I spoke at my local SQL Server user group last month. I delivered one of my very favorite presentations, and it’s got one of my favorite punch lines. I ask the attendees where SQL Server does its sorting, and someone inevitably answers TempDB. I then say, “Yes, TempDB – or as I call it….”
You have no idea what other filthy, disgusting things people are doing in TempDB. It’s a sloppy mess.
I’m quite proud of that slide, and every single time I deliver that punch line – every time – it brings the house down. The room erupts into laughter, and I’ve got the audience eating out of my hand.
Well, most of the audience. Here’s two comment cards from that night’s session:
The feedback form on the left screams at me – in all caps, no less – that TempDB is not a public toilet, and I need to lose the poop humor. (Mind you, that’s the only poop joke I used in the entire session, I never actually said the word poop.) That comment was the only negative one I received.
The feedback form on the right is more representative of the rest of the comments, most of which raved about the public toilet joke. They didn’t use all caps (well, aside from the DBCC syntax) but the fact that they even referred to one of my slides is killer.
Both Comments Are Completely Valid.
It’s easy to think about flipping the bird to the person who wrote the form at the left, but their opinion is completely valid. Some people don’t want any humor whatsoever in their educational material. They want to read things like Books Online, and they love Microsoft’s official training sessions. They want to learn what they need to learn, and then they want to get the heck out. They’re not working with databases because they have some kind of passionate love for data – they’re just cashing a check. They have lives they want to get back to, and every minute spent joking around is time lost.
It may come as a surprise to you, but these people are in the majority.
See, dear reader, you and I are somewhat unusual. We really love technology, and we have a good time with it. Doing fun things with databases makes us smile. Sharing the joy with other people makes us smile even more. We like to laugh while we learn.
I say “we” because you and I have a lot in common. You’ve already somehow stumbled into my blog, and when you get here, you kind of already know what to expect. I’m irreverent, blunt, honest, and I love sharing the fun that I’m having.
But sometimes people stumble in here without knowing what to expect, and … they’re not happy. They don’t want to waste time with non-technical details. They don’t want their databases compared with Port-A-Potties. They see technology as a serious business, and they’re offended that I would compare software to a smelly sewer. They’re not wrong – they’re just not who I’m writing for. I’m writing for people who think like me.
I Want Raving Fans.
I don’t mean that I want people to carry me out of my sessions, or that I want to do stage diving. (Although at some point at a major conference, I am determined to stage dive.) I just mean that I want to share my knowledge with people who also happen to share my sense of humor and passion for technology.
I don’t write passive, bland stuff trying not to offend.
I write raving, passionate stuff trying to excite.
Every time I present, my goal is to give everybody in the audience a “Holy Shit!” moment. (And of course, just by using that term, I’m going to offend people – the exact same people who were offended by the TempDB toilet joke.) I want to surprise and delight people by relating technology to everyday concepts that they already understand. I want to make impossibly tough concepts very easy to understand.
In making my omelets, I’m going to break a few eggs. Not everybody’s going to like what I do – but if I aimed for universal like-ability, then nobody would actually rave about me. I don’t want like – I want love, and in order for someone to love you, somebody’s gonna hate you.