Various Anniversaries

This week, ten years ago, I was in London for MySQL AB‘s first “train the trainer” course, also meeting (for the first time) my first boss at MySQL Kaj. I’d been hired mid August as employee#25, also doing training but actually primarily as tech-writer for the MySQL documentation (taking over from Jeremy Cole, and essentially I was the documentation team for quite some time ;-). So from this you can deduce that yes, I was hired without meeting either Kaj or anyone in-person! I don’t think we even had a phone call, only email. Oh the days ;-)

The training week itself was of course disrupted quite a bit by the events in New York. We had Jeremy who had come on a UA flight from the US, and others from all over the place… it also taught some students a lesson about browsing the net while in a training course, it can end up very distracting.

The oddest event I remember about that particular trip happened upon departure from Heathrow: someone with a clipboard went round the long queues asking whether anybody was carrying eyebrow tweezers. No other items/questions, just that.

I stayed with MySQL for about 6 years, until with a brief break, I started my own company Open Query in 2007 (about half a year before the Sun acquisition). So this September marks the 4-year anniversary of that event already. I spotted an old business card earlier, reminding me that early on we did not just MySQL consulting and training, but also (OSS) business advice – that’s now essentially spun off to Upstarta.

The MySQL side of my business has changed quite significantly as well, going from the usual reactive consulting to proactive subscriptions, in part based on Pythian‘s successful model. A key difference has been that we don’t do emergencies. This disruptive shift happened somewhat by luck, after a talk at Linux Users of Victoria in April 2009. Ben Dechrai made a video recording of this interactive “Relax! A Failure is not an Emergency…” try-out. It also mentioned the BlueHackers initiative/stickers.

While some people including competitors regard our “no emergencies” approach as nuts ;-), it has worked out very well and apart from making customers happy it’s created the sane lifestyle I was looking for (so I could spend more time with my daughter), and enabled contracting others as well. We’re still growing organically, having adapted our internal tools and processes for the proactive service approach along the way – obviously, it’s now more about project management than handling incident tickets.

Like my time at MySQL AB, my journey since then has so far proven interesting, educational, and mostly enjoyable. Later in the year I aim to once again buy a house with a modest garden. And it’s the independence that’ll have made that -and my other explorations- possible. Who knows what lies ahead – most fun when you create your own future!

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