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.

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!


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.

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.


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


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!