The Best Career Advice I Ever Got (#TSQL2sday)

Steve Jobs. Photo by Matthew Yohe.

I have been absurdly lucky to be around so many amazing and inspirational managers. Almost everything I know was taught to me by someone else. Over my life, I’ve learned so much about careers, marketing, business, communications, teaching, databases, you name it.

For this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, Gethyn Ellis asked us to share the best career advice we’ve ever received. That was a seriously tough call: I’ve gotten so many gems over the years.

But I thought about what’s the most important thing to pass on to you, dear reader – something you might not hear from other people who are answering this month’s call.

Steve Jobs said, “Real artists ship.”

He meant it didn’t matter how many great ideas you had, or how badly you wanted to do something, or whether your work matched the quality of the design in your head. At the end of the day, you have to make a plan, build your thing, and then get that thing out the door. Plans don’t count.

That quote drives a lot of things I do – like publishing this blog post, hahaha. Is this post perfect? Not even close. Could I do more? Yep, absolutely. But there’s a related quote often attributed to Teddy Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

So many years ago, when I first published my Blitz script – back before it was a stored procedure – I had so many reservations. The code quality wasn’t great. I didn’t see myself as an expert. I thought people would pick my work apart and tell me I was an idiot. But I had to start somewhere, so I sucked it up and put it out there.

I know when you read this blog post, you think, “Everything’s already been done. What could I possibly contribute?” You couldn’t be more wrong. In today’s rapidly changing data landscape, there are new back ends, services, and tools launching constantly. There’s a bigger need than ever for people to share what they learn, as they go. You’ve gotta start that blog, write that script, record that video, and let it out into the arena. The next phase in your career is right out there for you to take.


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23 Comments. Leave new

  • Chris Wilson
    June 20, 2023 4:27 pm

    Appreciate the blog post Brent. I sometimes feel I need to start a blog or youtube channel but at the same time feel like it would be so hard to measure up to the people I read daily like yourself. Keep doing what you are doing and I will see if I can muster up the courage to put something out there.

    • My pleasure! I feel the same way about my own quality of work – for example, when I put my stuff up against, say, Guy in a Cube, my production quality is terrible. It’s a never-ending journey. Just gotta ship.

    • Jorge Mendes
      June 20, 2023 6:32 pm

      Thanks Brent, you are great.

  • Betsy Hofflin
    June 20, 2023 4:51 pm

    A related one I got from a long ago manager is “don’t confuse effort with results”. It’s been a great rule to follow for me.

  • Just read the post, and it was Epic! For every project, somebody has a vision of what they see as the need, and ultimately the person making the item will make it, and hopefully, do well enough that it can be the real deal. Thanks again for making this fun (as always!)

  • Dennis Chavez
    June 20, 2023 6:15 pm

    Loved today’s post and the two quotes (Jobs/Roosevelt)!
    Thanks for taking the time to enlighten us!

  • Hi Brent, I heard a quote once to the effect of “The price of 100% quality is prohibitively expensive and can put you out of business.” It’s an iterative process. Nice post. Thank you.

  • Steve Ognibene
    June 20, 2023 9:05 pm

    Love it Brent! You’re totally right. Thanks for “shipping” your SQL Server training all those years ago. Still some of the best career dev money I’ve ever spent.

  • Andy Jackson
    June 20, 2023 10:01 pm

    Right on the money. Make progress, however small. At the end of the day it might feel like you’ve accomplished nothing…but finish that draft email & send it. Finish the script & commit it. Even document what you’ve learnt and be happy you’ve learnt it, so at the end of the week the day you’ve just put in – it counted for something.

  • Frank lwambo
    June 20, 2023 11:40 pm

    I remember you in office hours citing paul randal’s advice on no need posting questions eliciting responses on tech platforms if writing and going through a test case could take a shorter time. Since then I do my tests first before posting anything.

  • Bill Altmann
    June 21, 2023 12:20 am

    Bill Vaughan in one on his SQL Server books said he reminded his team that they were there to SHIP software.

  • Mahesh Shinde
    June 22, 2023 3:37 am

    It is inspiring blog. There is lot to take from this blog. Thank you!

  • BrewCityDBA
    June 23, 2023 1:00 pm

    Thanks for the upbeat post. Positive thinking is in short supply on my team. Morale can be very low when people get burnt out but I try to remember that I have a job to do regardless of how burnt out the krusty old DBA’s are. Its no ones fault but their own that they have only found dissatisfaction in careers. For every complaint I hear, I will mentally respond with, “Shut up and ship it.” I know someday I will have a manager and team that I can feel inspired by and learn from but for now Ill just pretend your on my team! Thx Boss!

  • Ciao Brent, you are totally right and sometime if one read and study too much the masterpieces in every subject it could be dangerous, Every poet, singer, architect started from litthe things and many failures. We need to do, try, create and express ourselves, too much study is terrible. Italy is a perfect example: it is a land of creativity, design and beauty but othing of that derives by theorical studies or universities…it comes from the daily work of handcrafts.

  • Edward Anil joseph
    June 26, 2023 9:42 pm

    Thank you for your advice and expertise.

  • Gerard Jaryczewski
    June 28, 2023 12:01 pm

    Challenge accepted.

  • juliana.austin
    July 5, 2023 2:13 pm

    Seriously love this post.


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