During the Live! 360 conference in Orlando, I had this chat with Bob Ward, SQL Server veteran of 28 years and Senior Architect with Microsoft. Bob is the author of several books, a frequent keynote conference speaker and industry-leading SQL Server expert. He shared his insights about work/life balance and learnings about how to thrive in a remote work environment.
Live! 360 was the first in-person Microsoft data community conference I have attended since the start of the pandemic. The organizers were extra-cautious with proof of vaccination and COVID testing at the event. Attendees, speakers and exhibitors wore masks. With several industry headliners who travelled from all over the country to present, it was clear that we were all ready to get back to spending real face time time together.
One of the most recognizable members of the Microsoft data community and one of my heros, Buck Woody has been teaching and presenting at conferences for the past 16 years while holding leadership positions at Microsoft. He is a mentor to many, frequently sharing advice and pearls of wisdom. We chatted at the Live! 360 conference at Universal, Orlando.
If you haven’t attended a conference and heard Buck speak, you must. Not only entertaining but he shares insights that that only he can from a unique perspective. Buck truly believes is mantra, that “smarter people are better people and that everyone can be smarter”. He’s on a mission to educate the community about building skills, working smart, finding happiness and balance in life by enjoying what you do and doing what you’re good at. His presentations often employ role-playing, dress-up, object lessons, story telling and sometimes just goofy humor followed by a serious and meaningful learning experience. But is also one of the most public Microsoft figures in social media (@BuckWoodyMSFT) and I always look forward to his witty posts.
Seven years ago Adam Saxton started recording short video presentations from his cubical at the Microsoft Technology Center in Las Colinas, Texas. Branded as “Guy In A Cube”, he shared his learnings as a Customer Support Senior Escalation Engineer. Teaming up with colleague, Patrick Leblanc, they now have a YouTube following of about a quarter million subscribers. They have a series of training classes and a weekly cadence of high-quality, informative and entertaining “how-to” videos on every imaginable topic related to getting the most from Power BI. Every Saturday morning at 9:30 AM Central Time, they broadcast an interactive Power BI livestream Q&A session on YouTube.
When I told Adam that we were coming through the Houston area in the Data Bus, he and his wife Crystal invited Sherri and I stay and to join the Saturday morning Power BI livestream. What a great experience to spend the weekend with with their wonderful family of four humans, six dogs and a sheep named Wilson. Adam grills a mean steak and we watched the premiere of Dune in the theater room.
Adam loves to give back to the community. Spending time with him, you quickly understand two things about him: he loves tech and toys and he genuinely wants to help people learn. OK, maybe there is a third thing… that there is only one Adam, and that’s the real Adam. There is no front, no facade. He is very transparent about who he is, what he does and why. He talks about his mentors and heros, and why he loves what he does – personally and professionally… two worlds that overlap in many ways.
He talks about how he got started in the early days of his career on the Microsoft help desk as a Senior Escalation Engineer, his mentors, and becoming and one of the most recognized Microsoft community leaders in the world. He shares his love for tech, family, video, problem-solving, helping others, giving back and paying forward.
Quick update from the road. We are in Vaiden, Mississippi, on the way to Red Bay, Alabama. After arriving in Lafayette, Louisiana later then expected, high winds and tornados were predicted for the region so we headed out early the next morning and Sherri literally outran the storm. Quick update from the road. We are in Vaiden, Mississippi, on the way to Red Bay, Alabama. After arriving in Lafayette, Louisiana later then expected, high winds and tornados were predicted for the region so we headed out early the next morning and Sherri literally outran the storm. We had driven through this stretch of I-10 the night before. This is pretty exciting stuff for a couple from the PNW, unaccustomed to tornados and hurricanes (headed for Florida).
We stayed on the Vermillionville museum property in Vermillion District of Lafayette. This was a great Harvest Hosts location with a large secluded parking area, situated among the bayou, alligator ponds and 150 year old plantation homes. We regret the we had to leave in the morning before enjoying a real Cajun meal at the restaurant, but we didn’t to test the bus in tornado conditions.
We enjoyed spending an evening in downtown Houston after two days up in Conroe where we were hosted by the Saxton family. We can’t thank Crystal and Adam enough for their hospitality and sharing their family time with us. We enjoyed the premier of Dune in the theater room, which looked and sounded bigger and better than most luxury cinemas. We shared an awesome steak dinner with the family, 6 dogs and the new family sheep, Wilson.
Next stop is Red Bay, Alabama where we are joining the pilgrimage of Tiffin owners to have the bus serviced and upgraded. Although we’ve heard a lot of stories about this unique experience, we really don’t know what to expect.
I just wanted to give a big big Thank You to Adam Saxton and Patrick Leblanc at GuyInACube.com for inviting me to participate in the Power BI Livestream yesterday. It was a blast and an honor to be hang with you the Saxton clan (even the sheep and the great dane!). You can watch the replay for the Saturday morning YouTube livestream here:
I’m trying to minimize crossposting between the my long-time blog, SQLServerBI.blog and DataOnTheRoad.blog, but we are still getting started and just wanted to make sure you all got the word. Please subscribe to DataOnTheRoad.blog if you are interested in following the data community leader interviews along our journey in the Data Bus. Regular technical blog posts and videos will be on SqlServerBI.blog.
Here are a few quick shots from yesterday. Interviews with Adam will follow in the next few days.
This is our first community leader interview on the road after setting sail for the south. Andie Letourneau is a tenured data professional who has worked with SQL Server “since it was just a baby”, in her own words. Today she develops data solutions using several Azure-born tools. She is speaking at the PASS Virtual Summit on November 11 on “Hitting the Bricks with Azure Databricks“.
She talks about her passion for clothing and wine, and enjoying desert life north of Phoenix, Arizona where we spent a few days with she and her husband, Guy, a patent consultant with a rich background in mechanical engineering. Andie and I were scheduled to deliver a session on Power BI activity monitoring at Phoenix SQL Saturday in 2020, for which she made us matching “cloud” shirts to celebrate Azure and cloud solutions. In her early career, much of her work was focused on managing, debugging, & customizing CRM and accounting software as well as integrating disparate systems. She enjoys creating elegant T-SQL code to solve complex problems and simplify business processes. Recently, she’s been focused on Power BI and Databricks. She’s a life-long learner and has attended numerous SQL conferences and training events over the years. The PASS Virtual Summit is free to attend online. After signing up, you will find Andie’s session here.
Andie and I work together at 3Cloud Solutions in the Data and Analytics team. We also met up and spent the morning with our colleague and 3Cloud team Director, Kathy Vick, who shares her story in an interview to be posted soon.
We’ve been on the road for a week. After leaving Vancouver, Washington for a cross-country trek through the Southwest and Southern US, our destination on this leg of the journey is the Orlando Live! conference in Florida in mid November. Stops will include Phoenix, Albuquerque, Lubbock, Dallas, Houston, Lafayette, Vaiden MS, Red Bay AL, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Orlando. We moved into the Data Bus from the house in Ridgefield, Washington back in May and staying at an RV park for the past five months, wrapping things up at “home” and preparing for this trip. It’s good to finally be on the road.
All of the videos and interviews we do along the way will be posted on the main page at DataOnTheRoad.blog. Subscribe to the blog and watch for frequent updates.
We’ve made stops in Idaho and Utah before spending three nights in Page, Arizona. Sherri graduated from Page High School in the 80s and has friends in this little town situated on a plateau overlooking Lake Powell, the Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River as it flows into the Grand Canyon. Page sits on the Northern Arizona border with Utah, and is surrounded by majestic red cliffs, mesas and huge monument rocks that form an indescribably impressive desert landscape.
Her are a few shots from our trip so far, from Idaho and northern Arizona. We just arrived in Phoenix where we’re meeting up with friends and my 3Cloud colleagues, Andie and Guy Letourneau, and Kathy and Ed Vick. Watch this blog for interviews with them and others as we continue eastward to catch-up with others in the data community.
On this first leg of the Data Bus journey, we are heading to Florida from our soon-to-be former home in Vancouver, Washington. We plan to meet up with colleagues, data community leaders and user groups along the way. We’re just getting started on this grand adventure so we welcome your comments below this post. Can’t promise to meet everyone or to attend every event, but please post your comments below this post. Also, let us know if you have advice about places to visit. We’re also being respectful and mindful of social distancing, meeting outdoors where possible.
Chris shares his insights about working hard, playing hard and disconnecting before work life consumes you. He tells us how he shares advise to work colleagues in his team and to members of the community. Paginated Reports remains awesome. We talk about the Microsoft data platform and Power BI community, the Bear and assorted things. This was an excellent and insightful discussion with Chris at his home in Sammamish, near Redmond, Washington.
Someone once said that life was like a box of chocolates. Such was my experience spending the better part of a day with Matthew Roche from the Power BI Customer Advisory Team at his family home in Bothell, Washington. We were later joined by head of Power BI Engineering, Bogdan Crivat. Matthew schooled us in the art of HEMA, Historical European Martial Arts. Some might refer to this as “sword play” but it is a hobby that Matthew takes very seriously. He not only demonstrates and teaches the craft but travels and competes in tournaments. After we talked about data culture and community, we talked about swords – and got to put some of his swords to use. For a better description of HEMA and the HEMA community, check out this great video.
Matthew is a life-long teacher and has several interesting hobbies, which also including cooking and fostering cats. He is very active in social media and maintains and active blog titled BI Polar, where he frequently blogs about topics like Business Intelligence, Data Governance, Mental Health, Diversity, Martial Arts, and Heavy Metal. He is active on Twitter and he helps moderate the Power BI live stream on Saturday mornings with Patrick Leblanc and Adam Saxton.
We actually shot the interview twice, on Saturday and again on Sunday, after my wireless lavalier microphones failed during the first take. Afterward, Matthew demonstrated sword techniques used to slice bamboo mats. Bogdan was a natural, having serval years of competitive Karate experience.
This was one of our short trips in the Data Bus tot he Seattle and Redmond area. We stayed at a beautiful park on the Skykomish River near Monroe, Washington. While visiting Microsoft on this trip, we also caught up with Chris Finlan and Kelly Kaye from the Power BI community, and those interviews will be posted shortly.