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Thursday, May 19, 2005


A topic that comes up a lot is "how can I become really successful or more successful in my chosen career". When I get the question - it is typically from an Oracle developer or DBA (imagine that). I get this question in email, at conferences, in conversation. I think the answer is easier in some respects than it seems, once you define successful of course! For the very word successful begs the question - what does it mean to be successful (that book, Crimes against Logic has me parsing every sentence).

There are two pieces to being successful in my definition. I define successful as
  • Being happy with what you do.
  • Doing the best you can at what you do.
Now, I cannot help too much with the first point you either do or do not like your job, but the second point I might be able to inject a point or two. How to become better at what you do. For me, the formula was simple:


Help, such a simple word yet it pays back many times, maybe this is a better way to say it:


I think that says it better, participate. What you'll get from participating is a greater sense of what people are doing. You'll see solutions you never would envision otherwise. You'll ask questions. You'll answer questions. You'll debate, you'll engage. You'll win some battles. You'll lose others. In the end, you'll learn and you'll teach. And who knows you might even become known. Known as a credible source of information, a reliable go to person. You dont need to write a book, I didn't write a book to become credible or known, it happened the other way around. You just have to participate, and be flexible (that is, accept criticism for what it is).

There are lots of places to engage/interact on the web. Here are some of the ones I lurk or participate in. I'd be interested in growing the list, one of the things I want to do on asktom is replace the sorry I have a backlog message with a link to a page full of resources. So I'll be taking whatever I collect here and growing my list to include them (after reviewing them)
  • The Usenet Newsgroups This is where I got started in October 1994 with my first posting. Many people that were there then are still there today which I find amazing. I do not post there nearly as much as I used to, but I still browse it from time to time. Jonathan Lewis is a frequent contributor.
  • Oracle-l This list is cool for two reasons. Firstly, there is the contributions of people like (this is not an exhaustive list of posters by any means!) Cary Millsap, Tim Gorman, Jared Still, Mladen Gogala, Pete Sharman, Paul Drake, Mark Powell, Niall Litchfield, Wolfgang Breitling, Jonathan Lewis, Lex de Haan, Connor McDonald, Tanel Poder just to name a few. Secondly, the sense of community there is large. At every conference/event of any size, there is usually a gathering of the oracle-l'ites where everyone gets together. Many good friendships have grown out of that list.
  • The Dizwell Forum Howard J. Rogers run forum. Youll find on topic and off topic conversations abound. But lots of good ideas too.
  • The Oracle (tm) Users' Co-Operative FAQ Sponsored and maintained by Jonathan Lewis. Remember to give as well as receive here. Any thing you discover is a frequently asked question where you work is probably an FAQ world wide, you too can contribute.
  • http://www.dbasupport.com/forums/ Just beware of the Obfuscation Unlimited group, you must take that one group in the context it is meant to be taken (humorously). But lots of good technical information there as well lots.
  • OTN discussion forums You might even get an answer from the person that wrote the software you are asking about (especially in the HTML DB forum).
  • http://metalink.oracle.com/ Have to mention this one there are interactive discussion forums in there as well.
  • http://www.ioug.org/ Now, not so much about the discussion forums here (they do not get much traffic) but the organization as a entity. I am a big supporter of the IOUG and try to do what I can to support it. I would strongly encourage anyone who calls their career Oracle to become part of it. The networking alone is worth it. Meet others in your area from other walks of life that do the same thing for different companies. Hear how they do it, share how you do it. The conferences are great -- I've attended the IOUG-A (Americans), the UKOUG (will be there again this year), and the Irish OUG conference in addition to other OUG events far too numerous to even begin to list (numbering in the hundreds). Great technical content, strong leadership, great organization.
So, that is the short list, now lets add to it. I'll check them out (lurk for a while) and put that page together.

But remember don't take it on faith. There is no such thing as a "faith based Oracle solution". Don't be afraid to ask why, or how. Everyone makes mistakes (if I don't actually set up the example -- I would be wrong more than I am right) so asking for the why or how is not only acceptable but expected. And when you go to answer yourself, remember that asking "and why do you want to do that, what is your goal" is not rude it is the only smart thing to respond with sometimes


Anonymous Bill "Shrek" Thater said....

and, of course, your own postings on oracle-l. a good place to learn a lot, but remember to post off topic things to oracle-l-ot.;-)

Thu May 19, 10:56:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Pete_S said....

How odd... I had a response to one of my Blog postings yesterday asking how to get started in Data Warehousing - I promised to post something - what a challenge!

Thu May 19, 11:02:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Scot from Jacksonville said....

I've been checking out the forums at www.orafaq.com/forum for the last month or two. There are some very good contributors, who demonstrate their ideas and solutions by showing examples (proof), and who understand the importance of people reading the documentation, rather than having a place to go to get their homework done for them.

One thing I don't like is that it puts titles next to peoples names based (apparently) on how many posts they have made.

But I've seen a lot of good answers, in the few forums I check, over the last 2 months. Such as those by Andrew, Art, Barbara, Dmitry, Frank, Frank, Maaher, Mahesh, Todd and William.

You are right on about how much it helps you learn to sit and answer the questions of others.

Thu May 19, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

As long as we are talking about Participating, how about http://asktom.oracle.com ?

Thu May 19, 12:21:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

As long as we are talking about

Well -- I was building a list of where to go when I'm not accepting questions, so in that regard it was "implied" :)

but yes, participate there

Thu May 19, 12:31:00 PM EDT  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....


UKOUG 2003 - Dave Ensor, Debbie Wong, Peter Robson, and me having pre-dinner cocktails with you.

Me (about to relate an anecdote, beginning with the question): "Well, you read the Oracle-L, yes?"

Your answer: "I don't read list-serves." ;)

I'm glad to know you do. For several people I know are quite please to have been mentioned in your blog as Oracle-L contributors (rightly so).


Thu May 19, 12:32:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

UKOUG 2003

I think it was more like "i don't subscribe to listserv's"

but in the forum sense on the web (been reading more of them over time, at least glancing at them) I'll check them out.

more email, something I don't need. I used to belong to a bunch of listservs about a decade to five years ago and then cancelled them all..

Thu May 19, 12:39:00 PM EDT  

Blogger jimk said....

Tom, I would classify your "help" more along the lines of Service. (ment as a compliment)

One weekend I was flying out to visit my mom. It was tough because she was in the terminal stages of cancer. On my way I was talking to the gentleman next to me about a variety of things. We were in different industries. He was going on his trip for business reasons and of course he asked me the purpose of my trip.

You know how sometimes in life things just seem to click? While there isn't any proof that somethings seem to just come along at the right times they just do (sometimes). This was one of those times. (The real reason is probably along the lines of there are enough interactions in life that we have a tendency to remember those that seem coincidental.)

Anyway it turns out he was in remission for 5 years from a stage 4 cancer. Looking at this guy you would never know. He happened to have a copy of an article called "In the Service of Life". Rather moving and poingant. I found a copy here: http://www.theinterpretersfriend.com/Terpsnet/11.html

So you see Tom, I view your Help as more a service than help.

Thanks for your service.

Thu May 19, 12:51:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Want to become the go to guy/gal? Get your tasks done. Really done. No execuses. Done.

Thu May 19, 03:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Great! But just so we're all clear:

Did you lie when you said "Here are some of the ones I lurk or participate in....oracle-l"

- OR -

Did you lie to a whole bunch of people around a dinner table when you said "I don't read list-serves."/ "I don't subscribe to lisservs" / "Who needs more email"

You never reckoned on there being a lot of witnesses who heard the truth, and you had to backtrack.

What else on your blog do we need to have verified/checked by a table of witnesses. Everything else you say now, and previously for that matter, is SUSPECT.

I think you've been caught with your pants down for the whole world to see.

Speaking of pants:

Pants on fire! Pants on fire!

Thu May 19, 03:17:00 PM EDT  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....


Obviously I misheard Tom.

He wasn't lying. I wasn't listening well enough.

Tom, sincere apologies for starting anything more than what was originally intended as mere ribbing.

Tom is absolutely spot on with the lists he recommends (and the people).

He is actually doing us all a tremendous favor by posting his recommendations.


Thu May 19, 03:27:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

One correction to Tom's list -- there is nothing wrong with Obfuscation Unlimited.

Do not be afraid, my friends. Just walk in and announce to everyone ...
i) your political affiliation
ii) your hobbies
iii) any deeply held spiritual beliefs.
... and you will be embraced with warmth and fellowship.

In particular, we need some rational and coherent Republicans there 'cos I think our current herd have run out of *ahem* intellectual vigour.

What is the collective noun for Republicans, anyway? Perhaps one would say a "cigar" of Republicans -- that has a nice feel.


Thu May 19, 03:43:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Did you lie

eh? did not get that one at all.

I stopped subscribing to list serves (list serves originally dumped everything in the inbox there, they differed from the newsgroups that way. newsgroups you went to, listservs came to you).

Now they are all "able to be gone to", and I lurk in many - participate in few.

Especially when my name pops up, you'll likely find me lurking (people drop me emails, I'm curious, I go see).

So, there is no contradiction, no big conspiracy.

I do not subscribe to listserves.

I peek at some of them from time to time. Especially when someone points me there.

So, I'll close with something I use a lot on my site...


Thu May 19, 04:06:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Obviously I misheard Tom

Melanie, no worries at all here. I don't really participate in oracle-l, never did. I don't subscribe to any of them (email overload as it is). I go there from time to time to see whats been written. I know the people on the list personally.

So no, I do not subscribe to oracle-l.

But I have read more than one thread on oracle-l. And I've had them sent to me by people saying "hey, come look at this"

But no worries at all.

Thu May 19, 04:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Gabe said....

To “Anonymous commenting on THU MAY 19, 03:17:22”:

Tom said in 2005 “Here are some of the ones I lurk or participate in”.

Melanie referred to something Tom said in 2003 "I don't read list-serves."/ "I don't subscribe to listservs" / "Who needs more email". Since, this came though a proxy, there is a possibility he was misunderstood!!!!

And, apart from the myriad of nuances for “lurk”, “don’t read [that much/anymore/etc.]” which you obviously overlooked … do you have the mental capacity to understand that the following two statements …

“I read oracle-l”
“I don’t read oracle-l”

… could both be TRUE since they happened at different times (2 years apart actually)?!?!

So, since you have no factual information, before you denounce the man to the world, how about some decency if the brains are missing?

Kind of pathetic, don’t you think?

Thu May 19, 05:15:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I'd like to suggest
[Separate forums for developers and DBAs but you can 'live' in both.]
There's a lot of bright people inhabiting there. The drawback in the Developers forum is more a lack of questions rather than the quality of answers.

Thu May 19, 06:28:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter K said....

Be open and respectful. Being open to criticism and willingness to correct own's errors.

Definitely helping to answer queries/teaching is a great way as it forces you to think through your answer and you find that there are times when you go, "Oh yeah, I have always assumed that this is the way it is, let me verify to be sure."

Another is to follow the blogs (Tom has a great list on his blog) and I check orablogs.com everyday to see what's new at all these blogs. Pete Finnigan is a good one although the focus is on security.

Thu May 19, 09:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Tom Best said....

Readily and willingly share your knowledge. Then, compete with yourself.

OK, I saw that one on a co-workers email tag, and it describes him well. I hope others see me that way.

Thu May 19, 10:00:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Justis Durkee said....

I am curious to know how steep was your mountain to success? Was there a time when you felt like you were "paying your dues", or "paying the piper" if you will? Or even a time when you thought, "you know, maybe this isn't for me." Hit some kind of wall. If so, what techniques did you use, or do you still use, to push on through (when the going gets tough)? From your perspective, how much of your success would you attribute to:

Innate ability
Hard work

Fri May 20, 01:20:00 AM EDT  

Blogger DaPi said....

Tom said:
I define successful as

o Being happy with what you do.
o Doing the best you can at what you do.

Now, I cannot help too much with the first point you either do or do not like your job, but the second point I might be able to inject a point or two.

Often Catch 22: you won't be happy unless you do your best; you won't do your best unless you're happy with what you're doing.

So help with the second point can be enough to break the negative, Catch 22 cycle.

Fri May 20, 07:33:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous denni50 said....

hey Dave....

"what is the collective noun for Republicans, anyway? Perhaps one would say a "cigar" of Republicans -- that has a nice feel."

How about "ULCERS"?

(something that festers and corrupts like an open sore)

whether you lurk, participate, subscribe(or don't) or just
want to be a 'peeping-Tom'(couldn't pass that one up!) on listserv's..who gives a hoot and a holler. Your dedication,effort and service in helping those of us to become Oracle "successful's" (in whatever capacity that maybe for each and everyone us) deserves the Oracle version of the Medal of Honor.

how do you change fonts/italics
on your blog?

Fri May 20, 09:02:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

how do you change fonts/italics

you can put html tags like <i> and </i> and "b" tags and such.

or where you talking about the look and feel of the blog itself?

Fri May 20, 10:09:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Kalita said....

asktom - tomorrow?? in Asktom..

May be your topic for next blog..

Have you ever felt like leaving Oracle or do you have any plans to leave Oracle? Not the database, the company ;-)

Fri May 20, 11:15:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

1. Never rely on your employer or your job to 'advance your skills'. I have worked with several people who have complained that their skills are not advancing on the project. If that is the case, advance them yourself.

2. Just because you are not using some skill today does not mean it will not be valuable in the future. I spend a significant amount of time reading and learning new things. Alot of people I have worked with have asked 'why do you bother we are not using that here'. Yes, but I may use it in the future.

3. Abandon the 'one good book theory'. I hate this cliche. I find that I learn alot faster by using multiple series of inputs. Many books, many articles, internet, asking questions, and testing stuff out. Mix and match. You don't have to buy books, borrow from people and check them out of the library.

4. Learn to read with utter disrespect. Just because someone writes something does not mean you have to read it. Grab what you need and move on. Get the big picture. Before reading an article look at the title and the abstract to get a feel for what the author is doing. Makes it much easier to retain what you read.


Fri May 20, 12:39:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


Fri May 20, 03:15:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Paul said....

Melanie - 'pre dinner cocktails with Tom'.
You name dropper!

Fri May 20, 04:48:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Captain Obvious said....

For that wonderful "anonymous" poster and the nose comment:

Gee, very cheeky of you, using silly alliteration AND one of Tom's pet peeves in the same sentence. I'd be willing to bet you were the same "anonymous" person of the "pants on fire" quote as well - at least, the mentality seems to be about right. Don't happen to own a certain breed of dog, do you? Sorry Tom - I know it is best to just set ignore on with these folks, but I had to put my .02 in. Now I'll butt out. :-D

Fri May 20, 10:49:00 PM EDT  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....

Paul said....

Melanie - 'pre dinner cocktails with Tom'.
You name dropper!

It's OK to drop Tom's name on his own blog. I don't think he'd mind.

Tom's known worldwide. The number of people who have had drinks or dinner with Tom Kyte (an extremely affable guy), must be in the hundreds (thousands?) by now.

*Many* people have had the opportunity to do so.

The number of stories people have that go around beginning with "I was talking with Tom Kyte ... "

are not exclusive. They're numerous.

As Tom said in his Ohio User Group post, he fully supports the OUG groups. The chances to meet him are not rare, if people attend or speak
at OUG meetings.

Sun May 22, 08:29:00 AM EDT  

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Sat May 05, 04:22:00 PM EDT  

Blogger TheCanadianMeds said....

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Fri Jan 18, 10:29:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Do you know http://www.dba-village.com/ forum ?
Questions and ansers have often a high quality.

Wed Apr 16, 04:16:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Raj said....

Very good article......helps a lot
Thanks for it...

Thu Mar 05, 12:17:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


i have no experience in DBMS/Oracle/SQL, but i wish to learn Oracle. I have read on various blogs that there is very little difference between database admin and developer. My work involves the financial markets and i wish to use Oracle to manage huge amounts of data as well as develop my algorithms.
Please guide me. Where and how should i start learning Oracle? Also, as of now i cannot afford to buy a liscensed version, so most probably i will have to download a free version. i will install it on windows XP, but in time i wish to move on to open solaris.Again, here also i'm constrained due to no knowledge of open solaris, but simply based on the info that it is a better OS.

Please guide and help.


Fri May 28, 05:50:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Ogan Özdoğan said....

Hi Tom,

Thank you very much for sharing that kind of information. I have been trying to read, answer and ask on OTN forums and it helped me a lot so therefore your comment on "engaging" is absolutely correct.

Cheers, regards.

Wed Aug 04, 01:59:00 PM EDT  


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