SQL Server Blog

Alt-Shift: The Value of a Tribe

In 2018, remote work is a fairly popular gig among techies. It seems that each year that goes by, I know more folks who work at home the majority of the time, and quite a few more each year who effectively do all the time. This is great. It’s great for the family. It’s great for the environment. It has a lot of upside on the budget and life. Especially in our fast (too fast, but that’s another post for another time) lives! Even as it grows, our company is a mostly remote company. We try and work together in person weekly for those local, but it’s hard as we expand our team to be people all over the country.

You miss some things working remotely.

Some of those things I really didn’t miss too much when I struck out on my own in response to the dream to build my own thing (I blogged about chasing your dreams right around the time I was in that transition, one of my favorite blog posts all these years later – your dreams, they don’t come looking for you). Things like the politics, the ignoring of full-time employees in exchange for whatever the consultants think, some of the “TPS Reports” kind of things. I don’t miss that. I don’t miss the “forced camaraderie” by HR departments bent on creating tribes artificially and making everyone cheer and get along.

Some of those things, though, I miss a lot! The ability to just bounce out of your cube and ask someone else a quick question. The ability to be overheard and helped by someone who dealt with that last week. Learning and growing together. I miss the positive aspects of building and finding a tribe and being a part of it. Of course, Lunch deserves an honorable mention. In most offices I was a part of (was it me? Or is it like that in all? Now I’m paranoid!!) that was a conversation that began sometime around 9:02AM with a “What are you thinking for lunch today?” and it culminated in the stroll back to the office after eating a bit too much, talking a little about lunch… But I digress! This post isn’t about lunch. It’s about one aspect of working with other humans…

The Value of a Tribe – Demonstrated in One Stupid Simple Tip

So about 20ish years ago I decided to leave life as a Front Desk assistant manager type at a hotel, while also playing a part-time role of the “guy at the place who knew about computers and could set stuff up, build a guest portal intranet in HTML 3 or 4 or whatever” and become a DBA in a roundabout way. 20 years later, I’ve taught large classes, I’ve spoken at the PASS Summit a few times, at Microsoft Ignite once, and have been awarded a Microsoft MVP 7 times. I’m definitely not the brightest technologist out there, but I’m no slouch. Yet. Every Day. Every Moment. All the time! I learn. I learn from others. I learn from folks with double my experience, I learn from folks with 1/20 of my experience. And I learn more when I’m interacting with other human beings. Go figure. The video below shows what I mean. It’s a really stupid and simple trick. It’s what happens when you press ALT + SHIFT and press the down or up arrow – at least in SSMS.

It’s a simple trick. You probably already know it. And you are probably laughing at me for taking 19 years of my 20 years with SQL Server to learn it. That’s fine. I probably don’t know quite a few other things, too. I learned it during a conference call/screen share with a client. The client is a developer and CTO of his SaaS company. In fact one of our favorite clients who have been with us for some time now. We were trying to fix something, and I forget what I had to do now. Needed to manipulate a lot of text, probably just adding a comma to a list of values in a few spots or something. I was about to either start getting into a rhythm of “comma, space space space, tab, enter, comma, space, space, tab, enter” or whatever keystroke I needed to do – or jump into excel, do a paste, then do a concatenation formula and my client said, “What?! What are you doing, man!? ALT-SHIFT!” I sadly probably replied something like, “no. you don’t get it, it’s in the middle, can’t really do shift select here” and he said “No. ALT. SHIFT. Try it” and then he grabbed control and walked me through the silly example in the video below I just made (pardon the fan noise.).

It hit me. ALT SHIFT! WOW. I’ve used it quite a few times since he showed me.

Here’s the deal. If I didn’t stop, work with someone else, listen and learn – I would still be in the dark about a tool in the toolbelt that’s probably saved me 37.2 minutes of time the past year. It’s not a big deal by itself. What else have I learned by interacting with others, though? What have I taught by answering questions on dba.stackexchange.com? What exciting opportunities would I have missed by not having a tribe and belonging to it? On Wednesday of this week, we’re going to announce a couple new hires here at Straight Path – all courtesy of relationships built in the tribes I belong to. My MVP Status, my speaking opportunities, many business dealings are courtesy of the tribes and groups I belong to also.

That’s my point. Go and interact. The SQL family has a slack channel. They’re active on twitter’s #sqlhelp hashtag. They are answering questions on dba.Stackexchange and SQL Server Central. They are probably running a user group (with free food) in your vicinity once a month. They are organizing packed full days of learning content at SQL Saturdays. They are hiring. They are in need of your consulting services. The tribe is teaching, learning and growing. It isn’t just found at one conference or event. It’s found in many spots. But if you don’t look for it, you’ll miss it. And who knows what alt-shift like gem is waiting for you at one of those events. Alt-Shift didn’t change my life or career – but I gotta say – the tribe did in some respects. I wrote about that in a post about a soundbite from an election of “you didn’t build that“, too.

Enjoy my really simple tip below, too. You don’t have to teach me something as similarily simple in the comments. But if you do, I’ll thank you and I’m sure the other readers will, too. We can start a tribe right here!

Until next time! (I’m going to really work on posting more regularly also. Tomorrow will be “announcement day” but back to content Thursday or Friday, hopefully)

Here’s that silly tip. No shame. We all don’t know something today that we’ll know tomorrow and maybe could have known two decades ago. As long as we’re learning, it’s all good. Enjoy my fan noises and mumbling and hold your applause for this gem 😉

Article by Mike Walsh

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