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

 

 

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

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

 

On losing my Dad

Dad, I don’t have the words to express how I really feel, which is funny since your biggest gift to me was your magic way with words.

The past year has been tough, watching you struggle with things. Having said that, I would do it all over a million times if it meant that I could find a way to ease your troubles. I have always tried to be the strong one, the one who finds the solution for you.

I am so sorry I could not find the solution this time. I tried, I tried so hard.

You taught me to fish, to hunt, to be responsible, to be strong, to never give up, to be loving, to be kind, and to be funny. Thank you for the many things you taught me that I don’t even fully realize yet. I hope over the years I have given you reasons to be proud of me, and I will continue to try to make you proud until we meet again.

Texas Stars Game 2015

I love you Dad. My favorite memory still is wen I was young and we were laying on the sand bags at the drilling rig site as the cool rain softly fell, cooling us after the oh-so-hot summer day at work. Thank you for the knowledge that will always see me though. Thank you for the laughter. Thank you for loving me.

Finding my voice

For years I have been so very proud of my husband (T/B) Lance Tidwell, for getting past his fear of public speaking, for putting himself out there, for going all over the US and in Canada giving presentations regarding Microsoft SQL Server issues at SQLSaturdays, User Groups, and even PASS Summit.  I have secretly been somewhat envious of him.  I love to travel, meet new friends, have adventures, and share my thoughts and experiences.   I could do this too, right?  RIGHT?

Let’s back way up.

Many years ago I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts.  I studied theater and was on stage quite a bit!  I acted, sang, directed, designed and built sets and wardrobes, etc.  I was very outgoing and felt that I was living larger than life. After graduating, my life hit a pretty large speed-bump and it threw me for a big loop.   I fought to regain myself; however, somewhere along the way in climbing back up, I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted in life.

Instead of chasing my dreams and doing what I enjoyed most, I settled for a stable career in the legal field; where I grew and changed, and helped others live out their dreams.  I was quite good at what I did, make no mistake.  I give 100% of myself to every task!  But it was never really “my thing” and I longed for something more exciting.

Mid-life crisis at MY AGE?

Call it a mid-life crisis, call it divine intervention, call it pure boredom….but I suddenly decided I needed a change in my life.  I wanted to dream big, I wanted to learn and grow in a field where constant change and growth is…well….constant.  Being fairly adept in the technical realm, my husband urged me to take some classes to learn Data Sciences.  I found some great classes at EDX and set on my way.  I loved those classes!

I began attending SQLSaturdays with him and met the most wonderful, supportive, intelligent, fun, and brilliant people!  They welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to grow and learn with them.  I was becoming part of the wonderful #SQLFamily! I even received my first SQL job offer at Procure SQL with a great mentor and friend, Microsoft MVP, John Sterrett (T/B).  Fast forward a year or so and I submitted to give a session at my first SQLSaturday! I was accepted as a speaker for SQLSaturdayNashville!  OH MY!

Koalified

I am koala-fied to do this!

Oh my, how exciting!  Oh my, how wonderful!  OH MY, what have I done?

That’s right…I did it. I made a speaker profile, I attached a cute photo, I wrote an abstract and then I hit the all-mighty SUBMIT button.  There was no turning back!  And then bam, “Congratulations, you have been accepted to speak at..” the words made my heart race, my head swim, my inner theater kid jumped for joy!  I did it! I was accepted!

I was accepted….oh my. OH MY!  I need to write a session!  Where do I start?  What do I do?  What have I done?  What would they think of me?  Would my session be any good? Would anyone even show up?  The thoughts, fear, and doubt swirled like snow in the wind.  I just had to stop and take a breath, get my thoughts in order, and put that theater kid to work!

The steps I took to build the session and my confidence, the experience giving the session, and the outcome will all be provided in the next blog.  Stay tuned!  20180116_181710