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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

FreeCon

I got my FreeCon. What’s more, I did it in public and didn’t get in trouble.

FreeCon is the brain child of Brent Ozar (blog|twitter). Basically Brent gathered together a few bloggers & writers from the SQL Server community, some extremely well known, like Tom LaRock (blog|twitter), some in the middle, like me, and others that are clearly up & coming like David Stein (blog|twitter).  He jammed us all in a room and made us talk to one another. OK, that’s a lie. He invited us out to this lovely little poetry space in Seattle the day before the PASS Summit was due to start, where we imbibed good food & coffee and had the opportunity to share a lot of great information with each other.

The basic concept was to get people together to network, improve our writing, work on our brands, and help Brent test drive some new presentations. Personally, I’d say it worked extremely well. I came out of the session with some plans, for my blog, for my brand, and, well, for my life. Sitting and listening to people like Karen Lopez (blog|twitter) or Jorge Segarra (blog|twitter) talk about their experiences with writing, blogging, looking for work, etc. was, quite simply, an amazing opportunity. And then there was the information that Brent was putting out in his presentations. I really did pick up some specific information that’s going to change things. Just to share, here are some things from my notes, and yes, they go all over the place because the conversation jumped around, a lot. You have to remember, these were not simply amazing, smart people I was very honored to be with, but they’re vocal. Very. Vocal.  

Notes (minus a bunch of info that, frankly, I don’t want to share because it’s either private notes & plans or comments from others that shouldn’t go out to the world):

  • Read press releases: get the marketing contact: that’s the person to talk to
  • Play your own game (same advice offered by Steve Jones (blog|twitter) who was also there)
  • Look up article “Juggling writing and a job… figure it the <blank> out”
  • Get the book “Secrets of Consulting” by Jerry Weingberg (the red cover one, not the new one)
  • The more they pay you, the more they respect you
  • Price to win the gig is bad, set a high rate
  • Get yourself 50,000 foot goals (high level, important stuff, life, finance, parenting, that sort of stuff)
  • Get book “Escaping Flatland” by David Allen
  • Powerpoint is just a delivery mechanism (that’s OK, I hate PowerPoint, I try to deliver in code as much as possible)
  • Create a brand wheel, three words that describe your brand
    • I posted mine earlier, but here they are again
      • Direct
      • Instructive
      • Useful
  • Manage your brain better (right…)

For me, FreeCon defined some things that have been running around in my brain for the last 18 months or so. It also inspired me to pump up my blogging, to try to improve my game and my brand. I’ve done a very large number of actions in the two weeks since FreeCon went down. Many of them are already bearing fruit, for example, I’m now hosted on my own domain. Others may bear fruit in the near term, and I have EXTREMELY high hopes for these. Still more are the high level goals that I’ve started to define that will likely take me years to deliver.

Why am I posting all this for you? Because FreeCon is now a thing. The attendees of the original FreeCon have been granted the ability to hold their own, within a set of parameters, not least of which, is a quorum of FreeCon grads. Expect to see these occurring in and around other conventions & summits like Connections, Tech-Ed, maybe a SQL Saturday or two, SQL Rally, and certainly the Summit. If you get the invite to go, jump on it. If you haven’t received an invite, blog more, write articles more, get your name out there and you may then receive that invitation.

Kind of weird to consider that sitting around with a bunch of friends, online acquaintances, and downright strangers can result in life changing events, but, for me, that’s what happened. Thanks Brent. I’m so glad I made the list. And an extremely heartfelt thanks to all the Freecs at FreeCon. You guys are really wonderful people.

Comments

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 24 November 2010

Cool stuff Grant.

Posted by Steve Jones on 26 November 2010

I very much enjoyed this as well. I'd like to put this together at other events, perhaps getting new people out there to talk about ways to better grow community actions.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 26 November 2010

That's a good idea. It doesn't have to be, nor should it be, just a writer's camp, although I really do like that aspect of it. SQLRally?

Posted by Brent Ozar on 29 November 2010

Glad you enjoyed it, sir! One tweak - these two books involved. David Allen's book is called Getting Things Done (aka GTD), and the flatland stuff refers to a series of books by Edward Tufte.  He wrote an essay called something like The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, but any of his books will open your eyes about how to present information visually.  Catch you at the next FreeCon!

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 29 November 2010

Oops. Sorry. I have David Allen's book and I've read it a couple of times. I guess I messed my notes up. Sorry about that. The information was flying hot & heavy in that room. Since I spent half my time slack jawed in the center, you're lucky I've got these notes.

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