SQL Server Blog

What do YOU want to learn about?

I just finished the first week of our SQL Server Upgrade webinar series webinars. It went well. In fact – I’m pumped up! Because the interactions were significant, the feedback was good, and I think my primary goal is going to be reached – help people out.  It’s funny – just doing that 35/40 minutes of webinar brought me back to one of my first loves – sharing, teaching, interacting and helping. Since I started investing heavily here in Straight Path and building a team, I’ve not shared as much content. Seems weird, right? It’s hard to explain – but it’s like this combination of the imposter syndrome I always suffer from coupled with the fear of “Oh great… Now my motives will be questioned…” – Stupid, I know! But as I’ve been busier with business and running Straight Path, I’ve been active a bit less. Well during the round one webinar, I just realized – that changes today.  I got my start in SQL Server and grew because of all of those who gave back to me. All the MVPs, speakers, SQL Mag (in print 😉 ) contributors and newsgroup posting people. They gave a lot to me. I took it. I gave back hard from 2008-2015/2016 – but then slowed down. I still get to SQL PASS to speak and SQL Saturdays. I still run the User Group, etc. But I’ve not explored ways to reach the masses and give back here on the old blog. 

During the session, I mentioned off the cuff, “well I should stop, or I’ll turn this into a longer webinar series talking about HA/DR. The reaction to that was a handful of comments that look like this snippet below. And it hit me. I forgot how much I love teaching. How much I enjoy helping. How much I love learning from those in a group setting. That’s right! I started blogging in 2009 because I wanted to learn, I wanted to share, and I wanted to give people an avenue to discuss things.  So what was originally feeling like a way to market Straight Path and all of our skills turned into a much simpler idea – I’d like to share and learn while sharing. It’s something I enjoy.

I’m going to continue the current webinar series on upgrading SQL Server tips and tricks. If you missed week one, you could still register – week two starts Thursday at Noon EST. The sessions are recorded. And the Straight Path team is being enlisted on my journey of learning and sharing. I think the format will be roughly something like this:

  • Pick a topic
  • Make it a topic that we can have at least 2-4 sessions discussing
  • Schedule the webinar
  • Keep it informal – simple slides, maybe some demos where appropriate
  • Keep it “Socratic” – bring your questions, bring your objections, bring your experience – I trust these will remain smaller groups and we’ll learn together as we go. I want this to be me presenting and teaching, but then all of us discussing and learning small group (or big group, whatever!) style.
  • Wrap it up with a group chat/live chat with whoever on the Straight Path team wishes to join like we’re doing with the current upgrade webinar series.
  • Rinse & Repeat.

How much $$$?

None. I want this to be simple. I’m going to keep the slides somewhat minimal. I might use some of my “Straight Path time” (when it’s your own company, the lines sort of bleed between “Your time” and “Your company’s time”) to create some downloadable checklists/infographics/etc. I might have those as downloadable links on the site and ask for an e-mail address for them, but I probably won’t. I’ll probably make it “You have to come to the webinar to get it,” and I’ll use the company Webinar account (though I may change hosts. I’m not 100% in live with Webinar Ninja yet, but I’m new to the webcasting as a habit).

But this has to be free. I don’t even want to push Straight Path through it. I mean, if you like the content, if it helps, and you end up needing some consulting? You know where to find us! So I’m not going to make it a sales generator – we’re keeping busy enough as it is to make all of our most recent blog posts be hiring announcements, it seems! This is my way to say “THANKS!” and my way to give back a tiny bit. And a way to remember why I started this whole website ten years ago (!!!) – It was to start sharing, to check out what I’m learning and share to help others learning as well. It’s why Microsoft gave me the MVP for the 7 or 8 years (it’s 8 – I had to go and look at the discs and count 😉 ) – because I enjoy sharing. But seriously, I built a company, and it got serious, and then I got a bit busy – and at the same time, I got a little “afraid” of sharing too much here. It’s a combination of imposter syndrome and a fear of someone (who, I have no clue though!) judging “well why he is doing it? Is he just trying to market and be fake? Is he trying to blah blah blah (I’m telling you, I still get the voices in my own head at times 😉 )…

So anyway. I’m excited to do this. I have no clue what I have to add value on, but I have a list of topics running around in my head that could make great 2-4 part webinar series with 30-40 minutes of discussion. Maybe I could convince friends outside of Straight Path to come and talk about topics that are interesting to them or topics they bring a lot of expertise to, and we can all learn from them about. I’ll be like Mr. Rogers inviting over an old friend to teach us something.

This is going to be 100% free

This is going to be somewhere between an informal chat and a presentation level session – we can’t all afford training budgets. If you want to go deep on one of these topics, it won’t be for you. But I want it to be deeper than a short webinar a tools vendor does with 5-7 minutes of pitch and 13-17 minutes of content. I want to allow a few parts so we can build on precepts.

My goal with each session is going to be to get us talking. Get us thinking. To have us consider things we hadn’t before (notice I keep saying we. I expect to learn as much, if not more, from the preparation and the conversation with viewers. After 20 years of doing this stuff, I keep learning I am a rank amateur with much to learn!)

So What’s Next. What Can Us Readers Do???

You need to encourage me. You need to leave topics you’d like to have a series on. You need to keep me accountable. So this current upgrade webinar series ends on 3/7 when we do our live chat. I’ll probably give a week or two between series. I already think my next round will be a bit of an overview of High Availability and Disaster Recovery Options. That could easily be a 3-5 week series! Between all the ways in SQL, the cloud options, the VM options, the third party options, etc. Again the goal isn’t to replace training or give you a $4,000 course worth of material in 3-5 30 minute sessions!! It’s to help get you thinking. It’s to provide you with a sort of “live mastermind group” with a changing audience (unless people keep showing up) where we can ask each other questions, discuss the topic, think about how it applies to us and work it out. I expect the audience for something like this to be reasonably small. So I assume the ability to ask questions and give feedback in the chat to be high.

I’m going to try and do this at Noon on Thursdays EST. And maybe in between series we can have an open forum just to ask questions while eating lunch (sorry PST folks – it will have to be breakfast!). We can experiment with time also. I figured Noon is still 4/5/6 in a lot of Europe, and it’s 9 AM PST so still possible for folks to show up. Not a great time for APAC, though. These will be recorded. And I’ll let Webinar Ninja handle that for now – so you register for a series ( think we’ll treat each set separately to keep it easier for me to steal videos maybe and refer to the content in later notes) and you’ll have access to the older videos. You holding me accountable helps. New ideas are fraught with inertia, excuses, and competing commitments. This is a goal of mine – to share more. And this is a great way to do it. I’m nowhere “cool enough” to be a livestreamer or twitcher or whatever the heck those cool kids like Grant and Chrissy are doing.

But, there are some actual things you can do:

  • Register for the webinar that is going on right now. You missed week one, but that’s fine.
  • Attend when you can
  • Watch if you couldn’t attend and give me honest and constructive (Even ugly!!) feedback
  • Comment on this blog post with what topics you’d like to learn about in a future series, or send me an e-mail if you are a little shy.
  • Show up, interact, teach me (and the other few people watching) something.
  • Learn. Come back. Tell your friends to come so we can get more people learning.
  • Do we need a name for the series? I don’t know. I wanted to #SocraticSQL seems… But maybe we don’t need to. It’s just lunch with Mike blabbering about something, and perhaps eventually others do. It’s going to be conversational, and by keeping the same topic for several weeks, you can leave, think, come back with questions, offer each other encouragement, etc.
  • Tell me if this is the worst idea you’ve heard. In private,. Or right there in the comments!

Topics, Groups, and Other Ideas

I want to find topics that maybe we can convince friends of mine or friends of Straight Path to speak about (Analytics? Databricks? Deep integration? Azure DW?), so please share any topics. But a few off the top of my head that seem like we could get a few weeks out of a topic to discuss. The list below (except for HA/DR) is just stuff floating around in my head:

  • HA/DR – I am pretty sure I am going to make that the next series.
  • Azure PaaS stuff? Maybe AWS and Azure PaaS options all at once?
  • “So you want to be a consultant.”
  • Security and Compliance (Maybe I can convince Brian Kelley to join us for a couple of webinars!)
  • Analytics stuff (this would have to be me just sitting here looking like Phil Donahue holding the microphone and actively listening!)
  • Performance tuning for Developers (basic stuff – SARGability, Stop doing these six things, Indexing basics (Maybe we can convince our own Tara to join as a host for one 😉 )
  • Using SSDT and database projects (I’d have to convince Jack on my team to run these!)
  • Advanced Tuning
  • DBA 101 (Best practices, Maintenance, settings, the stuff we often fix in our “prioritized action plans” after a health check)
  • What else? There are many things (replication if we could convince Joe on our team to host a series! There are more. I’ll stop – what do you think?)

I’m aware this idea could flop. That’s okay. It will be fun sharing with those we can help in this current upgrade webinar series, and it will be fun seeing who else we can help. My brain goes fast with ideas. So other concepts are brewing like – what if we created a “Mastermind Group” – sort of a little area where the folks who attend a series can chat. Facebook is the place where those groups all live these days, but I’m seeing more people drop it like a bad habit, maybe a LinkedIn group if they do private groups. Maybe go old school and make a “Webinar active attendees distribution list” or slack channel where the current topic can be discussed. With us all helping each other.


I’ve been working on this post since last Thursday when the first upgrade webinar hit. I’ve just been a little split-brained with some work, some new client onboardings, teaching a SQL Server HA/DR class online and life happening on our farm. I’m going to share it finally. And I’m going to break all the rules and share this post once I’m done – sometime around 10 PM. Why so late? I’m sort of nervous to put it out there!!! It seems like a good idea to one part of my brain, but to the other parts it seems downright silly and scary and bold and at once presumptuous and impetuous… So a late post will get less rotten tomatoes. If I don’t see a lot of rotten tomatoes, I’ll probably share it around a bit in the morning with a little bit of trepidation!

I’m excited. When I speak someplace or share knowledge if I help just a person or a few people? It’s a win. It’s only not a win if I teach wrong information or end up helping no one.

Here goes… 3.2.1. POST

(UPDATE: Paranoid Mike needs a disclaimer – I’ll probably be a little selfish and make some blog posts out of snippets of me speaking (but never videos with the chat screen – but they’ll be on the replays, I think!) and this will probably act as a muse to get me back to blogging again. So, there is a slight selfish element – I may get a small SEO boost, but I don’t think it’s worth the money on the webinar ninja account or the time to prep and share! It would be less expensive. And we’re talking about this on my blog which turned into my company. So there is a sort of bump to Straight Path from this at “risk.” I think it’s okay because I want to try and keep it democratic – and it’s easier to let my company pay for the time, call it “advertising” for any of small residual bump it gets, then try and have it become self-funded, charge or ask for patreon support. We’ll see how it goes. I’d love my friends who are “competitive” with Straight Path’s SQL consulting – people at great friend companies like SQL Skills, SQL Solutions Group, Fortified Data, Dallas DBAs, etc. to feel comfortable coming to share and speak and even mention their own companies. I want friends in different spheres of SQL to come someday – people like Brent Ozar or Steph Locke or Tim Mitchell or Bill Anton or friends who work at Microsoft. We’re all busy enough. And I am a fan of all ships rising together.)

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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6 thoughts on “What do YOU want to learn about?”

  1. Wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more about using SSDT DB Projects and CI/CD. Would love to see if there’s a way to handle that with a bunch of updates for clients that host their own when you have some parts that require data movement between versions.

    PowerShell 101 for DBAs (or DB Devs) might be worth it. A “getting started” along with some simple ways to run some basic tasks that most DBAs would do regularly and collect info in a meaningful way. I struggle with this as someone more on the Dev side.

    Azure SQL Analytics would be cool if anyone’s playing with that. We’ve got some collection going for that right now, but not quite sure how best to use it yet.


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