On Paul Randal’s mentoring

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

The Background

Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn might have noticed that I accepted a challenge to become one of the mentee’s of Paul Randal. This blog post is an elaboration on why I think that’d be useful!

To understand the motives we have to go back to dark ages. Well, my personal dark ages, that is. Yes, that is around June 2022. Yes, that was this year. Yes, it was rather recent. Yes, bright ages might come sooner than you might think.

During the dark ages, I got an email from Microsoft Development Center in Serbia. The email informed me I got a job there. Woo-hoo! I was beyond happy. I was extatic. Adrenaline was all over the place. My wife claims she never saw my eyes spark as much as they did when I read this. Woo-hoo, baby! So why are these the dark ages, you might ask? Stay with me; I will elaborate.

I received an email that I was accepted, but I had no idea in which team 🙂 Seriously. Zero clue. I eventually figured out it was Azure SQL but that’s about all I knew at the time. Bummer! And I was kind of too afraid to ask, because, you know, they might change their mind if I ask I guess, so I better keep my mouth shut! Bummer! I kept my mouth shut but I figured that if I were to work in Azure SQL, I better learn some SQL Server internals, right? I better come prepared! Hell yeah! Google o’clock Bing o’clock, baby! Let’s look up some great books on SQL Server Internals!

Except that, and you’d find this interesting – there didn’t seem to be any. I kid you not. I jumped into the topic so excitedly, expecting range of books to choose from, but what I found was a void. A deep black void. Don’t get me wrong, there were tons of books out there, but none of them actually seemed to go into the depth. The depth of how stuff works under the hood. The inner architecture. The MEAT, if you want! Nein! And this is why I call this period a “dark ages”.

Eventually, I managed to find two great resources – Pro SQL Server Internals by Dmitri Korotkevitch and Paul Randal’s Blog. Yeah. Eventually I learned that Paul Randal wrote a book as well, and yet Google Bing wasn’t quite vocal about it. Bummer!

This brings me to the point of this blog post. Paul published a post announcing that he’s looking for mentee’s for 2023. One of the requirements was to write a blog post elaborating why would I want to be mentored. And, my dearest folks, this post explains those WHYs.

Five WHYs and beyond!

There is this popular technique called “Five WHYs”. The idea is that if you have a problem at hand, asking five consecutive WHYs will eventually lead you to the root of the issue. So, let me introspect myself with those five whys first.

  • Why #1: Why do I want to be mentored by Paul Randal?
  • Because this guy is my idol! A role model. I’ve been using his writings to bootstrap a project that eventually became BitesizedEngineering and I think it’d be awesome to his mentee.
  • Why #2: Ok, but WHY is he your idol?
  • Good question! Well, for one, he seems to be doing exactly what I love doing – writing books, publishing blog posts and speaking at conferences. I mean, hell, that’s all I’m trying to do and he seems to have mastered the art of it!
  • Why #3: Ok, but WHY do you think it will help to be mentored by this guy?
  • Frankly, I have no clue. Maybe it won’t do anything. But here’s the deal – I had multiple mentors throughout my life and every single one of them shaped my career and life in a very positive way. Honestly! Like EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Even the meetings and sessions I thought were just pure waste of time turned out to be fruitful in a way. It just took some time to understand those WHYs.
  • Why #4: Ok, but WHY do you think that Paul might be of help? Why his mentoring specifically?
  • On one hand, I’d repeat what I said under Why #2. But I’ll try digging deeper. For one, he worked at Microsoft and I just started working there. For two, he seems to have made a good career there, and I’m hoping that he might inspire me to pave some unclear paths. For three, I just find the challenge of understanding the WHYs an interesting opportunity to, well, give it a shot. Chances are slim, I know, and yet, I’d like to try.
  • Frankly, I just figured that any further WHYs actually circle back to some of the original ones. So I’ll stop here.

My point being – the reason why I achieved what I did (althought quite modest, I still do consider myself making some achievements that many haven’t been motivated enough to do) is that I had mentors who influenced what I did. And as such, I deeply believe that being mentored by a living star himself might provide huge benefits for my speaking and writing career. Oh, and I want to write a book 🙂


Whatever comes out of this, I believe it can’t hurt. At least I took some time to reflect on WHYs and had a challenge of putting them down to paper. If I don’t get selected this year, well hell, I’ll just wait until 2024! Cheers!

UPDATE on 04.01.2023:

I’ve been selected as one of the mentees 🙂 Here’s a full post by Paul Randal. I’ll ensure to update the blog with progress and other interesting info that I get out of this experience 🙂

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