Browsing articles by " Rob Drysdale"

You’ve Made A Plan So Now What?

Jan 10, 2011   //   by Rob Drysdale   //   Blog, Professional Development  //  2 Comments

Well, here we are at the beginning of 2011 and we’re all back at work and tackling the backlog and emergencies that have arisen since we’ve been away for the holidays.  So what’s changed from 2010 to 2011?  The answer for many of us is often “not much”.

In a previous post I talked about needing a plan so we could see the big picture of where we wanted to go so we could establish a direction and relate what we are doing to the goals that we want to achieve.  Many times this is difficult for us and we have trouble working on the tasks that relate to our goals because other things get in the way and take priority.  It may also be that we have part of a picture of where we want to be in 5 or 10 years, but aren’t sure how to get there.

Do You Need A Mentor?

If you’re struggling with how to move forward on your plan, you should think about a mentor.  I follow Lynn Dessert (blog | Twitter) and just before Christmas she did a blog post Finding the right mentor on her site Elephants At Work.  It struck me that many people probably don’t have a mentor or understand why they would want one.

A mentor is someone who you can turn to and talk about where you want to be and discuss some of the perceived barriers or roadblocks and get advice on how to move forward with your plan.  Generally a mentor is someone who has experience in the area that you are looking for help in and they can guide you and help you because they’ve been through it before.  Think of a mentor as similar to a therapist, but instead of asking “how did that make you feel” they can give you practical advice about getting to the next step in your plan.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had a couple of people that have helped me as mentors.  While I wasn’t actively seeking someone as a mentor and I never called them a mentor, they really were.  They helped me to see what I was doing and how it contributed and how to move forward.  Sometimes it’s an ear to listen, sometimes it’s asking the right questions, and sometimes it’s just a bit of practical advice on what to do and where to go.  Two years ago I finished working in a role that I had for 5 years and looking back I regret that I didn’t make more use of a mentor as it would have helped me achieve more in what I was doing at the time.

Can You Mentor Others?

If you aren’t really in need of a mentor right now, but feel like you have significant experience, how about being a mentor to others?  You may think that you don’t have all the answers or know everything, but the truth is you don’t have to.  If you can even help people avoid some of the pitfalls you experienced it’s worth it.  But both the mentor and the mentee need to understand what area you are helping with as you can’t be an expert or experienced in everything.

In the last little while I’ve been helping mentor a couple of people on their careers and things they need to work on.  I may not have all the answers for my own life, but I can still help others and it gives me a chance to “pay forward” the mentoring that others gave to me.

Final Thoughts

So what do you think?  Do you need a mentor or can you mentor someone?  We all need help at some point.  We just need to learn how to ask and find the right person to help us.  Hopefully with a little help you can achieve your plan or even redefine it and change it if it needs it.

What Are We Doing? Why Are We Doing It? Will It Feel Better When We Stop?

Dec 29, 2010   //   by Rob Drysdale   //   Blog, Professional Development  //  9 Comments

These three little questions were on the board one day when we walked into our Signals and Systems class in our second year of university.  The class was all about applied mathematics related to control signals and systems and included some complex methods to solve the equations.  The concepts were tough and all of us struggled with it to the point that the average grade on the mid-term exam was 27%.  After the mid-term’s were graded, the professor started the next class with the three questions shown above.  His point was to get us to look at the big picture of what the class was about and why we were doing it and how it fit in with our courses overall.

imageOver the last little while I’ve seen a number of people talking about what they are working on right now, how busy they are, how much time they spend online, getting to Inbox Zero (yeah, as if I’ll ever get near that…) and a whole host of other things.  There are lots of theories and books including Getting Things Done, Priority Management, and First Things First.

These are all great for helping us get where we are going, but do we know where we are going?  In First Things First one of the key things is to actually come up with a plan and goals.  But I think we all slip up on this by doing the “Urgent – Important” and “Urgent – Not Important” things without putting aside any time for the big picture planning.  I know that it is too easy to let time slip away and continue to work on the daily/weekly/monthly things and go through life without a vision of where we want to be or the goals we want to achieve.

So here we are at the end of 2010 and as we think about the year and decade that is just ending, let’s look back at what we’ve done and achieved and how far we’ve come.  But don’t forget to look at what we want out of the next year, 5 years, 10 years and so on.  Then we can set the milestones that go with that and make sure that what we are doing is helping us to get where we want to be.  Otherwise we’ll be sitting here on December 29, 2011 wondering where the last year went….like I am on December 29, 2010.

How To Have Fun In Seattle Without Even Attending SQLPASS

Nov 18, 2010   //   by Rob Drysdale   //   Blog, Fun, Professional Development, Travel  //  4 Comments

Seattle Public Market

As I posted previously, I went to Seattle last week with Karen for the PASS Summit (SQLPASS).  While I didn’t attend PASS, I thought it would be a great time to relax, see Seattle and catch up with a number of people that we know.  Little did I know that we would be on-the-go the entire time so I didn’t have time to relax.  Aside from the sessions at PASS there were so many "after-hour" events around it that we didn’t have a lot of free time.  Looking back on it, we were busy every single night that we were there except for the Friday night that we arrived.

We did our normal thing of shopping and spending some time in Fry’s and I did get a chance to see some things in Seattle, but we spent a lot of time meeting up with people.  It was nice to catch up with old friends, meet people in person that we talk to via Twitter and meet others we hadn’t ever talked to before.  I have to say that the SQL community is a great bunch of people and we had a lot of fun.

Gas WorksWhile Karen can tell you all about the Summit and how much she enjoyed speaking at and attending it, I can say that Seattle is an amazing city with many things to see and do.  A few highlights for me were Pike’s Place Market, the Seattle Public Library, the Science Fiction Museum and Gas Works Park.  The transit system is easy to use and will get you around the city with ease.  In fact, the buses are free in the downtown core.  And we both loved the food in Seattle.  It is so vegan and veggie friendly that it’s hard not to get a decent meal there.

On the negative side, it rains A LOT in Seattle.  We did see the sun for a couple of days, but there were rainy days to put up with.  And I wish that the PASS Summit would set up some kind of program for spouses or guests of attendees.  We’ve attended a lot of other conferences and most of them have this type of program to allow travel partners to attend the social events and exhibits at the conference.  We know that the Summit did offer a pass for the exhibits only, but at $300 it’s price prohibitive for most.  For travel partners and spouses it would be better at $50 or $75.

MountainsAnd now that we’re back from Seattle we still haven’t had much time to relax.  We attended a SharePoint Saturday event the day after getting home and we’re attending a SQL Saturday event this weekend in NYC. Maybe I’ll get some time to relax in 2011.

NOT Attending SQLPASS. But I am Going to Seattle

Nov 3, 2010   //   by Rob Drysdale   //   Blog, Fun, Travel  //  3 Comments

In less than 2 days we’re heading off to the airport to start the trek to Seattle.  Truth be told, I don’t really want to fly to the West Coast again, but I’m really looking forward to being there.  You see, the PASS Summit is next week and @datachick is attending and speaking.  I’m not a SQL person so it didn’t make sense for me to attend.  There are other conferences for me to attend and speak at, but I’m passing on this one (no pun intended).

Even though I’m not attending, there are a lot of great people attending that I’ve met in person and even more that I talk to/follow/stalk on Twitter.  I want to be able to get together with people and network and have a great time with everyone so I’m hitching a ride with Karen.  I find that at conferences and events like this it is just as much the networking and socializing as it is the conference itself.  In fact, I learn a lot about what’s happening in IT, business, and the world by just talking to people from all over.  So, I’ll be hanging around the conference and “extra-curricular” events (I’m already signed up for 3) to socialize and soak up the atmosphere and knowledge of all these great people.

And while everyone is in their sessions during the day, I’ll be out exploring (and Tweeting about) all there is to see and do in Seattle as I’ve never had a chance to do it before.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next week and if you see the silly looking Canadian that looks a little lost, say Hi and I’ll say Hi back and we’ll take it from there.


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