SQL Server Blog

We’re Growing Again!

When I set out to build Straight Path – my first goal was to consult and share my passion for all things SQL and Data Platform with other companies. I love what I do. If I could do it all for free? I probably would – I just enjoy making problems go away and watching that relaxed look on a client’s face as they see the difference. It just so happens that I was able to make money at it. Somewhere along the way, I started working with trusted friends as 1099s helping out, and somehow clients managed to appreciate our honesty, dedication and how we made a difference and they told their colleagues. And we grew. In January of 2017, I added a longtime friend and mature/experienced troubleshooter – Bruce Welch –  to join the company on a bit of a gamble… “I’ll teach you SQL, you can help do a lot of the triage for our growing FlexDBA client list”. It paid out, and in January of this year, I added another longtime friend, this time a SQL Server guru and former MVP  – Jack Corbett.   There’s a whole series of videos  I could make about moving from a solopreneur to slowly making the transition to a bit more “working on the business”. It’s a leap. It is a really slow leap I’ve made with a lot of counsel, savings, and lists each time, though.

It’s with that backdrop, and a really great quote by Teddy Roosevelt (modified ever so slightly by me) that I make this next “big Straight Path announcement”:

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men (and women) to do what he (or she) wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
Theodore Roosevelt

That’s a great way of thinking about what we’re slowly doing at Straight Path. The clear path to our success is bringing in people who are better than I am. So today, I write this post to announce the start dates of two really important people in the Straight Path family who are joining the other really important full-time employees, part time/1099 consultants and partners. Starting on Monday, June 25 – Straight Path will be adding two key roles. You can read more about our growing team on our about us page, see more about our FlexDBA services on that page or send me an e-mail (mike@ this domain). I do hope that you’ll join us in welcoming Sheila and Joe to this Straight Path family. Words cannot describe how blessed, humbled, and excited I am to write this blog post. These are some really exciting hires, who join our past two really exciting hires. In spite of me, I believe Straight Path is on a path to success. I just need to listen to this quote from Lee Iacocca better, “I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”  

Sheila Welch – Office Manager/Chief of Staff

I have some things I am great at – SQL Server query tuning, helping clients sort out a journey to the cloud, solving just about any DBA problem after 20 years of wearing that hat among the others, HA/DR, teaching, etc. I’m also decent at hearing what folks really need and helping them get it done. I have to be honest, though, I stink at quite a few things. More than I have time to list or you have time to read. Some are technical competencies. Some, though, falls squarely in the realm of “keeping the lights on” at a business. Sadly, I am better at saying “Yes! I’ll do that for you” than I am at writing that down someplace and doing it. I’m better at “visioneering” for a business than I am at executing. I’m great at making a new client relationship, less great at getting them the onboarding paperwork and contracts in a timely manner. I’m great at taking work onto my own plate, I’m hesitant to delegate and share the workload. That and a whole host of other things that require organizational skills, attention to dotted i’s and crossed t’s.

I know someone who is insanely good at those things. Who actually enjoys those things!!! She’s been a secretary for a busy special education department at a local school wrangling schedules, appointments, calendars, paperwork, compliance, forms and keeping a busy team of engaged professionals moving forward with commitments and deadlines. She’s perhaps one of the most organized people I know, and I even have a slight fear in hiring her because I know it is going to mean more workload for me as she reminds me of all of the things I said I’d do or need to do. But that’s only going to help us grow and eventually take me out of the way of our success even more!

The more I read books on leadership and business, the more I realize just how important a Chief of Staff type role is. They are the real heroes in most companies. Without that help integrating, onboarding and streamlining, we’re all smoke and no fire. Sheila is going to be a life changer for me and for Straight Path!! I trust more than a few of our clients, their AP staff and the folks who have occasional issues with our ticketing system, etc will be as delighted as I am.

She’s also a friend of the family. A blessing in more ways than I can describe in a quick blog post. She is going to be the glue behind the scenes at Straight Path and as we grow and succeed, she’s going to be a big part of that growth. Her experience working with K-12 education will also help her deal with technologists like us. In other words, we’re going to need to start coming up with better excuses. Welcome aboard, Sheila!

We’ve also been blessed to have an amazing administrative assistant through Zirtual, Arlene, and she’ll stick around to help in the transition and possibly stick around for as long as she’ll stay with us helping Sheila as necessary and filling in on some of the administrative details. I don’t believe we would have gotten to the point we are at today without her help to date. If she lived close enough to work in our offices and Zirtual allowed us, I’d have loved to bring her in full time as well.

Joseph Fleming – Senior Consultant

I’ve known Joe socially through our mutual engagement with speaking and the SQL Server user community for many years now. He’s always struck me as someone with a high sense of ethics, a strong skill set and a solid base of empathy.  When I decided to grow Straight Path and realize that I’ll be hiring full-time employees here and there, I decided that I would hire for values, principles and soft skills over technical skills. It’s a blessing to be part of a SQL Server community that makes this an “and” decision rather than an either-or decision. Joe is clearly an “And” hire.

He has the technical chops, including working for my friend Ben DeBow most recently doing some of the same things that we do a Straight Path. We all do things a bit differently, but Ben and his team have built a solid SQL Server services and managed services company called Fortified Data. It’s a great company, doing a lot of solid work for firms in all sectors. The hire of Joe may seem like a bit of a lateral move, and in some respects it is. Joe is going to hit the ground running, not just as an experienced SQL Server expert who has spoken at SQL Server events and will be teaching me a thing or two about many areas of SQL Server, but also as someone who is experienced with supporting clients in an ongoing DBA-as-a-Service model such as our FlexDBA program. This will translate well for our clients and Joe will be providing immediate value. But it also gives Joe a chance to start with a firm still setting direction and shape and help add his experience, talents, and skills to our future. He is going to bring skills, lessons, and immediate support to us and our clients.

Joe is someone I consider a friend, too. And that’s important. Life is short. It’s good to be in business with people who are aligned in some respect. With people you respect and trust. I’m excited – very excited – to see what Joe brings to our company. I know Fortified will miss him, but they have an amazing team and I am confident they’ll pull through. I also love that Ben had glowing things to tell me about Joe and that Joe is the kind of employee who wanted to give more than a couple week’s notice, even though his new company was begging him to start with as little as possible!! That bodes well for the type of values we want to hire for. It’s a small world out there in the SQL Server community, and it’s great to see companies in “competition” on paper get along and allow a transition like that, too. It speaks volumes to what you get when you work with just about any of the firms out there entrenched in the SQL Server family.

You can read a bit more about Joe on his bio in the about us page, and I’ve invited him to blog here if he ever sees fit. We’ll also be looking to do some periodic webinars with all of the team so you can get to know us professionally and personally.

Thanks for reading! And please join me in welcoming Sheila and Joe!

Mike Walsh
Article by Mike Walsh
Mike loves mentoring clients on the right Systems or High Availability architectures because he enjoys those lightbulb moments and loves watching the right design and setup come together for a client. He started Straight Path in 2010 when he decided that after over a decade working with SQL Server in various roles, it was time to try and take his experience, passion, and knowledge to help clients of all shapes and sizes. Mike is a husband, father to four great children, and a Christian. He’s a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in his small town in New Hampshire, and when he isn’t playing with his family, solving SQL Server issues, or talking shop, it seems like he has plenty to do with his family running a small farm in NH raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Honeybees and who knows what other animals have been added!

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