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Technical Accomplishments and Happy Memories (T-SQL Tuesday #112)

T-SQL Tuesday logo.

The March 2019 edition of T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Shane O’Neill (@SOZDBA). This month, Shane wants us to share our cookies. Wait… what? Yes! Cookies πŸͺ In this analogy, cookies are accomplishments or memories you can look back on when things get tough. Something that will give you an energy kick to keep you going when you think you’re completely done.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this since the topic was announced. My cookie jar definitely consists of two types of cookies: technical and non-technical. There are more of the latter, which I believe is a good thing 😊

In this post, I’ll highlight some of the technical accomplishments I’m proud of, and share some of my happy memories that always make me smile. (I mean pictures. I will share lots and lots of pictures.)

But First: Stop Talking Yourself Down

Most Scandinavians are familiar with Janteloven, the Law of Jante. In short: “You are not to think you are anyone special or that you are better than us”.

(If you have never heard of the Law of Jante before, Alexander SkarsgΓ₯rd talked about it in The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The segment is even titled Alexander SkarsgΓ₯rd Is Too Swedish To Be Cocky!)

Janteloven is so deeply ingrained in the Scandinavian culture that many of us find it extremely difficult to say out loud, or even admit to ourselves, that we are proud of our accomplishments. We are so afraid that others will think of us as arrogant, or that we are seen as believing we are better than others, that we often do the complete opposite. We talk ourselves down.

Instead of saying “I put many hours into this and I’m proud of my work and what I accomplished”, we might shrug and say “well, anyone else would probably finish this faster than me, it wasn’t really a big deal, the result isn’t even that good anyway”.


Stop talking yourself down.

I still have to remind myself of this. Talking myself down was a habit I built up over 25+ years. A habit like that takes time to break and change.

You can be proud of your work without being arrogant. Feeling happy about something you have done does not mean that you look down on others. Celebrate your accomplishments! Share them with us so we can celebrate with you!

(Just don’t celebrate by talking others down.)

So! Shane challenged us to share our cookies. I had to keep reminding myself to not talk myself down while writing this. Now I’m reminding you as well, and I’m also encouraging you to celebrate your own accomplishments, even if you don’t share them with anyone.

The rest of this post this will be a self-centered post full of not-so-humble bragging πŸ˜‚ The next time I’m struggling, I can look back at this post and dip into my personal cookie jar. (I mean the pictures. I can look at all the silly pictures.)

Technical Accomplishments

One keyword: Biml. I have built large parts of my career around my love for it. Without Biml, I’m not sure I would be where I am today, personally or professionally. By speaking and blogging about Biml, I have been able to travel the world, make lots of friends, and grow from being shy and socially awkward to outgoing and a little less socially awkward πŸ˜„

I’m one of only two Microsoft Data Platform MVPs in Norway!

Screenshot of the Microsoft MVP page showing Cathrine and Ida.

For several years, I was the only Microsoft Data Platform MVP in Norway, and the only woman in the group. I have to admit, that was pretty cool. It was (and still is) something I worked very hard for through hours and days and weeks of blogging, speaking, organizing and volunteering.

Today, I’m one of two Microsoft Data Platform MVPs in Norway, and we’re both women. That’s not just pretty cool, that’s awesome. I watched Ida Bergum (@IdaBergum) grow as a speaker, organizer, and overall kickass role model, nominated her, and now there are twice as many Data Platform and women MVPs in Norway. YAY! πŸ™ŒπŸ»

I’ve co-authored two books!

Screenshot of Cathrine’s Amazon author page.

This is probably the most difficult accomplishment for me to talk about without talking myself down. “It was just a few chapters. The books were written by a bunch of smart people - and me. It only happened because I wrote about a niche topic. I know more now and I wish I could go back and fix everything I did wrong.” Stop.

I co-authored two books. My name is on the cover of two books in my bookshelf. I have an Amazon Author page! (And, whoa, “customers also bought items by Itzik Ben-Gan and Marco Russo”? *dies a little*) I spent many hours writing and re-writing and reviewing, and I gave up time with friends and family to do it. It’s likely I will always want to go back and improve my writing, but I’m still proud of the work I put into it.

I was the second BimlHero in the world!

Screenshot of the BimlHeroes page showing Andy Leonard and Cathrine Wilhelmsen’s profiles.

Oh, my dear friend Andy Leonard. You just had to beat me πŸ˜‚ I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Just like with the books, I have talked myself down in the past when it comes to the BimlHero certification. “There weren’t that many people using it, so it was easy to be one of the first.” That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I spent months working for it. I went through hours of advanced training, passed a 100-question test, built a production-ready solution, wrote a whitepaper on how I implemented that solution, and had it all reviewed by the guy who invented Biml. Phew! And I passed. I became the second BimlHero in the world. I worked hard for it, and I sure as heck deserve to be proud of it 😊

Happy Memories

But none of my technical accomplishments would be possible without my wonderful friends and the #SQLFamily. None of it would even be worth it if I didn’t get to see, talk, and hang out with them. My happiest memories are the memories we share.

These amazing people pulled me out of my shy shell. They make me smile, laugh, dance, sing, dress up, and lots of other silly things. They are the reason I keep doing what I do - and the reason why I love it so much.

…and pictures speak louder than words. Thank you all for some fantastic years, I look forward to many more πŸ’™

#SQLBits party has started 🀩 @NowinskiK @GunneyK

Getting ready for the #BIPowerHour with @MsSQLGirl :D #HappyTappy #PASSsummit

We’re ready for beers! 🍻 Will you join us? :D #SQLGLA

When the #SQLGLA organizers promise something, they deliver! I GOT A CANDY NECKLACE LANYARD :D

YAY! @auntkathi is in Oslo! :D #SQLSatOslo

Love how @sql_williamd wishes speakers good luck before their session at #SQLGrillen 🍻 Looks like a happy @arcticdba :D

No speaker shirts here. Speaker aprons are much cooler :D @cl #SQLGrillen

It was a good day :D #SQLSatFinland

Female Data Platform MVPs @MVPAward #mvpbuzz

I found some random guys in the Community Zone :D @AndyLeonard @awsaxton #PASSsummit #SQLFamily

Got to hang out with @NowinskiK today! :D #PASSsummit #SQLFamily

#sqltrain @sqlknowitall @cathrinew twins!!!! Proper planning on projects

With #sqlfamily and all other friends @kpuls @Rad_Reza @cathrinew @briancmoran @pacoSQL @SQLvariant #MSignite

Interview recorded and @BuckWoodyMSFT got his extra triple quad shot coffee. Great start to Day 2 of #MSIgnite :D

I know this guy! :D @DBArgenis @PureStorage #MSIgnite

My favorite DBA with a beard, in a FANTASTIC costume :D @sqldbawithbeard #SQLBits

Awesome vibe @SQLBits again this year - So many fantastic people here! #SQLBits Snap of the day goes to: @cathrinew @SQLBek @NowinskiK

The #DataMVP ladies at #MVPSummit! So much talent in one picture :D @MVPAward #MVPBuzz #SQLPass #SQLFamily #PASSWIT

Look at all these awesome people :D #SQLTrain

IT’S A WRAP! A huge thank you from all the organizers for a fantastic #SQLSatOslo! :D

Fun in the community zone! :D #SQLPass #Summit15 #ArgenisWithoutBorders SQLBob DBArgenis SQLintheWild RoyalSQL

@cathrinew with Ghostbusters @AaronBertrand and @kekline #sqlbits Superheroes

Your Turn!

I encourage each and every one of you to write down your own cookies, even if you don’t publish it in a blog post. You never know when you might need it 😊

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About the Author

Professional headshot of Cathrine Wilhelmsen.Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, international speaker, author, blogger, organizer, and chronic volunteer. She loves data and coding, as well as teaching and sharing knowledge - oh, and sci-fi, gaming, coffee and chocolate πŸ€“