T-SQL Tuesday #163 Invitation – What is the best piece of Career Advice you ever received

Invitation and round up from Gethyn Ellis

There is no right or wrong answer here.  It might be some technical advice like, “OK, so you got backups. You really need to be able to restore them, though have you tested that”

Or it might be something around the non-technical skills you need in this profession, like “Find a mentor”

We ask this question to our guests on our Putting the Human into Technology podcast, and the answers are always intriguing some of the short answers to the question include

  • Find a mentor
  • Be curious
  • Do what you love
  • Own the customer

These are just some of the answers we have had. There are many more

Feel the fear and do it anyway

This quote is now the title of a book. I googled it when writing this invite. I’ve not read the book, but the book was published in 2017. I got this advice circa September 2003. I think it’s a good title for a book. I might need to get a copy and have a read. Update the book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Suzan Jeffers was first published in 1987. So there is every chance that this came from that book. You can find the book here

So, Let me give some background. It was September 2003, and I worked for a local authority in Wales. I had just graduated from university.  My Job title was Community Outreach Worker. Essentially, this was working on an online portal that the authority would use to promote local businesses and community organisations and their activities. It also allowed the council to bring some of their services online.

With this job I was working with technology and people, and that was always something I wanted to do, and in the round, I really enjoyed it. However, part of my role was phoning up people running community groups, asking them if they wanted to become involved in the session. It wasn’t quite cold calling, but it was close. I’ll be honest I didn’t look forward to doing this, I probably did anything else to get out of it, and I think this was obvious to most people on the team.

Let me Introduce Andy Wilson

I sat next to my colleague in the office, We’ve lost touch over the years, but his name was Andy Wilson. Andy doesn’t seem to be on social media or I’d tag him here. He was probably twenty years older than me with lots more experience. He was a great person, funny and good at his job.  He could see I wasn’t having fun. So, he turned to me and said, “Look Geth, I can see you don’t like doing the phone calls. Why?” I explained that I didn’t like phoning people, and it made me feel a little nervous phoning up strangers. Andy turned to me and said, “Well, you have three calls to make. Why don’t you make them now, and they are done for the day, and you get on with the stuff you do enjoy doing… I got some advice from my old boss years ago when I worked in sales and had to make cold calls. He said to  ‘Feel the Fear and do it anyway’ What’s the worst that can happen? They hang up on you? Which they won’t. They’ve signed up for a call back”

Did I make the calls?

So, I made the calls. Once I’d done one, I’d done two and ended up doing several more than the three on my list and feeling quite good about myself.

I’ve used this advice, mindset and how I felt afterwards that morning on many other occasions since. Whether changing jobs or moving into a DBA role for a large police force. Implementing a technical fix for a problem that you have been called out for at 3 am, and there is no one to escalate it to, you have to do something,  and you’re in the land of do it now and ask for forgiveness in the morning and get the business working again or the business is stuck until 9 am when the rest of the business will be awake. I used the advice when making the Jump and started my own consulting business. It definitely helped when I was about to teach my first multi-day training class or deliver my first, second, third, and fiftieth conference sessions. When the nerves (or fear) kick in, I feel the fear and do it anyway! The feeling afterwards when you have done something out of your comfort zone is pretty amazing.

I’d say it’s had quite an impact on my career.

Summary – Over to you

I’d love to hear answers to the question, whether it’s around a technology choice, a career path, a company to work for, or whatever piece of advice you received that had the most significant impact on your career in the data profession, why I’d love to hear about it. You might help someone new to the data profession and give them an extra tool in their armoury to succeed on their path.