Because I’m All About That (Data)base II — SolarWinds TechPod 075

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As data infrastructure gets more complex, clarity is more important than ever. Our guest Blythe Morrow talks with hosts Sean Sebring and Ashley Adams about the importance of communication for Data pros, and how to speak so that people will listen.  © 2023 SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved  RELATED LINKS:
Blythe Morrow

Guest | Director, Database Product Marketing, SolarWinds

Blythe works as the head of product marketing for database at SolarWinds. She started 15 years ago as the Community Manager for the SQL Server… Read More
Sean Sebring


Some people call him Mr. ITIL - actually, nobody calls him that - But everyone who works with Sean knows how crazy he is about… Read More


We’re Geekbuilt.® Developed by network and systems engineers who know what it takes to manage today's dynamic IT environments, SolarWinds has a deep connection to… Read More

Episode Transcript

Sean Sebring: Hello, and welcome to another episode of SolarWinds TechPod.
In this episode, we’ll take another crack at database, but with a different focus. Let’s get to know our data professionals. What is their day like? What challenges do they face, and what does the journey ahead look to have in store?
I’m your host, Sean Sebring, joined by fellow host Ashley Adams. We have an exciting guest today I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting, but Ashley would do better justice to introduce her. Ashley?

Ashley Adams: I have had the great pleasure of co-working with Blythe Morrow who will join us today from Vancouver, Canada. She is on staff with us here at SolarWinds, a very premier and passionate database product marketing director. Blythe, thank you so much for coming on the pod today.

Blythe Morrow: Thanks for having me.

Sean Sebring: Yes, wonderful to have you Blythe. We’re super excited for today. Before we get started, let’s recap a little bit of the last episode and maybe, Blythe, you can actually help us.
We had kind of talked about this a little bit previously, and I think this is a great way to summarize our last episode, but what is your elevator pitch as a DBA describing to your friends and family, what you do?

Blythe Morrow: Yeah, so I think about this a lot. I think about how do I describe to my 78-year-old father what I do for a living? And I’ve been in database my entire career, specifically SQL Server, and he’s asked me about a hundred times. And so, I started very early obsessing over this when I was working with DBAs because I would go to these conferences and I would hear them introduce themselves. I always wondered, how does this work when you relate this internally to an organization? What do people in big companies or even mid-size companies think DBAs do?
And if we don’t do a good job of describing that to even our sisters, our brothers, our fathers, how are we going to do it? How are we going to sit at the table in an organization if we can’t describe the work we do? And so, I talk about the elevator pitch a lot, and I think it’s important to be very, very clear in your communications, especially as the DBA’s role is changing.

Sean Sebring: I feel you, loud and clear on that, because I consider myself an IT professional. Well, I’m getting better after talking with Tom last episode, and we’ve met a little bit already. But I still pretty much have no idea what goes on in the world of database. So I’ll be admittedly ignorant in the topic, but I think that it’s an important thing, especially all sorts of different roles in technology.
A database is very foreign to me and happens to be our topic today. So I guess one way that we can get that elevator pitch kicked off, or at least even expand on it, maybe it doesn’t have to be elevator pitch now, but Blythe, can you walk us through the day in the life of a DBA?
What is it like when I first come in? What do I care about? What are my chores? What are my concerns, my tasks? What is the day in the life of a DBA?

Blythe Morrow: Right. And so this is where it gets a little complicated, because I think it really depends. We hear that a lot in tech. If you have the ideal, the dream job, as a DBA, you come into work and you look at your monitoring software or you look at all of your tools and everything is humming along. You’re in more of a proactive stance. You know that you’ve got regular maintenance coming up. You are working really, really well with the other partners in your role. But I think that a lot of DBAs, a lot of folks are starting their jobs with hope and fear that something won’t break.
A lot of DBAs are still on call 24 hours a day. They’re still getting texts that production databases are going down in the middle of the night, or there’s that little bit of fear that that may happen. And I think that the dream is to move from that reactive stance of always having to wonder, well, if something goes down, if I go into the office or if I grab a cup of coffee, are there going to be people that can’t buy or employees who can’t work?
And we want to move those folks. We want to move them to more of a proactive stance where they know that the monitoring, they know that their environments are taken care of, they know that they’re available, and then they are able to work on higher value tasks for the organization. And this is really important because as we’ve gone through the last 10 years of digital transformation, we’re seeing organizations need their data pros, need their data experts, to sit at the table. They need them to go to those meetings.
They need them to be good partners with the different business units to help them understand the data that’s coming in and make sense of it. I talk a lot about communication and how we’ve gone from DBAs spending all of their time writing T-SQL, writing stored procedures to now you’ve got a job where you have to communicate for a living and you have to build that partnership.
And those soft skills are really not so soft anymore.

Sean Sebring: And when you say communicate, do you mean communicate to other parts of the business?

Blythe Morrow: That’s right.

Sean Sebring: I’m glad you’re saying that, and something clicked for me a little bit. When we talked with Tom for last episode, something he mentioned was oftentimes the database is blamed or we’re misdiagnosing an issue as a database problem.
And so when the database professional comes in with hope and fear of, oh my gosh, I hope nothing goes wrong or being on call all the time, do you think maybe a lot of that is just because those other parts of the business are so ignorant to what database does, that they’re on call just in case, because we have no idea what database does, so it’s easiest to just say, maybe it’s that?

Blythe Morrow: I don’t want to say that other parts of the business are ignorant to what’s happening in the database.

Sean Sebring: Okay, so it’s just me.
Okay. I just wanted to check.

Blythe Morrow: No, no, no, no, no. The trick is the database is difficult.

Sean Sebring: Right.

Blythe Morrow: It is very, very difficult for a lot of organizations and it’s only getting more complex. If you think of every single application that you add to your environment, whether you’re managing it or not, it has a database environment attached to it.
And so you’ve gone from your core monolithic database architecture that sat in a server room off to the right where you guys were sitting, to serverless applications, micro servers, cloud enabled applications hosted in a whole bunch of different environments, and it has just got so complex.
And so it’s not that the rest of the business just doesn’t care about the database. They don’t have that knowledge. Unless they’re a completely DevOps integrated shop where you have a ton of automation happening, you’re not getting the visibility that you would typically need to make the right decisions. And that’s where, as organizations are adopting more of those DevOps processes, you really need to be able to lean on your data pro to help you understand what’s going on.
Tom has this… He’s written many, many books and he’s an expert among experts in this field that he talks about the default lame acceptor, right? It’s like, oh, there’s an issue with the application. It must be the database. And if it’s the database, then it must be the DBA’s fault.
And there is some truths to that, but I would take it a step further and say that, well, it’s us data pros who really need to help facilitate and communicate with the business as to why these things are happening and help the business move towards where they want to go in their architecture. Because that’s ultimately going to help them with their business goals.

Blythe Morrow: The way I understood it when we talked with Tom is database is really a foundation for everything. You can’t present something in a UI on an application if you don’t have the data to reference. So like you were saying, data pros need to be involved in the strategy and the design, right? That’s a lot more.
And you said that in the last decade or so, that’s becoming more well known, accepted. Data pros are being consulted more when it comes to these design aspects, these strategy things. And I would imagine just what you had said, it depends on what the day in the life of a DBA is.
Let’s assume that they’ve got a pretty well-designed environment and they’re not coming in with fear. Things are going well. What’s that day like? Is it focusing on optimization, automation, polishing, the efficiencies of things, how does that look?

Sean Sebring: It is a lot of optimization, maybe a bit of performance tuning, some automation. A lot of organizations are starting to move in that direction, especially if they’re developing their own applications. But I think that data pros these days spend a lot of time in modernization and migration projects. This is a project planning, project coordination, and the cloud providers actually have a very big role to play, especially in the larger organization.
So they play a role in helping these organizations get to the cloud and modernize so that they can do some of the more innovative projects. For example, you were just talking about automation with the, and this is actually something we’ll probably want to expand on a lot more, but with us moving to the more of these cloud options, it sounds like we’re able to, I don’t want to say care less or stress less necessarily, but giving the database a little bit more of out of the box feel, so that I don’t have to focus so much on that and I can, like you were saying, focus on the innovation instead and these vendors are able to just help kind of manage that.
And a lot of it might be systematic through automations, through just… That’s how the platform works. It’s going to help tune this stuff for you.

Blythe Morrow: Yes, true. It’s true. If you look at the database industry over the last 10 years, for example, you zoom out and you look at Microsoft and AWS and even just some of the software providers that are not cloud focused.
SolarWinds is a great example. You’ll see that there is this commodification, there’s this ability to take something that we could never even imagine and put a box around it and say, okay, well now you can have data warehousing and you can throw a box around that and you can offer it as a service or you can offer it as a product, something that we had to build manually.
And not that long ago. If you think about what that means to a data pro or a DBA who has spent their entire career building capabilities, building their ability to performance tune in T-SQL, how they build their infrastructure. All of it was learned probably on the job.
Nobody went to school to become a DBA 15 years ago. It’s changed a little bit now. And you think about how far the technology has come. It’s incredible. I remember I was at Microsoft Ignite, this big conference happens every year in 2009. I remember them announcing AI in the cloud was the big thing. And now that’s just a machine learning in Azure is, so what? What else you got?
And well, we talk about what the DBA can expect, where the industry is going. I think it’s moving so fast that it makes my head spin and I work in this industry every single day.

Sean Sebring: Yeah, so is it becoming… Like if I’m part of an organization, especially if we’re using these cloud options for database management, as a part of the organization I’m more of a consultative role is kind of what I’m gathering? Like you’d said, a lot more communication focused.
Is it helping to strategize things? Here’s how we should do it. Here’s things that might go wrong if we don’t do it this way, or if we want to scale. So a lot more consultative or just strategic and less actually hands-on managing the database.

Ashley Adams: I’ll just add to that. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Blythe work and she is a product marketing manager with us here at SolarWinds, and has taken on that role. I think in addition, I’d love to know in answering Sean’s question, but also where your background started and how you got to be in this more of a consultative role with your DBA experience.

Blythe Morrow: Oh, interest… What a great question. So I’m not a DBA by trade. I did go to school and I did a certification in database management, but I’m a writer by trade.
I just find SQL, Server, and T-SQL just so interesting. The fact that you can just take something that looks so complicated and simplify it and make it easy to understand has always absolutely fascinated me. I started my career at the professional association for SQL Server where I did community relations. I worked with Microsoft building the global chapter user group structure. And then I was the marketing director for a big consulting company, and then I went out on my own and I spent a lot of time helping organizations communicate to data professionals.
And so, most of my research and most of my experience is talking to DBAs about what they do every day, what they’re struggling with, how they’re using third party tools and software and how can we make their lives easier. That’s how I lead the marketing today. I think it’s fascinating how resilient DBAs are because the amount of technology change, again, over the last decade has been just staggering.

Ashley Adams: As a follow-up to that, we talked previously about how I always say product marketers are the translators between some of the more technical product focused people and then the marketing that comes out of that, the messages that go out into the world externally. And to keep expanding on Sean’s question there, when you find yourself in a consultative role, have you had experience working with DBAs directly, helping them to up-level their skills to have those conversations at a C level potentially or a business management level within organizations?

Blythe Morrow: Most of the talks that I give at conferences are about that, right? Because I am a communicator by trade, and I do understand the DBA. I really believe that if you’re sitting in a meeting trying to get your point across, and the only way that you are going to be able to be heard is by making a really clear and compelling case, you need to understand how to tell a good story.
Because data pros are no longer… They no longer sit in their cube and code T-SQL all day. They’re sitting in meetings. They’re helping the business move the needle. And so, if you are trying to advocate for more budget or more resources, which are very difficult to come by these days, you need to have the critical communication skills to be persuasive and to make a case for yourself in the business.
And how do you do that when you are trying to communicate very complex topics that most likely have a lot of history associated to them, and you need to get a business that isn’t necessarily thinking about your data environment as a priority to fund things that are going to be critical to them making their goal. And how do you do that? And so I have a bit of a passion for that. I speak a lot about that, and also how to renegotiate your salary and talk to the business about how much you’re worth.

Sean Sebring: Sign me up. And that does help a lot. You actually said something a little bit ago about questions you would ask when you’re talking to the data pros and it’s, what can we do to make your life easier? That was a question you said you have in conversations with data pros. So what are things that would make their life easier?
Something I was going to ask Ashley was how is the role of DBAs changing with the migration of cloud? Well, it’s already inevitable and it’s taken place in a lot of ways. It’s not that it’s done. I think there’s definitely still transition taking place. But since it’s inevitably we are moving to and we will be existing in a cloud world, what tools does a DBA need? And this can be communication tools or actual tools.
If I’m at my job at my desk looking at screens and I need to see stuff from a DBA’s perspective, what do I need? What tools do I need to tell that story, right? You’ve been talking about we need to be able to tell that story. What tools would make them a better, stronger DBA?

Blythe Morrow: I think the most important thing to understand is that people do not engage with the best plan or the smartest people. They engage when they can clearly understand the fastest. And I’ll take that a step further. If you are listening to this or you’re a DBA and you’re a data pro and you’re looking to become a leader in your organization, people don’t follow the best leaders. They follow the leaders that can communicate the best. And so, I often talk about data pros moving from a pure technologist to a business partner and the skills that they need, the tools that they need, to move into that role are those soft skills that are not so soft.
And a lot of it is not just being the smartest person in the room, but helping people hear what they need to hear in order for them to listen. Because your words? Your words matter, whether you’re emailing and creating memos via email or whether you’re sitting in physical face-to-face meetings. And this has been a hard transition for data pros as they become more consultative in their roles instead of pure technologists.
If we think about the human brain really trying to do two things, when you’re talking to someone. The human brain’s trying to survive and thrive and they’re trying to conserve calories. And so if you’re talking to someone, if you’re talking to the business and you’re talking about the history of a series of server environments and how you grew up coding on Oracle SQL, but now you do SQL Server and your grandfather started in technology, the person you’re talking to, the person you’re advocating with, is scanning and they’re trying to assess whether what you’re saying has any bearing on what they are trying to do in their role.
And there’s a disconnect internally, where the person’s trying to understand and you’re not connecting with them. One of the things that I like to talk about is being clear and assigning meaning to what the business is trying to do. So if you’re looking to get your infrastructure migrated to the cloud, or if you’re looking for budget to modernize a series of data instances, for example, you need to help the business understand what is it going to save them? What are they going to lose if they don’t do it? And what is at risk if they miss this opportunity?
And those are the skills and the tools I really believe data professionals need more than anything.

Sean Sebring: So not just clear communication, but I like to simplify things, use analogies. This is the, what’s in it for me? That’s kind of what I just heard. The human brain’s processing, okay. Well, you’re telling me this long story, but what’s in it for me? We need to be able to do that when we’re talking to the business, too. It’s not just clear, but what’s in it for you? What’s in it for us?

Blythe Morrow: It’s true. The what’s in it for me is really interesting because I think that there’s a clear difference between irritation and agitation. There is the kind of poking someone, right? You need to do this for me, you need to do this for me. The concept of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You think that if you ask a number of times or if you advocate a number of times that you’re going to get something at the end of that.
And that’s not necessarily true because you may just irritate the person that you’re talking to. Agitation is a little different, because that’s when you’re getting someone to do something that they ought to do. They know they ought to do it, they understand their role in it. You’re actually engaging them in the process. And so when you’re advocating for something as a data pro, I like to talk about going from that poking irritation and moving into more of an agitation to get the organization moving in the way you want it to.
Well, now I’m kind of curious because I live in the database world, so I’m very insular. When you’re talking to infrastructure folks or network admins or what have you, how are their roles changing? Because I see the data pro, we’re in a full transition right now.
We’re going from A to B, right? And heads are spinning. Is it the same in other parts of the IT work?

Ashley Adams: I think it’s an interesting question. I know from my experience here at SolarWinds, we’re moving to that solution-oriented way of thinking. So not being so siloed, I think, is the biggest takeaway that I would say all levels of different infrastructure systems, networking… People not thinking only about what their specific role does in an organization, but how it impacts every other part of the organization, as well.
And I think you touched on that when you were talking about the DBA. The thing that highlighted in my brain was that they affect almost every part of a pillar or an organization, but they can be siloed because they’re in their own little… In their world there. But I would think that that’s a big thing that people are thinking about, how they’re a bigger part of the whole, not just focused on their one set of activities.
Especially when you take into account data security and that kind of thing. Everybody has to do their individual part to make the organization run smoothly.

Blythe Morrow: I absolutely agree. I think it’s more important than the technology because then if you are only focused on, like you said, in your silo as a DBA, you hold the keys to the whole kingdom. The data is really the value to most organizations. But if you don’t collaborate and modernize, and if you can’t find a way to be inclusive in helping the business achieve where it wants to go, then you become the DBA, the default blame acceptor, that Tom was talking about last time.

Sean Sebring: A lot of the stuff I’ve been working on lately, webcasts, blog articles, and this is people first, right? Everything’s changing to a people first, and you just said it’s not just the technology. And in fact, that’s a lot less. I see the same transition in a lot of different areas, too. I’m an ITIL study, and one of the changes from version three to ITIL 4 is that it’s… One, it’s much less rigid. But two, it’s let’s just use this term value co-creation, right? Co-create. We do it together.
And a lot of that is about feedback, the experience perception. Because at the end of the day, it’s the people that we’re doing all this for. It’s not just the technology. It’s not to just check off a box that says, my technology looks like this. We are organized like this. The perception is king, the experience is king. And, of course, the data from the technology side, like you’d said, I couldn’t agree more. Data runs everything.
In fact, there’s this new term which I’m grinding my teeth against right now. I’m sure we’ve all heard of SLAs before. They’re now coming out with XLAs. I’m not sure if you’ve heard. It’s experience level agreements, basically an SLA, but for experience. And I’m like, hold on, are you talking about CSAT? You’re just renaming CSAT? Customer satisfaction to an XLA? Isn’t that what CSAT is?
Again, it’s just talking about modernization. They’re just trying to build more structure, more best practices around getting that satisfaction, around getting that experience and the better understanding and collecting feedback on perception. And people is a big part of it, right? It’s your opinions, your relative view and perception that’s going to drive a lot of that.

Blythe Morrow: So Sean, what does ITIL say about when you focus on people, how does that help in diagnosis and remediation? I always wonder about this. In my mind, in my perfect mind, when you’re more people focused, when you’re more collaborative, when you’re more open to working together, that diagnosis and remediation gets a heck of a lot easier, right? Because you’re talking. You have processes that overlap and integrate. It’s not kicking something over the fence.
Do they have kind of-

Sean Sebring: Oh yeah.

Blythe Morrow: … Anything on up?

Sean Sebring: So there’s a few things that come to mind.
The first one I’ll lead with, because it’s a guiding principle. There’s seven guiding principles, so these are core values or pillars of ITIL 4. And it’s all about what you were just talking about. In this core value, this guiding principle is collaborate and promote visibility. And it’s all about that breaking down silos.
It’s one of the seven guiding principles, collaborate and promote visibility. So it’s exactly along the lines of what we’re talking about right now. And another one that they’ve added in, and it’s not just exclusive to ITIL. I’m pretty sure it’s used in other best practice curriculums and such, is shift left, being able to share work.
So the idea I, let’s all learn a little bit about each other’s work, each other’s job. Let’s train on someone else’s… What they’re doing. And of course, one of the other key foundational parts of ITIL is just let’s document the heck out of everything. At least that’s one of the things I lead with when I’m talking about, oh, you want to implement some ITIT practices? Start by just doing it and documenting it.
But yeah, again, just going back to one of those guiding principles, collaborate and promote visibility. And I think it’s a great little way to summarize exactly what we’re talking about, which is we need to work together on this. And the collaboration is about between the teams, the departments, and I think, now, the technology, too.
So let’s also still let the technology be involved. I want my technologies to be able to collaborate. And we see that more and more, especially with the cloud world that we live in. These digital transformations happening because it’s-

Blythe Morrow: Integration world.

Sean Sebring: … Mm-hmm.

Ashley Adams: Yeah.

Blythe Morrow: Everything’s integrated.

Sean Sebring: Systems talk, just as much or more than we do.

Ashley Adams: I love this conversation so much, because it’s interesting to think about whether… So many people work in the tech industry in one way or another, and is that influencing culture or is it the other way around?
And I think back to even the eighties, nineties, early two thousands. I think teams had a healthy level of competition that was put against them, that mindset of moving the business forward by putting teams somewhat against each other in a fun-loving way. But as we said, having this really inclusive environment where you’re celebrating teamwork and collaboration and lifting each other up, I think, even follows the technology itself because we talk all the time about how we’ve broken down perimeters.
We’re not in a specific place or in a office. We have so much remote work and globalization. So, it’s amazing. I always love being able to see where culture and technology connects.

Blythe Morrow: It’s lovely. I do think that it’s important to add clarity. Because collaboration only goes so far, when you can clearly communicate what needs to happen. And because these infrastructures… I mean, as cool as a technology is, the infrastructures are getting more complex.
The projects you’re working on are completely different than they were back in even just 2000, like 20 years ago.

Sean Sebring: These are those soft skills that aren’t so soft, you’re talking about, right? Being able to speak with clarity.

Blythe Morrow: I will stand on this soapbox all day long, because I work with DBAs all day long, and I’m going to say that imagine if you’re talking to me. You’re trying to get your point across to me. And every time you use a word that is an acronym that I don’t understand or is an incredibly complex topic that you know is going to go over my head, I want you to imagine covering a bowling ball in Vaseline and asking me to hold it. And then every single time you say something like that, you just cover another bowling ball in Vaseline.
And so now I’ve got two, and then you give me a third one. And I’ve been doing my deadlifts, right, because a girl’s got to work out. So I can hold three, no problem. But what happens when you give me four things that I don’t understand you’re trying to communicate to me?
I don’t just drop one. I drop all of those bowling balls and you’ve completely lost me. I know I get a lot of good feedback about the bowling balls.

Sean Sebring: That’s a really entertaining visual. I appreciate that.

Blythe Morrow: I’ve seen it happen because I’ve been fortunate to get in front of a number of different data pros over the course of my career, and they’re trying to advocate for things, and they’re trying to be a good partner. But because they haven’t done the work to understand how the business communicates, they’re not getting where they want to get, not only in the work that they’re doing as it relates to their team, but in their careers as well, right?
Because it’s not as visible when you can’t communicate with clarity.

Sean Sebring: We talk about a lot of comprehension is digesting information. So what you’re mirroring, your slippery bowling ball analogies, giving someone something they can chew but can’t swallow, right? It’s too hard to digest this. Also, I’m hungry. We usually end up recording these towards dinnertime, so food analogies are just all I can ever come out with.

Ashley Adams: Well, it might be a good segue in talking about demographics. How many meetings, Blythe, are you in where you’re the only female in the room?
Oh, if the audience could see your face, the reaction to that question. And also, in your experience with coaching and speaking with DBAs, how many do you interface with that are female on the teams?

Blythe Morrow: So, we work pretty hard with SolarWinds to have an inclusive and diverse workforce. But on the product side, you still only get… If we’re a team of 20 people, you’ll get maybe one or two women, typically.
I’m one of them. I always try to share my camera too, so that I’m very visible. I’ve been in the SQL Server community for a long time, and I’m very passionate about Data WIT, which is the Women in Technology group in the SQL Server community. And I spend a lot of time there. And so, I actively seek out women who want to participate and speak and who need mentorship just because I didn’t see a lot of that as I was coming up.
Now of course, there’s always some. But I think it’s really important that we stay on the Women in Technology and the diversity train. It hasn’t increased and moved the way that I think we think it has. And if you are building products for data pros or if you are an industry of database professional managing all of the data in some of the largest organizations in the world and you have no representation from half of the population?

Ashley Adams: Right.

Blythe Morrow: I think it really does a disservice to what we’re building.
So I do spend a lot of time, if you’re interested, and maybe we can add it to the show notes. We can share the data WIT website. They’ve got an event coming up here at the beginning of May for mental health, as well, which is something that is so important to IT folks, especially because it can be a little bit of an isolating career.
Focusing on mental health as a SQL Server community is something that started during the pandemic and has just paid dividends for us, in terms of supporting some of the folks who are having a tough time. And so, we have this virtual conference that’s put on by the DEI groups that is quite lovely, and that SolarWinds participates in as well.

Ashley Adams: Oh, that’s amazing. We’re hoping, and would love to, actually have a women-focused Women in Tech episode soon, so everyone will have to stay tuned for that.
But just to expand a little bit more, having diverse roles and women part of the conversations at the table, what do you think that women uniquely bring to the table in terms of being a DBA or even a PMM as it may be, from our side. Just conversations to the tech world in general?

Blythe Morrow: I think that it really brings a diverse set of communication skills. I keep going back to communication skills, but it’s true. When you have diverse voices, you communicate in diverse ways and it helps diverse brains conceptualize and ideate and innovate.
When you have people of different ages, people of different backgrounds, that contributes to us being able to move the ball forward. As long as we’re marching towards a common goal, how we get there, we can be creative with that. But if we have all of the same people, but similar folks with similar backgrounds of similar age in similar geographic locations, you’re going to get the same way of moving towards a goal.
I think there’s more value in being creative, and we have research to back that up as well, that having diverse voices creates diverse experiences and therefore can actually increase profits and have organizations that do better than their counterparts.

Ashley Adams: Absolutely. Beautifully said.

Blythe Morrow: It’s so nice when there’s another woman leader on a call with me, but I really believe that it’s diversity in all of its forms. We have ageism in tech that we have to combat.

Ashley Adams: Yeah.

Blythe Morrow: We need to include more people of color. Our products get better when we have more ideas and we’re seeing things from different viewpoints, truly.

Ashley Adams: Well, and it’s just like you said, the end user, the people who will be downstream using whatever the product is, that touches everyone. So might as well add it from the inside, as well.

Sean Sebring: Talking about statistics, you said 50% of the population, right? It’s the better half of the 50%, too. I’ll just nod to this topic.
No, I think that’s wonderful. Thank you guys for bring that up, and I fully support that. That’s fantastic.
So now we’re going to roll into one of my favorite parts of every segment, the rapid fire questions. So Blythe, would you rather travel to the past or future?

Blythe Morrow: Oh, boy.

Sean Sebring: Yeah. Nothing to do with database. Let’s go.

Blythe Morrow: Okay. Oh, past.

Sean Sebring: Past. Why?

Blythe Morrow: I just… Do I get to pick?

Sean Sebring: Sure. Yeah.

Blythe Morrow: Oh, then yeah, past. I’m a huge history buff. I have a degree in Chinese history.

Ashley Adams: Amazing.

Blythe Morrow: That’s so random. I know, but I would love to go back to the fall of the Ming Dynasty and just watch. But as a ghost. Nothing bad can happen to me, right?

Ashley Adams: You get to make the rules in these, that’s the greatest part.

Blythe Morrow: You’re a university student, you get into things. And I love history, and I got into it, and here we are.

Ashley Adams: Fantastic. Which talent would you most like to have? You could acquire some kind of talent that you don’t already possess today. I know you’re a woman of many, but what would you like it to be?

Blythe Morrow: It has to be rooted in reality, right? I can’t fly?

Sean Sebring: Nah. I just kind of want to hear what you have to say now, since we’re questioning the boundaries with this.

Blythe Morrow: What talent? I think that I would choose many languages. You know how you meet those people who can speak 26 languages. And I imagine you get to a certain number of them and then it all just… You get linguistics, right? I want to be one of those people.

Ashley Adams: I have a friend that speaks seven fluently, and it’s just fascinating.

Blythe Morrow: And then I think, because I was going to say I could play the piano professionally, but I think that if I could speak that many languages, I could probably also speak music.
So I think those two would come together.

Ashley Adams: They say that they are very closely married. One who have a ear for music, sound, tone, usually are very good at picking up languages. So that’s perfect.

Sean Sebring: All right. I’ll stick to some of my nerdy ones here. So if you could travel to space and live in a city that was built in space… I feel like you’re about to say duh, but would you live in space?

Blythe Morrow: On a different planet or in space?

Sean Sebring: It could be a planet. It could be a space station. There’s a story of City of a Thousand Planets. It’s just a big space station made up of thousands of planets or a thousand planets. If you could live in this… I also think about Star Trek. They’re living in space because they’re on a big ship, and that ship’s so big it’s pretty much like its own little city.

Blythe Morrow: Yeah, but they’re only on five year missions.

Sean Sebring: Fair enough.

Blythe Morrow: And then they go back to Earth.

Sean Sebring: Hey, I only live in a house for two to five years anyway, and then I move to another one.

Blythe Morrow: So I have thought about this, and I am a huge Star Trek fan and I read a ton of sci-fi. I think that I would love to explore space. I would go up in an instant, but I doubt unless there’s something imminent happening on Earth, Earth is my home and I would want to live here.

Sean Sebring: You’d do a tour.

Blythe Morrow: Yeah. I’d explore strange worlds. Seek out new life forms. I would do that, but I want to come back. This is my… Feel the Earth between my toes. I would miss it.

Ashley Adams: Okay. Speaking of things that you may not be able to take with you to space, what is your most treasured possession?

Blythe Morrow: Wow. Do my kids count? This is not rapid fire. I was thinking you were going to be like chocolate or peanut butter? Ice cream or cake? You’re like, tell me thoughts on God? What?
My most treasured possession? I have this Burberry jacket that I just adore.

Sean Sebring: I love it. I love it. I love it.

Blythe Morrow: You’re speaking to the fashion-phile right here, so I’m all for that. I mean, forget my grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring. No, it’s my Burberry trench. I love it.

Sean Sebring: All right. Let’s tie things up with a tech related question. This one will be a little simpler? What’s your favorite tech invention or innovation?

Blythe Morrow: Does the wheel count?

Sean Sebring: Sure.

Ashley Adams: I had that thought, too, actually Blythe. It’s funny you said that, because that was one of the… I was like, well, let’s call out the thing.

Blythe Morrow: The lever.

Ashley Adams: All right, well, let’s do one more then. It’s kind of a sentimental one. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Blythe Morrow: Like just life?

Ashley Adams: Yeah. What is your greatest achievement? Whatever that means for you.

Blythe Morrow: I got to be honest. I’ve had two kids and making that happen, I just still can’t even believe I did that.

Ashley Adams: That’s fantastic.

Blythe Morrow: I know everybody does it, but it was the hardest thing I ever did. And I did it.

Sean Sebring: Well, no. Only 50% of the population.

Blythe Morrow: Yeah, and then a subset of those people.

Sean Sebring: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s a beautiful answer.

Ashley Adams: Can’t get better than that. Yeah.

Blythe Morrow: Yeah. It’s a trip.

Sean Sebring: That’s a good way to put it. It’s a trip.

Ashley Adams: We’d like to take a short second to plug our SWUG, which is the SolarWinds User Group. They will be in the Twin Cities on May 10th through 11th. There will be two innovative sessions and folks can register at

Sean Sebring: Ashley, thank you for that SWUG plug. And thank you for joining us on SolarWinds TechPod. We were joined today by our very special guest, Blythe. Thanks for joining us.

Blythe Morrow: Thanks for having me.

Sean Sebring: I’m your host, Sean Sebring, joined by co-host Ashley Adams. If you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe and follow for more tech pod content.
Thanks for tuning in.