One of the highlights of 2013 for me was winning third place in the DB2’s Got Talent competition. If you’re a long time reader, you may remember me begging for votes the last two years in March. But this contest is for those who are newer to presenting about DB2 topics in the larger DB2 community, so I’m done – I no longer qualify. So don’t worry about me begging you for votes on my behalf! I may make requests for some friends depending on who ends up competing this year.
DB2’s Got Talent on the DB2Night Show is a contest that balances on several pillars:
- DB2 Knowledge
- Presentation Skills
- Ability to engage your network
Winning or losing is not all about the topics you pick and how well you present – it’s also about how many people either inside or outside the DB2 community that you can engage to go and vote for you. If you’re looking for a way to take your career to the next level and/or hone your presentation skills, and to start presenting at users’ groups or conferences, it is a great way to take a step in that direction.
One of the things that kept me from writing or presenting for a while is the struggle to come up with a topic. I thought that I had to have some revolutionary and unusual topic to present or write. But the truth is that what you are writing or presenting about is rarely revolutionary or unusual to YOU, but it is interesting in some way to your audience. Your audience does not have the same skill set that you do. Every DBA has a job that is at least slightly different from other DBAs – different emphases, different daily tasks. So sharing something you know well or something you were surprised to learn can be revolutionary or unusual for others. That’s one of the biggest lessons that both blogging and being on DB2’s Got Talent taught me.
Other things I gained from DB2’s Got Talent include a lot of small tips on presenting to a web audience, the lesson of practicing and practicing and practicing a presentation again and again, and contacts to do more – write articles for developerWorks, and to meet interesting people at conferences.
When I graduated college, my goal, stated on my resume, was to be a DBA. When I had been a DBA a few years, I looked around to figure out where I wanted to go next. I knew that management and project management were not for me, so I revised that goal – I wanted to be a DB2 Guru. I started out by just really being a curious and kick-butt DBA – building my technical expertise. But that alone didn’t get me to guru status. Part of being a guru is sharing what you know with others and mentoring them. My two big stepping stones to the guru arena were blogging and DB2’s Got Talent. I’m not convinced that I’m a guru yet, but I can see it and I know I’m moving in the right direction. And I’m positively loving the opportunity to mentor others and pull them up with me.
I want to take a moment to address some of the concerns I hear about participating:
Concern: I haven’t been a DBA for long enough, I’m not qualified.
Answer: I personally know at least one person who had been a DBA less than a year, and still made it to the top 5. Maybe your DBA knowledge isn’t yet as deep as you’d like it to be, but I bet you can come up with 5 topics you know well, and that others would be interested in.
Concern: I’m afraid of public speaking.
Answer: What better way to get over it than by speaking into your computer in your own home or office? This is a way where you don’t have to see the people you’re talking to, and that can be useful. And if you want to be active in the DB2 or any other technical community or heck, even just the business world in general, being able to present is a very valuable skill to work on.
Concern: It will take too much time.
Answer: I’ll be honest here. It takes a lot of time. Once a week for 5 weeks in a row, you have to come up with a topic (sometimes on a theme), and give about a 5 minute presentation on it. To do right, that takes hours of time to prepare. But think about your end goal. I don’t do this blog on work time. I make the time for it whenever I can because I want to share what I know, and because of what it does for my career (and a hundred smaller reasons). Yes, it takes a lot of time for a little over a month. Find the time, make the time – if it advances your goals in your career or your life.
Concern: I’m over qualified. I wouldn’t want to participate and keep others from being able to.
Answer: Last year’s winner was already an IBM Champion. You can’t have presented at three or more IDUGs or IODs in the last three years or if you’re an IBMer you can’t have presented at even one conference in the past two years. If you meet the requirements then you’re not over qualified.
Concern: I don’t have the network to win.
Answer: Set yourself a goal lower than first place. Generally there is one or two people who can really do a great job of engaging their networks. Last year, I realized going in that I was probably not going to make it to first place because despite an impressively growing network due to the blog, I’ve never been one of those charmers or popular people that can inspire people I’ve hardly even spoken with to go out and vote. Don’t get me wrong, I got hundreds of votes and I appreciate every one, but that’s just not my strong suit in life. I was actually quite thrilled with my third place finish – third place was my goal. I’m a chronic over-achiever, and that was really a breakthrough for me. Participate to get the experience and feedback and the contacts – not for the prizes.
Do you want to be a DB2 Guru? Do you want to speak at a conference? Do you want to blog or do a podcast, webcast, or DB2 videos? Do you want to be an IBM Champion in Information Management? DB2’s Got Talent is a place to start for all of those goals. Go sign up to compete for this season today. Before mid-February when the applications usually close (there’s no published date – do it before it’s too late!). It’s a maximum of about 5 presentations that are less than 10 minutes in length. You can do it!