Archive for the ‘corporate leadership’ Category

That Awkward Feeling Of Being A Noob

Have you ever tried using your left hand to write if you’re right-handed? Or maybe tried driving on the right side of the road? Recall the first time you’ve tried riding a bicycle or learned how to skate (I have to admit that I still don’t know how.) How did that feel? Here’s what’s worse. You’re trying a totally different approach related to your area of expertise. Like the accountant learning how to use TurboTax for the first time.  He knows the spreadsheet in-and-out but just couldn’t get the software’s user interface. This reminded me of how users reacted to Microsoft Office 2007 when it first came out. And because change is constant and inevitable, we’ll always feel like a noob. ALWAYS. And it feels awkward. ALWAYS.

But just like learning how to ride a bicycle, we get used to it. The awkward feeling starts to go away and we start feeling confident. When you’re riding your bicycle without holding the handle bars, you never think about how many times you’ve fallen off or the number of scratches you got. You probably couldn’t even remember. You went from being a noob to being an expert and riding the bicycle no longer feels awkward. You now feel great about it. But it definitely took a lot of trying it out and getting used to it. The path from being a noob to becoming an expert is never an easy one. That, in fact, was the thesis of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers and the idea behind the 10,000 hours road to expertise. With the right investment of time and effort, anyone can move past the feeling of awkwardness fairly quickly.

But I think it’s more than the awkward feeling of being a noob. Behind all of that is the feeling of PRIDE. Admitting that you have to throw away all of your efforts and investments does feel a bit awkward. And that feeling where you suddenly have to slide down the ranks from up top all the way back to the bottom. When experts feel that they’re back to being a noob. And because they’ve gotten used to the feeling of being an expert, they no longer want to go back and re-experience how it all started – the fear, anxiety, and frustration that comes with it.

Didn’t I say that change is constant and inevitable? This means we have to get used to being a noob because we will always have to learn something new. But we need to put our pride aside or we’ll never get past this awkward feeling.

Now, go ahead and ride that bicycle.


The Power Of A Half-Hour

Time Keeper 1

Time Keeper 1 by EdwinMSarmiento

Being a consultant sometimes is like drinking from a fire hose. There’s always something new to learn and you have to learn it fast. Unfortunately, we only have 24 hours in a day. I bet you’ve always wanted more hours to get more things done. There have been a lot of books and articles written on strategies to learning new things. However, it takes time to master a subject. And this is what’s frustrating sometimes. I know I get frustrated when I can’t do things right the first time. I remember feeling like a student driver when I tried driving on the other side of the road.

The best approach to mastering a subject is to think of it as a fruit-bearing tree. You don’t expect to get an apple from a seedling. We nurture the seedling until it grows into a tree and eventually bears fruit. Consistently. It’s ridiculous to think that pouring 5 gallons of water on the seedling will cause it to grow immediately. That only happens in cartoons and computer graphics-driven movies. You start with watering the seedling with a small cup. Consistently.

And that’s how the power of the half-hour comes into play. There’s a lot we can do in a half-hour – read a book, exercise, learn a new skill, etc.  It’s simply a matter of getting it in our calendar and making it a priority. Start by having a goal. Then, decide how you want to achieve that goal. Put in those half-hour investments. Consistently. It’s frustrating at first but you’ll be surprised at the benefits. Just don’t be in a rush. Greatness doesn’t happen overnight. But it does occur in small fragments of half-hour chunks invested consistently over time.

The Value of Engaging In Conversation Thru Feedback

I’ve been very busy with speaking and presenting at different events this year alone. As a speaker, I value great feedback especially when I know that I can take it to improve myself. While events and conference organizers provide feedback forms in both paper-based and online formats, I make it a point to ask attendees for their personal feedback after my presentations.

At the last PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC, I spent some time at the Community Zone to engage attendees in some conversation. Both first timers and alumni have their own different perspectives about the event. I was specifically interested in what the first time attendees had to say so I scanned name tags to see if they were indeed first timers. Conversations after conversations, my question simply boiled down to a single theme: How was the PASS Summit experience for you? The responses were similar, ranging from “Great” to “Wonderful,” but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I knew for a fact that these would be the common responses. That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to find out what specific details led them to saying it was a great experience.

I like asking WHY questions (Michael Hyatt wrote a blog post about 7 Suggestions for Asking More Powerful Questions.) Apart from the fact that I’m just really curious, the WHY questions lead to more WHY questions. This triggers the one answering the question to really think about and articulate their response. It also engages the individual in a conversation. Let’s be honest, we all feel like we have something to say. We sometimes just need an opportunity to be heard. That’s what I try to accomplish whenever I ask for (and provide) feedback. When I asked the conference attendees why they consider it a great experience, they started telling stories about their experience on how they felt being at home in a group of complete strangers. For the event organizers, this is a more detailed feedback about knowing that the feeling of community is something of importance to the attendees. Of course, my curiosity didn’t stop there. I asked what specific event that made them feel that way – Community Zone, speakers, SQLKaraoke, SQLRun, etc. These are just a handful of events happening within the context of the main event. Everyone of them made the attendees feel like they were a part of a bigger community.

Unfortunately, these types of detailed feedback go unaccounted for. Feedback forms are not made equal. What’s worse is that a lot of feedback forms are designed to capture scores and not engage in conversation. The challenge I see here is that it is difficult to automate the process of capturing meaningful feedback in free text format. Imagine trying to read every single comment from thousands of attendees. Even businesses who try to capture feedback from their customers have this challenge (Aaron Bertrand (blog | Twitter) provided some insights on the PASS Summit feedback for speakers.) What’s more important is to think about gathering (and providing) feedback in a way that engages conversation. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, was known for visiting stores and asking employees how they feel about the store and asking for suggestions to improve operations. While he could have afforded to pay consulting companies to design and implement the perfect feedback form, he opted to have a conversation. No scores nor numbers, just conversations and stories that he took from those he talked to.

Beyond scores and ratings, providing and gathering feedback should be a conversation. And when the conversation starts, meaningful insights emerge. No amount of business intelligence technologies can substitute for the insights gathered during meaningful conversations. What’s more, relationships are built which, for me, are the most important factor in the overall feedback system.

Continuous GROWTH is Required

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”
– Albert Einstein –

This is the third in a series of blog posts that talk about success. I had the opportunity to ask the registered attendees for SQLSaturday Philippines to vote for a particular topic that they like best. Since I usually talk about professional development for IT Professionals at the PASS Summit, I provided a list of topics from presentation skills to landing your dream job. This was the one that got the most number of votes: What Your College Education Didn’t Teach You About Success. 

You may have figured it out if you’ve been reading my blog posts: I’m a strong believer in continuous personal growth. I believe that healthy organisms grow. We humans were created to grow. That’s why my personal mission statement is anchored on that premise: to help people and organizations grow and develop their full potential. If we are not growing, we are not healthy.


This was the third slide in my presentation about what our education doesn’t teach us about success: CONTINUOUS GROWTH IS REQUIRED.  Schools teach students how to answer questions, take tests and finish a degree. Statistics even confirm that almost half of college graduates (I don’t know if the numbers are true or not but the economic side effects do say so)  never read another book. If you ask students what they do after taking an exam or completing a semester, they’ll probably say “have fun” or “party out.” Now, there is nothing wrong with having fun or partying out after having a stressful semester. It’s just that we almost stay in these states more frequent than we should.

I like both reading and teaching. Both activities force me to grow beyond what I know and to go outside of my comfort zone. I remember reading all of the required books for my class even before school starts. I also remember reading the Reader’s Digest in grocery aisles while my mom waits in line to pay for the groceries. And, yes, I remember skipping college classes (I hope my mom doesn’t read my blog posts) to be in the library and looking for required reading materials that our course mandates. When all of my classmates are out looking for the required reading materials, guess who they ask first? My home office is filled with books. My tablet and phone both have the Amazon Kindle app with dozens of books that I read while waiting for my next flight or even waiting for food in a restaurant. I have committed to continuous personal growth that allowed me to excel in the things that I love to do.

In order to be successful in life, we have to embrace the fact that growth is required. And it’s not just one time growth. It’s continuous growth. Learning is never ending process.  If there is one thing to take away from this blog post, it is to make a commitment to continuous personal growth. Here are several ways you can get started on the road to continuous personal growth.

  1. Envision where you would want to be in 5/10/15/20 years from now. Begin with the end in mind, as the late Dr. Stephen Covey wrote in the all-time best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you know where you are going, it’s easier to work towards it. I remember telling myself when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a consultant (even when I didn’t even know what that word meant at that time) and help people solve their problems. And, that’s exactly what I am doing now.
  2. Have a personal growth plan. I blogged about my high-level personal growth plan last year. When I made a commitment to pursue continuous personal growth, I knew I needed a plan. Reading books and learning new stuff is not enough. I need to create a structure to follow so that I can have and maintain focus.
  3. Put it in your calendar. If it’s not in your calendar, it is unlikely to happen. I “try” to put the activities in my personal growth plan in my calendar. If I need to learn something new, I schedule the time to study. I still struggle with this because I don’t like the idea of having a full calendar. But while it is hard for me to do, I see results come out of it. My first attempt to be religious about putting my growth activities in calendar was when I was preparing for the Microsoft Certified Master certification. After that experience, I try to keep my personal growth activities in my calendar.
  4. Enjoy the experience. One reason why college graduates stopped reading books after school is because they find school to be boring. I hated history when I was in school. I didn’t understand why we need to learn history and how relevant it can be in my field of work. But when I started to realize how history affects businesses and technology, something that I’m interested in, I began to appreciate it. In fact, I started to use a bit of history in my technical presentations. When we enjoy the process of learning and growing, it becomes easier to stick to our plan.

Question: Have you committed to continuous personal growth? What are your strategies to fulfil that commitment? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leadership Lessons from Driving in the UK

Right-hand drive

Right-hand drive by EdwinMSarmiento

I have been privileged to be invited as a speaker in the last SQLBits conference held in Nottingham, UK earlier this month. I have to admit that I was pretty excited since this will be my first time to be in the UK. I prepared all the necessary travel documents for the trip – visa, plane tickets, accommodation, etc. One idea that I have been considering was renting a car and driving. Whenever I travel to places in the US where public transport was a challenge, I try to rent a car. Now, understand this: I don’t like driving. One of the reasons I try to work from home most of the time is to avoid driving to and from work. I don’t want to worry about parking and other rowdy drivers that I have to deal with on the road. I prefer taking the public transport instead. The idea of driving in the UK should come as a surprise from somebody who doesn’t even like driving. But why did I even think about it in the first place?

I learned how to drive when I was 15 and I owe that to my brother. When you’re at that age, everyone thinks driving a car is cool. I’ve driven a manual transmission car ever since and only started driving automatic in 2009 after moving to Canada. The Philippines and Canada have a lot in common when it comes to driving cars: we drive on the right side of the road, we use kilometers instead of miles and traffic lights are the same (except when the lights are broken.) Contrast that with the UK where they drive on the left side of the road, use miles instead of kilometers and a lot of roundabouts. And that’s the main reason I’ve decided to drive. You see, I like getting out of my comfort zone. I like pushing myself to know what I’m capable of. The idea of driving in the UK is my way of pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone. I have to temporarily forget some of the things that have become second nature for me when driving and “quickly learn on-the-job.” As a result, I’ve learned quite a few things about leadership, especially when embarking on challenging tasks.
  1. Expect stress, so prepare for it. Doing something new always introduces stress, whether it’s as simple as cooking (especially if you don’t know how to cook, like me) or as complicated as performing your new role as CEO. It’s OK to feel stressed about it and that’s normal. However, if you let stress take over, you won’t be able to function well. That’s why preparation is key. Having spent more than 3 years in Singapore, I knew what it felt like riding (but not driving) on the left side of the road. I started imagining myself driving behind the wheel, being on the  left side of the road and feeling the shifting gear. The mental preparation paid off when I hopped in to the car and turned on the ignition. What I didn’t do was prepare physically. I should have slept well on my flight to the UK to get my body clock in-sync with the local time and not feel sleepy. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to figure that out even though I’m a frequent traveller.
  2. It’s OK to start slow and make mistakes. Highly driven individuals always feel like they’re on an adrenalin rush. They want things done quickly, efficiently and correctly. So, don’t be surprised when your colleagues or boss can’t deal with inefficiency. They’ve become so used to doing their task efficiently that they expect you to do the same. But taking on new challenges requires a different mindset. You need to be patient with yourself because you’re in learning-mode. You will make mistakes and you will get frustrated. But the last thing you need to do is be hard on yourself. Rarely do we make it right the  first time. Remember the time you were learning how to write your name? How many sheets of paper did you end up tearing? In my case, I felt like a new driver again. I stopped in the middle of the road a couple of times because I accidentally switched to the wrong gear while I make a turn. While I’m good with the clutch, my instinct just kicks in and try to reach for the switching gear with my right hand instead of the left and everything goes haywire. After getting back to my normal driving mode, I laugh at myself thinking like I was a kid riding a bike on training wheels.
  3. Build on the things you already know. I actually used this point in my presentation about Windows Failover Clustering. One reason why most people don’t take on new challenges is because they feel overwhelmed with things that they know nothing about. I hear this a lot from people who get promoted on to a new management role – the technical support guy who is now appointed as the new team lead, the sales guy who just became the director of sales. What they don’t realize is they actually know a few things. They just need to build on them. The sales guy can sell the company vision and the tech support guy can use his analytical skills to fix a teamwork issue. Knowing that you know a few things builds confidence when tackling on a new challenge.
  4. Observe, pay attention, learn and adjust accordingly. It’s easy to switch back to what we have gotten used to. But to be successful in facing a new challenge, flexibility is a must. Observe what others are doing. Pay attention to even the smallest details. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. When I reached the freeway/highway/motorway, I wondered whether the speed was in kilometers or miles per hour. The on-dash GPS was telling me the distance in miles but the speedometer didn’t give me any hint. I kept glancing at the GPS because I knew how to correlate the speed and the distance traveled (yes, I was doing what I call the driver’s math of figuring out the speed just by using known values when the speedometer doesn’t give you any clue.) When I figured out that the speed was in miles, I realized that I wasn’t shifting gears properly. I knew how to shift gears in kilometers per hour but not miles per hour. Fortunately, the car I rented displayed a number that told me which gear I’m supposed to be on at a particular speed. But that number was very difficult to figure out because it was very small. I had to figure it out while driving by observing it while I change gears. That small detail helped improve my driving.
  5. Understand what is at stake. It’s easy to give up when the challenge is overwhelming. I bet we can think of a thousand different (even valid) reasons for throwing in the towel.  But when we understand what is at stake, we instantly find reasons not to give up.  Is the future of your company dependent on you completing the task? Is your job on the line? I felt like giving up after several miles on the road because of the mistakes I made while driving.  I thought about finding the nearest branch of the rental car company and just return the car. But I realized that if I don’t focus on driving, I might end up in an accident. And I certainly wouldn’t like that to happen.
  6. Seek out the right people. I thought I was the only one who tried to drive around in the UK with a different driving background. I talked to some of my friends who were there and realized that there were four of us. Suddenly, I no longer felt alone. We shared stories about how we felt and the different bloopers that we got ourselves into. And, we laughed. Facing new challenges isn’t such a bad idea after all if you know that others are in the same boat. Never face new challenges on your own and be sure that you are hanging out with the right people.
  7. Celebrate small successes. After a few days, I’ve already gotten the hang of being on the right side of the car and on the left side of the road. I went from feeling like a student driver to a professional one. I knew how to switch lanes properly when approaching the roundabouts. With that in mind, I was now able to stop along the way, taking pictures and enjoyed the scene.  What started as a stressful attempt to drive in the UK has now turned into a pleasant experience. Every new challenge that we face will have its small victories. Know when to stop to celebrate them. Pat yourself on the back for taking the risk and facing the challenge. The small victories you celebrate today will be your stepping stones for your success tomorrow.
  8. Are you facing a new challenge? Realize that it can either break you or it can make you a better leader.

Question: What new challenge are you facing today? How are you handling it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Your ATTITUDE Determines Your Altitude

Our thoughts lead to actions. Our actions lead to habits. Our habits lead to character. Our character develops our future.

This is the second in a series of blog posts that talk about success. I had the opportunity to ask the registered attendees for SQLSaturday Philippines to vote for a particular topic that they like best. Since I usually talk about professional development for IT Professionals at the PASS Summit, I provided a list of topics from presentation skills to landing your dream job. This was the one that got the most number of votes: What Your College Education Didn’t Teach You About Success. 

Planes have attitude indicators. Yes, I myself was surprised when I first heard about it. Also known as the gyro horizon, it’s an instrument that informs the pilot of the plane’s orientation relative to the earth’s horizon. When the plane is climbing, the nose of the plane is pointing above the horizon. When it is diving, the nose is pointed below the horizon. Most pilots will say that the performance  of the plane is dictated by its attitude. In order to change the performance of the plane, pilots need to change its attitude.


This was the second slide in my presentation about what our education doesn’t teach us about success: ATTITUDE DETERMINES ALTITUDE. Unfortunately, our education system is more concerned about test scores and IQ than emotional intelligence (EQ) or even attitude development. I bet that if you ask a lot of successful entrepreneurs, leaders and business people, they will tell you that their attitude has been a major contributor in their success. Our attitude is the only thing that we get to control 100% of the time. While we don’t have any control of our circumstances, we have full control of our attitude. It’s a matter of choosing which attitude we carry around with us that will determine how successful we will be.

I have to admit that choosing the right attitude is not easy. I wasn’t all that positive in the past. I complained about almost everything, saw myself as way better off than anybody else I knew and blamed others for the misfortunes that I experienced. It took me a while to realize how my attitude is affecting my career and, eventually, my future.  My drive to be excellent at everything I do compensated for my bad attitude but it wasn’t long until the bad attitude finally caught up. As I was in the middle of my failed startup, my wife gave me a wake up  call. She told me that unless I start changing my attitude, things will only be heading further south. I had to make a choice. The process was painful. It was like unlearning all of the stuff that I’ve learned throughout the years. But I was determined to go thru it. Years later, I was trying to figure out how I managed to go thru the process so that I can share it with others. It’s not that I was smart enough to learn about a process I followed that helped me overcome a bad attitude. I was clueless back then. But here are three things that I did to help me develop a positive attitude:

  1. WRITE. I wrote down the things that I don’t like about myself. Now, this is a tough exercise. You need to be very honest about yourself  – what you like and don’t like. I knew I was complaining about almost everything so I wrote that on top of my list. I was determined to revert that bad attitude into a positive one. I also knew that I was blaming others for my misfortune. I had that item next in the list. I didn’t resolve all of my attitude problems at the same time (it’s probably the reason why some of them still show up every once in a while.) I just wanted to resolve the ones that I think are that bad. As I wrote them down, I thought of an alternative attitude that would replace the bad ones. The bad ones have to be replaced by good attitudes. I wrote those down as well. You could also type it on your mobile device or tablet if you prefer that.
  2. SAY. I believe in the power of confession. There’s a reason why the Bible talks about the power of our words. Successful sales people understand this concept in that they constantly speak positive words to themselves especially when trying to close a major deal. I practiced the power of confession daily by telling myself the good attitudes that I need to replace the old ones with. It may feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll get used to it. But what’s good about it is that you are now starting to reinforce your belief with your words.
  3. ACT.  I needed to put my belief into action. I needed to practice what I wrote down and told myself. They say actions speak louder than words. I have to act according to my belief. I used to complain about almost everything. I replaced that with gratitude. I felt uncomfortable at first, like the time when I was saying positive confessions to myself. I became grateful even with the smallest things. I thanked people around me. I thanked those who contributed to my success. I still do. Every once in a while, I check my LinkedIn, Facebook (yes, I have a Facebook profile now),  Twitter accounts, email archives, etc. to find opportunities to thank others for what they have done for me. I’m not saying I no longer complain. However, gratitude is now my dominant attitude as compared to 15 years ago.

Having a great attitude is key to success. It’s so important that Dr. John C. Maxwell, America’s leadership expert, wrote an entire book about it – The Winning Attitude. But it doesn’t come easily. I still have to work hard at it every day, choosing to start my day with a right attitude. Now, I’m one of those who claim that having a great attitude has contributed a lot to where I am right now.

You might also want to read:

Question: What one attitude that you want to change today to become a better person tomorrow? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leadership Lessons from Running a SQLSaturday Event

SQLSaturday Philippines

I’ve been involved with the SQL Server community ever since I can remember. I’ve been both a speaker and a volunteer and I know how it felt like to be on both sides of the fence. However, the one thing I haven’t been is an organizer myself. Until SQLSaturday218. This is the very first SQLSaturday event in the Philippines that was held last 9-Mar-2013.  Attendees, volunteers and speakers all claim that the event was a huge success and that they want it to be an annual event. But what they didn’t realize until the event was finally over was that SUCCESS always comes at a PRICE. The rewards of a champion only comes after the hard work and sacrifice, not before. SQLSaturday218 has reinforced a lot of leadership lessons that I have been practicing and teaching throughout the years.

  1. Find a higher purpose. I’ve blogged about this before and I’ve taught others about finding a higher purpose for things that we do.  SQLSaturday218 for me is more than just a SQL Server community event. It’s an attempt to express my patriotism in ways that I can do best. While most SQLSaturday organizers talk about technical education, I talk about loving my country. With the upcoming national elections in the Philippines, political candidates talk about bringing about change. I just made change happen thru SQLSaturday218. This wasn’t my original idea. Marlon Ribunal (blog | Twitter) and Justin Dearing (blog | Twitter) came up with the idea of running a SQLSaturday event in the Philippines. They included me in the conversation because they knew I was a die-hard FILIPINO. And the rest was history. My higher purpose helped me pursue even when the times are tough.
  2. Find allies, ignore detractors.  Every noble goal will have both. I always say that only fruitful trees get picked on. Nobody picks fruits on trees that don’t bear any. And, so be ready to have both allies and detractors. I heard a lot of folks tell me this is an insane idea. Nobody has ever organized a SQLSaturday event without physically being there. I was in Canada planning and organizing an event that was thousands of miles away from where I am, not to mention with a 12-hour time zone difference. I only knew (and have met) a handful of the volunteers. Regular SQLSaturday sponsors won’t fly to the Philippines just for this event. The odds are stacked up against me. I expected to have detractors. I was willing to take the stones that will get thrown at me. But I also did find allies. Niko Neugebauer  (blog | Twitter,) a fellow SQL Server MVP and PASS Community Evangelist was my greatest ally. He was the one who told me that it is possible and that I can make it happen because he was able to do it before. Allies will help you raise your shield when the detractors start throwing stones at you.
  3. Build a GREAT, UNITED team. People are what make things happen. That’s why you need to build a GREAT team. I’ve enlisted the help of people I knew who had the same passion for the community as I have. Culture is very important to me. That’s why I made sure that members of my team share the same values. They all went the extra mile to do things that I can’t because I wasn’t physically available. Some of my allies ended up being a part of the team.  And that’s why I brag about the people in my team who made SQLSaturday218 a huge success. But a great team will only go so far. A GREAT, UNITED team is unstoppable. In order to build a united team, they need to feel that they are a part of it in the first place. And building relationships is what makes that possible. Talk to team members. Understand what matters to them. Make them feel that they are special. Be willing to go the extra mile for them. If we are willing to do this for them now, imagine what they will be willing to do for you in the future.
  4. Over communicate.  It’s the leader’s job to keep the team informed. But sometimes, the same message has to be communicated several times in order for every one to get it. Over communication breeds clarity. It also addresses misunderstandings among those who receive the message. SQLSaturday has a website that organizers can use to do whatever they need to organize and run the event. While I maximized the use of the feature to send email communications to speakers, volunteers and registered attendees, I went the extra mile of sending personal emails. Every week for the past 6 weeks, I sent event updates to the registered attendees and those on the wait list. I also sent emails to the volunteers, giving them a picture of what to expect and what is expected of them. I also sent emails to my team about things that matter to us in order to make this event a success. I responded to emails, answered questions on instant messenger, did Skype calls, etc. in order to properly deliver the message.
  5. Ask for help but operate with a bootstrap mindset. My idea was to run SQLSaturday218 with very minimal to no sponsorship. That’s is because I wanted to create a mindset of creativity and resourcefulness. Plus, I also understand the challenges that most of the SQLSaturday sponsors have. It’s hard to spend money on sponsorships without the possibility of having immediate returns on their investments. I call myself the “self-proclaimed marketing guy” and I try to practice what I preach. I didn’t just go around asking for sponsorships. I only asked those who I believe will benefit from doing so. I even turned down several potential sponsors and explained why this would not benefit them. However, I didn’t just turn them down without offering them a long-term perspective of their marketing initiatives. And because we kept the bootstrap mindset, we operated as if we didn’t have resources. It’s amazing to see how people come up with creative ideas just because we don’t have the resources. So, when the resources became available, they were used to reward those who came up with creative ideas that got implemented.
  6. Have a detailed plan but be flexible enough when things don’t go as planned. I had a detailed project plan in place from start to finish. I shared it with my team and allowed them to make suggestions and modify it as necessary. But everyone knows that nobody can prepare and implement a perfect plan. Being flexible when things don’t go as planned is necessary for success.  We had delays with some of our deliverables. There were changes in the room assignments that affected the schedule and the signs that we printed out. But because everyone on the team understood what was expected, they all made things possible outside of the plan.
  7. Step back when necessary. Leaders have the tendency to do everything because they believe that success (and failure) lie in them. What they don’t realize is that not stepping back prevents potential rockstars to shine. At the day of the event, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Same thing with the volunteers. What’s really surprising is that I didn’t even have the chance to do a briefing session before we start doing the real work. All I did was shake their hands and introduced myself to them. Now, understand that these are people whom I haven’t personally met. But it’s as if they knew me very well and knew exactly what I expected of them. The volunteers were running on auto-pilot. That kept me focused on what I can do best. Had I not stepped back, I could have ruined the creative ideas that they were able to pull off and possibly discouraged them from trying again.
  8. Give as much A.I.R. as you possibly can. I blogged about giving appreciation, inspiration and recognition. As attendees were commenting on how great the event turned out to be, I took that opportunity to thank the sponsors, volunteers and speakers for making the event a huge success. At the volunteers’ and speakers’ dinner, I commented on the fact that I felt like having a great team from heaven. I sent emails to my contacts about how the event turned out to be, again, mentioning the fact that I had the best volunteers and speakers ever. I sent emails to the local sponsors, highlighting some of their staff who did a great job of volunteering at the event. I kept telling others, even sending personal emails and instant messages to the volunteers and speakers after the dinner, and constantly appreciating and recognizing their contributions. All of them wanted to be a part of next year’s SQLSaturday Philippines.

Leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell once said that “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been a student of leadership for the past decade.  The lessons I’ve learned help make me become a much better leader and also inspires others to do the same. With the outcome of SQLSaturday218, I think this will become an annual event with the help of the local SQL Server user group.