How My Attitude and Branding Changed Over 20 Years

This month, to mark the 20th anniversary of, I’m stepping back and looking at the big picture rather than blogging about database problems & solutions like I usually do.

It wouldn’t be a good navel-gazing series without a couple thousands words looking inward at myself.

When I first got started writing online, I was writing for myself. I blogged because it was enjoyable. I just liked writing. (I still do.)

10 years ago, I wanted to be 3 things.

Technical, approachable, likable

In the late 2000s, I started thinking more about branding. I joined Quest Software in 2008, and I spent a lot of time working with the marketing team. Smart, friendly people like Christian Hasker, Andy Grant, and Heather Eichmann got me to think more about how my blog looked to someone who was just walking in the front door for the first time, so to speak.

I went through a branding exercise to come up with 3 words to describe my online persona, and I came up with:

  • Technical – I wanted to write technical details about the real-world problems I ran into and how to solve them. This sounds obvious in retrospect, given the blog that you’re reading, but in the early years, my writing was all over the place, like buying pantyhose to build a turtle tank filter.
  • Approachable – I wanted readers to feel like they could talk to me about my work and their own database problems. I didn’t want to seem like I was locked in an ivory tower.
  • Likable – I wanted readers to laugh, enjoy their time with me, and come back for more.

I repeated that mantra over and over. I stopped writing stuff that wasn’t technical, I showed up on every social media platform, I got to know everybody I could in the SQL Server community, and I tried to write content everybody would love, universally. My SQL 2008 R2 Review post was a good example of what I aimed for during this period.

Over time, I gave up on approachable.

Thinking about smashing

I realized that being approachable meant that people would actually approach me. That sounds great in theory, but there were an endless stream of people who wanted me to do their work.

For free.

Right away.

I don’t remember the first time I got an email that said something like, “My client needs me to do ___, please walk me through it.” I wish I’d have had a video of me reading those words. Was I dumbfounded? Suspicious? I don’t remember the first time, but wow, did those emails come in like crazy over the years.

While I wanted to be both approachable and likable, I had zero interest in doing someone else’s job for free and being taken advantage of. At first, I kinda politely said, “That’s a great idea for a blog post. I’ll make a note of that and touch on it at some point in the future.” I pretty quickly abandoned that and just used a set of GMail canned responses.

I still wanted to be approachable, but…I didn’t want that to be one of my 3 core branding words. If that was one of the first things people thought about when they thought of me, they would bring me every tiny problem for free as if I was their virtual coworker, and I simply couldn’t afford to do that. I wouldn’t have any family time left.

Over time, I gave up on likable too.

My smile hasn’t changed

Let’s be honest here, dear reader, because you know me pretty well: we both know I’m sarcastic.

It was easy to keep the sarcasm toned down in blog posts because I’m a huge believer in scheduling posts ahead of time. If I click Schedule instead of Post, then I have more time to think over the contents. I’ll come back to a post a day or a week later, contemplate the contents, and then take out the sharpest humor.

As I started spending more time on social media, especially Twitter, the sarcasm shone right through. I would see a tweet, respond sarcastically immediately, and then regret it a day later. (Or not.) I can sit here and say, “That person deserved a sharp reply so they could see the error of their ways,” but we’re talking about me here, and the problem is that I’m sarcastic.

Microsoft would bring out a feature that didn’t make any sense, and I’d tweet about it sarcastically. The Professional Association for SQL Server would shoot themselves in the foot again, and I’d take to social media with some witty banter. The problem was that I was gradually offending a lot of people in my industry: they might forget about their bad decision, but they wouldn’t forget the way I’d tweeted publicly about it.

A big part of the problem: my metrics. I viewed the blog as the big megaphone (because I’ve got over 100K email subscribers and tons of web hits), and Twitter as the quieter water cooler chat, ephemeral stuff. However, someone took me aside one day and said, “You realize you’ve got more than twice the Twitter followers of anybody else in our industry – it’s not even close – and when you say something kinda casually on Twitter, tens of thousands of people can hear it?” That sounds like a humblebrag, but it’s not: I’m humbleashamed. Twitter was a big megaphone too, and as I looked back, I felt really bad about the way I’d used it over the years because it worked against the likable goal. (Those last few words are important, though.)

That moment caused me to rethink the “likable” part of my branding.

I could have pivoted and said, “I’m gonna turn this ship around, and be genuinely likable again online.” But the reality is that the damage was done: nobody in the industry was ever gonna see me as Mother Theresa, and let’s be honest: I’m not Mother Theresa. I can’t market something I’m not. (I mean, I could. But that goes against my core values.) Lemme zoom way out for a second.

Your life is like a blank white canvas.

Whether we’re talking about your career, your job skills, a relationship, your online reputation, whatever, the same concept applies: you start with an empty canvas. Over time, every action you take fills that canvas in, painting a picture.

From time to time, you need to step back and survey your work. Are you painting the right picture? Have you been obsessing over a tiny detail that doesn’t really matter? Do you need to take some major corrective actions? Is there anything you need to paint over? Do you need to change your approach to the rest of the canvas given what you’ve painted so far?

Let’s take job skills, for example. I got started in hotels, then used my hotel experience as a developer & sysadmin for hotel companies. I used that experience to become a database administrator, and filled in more space with work in virtualization, storage, cloud, startups, etc. As long as I kept building on top of that same picture, I could make it better and better over time.

You don’t really get another canvas.

If you want to start painting a different picture, you can take the space you have left and start there – but you only have so much time and mental space. Your new work is going to be heavily influenced by the work you’ve already done on that canvas. If you hit reset on your skills and try a totally different industry, you might paint a smaller, better picture for yourself – for however you define “better” – but it’s going to be smaller in scope. (My Dad did that, starting over as a nurse after decades in business, and I’ve always admired the work and dedication that it required.)

Similarly, branding is like that: if you’ve built up a large online following that sees you a certain way, and you wanna change it, you’ve already got a partially-filled-in canvas. Plus, you gotta keep in mind that you painted this stuff: it’s your style. You might just want to accept yourself for who you are and run with it.

A Dita Von Teese quote helped me decide.

Around the same time I was having the epiphany around the “likable” part of my branding, I saw this:

That quote right there changed my life.

It rang so true for me because I thought back about my experience with sp_Blitz. When I first launched it, there were a few people who griped, “It’s free as in beer, but not free as in speech – it’s not really open source.” When I open sourced it with the MIT license, they griped, “He’s still collecting emails to download it.” When I put it on Github, they griped, “Well, it still has his name in it.” I wanted them to like me, but it was never good enough, and I had to stop beating myself up. Some people just aren’t going to like me and what I do, full stop, and Dita’s quote taught me that that’s okay.

I thought about the people that I admired at the time, and for every one of ’em, there were plenty of haters. But who cares? *I* liked them, and so did hundreds of thousands (or millions) of other people. They made my life more enjoyable and they taught me things. There’s no such thing as a media personality that everyone likes. (I used to think Oprah was an exception – everybody likes Oprah, right? – but the aftermath of the Harry and Meghan interview taught me that even Oprah has her haters.)

In 2016, I came up with 3 new attributes.

When you’re writing code or managing a project, you need to know where you’re going. Blogging, writing presentations, and live streaming is no different: you need to understand the end result you want to achieve, and have a meaningful path to get there. So in 2016, I revisited my branding words to come up with a new strategy for myself, and I came up with:

  • Training class poll, March 2021

    Technical – no changes here. I do share lifestyle & business stuff on my Instagram, my TikTok, and, but those are just hobbiesfor my own fulfillment, kinda like how blogging was for me back in the early 2000s.

  • Pain-relieving – I really work hard to focus my training and consulting on the most urgent, most relevant things that will make your SQL Server pains go away. I’m rarely about learning just for the sake of learning: the things you spend time learning and doing need to immediately pay off in a happier SQL Server.
  • To the point – your time is valuable, and so is mine. We’re both going to cut through the BS as quickly as possible in order to get what we both need to succeed. I want you to be able to stop working with me as quickly as possible so that you can go back to shipping value for your customers or your own career. The faster I can get your server fixed or get the right knowledge into your brain, the better.

(And, uh, this blog post is none of those three. But look, I’m allowed to go off-topic here now and then. This is the 20th anniversary of, and I warned you that this series would be navel-gazing.)

The last one is the biggest change over the last 10 years.

Eyes up here, kidScrew civility: if I think something is a waste of your time, I’m going to be up front and tell you right away in no uncertain terms.

I’ll use an easy, obvious example: Microsoft’s certifications have been a waste of your time and money for years. They’ve changed the certification paths, branding, and names so many times that there’s no market awareness and no value to your career. The only time you should invest your precious time in those is if your company is picking up the tab, they allow you to study during work hours, and they require the cert. Those certs are just garbage, and they’re not going to become the next hot commodity. You’re not suddenly going to be an in-demand professional just because you crammed and got some irrelevant cert.

I’m not saying you’re not allowed to waste time. I love wasting time – I spend hours on TikTok, hahaha. We just need to be clear on what’s a waste of time, and what’s marketed to you as something productive and valuable for your career – when it’s really just a waste of time. (I’m picking on Microsoft certifications here, but the same holds true for lots of things that I pan.)

Yes, this means people who, say, sell Microsoft certifications aren’t going to like me. It took me years of self-examination to realize that I really shouldn’t care what those people say anyway: I don’t respect them at all, period, full stop. I actively disrespect them because they’re wasting your time and money, and that really pisses me off, dear reader.

When I say dear reader, I mean the core set of readers around here who are struggling to succeed while maintainining a work/life balance. You, the kind of people who stick around to the end of a blog post like this, the ones who have been reading this blog for years, who regularly find me in your Google search results and click on the links because you know I’ll get you an answer quickly, the ones who leverage the First Responder Kit to do your jobs better and faster.

If I think someone on a live stream is wasting YOUR time disrespectfully, I cut straight to the chase and tell them. I talked about my sarcasm on social media – I think it comes through much more strongly during my Twitch & YouTube live streams. For example, if someone comes to a free class and they didn’t follow the instructions in the prerequisites, they’re going to get a quick, to-the-point instruction that they didn’t do their homework, and we’re moving on. I’m not here for them – I’m here for you, dear reader.

Like peaches and Dita Von Teese, I’m not for everybody.

And I’m okay with that.

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57 Comments. Leave new

  • I think your sarcasm lends to your likability – it’s about being genuine. I’ve followed your blog for awhile as an analyst, not because I want to spend more time in the database (please no), but because it’s like a breath of fresh air to read a blog that was written without rose-colored glasses on.

    I think a lot of people are uncomfortable criticizing an industry that they’ve dedicated a lot of their time to. Tableau blogs are filled with unicorns and rainbows, but speak nothing of the Power BI knights arriving in their territory with shiny new armor and weapons. It’s just blissful ignorance. I’d prefer the guy that supports his current empire, but is willing to call out it’s flaws and start discussing a better, more prepared future.

    I hope that metaphor didn’t get too far abstracted. Just wanted to add your tips have been really helpful too, even if I dislike doing the db work that they apply to 🙂

    • Mike – aww, thanks sir! Yeah, I know that feeling at looking at some industry blogs and going, “Wait, isn’t there a dark side to this technology, and why aren’t you showing it?”

  • Francesco Mantovani
    March 30, 2021 1:14 pm

    “Microsoft’s certifications have been a waste of your time and money for years.” Thank you for telling out loud what everyone has been thinking for decades.

    …and I have my Dita Von Teese request: few days ago you started a video on YouTube without saying “Good morning party people” and this kinda upset me. 🙂

  • I started reading you back around 2010 when you were blogging about going for the MCM. I haven’t used SQL Server since 2012 but I’ve still kept on reading your blog the entire time! I guess that says something. (I wish there was a Brent Ozar of mysql.)

    • Michael Armentrout
      March 30, 2021 6:41 pm

      I pivoted off of DBA work and have been a Qlik developer since 2014, but still follow Brent, on all social media, subscribe to his newsletter, read his blog posts, watch his YouTube/Twitch videos and still learn so much from him. Thanks for being the lovable curmudgeon we tune in for. I do hate you because of the three vehicles you own. ? Seriously, thanks for the transparency. I think that is your most valuable trait.

      • Rich & Michael – thanks for the kind words! That’s about as good as I can get – if you still read me without working on SQL Server, that’s amazing. I never thought about that!

  • Peter Schott
    March 30, 2021 4:16 pm

    I’d say you’re still approachable and likeable. If someone comes in with a good question and shows they’ve done their research ahead of time, you will respond appropriately. (You also respond appropriately when someone needs to do their own work or it goes beyond a simple answer.) I’ve never felt that I couldn’t approach you and have done so when appropriate. I know that if I have a legitimate question on an article you’ve posted you’ll generally respond. I also know that you may say “that’s beyond this scope” or “this goes into billable hours”. 🙂

    Good thoughts on your attributes and I appreciate you sharing the thoughts behind them.

  • You’re pithy and witty as always. I think your material is very on point, presented in a time efficient way,
    “You be you” Brent, your directness is a great quality.

    I think you recently observed that many people subscribing to your paid services do this out of their own pocket, not refunded by any company. That so many of us do that is a testament to the value of what you do. It’s my biggest but most vital expenditure every year. Your subscriber levels speak volumes.

  • Sometimes a little sarcasm makes you more likable. More genuine, as Mike said. It makes us feel like we’re being taught by a real human who once was where we are now, and not some uber-polished marketing-approved robotic reading. (Like when setting up at the start of a livestream gives you some grief – “Hey that happens to me too!”)

    Connect with your readers, right? Well, you’ve done that, and done it well, I think.

  • Sorin Istrate
    March 30, 2021 5:03 pm

    Well, man, you changed my life. Period. I took a lot of training classes in the past, but none has even come closer to yours and left me with more questions than answers. Answers that I had to figure out myself – the hard way. I bought a lot of MS books, but none was giving information the way I needed to understand. Finally, last year I took money out of my own pocket and bought your training classes at BF offer. Best 1000 USD I have ever spent. Your style and approach towards training and understanding of SQL Server is already making my life easier and more successful. Not trying to flatter you, but you really rock. Thank you for your great work !

  • Stephan Moss
    March 30, 2021 5:10 pm

    I took an advanced DBA class from you in San Diego several years ago and it stands out as one of the most enjoyable classes that I have taken for work. I think the humor (you can’t get too sarcastic for me) and the sense of fun made the information stick better and made it a fun way to spend a few days. I know you have had to become less accessible, but the personal time spent with you and my classmates added to the experience.

  • Chris Wilson
    March 30, 2021 5:42 pm

    I’m with most of the other folks here Brent, your demeanor is very human and relatable. In fact I would consider it similar to my own brand of sarcasm. As long as the questions aimed at you weren’t a do my job for me but instead trying to dig deeper into understanding then you are very approachable. I’ve been to your sessions, watched your videos, and even taken several training classes with you, albeit those where you were in a group, and I have never felt like you were trying to be mean or catty. Keep doing you Brent and someone will listen. At least I know I will!

  • You continue to impress me as someone who has their head screwed on straight. Life would be a lot nicer if everyone wore their top three values on their sleeve and lived them apologetically. I’ve watched your evolution over the last few years and while your insights into SQL are well, insightful – the way you deliver the content is what sets you apart. You appear to be a human first – and when you named us as ‘the core set of readers around here who are struggling to succeed while maintainining a work/life balance’ kinds sent shivers down my spine.

    Just get a better spellchecker, eh? 😉

  • danielle.paquette-harvey
    March 30, 2021 6:02 pm

    I’ve always though you are approachable and I really enjoy your training videos and live classes. Your my favorite SQL trainer and one of the only one I listen from beginning to the end without checking my phone. Just keep on being yourself! Sarcasm is great too 😉

  • Marlon Ribunal
    March 30, 2021 6:27 pm

    I am yet to meet a Brent Ozar hater. I have never met one. For those who are in the SQL Community for so long, we love Brent. I think I can speak for the majority in this regard.

    • Marlon – well, the majority maybe, but the haters are out there, hahaha. Thanks sir!

    • Marlon Ribunal
      March 30, 2021 7:59 pm

      And, I forgot to mention his value as a resource…I can no longer count the times when I have to google “Brent Ozar on XXX”, or hear my manager say “check Brent, he has a good article on that.”

  • Standa Zitta
    March 30, 2021 6:37 pm

    I just wanna leave here a big THANK YOU note for the quality content you provide to the readers/listeners for free and your contributions. You truly are an inspiring person, Brent.

  • Juanita Drobish
    March 30, 2021 7:01 pm

    Brent, I’ve enjoyed watching and learning from you whether it is on the internet or at past conferences. It’s your personality that caught my attention from day 1. You’re great at what you do and you make learning SQL server all that much more enjoyable. I don’t ship king cakes to just anyone! Please don’t ever lose your “tasty beverage” !!

  • Scott Buchholz
    March 30, 2021 8:17 pm

    When I describe you to people that don’t know I say you’re the “punk rock DBA” I follow, which is probably more attributable to your sarcasm than your taste in music. Hell you may be a Swiftie for all I know. But I’ll join the chorus and say thanks for keepin’ it real!


      Well, I *do* like the Violent Femmes…

      • I hope you know that this *will* go down on your permanent record…

        or in this case on your canvas 🙂
        thank you for the fun and inspiration. I try to bring fun to my daily work and it does pay off – we’re all stuck on our own treadmills for 40+ years, we NEED to have fun while doing it !!

  • Richard W. Memmer
    March 30, 2021 9:18 pm

    “Microsoft’s certifications have been a waste of your time and money for years”: A friend once said, “People shouldn’t go to college unless they know what they want to do.” To which I replied, “That’s like saying you shouldn’t go to a library unless you know what book you’re gonna get.”

    I’ve amassed a great deal of knowledge in pursuit of certifications—and despite the pooh-poohing and lack of reeling in interest because of them, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    I didn’t do it for a job in the first place—it was a worthy endeavor (like a long line of goals that came before and after). For anyone who thinks I’m “offended” over this—you’re insulting your intelligence by thinking in such a one-dimensional manner.

    I’ve seen more than my share of such thinking. As I recently wrote, “It’s often been a battle with the self-satisfied who pretend otherwise. If they budged at all, it was one millimeter at a time.” Perhaps if they had pursued some certifications, they’d find some humility in the realization that they’re not nearly as good as they think they are. Knowing what’s available to you is crucial in any craft, so certifications are invaluable on that alone.

    The notion that we shouldn’t pursue something simply because things change is preposterous. I’ve heard this “company” line before—like from my former manager who wrote the sloppiest SQL I’ve ever seen. His work was maddeningly error-prone and I cringed every time I touched it. But while his know-it-all narcissism is off the charts, his attitude is like a lot of people in IT. They get lazy in their ways and shun anyone who has the nerve to suggest that there’s something more to see. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”—yeah, and some are better than others.

    When I started out on my mission 5 years ago, it wasn’t my first attempt. Years before, I thought I was more talented than I was, and that failure was an invaluable lesson. I didn’t prepare, and it showed. I never made that mistake again—completely overhauling my studying and test-taking practices. That journey led to people like you, Brent—bottomless treasures of knowhow to be absorbed and respected.

    Having no DBA experience, I skipped that exam to return to it later. When the time came, I found myself increasingly fascinated by territory that I originally didn’t have a great interest in. I wanted to gain some knowledge and complete my mission, but little did I know that I’d learn to love it. When I was beating my head against the wall a number of nights, you think I gave a damn about “market awareness” as my reward?

    And the more I learned, the deeper I dug. It was a bonding experience to boot—as a friend and former colleague is pursuing certifications as well. My only regret on this front is that I didn’t start sooner, as I could have sharpened my strategy to get where I wanted to go. The certifications acted as a conduit to that discovery—the badges are just a bonus.

    I once had a colleague with several certifications decorating his resume—and even he admitted that it was window dressing. He said he was just good at passing tests. Sounds to me like you cemented your perception based on people like that—along with those who cram in their thirst for another bullet point.

    Here’s what I shared after achieving my goals of “garbage”:


    I passed my DBA exam on January 7, 2021 — officially making me a “Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.”

    The real experts are those who produced the mountains of material that helped me pass my certifications to earn that badge. In my wish to thank them all, I thought of writing this piece.

    I couldn’t have done it without you. I continue to be amazed by the quality of your efforts to inform, as you embody the best of what the internet can be.

    Kind regards,

    Richard W. Memmer


  • I think like the others Brent is likeable and I think it’s part of the presentation.
    I think it funny but amazing with each presentation I’ve watched when he runs the code it’s like he doesn’t know what is going to happen next.
    Why I hate Brent – his presentations are too good, when I watch other presentations I’m disappointed. I think he needs to be taken out…

    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988):

    Horatio Jackson : Ah, the officer who risked his life by singlehandedly destroying…

    Functionary : [whispering in his ear] Six.

    Horatio Jackson : *Six* enemy cannon and rescuing…

    Functionary : Ten.

    Horatio Jackson : Ten of our men held captive by The Turk.

    Heroic Officer : Yes, sir.

    Horatio Jackson : The officer about whom we’ve heard so much.

    Heroic Officer : I suppose so, sir.

    Horatio Jackson : Always taking risks far beyond the call of duty.

    Heroic Officer : I only did my best, sir.

    Horatio Jackson : Have him executed at once.

    Soldier : Yes, sir. Come along.

    Horatio Jackson : This sort of behavior is demoralizing for the ordinary soldiers and citizens who are trying to lead normal, simple, unexceptional lives. I think things are difficult enough as it is without these emotional people rocking the boat.

  • Mickel Reemer
    March 31, 2021 2:29 pm

    Brent, thank you for all the work you have put together the past two decades and the work that you will put together from this time on. Besides following you for the past few years over this blog and your newsletters, I, as a European, can *finally* get the necessary and appropriate SQL Server training I have wanted for so long.

    Today marks my 49th birthday. That tells everyone that I am a firm believer in “you’re never too old to learn new tricks”. Thank you for the markdowns on all your trainings. Although some of the topics might sound familiar to me, your offer made it easy for me to buy me the fundamentals series for my birthday and get started the right way… from scratch… with those fundamentals… and then built up and level up from there.

    You have no idea what this new direction of Brent Ozar (selling in EU) means to me…. simply, because I am unable to put that into words.

    Thank you, Sir!

    PS: you’re spot on with those Microsoft certs… I am happy that my money never went that direction.

  • Chase Marler
    March 31, 2021 3:54 pm

    spot-on as usual. That last section is fire and I needed to read it!

  • Richard W. Memmer
    March 31, 2021 4:57 pm

    [redacted due to Richard making personal attacks]

    • Rick – I think you’re saying you use certifications to learn.

      You’re misunderstanding what you’re doing.

      You’re using the STUDYING to learn.

      The certification didn’t teach you anything.

  • Richard W. Memmer
    March 31, 2021 5:29 pm

    [redacted due to Richard making personal attacks]

  • Scott Buchholz
    March 31, 2021 5:34 pm

    @Richard Memmer – I think you’re both right. I too agree that “putting in the time” and scholarship are valuable in their own right, and its not necessarily about the credential. But I think what Brent’s saying is that there’s less expensive and more “to the point” ways of getting the knowledge you need and want. As an accidental DBA 5 years ago I started on the path of certification and quickly realized I was going to be spending a lot of time learning things that I and my employer didn’t need me to know right away – like dealing with XML data types for example. So I turned to the interwebs, and Brent in particular, and I was able to much more quickly learn and apply the things that mattered at the time. And as time has passed I’ve continued to learn and flesh out some of the more archane areas that didn’t matter early on. But each person is different and I do genuinely applaud you for digging in and seeing the cert process through. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like be able to put MCSE on my resume. But I’m much more interested in making sure I’m able to do the job asked of me and in my case I probably would have forgotten most of the things I would’ve had to learn to pass the exam because I wouldn’t yet have had the need to use the knowledge and give it context. So the “ala-carte” method works for me and I suspect many others and it’s been nearly free.

  • Richard W. Memmer
    March 31, 2021 5:54 pm

    [redacted due to Richard making personal attacks]

    • Richard – correct, I picked up on the personal attack, yes.

      I’ve deleted your comments. If you want to continue commenting here, feel free to apologize for personal attacks against me, and then you can comment. Otherwise, beat it.

  • I feel like sarcasm is the nature of a developer. I, too, am sarcastic and pretty much not allowed to play with others! Anyway, I agree about these certifications, etc. My thing is this. I am a SQL developer and an accidental DBA. I am now in a position that being an accidental DBA is not helpful and looking for DBA related classes that will help me in my current position. I am the only SQL person in my group and must wear many hats as usual. Now, I am wanting to improve my skills so that I can better manage my databases when having to put on that ‘DBA’ hat. Any suggestions?

  • Richard W. Memmer
    April 1, 2021 5:05 am

    Post your arguments and mine outside your forum — amongst your peers, and we’ll see how they hold up with those not blinded by fragile ego. You can’t even fathom how pathetic your ploy for an apology is in my eyes. You’re still a superstar — just a small-minded one.

  • Thank you for calling out Microsoft certifications! I’ve been thinking they’re pointless for years, as well. And it’s not the material covered in the cert courses… that, of course, helps you learn how to use the application, at least to an out-of-the-box state. But what’s the point in getting a certification that’s not just going to update, but completely change in two years’ time? Put that money into learning some related technology, instead. And I can attest that very few employers in my career have actually required such certifications… real work experience is seen as far more valuable.

  • As a developer (primary), I follow your blog for quite some time now…

    I learned invaluable stuff here!
    I even have to say, every dev out there should at least check out your basics and fundamental courses to understand important parts of sql server!

    Thanks for providing this great content!

    And of course thanks for the great FirstResponderKit and other tools you share!

  • James S May
    April 7, 2021 6:55 pm


    It might not be one of your three goals, but you’ve been a damned good teacher.

    I’ve learned more from your free marketing than I have from any of my co-workers, and I learned more from your $800 video package than I did from a 60k college degree.

    I’m curious to read what Rick said. You’re right that being likeable is a questionable goal but everyone who gets this far into the comments section is rooting for you anyways. Lets hear what the heckler has to say.

    I sat down to study for some microsoft certs, and it was obvious in 20 minutes that the tests were written by people who had never had a job actually *using* the product. The best way to tell if someone is good at this whole sql thing is to talk to them. Your gut will tell you in 90 seconds.

  • Garland MacNeill
    April 28, 2021 1:04 pm

    And Dear Brent,

    Your honesty, sarcastic wit, and dedication to helping people learn is why I have spent years reading this blog, taken some courses, and recommend the hell out of this site. So, thank you and you keep doing you cause you’re awesome at it.

  • “Screw civility: if I think something is a waste of your time, I’m going to be up front and tell you right away in no uncertain terms.”

    How is it that you can get away with it but all I manage to do is upset those fellows in the office whose vagina hurts should anyone not drop everything they’re doing to answer to his every whim?

    You’ve been in the trade 20 years… I’ve been in it a little longer and I see it as being that I don’t have to tolerate people who want to waste my time.
    If someone comes along with a request, they go on the queue of those waiting.
    If they’re nice and apologetic and it’s urgent, I’ll take care of it for them.
    If they immediate escalate to management to force me to do it to their schedule, then they wait.

    I’ve also butted heads with you (Brent) and you called me an asshole, which is definitely not far from the truth. I would say the same for you and mean it in the nicest way possible. That’s just how it is when you’re good at what you do and have had more than enough of people who think they’re smarter than you and can manipulate how you do your job.

    Think about people who are experts in their field and if they’re inclined to tolerate the time-wasters of this world….
    Red Adair?
    Neil Armstrong or, more rightly, Buzz Aldrin?
    Chuck Yeager?
    Paris Hilton?
    (OK, I’m kidding with the last one 🙂 )

    • > I’ve also butted heads with you (Brent) and you called me an asshole

      If it’s the email exchange I think it is (about training access), go back and reread the thread, heh. You’re the one who used that term to describe yourself, not me. 😉

      I think that’s part of the key – it’s about delivering the message at the right time, in a way that helps the other person go, “Oh, snap, wait, I’m way out of line here.” I don’t want to be rude, but I do need to get the other person to quickly understand the error of their ways. (And on the flip side, I need to quickly understand the errors of my own ways, too!)

  • Matthew Giles
    January 11, 2022 9:39 pm

    I gave the label to myself? Damn… I was so hoping that a professional in my field gave it to me as it would be more of a badge of honour than anything 🙂

    I agree that with your statement as well. When something goes wrong, the first thing I tend to look at is where I may have gone wrong and start the process from there. Coming out swinging and blaming the world for something that I caused just makes me come across as a jerk – and I definitely need no extra help in doing that.


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