Another Source of Knowledge


It started with a tweet from one the many members of the #sqlfamily who always has something meaningful to say, Jes Borland (blog/@grrl_geek):

The referenced link is

I followed Jes's advice, paused the other items I was working on, and watched the talk.  It was a nice tight eleven minutes on how to be present in the moment, paying attention to those around you and interacting with them in a more meaningful way.

I was not formerly familiar with the speaker Celeste Headlee (blog/@CelesteHeadlee), a public radio talk host, but after listening to her talk I could definitely listen to her again - she spoke very clearly and made her points without much fluff.

I'm sure some people will tune out right there, thinking they would never agree with a public radio host or her agenda - my take has always been that it is worth giving any speaker at least two chances.  If I have listened to you speak/present/etc. twice (anyone can have a bad day) and both times you have failed to hold my interest (on topics in which I am interested) I will discount then you as a speaker - at least as a speaker I would be interested in listening to.


While I enjoyed this particular talk, it reminded me of something I used to really enjoy doing and have all but stopped over the last couple years.

I tripped over TED talks online five or six years ago, back when I still worked in an on-site office.  I don't remember how - probably from Twitter or Facebook - but I discovered this wide array of free recordings that I could listen to on my breaks or when I had a free few minutes.  As a full-time work-from-home these last few years I have not handled my workday in the same way (I eat lunch with my family now for example) and have not watched talks in the same way I used to.

TED is a nonprofit organization that puts on a series of conferences on Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  The talks given at the conferences are by practice 18 minutes or less (although some do run longer), with many talks being around ten minutes long.

The conferences themselves aren't cheap (and as such I have never been in person) - TED2017 in Vancouver next year has a registration cost of US$8500 - but the real treasure trove are the talks themselves, posted online for free on TED's website (and often on YouTube) after a reasonable time has passed.

TED talks are given by an amazing array of speakers from all different backgrounds, from industry leaders like Bill Gates and Richard Branson to intellectuals like Sir Ken Robinson and Dan Gilbert to entertainers like Apollo Robbins and Ze Frank.

You can search the talks by topic or speaker or length, or you can watch one of the curated playlists of talks to see talks related to one another on a given subject.

A sidebar to the TED conferences and talks is TEDx, TEDx is an offshoot of the parent conference where local staff organize an event that is a combination of TED-style talks from local/regional speakers and airings of national TED talks.  The best comparison I can make for SQL Server is to think of TEDx as TED's SQL Saturday - not entirely accurate but close.  TEDx talks are also available for viewing for free at

Another benefit of a resource like this is to a speaker (or a potential speaker, which is about everyone).  You can learn a lot about speaking to an audience from simply watching other people present, and these talks are great examples.


At the end of the day, you probably won't learn anything directly about SQL Server from seeking out things like TED talks, but you will learn a lot about the world around you, and remember Knowledge is Power!


Hope this helps!