The Mentoring Class of 2020

Since my first round of community mentoring back in 2015, when I mentored 54 people for six months, I’ve been asked periodically whether I’d do it again. My answer was always something like ‘maybe – it was a lot of work’ and I didn’t think I’d have the time, given that we’d started to spend more time diving each year (you’d be surprised how many places in the world now have internet good enough to work over – even on dive boats themselves!).


Roll forward to 2020 and the current Covid-19 pandemic. We had a week-long dive trip at the start of March before everything went south, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be diving again until 2022. We spent a lot of time revamping our whole website, and Kimberly and I also spent a lot of personal time into fixing up all the little things around the house we’d put off for way too long. I took up vegetable container gardening as a mental health distraction (and to the right is how it looks today). I’d also detached a little from the SQL Server community while doing all of this, and all the bad news around the world was getting me down. I decided to take most of July kind-of off to recharge, so I did.


Before it got to July, I thought about what I was going to do in the community with my re-vitalized self. The first thing that came to mind was a bunch of work on my Waits and Latches library. However, our youngest daughter decided to defer going to on-campus college until at least January, and stay living with us until then. She wanted to earn some money without having to be around people, so I arranged to pay her to do a lot of housekeeping work on the waits library.

Then I thought about doing another round of mentoring. I love mentoring people. Microsoft trained me to be a people manager, as that was something I really wanted to do as part of my career. I was also part of the cross-company mentoring program within Microsoft, where I mentored random people from outside my management chain. So I announced in late June that I’d do another round of mentoring, starting in late summer, and last week I posted my call for mentees.

The rules for entry were very clear: post a link to a ‘good’ blog post as a comment on my post. No blog post link, not a valid entry. One of the reasons I make this a rule is that it encourages people to start a blog or to reboot a blog that’s been languishing, and it worked big time this year! It also shows that those who want to be mentored are willing to put in some effort. You can read all the entries in the comments of last week’s post.

37 people posted a link and I’d resolved to mentor 25 people, as SQLskills (the company my wonderful wife Kimberly founded in July 1995) turned 25 years old this year. So how to whittle 37 down to 25 fairly?

Here’s what I did:

1: Put all 37 names into a table in SQL Server

2: Wrote a randomization function to pull 25 entries out of the 37

3: Read all the blog posts yesterday and today to make sure they fit my ‘good’ criteria

4: Got a cup of coffee and thought about it

5: Thought about it some more while taking the photo above

6: Finally thought, what the hell…

That’s right – I’ll be mentoring all 37 people who had a valid entry. I just couldn’t in all good conscience randomly exclude someone who wants some help and went to the effort of applying – I’m a sucker for helping people :-) So it’ll likely make my responses a little bit further apart, and I’ll extend the mentoring period through the end of February 2021, so *I* don’t feel pressured.

The list of people who qualified is (in order of comments on the initial post):

  • Jayanth Kurup
  • John McCormack
  • Eric Cobb
  • Bharat Bhushan
  • Greg Dodd
  • Travis Page
  • Iryna (rynatra)
  • Cory Webb
  • Jeff Iannucci
  • Deepthi Goguri
  • Willem Leenen
  • Rennie Moodley
  • Jason Wilks
  • Raji Alladi
  • Goran Stevanovic
  • Database Lady
  • Brian Kallion
  • Deborah Melkin
  • Martha Clancy
  • Saba (slabu)
  • Konstantin Taranov
  • Nikola Ilic
  • Tom (straightforwardsql)
  • Paul van Rixel
  • Sunil Tomar
  • Gaurav Shrivastav
  • Nela (gottalovedata)
  • HappyDBA
  • Lee Markum
  • Jared Poche
  • SQLWhisper
  • Reddy Kiran
  • SQL Mama
  • Mohsin Khan
  • LoneSQLDBA
  • Dwaine Wright
  • Dave Stokes

The second test for all the people on the list is that they have to send me an email using the link in this post, preferably from a non-work email address (as we’ll likely end up discussing your work), by the end of August. You don’t need to say anything in the email – I just need an email address to contact you to kick things off – and for those people who were anonymous, you can stay anonymous if you want, just let me know which of the anonymous names you are.

I’ll send the initial emails to everyone on or before Tuesday, September 1st.

Congratulations to everyone on the list – it’s going to be fun!

11 thoughts on “The Mentoring Class of 2020

  1. Wow, I was eagerly waiting for the decision and I’m over the moon now!

    What generosity, Paul! Thanks for not randomly excluding people and thanks in advance for your time and effort, truly appreciated.

    Can’t wait to start.

  2. Congratulations to all of the people that Paul will mentor, and thanks to Paul for doing this to help the community.

    You folks are in good hands, make the most of the help that Paul gives you!

  3. hope you guys know the value of this great opportunity.
    I’ve been in the 2015 class and wouldn’t hesitate a moment to sign again if I could, due to Paul’s rules.
    wish you luck.
    Paul is a great mentor and a great person, with a vast amount of knowledge, not only in the SQL Server area.

  4. Thanks so much Paul to decide to mentor all people in list, AFAIK there are very few successful people in the world who would like to volunteer and spend their time to mentor/coach/help someone, Respect!

  5. Hi Paul,

    will you do same mentoring next year ?
    I miss the period to apply ..

    very nice ofer anyway
    and very nice blog of course :p

    thanks for your work


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