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Paying It Forward

By Andy Galbraith,

Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is on vacation. This editorial was originally published on July 9, 2014 .

I was struck recently by two contradictory points of view. One of my SQL Server heroes, Paul Randal, tweeted "Pay it forward folks, never forget to pay it forward when you get help. Everyone starts with zero #sqlserver knowledge." That same day, I was talking with another DBA about if he might be interested in creating a presentation for an upcoming SQL Saturday, and his response was (paraphrased) "Why do I want to put the effort into that just to have someone steal my ideas from the slides?"


When I started blogging three and a half years ago, I just wanted to see if I could do it.  I have always enjoyed writing, but after years of reading other useful (and sometimes humorous) SQL Server blogs, I just wanted to see if I could do it myself.  I have learned - and still learn - so much from the wide variety of bloggers in the #sqlfamily.

I have taken a few "sabbaticals" from blogging over the last few years (AKA, I slacked off), but I have always come back, and it is often because of someone commenting on my blog or on Twitter.  Someone will say I helped them solve a particular problem, while others just say “thanks.”  It always feels good when my blog saves my peers some work because they can use my notes to get a head start on their own situations.

Presenting follows a very similar path to blogging.  The first time I presented, I was goaded into it by a peer, and when I said "yes," I just wanted to see if I could do it.  I have learned so much more over the years from conference sessions, SQL Saturdays, and virtual webcasts than I ever have by sitting in a 5-day Microsoft curriculum class.  

Most of my presentations to date have been about maintenance (backups, indexing, etc.), but I am branching out as I see the desire from others for different things.  Again, creating a presentation has the double bonus - I have to learn new things and be thorough to create a presentation and then I get to share that knowledge with a room full of people and help them. I have to admit that a little part of me is driven by the buzz of knowing I have connected with someone - when an attendee comes up to me afterward and says "you know, now I get it!"

I work with many people in other database platforms, operating systems, etc. and none of them have anything like the #sqlfamily, where high level consultants will help you, often for free, just because you ask for #sqlhelp on Twitter or because you stay behind after a SQL Saturday session to talk.

To me, it is simply amazing - if you have ever felt this way, then you too can pay it forward.

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