The Midnight DBA’s started a new blog carnival in the spirit of the T-SQL Tuesday carnival started by Adam Machanic (I hosted one of the earlier one’s on SQL Server IO here). This one is called “Un-SQL Friday” The point is to post something that is adjacent to SQL Server but no more than adjacent.
This month’s topic was about branding and I thought that I was in a weird way with this very topic to the point where I should hold off on posting. After reading the feed reader tonight (The blogs I subscribe to), I bumped into two posts that made me decide to change my mind. You can blame my friends Brian Kelley and Tim Ford (correct me if I’m wrong guys, I think I can use the “friends” word here, the SQL community has a way of making that happen) and their posts I just linked you to with their names. They dragged me in with their posts. Not sure exactly what I am going to say here but it is late, I just got back from AWANA, kids are in bed and I have a timesheet to fill out before I can get to bed. (In other words I may ramble even more than normal in my posts).
What He Said
Brian’s post really struck me. He says he doesn’t worry about his brand (well at least that is how I read it 🙂 ). He also talks about the fact that a large part of what he considers most important is outside of technology. He loves technology but he finds his strongest identity with his Christian ministry. Read his whole post, a lot of resonated with me. No, I’m not a Pastor but I am a believer and I am going through a time of really feeling like God is asking me, “Who is first in your life? Me? Your family? Your Career? You?” Perhaps the question could even be phrased as “Whose brand are you working harder for?” So that’s been on my mind and the answers are changing for a few reasons. I love giving back to people. I really enjoy writing. Most of the posts I write are really fun to write, I get the urge to write about something and feel the creative flow going and just sit down and bang out a post. When I present now, I reall enjoy it. I get a huge thrill when I hear (the couple times a year I hear it 😉 ) that a post I wrote or a presentation I gave helped someone else out. I get a huge thrill when I hear that the posts on blogging tips convinced someone to do it. I genuinely enjoy seeing others get ahead and see us all grow together at our own pace and to our own milestones. I agree with all those aspects of Brian’s post.
Tim’s post was about how he came to his name and what it isn’t. He went off on a funny little list of what the SQL Community is (after reminding us that it isn’t sexy). He listed an attribute and a representative of that attribute. My name was listed next to “It’s Spiritual”. While I personally hate that word because it doesn’t really say anything, I think I know what Tim was getting at and I like that when he thought of me, he thought of who I am in Christ first. Someday it would be fun to be awarded an MVP award (there are tons more deserving than me, I do what I do because I enjoy it and I’d do it if never awarded, I’d just love to be a fly on the wall of the discussion list and be able to see the future of a product I’ve built my career on and love working with), but I would much rather be thought of as a Christian. I hope that I live it out (and live it out better each day even) but I serve an amazing God and I’d rather see Him recognized through my life than me recognized through my life.
I have worked towards a brand of sorts. I setup this blog first as a place to share but then realized it could be a vehicle to try and drive “on the side” consulting work. I then just took that new job a few weeks back as a SQL Server Practice lead at a consultancy (By the way, still working on my disclaimer post –> These thoughts are definitely all my own and don’t reflect the thoughts of my employer in any way shape or form. I don’t check with them when I post on my own blog each time and I don’t represent them here, though I will eventually cross post some SQL content from here to a blog there). So now things are more complicated in my life because I am part of the brand of SQL Server offerings at the new role.
One of the reasons they wanted me there was because I have some community involvement, because I blog and speak. Because I run a User Group. In a sense, a small portion of their offer for that role was for the hope that part of my brand (and what little “brand” I have! I am a very small fish in the SQL Server community) may drive some sales. The benefit to me? Part of my salary is doing something I really love doing – sharing with the community. I’ll still do plenty of blogging, speaking, etc. on my own time but I can now do some of it on an employers time and dime. Why? Because it helps build their brand and give some credibility to our service offerings.
So Where’s the Rub? I don’t know. I guess it is in me feeling convicted to be “unbranded” and now having to partially be about a brand. It’s a fine line I need to walk and I am going to have a lot of fun doing what I love doing (blogging, writing, speaking, training and engaging with unique customers and their challenging problems) while I work to sort it out.
Sum It Up?
I don’t know. these are my thoughts on a brand. My brand is complex because I have a “Me” brand and a “Work” brand. The Me brand I hope to build is “Nice guy, Does things for people, has a genuine love and concern for the welfare of others, loves his family and is one of those Christians who seems genuine about his beliefs” Something like that anyway. The “Work” brand I hope to build has to include that Me brand behind and underneath it all (doing anything different would be dishonest, right?) but I want it to look more like “knowledgeable, passionate about SQL Server, honest and loves sharing knowledge/mentoring”. I think these can meld nicely, don’t you?
And if you order in the next 30 minutes…
A bonus! I recently attended Brent Ozar’s “freecon” trial in Seattle at PASS. It was interesting. One of the things he talked about was branding and how marketers sometimes use “brand wheels” (or was it brand circles?) that are basically a set of three words you want to convey/portray. These three words can (and will) have satellite words that further define those words and those can have satellites also). He asked us to come up with ours. I don’t know if these are the words I want to use but when it came to my work/SQL community brand (with overlap) I came up with the following:
Technical because I want to be proficient, knowledgeable and have expertise in the areas of working with SQL Server that I enjoy. True because I want to be true to who I am as a person, who I am as a father, as a husband and most importantly – true to who I am in my walk with Christ. Useful because I really do want to be a dependable resource to those that count on me (Wife, Kids, Church, Employer, Clients, People reading my blog posts, People attending the User Group meeting, People spending their precious time listening to my blather about SQL at a presentation, etc.). I want to deliver what is expected of me and help people make their own situation better.
So that’s that. Did I make any sense?