Survival Techniques for the lone DBA (Pass Summit 2019 Conference Day 2)

Survival Techniques for the lone DBA (Pass Summit 2019 Conference Day 2)

On Thursday morning at PASS Summit I went to Monica Rathbun’s session about survival strategies for the lone DBA. This was one of the best sessions I have been to at the Summit and definitely struck a nerve. Many things Monica talked about were well resonating with me as I already went down the same path like leveraged free tools, sucked in as much online training as I could regarding SQL server, went to SQLSaturdays and usergroup meetings and regularly read blogs. However and that’s the great thing this was not a completely feel-good-ambience where you go out of the sessions filled with a bigger ego than you came in but take nothing away but self-assurance. Monica also touched things I will try to work on in getting better at it:

  1. Write a blog: hey…that’s what I am just doing and it feels great….however I still have to find a technique to keep that going in my day-to-day-life)
  2. Network: That’s a huge difference for me now with PASS Summit. At former conferences like SQL Saturdays I chatted mostly with speakers and was not the active part in approaching other people. Now I have learned that this can change. With Gustavo I got connected to at least one friend at the Summit and hope that I will be able to maintain that connection in my day-to-day-life.
  3. Get on twitter and use your virtual co-workers: Twitter is huge and I already used #sqlhelp in the past for instance. However it’s not my forté to stay active on twitter. Monica suggested to connect with others via #sqlfamily there and say “Good morning” each day. Write regularly about the challenges you face and seek help from others.
  4. Make sure that you only learn the minimum to get the job done!  Well that’s about perfectionism and trying to know the matter really well. From nature (as well as from my job requirements) I tend to strive for more and to make things better as they necessarily just could be and work as well. In the end this often gives me extreme satisfaction having made some edges rounder however I acknowledge that I could save more team leafing edges sharp as they were.
  5. Use your boss as a shield to get to you: I should be much better at this. Often colleagues approach me with a request and I am glad to help. However helping them out shortly does impact the projects I have on my plate. There’s a weekly status meeting I should be leveraging better to make my work transparent to my boss and my colleagues even if they are not too much interested in getting to know the different activities I have in detail. Definitely something to think of and work on soon!
  6. Leverage tools to work more effectively and hire consultants to do the boring stuff for you: These are two things about I have kind of a mental barrier in me. As a Swabian I can be very frugal sometimes and investing several hundred euros in tools or consultants scares me as I sometimes think myself “Oh that’s gonna be quite expensive”. What I obviously miss is to look at the opportunity costs….me taking x Minutes per day for typing more in a query (because ******* IntelliSense CodeCompletion rarely works and the free alternatives are not that better) will effectively cost the company money because of lost productivity as well.

Wow 6 points to imrove in. If by next year I get at least 3 of them right that’s already gonna make a big difference.

Monica also mentioned that it is important that you have a good relationship to your boss and he gets to acknowledge the great work you put in. The plump direct way on complaining about extra hours and asking for leaving early will not work in your favour. I am greatly thankful that I just happen to have a boss who is extremely supporting and appreciative of my work and that’s setting the right environment for me to flourish in my work. Thank you boss for your support if you happen to read this!

A big surprise also was to me that as a lone DBA you are extremely marketable for other companies and you should definitely be proud of what you achieved: You are a team player with the whole company as a team and you truly do the job which would normally be done by more people and are thus exceptional! So keep up that spirit and don’t question what you do based on some interview questions you might hear from others.

Thank you Monica for that great session!

Update: Surprisingly the session is available on Youtube….enjoy

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