Since I started working as a data professional some 15 years ago, I’ve had an enjoyable and successful career. I attribute the successes I’ve had to hard work, a good bit of luck, and having help from others who have walked the same path before me. Today, I want to recognize one of those folks in particular.
A Long Line of Folks Who Helped Me
Thinking back over my career, there have been many people who have helped me along the way.
When I was just a novice back in the early 2000s, I barely knew enough to even know where to start. As an accidental data professional, I was fortunate to find Steve Jones at SQLServerCentral.com. Steve turned out to be much more than a guy who ran a website, and was more than generous with patient advice for this then-newbie.
Another person who has helped me a great deal is Andy Leonard. Andy played a pivotal role in my first book deal, and later helped me make the move from full-time employee to independent consultant. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Brent Ozar, from whom I have learned a great deal about consulting, business, and work-life balance.
More recently, I’ve come to trust and rely on Mike Walsh for friendship and advice. Mike and I are on similar professional paths, each of us operating small but growing consultancies, and I’ve learned a good deal from him.
Closer to home, Sri Sridharan was the NTSSUG user group president during my tenure as board member, and was one of the folks who encouraged me to pursue my goal of becoming an independent consultant. Another fellow Dallas-area data geek, Ryan Adams, has been a great friend and trusted advisor for nearly a decade, and has been there for me professionally and personally as I grew my career and my business.
To these folks and the numerous others who have helped to steer me in the right direction: Thank you. Your help means more to me than I could express.
Making a Difference: Andy Warren
Way back in 2008, I attended and spoke at SQL Saturday #3 in Jacksonville, Florida. That trip represented a lot of firsts for me: first time attending an out-of-town training event, first time speaking in public on a technical topic, and my first time to have visited Florida.
On that trip, I also met Andy Warren for the first time.
I met him at the restaurant where the speaker dinner was held. Even though I was still obviously very new at being part of the speaker group, Andy welcomed me in as one of the regulars. We must have chatted for a full hour that night, as he explained his vision for SQL Saturday and offered professional advice for this new speaker.
We stayed in touch after that, and a few months later, Andy invited me out to Orlando to record some technical videos for a new venture of his. Recording technical content was still very new to me, and Andy was very patient and encouraging as we worked through the process. He asked a lot of questions about me – what my job was, how I enjoyed what I was doing, and where I expected my career to go during the next few years. I was flattered that someone with Andy’s experience and insight would take the time to listen and offer advice.
As I built up some momentum in my career, Andy was there for me every time I asked something of him. During a couple of fork-in-the-road career moments, he offered wise counsel without being overbearing. He played a key role in helping me and the rest of the NTSSUG board members arrange the first Dallas-area SQL Saturday in 2010. When I was considering making the move from full-time employee to independent consultant, he helped me understand the benefits and risks of doing so.
When Andy began encouraging me to run for the PASS board, I almost laughed, thinking that I wasn’t nearly qualified enough. He insisted that I had the experience and the drive to make a difference on the board. Even though I decided not to run (for a lot of reasons), the fact that Andy showed that much faith in me was a confidence-inspiring endorsement.
Every time I visit with Andy Warren, I walk away feeling better than I did when we started. He has a gentle way of encouraging people that helps them see the best in themselves while being aware of the realities and the risks of whatever subject is being discussed. In every conversation I’ve ever had with him, he’s never told me, “You should do X.” Rather, he shares his analysis of the situation and then encourages me to make up my own mind.
I’ve been fortunate to have had help and counsel from many wise and generous professionals during my career journey. Of all of them, none has helped me more than Andy Warren. He’s a good friend and advisor, and I owe him a debt of gratitude for the difference he has made for me. Thanks, Andy.
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