Let’s get this out of the way: I’m every bit as surprised as you are that I’m going to work for Brent Ozar Unlimited®. Two months ago, I would not have believed it.
I saw the blog post, just as you did. And I dismissed it. I believed because it wasn’t a BI job, I wasn’t the right person for it. I told my wife, “That’s a great job, but not for me.” Then a funny thing happened. She said, “If it’s so great, go ahead and apply for it.”
At that moment, my thinking changed from “Why bother?” to…
I went back and re-read the blog post. I read over exactly what Kendra was asking for. I noticed there was nothing — nothing – about being a DBA. I read last year’s blog post for Employee #1 and saw it was markedly different. Employee #1 had to be a DBA; Employee #2 could be anyone.
I contemplated what working for them would be like. I’d travel infrequently and work from home. I’d get to do training work. I’d get to make videos (right in my wheelhouse; I went to college to be a screenwriter). I’d learn a metric ton about SQL Server from incredibly sharp and experienced people. (In a sense, I also was picking all my co-workers — four people I enjoy spending time with.) In short, they’d pay me to do what I already love doing and I’m doing for free. As if I needed further proof, I found a note I’d written to myself over a year ago that listed my dream job attributes.
One by one, I went down the list. One by one, they matched.
Time to get to work.
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!
It was the perfect scenario. I love making videos and here I was applying to a company that (among other things) makes videos. Naturally, the only way I could possibly express interest in this job was a video. I got my hands on a trial version of Adobe Premiere, searched my mental movie library for funny clips to use, and 18 hours later I sent in the finished video. In a bit of subliminal sleight-of-hand, I titled it, “‘So You’re Hiring’ Doug Lane”.
Once I’d sent that in, I got to work positioning myself for the best possible shot at my dream job. I wanted to know what their customer experience was like, so I bought and completed Kendra’s $29 DBA Job Interview Question and Answer Kit (I know! Too perfect!). I watched sample videos from Brent, Jeremiah, and Jes. I read the supplemental PDFs that go with the videos. I downloaded and ran sp_Blitz® on a couple of my own VMs. I wanted to be able to offer feedback on as many products as I could. I wanted them to know that I cared about their business.
WE’LL TALK ABOUT COFFEE, DOGS, DAUGHTERS…NO BIG WHOOP.
I’d never interviewed with people I knew ahead of time, let alone people I considered friends. I wasn’t quite sure how to behave. I was trying to toe the line between casual banter and serious discussion. I figured I’d let them set the tone for what was appropriate. Fortunately, Brent, Kendra, and Jeremiah all put me at ease, and I simply stopped worrying about it after a while.
I thought I only really botched one question: “When was the last time you caused a production outage?” Now, I’ve brought down a production box through pure idiocy more times than I can count, but I’ve never brought my entire company to its knees. That’s how I interpreted the question and thus answered, “I don’t think I’ve ever done that.” YEAH, RIGHT. I did go back and clarify that later on, but still felt like an doofus on that one.
After the interview, I sent them a quick thank-you e-mail restating what I thought they were looking for and how I was a good fit, as well as a couple of changes I’d suggested for sp_Blitz®.
TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES…I’LL GIVE YOU A TOPIC.
The tech interview was more challenging. In the first two minutes of poking around Brent’s VM, I had somehow destroyed it. I couldn’t right-click in Kendra’s VM so I had to ask her to do it. Every time. It didn’t help that the lighting in my house was terrible; I looked like one of those “Meth: NOT EVEN ONCE” poster guys on my webcam and it bugged the hell out of me.
I was slow to recognize certain symptoms, but ultimately found the problem. I told myself the whole interview was just okay, and didn’t feel too good about my chances. When Kendra asked, “How do you think you did?” my stomach filled with dread.
An hour later, I got another meeting request from the group. I couldn’t tell if it was to immediately disqualify me or to make an offer. I couldn’t resist screaming with joy when I found out.
And here we are.
WHAT ABOUT BI?
It seems odd to make such a sharp career turn from BI to the database engine. In truth, this has been a long time coming. My favorite SQL Server BI product, Reporting Services, hasn’t had a major update since 2008. More and more BI functionality is ending up in Excel or SharePoint: two places I’m not all that interested in following. Plus, the DAX/Tabular/Power Everything revolution meant I was going to have to start over learning a new BI language, new model, and new tools. My heart just isn’t in that — not as much as I’d need it to be to continue down that path.
At the same time, I’m looking forward to contributing what BI knowledge I have that’s still valid and useful (one benefit of SSRS’s slow pace) to Brent Ozar Unlimited®. I expect Jes and I will put our heads together for some SSRS fun in the days to come.
Last year, I hit a wall…hard. I was overworked at work. I wasn’t doing anything fun or interesting with SQL Server. I plateaued as a speaker, doing my same stock SSRS talk for every presentation. I wasn’t blogging much. I got very sick right before the PASS Summit and had a miserable time there. 2012 was awful. I couldn’t wait for 2013 to arrive.
This year has been a different story. I got three new presentations off the ground, including a murder mystery session I’ve had percolating for two years. I presented to over 300 people on Reporting Services at the PASS Summit last month. And of course, I’ve somehow talked the very nice people sketched all over this site into hiring me. Even just two months ago, I never would have thought that was possible.
I was listening to Billy Joel (I love Billy Joel) at my desk a couple of weeks ago and in one of those transcendent moments where life compels you to pay attention, I stopped working and just listened to what I was hearing:
I survived all those long lonely days
When it seemed I did not have a friend
‘Cause all I needed was a little faith
So I could catch my breath and face the world again
Don’t forget your second wind
Sooner or later you’ll feel that momentum kick in
I leaned back in my chair and fought back tears, unsuccessfully. My second wind had come.
I can’t wait to see where it carries me.