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Right now is an incredible time to do what you love.

Take this one-minute video from Red Bull:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRWYNUvGohY

It’s chock full of people doing cool, crazy stuff that they’re absolutely passionate about – skating, dancing, shooting hoops, singing – all the stuff the cool kids do.

Red Bull’s logo is scattered in throughout the video because they sponsor these events.  The people you see skating, dancing, whatever – they’re getting paid by Red Bull to do what they love, preferably while in close proximity to a Red Bull logo.  Notice that not once in the video do you see one of the skaters/dancers/singers drinking from a Red Bull can.  In fact, water bottles are more present in the video than Red Bull cans.

But those are just the cool kids, right?  Not us geeks.  We never get paid to do what we love.

Or do we?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STBT863_7Eo

That’s the DBA in Space trailer from Red Gate, and it stars Brad McGehee, an actual DBA.  Well, technically his job title was evangelist when it was filmed, but he’s back to being a full time DBA again.  Red Gate spent a ton of money on a slick ad campaign that brought fun and games to DBA work.

Evangelist sounds like such a crazy title, like an oddball one-off that only the luckiest people around get.  But check out this timeline:

  • 2005: Quest hires Kevin Kline
  • 2006: Red Gate hires Steve Jones
  • 2007: Red Gate hires Brad McGehee
  • 2008: Quest hires Brent Ozar
  • 2010: Confio hires Tom LaRock
  • 2010: SQL Sentry hires Aaron Bertrand
  • 2011: Red Gate hires Grant Fritchey
  • 2011: Idera starts their ACE Program
  • 2012: Idera contracts Robert Davis
  • 2012: SQL Sentry hires Kevin Kline

That’s a hell of a lot of evangelist-style jobs for a niche market like SQL Server DBAs.

A few years ago, when one of these announcements came out, I’d say to myself, “Well, that’s it.  Everybody’s hired their DBA spokesmodel now.  We won’t see another one of those hires again for a while.  There’s no big vendors left, and no software vendor needs more than one DBA spokesmodel on staff.”

In 2013, this will happen even faster.

There’s a lot of vendors out there – just check out the list of sponsors for the last PASS Summit.  Ask yourself, “Do I know anyone who works for each of these vendors?”  For every vendor you don’t know personally, there’s somebody at that vendor who desperately wants to fix that problem.  Every vendor on that list wants you to know who they are, and old-school advertising isn’t working anymore.  They can’t just buy ads in publications you don’t read.

To get your attention, vendors have to produce valuable content that brings you to their site.  At Quest we did this with SQLServerPedia, Red Gate does it with Simple Talk, and SQL Sentry’s doing it with SQLPerformance.com – and that’s really only the tip of the iceberg.  Vendors do webcasts, whitepapers, books, free software, and free mini-conferences like Red Gate’s SQL in the City.

And of course we do this too – you’re reading my free content right now, and our First Aid page has webcasts, posters, video archive, our sp_Blitz® and sp_BlitzIndex® scripts, and our email newsletter.  We spend days per week putting together good stuff to give away for free.  (I’m writing this on a Sunday.)

Marketing teams are even starting to talk about content inflation: a skyrocketing amount of really good content available for free.

Doing this much good content requires people who know their stuff.

Today, Lori Edwards is joining SQL Sentry.

Yep, a vendor acquired another database pro – this time, @LoriEdwards is going to work with Kevin Kline and Aaron Bertrand over at SQL Sentry.  She’ll be telecommuting full time, staying in her current Arizona residence with her husband Tim and their kids.  She’ll get to work with the SQL Server she knows and loves.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Working from home and doing what you love?  It’s like the geek equivalent of a Red Bull commercial.  (Sometimes, I even dance around my office while pretending there’s a camera crew.)

I’m not blogging about this because I’m fond of SQL Sentry, or Kevin, or Aaron, or Lori, or any vendor in particular.  Every vendor has their pros and cons, and that’s true for both hardware and software.  I’m blogging about this because vendors will keep hiring people like you and me because we love what we’re doing, and we’re good at it.  (Well, you are, anyway – I’m a hot mess.)

It’s not just for presenters and bloggers anymore.

Lori’s hire marks an interesting point in the timeline because you might not know her.  (Cover your eyes for a second, Lori.)  She hasn’t blogged much in months, and she hasn’t been doing the conference circuit.  She’s just been plugging along, getting good at what she loves to do, and building a network of people that respect what she does.  I contracted out the last round of sp_Blitz® updates & testing to her, for example.  She’s not an evangelist per se – but she gets to do cool stuff with SQL Server from home.

I bet you think you can’t get a dream job with a vendor because you haven’t been speaking or blogging enough.  You’re wrong: it’s not just about speaking or blogging anymore.  We’ve reached a point where SQL Server vendors have seen enough benefits of hiring SQL Server DBAs that they’re willing to hire ‘em even if the DBA hasn’t been grabbing the spotlight.

Stop learning technology.  If you’re scared of getting up in front of the podium, you can even stop trying that (although I’d recommend you keep going, because presenting really does change your life.)  Just start working on your soft skills by building your network, and start by reading my post Rock Stars, Normal People, and You.

Want more incentive?  Quest doesn’t have an evangelist right now, I know at least one other vendor that’s ready to start looking, and you never know when we’ll hire again.

UPDATE Feb 16 – I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what evangelists do and how to get an evangelist job, so linking to those posts. There ya go.

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  1. Great points, Brent! I had never thought this was an option for me, but apparently it is!

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