Open Insights 36 – Rarity of Excellence

Issue 36 – Rarity of Excellence
September 10, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We have a lot of new topics coming up, and plenty planned for the new year, so stay tuned.

Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.

In This Issue:

1. Feature:Rarity of Excellence

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

1. Feature: Rarity of Excellence

Excellence is a funny word. It sounds really big on paper, but how often do we stop and think of what it really is?

I was recently at dinner and I was noticing how our waiter was particularly attentive. They were asking us what we wanted, but also noticing things, whether we had napkins, or whether our glasses were clean, or what type of extras we wanted with our order. After taking the order they were still paying attention, and obviously in the kitchen they were as well because our food came out promptly, and was cooked well and still steaming hot.

I was talking with my mother about it, we were having dinner together. I said you know it seems so obvious, things like showing up on time, and doing the job you say you’ll do, yet it seems more rare that we actually encounter this. This got me thinking that excellence starts with someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, not necessarily someone who knows the most, or who has the hottest resume.

The same conversation had come up earlier. I had a very close family member in the hospital, and spent a few days there after surgery. Every so often an attendant would come in to check on something, make sure some numbers weren’t too high, or there wasn’t any pain and so on. It was my mother again who was keeping an eye on things, asking lots of questions, and double-checking. I asked, naively if all of that checking was really necessary. I mean don’t they have all of this down on checklists, and don’t they perform these same duties day in and day out, I asked? No, but you really need to keep on them, she said. And it was true, as I watched, I noticed little things. This resident didn’t like this other one, this one tended to be more carefree and forgetful, this one maybe not so friendly. There were even inconsistencies with what the doctor said, and what they had down on their computer printouts, food, and even prescriptions. I was surprised to say the least.

A while back I was reading Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”. It is a hilarious tale, a behind the scenes look at the restaurant industry. I remember one point he made. He said one employer he worked for had a very particular way of hiring candidates. He didn’t much care about resumes, or what was on paper. He was interested in the person’s character. Were they on time, were they honest, were they loyal etc. He said those are character traits you pickup when you are young, and they are much harder to fix or learn. Any skill or knowledge can be learned, if the individual puts their mind to it.

I may be oversimplifying things a bit, but really a large part of excellence involves just a few basics. 1. Showing up on time 2. Doing what you say you will do. and 3. Paying attention to details which includes listening well, and communicating. In a nutshell those are the big ones. So if we are looking for that rare candidate that will really excel, we should look well beyond the resume at these characteristics to find them.

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2. Speaking Engagements

Last April was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading

Joseph Finder – No Hiding Place

The Economist once again brought a great author to my attention. Joseph Finder writes very intriguing fictional tales of corporate culture gone wrong. Layoffs, out-sourcing, technology and security, he hits on a lot of these topics, in a fast-paced dime-store mystery kind of way that is easy to digest and enjoyable.

Chip Heath – Made to Stick

If you haven’t already had enough of all of the how-do-I-get-my-great-idea-out-there type of books, this one is definitely worth a read. Folks who like Gladwell’s books will probably like this one as well.

6. Lightweight Humor

It seems The Onion has

found some factual errors on the internet. Impossible!

7. Miscellaneous

I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!

SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast

NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.

This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 33: Market For Experts

Issue 32: Different Heritages

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at