ASF 022: Guy in a Cube interview (part 2)

ASF 022: Guy in a Cube interview (part 2)

This is the second part of the conversation.
If you are not familiar with the first part – you can start from this post.


Guy in a Cube is all about helping you master business analytics on the Microsoft Business analytics stack to allow you to drive business growth.
They are just two guys that do the work.
Adam & Patrick look at how to leverage Microsoft Business Analytics to allow you to gain knowledge that is needed to shape the data your business cares about. This includes Power BI, Reporting Services, Analysis Services and Excel. If you work with our business analytics products or services, be sure to subscribe and join in the discussion with their weekly content on YouTube channel.
Adam Saxton and Patrick LeBlanc are Microsoft employees.

This talk has taken place during SQLBits 2019 in Manchester (UK) on 28th February 2019 (Thursday).
Interviewers: Prathy Kamasani (T), Kamil Nowinski (T).

How much extra commitment helps at work and what else?
In what position did Patrick no good and why he was sweating?
What is tremendously difficult for Patrick, but is child’s play for Adam?
Who is Adam’s mentor and how has he started speaking on workshops?
In this episode is predominantly about commitment, youtube, extra efforts, moments of discouragement, how to do things well and how to start.
There will be a few things about Star Wars, Power BI and Microsoft teams, Kerberos and DTS too.

Audio version

Don’t you have time to read? You can listen to this as a podcast! Wherever you are, whatever you use. Just use the player directly from this site (above), find it on Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Spotify (new!) or simply download MP3. Enjoy!


Prathy Kamasani: I think this is, … I don’t know. I personally want to ask if… I don’t want… So doing the YouTube videos…

AS: If you can ask, it’s gonna be all the time.

PK: I can cut it. Whatever do you guys do with YouTube, obviously it’s helping you learn the technology, but is it helping you career-wise?

Adam Saxton: It helps in many ways.

Patrick LeBlanc: Oh, man.

AS: It helps in so many ways.

PL: Oh, oh, oh.

AS: It’s not just career, it’s not just technology, it’s…

PL: From a career perspective I will tell you this. I wasn’t in the product group. I was in sales. And the people, the sales guys that I worked with, they would say ‘Hey, Patrick, okay so we’re going to work with…’ and I worked in education or I worked in state and local and they’d say ‘Hey, Patrick, we’re gonna go and talk to such and such. But you don’t come in the room right away. You can hang out, sit in the hall, and we’ll do it, and when we’re ready for you, we want you to come in’. And then I would walk in and people will go: ‘Do you know who that is?’ Right? ‘Oh my God, do you know who that is?!’ Like that, right? And they would use me as… and my manager, so my managers… It made them look good, right? There was a contest at Microsoft and they wanted you to tell a story about something you did.

AS: It had to be a video.

PL: Had to be video. So I had to make a video on this thing that I created. I created this Power BI at-risk model. It helped teachers identify at-risk student’s. And so I built this out, and so I call Adam up when I was like ‘Dude, I want to do a video. I’m gonna edit it…’

AS: No, no, what he said is like: ‘I need you to teach me how to use Camtasia’.


AS: And I’m like: ‘That’s cute. What do you do with that? Just give me the files’. He’s like ‘Are you sure?’

PL: Because my manager, this is true story. My manager told me about it, but it… So…

AS: It was unfair competition.

PL: He was like ‘Look, if you win this, this is gonna help, you know?’ And I’m like ‘Okay, alright, but also if I win, he wins.’ And so I’m like ‘Alright dude’. And I didn’t do it. On the day of, it was like the week before, he called me and he was like ‘Dude, are you gonna do the video?’ I’m like ‘OK, right… I don’t know how to edit videos, let me call Adam’. So I call Adam up, he’s like ‘Just put the file up’. So I record the video. He kind of directs me on what to do, he’s like ‘Say the ‘yo’. Do the ‘yo’’. I’m like ‘OK, I’ll do the ‘yo’’. So I do the ‘yo’, I do the video, I don’t say Guy in a Cube, anything like that. And I send it to him. And then I get it back, and I watch it. I was like ‘Holy smokes, alright!’. So I upload it the day after I uploaded. This guy who runs all of worldwide sales…

AS: Some vice president.

PL: I don’t know who this guy is. He sends me an email, he goes ‘Patrick, that video was amazing’.

AS: He calls me up. He shows me the email and he’s like ‘Someone sent that’. I read it and I’m like ‘No’. That’s a personal email.

PL: And then I got email after email, after email. Of course I won, right? So we go to the conference, so like a week before, it was in Vegas, a week before they email me, and they’re like ‘You’re a finalist’. With ten people.

AS: He was worried about it.

PL: I was.

AS: He was sweating.

PL: But when we get there, they’re like ‘Okay’. We won. We were gonna take the top three, so I was in the top three, but we weren’t gonna have you guys present, because we only want the other people to present because then we’re gonna have those top three and then they’ll get an award. But we want all you guys to present to see who’s the winner. Okay, sure. Right now you’re a person. I’m like ‘I’m winning now’. But it really was Guy in a Cube. It really was. And so when we get there, and I’m watching these people present I’m like ‘This is not even gonna be right’. And so the lady goes ‘You don’t present in the first round. You three don’t present in the first round’. I was like ‘Okay’. So then we have the finals. And it’s us three presenting in the final. Four, four. And they all present, and they make me go last. I’m like ‘OK, I’ll go last’. And so I get up there and they have this streaming Power BI report, a created form. And it’s showing the votes, so you vote. So at the end, there was 70-80 people in the room and it was 99% Patrick. And then they bring us out on stage, and there’s confetti, and all this stuff.

AS: And I hear about it for three days.

PL: Honestly if it wasn’t for Guy in a Cube, I’m telling you, I am telling you, the managers, the people, especially in sales, it separated me from ‘Hey, here’s the sale, the Technical Sales guys, here’s Patrick’. It really did.

AS: And all that like in terms of, you know, did it help career, does it help blah, blah, blah. Absolutely. It helps everything. It helped me become a better presenter.

PL: Yes.

AS: It helps me in my career, it helps me with communication. It helps with tracking things, like working on things, time management. The thing I’ll tell people is to seriously, like if you’re struggling with getting into something, like if you have a fear whether it’s presenting at your local user group or starting that blog or whatever, just do it. Just put your energy into it. You gotta have… just start doing it regularly, right? You gotta put some effort into that, and great things will come out of it. I remember when I was in support and I was telling people, I’m like ‘Look, at the time I was blogging once a month’. That’s 12 a year. That’s not a lot, right? It takes a little bit of effort. Just do that little bit and you stand so much above everyone else. Because no one else is doing it. Find the white space, find that area where no one’s doing anything, that opportunity. And just do it. Don’t ask for permission. I didn’t. We didn’t ask for permission on the Guy in a Cube. We just started doing.

PL: It separates you, man. It does. It separates you. And when you’re working at a company like Microsoft where everybody, not everybody but… When you’re working with some really talented people, you got to figure out a way to separate yourself.

AS: But I would even say: just to start doing that one thing that you enjoy and just put yourself into it, don’t worry about someone’s gonna read this. Don’t worry about any of that stuff. Do it for you.

Kamil Nowinski: Don’t worry about that you maybe make a mistake or that kind of fails.

PL: The video I just did on the two tips, I say ‘Oh, it’s almost half. 21 plus 56, it’s 56… Is 21 half of 56?!.

AS: I didn’t even catch that.

PL: And I’m looking at the video, and I’m like ‘Oh my God’. It is way less. You know what I’m saying. You can’t worry about it.

PK: It doesn’t matter. I watched that Tuesday video, I like it. Being a self-critic is really good in many ways.

AS: But also with the other thing like even doing YouTube videos. I’ve been doing presenting since 2008, but now even I went back, and listened to some of the recordings of like me in 2010 and 2012, and I’m like ‘Awful. It’s so bad!’. But with the YouTube thing… The thing I’ve always heard people before, like if you want to become a better presenter, watch yourself present. Record yourself. But I was like ‘that’s just stupid, right? But doing the YouTube thing, this is better than audio, because you’re gonna see your facial. You see your tics and things. Doing the YouTube thing, when I first started, and Patrick got this comment as well, but when I first started, they’re like ‘Dude, your hands are too distracting. You’re using your hands too much’. So the way I fixed that, I told Patrick ‘You wouldn’t do it’. I sat on my hands for like three weeks’ worth of videos, just so I didn’t use my hands at all.

PL: I have to use my hands.

AS: That kind of taught me to be a little more like prescriptive with my movements, more intentional.

PL: If I don’t use my hands, there’s no Patrick.

AS: I know.

KN: So what is the hardest? If you are recording, looking at the recorder? Or if you are presenting at the audience?

PL: Recorder for me. Recorder is really difficult for me. It’s tremendously difficult.

AS: I will tell you, I love doing the five to ten minutes video. I love doing the full-day pre-con. The one-hour session kills me.

KN: Why?

AS: Because it’s longer than five to ten minutes, and it’s not a full day. So I feel restrained in my head, I don’t know what to do.

PL: I just want to be in front of people. It could be five minutes, it could be six days. I’m OK. I love it.

KN: So probably we have covered part of this question, but I would like to just repeat it, and make sure that you answer this: how do you find the time and inspiration for your posts or video activities, blogs?

AS: There are days where I’ll call Patrick or he’ll call me. He’s like ‘We need your video for tomorrow’. I’m like ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do’. There was one time, originally my videos were dropping on Tuesdays, this was Wednesday. I get up at 5am. 5am I’m like ‘What am I gonna do, dude?’

KN: Let’s read a newspaper. Then you’ll find some inspiration.

AS: It’s gotten easier lately just because we actually have more of a backlog, so we know ‘Alright, we’re going to do this’. And actually this year I’m actually really proud of this and I hope we can continue this for the whole year. For January, February and March I’ve actually had it all mapped out, like I know what I’m doing. I’ve already got like half of March already mapped out man like what we’re doing.

PL: Sometimes like tweets. Sometimes people tweet stuff, and say ‘Hey, how do you do this?’. We get emails. Sometimes you just work on a customer. And you figure out something.

AS: We got a comment on the video. Originally we got no engagements so there were no comments on the video. But now we get tons.

PL: Like the video I did with Alberto the other day was purely… Somebody posted a video and I was like ‘Okay, I’ll write it’. Then I searched it. I searched the Internet and I found this article, I was like ‘Oh, Alberto is gonna be at Bits. We’re gonna do a video on this.

PK: I remember like sometimes when I watch the video, I go down and actually read the comments. I’m somebody who have been watching your videos from the very beginning like, you know, when you had very few subscribers. And I can totally relate initially there was not much engagement, but now I can see there’s…

AS: And I’ll tell someone like whether you’re doing blogging or video, or podcasting, or whatever, you’re gonna go through a struggle of where you feel like ‘Why am I even doing this? What’s the point? Like nobody’s listening to this. I’m just doing this for myself’. And I would say: push through that. Everyone will go through the dip of like the low point where you just feel like it’s just not happening at all. Most people quit at that point. If you push through that, then it starts to take off. And that happened with me. It took like a year and a half, nothing. And I did that YouTube course thing. And I’m like ‘I got to change something. Nothing’s happening’. And, you know, right after that, then the numbers started going up, and since then it’s like everything just compounds exponentially.

PL: And you can’t take, like you can’t take it personally, right? People are gonna say stuff and, you know, come back and say ‘You could have done it this way. You should do this, you should have done that’. You can’t take any of those comments.

AS: And you’re gonna get nasty comments.

PL: You’re gonna get nasty comments.

AS: I would even say for the women out there listening to this. I talked to the other women youtubers out there, so I’ve talked with Ruth Pozuelo, I’ve talked with other folks that do this, and just other YouTube creators that I’ve interacted with. And I feel like the women, they get bad comments. There are jerks out there. Really. I don’t get those. There was one comment that we got. Patrick didn’t catch it. I called him up and I’m like ‘Dude. That comment… That was racist.’ Like he called Patrick out on something. Patrick was like ‘I don’t even… whatever’. But what I loved, and this is something I’ve also heard […] stuff. It’s like don’t engage. My audience went in on him. And this is another thing.

PK: I think know what you’re talking about.

AS: […] got one of those… There’s two out of the seven or eight. One of them is you’re gonna have your zealots, so these are your hardcore supporters. And then you’re gonna have your haters. Every brand has haters. You’re gonna have them. If you don’t have any haters, you’re not pushing the envelope. And there were some followers like three or four, they just laid in. And I was like…

PL: You can’t take it personally though. You can’t…

AS: It was fun to read.

PL: Yeah, but you can’t take it personal. And it’s not gonna be perfect. You can’t take it personal, because everything you record… You can scrutinize everything. Just like I say it with the video, right? Some might even come back and go ‘Patrick, that was not half’. But okay, whatever. You just keep pushing through it. You keep moving.

KN: It’s not a Hollywood video, yeah? It’s not Hollywood movie.

PL: I don’t know. I got a Hollywood director.

AS: I’m an amateur.

PL: I don’t know, I’ve got a Hollywood director over here.

AS: I consider myself an amateur on the video stuff.

PL: He’s being modest.

AS: I’m a hobbyist.

PK: Yeah, I think he’s being modest.

KN: What hints would you give to young people who wanted to start working in IT market or maybe with Power BI Desktop or whatever?

PL: You can’t be afraid, you got to start at the bottom. You need experience. Most people, they want the fame, the glory right away. It takes hard work. You got to do the work. You gotta start somewhere. So for me personally, I never went to college. Most people are surprised like, you know, I’m Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, ‘Oh my gosh’. I started doing support for Microsoft on the consumer side, it was a contract position when I was a senior in high school. So I built my first computer when I was 16. It was all experience, right? And it all led up to what I’m doing today. But most people, they don’t want to do the work, they want to jump right ahead to the good stuff. I’m like ‘You gotta do the crappy job. You gotta start there’.

AS: Work helpdesk. That’s what it takes. When I started my career, I was at mortgage underwriter. I was underwriting loans. You get a house, I would approve the loan, and I took like a half… my pay got cut in half. Because I wanted to go to IT. And I worked as a…

AS: You’re starting all over.

PL: I was writing query score reports. That’s what I did.

AS: Do the work. Do the hard work, it’ll pay out. I hear this from folks that are like in their 20s and I’m like ‘Come on, man’. You’ve got so much time in front of you. You’re gonna get there. Just take a few years and do the work. And then, while you’re doing that work, look for opportunities where you can fit in, and do something above and beyond. And you start doing that, then it gets noticed. And then market yourself. Networking is super important. I tell people that at the office, and Bob Ward’s big in the SQL community, and I’m good friends with him at the office, and there’d be people that were like three rows away from where Bob Ward sits. It’s magical, right? Like you’ve got that Bob Ward, Bob Dorr, Keith Elmore who were like the heart and soul of SQL Server support. And you’re right next to them. And I was that way too when I moved to Las Colinas, and I’m like… I was told, get to know Bob and Bob, and I’m like ‘They’re SQL guys and I’m like on this other team. I don’t have anything’ and then I figured it out, I hacked it. I’m like ‘How do I do this? And I’ll just start participating and asking questions, and engaging, and networking, and I tell people, I’m like ‘Okay, if I go up to Bob right now, does he know who you are?’ The answer’s ‘No’. I’m like ‘Why doesn’t he know who you are?’ Ask him questions, engage with him.

PL: I think that’s important, right? So opening your mouth. Because I see a lot of people…

AS: Be intentional with it though. Don’t just…

PL: When we’re at conferences, you can see people pointing and whispering. And I walk up to them and say ‘It’s okay to say hello. I won’t bite you’. If you want to say hello to me, please. I like to talk to people, right?

AS: We’re like Olaf. We like warm hugs.

PL: And if I see you, and I watch people. I intentionally, I’ll stay and like I’ll go out here tonight and I’ll watch them, they’ll point. Point, point. And then I go “Hey, how are you?’ Got you.

KN: Yeah, but normally I think… I know that people are afraid to come to you and even say ‘Hello’.

PL: I like it. I want you to say hello. I want you to give me a big hug.

AS: At a user group last night, I was walking down the aisle.

PK: I know. I was very impressed. I was telling you, isn’t it?

AS: Patrick was like ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m talking to the people’.

PK: I really admire you there going…

PL: If you come to my session. And my sessions, the first two rows, I will come out in the first two rows at my session, and I’ll talk to the people in the front row. Because you can see him whispering and stuff. ‘Come on, let’s wave, Patrick, how are you, nice to meet you’.

AS: I have a question that I ask everyone. It starts the conversation, so I’ll just ask them like ‘If you had a magic wand that could change one thing in Power BI to improve adoption, what would it be?’

PL: Cause I truly believe that we’re all one step away from where we’re trying to go or what we’re trying to do. And it’s a person. It’s one person, you just got to meet that one person. And if you never walk up to me and say ‘Hello’, how do you know I’m not that person who can say ‘Hey, we are hiring’. ‘Hey, you’re doing this’.

AS: I’ve always said I’ve looked back, and I always tell people like I’ve been lucky in my career, in my life. I’ve always had mentors, natural mentors. Not like someone’s assigned to me to be a mentor. It was a natural mentor. Bob Ward, he was one of those people. He was probably one the most influential in my life. And I look to him as a father figure. He refers to me as a brother, but I’m like ‘Nah, it’s more than that’. And I’ve said I’ve just been lucky about that. But it’s not luck. I’ve reached out to these people, I engage. I seek out, because I want to learn. I know Bob Ward in the support world, that was the most influential person there. I’m like ‘I need to learn from him’. I just started asking questions. And then he picked up, so I was like, he didn’t know who I was. In fact he actually made fun of me, because he said, when we were doing a keynote, he was telling one of the new folks about how we met and he’s just like ‘Man, who’s this idiot that’s got like this big Star Wars Lego thing on?’ ‘Oh, that’s this Adam guy who just transferred here’. And then I started going to his weekly triage, as asking questions. And then this is how I got into… Because again, I’m engaging with him. People always ask ‘How do you start speaking?’ Well, for me it was Bob Ward because he recognized, like ‘Man…’. He came up to things like ‘You ask really good questions’. He’s like ‘You ever thought about speaking?’ I’m like ‘I’ve never’. Audiences don’t bother me. I’ve never done a technical talk before. He’s like ‘Are you okay with it?’ I’m like ‘Yeah, sure’. He’s like ‘Alright, we got this thing called PASS Summit. We have some sessions there. We can get you involved in them’. I’m like ‘Alright, cool’. he’s like ‘Alright, so pick out your topic, go in there’. Alright, great, so a couple weeks go by, and I’m like ‘How long do I need to do? Like an hour, half hour?’ He’s like ‘Well, we like to start people out that are new. We like to start them off a little gentle, less pressure. So we get them started with this thing called a pre-con’.


AS: And I’m like ‘I don’t know what that is’… And then I’m like ‘Alright, how long is that, 60 minutes?’. ‘It’s like seven or eight hours’. And I’m like ‘What the… you trolled me on this, didn’t you?’ And he’s like ‘Nah, I didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t get anyone else to do it’. And so I did the next five years. I was the one doing the pre-con, because it basically now was on me to find someone else, and apparently people were smarter than me. And they said ‘Hell, no, I’m not doing a pre-con’. So I had to do it five years in a row. That’s how I got into speaking. But it’s because I engaged, I asked those questions. And then, as I asked those questions, I did it, then he specifically or someone around there specifically said ‘Okay, we need to move Adam right next to boss’. So I’ve sat next to Bob Ward, Bob Dorr and Keith Elmore for like eight years. And now I’m just learning from them. So what I always say ‘I’m not a SQL guy’. But I’m sitting next to the legends on the support side. Guys that wrote the book on this stuff. And I absorbed it, we went to lunch, we did the walk. We did all sorts of stuff, and so now I’m like I know some SQL stuff, but I’m not an expert on it. But I can hold my own. And this is because of just being around them. But we would engage, and we would do things, and he would coach. I would always say Bob Ward, he’s a smart man, but I always say ‘I go to Bob more for like career and like political type advice. And then Bob Dorr was like the smartest guy that I know. And I would go to him for like technical.

We called him the bithead. So I just engaged. I latch on the people that I can get help from, and I can learn from, and my manager one time is like ‘Hey, we need you to get a mentor, you need a mentor. I’m like ‘I got 17 of them. I go to this one for that, I go to this one for that’. And he’s like ‘Okay’. I go to who I need to, I ask the questions, I’ll learn it. So don’t be afraid.

KN: It’s amazing how much your life can change because of networking basically. OK, so this is the first factor, it’s very important, yeah? So what else? I mean, okay I know all those things are very important, and we covered that, but what else? If you are starting in the IT market or if you would like to start, let’s say, working with Power BI for example? What do you need to do?

AS: Well, you should watch Guy in a Cube.

KN: Absolutely, yes.

PL: And subscribe.

AS: Selfish plug.

PL: When I first started in IT, I did everything. I was a developer, a database administrator, I did reporting, helpdesk. Can’t do all that stuff, right? And I meet a lot of… I call them kids, cause I’m a little older. Kids…

AS: You were born in the 1900s.

PL: I was. And I meet them, and they go ‘I’m a developer, I do some database work, I do graphics, I do this, I do that’.

AS: Be honest, man. Be humble. Don’t be ass.

PL: Right. My advice is first, you gotta find one thing and become good at one thing before you think you can… You gotta focus. So if you want to do Power BI, do Power BI.

AS: Here’s an example. So like you’re gonna get some entry-level position. Will get in the door, you did some work, you maybe coded something on your own or you figured out how to attach a network cable to a computer, it’s all good. And so like what I did was I started in support. Actually when I started as a contractor, and then I applied for full time employee, I failed that interview twice. And so the third time I got it. And then I’m doing the job, and then I recognized there was this thing called Kerberos that no one wanted to touch. And then it’s weird how I like technology things are like they just come in waves, right? It’s like the week has a theme.

And this week was a theme of Kerberos CRIT sets and CRIT sets were like the server down call that you get from enterprises. And I’ve just kept getting the Kerb calls. And I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, oh this is kind of easy’. But I recognized no one wanted it. I’m like ‘I’ll take it. That’s mine’. And then all of a sudden, within like six months, I had people from Active Directory team coming to me, because I started doing blog posts on it. And now all of a sudden, you type in Kerberos and Adam or Saxton, and you get like a… The blogs are still reference, and they’re from like 2011 and 2012. I had one of the architects of the Power BI service, we were doing stuff for the Gateway and the Kerberos stuff, they reached out to me, and they’re like ‘Look, you’re like the Kerb guy’. This is from years ago, like a decade ago. I found my thing, right? So you gotta find something and do it. Like I said, find the whitespace, find the opportunity and then make it yours.

PL: I think in essence a lot of people don’t. They don’t find their thing. They just start to do all this random stuff. Find your thing.

AS: And then I did it again. So we had reporting services and yet several people doing reporting services. And then they snuck something on people in SQL 2005 Service Pack 2. This whole thing called SharePoint integration came out, and no one knew what the heck that was. Support didn’t even get a heads-up on it. And then of course no one wants to touch that, and I’m like ‘Oh, I’ll do that’. So now I was the SharePoint guy. And I was the Kerberos guy, and then they had the whole claims to Windows token and I’m like ‘Oh, now Kerberos is with SharePoint’. And I made it mine. And then I was the SharePoint guy. So find the whitespace, find the opportunity.

PL: Yep, find the opportunity.

AS: Look for those little things that you can do. Don’t do everything.

KN: That’s also very hard to find out appropriate way, you know. If you are interested in a lot of things, you can’t… it’s not possible…

PL: It’s gonna take a little bit. It took me a long time. I was a DBA. I was a good DBA for about seven years, and my manager promoted me and I was managing all these DBAs, I was a horrible manager. The worst manager you’ll ever meet. I made a guy cry. Horrible manager. And I came back from vacation, it was like ‘we need a Data Warehouse’, and none of the DBAs wanted to build a Data Warehouse, they were like ‘I do application, I write queries. I’m gonna optimize them’. I’m like ‘Somebody’s got to do Data Warehouse’, nobody wanted to do it. Two guys actually quit.

PK: Because?

PL: They didn’t want to do Data Warehouse.

KN: From the BI team?

PL: We didn’t have a BI team. And so we had Oracle SQL Server and MySQL. I’m like ‘Put it on whichever one you want, I don’t care’. ‘I’m not doing it. I’m not doing’. I knew SQL Server, so I was like ‘Okay, I’ll do it’. And I was good at it. I was good at BI. And I was like ‘Well, maybe I shouldn’t be a DBA, maybe I should do BI?’ And I built a Data Warehouse. We had these digital boards. I worked for an advertising company. Every second, or every two seconds, depending on how much the customer paid a spot would play on this board. There was a little web server on it. The devs helped me, they wrote a CSV file and we would capture those CSV files, every 15 minutes we had a DTS package. Yes, I said DTS package – that would run and load our Data Warehouse. And I wrote two Windows services that would pull these directories. And it was loading…

AS: DTS for all you young people it’s like the SSIS stuff now.

PL: You gotta know what DTS is!

AS: Just helping the crowd here.

PK: I’ve never worked with the DTS but I know SSIS seems to be the…

PL: So it’s now SSIS. And I remember, I got to a point and SSIS came out, we converted it all to SSIS and my Data Warehouse load process would not load every 15 minutes anymore but SSIS was supposed to be so much better. I had no idea why. And I remember this guy, Brian Knight, he owns Pragmatic Works, and he had written some books and some blogs, and I read them. And it was SQL Saturday, and he was presenting at it. I told my boss, I was like ‘You need to pay for me to go to Orlando, because I need to meet these guys. This is gonna help us make this thing fast, cause he’s doing a session on it’. And they didn’t pay. My company did not pay. I said ‘Okay, I’m going home’. I told my wife, I said ‘I need to go to Orlando’. I said ‘I gotta buy me a plane ticket, I gotta stay in this hotel, I gotta go to this event’. She was ‘How much is it gonna cost?’ I said it was gonna cost me about $600, you know. And so she said ‘Okay’. And I had started the user groups, and so I submitted a session. They accepted my session. My session was an awful session.

It was using the CLR to perform […] in your database. Anyway, I wrote this CLR stored procedures that would capture PerfMon counters and write it. Anyway.

AS: You should do a video on that!

PL: But the whole goal was just to meet this guy. And I did another session on doing incremental Data Warehouse loads with the stuff that I had written. And the guy, the president of the company was sitting in the back room. I didn’t know and I present it, and so then I went to Brian’s session, and I waited, and I waited, and I told him about… he was like ‘Are you using the Slowly Changing Dimension transform in SSIS?’ I was like ‘Yes’. He was like ‘Don’t use it!’. I was like ‘Is that it?’ He goes like ‘Guaranteed, that’s what you did’. I told him about the two dimensions that were slow. Sure enough. That was the answer, right? But before I left, the guy, president of the company had seen my session. And Brian said ‘Are you the one that did the incremental blow thing?’ I was like ‘Yeah’. He was like ‘I want you to go talk to this guy named Adam’. There’s another Adam. Adam Jorgensen. ‘About working for us’. I was like ‘Really?’. And I went, I talked to Adam, and he was like ‘What would it take?’ I was like ‘Make me an offer’. I was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When I got off the plane, my cell phone was ringing. It was Adam making me an offer. And I was so happy to take that job, because I wanted to go back and tell them ‘If you had paid for me to go to Orlando, I wouldn’t have taken the job’.

KN: But seriously, we are talking about the choices in your life.

PL: You have to invest in your life.

PK: I totally agree on that.

PL: I made the investment. Because it was slow and I didn’t know why.

PK: The very first SQLBits I attended, my company didn’t want to pay, so I paid myself, but SQLBits changed my life. I would have not been in the position where I am.

KN: Like I started from the local group and many else from events like this, but in Poland.
Absolutely, it will be two episodes from that recorded. Can we cover two more questions? How many people or teams are working on Power BI Desktops or services at all? In total.

AS: I don’t know what the total number is. There’s a bunch of people working… From developers to PMs, to like… Even Power BI Desktop has multiple PMs on it. I think there’s like five or six PMs on it now. Service team has another seven or eight…

PL: We have engineering…

AS: There are engineering managers, the devs… The devs are really like the unsung heroes.

PL: Nobody knows those guys.

AS: I know these guys…

PL: Yeah, but out here.

AS: They’re fun guys. I actually like hanging out with the dev guys, cause they’re the ones that actually know what’s going on. Because they’re doing the work.

PL: And then we have interns that come in, do stuff.

AS: Summer interns.

PL: There’s a lot of people working on it.

AS: You’ve got the marketing teams, you’ve got…

PL: You’ve got us.

AS: You’ve got us. You’ve got the support teams. There’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of work.

KN: No wonder that every single month you have a big update.

AS: I mean, it’s a huge team that cranks out a lot of features. Honestly, it’s amazing that the amount of features that they do… I don’t think they have enough numbers. They’re cranking out more than what you think they should be doing, right? It’s just amazing to watch them.

PL: It’s pretty impressive.

AS: And the way that they can turn around on something based on customer feedback or issues. I remember there was one issue where the filter… was it the filter or the Drill Down… one of those features where it was on the visual, I think it was the Drill Down. And we moved it up into like the bar, the menu bar up top. And I got a support call on it like ‘I don’t know where this is’. I’m like ‘I’ll do a blog post on it’. So it was like ‘Hey, where did my Drill Down go?’ And oh my gosh. That blog post… There was so much like… Normally I get like two or three comments on a blog. This was on the Power BI blog and it was something like 700 comments. It was everyone that was pissed. It was like visceral comments on it. And I’m like ‘Oh my god, what did I do?’ I was just trying to help you to tell you where it went and they’re like ‘Why did you move it?!’, blah, blah. In less than 24 hours, it got moved back because of that. I remember, the group engineer, the person that was there before, Kim Manis.

Cause Kim Manis […] the Desktop now was the guy before. And she paid me, and she just like ‘Wait, you’re in support, right?’ I’m like ‘Yeah’. And she’s like ‘You post it on the Power BI blog? And I’m like ‘Yeah, I may do that’. And I talked to her, she’s just like ‘Yeah, we’re gonna work on it. I’m moving that back because of the blog. And I’m like ‘Alright, you need to comment on that because that’s not me’.

KN: Apparently the users have a power to change software.

PL: Absolutely.

AS: Well, there’s an example. I think it was David Eldersveld who said something about ‘Hey, can we just get like custom tool tips on…’ I forget what it was, images or something, on the buttons. People just retweeted it and Amir caught it, right? And then, within a couple weeks, it was in the product. So people can effect changes. This is why I actually, I say this, it becomes a joke, but I’m very serious. Vote things up on ideas at Seriously. Strengthen numbers.

KN: In terms of Power BI and very popular topic like DevOps. What do you think, when will the team bring something that will enable automatic deployment?

AS: I mean, we already have things today for that. We’ve got APIs for cloning reports or moving things from workspace to workspace. I will admit there’s some gaps in that, but there are some approaches that you can do. There’s things that are being worked on that are in the business application release notes in terms of like […] type functionality. We’ve got the XMLA endpoints that are coming out which will also help with those type of operations.

KN: Yeah, we heard that, it’s coming, yeah?

AS: So the Read part of it is coming soon, and then the Write axis for that will come later on. It’s not in the current semester. And they do planning in six months semesters. Just keep your eye on the release notes in terms of when, it’ll be listed there once it’s coming. But I mean, there’s work that’s being done right now to help with those items, and so they’re working on small things to help the new workspaces. I think we’re going to enable a lot of functionality in that front, and make it a little easier. Because today we’re tied to the Office 365 Modern Groups. It actually hinders us from certain things, whereas once the new workspaces are there, we have a little more flexibility to move things easily, and to link things. Things like shared datasets or you can have a dataset of reports in different workspaces, and easily copy things from one thing to another. Just there’s a lot of stuff being worked on. It will get better.

KN: We’ll be following this.

PK: Yeah, I’m so looking forward to new workspaces coming out of the preview with all the features and stuff.

KN: Okay, guys. Thank you very much for this!

PK: Thank you so much.

PL: You’re welcome!


Useful links

Guy in a Cube: WebSite | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Snapchat
Adam Saxton – Twitter
Patrick LeBlanc – Twitter
Products: Microsoft Power BI | Ideas
Events: SQLBits Website & Twitter | TechoramaPower BI World Tour
Community: London Power BI User Group | Meetup

Previous Last Weeks Reading (2019-05-26)
Next Last Week Reading (2019-06-02)

About author

Kamil Nowinski
Kamil Nowinski 200 posts

Blogger, speaker. Data Platform MVP, MCSE. Senior Data Engineer & data geek. Member of Data Community Poland, co-organizer of SQLDay, Happy husband & father.

View all posts by this author →

You might also like

Podcast 0 Comments

ASF 003: Stephanie Locke interview

Introduction Steph Locke is one of THOSE women in IT. She was awarded an MVP prize for spending plenty of time building communities to provide platforms for people to help

Podcast 0 Comments

ASF 023: Amit Bansal interview

Introduction Amit R S Bansal is a SQL Server Specialist at SQLMaestros (brand of eDominer Systems). He leads the SQL and BI practice with a much-focused team providing consulting, training

Podcast 4 Comments

ASF 021: Guy in a Cube interview (part 1)

Introduction Guy in a Cube is all about helping you master business analytics on the Microsoft Business analytics stack to allow you to drive business growth. They are just two

1 Comment

Leave a Reply