In 1986, my big brother Jim accidentally encouraged me on my road to geekdom by purchasing an Apple][e, and later by gifting various Apple games to me, and teaching me about pre-Internet BBSs.
In 1992, my high school purposefully encouraged me on that same road by offering Programming 1 and 2 (using Borland Pascal!), and putting a splendid lady in charge of teaching it.
In 1997 I got my first job in the computer industry, as a summer intern at a FedEx technology group.
In the early 2000s, I started on the DBA track entirely by the encouragement, example, and teachings of my longtime friend (and now husband) Sean McCown. He was the one who explained the basics to me, who gave me books and software and pushed me toward getting my certifications. He’s the one that introduced me to authors and MVPs at conferences. He’s the one who has, for 10 years now, modeled what it means to be a good DBA, interviewer, teacher, speaker, and community leader, and he’s still teaching me today.
Together we’ve built up a small nonprofit empire consisting of MidnightDBA.com, ITBookworm.com, the DBAs@Midnight webshow, and related blogs and projects. We’ve filmed hundreds of hours of tutorials, shows and interviews. We’ve covered getting/keeping/leaving jobs, blogging and plagiarism, good ideas, bad vendors…everything under the sun remotely related to working with and around SQL Server.
We’ve each racked up tons of face time at SQL Saturdays, webinars, conferences, and user group meetings. We’ve volunteered at PASS Summits, organized SQL Rallys, put our weight behind Women in Technology efforts, and much more. Sean has served as a user group board member for years. He has ensured that the community has accessible SQL Server information, and via his contacts with publishers and vendors, that our user group has a steady flow of free SQL books and swag. Sean himself has put together three (and counting) in-depth classes, taught over 6 months and more, on important areas of SQL Server. We’ve supported everything from the PASS board elections, to DBA In Space, to SQL Lunch and SQL Cruise and SQL Excursions.
Everything we’ve done has had no strings attached. We don’t charge for the shows, the tutorials, or any written material we’ve ever made. It benefits us, absolutely – we get the obvious benefit of greater understanding through teaching, but we also get some freebies from vendors and special events via the MVP Award program (which is earned largely through SQL volunteerism). But it’s still work, and a lot of it.
The other reward we get is wonderful. It’s the guy who attended Sean’s session at last year’s Dallas SQLSat and said, “You saved my LIFE with this, man!” It’s the lady in the session that gets the “Oh!! I GET IT!!” look. It’s the email from a longtime fan, saying “I have learned SO MUCH from you, thank you!” It’s the fans in the chatroom during live webshows, taking our stupid jokes and running with them. It’s the guy I look up to, retweeting my latest SQL blog on Twitter.
Today, be that guy. Not necessarily for us (though of course we encourage fan mail :)…just write a quick email, comment, or tweet to the person that you need to thank or encourage. That’s your holiday gift to them, and to us.
Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth. Thanks, Sean.