Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. In this episode of the SQL Data Partners podcast, we take on a topic that is not technical; however, might play a very important role in some of the opportunities we take–or miss out on. Today’s guest is Mindy Curnutt, a 3x MVP and a real chance taker as she recently decided to become independently employed.
In this episode we talk through the idea of imposter syndrome and give some examples of how it affects us, but we also try and tackle ways we can identify it and steps to help us overcome. I think you are going to find this episode very interesting and we hope you enjoy it.
“I mean SQL Server, I’m so passionate about it that it doesn’t feel like work to me.”
“Coding involves regular failure.”
“It’s ok to be wrong. You’re not expected to be perfect.”
“Don’t let that impostor syndrome stop you from taking advantage of opportunities.”
Listen to Learn
– Description of impostor syndrome
– Effects of impostor syndrome in one’s career
– Symptoms of impostor syndrome
– Impostor syndrome in IT professionals
– Tips to overcome impostor syndrome
About Mindy Curnutt
Mindy Curnutt is a 3-time Microsoft MVP holder (SQL Server 2014 & 2015 and Data Platform 2016) and has worked with relational databases since 1995 and SQL Server since version 6.5. She has been involved in the development of the following systems: transportation management & maintenance (TMS), JIT manufacturing (MRP), sales/accounting (ERP), customer relations management (CRM), medical billing & audit, and US Govt / IRS Taxation (forgive me). Mindy is the Lead Partner at Mindy Curnutt & Associates Consulting, which specializes in Microsoft Data Platform & SQL Server architectural guidance, performance tuning, training and Remote DBA Services.
Transcription: Imposter Syndrome
*Untranscribed introductory portion*
Carlos: Mindy, welcome to the program!
Mindy: Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s my pleasure.
Carlos: Yes. It’s good to have you and being from a nice state like Texas, you’re right in the center, so Steve and I have a little coast rivalry here and so you here we could play nicely.
Steve: Yeah. We can’t claim that Mindy is an East Coaster or a West Coaster on this one.
Carlos: Yeah, that’s right. So thanks for coming on. It’s great to have you and ultimately today we’re going to be talking about impostor syndrome, what it is and how this might affect us in terms of what we’re able to do in our careers, what we’re kind of willing to reach out and kind of take risks and then even get into how widespread this is or how many people this can affect. So I guess let’s go ahead just to get the conversation going, why don’t you give us a definition or some insight into what impostor syndrome is.
Mindy: Well, impost syndrome, and I’ve just learned about this only three years ago. Although it was actually coined, the term was coined way back the late 70s, so it’s been around for quite some time. I learned about at CodeMash outside of Cleveland. It was about three years ago there was a woman who did a presentation on impostor syndrome and it just hit me right between the eyes. It’s one of those things that’s so obvious when somebody explains it to you but you really never gave it any thought and then once you realized that it’s actually a thing, for me at least personally, it was a game changer as far as my confidence level because it undermines your confidence. And it’s your own thoughts that are doing it which is what’s so bizarre. So impostor syndrome is it’s actually only seen in high achieving individuals which is very interesting. And it’s basically the inability to internalize or recognize your own accomplishments as the accomplishments that they truly are, and having this persistent fear that you’re going to be exposed as a fraud or that you don’t really deserve the position or the respect that people are giving you. You know, that you’re being asked to be a speaker, you’re being asked to write a book, you’re being asked to participate as a manager in some process at work and you feel like, “Wow, this is great. I’m glad that they all think that I can do this. If they’ve really knew me they’d know that I’m not really capable of all these and I’m really not that special.” And to find out how many other people feel that way which in the tech field is the majority of the people feel that way secretly. It’s very interesting.
Carlos: Sure. In fact, you actually have a little bit of survey data around this.
Mindy: Yes, I did. Interestingly enough after, when I decided I was going to do this presentation I went out and did a survey. I sent a definition of impostor syndrome out to the MVP list, the Data Platform MVPs, and I said here is a definition of impostor syndrome. I have a survey, completely anonymous and would all of you please if you have time go to the survey and it is simply a YES or NO, have you felt this way anytime in the last 5 years. And what was it, 86%. I had 42 Data Platform MVPs respond and 86% of them admitted that they had felt that way in the last 5 years, so that’s recently. That’s not just sort of in the beginning of their career or whatever. And then when I went actually internally at my own company and asked 11 IT professionals that were managerial positions or higher, if they had felt the same way within the last five years. I got an 81% response. And the stuff that I’ve read on the Internet is that that’s actually that those are pretty real numbers that it’s very very common. And people just either they don’t recognize that everyone else feels that way. They didn’t know there was a word for it or like myself I just thought it was me.
Steve: You know that’s really interesting because I know the whole impostor syndrome is something that, I mean honestly, I’d never heard of it prior to Carlos scheduling this presentation or this podcast recording. And I went and did a little bit of research on it and look at your slides from SQL Saturday and all that. I thought, wow. I can’t believe I have never heard of this and it’s something that I know I’ve seen and probably experienced at some level here and there.
Carlos: Sure, and I think in some forms it’s easier to feel maybe then than in others, right? And that’s not say that it couldn’t affect a single individual in all different kinds of places. I think obviously the more you feel comfortable in a situation and things like that. It might not be as bad but I think anytime you get into the place where you start comparing yourself to others and what you’ve don’t to the outcome of others. I think it’s very easy to kind of fall into this trap. Or telling yourself that, “Hey, you know, it’s not worth it. Just throw it in the can now.” You know, they are never going to take you seriously.
Mindy: Yeah, well and it’s interesting so statistically the most commonly found in technical fields so not only would it be in IT but it’s very common in the league of profession. It’s very common for physicians and especially specialists to have this, “I don’t really deserve to be a brain surgeon type of thing.” You know, “I’m not really, I know all these people think I can do all these great stuff.” But I think that it’s really exacerbated in IT because of the pace. You don’t just learn something. You have to keep just, it’s a constant constant swim against the riptide to try to keep current and it seems like with. I don’t know if it’s just me getting older or if the pace is just going faster and faster and faster which is I’d maybe it’s both.
Carlos: Yeah, obviously, we’re seeing SQL Server release cycles now, one year, right?
Mindy: Right. Well, and now I’ve spent 20 years becoming just a super super deep and narrow with my specialty being SQL Server scalability and performance. And being able to get to the root cause of basically slowness and whether it is hardware related, maintenance related, architectural design of the database related, if it is the application and how the application is approaching it and that took years to develop. And now all of a sudden I got all these people popping up around me going, “Hey, Document DB is now Cosmos DB.” And I’m like, “What!” While I still know my stuff it makes me, you know, I feel shaky. I think that’s a very unique field to be in. They don’t think that that’s happening in the legal area. Is it, right? I mean, maybe with all the laws changing recently but.
Steve: But what’s interesting with that is, I mean, you talked about where you’re at and what you know how to do there. I mean that’s basically a 22-year education since you first started using SQL Server. And it’s the continued education and that’s more education perhaps than someone who has a law degree or someone who is a doctor may have had along the way. And to get there, I mean a lot of people don’t look at it that way but every year you are out there doing new stuff it’s more training, it’s more education. You’re always learning more.
Carlos: So let’s kind of bend this towards, most of our listeners, the companeros out there, they are working, they are in the workplace, how is this most likely affecting them?
Mindy: Well, one of the things that can be bad about it is that it basically prevents you from getting ahead in your career. You’re less inclined to basically apply for those advanced positions because you’re listening to these voices that say, “You’re not ready”, or “Maybe just a couple more years, or you shouldn’t raise your hand for that, you’re not as good as they think you are”, “I know they are suggesting you should apply for that Director role but really come on you’re not ready for it. You need more experience still because you could fall down and it could be a huge failure and it would be totally embarrassing.” These voices that don’t even, it’s like you want to turn around and like look inside your brain and go, “Shut up!” Right? You could be underpaid. You’re not going in asking for as high of a salary and then you find out that other people have gotten the salary you didn’t come in as aggressive enough because you didn’t feel like maybe you were worth that, right? And there is also the community suffers. You’re not the only one suffering but the community suffers because people don’t raise their hands. You know, right now the PASS Summit, today is I think the last day for the call for speakers. How many people didn’t even submit to the call for speakers because they didn’t just feel they were quite ready for it?
Carlos: Me, I’m raising my hand.
Mindy: It’s like how many SQL Saturdays does it take, right? How many times do you have to actually go out and when will you be ready like it’s next year is going to be the year? And realistically if you ask other people if they think you’re ready they are all going to probably raise their hands and go, “Yeah, you’re ready.” And you are the one who is like, “Yeah, maybe not.” Maybe you’re not blogging, you know, putting stuff down in writing. That’s frightening because it’s in writing for everybody to see and even if you go back and fix it later the way back machine is going to have it out there forever and ever that you said that. You might not be participating on forums because again, I mean, sometimes people can be kind of snarky on those.
Carlos: Yeah, that’s rough.
Mindy: There’s people that are asking questions on Twitter for Twitter help and you might not want to volunteer an answer because you don’t feel like you’re 100% sure and you don’t want somebody to point out that maybe you weren’t exactly right. But you still think that you could help the person but you don’t speak up, so then these people aren’t getting help. So it just doesn’t hurt you, it hurts the community as a whole. It hurts other people that you could be mentoring because we have good things to share and I think people would benefit. Nobody is perfect right? I mean coding involves constant failure. Expecting that you’re going to be perfect is unrealistic.
Steve: Ok, so now you have mentioned that there was some story about the Air Force Academy. Could you share that with us?
Mindy: Yeah, so this is early on. And this is my example of how this looking back with
hindsight. How this really impacted my life and impostor syndrome. When I was 18, so all through high school, junior high and high school, if you asked me, as a child, you know, you asked kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I wanted to be an astronaut. That was like the whole, the Space Shuttle was big back then and we had Sally Ride. You know, I remember the Space Shuttle, I remember I was in high school when it blew up, right? And that was a big deal. We all watched it in school. But I wanted to be an astronaut. And on the way to being an astronaut I want to fly jets and the only branch of the military in 1987 that let women fly jets was the Air Force. All the other branches you got to fly the transport planes. And I went out and I actually had my solo pilot license that I got through my boss that I worked for. He was very supportive and he had a plane, and I would go wax it all the time, wash it and wax it and get all the oil off the back of it and like buff it all out so we could take it up. And so I actually ended up getting a nomination to the Air Force Academy, and part of getting into the Air Force Academy once you get the nomination is you have to passed a health test and a physical fitness test, and a whole bunch, you know, they dilate your eyes, and they listen to your knees, and they do all these stuffs. And so I knew I had to pass this physical fitness test and there were four parts to it and one of the parts was pull ups which is different than chin ups. Chin ups is where your hands are facing you and that’s actually they’re easier. A pull up is where your hands are facing away from you and they would take a broom handle and put it 6 inches in back of your calf and another broom handle 6 inches in front of your calf. And when you were doing the pull up if you hit either one of those broom handles that pull up didn’t count, and I have to do 5 of them. And I knew this was going to be a problem. My math teacher was letting me out of school, out of class, like half of the class all the time and I would go with this boy and that we were working together in a gym and using that machinery pull the bar down. I mean I got closer but I could never pull my full body weight with that machine. I mean we work on it for 6 months all the time. And it is not like I was heavy or anything. It is just I would get to where my arms were hanging, I was hanging and my elbows were actually perpendicular to my forearm in like and L and I would just shake and I could not do that last little “uhh” to get my chin above the bar. And I would just shake and shake and shake and shake and shake for like 40 seconds, right? Uhhh!
Carlos: I’m surprised you lasted that long. I think at 3 seconds it would be like, I’m done.
Mindy: Oh man! Well, that last part is there is like some muscle across your right where your collar bone is and that area that is what does that last piece and I just don’t have probably any muscle there. It’s just nothing, it is just bone. So I failed the test and they were like, “Yeah, you know, I know you have the nomination from the senator and that they are really hard to get. They only have five open spots but you didn’t pass it so too bad for you.” And so I went away from that and I didn’t go into it with impostor syndrome but as I walked away from that being rejected I started developing this huge impostor syndrome about, “You know, I was the only girl. I was the only girl there and, you know, it would have been bad if I have been accepted because I would have felt so out of place and I probably wouldn’t have made it anyway. I think they might just have picked me because I was a girl and maybe…” I just psyched myself into this, you know, you would have had impostor syndrome. You would have felt so bad there. They would have, not that I would have had impostor syndrome but that I would have been exposed as a fraud if I had gone there, and it would have been a horrible experience and I had been saved from a terrible mistake. And thank goodness that they rejected me because that’s the best thing that could have happened because boy that could have been a mistake. And then so about two weeks later senator calls up and says, “I would like to offer you a nomination to Annapolis. And I had so freaked myself out with impostor syndrome that I was like, “Are you kidding me? I’m so glad I didn’t get to go the Air Force Academy because it would have been such a mistake. I would have been humiliated. I don’t want to go to Annapolis.”, and I turned it down.
Mindy: Oh no, right?
Carlos: And he’s the one calling you. It wasn’t like, you know, he’s reaching out saying, “Hey, I got this. Do you want it?”
Steve: Now, you mentioned that it’s only a few years ago that you’ve heard about impostor syndrome but it’s been, I mean there were many years in between from the Air Force Academy opportunity to learning about impostor syndrome. When you learned about impostor syndrome was it just something that hit you at that point, “Wow, that’s what it happened.” Or did it take a while to sort of come around and realized that.
Mindy: So the Air Force Academy experience and the Annapolis I didn’t like have some epiphany like immediately that that’s what had happened there in that particular situation but as the woman was doing the presentation of impostor syndrome. I mean, I couldn’t think of exact times in what meeting I was in with whoever it was with but I definitely thought, “Wow, I have felt that.” So many times in meetings where I really wanted to contribute something and I didn’t interject because I didn’t want to sound dumb in case I wasn’t absolutely 100% right. And maybe the people in the meeting were have used a couple of acronyms that I wasn’t familiar with so I started feeling like, “Ok this is. I’m glad they all wanted to include me in this meeting. I’m not really sure why I’m here because I don’t have much to contribute so I’m just going to sit here and be quiet.” Oh my god! And I had felt like that. I know I felt like that before.
Steve: That’s always interesting when you talk about acronyms and like sort of feeling left out because, I mean, a lot of people will have like their own companies sort of acronyms that maybe different from what people elsewhere use. And it’s almost like being in their secret circle to be able to understand what they are talking about. And I think that it can be very challenging and very difficult to feel part of the group when you don’t always understand what their acronyms are at first.
Mindy: I could totally relate to that. I mean I work in trucking and transportation software. It took a few years before I actually knew what they were talking about when they started talking about “backhaul” or a “dead head” or a “cross dock” where I was like, “What!” I have no idea what they were talking about.
Carlos: Or “smokey”.
Mindy: There was a funny there was a guy that’s like, you know, I was at this seminar once and I was trying to make small talk with another customer at the table and I said, “So what do you guys haul?” And he looked at me and he said, “Reefer”. I almost spit my food on the table I’m like, “Pweaa! You, haul what?” And he’s like, “Reefer.” And then somebody looked at me. My eyes were just big as saucers and some of them they started laughing and they’re like, “Refrigerated stuff.” I’m like, “Oh my god!”
Mindy: Yeah. I guess that’s the term.
Carlos: You know, I have experienced a little bit of impostor syndrome particularly, so I bring up this podcast a lot and my experiences with it and I remember. It has happened a couple of times but one that was poignant kind of stuck out to me is when I interviewed Brent Ozar. You know, from a name perspective, you think direct at the top at that point. I had reached out to him. Go through my standard process to reach out to people. It’s not quite like it is today but back in the day I have this very simple process. He agreed, we started talking anyway the episode went fine. I thought it was fine but I was asking for some feedback and he said, “You know, I would have liked to understood, the agenda basically wasn’t well set and I didn’t like where we kind of went with some of these things. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I wish you would have asked me like we could have fortified that agenda a little bit better.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh”, right?
Mindy: Yeah, you’re like, “Pewww”.
Carlos: And the reason I didn’t do that is because I was like, “It’s Brent.” Like who am I to tell him that this is what the agenda needs to be, right? So I kind of left it soft and mushy a little and he would have benefited from a little bit more structure or me going through a process and kind of giving some feedback as to and so what we would have talked about. And so I think kind of going to that point of the community if you will at large or the people that you’re involved with. It’s not just you. Other that you’re working with can also be affected by you not wanting to participate or not thinking at your place to participate.
Mindy: Yes. Yeah.
Carlos: And I guess we’ve talked about the survey a little bit why it is destructive, so what can we do to help ourselves? If we find ourselves coming that funk what’s the remedy?
Mindy: Well, simply knowing that it’s a thing, for me was 80% of the fix. For some reason it was almost as if someone have snipped these strings that have been holding my wings back. I don’t know how else to explain it. I was actually able to recognize when it was happening and go, “Ok, I know that is. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way so stop it.” Now, it doesn’t completely, you know, made it where the thing doesn’t try to rear its head up but it’s knowing that it’s actually a voice that is shouldn’t be speaking to me and I can ask it to be silent instead of just listening to something that you’re not realizing is destructive. I don’t know why just to knowing that it was something that others and seeing how many other people felt that way. It was hugely freeing, so that’s the biggest thing. The other suggestions are just forgive yourself for any negative stuff and that’s really hard to do but like I said, “Coding involves regular failure.” Being occasionally wrong and like last night I twitted something that was wrong.
Carlos: Oh boy!
Mindy: Yeah, and regarding the PASS Summit, and regarding what the definition of an abstract versus the description is then it caused a couple of people to get confused and then I got an email from PASS HQ and they said, “Actually, that’s not correct.” And I went right back on Twitter and I said, “Opp, I was wrong. This is actually how it really works.” And I think before I knew that impostor syndrome was a thing I would have just stick my head in the sand, “Look at the people who just saw me say something that was wrong”, right? It’s ok to be wrong. You’re not expected to be perfect, and other people don’t expect you to be perfect. The other things there are some suggestions. Maybe print up your resume if you have a copy of it. Take your name off of it. Put somebody else’s name on there. Maybe mail it to yourself or something. Look at your actual, what you’ve done, what your qualifications are, where you’ve worked, what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve spoken, what you’ve blogged about, what test you’ve passed. If you saw all of that and it was somebody else, how would you feel about that person? And is it different than how you are judging yourself?
Steve: That’s interesting.
Steve: I have to go back and look at my resume now and see how it looks or how I look at myself.
Mindy: One person had said that she keeps a diary. Well, it wasn’t really a diary. It was like when somebody tells something nice about her or she gets a compliment she would come home that end of that day if she remembered to do it or she might write it down in a piece of paper and tear it up and shove it in her purse. And then when she came home at night, she found those papers in her purse and she like put them in a little money box that she had in her cabinet. And anytime that she started to feeling down about herself or feeling this impostor syndrome type of feeling about, “I’m not worthy, whatever”, she goes and opens up, she calls it her Happy Box. Opens up the box and goes through all these things, all these times that people and the date on their and who said it that they said, “Wow, you just saved me”, whatever amount of time or “You just did this good thing” or “Wow! I’m so glad we called you” or “Oh my gosh that query is so much faster”, or whatever. Because every day goes by, boom boom boom, they become a blur. You can’t remember all the details of all the things that happened to you start to turn into a smear.
Carlos: That’s an interesting concept, right, so taking that because I think where it’s easier to hang on to the negative comments, a little harder to hold on to the positive ones sometimes so that idea of kind of keeping track of that, noting it, measuring it, right? You bring a catalog of it so that you can refer to it when you need to, that’s an interesting thought.
Steve: So one of the things I noticed in your presentation was a slide when you talked about killing your heroes. What do you mean by that?
Mindy: There is where I can talk about Jimmy. Well, I didn’t kill Jimmy.
Carlos: Thank goodness.
Mindy: Yeah, so killing your heroes. What I mean by that is don’t put people on a pedestal. They are not putting themselves on the pedestal. Brent didn’t put himself on the pedestal. Jimmy didn’t put himself on a pedestal. I did that. And I didn’t really, you know, doesn’t put herself on a pedestal. I know her now. I put her on a pedestal many years ago. I did that, she didn’t do that. So when I say kill you heroes, really what I mean is, don’t be making people into something that’s bigger than life because they are just people. Most of them are really nice people and they would be just like, their mouth would fall open if they knew what kind of pedestal that people put them on. So my example is in 2010, well before 2010, because my focus has always been performance. I was doing a session back at that time. This was back when we had spinning disk and separating the log file from the data files was still critical, right? So I was doing a presentation called “SQL Server I/O Uh-oh” and it was all about how to really maximize your and try to stay away from the pitfalls of the I/O being so slow when everything else had move ahead so much quicker, which for a long time that was huge problem. Jimmy May had written this whitepaper when he was at Microsoft that talked about the stripe to use in fixing the misalignment in the partition from Windows 2003 and how substantial that is, and using the correct allocation unit or block size and setting all that up. And if you do the trifecta of these three things, how you can get 30% or better performance off of your disk and just set up SQL the way that SQL works. And I went over and over that whitepaper when I was building out my presentation, and I was trying to make my presentation fun and so I summed my presentation with a song. I basically took Patsy Cline’s I Fall to Pieces, and I changed the words up so I brought my guitar to the PASS Summit and I play it like, “Don’t do your I/O in pieces.” I basically made this whole parody about doing your I/O in pieces and it was recorded and I thought it was really fun. And I wanted to tell Jimmy that I had written this song, it was based on his whitepaper but I was terrified of him. I was so intimidated by him because he is Jimmy May, and I have put him up in this pedestal. You know, I was just like, if I was in the same room I was like I just didn’t want to talk to him. It was just like, “Oh my god, I’m not worthy.” I actually twitted to him, and I have this in my revised presentation now. I send him a private message on Twitter and I said, “Hey, I did this SQL I/O presentation and I summarized your whitepaper in a song, it was recorded and here is a link to the YouTube video. I would love your thoughts.” And he responded with, “Unfortunately, I’m buried. I’m in Vancouver over the weekend. No internet.” And I was like, “Oh, I feel. I shouldn’t have even have asked him.” And now Jimmy and I are really good friends, you know. I mean, we are, now we’re where he’s like just post something on my Facebook page about something last night. I mean, we talk all the time. So I did that, he did not do that. I did that. Like if I had some of my other friends that said that I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, right? But because I had this weird impostor syndrome like, “I’m the fraud and he is the master and I don’t… Oh my gosh.”
Carlos: So I have to ask, does that YouTube video still exist?
Mindy: Yes, it’s out there. I think there is one out there now of me doing. Yes I think it is. It may not be the PASS Summit. I think it’s me speaking at TransForum, TMW’s TransForum event but it is out there. Yes me singing that song.
Steve: So perhaps we should wrap up the end of the episode with that song.
Carlos: It sounds like a good idea. Oh, let’s see here we go. I’m looking; I can see you holding a guitar. We’ll find it and we’ll put it up in the …
Mindy: I think my name is spelled with an “e”, whoever posted it they put Mendy Curnutt.
Mindy: Well, basically the core of it is impostor syndrome is very very common in tech. 80% something of the Data Platform MVPs admitted that they had it recently. It can prevent you from getting to where you want to go with your career and just recognizing that it’s a thing is a huge huge silencer or like an enabler of getting around it. Man, don’t let that impostor syndrome stop you from taking advantage of opportunities.
Steve: Ok, great advice. Alright, shall we move on to the SQL Family then, Carlos?
Carlos: Let’s do it.
Steve: So Mindy, how did you first get started with SQL Server?
Mindy: Wait, it’s a long time ago, so I moved to Seattle after college, a few years after college. I was playing music as a hobby. I play a guitar, obviously, you saw on that video that I talked about. I play the guitar and sing and then in my 20’s I was always out singing at open mic and stuff. I moved to Seattle because that was during the Grunge period and I just want to play music all the time. So when I moved to Seattle I had to get a job. I ended up getting a job at this water jet cutting company as a project manager. My degree was in Economics. I don’t know where else I’m going to get a job in. And I was trying to do my job and it was very very difficult because they didn’t have, they had computers but they had just like Word Perfect and Lotus 1, 2, 3. There was no actual just in time manufacturing application. Everything was on paper and it was trying to get something through the shop and figuring out what we had in inventory and how long will the vendor times, and what bids have they’ve given me. It was a nightmare so they had just bought Microsoft Office. They had Access 2.0 and I went to some college classes at night at the learned VBA, and I ended up writing myself a program to manage my job which ended up turning into just in time manufacturing application. And it got ported to SQL Server and so it was just out of necessity. I mean it has a logical, my mind wants to make processes and things and relate things to things. I wish I would have known that I had such an affinity for that but I didn’t have really any computers when I was a kid. We didn’t have them and then college you had to like reserve time. Nobody had a computer in my dorm so I had to actually get into an environment where there are computers present for me to realize that that was something that I was really sort of naturally drawn to and good at.
Steve: Wow, very interesting.
Carlos: If you could change one thing about SQL Server what would it be?
Mindy: If I could change one thing about SQL Server. I should be looking at these questions before you ask me them. Where did that thing go? If I could change one thing about SQL Server what would it be? Man, that’s a good question. Can we come back to that? Let me think about that a little bit.
Steve: Sure, we can do that. So what’s the best piece of career advice that you have received?
Mindy: Oh, that’s an easy one. Yey! Ok, the best piece of career advice I ever received was “What’s the worst that can happen?” Yeah, so I worked for a guy. Right when I got out of college I worked for a guy in a wine industry. Actually I wasn’t out of college. I had to take a break during the middle of college because we’re having some financial troubles paying for college, so I stepped back during my sophomore year and I moved home and I was working full time and then I was going to school at night at a lower, it’s Sonoma State University instead of UC Sta. Barbara. And one day the guy that I was working for, he asked me, “Why wasn’t I going to University of California anymore?” And I said, “Well, it’s financially.” It’s too much money basically and my parents don’t want to get another student loan. And I can’t get any grant because they had too much land and we’re just in a pickle. He helped me basically. He helped me figure out how to get my parents to re-file their income tax for the last two years and get me off their income tax, and then not to take “NO” for an answer. He’s like, “Ok, that’s a problem. How do we get around the problem”, right? “How do we get around it?” So there is why you’re being stopped and how do we backed up and reverse and what other approach can we take, so that was huge. And then I was able to actually get the student loans and the grants and things like that because I was personally dirt poor. But then when I went to go back to the University they said, “No, sorry. You’ve been gone for a year so you’re going to need to re-apply.” And I was just devastated and when I came back he said, “Well, what’s the problem?” And I said, “Well, I have to re-apply and then I’m not going to be able to get in until next year.” He said, “Well, who makes those rules up?” And I was like, “What do you mean?” And he said, “Do you think the Dean? Who can break the rules? You think the Dean can get around the rules?” And he goes, “Why don’t you go down there and talk to the Dean and see if the Dean will let you back in. What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, right exactly where you are now, right?
Steve: Yeah. I guess you could have just say NO, right?
Mindy: Right, so there has been a lot of that. I took that advice throughout a lot of my career of. Don’t take NO for an answer if the NO is just because of the rules are kind of dumb. Like how can you get around it but still not breaking the law or anything? But is there a way to get around something if you don’t think it makes a lot of sense. Is there a way to rightfully get around it? And don’t be afraid to ask and what’s the worst that could happen. You’re exactly where you are right now.
Steve: So did it worked out when you talk to the Dean?
Mindy: Yeah, she let me right back in.
Carlos: There you go.
Mindy: Yeah, huge lesson.
Carlos: Yeah, yeah. Do you want to circle back to the SQL Server question or should we continue on.
Mindy: That one thing? I think we can continue on. Yeah, because I’m not sure what the answer about that, maybe, I’ll email you afterwards with my answer.
Carlos: That’s fine. Out last question for you today, Mindy, if you could have one superhero power what would it be and why do you want it?
Mindy: If I could have one superhero power I would want to be able to. Well, the first thing I wanted to say was because I had a friend that passed away from ALS and I
would want to be able to put my hands on somebody with ALS and just cure them. But then I thought, wow, then I would be flying all over the world constantly and I’d never get to go to sleep because everybody would want me to cure them.
Carlos: Ok, so the analytical brain starting to pump down there.
Mindy: There you go. I wish I could like wave a wand and cure everyone who had ALS. That would be, right, just to make that go away. It was really terrible.
Carlos: Well, Mindy, thanks so much for being with us today.
Mindy: Thank you! Thank you so much.
Steve: This has been great.
Carlos: Yeah, good information and we do appreciate you taking some time to chat with us.
Steve: And I look forward to seeing you when we meet up at the conference, The Companero Conference.
Carlos: That’s right!
Mindy: Great, I’m looking forward to that a lot.