The Data Warrior

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Archive for the category “Work-Life Balance”

The Way of Strategy: The 9 Rules of Success from a Samurai Master

Recently, I was asked to write some words of wisdom to a young boy who was reaching his 13th birthday.

I was not quite sure what sage advice I could give that would have a lasting impression, so I though about words of wisdom I had run across over the years.

Being a martial artist (hence the “warrior” in Data Warrior), I have read many books on various topics related to the arts as well as books about famous warriors in history in order to learn from their wisdom.

Since this young man is also a martial artist (he is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do), I thought it appropriate to share something from one of those texts.

As I was writing the short letter to him that his mom requested, I realized that the wisdom in the passage would also be worth passing on to those of you that read my blog.

So here it is, with some additional thoughts.

The quotes are from one of the most famous books on strategy called A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was a Japanese Samurai who never lost a battle. All his fights were to the death. He used two wooden swords while his opponents used traditional Samurai swords with very sharp blades.

Someday you should read this book. I require all my black belts to read it, but the wisdom and lessons in this book apply to not only martial artist. They provide a useful perspective to anyone who needs to have the mindset of a warrior (which is most of us on any given day).

What Musashi wrote can be read many times. Each time you read it, you will learn or see something new in his words. What I have written below may or may not make sense to you today.

If not read it again in a year.

Then again a year after that (and so on).

Each time you read it, you will see more, and understand more.

So a short quote for you to contemplate:
“Strategy is the craft of the warrior”

What do you think that means? Why is it important? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

The Nine Rules

Musashi also gave a list of rules for people who wanted to learn his strategy. He called it The Way (which is what “do” in Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Judo translates to).

His rules are:
1. Do not think dishonestly.
2. The Way is in training.
3. Become acquainted with every art.
4. Know the Ways of all professions.
5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
8. Pay attention even to trifles.
9. Do nothing which is of no use.

He went on to say:

” It is important to start by setting these broad principles in your heart, and train in the Way of strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will be difficult for you to master strategy. If you learn and attain this strategy, you will never lose even to twenty or thirty enemies. More than anything to start with you must set your heart on strategy and earnestly stick to the Way.”

The fact that this was written in the 1600’s by a retired Japanese warrior does not mean we can’t learn from what he wrote. Even though he wrote the book to teach others how to be as successful a warrior as he was, the end result was words we can all learn from.

So read those rule again (yes right now!), read between and behind the lines.

They speak truth.

Truth learned the hard way, in a harsh time, when a wrong decision was the difference between life or death.

Being wrong was not an option.

Surely there is some wisdom in those words that you can use.

Please share your insights with us.


Master Kent Graziano

The Oracle Data Warrior

P.S. For anyone heading out to Oracle OpenWorld, be sure to look me up. Watch for tweets about Morning #ChiGung in Union Square and elsewhere.

Why four-day workweeks are best

In her book “White Collar Sweatshop,” author Jill Andresky Fraser writes about a culture of American workers being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even as salaries and benefits decrease. That’s because, despite the evidence, we’re programmed to believe that working longer and harder begets great achievement. But what if working less is the real key to success?

via Opinion: Why four-day workweeks are best –

In this article on, Peggy Drexler wrote about the experiences of some companies (and the State of Utah) when they switched to a four day work week. For the most part, the experiences reported were very positive with benefits to the employees (happier at work) and the organization (increased productivity and better talent retention).

How could this be?

“They were using the extra day off to spend time with their families, do errands and take long weekends away, but also to schedule appointments they might otherwise have taken an afternoon off to attend,” Gina said. People ended up taking fewer vacations days, and sick days disappeared almost entirely.

The article reports that we have been talking about a 4-day work week since 1950!

Yet we, in America, typically work well over 40 hours a week. Some jobs (like production support DBAs) are effectively 24×7 jobs with no real breaks. And with the advent of secure VPN and now smart phones it seems to be getting worse.


Hopefully, that is just an impression I have and not what is really happening.

What do you think?

I for one, am all for everybody cutting back to four days at the office.

(BTW – Don’t forget to read the whole article).


P.S. Thanks to Jonathan Fields for tweeting this article.

P.P.S. Want more – check out my earlier rant on a this topic.

KScope13 Day Two: Wine to Water and Other Transformations

So day two in New Orleans at the ODTUG KScope13 event was another big day.

I am gong to start out at the end of the day with the General Session update so if you don’t have time to read the whole post you can read the really important and interesting stuff first.

General Session and Keynote

First the fun part, we got greeted by a live New Orleans Jazz band.

We had a live band in the lobby to great attendees before the general session and keynote.

We had a live band in the lobby to greet attendees before the general session and keynote.

That was great fun. They then led us all into the grand ballroom for the general session and then went out and led in our board of directors and the conference committee all dancing up a storm in true NOLA fashion.

The general session gets opened with the board and conference committee being lead on stage marching/dancing behind a live New Orleans Marching Jazz Band

The general session gets opened with the board and conference committee being led on stage marching/dancing behind a live New Orleans Marching Jazz Band

ODTUG Announcements and Award Winners

Every year ODTUG gives out a number of awards so I want to recognize the winners here:

Editors Choice Award for Best White Paper went to David Schleis.

The Oracle Contributor of the Year (which goes to an Oracle Corp employee) went to my good buddy, Jeff Smith.

The ODTUG Volunteer Award went to Mack McCasland who has been working behind the scenes at our events for over 10 years (and he is retired!),

In addition to these awards, Oracle also announced the promotion of my good friend John King to the status of Oracle ACE Director.

The big announcement: KScope14 will be in Seattle, Washington, USA on June 22-26, 2014. The conference hotel will be the Sheraton in downtown Seattle.

Wine to Water

The big deal for the night was our keynote speaker, Doc Hendley. He is a bartender who decided he wanted to make a much bigger impact on the world and ended up founding an organization that now brings clean water to people in over 15 countries.

The statistics he gave us on how many people in the world do not have clean, safe water to drink (over 1 billion!) were stunning. And that more people die from lack of clean water than those that have died in all the recent wars put together. Another startling fact is that even though it is the biggest killer on the planet, dealing with dirty water for the poor of the world gets less than 20% of the funding when compared with funding for HIV, malaria, and TB.

He has a very moving and passionate story about how he got to that place in his life where he found his real purpose, discovered these facts, and set out to do something about it. His talk (and book) tell the whole story. There were a few teary eyes by the end of his talk. Doc has shown amazing courage and perseverance in the pursuit of making a difference.

He really has proven that one, very ordinary person can have a large impact on the lives of others if you really set your mind to it.

I encourage you to go over to his site and learn about his mission, his story, and his organization Wine to Water.

Maybe you can help him make a difference.

Doc Hendley, Founder of Wine to Water, gives a moving and inspirational address as our keynote speaker.

Doc Hendley, Founder of Wine to Water, gives a moving and inspirational address as our keynote speaker.

The rest of my day

So back to earlier it the day (for those still with me here)…

Started as always with my morning chi gung class. The group grew to about 14 people with a few new folks joining us. We had a few passersby stop to watch and try a few moves as well.

After a healthy breakfast and a shower I did my first talk of the event, Five Ways to Make Data Modeling Fun. There were about 20 folks in the session and we all had a good time trying out my ideas.

Then I headed over to hear my friend Jeff Smith talk about SQL Developer (my 2nd favorite Oracle product).

Oracle Senior Product Manager (and ODTUG Oracle Contributor of the Year) shows us his top tips and trick for SQL Developer.

Oracle Senior Product Manager (and ODTUG Oracle Contributor of the Year) shows us his top tips and tricks for SQL Developer

After that is was another awesome lunch (beet salad and redfish!) then on to Mark Rittman’s session about OBIEE, Endeca, and his take on the overall landscape of Oracle BI and data discovery in the new world of NoSQL and Hadoop.

In Mark Rittman's session he talked a bit abut Oracle's strategy around business analytics.

In Mark Rittman’s session he talked a bit abut Oracle’s strategy around business analytics

Always a good idea to get Mark’s take on things BI.

Lastly (before the general session that is), I did my second presentation along with Stewart Bryson. We introduced folks to the idea of using OBIEE on top of a Data Vault Data Warehouse and showed how it conformed to Oracle’s reference architecture while at the same time enabled an agile approach to BI.

Oracle ACE Stewart Bryson talks about how he used OBIEE to create a virtual data mart on top of a Data Vault style EDW model

Oracle ACE Stewart Bryson talks about how he used OBIEE to create a virtual data mart on top of a Data Vault style EDW model

I can’t thank Stewart enough for taking on the challenge to learn Data Vault and figuring out how to use it effectively in OBIEE. His approach works very well and should really enable organizations to truly leverage their data and create an agile BI/DW framework.

That’s it for today’s report. I should have another report for you tomorrow on activities today!



P.S. Yes there was eating and drinking around the French Quarter after hours. Even got to have a drink with Doc Hendley and his wife on Bourbon Street. That was a nice treat.

Investing to Improve Our Health

Great information this morning from @Claudia_Imhoff on Twitter:

#BDA13 Investing to improve health, wellness and community vitality pays off for business and

— Claudia Imhoff (@Claudia_Imhoff) June 6, 2013

Pay me now, or pay me later…

It is amazing what impact an upfront investment can return over the longer term.

And that applies in so many areas.



Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate America’s Bottom Line

Saw this great article on LinkedIn last week by Arianna Huffington and just had to repost it. Health and fitness are topics I am always interested in and have written about (here, here, and here). For us to be happy and productive we all need to be at our personal best. This article discusses some recent studies and why employers should pay attention to this as well.

On Tuesday Ill be guest-hosting CNBCs Squawk Box, a program that bills itself as the show that “brings Wall Street to Main Street.” As well as discussing Cyprus and a possible euro-crisis, we are going to discuss the growing trend in corporate America of taking steps — meditation, yoga, mindfulness training — to reduce stress and improve health and creativity.

One of my guests will be Mark Bertolini, CEO of the third-largest health insurer in the country with 30,000 employees insuring 17 million people. In 2010, Aetna partnered with Duke University’s School of Medicine and found that regular yoga substantially decreased stress levels and health care costs. Following this, Bertolini made yoga available to all Aetna employees nationwide and has a much bigger mission: to make sure there is research available to facilitate private as well as state and federal coverage of yoga and mind-body therapies.

Even a quick look at whats happening in the American workplace shows that its a seriously split-screen world. On the one hand, there’s the stressful world of quarterly earnings reports, beating growth expectations, hard-charging CEOs, and focusing on the bottom line — the world that is the usual focus of CNBC and Squawk Box. On the other hand, there’s the world populated by the growing awareness of the costs of stress, not just in the health and well-being of business leaders and employees, but on the bottom line as well.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that these two worlds are, in fact, very much aligned — or at least that they can, and should, be. And that when we treat them as separate, there is a heavy price to pay — both for individuals and companies. The former in terms of health and happiness, and the latter in terms of dollars and cents. So yes, I do want to talk about maximizing profits and beating expectations — by emphasizing the notion that what’s good for us as individuals is also good for corporate Americas bottom line. To do that, I’ll be featuring guests who have had great success at bringing these two worlds together and putting what at first might seem like abstract or esoteric concepts to very productive use in the workplace.

When we separate these two worlds, the costs come in two forms. First, there are the direct costs due to stress and its associated medical conditions, and, second, there’s the cost of lost creativity and diminished performance and productivity.

According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion. And unless we change course, this will only get worse. Over the last 30 years, self-reported levels of stress have increased 18 percent for women and 25 percent for men.

Check out the rest of the article here: Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate Americas Bottom Line | LinkedIn.

Take care,


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