How SQL Can Open Doors: An Interview with Bestselling Author Walter Shields

Air Date: 1/22/20
Audio Courtesy of EPN - Enterprise Podcast Network

Full transcript included below.

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Eric D.
This is Eric Dye and thanks for tuning in once again to Enterprise Radio here on EPN. If you’re not already connected with us on our various social media outlets we invite you to do so by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all @epodcastnetwork.

Today we’re speaking with Walter Shields, an SQL mentor, author, and data management entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the field. He is currently the principal of Datadecided a Tableau provider that helps businesses of all sizes communicate and understand their data in a visual medium.

Mr. Shields, thanks for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio.

Walter S.
Thank you, thank you so much for having me.

Eric D.
You’re certainly welcome. It’s our pleasure, we’re looking forward to hearing from you today. So tell us for starters, in your new book you’ve said that SQL is one of the most in-demand coding languages and the gold standard for database administration—what is SQL and do you think this trend will continue on?

Walter S.
Great question. SQL, the simplest way to put it, it’s a language. It’s an acronym that really translates to structured query language with the “L” being the keyword there. Languages, as we know, whether we’re speaking English, French, or Spanish—it’s a way of communicating. SQL as a language is communicating with the data that stored within a given database.

That’s my quick and dirty way of explaining what SQL is. It’s truly just a way of communicating with data that’s stored within a database.

The second question, will this trend continue, I would say an absolute yes. SQL has been around since the seventies and its still strong today. I don’t see any sign of this trend diminishing, in fact its increasing because the [amount of] data we’re collecting is increasing.

Eric D.
That it certainly is. I really appreciate your input there. Now, in demand and easy to learn are two different things entirely. The benefits of having SQL on your resume, is it worth the time it takes to learn the language?

Walter S.
Good question. Again, I believe that the answer to that is yes. Why? In-demand, as you say, and easy to learn are two different things but we are in a unique place with SQL because both of these elements exist together. What I mean is, the language of SQL is very easy to learn and [we are] at a time in our history where it is one of the most in-demand languages of our time today.

So it’s a great time to get involved and start equipping yourself with SQL skills. If you understand supply and demand, the demand for SQL skills is quite high right now.

Eric D.
I’ve got another question for you. If SQL is so easy to learn, then why does it seem like there is such a large pool of people who are not familiar with the SQL language? What’s your thoughts on that?

Walter S.
It’s sort of a catch twenty two, right? I think if we look back a little, so there was a statistic that mentioned that more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. Now when we think about that it’s really kind of staggering. We are at a time when there has never been such accumulation, exponential accumulation, of data than any time before.

If you understand just the rate at which [our] data is expanding—I’ll give you a quick example. In a minute there’s an average of 2.4 million Google searches, thirty nine thousand Instagram posts, and 2.8 million YouTube views. That’s just sixty seconds, one minute. If you take this into perspective and think about how much data is gathered over a day, two days, two years, ten years, you can put it together that it’s quite exponential.

So though it is easy to learn, the exponential growth rate has created a gap in terms of the people that are able to supply the skills [associated with] SQL So now, again, is a really great time because even just the exponential growth has opened the door of opportunity for those who want to pursue data analytics with SQL.

Eric D.
Certainly interesting information. Today we are joined by Walter Shields, an SQL mentor, author, and data management entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience. He’s joined us here today on Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network.

Now, Mr. Shields, some programming languages seem to come and go. Why do you believe that SQL is here to stay?

Walter S.
Well one of the key indicators that this language is going to be here for a while is that it was introduced in the seventies. I believe around 1975 by IBM. It is unmistakably one of the oldest languages out there at forty-some-odd years at this point. In comparison to other languages SQL stands out from that perspective in terms of being a long-lived contender.

In addition to this, the relational database aspect that SQL speaks to the best. Another way for me to break it down and explain is if you think of a bank, if you think of your phone, and storing the contacts within your phone, that feature of actually finding a contact is SQL running in the background.

So from about 1970 all the way to where we’re about to approach 2020 has reigned king in its ability to give us data that’s stored in a database. The fact that we are growing at an exponential rate with regard to data means that SQL is the go-to choice as far as languages that help us [produce some] intelligence out of that data.

With that in mind, I’m saying that SQL is not going anywhere.

Eric D.
That certainly sounds good to me. And if someone listening wants to pick up a copy of your newest book SQL QuickStart Guide, are there any programming prerequisites they should already have under their belts to even consider picking up this book?

Walter: Out of a number of [students] that I have taught SQL skills, that is probably the number one question—what do I need to know [in order to] actually grasp this? When I was learning SQL myself, a major inspiration for this book is the experience that I had in that I had little or no avenues to help me acquire this skill.

And back then I had no clue that this would be something [that would become] an in-demand skill. However, I had a very tough time acquiring the [necessary] skills. Mainly because the sources of information about this skill was buried in very thick books. At the time, folks like myself and computer scientists thought it was nice for them to sound complicated, use large words, and the way that they would go about explaining the concepts of SQL.

It was with this in mind that I designed SQL QuickStart Guide so that you do not have to have any sort of perquisites, just a desire. I would like to take your desire to learn, to change, to transform something different within your life and use my experience to easily guide you through what you need to know to have a full and confident command of SQL.

So, do you need to know some things prior to [learning] SQL in terms of programming languages?

No. All you need to bring to the table a desire to learn. That’s pretty much the only prerequisite.

Eric D.
I like that as well. Some great feedback per your expertise, really appreciate all of the information shared here today. In conclusion, any closing thoughts, a takeaway, a tip, anything you’d like to share as we conclude here today?

Walter S.
Yeah, the only thing I’d like to say is that for folks who are thinking about this as just being relegated to computer scientists, or IT, or people who are in a technical field—one thing that I would like folks to know is that SQL has permeated into many different fields.

Why is that?

If you look at business analysts, if you look at marketers, marketing analysts, the skills of SQL is what you’re going to find being asked for on job descriptions for these sorts of positions. [SQL] is no longer relegated to just the tech folks or IT folks. It’s cut across many different sectors.

The reason for this is that there is no industry that cannot compete today without leveraging their data. So, whether you’re in finance, or you’re in accounting, or whatever the field—transportation—data is the underlying factor that is going to give you a competitive edge.

Therein lies the opportunity for folks who have a desire to learn SQL. When you hear things like “big data,” “data science,” “Pig,” and “Hive” SQL is the underlying factor behind those languages. Your time is never wasted if you are going to pick up SQL QuickStart Guide to give yourself some education about this.

Eric D.
Mr. Shields again we thank you for your time and for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio and sharing your SQL experience and expertise with our audience. If listeners want to connect with you or pick up your book SQL QuickStart Guide or your company Datadecided where’s the best place to get all of the details online?

Walter S.
Absolutely, thank you. You can reach out to me at www.datadecided.com, big thanks to ClydeBank Media who published this book, they have a number of great deals right now at www.clydebankmedia.com. The book is available at major book platforms like Amazon, just do a search for SQL QuickStart Guide by myself Walter Shields or look up by publisher ClydeBank Media that’s the way to go about getting connected.

If you want to reach out to me directly go to www.datadecided.com and there’s a form there where you can reach out to me, I’m very responsive, and I’ll get back to you.

Eric D.
That certainly works and I appreciate the invitation as well. Again Mr. Shields all the best and thanks for joining us on Enterprise Radio.

Walter S.
Thank you so much to all the folks at EPN and yourself Eric for having me.

Eric D.
It was certainly our pleasure and let’s do it again! We’ve been speaking with Walter Shields an SQL mentor, author, and data management entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the field. He is currently the principal of Datadecided a Tableau provider that helps businesses of all sizes communicate and understand their data in a visual medium. For all of the details visit www.datadecided.com.

This is Eric Dye and you’ve been listening to Enterprise Radio part of EPN the Enterprise Podcast Network. Tune in to our live location where we are steaming live around the world at www.epodcastnetwork.com. You can also find our live steam on iTunes and Tune In Radio as well as the Tune In Radio App for your listening convenience.

As always, we thank you for your support and for tuning in.

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