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Today I am super happy to announce the launch of my podcast and I start with episode 00. In this episode I take some time to go through my journey in becoming a data professional and how I think the podcast will be of value to you. We talk about why I am making the podcast and what kind of person will find it useful. I also discuss how you I want to be your compañero on your journey as a data professional.
Transcript: Why the Podcast
Carlos Chacon: Welcome to the SQL Data Partners Podcast. This is episode zero and, in this episode, we’re going to talk about what this podcast will cover and why we’re putting it together.
My name is Carlos Chacon and I’ll be the host of the podcast. As the name implies, we’re going to be talking about SQL. The end goal is to talk about many different facets of SQL.
I’d like to try to cover all the different areas that a data professional might come in contact with. The reality, however, is that we’re going to be getting pretty cozy with Microsoft SQL Server, and that stack, at first.
That’s where I have come from. I hope you’ll stick around for this episode and for future episodes. We do have a special offer to announce at the end of this episode regarding SQL Cruise, if you’ve never heard of that. As always, this podcast is produced by…
Children: SQL Data Partners[music]
Carlos: Hello there. My name is Carlos Chacon, and I’m the owner of SQL Data Partners LLC. I do appreciate you turning it in. I hope you that you were able to find some enjoyable content and value from this podcast.This is episode zero, and I wanted to share a little bit about myself, and discuss what the podcast will entail, and why I decided to put it together.
Like many data professionals, I took a somewhat unusual path to become a database administrator. I actually wanted to work on networks, configure routers and switches, came out of the Cisco mold. My internships in college were geared towards that.
I had a really great college professor who focused most of the teaching in that networking space. I really enjoyed learning from him. That was the route that I was taking. I was even studying for the Cisco CCNA exam.
I graduated from college right at the end of the dot com bust. Entry levels in IT were extremely scarce at that time. Of course you could find a job, with a minimum of five years of experience, but for entry level, forget about it. It was crazy. I was a bit frustrated.
To make matters worse, I graduated from Utah Valley State College, and my wife is from the West Coast, and I am from the East Coast. Knowing which way to go was a little bit tricky.
We agreed to go where the job was, but folks were scared to talk to us because, just a year before, there were big moving bonuses. All kinds of money being thrown around for on boarding new people. Of course, all that money had dried out.
I graduated in August. Anyway, I was on the six year plan. It took me a little longer to get through college, I think, than most folks. In October, my parents convinced us to come and live with them. We packed up, and moved to Richmond, Virginia, which is where actually I graduated high school.
In November, I reached out to a former manager of an internship I had had, and asked him if I could work for free. I was ready to just go and do something. I thought I could use that experience. The planets aligned for me there and he actually offered me an hourly job with a small consulting firm doing their internal network.
It’s on internal processes. Things like VPN, email, backups, active directory, setting up test servers for the consultants, et cetera. There was a small group of about 15 people. That hourly job turned into a full-time job. However, I really wasn’t doing databases just yet.
I have installed SQL a few times. I’ve done some things with Access. I had actually taken two database courses in college and disliked both of them, and told myself that I would never be a DBA. I really didn’t have any responsibilities as a DBA at that time.
That all changed when one of the consultants at the firm, and I had made friends with him, he left to go to work for the State of Virginia. He calls me about two months after he starts working there and he tells me there is this SQL Server DBA position open, and he suggests that I apply for it.
Now, I thought he was completely crazy. I didn’t know anything about being a DBA. I told him my experience about it in college and I said, “I don’t think I’m cut out for that.” I thought it would be a little bit over my head. Then, he told me what the pay was [laughs] , and I was suddenly very interested.
While the consulting company had been very good to me, I was a little closer to earning intern pay. After working there for three years, I actually still wasn’t quite at the rate that I thought I would be when I graduated from college.
I felt like I was a little behind the curve from a salary perspective. However, that experience there was invaluable to me and I’m not sure I would trade that experience for a bigger pay check. I don’t know if he had listened to the show, but a shout out to José Castaños, who is currently the president of NewBox Corporation, for three years of great mentoring.
He was invaluable to me and that experience of being able to touch many different facets of the environment actually ended up paying big dividends for me, in the technology perspective, because I have some experience in all those different areas and I can at least know that the lingo, some of the common words that are there and how some of those processes work.
Sure, the technology changes over time, but at least from a base perspective I understand a lot of those concepts.
Anyway, my friend gives me a few sites to check out before the interview. It just so happens that he was on the interview panel and many of the questions from the site that he gave me, were brought up during the interview. Needless to say, the interview went really, really well and they offered me the job.
I wasn’t quite ready for all the roles and responsibilities of being a DBA. However, I now had the DBA title. I had a couple of instances in SQL server that I was then responsible for. This was actually another unique opportunity for me, in that a lot of the database work was actually Oracle and the SQL Server stuff was actually a very, very small part.
They’d had an Oracle DBA who did not want to get involved with the SQL Server stuff. He had been a DBA for 25 years, where he had tons of experience, and really wasn’t interested in learning the new technology. He wanted to stick in Oracle.
So again, he probably won’t be listening to my show. However, if you’re listening, Chuck, thanks for being a great mentor.
I was able to go to him with a lot of my questions and not so much ask him about SQL Server related things, but I could ask him, even from very basic things like, “What’s your backup strategies and how do you go about doing those? Making security or making objects available for users?” Things like that.
I could go and talk with him about that in the Oracle sense, learn a little bit about Oracle at the same time, and then take that and figure out how to reverse engineer that, if you will, into SQL Server.
This actually worked out really, really well for me. I was actually able to learn two database technologies all at once, Oracle and a SQL Server. That proved again to be very helpful in getting over some of the initial hurdles.
However, of course I had to take my own lumps. There were things I did wrong, getting up to speed as new requests that were coming in.
At that time, 2005 was out. There were new techniques, technologies that were available there and that weren’t always necessarily in Oracle. I actually cut my teeth a lot on working with SharePoint, which was an interesting adventure for me. As they say, “The rest is history.” I’ve now had the title of DBA for over 10 years and so much has changed for me between now and then.
This brings me to the question of why I want to put this podcast together. Ultimately, I wanted to provide a way to share some thoughts about being a data professional and some of the challenges that we face. I have been there on the late night roll out, and fighting some seemingly random error when the Internets weren’t helping me out.
I have been yelled at by managers for slow databases and lectured by project managers for missing deadlines. I have been the guy to get the call at 2:00 AM and had to dial in to get the system back up. I have had these experiences.
I know some of the things that we’re all going through and I’m hoping that, by listening to others, or bringing some others in to share some of their experiences, that that will be helpful to you.
I think that, as I continue to grow and learn, some of the best techniques that I learned were listening to others about their shared experiences. I hope that this podcast medium will be a source for everyone to get some ideas in a way you can consume without taking away from your work, especially for those of you who don’t have very large environments or very large training budgets.
The sad reality is that there are lots of folks out there who have responsibilities for data, in the data professional world, but for whatever reason the managers aren’t giving them the tools and the training they need.
The goal is to keep our episodes about 30 minutes in length. Although that is going to be tough for a couple of these, I’ve found. So, what I’m thinking, if I know something a little bit about you, is that you probably have around three to five years of experience with data responsibilities.
Maybe you have a little bit more, and maybe you’re moving into a new role, some different areas, maybe some from reporting into some data integrity, maybe some performance things and you’d like to try to increase your circle of knowledge.
You probably have a commute and the most important thing is that you want to improve. This is key. If you just want to go in and do the nine to five, that’s cool, but this podcast will be of very little use to you.
If you want to improve, this tells me you’re ahead of the curve and that you know with a little elbow grease and a few hours of study, on your own time or at least listening to the way other people do things, you will see some success come your way.
It might not be a promotion you’re after, although in some of the sessions we will talk about professional development, from time to time. However, you want to move the needle where you work and you want to make a difference. You want to add value. You want to continue to learn.
If this is the case, this podcast is for you. I want to be your companion on your journey as a data professional. My father is from Costa Rica in Central America and while I was born in the States, I did learn Spanish, although that’s another long story.
The word for companion in Spanish is compañero. I really like that word. I am going to use that to describe you, my listeners, my compañeros. I want to bring up content that’s of value and to be your compañero in your data professional careers.
So compañeros, from time to time we will talk about some advanced features, but the idea of the podcast is that you can listen on your way to work, when you’re at the gym, you’re walking the dog, you’re doing the laundry and just get your mind churning about how you can improve your environment or maybe even make life a little bit easier for yourself.
Potentially you’re doing something already and an idea or a comment or suggestion that we make or some things that we talk about are going to give you an idea or a way to do that little bit better, to be a little more efficient.
I think about myself, at that time of my career. I know that if I had known about something like this, I think it would have been very helpful to me and I am hoping that it’s helpful to you.
Ultimately, I want to create value for you,compañeros, perhaps we present something in a way that’s different than what you’re doing, or we discuss a high level something that you’re considering and provide some extra details for you to check out later.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to rub shoulders with some very, very smart folks. Most have agreed to come on the show. I think about 75% of my guests are MVPs in their areas. Many have written books. All of them have spent considerable time on the episode topic.
I currently spend a bit of time working with PASS, which you can learn more about at SQLPASS.org and work with folks from all over the world. One of my first guests was Javier Villegas from Argentina and I hope to continue to have some international guests on the show.
I almost forgot about Ayman El-Ghazali, who is originally from Egypt, and who’s now living in Maryland. It’s a very small world.
I know that, in my experience of putting together these podcasts, I’ve been able to continue to learn and grow and while I do considerable prep work before interviews, occasionally a guest will just blow me away with something that they say and I think that’s very valuable to you as well.
I want to continue to learn and I have been pleased with the experiences I have had putting together this podcast. Not all the sessions will feature a guest. This episode is an example, but I’m of the thinking that the more the merrier. If I know someone who has been doing quite a bit of work in a certain area, I am more likely to invite them so we can talk it over.
While we may not have guests on all the shows, I will be doing some individual episodes. Some of the things that I’ve been thinking about, some of the things I’ve seen, and hopefully to be able to share with you to increase your productivity at work.
I’m also looking to help create some value for you in the tools available for the vendors. Many of the vendors are still in the sidelines after a couple of months of chatting with them about being on the podcast and what I’m doing and putting together.
This medium isn’t necessarily quite proven, so part of this is going to be a learning experience for me and I’m hoping to bring in some of them as well. I haven’t been able to strike any deals with the vendors to be able to offer you value in the forms of discounts or things like that.
However, I do ask my guests about what tools they use and how they’re trying to make their lives easier. Full disclosure here, SQL Data Partners is an ApexSQL partner and I think their tools are really great.
However, you won’t hear me pushing product unless it references the topic or if one of my guests mentions that they use it. If we can get some of the vendors to agree to provide some addition value to you, or for their free tools or products out there that are referenced in the episode that we have, of course we’re going to pass that right along to you.
It’s not my intention to pummel you with product descriptions or try to get you to buy a bunch of things. We’re also going to be giving away some stuff. We’re going to be giving away some of the books that my guests have and any other items that I can get my hands on. You keep your ears peeled for those opportunities.
I think that’s going to be another area that’s going to be pretty cool.
Last item, I want your feedback on the show and I want to know what you want to hear. Is there something you want to hear about? Maybe a project you’re working on or one that is coming down the pike?
Do we need to approach a topic in a different light? I want to know about it. You can reach me at [email protected] or via Twitter @carloslchacon. SQL Data Partners is also on Twitter and Facebook and you can hit us up there and we hope eventually that you’ll ‘Like’ us.
Of course if you like the show, I’ll ask you to subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher and leave comments. If you have good things to say, maybe even leave us a rating. If it’s bad, maybe just an email will suffice for now [laughs] .
Be nice, I’m just getting my feet wet, so don’t be too hard on me just now. For each show we’ll have show notes where you can use to circle back, with additional information on the site and those show notes will be available at SQLdatapartners.com/podcast.
We’ll always have the most recent available podcasts there, or I will try to give you the URL to the actual podcast if it’s one that’s happened in the past or some time has passed before you catch it. That will be available at SQLdatapartners.com/ the episode number.
The plan is to make new episodes available each Wednesday. There’s actually a couple of other podcasters that are doing something on Mondays and on Fridays, so I’m going to take the Wednesday void.
We hope that we talk with you each Wednesday. We’ll be doing one a week. If we can get a little bit more excitement and guests continue to come in, we may increase that, but for now we’re going to stick with each Wednesday.
Wrapping up, I almost forgot about our special offer and here we mentioned it at the top of the program. First I need to get some music playing. Let’s see here.
Chacon: My good friends Tim and Amy Ford have put together a wonderful training opportunity called SQL Cruise. As the name implies, this training takes place on a cruise ship and it is simply amazing.I’m not going to into all the details now. However, I will let you know that I have actually been on SQL Cruise twice and I’m super excited to let you know that Tim has offered us a $100 discounts for future cruisers for listeners of this podcast.
Future episodes will go into detail about how to get that information. However, if you want to go on and check out SQLcruise.com now, figure out what he’s doing, where he’s going next year, and then come back for future episodes, we’ll fix you up with how to get that $100 off.
You can also check out SQLdatapartners.com/SQLcruise for more information about my experience on SQL Cruise and why I think you will have the time of your life and get great training with Tim and everyone on SQL Cruise.
I think that about wraps it up for me. I’m often out at different events and I hope that we can meet up sometime. You can check out SQLdatapartners.com/events for the list of places that I’ll be going to.
Switching gear shift a little bit, I’m going to be a little upset if I didn’t answer some of my own questions that I asked my guests that are on the show. We have this format. I’m at season one.
We’ll start with three questions to get a little more value added from the show and also to understand a little bit more about who the guest is.
One of the things I often ask about my guests is, “What’s their favorite SQL tool and why do they like it?” This can be a free tool. It can be a paid tool, but something that they use on a regular basis and they just can’t live without.
My free tool that I would like to give a shout out to is the ApexSQL Refactor. This will give you the ability to…once you put in your code and it doesn’t necessarily look all that great, you can actually reformat that code so that it will look much, much better.
I’ve found that to be super nice, as your sharing code or as you’re looking at it, maybe you inherit a store procedure that somebody else wrote. You can go in there, use the refactor process. Now it looks nice, clean, much more easier to read and to troubleshoot. That is available, free, from apexsql.com. Again, it’s called ApexSQL Refactor.
Another question I ask them is, “What’s a story or event, or something that’s happened in your life, that helps describe why it is that you enjoy being a data professional?” I think the story that I’d like to tell is actually about my local user group meeting. Again, I’m from Richmond, Virginia. We have a user group there that’s organized for the PASS organization that I mentioned earlier.
One of the first times I went to that meeting, the presenter, Jeff Johnson, was talking about CTEs, Common Table Expressions. The presentation was very great. I learned about CTEs which I didn’t know too much about before.
The great thing about that meeting was that, afterwards I went up to him, he gave his contact information, we shook hands, we chatted for a minute, but I followed up with him.
I followed up with him. We started corresponding. Come to find out, Jeff is actually a pretty big reporting services guy. Lo and behold, a little while later, I had some reporting services things that I was doing. I needed some help. I reached out to Jeff. There was a very specific question. It wasn’t, “Hey, help, do this for me.” It was a very specific question.
He responded and gave me some things to think about, some things to try, which worked and, of course, made my life much, much easier. Those associations, and I have made other friends from the user group and from the other events that I go to, those are the types of things that I really enjoy about being a data professional, is that the willingness of the community to be able to share, to help others along their way.
I hope in the course of this podcast it does a little bit of that as well.
The last question that I always ask is, “If you could have one superhero power, what would it be and why would you want it?” There are lots of different superhero powers out there and I was actually interested, and you’ll hear in the episodes that we put on, a lot of people have some of the same desires from the superhero power. Mine personally, I think, is the ability to fly. I love to travel. I love to go different places.
That ability to fly would be super awesome, to be able to get to different places. As a matter of fact, as I’m recording this right now, I’m actually in Costa Rica. I’ve been here with my family for a month.
We’re going to be here for another month. We’d like to go to some other different places. Travelling is kind of pricey. That ability to fly would be what I would choose. Of course, we’d love to hear from you. What’s your favorite superhero power?
As I think about this, we’re going to go and put up a poll, or something, on the site. Of course, you can hit us up via Twitter. I would love to get engaged with you. Again, if there’s something you’d like to hear, please let us know.
Again, thanks. Thanks for tuning in. I hope to see you at some of the events that we’ll be doing. Once we come back from Costa Rica, we’re going to be hitting that road again pretty hard here. Who knows, maybe I’ll even see you on the SQL trail.