Over 13 years ago, I started BrentOzar.com as a personal blog. Since then, I slowly turned it into a SQL Server focused blog, then an evangelism platform when I worked for Quest Software (now Dell), and finally into a consulting company when Jeremiah, Kendra, and I started the company. Today, it’s a seven-figure company with full time employees, vendors, lawyers, accountants, contracts, intellectual property, and tens of thousands of subscribers.
I don’t have a big head – totally the opposite. The company “Brent Ozar Unlimited” is separate from the guy. Jeremiah, Kendra, and I are equal owners in the company, and it couldn’t have grown into what it is today without their involvement. I don’t look at the company as something I built.
I’m still just a guy who likes to write stuff – posts, scripts, presentations – to solve real world pains. Most of the time, I just give that stuff away, and there’s only a small portion that we make money on. Odds are extremely high that if you’re reading this, you’ve used some of my work, and you haven’t paid anything.
And I’m totally cool with that. This is the sharing economy.
The tough part is complaint emails. “Hey, your webcast audio this week was bad.” “Your script has a bug.” “Why haven’t you built a step-by-step checklist for X?” For the longest time, my knee-jerk reaction was to fire off a snippy retort to the ungrateful cretin. Didn’t they know I was volunteering my time? Didn’t they recognize I was doing all this for the community? Couldn’t they be nice and say thank you every now and then?
In the last couple of years, though, with the growth of the consulting and training business, I realized that today’s reader doesn’t see me as a community volunteer. There are readers who didn’t know me before we started the company. Even though they’re not paying any of us money, they still see themselves as customers who deserve better products and services – because they see us as a company.
Ironically, I get it because I struggle with PASS the same way. I’ve seen people on the PASS Board of Directors cop an attitude and say, “How dare you question what I’m doing – I’m a selfless volunteer, and I’m doing this for the community.” But that just doesn’t match up when “the community” is a business with $7-8mm revenue (PDF) and dozens of full time employees.
The lines are really blurred these days between company and community.
I don’t really know where to start this comment at – Was it the first month, or maybe the first week that I was appointed as the Accidental DBA at my previous employer that I found your site and joined immediately to get your newsletter. I then went to DevConn and saw you speak in person. The energy in the room was electric – almost like being at a rock concert (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration) – That is where I really learned how to use the BlitzScript to my advantage.
Fast forward about 5 or 6 years – Working for a company as an Intentional DBA 🙂 – We have a UI for our DBs they’ve named the ‘Care Tool’ – the first time I saw the output from it – I instantly recognized your BlitzIndex script as a part of it.
Things you have done for the #SQLCommunity and the #SQLFamily do not go unseen or unappreciated. Carma is a two way street – and what you’ve done thus far to give to all of us your knowledge, wisdom, and wit shall continue to inspire and educate for years to come and hopefully continue to be delivered back to you.
Haters gonna hate man – keep doin’ what you are doin’.
You’re ahead of the curve…. Collaborative consumption does indeed blur the lines between community and company but for the benefit of both. Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s very much appreciated!
Its been more than 4 years since I accidentally landed on your blogs, instantly liked your writing style. I went on to subscribe to your blogs, then followed through as your Brent ozar PLF to unlimited. For all the knowledge and newer approaches to SQL server thinking I have gained, I owe you a big thank you!
I want to thank you for your contributions to the community. I “discovered” your blog several years ago and it was extremely helpful in solving problems I was dealing with on a daily basis. I would hope the haters would balance their complaining with contributions of their own for the betterment of the community!
Well I for one am grateful for all the work you guys share and I find it even a bit surprising that you share so much. So thanks again and don’t let any less pleasant feedback get to you.
It’s a sad truth that many see the SQL Community members as nothing more than a commodity to be used and discarded at will. And in an era of immediate gratification, I don’t know that it will get any better. But, to all of you out there volunteering your time, knowledge and experience, THANK YOU and I pray you have a great holiday! Stay safe my friends.
I feel that people both expect content for free these days, and expect that you are getting another kind of payment from what you give away. They think you are getting ad revenue off of them or related sales, and reputation points to maintain status with Microsoft etc. and better sell your business products. So, I’m not surprised that people can be jerks and demanding about the free stuff.
I think your contributions to the community are terrific for us and I’m very thankful for them, and I also think they do pay you various kinds of dividends, in addition to whatever satisfaction you feel, countered by the annoyance of greedy cretins. If nothing else, it certainly keeps you engaged with the rest of us, which is a very good thing indeed.
I’m thankful for all the good bloggers and particularly those who specialize in something and provide top quality free scripts for it, like Ola, Adam M, Glenn B, and you. Hugely helpful.
It’s been really interesting building and running community for an Apache project (Apache Cassandra). These lines become blurred even more that in an environment like SQL Server, and tip-toeing the line can be difficult. But the rewards for getting it right are amazing, and the smackdown for getting it wrong are proportionately so. We should compare notes sometime.
Brent I appreciate ALL you do for SQL Server and the technology community. I especially love your insights into trends and the techno-thought of the day. You do a fabulous job as an evangelist! Thanks and please keep it up! I don’t know where I would be without you and your team’s contributions to the world of storage, databases, optimization and query efficiency. Bless you and have a wonderful holiday season!
Brent – I still remember you when you “announced” you were “awarded” the Microsoft Ergonomics MVP 😉 You know, back in the bacon bits n’ bytes days 😛
You always punched hard even then and you continue to do so. Haters gonna hate and don’t worry about it. As a person who gives to the SQL community I really appreciate you and your giving.
In fact when I was just a person stumbling around on a blog in 2009 – you helped give me an audience and encouragement through syndication.
Keep it up – and it’s fun watching the company grow as well. Even as I help do the same at Linchpin People. I’ve appreciated our personal friendship and our healthy business relationship.
Merry Christmas, friend.
Awww, thanks everybody! I appreciate the kind words. (Sorry about the delay, was off vacationing in Mexico. Back to work! If you can call this work….)
I didn’t know you were feeling this but I’m glad that you shared. It’s a little similar to Paul Randal recently saying that people don’t say “Please” and “Thank You” in their emails to him where he’s basically providing top-level consulting advice for free.
I have a very small blog and when people write stupid comments it aggravates me, so I can only imagine the burden you must have! A lot of places are simply turning off comments but then people can still reach you through email, twitter, your company, etc.
But aside from symathising I wanted to add one reframe, an alternate way of looking at things.
You mention community a lot but I think that the word divorces from reality a little bit too much; it feels impersonal and emotionless whereas what you are really experiencing is one-on-one individual human contact (over and over again with different people).
And when people read, follow, watch, and think about someone on social media over a long period of time it (accidentally) creates the feeling of a close friendship where none exists. Then people make requests of others assuming they are friends, and are shocked to find out it isn’t the case. “But how! I read your stuff all the time!”
No solution here but being so popular that everyone assumes they’re your friend is a high quality problem to have 🙂