Friday, November 19, 2010

What's In A Name?

I suppose that depends on your name.
In our SQL Server community, there are more than a handful of readily recognizable names:
Buck Woody
Paul Randall
Kimberly Tripp
Kalen Delaney
Adam Machanic
Brent Ozar
Steve Jones
Andy Warren
...and the list goes on

Each one a respected member of the community and known for their expertise. Many we know as Authors or Bloggers in our sphere of knowledge. These people have worked many years building their Name as their Brand, whether they set out to do so initially or not.

Others, we know by the marketing they have built up around themselves:
Midnight DBA
SQL Fool
SQL Rockstar
SQL Chicken
Scary DBA
SQL Agent Man
...and the list goes on once more

Again, each a respected member of the community and known for their expertise. But how are they different? and Does it matter?

Whether you're branded by your name or by a logo or a 'handle' of some kind, as long as you are getting your message out and becoming recognizable I don't think it really matters. What does matter is what you choose to do with your brand. Do you want to build your brand, or do you want to be ruled by your brand? Those people in the first list may not have intended to become the household name (well within the SQL house anyhow) they are today. They have naturally worked their way out of obscurity and into our collective consciousness. Those in the 2nd list, I believe, chose to find a clever way to get themselves heard and reach above the masses to get noticed. Now, don't take that in a bad way, just because a Brand can be a vehicle for visibility, it doesn't mean it will work. Fortunately for those in the 'marketing' list, we have come to know them as Jen and Sean McCown, Michelle Ufford, Thomas LaRock, Jorge Segarra, Grant Fritchey and Tim Ford, repsectively. Their brand may have been an initial platform, but now the names behind the brand are just as valuable.

I've built a brand for myself...unintentionally. I don't think I could easily change from being Wendy Dance to a lot of people, and I don't think they would want me to. Especially after being recognized at the Summit this year, more people are tuning into what I have to say. My brand isn't something fabricated or conjured, it reflects truly who I am and what things matter to me. While there is nothing wrong with intentionally branding one's self, it's all a matter of how you are percieved by your peers and community. Only time will tell if my Brand will stick.

To those I mentioned above - Thank You. Each of you has been an inspiration to me at some point and it has been fun to walk along the same path now and again.

This blog post was created as a result of Midnight DBA Jen McCown's idea for Un-SQL Friday. Many others have already blogged about it, read those here (I have yet to read them myself!):
Just to get you started....


  1. Nice post Wendy, and thanks for thinking of me:-)

  2. Well said!! It's interesting to think about how people perceive you (not you specifically, but you know...), based on your name, "brand", or what you know. Kind of makes me wonder...

  3. You mean your last name isn't Dance?? ;)