At the most recent PASS Summit I was presented a gift from Andrew Clarke. It was a simple gift, really: a pen. But to me it meant much more than I think Andrew understood at the time.

A long time ago I stumbled upon the Simple-Talk website which has a wonderful collection of blog posts and articles on many different pieces of technology. I loved the design of the website but more importantly I loved the flow of the articles, especially the opinion pieces written by someone calling themselves ‘Phil Factor’.

One piece in particular spoke to me, it was called ‘Fired With Enthusiasm‘. I remember reading that piece and thinking to myself how great it would be if I could someday write something as good as that piece and have it posted to Simple-Talk. I was not thinking I could ever write as well as Mr. Factor, but I was determined to be able to write something. The website just seemed so…professional…and it made me want to become a better writer.

At that time I was also heavily involved with deploying System Center Operations Manager and saw it as a great tool for effective monitoring and thought other DBAs should learn about it also. Armed with my limited vocabulary and lots of passion for the subject I put together a rough draft and submitted it to Simple-Talk for consideration. I was shocked to get an email back saying they would be very interested in publishing my article. We went through a few edits and before I knew it, I was a published author on Simple-Talk. I have written a handful of additional pieces for them since.

The pen now sits right in front of me, just behind my keyboard. It is the only pen I use. And while it is just a pen, it means a lot more to me. It is a symbol of accomplishment, that I was able to set a goal and achieve it by simply reaching out to someone and saying “Hi, my name is Tom, and I have something I want to share with you.”

It is the exact same thing I have done throughout my life. I used the same line when I would introduce myself to local basketball coaches, “Hi, my name is Tom, could you use some help with scouting or during practice?” It is amazing to think about the things you can get in life by simply saying hello. Sometimes you can offer help, and sometimes you need help.

But if you never ask, then you don’t have much of a chance of getting what you want, or what you need.

I love that pen, and all it represents.