It is hard to believe that in August of 2007 I made the leap and went independent. Seven years (now starting number eight) later, I’m still doing my thing. It’s hard to imagine how scary it was leaving the confines of regular paychecks to the unknown. I’ve said it many times, but if you don’t have the stomach (or money to pay someone you trust) to run a business, don’t go independent. Having skills to do the job is not enough to make it. When I make the leap of faith and invested in myself, I said I’d see where I was after a year. Then two … and now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Have I had my share of problems in this tenure? You bet, but as they say, adversity makes us stronger. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, kids.

SQLBits XII was great and there’s not much to say that hasn’t been said by others. It’s one of, if not the, favorite conference of mine. And I do like PASS Summit, but Bits is just always spectacular. If you ever get the chance to attend or speak, and can – do it!

I am cannot wait to deliver my availability groups precon at PASS Summit in November, and am excited to have everyone do the labs. Let’s see if the Washington State Convention Center’s WiFi holds up 🙂 Have you registered? If not, what are you waiting for?

My plans for delivering my 4-day Mission Critical SQL Server class are coming along. I’ve got dates in Boston in October (before Summit), March 2015 in Philadelphia, and September 2015 in London (with Technitrain again). I am close to solidifying dates in Dallas in early 2015 as well as some other stuff. Stay tuned!

The book is finally coming along nicely. I’ve made great progress over the past few weeks and you guys will see a lot of content soon. I also think I may have found the right editor which is key to making things look pretty for you guys.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have seen that Robin Williams tragically passed away today (this was written on August 11th). I loved Robin Williams – he was one of the few people that could consistently make me laugh. He was a very talented individual, and I agree with the cries that if it truly was suicide due to depression (at the time of writing, that has not been officially stated), this will hopefully shed light on true issues that people have both apparent and hidden. Robin certainly had other demons which took him to places I cannot fathom. My thoughts are with his family at this time.

Looking at this from an outside point of view, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to be Robin Williams. People expect you to be the Genie or some manic character improvising all the time. There is no way you could lead anything approximating a normal life if the expectation – even if unrealistic – is to be “on” 24 x 7. Don’t get me wrong – he was a comedic genius. I don’t use that word lightly; he truly was. But that has to weigh on you; how can it not? Money and fame do not buy happiness. I didn’t know Robin, and I could be totally off base here, but knowing what I experience even on a small level, I’m not sure I’m not.

A good case in point – see my post about presenting at Summit after my friend Mike died shortly before the conference. August 28th of this month will mark the third anniversary of his passing which makes this post more poignant. In hindsight, there is no way I should have been presenting that pre-con or spotlight session; hell, I probably should not have even been at Summit. I will freely say that now. But I felt an obligation to everyone who paid for that pre-con. So I tried to put my best face on and brave it. I’m sure people would have understood but it would have been hard for everyone involved – including myself – since there would not have been a lot of time for PASS to do something. It was not about the money; I would have gladly traded whatever I was paid to have Mike back. I thought I was doing the right thing for all involved but I wasn’t – at least for me. I needed to grieve.

And let’s face it, in our social media-conscious age, if you have a negative interaction with someone, in minutes – if not seconds – it would be blasted to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram – you name it. I know when I am at conferences I realize that I need to be “on” regardless of the type of day or week I was having. The last thing I need is to have someone call me this, that, or the other because you know if it’s on the ‘net, it must be true! As an independent consultant any ding is not a good one if it persists. We all have our bad moments, except this time it can leave a lasting impression. This is why when you see me at a conference, during a training class, etc., I am “on”, but when I’m not there, I’m not. That is not to say I am a different person – I am not. But even I need some time not to be answering questions about clusters. I’m not writing my book because I hate the topic! My brain needs to do other things from time to time. I know, shocker.

I lead a life currently filled with first world problems. I am very, very lucky to be fortunate to have a roof over my head, food in my mouth, and clothes on my back. Anything else – including material possessions – is a blessing (and I would be lying if I said I hated some things … like laptops …). I count my blessings every day to have good friends and family and an excellent support system where I can reach out to for advice of all kinds, or just to chat. With that, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to my colleagues and customers, along with my family and friends, who have made these past seven years great. Looking forward to many more.