Almost ten years ago, some friends of ours (Erika & me) went through a rough divorce.  We’d always thought they were completely happy, and their divorce took us completely by surprise.  The more we learned about their breakup, the more curious we got about the success prospects for our own relationship.

Toilet seat - up or down?

Don't You Dare Get Married - Period!

We stumbled across the book Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This: The Book of Questions for Couples.  We dutifully filled out our own answers in the margins of the book, and in the process, we learned a lot about each other.  I was shocked at the number of issues I’d never even considered, but thankfully, almost all of our answers meshed perfectly.  Almost eleven years on, we’re still happy together.

When Kim, Paul, and I started working with our lawyers to merge our businesses together into SQLskills, I was reminded so much of that book.  Lawyers asked us all kinds of questions and provoked some pretty surprising discussions.  We were all blown away by the kinds of things that can tear companies apart – well, all of us except the lawyers, who see this kind of thing all the time.

Along the way, we discovered things about ourselves, our businesses, and our goals – things we hadn’t even thought to ask ourselves.  We unearthed situations where we had major incompatibilities, and we figured out that we might not be the best 3-some to meet at the altar.  It’s better to figure this stuff out before you get in front of the priest.

I’m still going to be doing classes & consulting with Paul & Kim, but instead of joining SQLskills as an owner, I’ll be going on my own to gradually start my own brand.  We’ll be friends with benefits, though.  Paul says I can keep the sheep costume.

Brent Ozar
I make Microsoft SQL Server faster and more reliable. I love teaching, travel, and laughing.

I’m mostly a figurehead here at Brent Ozar Unlimited. My true skills are menu advice, interpretive dance, and reading Wikipedia.
Brent Ozar on sabtwitterBrent Ozar on sablinkedinBrent Ozar on sabinstagramBrent Ozar on sabgoogleBrent Ozar on sabfacebook
↑ Back to top
  1. Hey man – you complete us! Or no, not any more 🙂 Seriously, best move all round and I’m glad we all caught it early. You can still wear the sheep suit if you want…

  2. Hey man – you complete us! Or no, not any more 🙂 Seriously, best move all round and I’m glad we all caught it early. You can still wear the sheep suit if you want…

  3. IT folks everywhere can learn from your eloquence and diplomacy. Even when you are not teaching you are teaching.

  4. That’s sad…but for the best. Partnerships are incredibly tough to make work, even if everyone involved is awesome (like the three of you).

    Good luck, Brent!

  5. Yeah, exciting times! And, better that we can be friends with benefits rather than exes.


  6. I once had a great personal secretary who showed me the power of being that strong supporting person…Dr Watson and Friday spring to mind in a silly sort of Hollywood way. It took a lot of strength to be that silent when I’d foolishly been looking through some filing cabinet marked ‘A’ when I wanted something from the Zeta file.

    Here’s hoping for your brand-new future 😉

  7. Congratulations Brent, what an exciting decision! You don’t have to be co-owners to collaborate and exploit synergies (sorry, consultant habit).

    I’ve spent a fair amount of my life (in some ways too much) around the mixture of marriage and business, so when the co-ownership plan was announced a big “Ut Oh” went off in my head. Even under the best of circumstances, it’s a tough arrangement to pull off. I’m sure it’s difficult to come out and announce something like this, but I think you’ll always look back on how wise it was.

    You don’t need to hear this from me, but I’ll say it anyway… I’d guess that you (and SQLskills) being so public about sharing this only strengthens how awesome and generous everyone thinks you folk are to the community.

    BTW, sounds like you had good lawyers with all of your interests in mind.

    • Noel – thanks, man! That brings up a good point – it shows what a great relationship Paul and Kim have because they have a successful business AND marriage. They’re great people, and I’m honored that they would even consider bringing me on board like this.

  8. WOW, didn’t see that coming, it’s great that this got caught early before any friendships got lost in a business deal. And it’s great that you can share things like this on your blog. Also it’s great news that you’ll still be working closely with Paul and Kim delivering training.

  9. Being a 26 year old kid,it is really tough for me to grasp what actually happened here.Brent has used the words in such a manner that it bounced over my head 🙂

    It looks so funny to admit that I could not understand the actual gist of the post but I am cool to admit that I am a bit stupid not to understand it properly 🙂

    But as Paul and Kim commented,I believe that Brent is still enjoying free wine and that sheep costume 🙂

    Cheers SQLSkills !!!

  10. Money, money, money…

  11. Yup, better to find out early than to find out too late. I wish everyone involved the best in luck!

  12. Impressive post, Brent. I’m a big fan of Kim & Paul and have been hearing great things about you, too, but this post alone got you added to my RSS reader.

  13. I love the fact that you posted this on Valentines day! Well timed!

    And congrats on the making the tough decision. They are hard to make, but once you do, you know there was no other path.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Vancouver! I’ll pray for the gods of Sun…rarely seen on the west coast at this time of year!

  14. In a way, this doesn’t surprise me and, certainly, from a legal standpoint it makes a lot of sense.

    When I was DBA manager at Deloitte, a partnership, I got to see all of the ins and outs of how partnerships work and why there are so many difficulties with them. They have a well-earned reputation as being the most difficult form of business entity. I ‘ve wondered from time to time if the MSSQL world could pull off a similar entity. But to make a long story short, Deloitte and the other big consultancies & partnerships are able to hand together and stay in business through a strong and very hierarchical leadership structure. The hierarchy is almost impossible to assemble and keep intact in the long run.

    It’s kudos to you all for seeing that way ahead of time. You can continue to work as you do today without a hiccup.

    And as for building a brand, Brent, do NOT sweat it. You’ve got just about the biggest brand in the business. And justly so!

    Best regards,


    • Kev – thanks, sir! That means a lot coming from you.

      I swore I’d never work for another big company after I worked for a financial firm. (I don’t see Quest as a big company, just a bunch of small companies running loosely in formation.) The hierarchical leadership structure drives me crazy. But you’re right – that’s how they’re able to succeed through time despite staff turnover, and I do admire that.

  15. At least it didn’t get messy… “who gets the tables? who gets the views? who will stored procs visit this summer?”

  16. I’m just curious, Brent. If you will eventually “start your own brand”, does that mean you will be on the same market as the Randals? Will you be their competition? Like I said, I’m just curious 🙂

  17. I appreciate the candor and honesty you’ve shared here. Asking the tough questions up-front – and getting the answers to those questions – is so important. Not doing so can ruin what otherwise could remain an excellent working relationship.

  18. I have to echo what so many have said. Its better to learn these items now than to find out so many years later. When I speak and write of when I hire a DBA, I try to remind readers/attendees that when you work with someone as many hours as we do, it is so close to a marriage. It takes so much more than love, to make the whole thing work.

    Best of luck to you.


  19. Brent,
    I got introduced to Paul and Kimberly through your website, and it was one of the best experiences in my 10+ year career in I.T. I was really looking forward to seeing this super team. I’d say, take up Paul and Kim on their 3some friends with benefits suggestion ( I never thought in my life I’d say that about 2 SQL developers), utilize them with your next phase, perhaps start with a few multi million dollar contracts and training videos!

  20. Pingback: Pragmatic Transition: Lighthouses and Shipwrecks | The SQL UPDATE Statement

  21. Hi Brent,

    Sorry to discourage you man but why to reinvent the wheel?

    Starting a Brand is one thing and actually make monies and get success from that brand is a different ball game alltogether. You DO already have a brand. Why not just encash it with someone with proven track record. Today you have the luxury and freedom to enjoy your work. U sure you will have the same once you are committed? Till date you have made your way by being different. Why to join the bandwagon?

    Wish ya best of luck for all your future ventures.

  22. Hiya Brent. I know this post is really old now but I just stumbled back on it and was reading the comments and I just started thinking (rare for me). I am really interested in one particular question -do you think it was a positive thing that you guys initially went down that path of joining forces or do you think that the *ideal* scenario is that you had come to a different conclusion about the partnership sooner than you did?

    The angle I’m aiming from here is that perhaps by making the mistake it helped you focus on what you really wanted (which resulted in giving birth to PLF).

    I just think that sometimes we have to live a mistake in order to make it real enough to us so we can then act on it and go in another direction. A bit like going to a different hotel can help you realise whether your usual one is a good call or not, but you have to take the plunge to find out.

    Don’t know if all that made sense or if I was talking jibberish?!

    Btw, just seen two of your guys speak at SQLRally – this guy called Peshka and a gal called Little and they were most excellent 🙂

    • Mark – well, in a perfect world, I’d second-guess every decision I made all along the way, and I could go all the way back to dropping out of college back in 1993. Thing is, everything I’ve done has gotten me to the point where I’m at today, and I’m really happy where I’m at.

  23. Excellent post! I’ve been married 15 years. Looks like ‘Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This!’ will still be a valuable read. And the business/partnership considerations might be relevent to me… maybe in another 15 years 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *