Entry-Level Content Challenge

In Our Journeys We Forget How Far We Travel


Author and Son. One Foot In Front of the Other on Mount Rainer in 2015

I’ve been in the tech industry for over 16 years now and have been an author, sharing tips and knowledge for 8 of those years on various websites, conferences, SQL Cruise events, and books. I’m not special. I’d not be surprised if the majority of my peers know more about their fields of interest than I know of mine. I’d even say that I’m more creative than I am technical.  But I am adept in seeing the total scope of a problem and making sense of it to work towards forming effective solutions with a team of talented individuals across many disciplines and platforms.

I did not start my career in technology but I am circling back to my plans fresh out of high school.  My mind was set on Applied Mathematics all those years ago – until I hit calculus 3 in my sophomore year of university.  Afterwards I ended up proceeding with a business degree eventually graduating with an Accounting and Finance major.  After years in the “real world” I realized I was gravitating towards technology and away from accounting.  I didn’t like the estimating system we had purchased at the company I was working for so I wrote my own in Excel and Visual Basic for Applications.  That led to databases, which led to FilemakerPro and Microsoft Access.

This ultimately led to Microsoft SQL Server and how you know me today.





How Did I Get Here?

Attendees, Staff, and Technical Leaders for SQL Cruise 10: Mediterranean 2015

Attendees, Staff, and Technical Leaders for SQL Cruise 10: Mediterranean 2015

Could I ever have imagined I’d be taking other Technical Leads in the SQL Server, Powershell, and Business Intelligence communities on cruise ships for training, consulting, and mentoring?


Could I have fathomed I’d be serving on a Board of Directors for a global professional association of technically-minded individuals?

Heck No.

Would I ever have expected to have some of the people I looked up to when I was just starting in technology now working with me to provide articles or training on a global scale without realizing the insanity of how I got to that level in a little over a decade?

Hell the Heck NO!

But the journey we take through our lives both personally and professionally is a hike of may steps and after a while you lose count of how many you’ve taken.



Always Focusing on the Next Landmark

I told you all this (and likely have shared it before here and elsewhere) as a lead into a challenge for 2016 for all of my blogging and presenting Friends and Peers across all technical disciplines.

I think as we mature through our careers we continually measure ourselves against new targets and those targets are consistently out of our reach.  In doing so we continually feel like we impostors in our own levels of success because of our constant changes in measurement.  We never feel we deserve the success and accolades we’ve truly earned because we don’t see where we have come from as much as where we’ve failed to hit yet.

A side effect of this measurement shift is that we forget how deep our knowledge may be in comparison to those coming up through the learning curve behind us.  We find ourselves in the roles of Educators, Leaders, and Mentors similar to those whom we followed as we scaled the career ladder.  The issue is many of these individuals are still educating, leading, and mentoring us even though we may now run in the same social circles and peer groups due in part to persistence, passion, and a large amount of energy and luck.

I find myself in that position.  The first books on SQL Server I was exposed to were written by Kalen Delaney (twitter|blog), Ken Henderson, and Itzik Ben-Gan (twitter|articles).  Sadly Ken was taken from us in 2008 but I still learn from Kalen and Itzik and continue to compare myself to them after all these years even though I find myself sitting across tables in various parts of the world sharing wine and stories from time-to-time with them.  I forget the Tim Ford that knew nothing of extents, referential integrity, indexes, backups, and the like.  Instead I spin on the fact that of 50% of the content Itzik provides to me for editing on SQL Server Pro gives me migraines and how much I need to learn on In-Memory OLTP to even be able to have a pedestrian conversation with Kalen on the subject.



We Lose Focus Those on the Path Behind Us

The point is that I – and many of my peers whom so many people look to for knowledge – forget that we have much to share to those just starting in our respective disciplines.  Our content matches our aspirations and our current work challenges.  As we advance towards tougher technical challenges in our careers our shared content we provide advances as well and what results is a drought of decent entry-level content to help others who started out like many of us.  My peers and I see this.  We have conversations around horribly crafted blog posts or just plain misinformation on the Internet.  Sometimes we provide comments to steer conversations right when we see these situations but I’ve learned that if you want to feel decent about your fellow human you don’t read comments on the Internet.

I want to change how we address this lack of good entry-level content.  It also has a self-serving element to it as well because it will help to give us as bloggers a grounding in reminding us how far we have come and how much we have achieved over the years.  How the late nights cracking books, fixing problems, missing important family events because of on-call flare-ups have formed us into the sought-after Technicians for today’s tough technical challenges.  My challenge is borne from a Tweet I saw from Darren Rowse(twitter|web) (aka @problogger) on Twitter as 2015 took it’s last gasps and stumbled into 2016:


My Challenge

As a blogger of any kind – technical or otherwise – write at least one entry-level post once per month for the next year (and hopefully beyond.)

One post!  It’s not that hard.

Of course this comes from a guy who really dropped the ball on blogging on his own site last year – when you are able to write the same content you provided in the past for free elsewhere and you have two sons about to go to college you go for the money.  I’m taking the challenge myself though.

When you publish the post tag it with #entrylevel along with other tags your site typically uses and post the link to twitter with that hash tag.

Let’s see what we as bloggers from across all disciplines can do in a year to raise the value of entry-level content on the Internet.  Granted it won’t be measurable but it will make a difference and in the end that’s why we likely started blogging to begin with.


If you are a blogger in data platform / business analytics / business intelligence sectors please reach out to me on Twitter with the hashtag of #iwanttoshare so I can add you to the roster of those sites that are taking the challenge.  I’ll do my best to provide an up-to-date index of sites that are taking the challenge for interested beginners to use as a conduit to your content.

Happy New Year and thank you for wanting to share you knowledge.


– Tim