Archive for the ‘tunes’ Category

Yes, You Have Something to Share

In 2013, I was just beginning to assimilate the lessons – the failures and the successes – from the challenges of my 1st four years building a test team from 1 (me) to 5 and being in a manager role while providing testing services across multiple projects.  A friend who’d just returned from a developer conference in San Francisco said, “You should speak at a conference.”  The end result of his encouragement was my 1st professional conference presentation in 2014 in New York City at CAST.

I already had the benefit of practice in speaking to small groups for 5 minutes via  Toastmasters (highly recommended to reduce jitters), but a pitch and preparation for a conference talk was new to me. Here is a recap of how I prepared for my 30-minute track session.

Hurdle 1: Decide on what to share and make the pitch(es).

Hurdle 2:  Follow the Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared. 

  • 4 months out – Drafted outline and main points, started practicing.
    • SpeakEasy did not exist at that time, but you DO have this option to pair with a volunteer mentor to get coaching for help with a proposal and presentation.  I hired a trusted coach who had already helped me find my voice.  We met initially over Skype to nail down my main points and several times later for me to practice and get feedback to refine my presentation as the big day got closer.
  • 1 month out – Got graphics help from my design friend, Chris.
    • He made elegant slides to fit the tone of the few selected words I had on each slide. This allowed me to focus on honing delivery, being able to speak comfortably within the time constraints.
  • 2 weeks out: Videoed at home rehearsal. Practice run for family.
  • 1 week out:  Presented to about 15 friends at work at lunchtime over pizza.
  • Day before:  Prepare the introduction
    • Met for 10 minutes with my track session facilitator, Pari. She asked me some questions to get to know me a little better so that her introduction was warm and personal and not simply a recitation of my presenter bio and talk summary, which most attendees had likely already read.

Pari

 

  • Night before: Made an unsuccessful attempt to go to bed early, but managed to get a few hours of half-decent rest.
  • Moments before:  Breathed deeply to keep cool.
    • Played music for myself (to relax) and to spark casual conversation with attendees.   [Listen to  this one-woman orchestra. Enjoy Zoe Keating’s, The Optimist.]

Result Set

I finished within suggested time limit and based on the 15 minutes of engaging voluntary group discussion at the end of my talk, I think I did alright. I knew I had achieved my goal of reaching at least one person when a participant shyly slid me a sweet handwritten note – 2 sentences – and thanked me afterwards. Wow!  How’s that for confirmation?

Artifacts

  • CAST Live  – daily broadcast each evening following the close of the conference:

  • Coming soon – My session was not recorded, so I will make my own recording and publish on Vimeo.

Additional resources I used:

 

August and Everything After

Attribution Note:  This post’s title belongs to the Counting Crows album released in 1993.  *Please see below.

One of my software testing community colleagues emailed me this week, “You’ve been quiet.  How are things?”

I went into something akin to recluse mode after an amazing week in New York City in August 2014 where I participated in my first un-conference, TestRetreat2014 NYC with other passionate skilled quality-minded folks, and then participated in three days at CAST2014 NYC where I attended an awesome workshop lead by Noah Sussman, lead a track session (my 1st conference talk, yeah!), and served as LAWST-style facilitator [Ref.] for multiple speakers.  I am an extrovert who thrives on stimulating thoughts and connections in and with others.  I love people, but I also need space and quiet, focus time to recharge my batteries.  My personal goals derived from those energizing days were as follows:

  • TestRetreat – cross-pollinate by talking about software quality to non-testers and kids and engage with local agile or lean software groups.
  • CAST NYC – share my conference experiences (including details on that week) and insights through blog posts.

In keeping with my decompression needs, I had a delayed start plan; I intended to reflect and publish my mix of handwritten and typed notes by pumpkin time, Halloween. That did not happen.  Lesson learned:  Do not wait!  Share your thoughts and reflections while they are super fresh. Yes, I still intend to post insights from over a year ago.  Life happened.

In early October, I took a week long adventure trekking trip with 2 dear girlfriends, and when I returned home I learned that a loved one’s health had taken an alarming nose dive.  Outside of work responsibilities, family, and a 2-room home remodel project prompted by water, shade, and 65 year old plaster,  I did not muster any energy to connect with my software testing community or make a move on my good intentions until awhile after that loved one’s passing in May.

I have slowly been inching out of the woodwork since.  This summer I teamed up with someone locally to transfer leadership of the meetup group I founded, GCST, and to transition it to an agile meetup group.  I started a fresh effort to envision long-term goals and am now preparing and reviewing course materials to assist as an instructor for BBST Foundations.  I am also brushing up on  Gojko Adzic’s Specification by Example and Impact Mapping.  I drafted this post as I flew home to Florida from new job orientation in California.  That is big news.  I wear a product owner hat now.  I will remained focused on quality in software delivery in an agile environment for a different organization. I get to apply the testing mindset upfront in processes in direct collaboration with customers and as part of the development team!

Although, I have been a wallflower in the software testing community since last August – not actively participating in professional online groups – in the last year I did manage to contribute 3 company DevBlog entries and to do a few talks, which I now have listed in a Speaking page on this site.  Thanks for reaching out to me Matt Heusser and thank you for creating interactive spaces like TestRetreat and Software Delivery 24/7 for quality-minded folks to support each other and to learn from one another.

*Oh yeah, in closing, from back in the day, here is one of my favorite tracks from the aforementioned namesake album.   I hope you enjoy this tune, Rain King.

Personal Blindspots

Weird…when you get close to something that BIG you can’t see anything at all.

-Toad the Wet Sprocket, Butterflies (Fear, 1991)

 The subject of blind spots keeps begging for my attention lately. This is when something hits me that I did not see coming or I run into something that shocks or surprises me.  Maybe this is an interaction where I feel dangerously blindsided, caught off-guard and unprepared.  Maybe this is some counter-productive behavioral pattern I did not notice as being not-so-great for me or our team.  Maybe this is a gap in my test approach. – a gap obvious to others, but not to me.  Maybe this is a more subtle metaphorical dripping faucet in the back of my mind, something I am slow to acknowledge and investigate.  My conscious quest for personal and testing blind spots started in 2010 when I attended Michael Bolton’s On Noticing presentation at my 1st CAST.

Because we are collaborating, problem solving and building great things, I think the nature of a career in software development and testing offers great opportunities for discovering blind spots  and learning from them IF we are open to having them pointed out to us through feedback or coaching or if we make time for retrospection and have them revealed to us through self-inquiry and observation.  It is important to make time to reflect on our work daily.  To jumpstart my renewed effort to do this, today I revisited these blog posts.

I will share several blind spot examples as part of my story in my CAST 2014 track session, Beyond Bewilderment, which is about finding personal success in testing.  Once I return from NYC, my after work time no longer dedicated to track session preparation, I plan to focus my professional development in the area of learning scripting.  This will probably lead to a post of the subject of technical blind spots through katas, paired testing and development. More later.