How to Be Employee #3

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These four things are important if you want to join us in Cabo:

1. Demonstrate curiosity about the technology you use.

Don’t focus on the specific technology you think we want – follow your dreams. If you use a technology on a daily basis to get your job done, be curious about how it works. Read books and blogs. Ask questions. Debate the answers. Get involved in the places where that technology is discussed.

One of the many things I love about working with Jeremiah, Kendra, and Jes is that they want to run experiments to verify their ideas. It’s not enough for them to read an answer – they want to see it in action. When a user group attendee asks a question we haven’t heard before, we all leap to the keyboards trying to figure it out for ourselves, and then we want to blog about it afterwards.

2. Share what you’ve learned by delivering remarkable training.

When someone walks out of one of your user group presentations or gets to the end of a blog post, they should be talking about what a great job you did.

As a presenter myself, I used to think this meant uncovering an undocumented or obscure feature that nobody else knew and blowing them away with my encyclopedia of knowledge. That’s not it at all – you can be remarkable on a 100-level topic.

Don’t think “It’s all been done” – because you haven’t brought your own unique and entertaining voice to the topic. Doug’s SQL Server Murder Mystery presentation was a great example of bringing very common material to life in a fun, addictive way that gets audience members talking.

3. Have a fun yet mature personality both online and offline.

On one extreme, the market for the written instruction manual is already taken by Books Online.

On the other extreme, there’s Sandro on Project Runway.

Jeremiah never stops looking for our next employee. "There - in the window - that's the one!"
Jeremiah never stops looking for our next employee. “There – in the window – that’s the one!”

Consultants have to find a balance between the two by bringing their personality to their work, but not turning the workplace into a bad drama-laden talk show where people are screaming about politics and religion and OH MY GOD, THE SAN ADMIN IS TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE!

During Doug’s PASS Summit presentation this year, he had a make-it-work moment when someone asked him a question and SSRS didn’t work the way he expected it to. He froze for a second, then thought through the problem, explained it, and got the audience to laugh about it. In that one moment, he showed that he was calm under pressure, and even better, calm enough to make the right joke.

4. Keep growing.

Years ago, I blogged about a couple of my own presenting mistakes. At TechEd 2010, for example, I made a political joke that didn’t fly with all of the attendees, and I reacted poorly when someone pushed me hard on a question. I watched the videos of my work, tweaked my delivery, and kept growing as a presenter and as a person. I was open to criticism, and I still am, and you’ve gotta be too. It’s not enough to just respond to comments, but you’ve also gotta be able to read between the lines and figure out what I need to do to succeed.

These tips aren’t just for becoming employee #3 at Brent Ozar Unlimited®. (After all, we had a handful of applicants who met these qualifications.) Follow these tips, and you’ll always be employee #1 at your current job, and you’ll have a line of people ready to hire you.

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • “It’s not enough for them to read an answer – they want to see it in action.” I think this statement sums up what it takes to learn the details of a technology and be an expert. I have always enjoyed working with people that have this attitude, and I find that I learn from them a lot.


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