Doing Business

Go Big or Go Special

Watching Shark Tank tonight and the first presentation was by Mango Mango Preserves and it highlighted an interesting contrast in business trends today and how to capitalize on opportunities.  <Spoiler Alert> Even though every one of the sharks was raving about the product samples they tried, with two of them going for second and third servings, none of them made a deal to invest in the company.</Spoiler>  In fact, one of the sharks, Kevin O’Leary, kept ripping into the owners with statements to the effect that he thinks they are headed over a financial cliff because he felt their costs...

How to Manage Technical Employees

In my current position as Software Engineering Manager I have been through a lot of ups and downs with staffing, ranging from laying-off everyone who was on my team as we went through the great economic downturn in 2007-2008, to numerous rounds of interviewing and hiring contractors, full-time employees, and converting some contractors to employee status.  I have not yet blogged much about my experiences, but I plan to do that more in the next few months.  But before I do that, let me point you to a great article that somebody else wrote on The Unspoken Truth About Managing...

Using SQL Source Control with Fortress or Vault – Part 2

In Part 1, I started talking about using Red-Gate’s newest version of SQL Source Control and how I really like it as a viable method to source control your database development.  It looks like this is going to turn into a little series where I will explain how we have done things in the past, and how life is different with SQL Source Control.  I will also explain some of my philosophy and methodology around deployment with these tools.  But for now, let’s talk about some of the good and the bad of the tool itself. More Kudos and...

Play Your Position Until the Play Breaks Down…then Do Whatever it Takes.

If I didn’t know better, I would think that K. Brian Kelley (blog | twitter) has been listening in on conversations with my boss. In his recent blog post Successful Teams: Knowing When to Step Out of Your Role, Brian describes quite clearly a philosophy that my boss has been trying to get across to everyone in the department.  We have been using sports analogies, like how important it is to play your position, until the play breaks down (such as a fumble) and then do whatever it takes it to cover each other / recover the ball /...

Speakers, Please Check Your Time

Woodrow Wilson was once asked how long it would take him to prepare for a 10 minute speech. He replied "Two weeks". He was then asked how long it would take for a 1 hour speech. "One week", he replied. 2 hour speech? "I'm ready right now," he replied.  Whether that is a true story or an urban legend, I don’t really know, but either way, it is a poignant reminder for all speakers, and particularly apropos this week leading up to the PASS Community Summit. (Cross-posted to the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter blog #PASSProfDev.) What’s the...

Keep it Professional – Multiple Environments

I have certainly been reading blogs a whole lot more than writing them the last several weeks, and it’s about time I got back to writing.  I have been collecting several topics and references for blog posts…some of which will probably just never get written as the timeliness of the topics fade over time.  Nonetheless, I’m back, and I think it is time to revive my Doing Business Right series, this time coming from the slant of managing a development team rather than the previous angle of being self-employed.  First up: separating Dev, Test, and Prod. A few months...

Fixed Bid vs. T&M – Take 2

One of my most popular blog entries of all time is my Contracting Tips: Fixed Bid vs. T&M post from January, 2004.  This post consistently shows up in my referrers list, usually coming from a search engine.  Recently, Brent Ozar (@BrentO) wrote a great argument for why he always bills by the hour (a.k.a. Time & Materials or T&M) which itself was a response to Mark Richman’s (@mrichman) post on why he never bills by the hour (fixed bid).  Each article has good arguments, and I encourage you to read them both and choose the best approach for you. ...

Are you a PC or a Mainframe?

There are two types of people in the world: Those that divide groups of people into two types, and those that don't... Lately, I've been thinking about two types of developers (or coders).  Or more specifically, two types of developer attitudes:  The PC and the Mainframe.  For the purposes of this article, I'm using PC in its generic form for personal computer, lumping both MAC and Windows into the same bucket.  You can even throw in some Linux for good measure. So what do I mean by PC and mainframe attitudes?  Well, if you're old like me, you...

Top 10 Non-Technical Blogs

Being in the tech industry, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of technical blogs.  There are approximately a gazillion technical blogs, and a whole gob of those are really good.  I could easily spend 8 hours per day just combing through the good articles and blog posts out there.  Of course if I did that, I wouldn't get much real work done, and I would soon be without income.  That would be bad. So with all those good technical blogs out there, I'm not even going to attempt to put together a Top Ten list...

PASS 2008: Women in Technology

I went to the Women in Technology lunch yesterday.  Yes, some of you will be quick to realize that I am not a woman, but the lunch is not exclusive to women.  Rather, it is about women who have achieved success in technology sharing tips and suggestions on how to do likewise.  Maybe as a guy it never really occurred to you that A) Technology is a very male-dominated career field and B) there are issues that professional women have to deal with that men just never (or rarely) even think about. The luncheon was a huge success, with...

What NOT To-Do

One of my favorite authors on the subject of Leadership is Dr. John C. Maxwell.  Occasionally, he talks about how most people have To-Do lists, but more importantly, he recommends that leaders develop a NOT-To-Do list.  I was reminded of this while watching the video of Jason Fried (from 37signals) present at the 2008 Business of Software conference.  He has some provocative comments about the evils of specifications, along with some really good ideas.  Find an hour to sit and watch it, and then come up with your own Not-To-Do list.

Thoughts From a Hiring Manager on the MCDBA

Now that I have had the "pleasure" of filtering through numerous resumes looking to hire someone, my thoughts on certifications has evolved a little...  Or it's probably more accurate to say that they have been solidified. Acrimony Anyone who is active in the community is well aware that the topic of whether to pursue your MCDBA or other certification is hotly debated.  Are things a little too quiet in the office or on the discussion boards?  Just throw out the "innocent" question of whether it is worth pursuing certification and things are certain to get lively for a while.  It ranks right...

Technical Debt, Live Writer, and oh yeah, Happy New Year!

I know, we're already a few weeks into the new year, but I have been so busy with work and life stuff that I haven't been out here in a while, and it sounded like a good start. I had dinner with Graz last night, and he off-handedly mentioned that I got passed by Mladen in blog post count, as if I might not already be aware of it. ;-)  (Congrats Mladen!  You are doing a great job and a great service to the community!)  OK, seriously, Bill did encourage me to write some more, and suggested that I...

DBA Interviews from Both Sides of the Table

A few months ago I was conducting interviews for a Production DBA position that we were creating, and an interesting thing happened...I ran into a candidate who was much like me a few years earlier.  Unfortunately neither of us qualified.  Here are some lessons from that experience... Perhaps I should provide a little background for new readers.  I have been a database application developer since about 1988 ranging from Info on minicomputers to Advanced Revelation and on to Oracle.  I started using SQL Server in 1999 on version 7.0.  I have a lot of experience in both the UI and database...

Defining Experience

I'm sure I've written this before, but while I'm on the topic of interviewing, it bears repeating... Do NOT confuse 1 year of experience repeated 5 times with 5 years of experience. In the one, you have just been doing the same thing over and over, hopefully getting better at it, but not really growing.  In the other, you are learning new things and growing, hopefully refining what you knew before based on what you are learning now, but at the very least, expanding the total area of what you know. When a job ad says something like "5+ years experience" it is the...

Honesty in the Interview

In my previous post about interview flubs, Jon dinged me in the comments for posting something that is too obvious.  As he put it, "who DOESN'T know these?".  Well, Jon, apparently a lot of people don't.  I have been amazed at the things I have seen in my short stint as the lead interviewer for developers.  (I alluded to this earlier, and last month it was finally made official that I am now the Software Engineering Manager.)  One of the things that I have seen which I find really shocking is how much people misrepresent their skills.  Oh sure, not...

Escape From Cubicle Nation

For those of you who are already independent contractors, or thinking about taking the plunge and being your own boss, some good ideas and good humor awaits you at the Escape From Cubicle Nation blog.

The Interview - Don't Blow It

While I am putting together a few of my own tips based on my recent experience of interviewing candidates for developer positions, here are some tips from eWeek on 10 Avoidable Interview Flubs.

Geek Marketing 101

Found this post titled Geek Marketing 101 at Make Marketing History by way of Guy Kawasaki's Blog...

Interviewing Tips & Tricks

Whichever side of the interview table you find yourself on, the following articles may help you excel in the process...


I realize that is a five-letter acronym, but I have confidence that even you CSci guys can remember it...The more willing you are to walk away, the more power you have in the negotiation.

Management Thinking Reset

The funny thing is, that in all that time, nobody challenged me to reset my thinking like my boss did that day...

Getting What You Want

Whether you are a Development Manager, Project/Program Manager, Independent Consultant, or the client, somewhere along the line, you will run into the conflict of getting or producing what was asked for, but not what was really wanted...

Dinner with the Board

Opportunity is a funny thing... it comes along when you least expect it.

Communication: Sometimes it's what you don't say that counts.

The key here is not just in what you say, but more importantly what you do not say. I do not advocate lying, but you do not need to confess all your sins to your clients, either.

Full Disclosure: New Job

I believe that any time there is a potential conflict of interest or perception of undue bias in my writing, I want to disclose it so you can decide how big of a grain of salt to take with my ramblings.

Top 15 Myths About Business

Thinking about going into business for yourself? Check out my list of the Top 15 Myths About Business in the Business Articles section of this site.

Parsons' 16 Rules

Applicable to life in general as well as business in particular, these 16 rules are well worth reading and applying if you have any intention of being successfully self-employed.

Organizing Your Business - Getting Paid

As we rapidly approach the end of the first month of 2005, let's talk about fixing some of those Top 15 Business Mistakes I listed a while back. The first two mistakes on our list are 1) Forgetting to bill the client; and 2) Losing track of unpaid invoices.

More Contracting Tips

In my Self Employment 101 post, I emphasized the need to have a lawyer look over contracts before you sign them. Dave Taylor brings this point home clearly with examples.

This is an outrage!

dotRob, Posting someone else's writing as if it were your own is known as plagiarism. Please stop and correct this situation.

Reading Software Licensing Agreements

Do you read software licensing agreements when you install software? Maybe you should...

Dog Food vs. Prime Rib

When you're making a presentation to sell $1,000,000 worth of software and services, "dog food" is a bad choice of words...

Professional Groups and Continuing Education

What are you doing to keep your edge in this competitive world?

Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Ever since I started the Doing Business series, I have thought that I should put together a Top 10 list of mistakes people make...but it turned out that 10 wasn't enough.

Microsoft Webcasts

I spent my lunch time today watching a Microsoft webcast that was shown live back on April 7...

Networking - The Business Kind

One of the most common questions I get when someone finds out that I've been self-employed for 12 years is, “How do you get new business?” Here's how...

Tonight at the Blogger Meetup

Blogger Meetup on St. Patrick's Day

Words to Ponder From a Self-Made Multi-Millionaire

He said a couple of things that really stuck in my brain, and I thought I'd share them with you...

No Sick Leave, Either

Closely related to my Unpaid Vacation / Holiday Time post is the fact that when you're self employed, you don't get paid sick leave either.

How to Get New Business

A common question of those who are self-employed, and a common concern for those thinking about becoming self-employed is, “How do you find new business?” Here's how...

Don't Irritate Your Prospective Client

I haven't even seen your product yet and you have made me angry with you. What were you thinking?!

MS Dev Days 2004

Microsoft Developer Days 2004 are coming!

Spammers are the Scum of the Earth

Spammers fall on the hierarchy of life forms well below used car salesmen and most contingency-fee personal injury lawyers...

Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You...

One of the hardest lessons for people to learn is that failure is NOT the opposite of success. Failure is a part of success.

Contracting Tips: Fixed Bid vs. T&M

There are essentially two types of billing for contract work: Fixed Bid or Time & Materials. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. And you'd better know up-front which one your client has in mind before you start talking about money...

UN-Paid Vacation / Holiday Time

Oh the JOY of the Holiday Season! Maybe...

IRS: Friend or Foe?

Believe it or not, when you're self-employed, the IRS can be your friend...

Self-Employment 101

So you want to be your own boss. Tired of someone else telling you what you have to do? Ready to break-free and do it YOUR way? Good for you! Congratulations! It's an awesome experience! Let me give you a couple of beginner's tips...

Doing Business - The Series

I thought I'd start a series of posts on "doing business" as an adjunct to the SQL stuff...To get started, I thought I'd respond to a common lament: Clarke Scott asks Why Does the Corproate World Do What it Does?

PASS Summit 2003 - Opening Session Rave

Yesterday I ranted about Guy Brown's opening of the PASS conference. Today I'm raving about Gordon Mangione's presentation...

2003 Salary Survey

ComputerWorld's 2003 Salary Survey is now available online. The detailed numbers are available after a free registration, but here are a couple of points of interest for the SQL Server community.