particular to Sarah Brewster and Toni Haag for the awesome conversation.  You two ladies are awesome and I cannot wait to see where you go from here!

Toni Sarah Angela

“Forge your own path and set it on fire- so bright that people don’t just come to see the flames, but want to follow in your footsteps before the coals cool down.” – Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman

 

 

Official PASS Summit Blogger

Have you ever just looked around where you are and thought “How the heck did I get HERE?” If I am being honest, it has happened a fair number of times for me. Normally when this happens, I stand in amazement for a few minutes and just let myself soak it in.

One such moment happened at PASS Summit 2018.  It was my pleasure to have been invited to live-blog from the PASS Summit Blogger’s Table for the 2018 Summit Keynotes. Surrounded by some of the most amazing people in the community, I nervously sat out to share my experiences in real time. For reference, those blogs are listed here:

What is PASS Summit?

PASS Summit Day 2: Wake Up Seattle!

Empower Gender Diversity in Technology

This year PASS has decided to try something new and is introducing the Official PASS Summit Blogger Program. I am honored to be chosen as an Official Blogger for PASS Summit!

PASS_19_BloggerIcon

What is an Official PASS Summit Blogger?

The Official PASS Summit Blogger program is made up of some of the community’s most influential and knowledgeable experts across architecture, data management, and analytics.

This year’s team of bloggers will share the latest event announcements, along with their past experiences and tips and tricks in the lead up to PASS Summit 2019.

What does that mean?

There’s a lot of fancy words there.  So what does this mean for YOU?  Official Bloggers not only get the opportunity to live-blog the keynote events, but we also get exclusive access with the PASS Executive Committee, industry leaders, exhibitors, and sponsors.

Through this program, I will be on the inside and will be sharing:

  • stories and highlights from PASS Summit 2018;
  • tips and tricks about making Summit a great experience,
  • info about PASS Summit events and announcements;
  • and live-blogging events and sessions at PASS Summit 2019!

This is such an exciting opportunity and I am looking forward to sharing everything with you! I can tell you now, there will be a lot of exciting information in the months to come. And as always, along the way I will do my best to entertain and enlighten.  

Other Official PASS Summit Bloggers

The coolest thing about bloggers is that each one of them has a unique understanding to share. I highly suggest you follow me and my fellow Official Pass Summit Bloggers listed below.

Please always feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments.  I believe we learn and grow as one.  We are always stronger together!

Atlanta on My Mind

A few years ago I accompanied my husband to Atlanta for SQL Saturday. He was speaking and had told me what a wonderful event it was. Not ever wanting to pass up a chance to learn, network with community, and be of assistance to my great friends there, I jumped at the chance to go! I was not speaking yet, so I was purely an attendee.

I dreamed of the day when I would be able to present. I have always admired those who were brave enough to stand in front of strangers and share knowledge and experience. I was never sure I had the courage, or the experiences to share. What I have come to realize is that EVERYONE has a story to share!

Go Big or Go Home

To say that SQL Saturday Atlanta is a big event is a total understatement. There are always tons of people there! Not only that, the planning team is a large group who work seamlessly and tirelessly to pull of an awesome event! The event this year is held on May 18, 2019 at Gwinnett Technical College, Alpharetta, Georgia.

Returning with Data

I am so thrilled to announce that this year I have been chosen to present Data Collection and Usage: Illegal or Unethical? at #SQLSatAtlanta!

Data ethics is something near and dear to my heart. In this session we discuss how data collection and usage is all around us and explore how it is used. Is what we do with the data ethical? Are we collecting and processing biased data? We will take a look at ethical data collection and usage, what it means to your models and forecasts, and how being aware of possible biases can impact your bottom line. You might be training on extremely biased data and not know it, skewing your forecasts in the wrong direction.

I hope you will join me. My goal is to make learning fun and interactive. Fortunately, I am one of the first sessions, so grab some coffee and a snack and join me in Room 226!

More Than Learning

If you have never been to a SQL Saturday, one of the most important things to remember is that it is more than just about learning new skills. SQL Saturdays are a fantastic place to meet new friends, vendors who can make your job easier, and quite possibly meet your new employee or coworker! If you are in search of a new job, networking with vendors and others in the community will boost your reach.

Take a moment to speak with fellow attendees and speakers. We often get so caught up in learning new technical skills that we forget to make time to connect with people. Don’t be shy! We are all in this together, we all want to connect and share. Don’t miss out! Register for SQL Saturday Atlanta today, or a SQL Saturday near you!

Thank you to Idera for sponsoring me as an Idera Ace!

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