Speaking Topics for 2018

Last year, I added data science to my talks.  This year, I’m planning on growing more of my technical skills – learning React, Vue, and Node.js.  In terms of talks, servant leadership has joined the family of topics, and it’s a topic I’m excited to present.   These are just some of the topics I am presenting in 2018.

Data Science with Python, R, and SQL Server

In 2017, I had a goal to start looking into data science topics and see what’s in store.  By the end of 2017, I started talking about how you can use Python and R on SQL Server to bring the computations to the data, rather than bringing the data to the computing.  With regards to adventures in 2018, I plan on continuing looking into data science topics and continue talking about Python and R and how they can be used on SQL Server.

The next talk for this is:

  • The Polyglot Data Scientist – Adventures with R, Python, and SQL – CodeMash – 1/12
  • The Polyglot Data Scientist – Adventures with R, Python, and SQL – Cleveland .NET User Group – 1/25


Mentoring was a topic that came up a couple years back and continues to come up.  Whether it’s from the perspective of being a mentor and how to become a better mentor or from the perspective of being a mentee and how to find and engage mentors, I have talks that address various angles of mentoring.  My career wouldn’t be this successful if I tried to go this alone – I have wonderful mentors in various aspects (tech, business, and life) who have guided me along the way.  In my past roles, I’ve had the privilege to mentor over 200 career shifters who have wanted to go into development or who have been in development a short time.  I also am in the process of formalizing mentoring programs for those who want to do formal mentoring programs at their companies but aren’t sure how to implement it or how to administer it.

My upcoming talks include:

  • Bringing Up Future Techies – NEOISF – 1/17
  • Making the Most of the Mentoring Relationship – Developer on Fire Remote Conference – 1/22-1/24


New to my topics in 2018, I am presenting a talk on servant leadership.  Growing up with a father who showcased servant leadership, as well as reading his cousin’s book on servant leadership, this is something that runs in my family and comes naturally to me.  I have had numerous leadership experiences as well as a few formal roles, and all of my experiences plus the guidance I learned early on come to life in this talk.  When I present on servant leadership, I present it from a tech’s perspective, working in the trenches with my tech support team,  coaching my junior developers, and alongside my fellow tech educators.  I include stories of things I’ve done that would cause people to raise eyebrows and yet realize why it’s okay – and sometimes necessary – to make decisions that may seem absurd but have underlying reasons.

For those who want to see it in action, it’s currently lined up at:

  • Becoming a Servant Leader, Leading from the Trenches – CodeMash – 1/11

Other Topics

There are other topics that I have talks for and am still interested in speaking on.  These topics include:

  • User Experience (UX) for Developers – why it matters and what we as developers can look for and do to make things easier all around
  • Social Media and Personal Branding – how we can take little steps to help stand out in the sea of developers
  • History of Women in Tech – can do a general talk or can tailor this to specific areas of interest (particular tech communities such as a particular language or user group)
  • The Importance of Professional Development and how to find opportunities – affordable ways to grow your skills and the importance of staying relevant in the field
  • Acceptance Test Driven Development / Behavior Driven Development – understanding the concepts and how to apply it in various languages (C#, Java, Ruby, Python, and soon to add JavaScript)
  • Growing and Supporting a Tech Community – geared for those who may not have much of a tech community and how to start it and get it going.  This includes talking about networking and how to promote your community.


If you are interested in any of these or would like to have me present these at a user group or conference, please reach out to me either via email, Twitter, or in the comments here.  I enjoy talking with others, sharing knowledge and learning from others’ stories as well.  Looking forward to meeting others and sharing more knowledge in 2018!

Interviews Should Not Invade Privacy

While catching up on news yesterday, I saw this article: Job Seekers’ Facebook Passwords Asked For During U.S. Interviews.  This stinks of a lack of trust in employees and cannot lead to a healthy relationship.

Lack of Trust on the Employer’s Side

Having worked for a company where they were leery of some of their employees being active in social networks, I can tell you firsthand that even if you were to comply with the interview and got hired on, you’d have a lot of trust issues throughout your time there.  For me, even though I wasn’t dealing with social networking stuff on the clock, I still felt like my employer had their own agenda by asking me to avoid social networks.  (And to this day, I am very thankful for a dear friend of mine who stayed persistent and talked me out of the insanity of it all.)

“Research”ing Candidates

I can understand companies trying to “research” potential candidates by looking at their Facebook profiles.  I’ll admit that, as an interviewer, I’ve “researched” potential candidates by looking up their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.  But at the same time, if they’re hard to find or locked down due to privacy, I wouldn’t even consider asking someone for their credentials – that’s truly an invasion of privacy.  Typically, you need a court order to get some of that information!

The other thing I noticed in the article is that the interviewer was looking up his Facebook profile during the interview.  That is not the appropriate time to do research on the candidates.  You would normally want to go into the interview with the data ahead of time. As a common motto goes – “Be prepared.”

The way I see it, it’s one thing for interviewers to do their own independent research.  It’s something different for HR to seek approval from candidates for background checks.  Did you see what I said?  “seek approval” – as in formal background checks need to be approved.  Don’t expect to get a person’s credentials to a private account.  Do the research the right way without making this an invasive process.

“Friend”ing HR People

Another practice they mention in the article is that companies will ask employees to “friend” their HR people.  Again, this is a company’s way of invading/trying to control an employee’s personal life.  Unless the person is in a position to manage the company’s social media – and in which case they should have separate accounts for that – there’s really no reason why a company should have this directive in place.    This is another sign of a company not trusting their employees.

But… I’m an Employer! It’s My Right!

Sorry, employers.  As a fellow business owner, I understand how you want to protect your business’s reputation out there.  But at the same time, you’ve got to trust your employees to do their jobs and let them have a life outside of your company.  It’s part of why you hire them – you see the candidate as capable of doing the job and trust that they’ll do the right thing.  And if you’ve been burned by employees too many times, then you need to revisit your candidate screening process so that you don’t keep getting burned.

If You’re Interviewing with a Company…

Keep in mind that you need to look out for yourself.  If employers are trying to invade your privacy in the interview process, can you imagine what they’d do to their own employees?  Is that really an environment you want to work in?  I understand that the market out there can be rough, but at what point is it okay to prostitute your privacy?