Personal Branding

I am a professional. I am all about techniques, methods, processes and approaches. I have nothing to do with marketing and branding. I used to think those things are for companies only. Oh my, how wrong I was…

What changed my mind? Three unrelated situations made me think that maybe, just maybe I am missing something.

Getting hints

The first situation happened in Manchester 2016 during TestBash. Attendees in big group were walking to the next location and enjoying their conversations. While waiting on crossroads green light someone said to me: “I know you! ..no, I don’t really know you. Your face looks familiar. I have seen it on Twitter. So you are famous, but not famous enough that I would remember your name”.

To be honest that short exchange scared me. Yes, I am a frequent Twitter user, but I use it to get access to information and to “store” interesting, thought provoking or simply useful pieces of it. I am professional, remember? Fame doesn’t exist in my world. But ok, let’s take “famous” part out of that message and what stays, is that he could not remember who I was. When I look back, I see that was the first clue that I am missing something.

In August, 2017, the Women In Testing (WIT) group with Agile Testing Days’ (ATD) support, published a list of 125 awesome testers. I am not on the list. I knew many of authors, and had some business together with a few of them, but when they put that list, they forgot me. Some authors felt very bad afterwards and apologised to me. I did not take it personally –  it happens right? I am on second edition, thanks Maaret! But this was my second clue that I am not memorable. I realised that it could be based on my behavior. In the testing community which is supposed to be so welcoming and inclusive, I did not feel welcomed. Even in WIT group which most of the participants described as a safe place, I don’t feel safe. All this  leads to the impression that I am reserved, restrained and unemotional, which is the exact opposite of how my friends and colleagues would describe me. There was an imbalance between who I am, and how I behaved and that did not come across well. 

In September 2017, I started to work for trendig – I finally found people and a place where I am not the strange one (I had worked for companies where I was the only one married/with children, or the only woman or only tester etc). At trendig everyone is accepted as he or she is. Also for me, it was very important that Jana and Pepe, owners of the company, have a very similar value system to mine. It is a pleasure to work together if you don’t have to bother about general things, because you know you are on the same page.

Then came ATD and I got a “cold shower” about how it looks for outsiders. During one break, I was talking to some of sponsors and having questions about their newest product. We were interrupted by someone who I knew, with the sentence: “Don’t put so much effort in explaining it to her, she is one of Pepes people.” To my surprise, the conversation stopped and I did not get answers to my questions. 

The Decision

That one sentence made me really angry and that was the last push to start doing something about how people perceive me. After a quick research I realized it will be not so easy. Building own brand is a part time job itself. If you are used to invest your free time to study on testing/ development/ agile 4-8 h a week, be ready to invest the same amount of time into your brand. So I decided to focus it and because I was on a new job and new domain, I built my brand as a trainer for a very specific audience – my students.

I started with everything around how I introduce myself: what is my story, what is my message, what kind of emotions I want to create/provoke. Because I was new to this – I experimented a lot. Every week before starting a training I decided to highlight particular skill/experience and observe the reaction. I learned that there is no such thing as a “Best Introduction”. Every group is different, every individual is different. I am happy if I manage to achieve the sweet spot where my students trust me and open up for new ideas, new experiences, if we have deep discussions over lunch and at the end of training people decide to say good-bye by hugging me. But sometimes there is nothing I can do to ignite people to put their smartphones aside. Or a group that refuses to interact with me to shape training according to their needs. They are used to being controlled and to follow commands and that is how they want to be in the training.  

Now that I feel good with my brand as a trainer standing in front of my students, I feel comfortable to share some of my learnings. From time to time I will share resources which I found useful for me. Right now, I share three questions with what I suggest you to start.

The Three Questions

Who am I?

Sounds like a simple question, – You know yourself, right?but I found it very hard to answer. Here are just a few of the things that I considered. When I think about who I am, I start with things like: I am a mother, I am a wife, I am Latvian, my age, my background and experiences. Only then I think about my professional details. At the beginning when I was shaping my trainer brand, I chose to skip personal details and look only at my professional life, but I did not feel good about it. I decided to experiment and to introduce myself as a family person. That decision created the opportunity for discussions about family and work. I like to think that I encourage people to know that it is possible to have both: kids and exciting work which demands traveling. 

Where is my strength?

Another simple question, but many (including myself) sabotage themselves by choosing to name things that they think others want to hear and does not really represent who they are. Typically what is suggested as strengths are experience/education, talents and soft skills. As a trainer, I have several strengths that I want to highlight: my experience in IT projects and as a tester, my moderator skills and my teaching skills (I was a substitute teacher in my 20s). One of my soft skills is observation which fits my trainer profile and gives me e.g. the ability to spot team dynamics.

What emotions do I have?

This was the easiest part for me. During most of my 10 year testing career I was flying solo, and the feeling I had and wanted to share with my students was understanding. I can teach and coach because I had very similar challenges as my students have. The biggest difficulty that I had to overcame, was to learn to talk freely about my mistakes. The  mistakes I talked about before, were mistakes made by my “friends” or “colleagues” had, not mine. I didn’t feel comfortable publicly to admit that I have made mistakes as well. My turning point was a conversation I had with a young professional. At a meetup where a mutual friend introduced us, she told me about her current challenge at work – she got promoted as manager and felt powerless. I  listened to the story which was so similar to my story and was thinking about how to help her. I gave a few tips, but she didn’t believe me and she said: “It is easy for you to talk! Look at you, you are so experienced and established!”. I closed my eyes and thought, if I really want to help her, I need to take my mask down, tell how I came here and to show her my scars. I did that and she appreciated my honesty. I heard she has become a good manager and found strength to change things. I learned valuable lesson – if I truly want to build trust and an understanding atmosphere, I have to talk about my mistakes first. It is hard and exhausting, and I am aware that not everyone will appreciate it, but I am willing to pay this price. 

Aftermath

I figured things out with me being a trainer, but me as a member of professional community is still work in progress. My most important lesson learned is to be myself no matter what. So who I am? I am straight forward – I like to call things how they are, passionate – if I do something I do with my whole heart, and persevering – I had to overcome so many obstacles in my life to be here where I am and this is not where I’ll stop! But I am also (over) analyzing everything and wanting to belong by being likeable and politcorrect, which is conflicting with me being straight forward. Seriously: I had no idea that communication with English native speakers can be so difficult. E.g. to communicate properly I have to learn US history or to know that “female” is not a synonym for “women”. Otherwise I might offend people without knowing it. Joining professional community I like to compare with moving to live in another country. You know what my biggest challenge as Latvian living in Germany is? To blend in, but not to lose my identity. Where I come from heritage and national identity is very important. Latvia was invaded many times over last 800 years, many invaders still live there and even after centuries their offsprings hold to their origin nationality and community – I start to understand them. I realised that by trying to fit in testing community, I made too many compromises. I didn’t act how I wanted to by trying to be nice, which all lead to me losing a part of myself and that made me unremarkable. 

There are much much more than what you can ask yourself as those three questions what you can ask yourself when you are working on your personal brand. I plan to write more about this when I implement my next steps. I will be reshaping this website, make it more personal, more me. Last year I already changed my Twitter handle to my name and I plan to do the same with the website. Personal brand is about the person, so it has to have its name. 

There are good books available and sometimes a conference offers a workshop (I think all technical conferences should have every year a workshop on branding). Two people who inspired and supported me with personal conversations are about branding: Martin Hynie and Rob Lambert.

Do you have branding story? I would love to hear it!


Lies About Work

This week my sister was visiting us for big family celebration, that is the reason why this blog post is extremely short. My sister doesn’t work in IT, her topic is marketing and communications. I like to exchange business staff with her, because she lives in different information bubble and has different views. Last week we talked a lot about communication especially about coding the message. We also talked about team motivation and aspects which indicates or lets us to measure it.
Besides everything else, she suggested a book to read: Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

After checking index, I really got curious about the book. Who else wants to join me to read it?

Update:

I think I did not explain enough why I want to read this book. It is not only about the index. Everyone in testing knows that communication has important role in software development, but how often we really try to understand the other side? I remember once I was listening to my colleague complaining about the project manager she had to work with. I could easily understand her frustration because I have worked with the project manager before and suffered myself. This time as an outsider I could see that the PM is visually stressed, I could see that something is wrong. I surprised myself by suggesting my colleague to have lunch with PM and to find out what is going on. Her reply was: “no way!” I am sure if someone had similar suggestion for me, I would respond in the same way.

For me that conversation became a turning point. I started to look for opportunities to build bridges with other people involved in software development. I had very interesting time, getting to know people, things what they do and work problems what they face. Time to time I met difficult people, who were comfortable in their silo or didn’t want/were afraid to open up and to have a conversation. I chose to leave it like this. I told myself that I respect their choice, but in fact I gave up. Since I have a teenager at home, I keep saying to my husband and to myself – in times when it gets harder, we need to double our love, patience and understanding. “Nine Lies About Work” maybe controversial, but it is mainstream book about corporate world. World – which I always tried to ignore. I learned from my mistakes and now I am ready to have a lunch together.

Feeling Accepted

Have you ever felt alone in crowded place? Have you ever felt not fitting or being not welcomed in a group of people? I know that feeling way too well…

When I was one year old I almost died. Doctor made a mistake. Things happen. After I recovered, I needed to learn to eat, to walk etc again. As you can probably imagine my parents went paranoid and overprotective. For example, I did not attend kindergarten, which was something unheard that time.

Time ago I had disagreement with my brother-in-law. My statement was: do not judge people because you don’t know what you don’t know. His was: everyone is judging everyone and it is very naive to pretend that it is not happening. I know that he is right, but still, I dream of living in the world where people will be accepted and not judged by others.

When I stand before group of people, ready to give a talk, training or workshop, they expect specific behaviour from me. Everybody knows how trainer should look like, talk and walk. Some very quickly notice the difference between me and their image of me. Sometimes people are positively surprised and happy, sometimes very disappointed.

You may ask – what my childhoods trauma has to do with me as professional. The answer is – everything. Only at age of 36 I realised how much my life has been affected by incident at the beginning of my life. It shaped the way how I see the world, it shaped the way how I react on people and situations, it shaped how I build relationships with people and it made me so sensitive and vulnerable. All that I use in my daily work as a tester or as a trainer.

To be vulnerable and to live in society sometimes seams as mission impossible. I am protecting myself by wearing my scars on the inside and cool mask on the outside. I am not ready to share my story from the stage or in even in a classroom, I am so thankful that others are braver then me:

We need to share more stories like this. We need to learn not to be afraid and not to hide the scars. We need to learn to accept others with and without scars.

Two weeks ago one student came to me after the training and said: “I was worried upfront about the course, but then I saw you and immediately knew that I will make it.” And I thought – it was worth it to lift up my mask.

Greediness, Ignorance and Incompetence – Are You In?

Current topic: lawsuit between Accenture and Hertz. In the same time, you know, this is not about those two companies. This is about business world meeting software development world and not understanding each other. …and about profit, interest and presumption. Soon after initial news came out, inside information surfaced:  CIO was making money for own pocket by “saving” companies money on project.

If you work in IT projects, sooner or later you will experience something similar. I have stories myself. Customers PM (no IT background) gave us (working Kanban team) introduction into Kanban (20 step waterfall). Customers Purchasing Manager (no IT background) making decision about agile or not agile and our Sales Manager (no agile understanding) kicking me under the table when I tried to explain differences (the customer was big company and they wanted publicity that it is possible for them to do agile). Last one: customer wanted performance tests without paying money for a server. Greediness, ignorance and incompetence – software development projects trinity. On both sides in management level. Yes, management level. In 20 years I have not met developer who would want to code bad software. But I have seen so many people going silent, because nobody listens and nobody wants to know. Of course there are exceptions! In my experience working on own product was the one.

As a trainer I keep seeing people, who lost their hope to do a good job. Sarcasm on: World is not driven by good job, world keeps spinning because of profit. Sarcasm off. Forget about business and software development, look into climate change. This is about society which knows, but does not react.

I love software development, I really do! That is why I became a trainer. I don’t want to be part of trinity movement. I want to explain customers and what is software requirement and why it is a key element in whole project. I want to train software people to question requirements. I want to coach people not to blindly believe that software development method will guarantee project success. Agile works for me, because for me Agile Manifesto and its 12 principles is common sense. Why should I force you to accept it as your common sense?

Choose the one which fits you the best!

    

    

   

Ethical Dilemma #MachineLearning #AI

Everyone talks about AI, I am ready to give you my 5 cents.

I started to study IT 20 years ago. In my circle AI was a thing, I thought I want to belong to the cool gang make it as my topic as well. But my enthusiasm did not last for a long time. I gave up when I realised in what early stage is it and how hopeless it is. I gave up on AI after I learned about ethics dilemma – train out of control, switch and dilemma whom to kill. My professor was amused about our reaction, I got depressed by finding puzzle which I cannot solve. Now 20 years later, being a mother and raising three children, I see unsolvable puzzles everywhere. I can only hope that my three natural intellects will learn the “right” ethics, but there is no guarantee.

My oldest daughter yesterday watch a horror movie for the first time in her life. She is twelve & we are the family who usually watches Peppa Pig or biathlon welt cup. We have not watch all Harry Potter movies yet, because she was too scared! She thought that the movie is named Walking Dad. When she realised that dad is dead, she felt that it is tool late and did not want to let her friend down. So she stayed there and watch it… It is long story how and why, but one of topics what we were discussing yesterday – if you cannot help your friend anymore (she is getting medical help), maybe it is time to end the friendship if this friendship takes too much from you. We spent all afternoon talking and believe me, I never ever thought that I will suggest my child to think about leaving her friend in trouble. So unethical! At the end it will be her decision (it is not only about the movie). As a trainer and coach, it is part of my job – to help people, but not to let their problems to become my problems.

We created the reality of big data. We created this artificial problem, now we need solution. Solution is basically analysis of data, but we are too lazy to do it ourselves, so we want that algorithms do analysis and learning for us. For me it looks like we are creating next artificial problem…  This is why I like love letter written by Smita. It is about data & algorithm and our ability to see behind it. I hope we will question our own algorithms (human behaviour) as well.

I may look like like I know something, but in fact I know nothing. Am I at the beginning or at the end of this journey?

Learning stages (my interpretation):

  • Beginning: I know nothing
  • Years 1-3: I know some things
  • Years 4-7: I don’t know what I don’t know
  • Years 8-12: I know *everything*
  • Years 13+: I know nothing

You may also want to read “Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: The Moral Compass of a Machine” written by Kris Hammond.

Learning Zone, Performance Zone

Time to time I discuss with people in industry about how to find a good software testers/developers. And my answer always is the same – do not look for a tester/developer, look for a person who likes to learn. If you can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, then a person, who wants to learn, have no limits.

How long do you work as a software tester/developer? How many years of software testing/development experience do you have? Looks like similar questions, but they are not. For example, you are paid as a software developer for 7 years. You can have one time 7 years of experience OR you could have 7 times 1-year experience.

Now I have to correct myself. Over the years and especially since I work as a trainer I see that learning (listening) is not enough. You have to apply your learnings in everyday life and this is the hardest part of learning. Some of educators say learning means change of behaviour. Very simple example: child and candle. Child is attracted to flame and wants to touch it. Parents can say 100 times, do not touch it! the flame it is dangerous, child will hear it, but not learn and will keep behaviour. Only after touching a flame, lesson will be learned and behaviour changed. In Germany we say LDS – Lernen Durch Schmerzen which translated means Learning Through Pain. Pain as trigger to change pattern of behaviour.

I really love Eduardo Briceño TED talk where he introduces us with his concept of Learning Zone and Performance Zone. Learning zone is where we build our skills, important part in this stage is to make mistakes and lern from them, and performance zone, where we apply skills we master. 20 years ago when I started to work in IT it was pure performance zone. Only professional would get hired, we got project and had to deliver. We kind of know backend of this story – people lied in their resumes and interviews, nobody really knew how and what to deliver and where it got us. All kind of agile projects seams to be in Learning Zone only. We all know something, but we do not know if this something will work in this project. We talk about learning domain, learning about customers needs, learning about software we are building. But do we perform?

How To Find A Mentor?

Mentoring currently is very popular topic. It is kind of cool to have a personal Yoda or Fairly Godmother. I have been involved in for some time already and in this article I will describe some of my experience.

My Mentoring Stories

Story #1:  In 2015 I applied for Speak Easy mentorship. I had the great mentor, who helped me to overcome my fears. Soon after I delivered my first talk, I started to look for a mentor for other issues I was dealing with, and proved old saying: “When the student is ready, the master will appear.”

Story #2: End of June, 2017 was finishing line for MINT mentoring program for women in Fachhochschule Erfurt, Germany. 11 mentoring pairs was built with the aim to help senior students to prepare for academic or work life. I was one of the mentors and had the privilege to share my experience with an amazing young woman. I still have contact to my mentee. In between time, she had a baby, finished her master studies and on January 2, 2019 she started to work as assistant of software project manager and will support a huge digital transformation project.

Story #3: Since few years I am also supporting Speak Easy initiative. I started as one of volunteers, who read submissions of mentees and try to match with a perfect mentor. Since September 2018 I am one of leadership team, and I describe my position as professional matchmaker. I am overwhelmed how many great people we have in tech and software testing in particular, who invest their free time and energy to help other to succeed. I am happy to be part of it.

Story #4: For two years I had very good colleague, with whom I shared an office. We talked a lot about testing topics, new ideas, better approaches. Only after I left the company I realised that we both were each others mentors. Each of us had area of expertise and helped the other one to learn it. Now since we do not work together anymore, we keep seeing and mentoring each other.

My experience as mentee, helped me in my role as mentor. Big part of people, who look for a mentor, have already made their decisions and need just confirmation for their idea. Another part are people who do not know what they want, never thought about personal development or setting a goal and working towards it. Based on stories above, here is my guideline how to look for a mentor.

Step 1: Set a goal

First thing is to understand what is your goal and for what do you need a help. For example, you want to become a conference speaker or you want to learn about test automation. Why? Why it is important to you? Why do you want to invest your time and energy in it? And then: who/what is standing in your way? Fear? Missing skills of writing a proposal? Ugly slide deck? Defining learning goals for attendees? Decide what to automate and what not? How to create automation framework? How to imbed your script in CI tool? In the moment when your goal is clear, and all why? and who? answered,  you will get an idea what kind of help do you need.

Please never approach potential mentor with vague questions like:

  • what should be my next career move?
  • should I learn to code?
  • I heard Selenium skills can bring me a better job, how can I learn Selenium?

Make yourself worth mentoring – do your homework and be prepared. You also could be interested to look into personal development.

Step 2: expectations from a mentor

A mentor is someone who acts as a trusted advisor, a role model, and a friend. In mentorship relationship no money is involved. Can you imagine to offer so personal role to a stranger? Would you like to be a mentored by complete stranger? It could be that a stranger can tell mentee what everyone sees, but friends or colleagues are afraid to tell. Would you better listen to critic from a stranger or a friend? Are you open to critic or are you interested only in cheerleading? Will it help you to reach your goal? In my understanding, a great mentor does not give answers but leads toward the answer. Mentee’s answer, not the mentor’s answer.

Consider your personality and communication style as well. What kind of mentor would best fit to you? Would you choose someone who is your opposite (experience-wise or an extrovert to your introvert), or someone in whom you see yourself? I tried both and for me the best works the opposite.

Another important issue – how and when will you meet. Online or offline? If online, then video, audio or exchanging ideas via email? Are you expecting your mentor to have time for you on the weekend, after work or during lunch break? Once a week or a month? All this you have to consider before you approach mentor, does not matter if it is arrange mentor or somebody who you approach.

Remember – you will be doing all the job. You set your goal, you work towards your goal. Mentor is just supporting and gently guiding you.

Step 3: introduce yourself

For example, you have chosen publicly known person to be your mentor, because she/he is so amazing speaker, writer, teacher and blogger, but you never actually met her/him. One way would be to approach directly and ask the person to be your mentor. There is a chance that you will get “yes”, but much nicer way would be to start a conversation, get to know each other little bit and ask their thoughts on a topic of your interest. It can happen that you realise that public person and private person are different, that you do not share same values or professional interest. Then it is time to look for another potential mentor. Or maybe you do share similar mindset, in that case it will be easier to ask to mentor you.

Mentoring is a relationship. Let it evolve organically.

Refusal

You ask someone to be your mentor and that person refused it, don’t be hurt or offended. This is not against you! Mentoring is personal, can be very time and energy consuming. It could be that your mentor is currently very busy. Do not force potential mentor into an awkward position in which she/he feels bad for saying “no” or obligated to say “yes.”

I loved Lanette’s talk where she suggests testers to be more like a cat. One example was: if cat got trowed out of the lap, it will go and look for another lap, instead of whining about missed chance to be pat.

Step 4: Commit to the process

If you promised something to do, do it. Never ever leave email or phone call from your mentor without reply for several days. Never ever miss the appointment with your mentor. You asked somebody to invest their time and energy, do not waste it! Good mentors do not accept such behaviour.

Have something to offer back

Make sure that your mentor knows how grateful you are for their time, and see if you can offer them something in return. May be you can give feedback on their blog posts, articles or offer to promote their new book or workshop.

The mentoring relationship must have value for both parties, only then it will be successful in long term.

 

I hope these 4 steps will help you to build successful mentorships and to reach your full potential!

Let’s Talk About Certifications

I am trainer*. I train people for ISTQB, IREB and other certifications. Company, where I work, offer practical sessions as well, but very few buy them. It is cool to have a paper, not a skills. Everyone who tries to prove me wrong, I ask, when did that person last time invested own money in own professional skills.

Partly this is the reason why I became a trainer: to change understanding of software quality for people, who are pushed to get certifications. I am trying to show, that training paid by company can be valuable and interesting. Another reason is, to inform new people about online resources. I know Rosie Sherry for some time, two years ago we did business together and I admire her vision and job she had done with building platform for testers. One day she shared that many testers say they wished they found out about Ministry of Testing earlier and we thought how to achieve it, because many testers I met never heard about testing community. Myself – I am still looking for requirements people group, no idea where they hide… Anyway, I chose my way – to be a trainer, to train for certification and to teach about software quality, about people behind scenes, to share book titles and addresses of blogs, online tools and platforms.

I like to challenge my trainees and ask why they choose this training. What expectations they have. What will happen/ change if they will get a certificate. I also like to talk about alternative certification, by building up their own brand and letting their whole work be a guaranty of good job. Do not wait until somebody will certify you, do it yourself! Take Mark Tomlinson as example. In his workshop Mark told us stories about his reputation as “something with performance guy”. If something happens which could be related to performance and no one in a company knows what to do else, he gets a call from business people and question “what to do?”, sometimes he has only an hour or so time and one chance to suggest an action. If it works, he gets the job, if not, he is out. James Bach sums it up : Reputation = opportunity = money.

So why people do not brand and certify themselves? If we try to name testers in automation, how many names will you know? Maximum 5-10? The same with any other aspect of testing. Why? Because branding is not testing and if you want to brand your testing you need to learn new skills. What is your message? How do you present your topic? Who is your target audience? Those are just few questions you should be able to answer.

I have different results with different target groups. When I left my previous company (400 people), CEO was surprised that everyone knows my name and my subject. I worked there for 2 years and my name meant QA and opposite. Today, 2 years later, when I meet somebody on a street or swimming pool (…) they greet me and start to talk immediately about testing tools or practices. It may sound simply, but it took a lot of energy and I talked literary with everyone, not only with developers and managers. Based on that I would say I know how to brand myself in local group. In testing community my name is unknown and I have not brand it really yet.

For those who come to training only to get certification, I say that I am very good in training people for certification, but I also say that certificate will not make them better testers. Certificate is a proof that they could answer 40 (45) questions in 60 (75) minutes and at least 65% (70%) of those answers where correct. Thats all. I also remind that one training does not cover ALL topics about software testing or requirements engineering.  ISTQB Foundation level syllabus had paragraph “code of ethics”, which talks about public interest and includes also following statement: “certified software testers shall participate in lifelong learning regarding the practice of their profession and shall promote an ethical approach to the practice of the profession”.

* one taxi driver looked at me very critically and said: you and trainer? It turned out that the address I named has gym in a basement, he knew it and he thought that I am saying that I am fitness trainer.

Goodbye 2018

I love to write yearly roundups! It is the time when I put numbers to my feelings and celebrate my personal development. So, here it goes! 2017 was an amazing year, a lot of change and most of it positive. To compare, 2018 was much calmer year. Real working bee year.

What did go well

trainings/work

In 2018 I gave 29 trainings in 2 languages (DE & ENG, still hoping to give a training in LV) in 4 countries – Germany, Austria, Finnland and Rumania. I gave trainings around software quality, more specific testing and requirements, with and without agile dimension. From those 29 trainings, 17 was in-house trainings (in-house are not displayed on trendig website). I like to think that I helped 17 teams to become better with software quality. One team was special because all 9 students were developers. Some of them were giving trainings (agile, TDD etc) themselves. Their thank you for the testing training I gave them is one of my highlights this year. This training was special in another context as well. One of developers scored 100% in certification exam. This happened for the first time in my training career. I build trainings on stories and put more focus on discussion and less on exam questions, many of my students get 90something %, only 5 did not make it with first try. Anyway if I managed to bring just one team of developers closer to testing world, I mark 2018 as successful year.

I also worked on improvements and creation of new training material and wrote two articles. My first trendig article was on quality assurance, written mostly for managers and executives. Second article is addressed to whole delivery team about transition, testing and working as a team. In first whole team article I could scratch only the surface, stay with me others will follow soon.

speakeasy

In summer 2018 Anna-Marie and Fiona due involvements in other projects decided to handover SpeakEasy. Abby and me, we were mentees and after delivering our talks supporting SpeakEasy already for some time, so for us it was only logical to take over. But because we are heavily involved in several other projects we were cautious to commit. In that situation Maaret came as saver, she overtook organisational part and takes care of communication with conferences. We were lucky to have Ash on team as well, she enriches our start team with perspective and gentle push to find the focus and round up.

conferences

I am pretty happy with my two appearances in conferences. For the first time I did a workshop and for the first time I paired with someone. This someone was Lisa Crispin and I am still amazed how easy it was to work with her together. Working together with Lisa is my conference highlight of the year. I also like the workshop we created a LOT and hope to be able to give it as much as possible in upcoming conferences. I have already some confirmations, but need to wait until organisers will announce the program.

blogging

I wrote few blog posts less then previous year, but got more traffic (see the picture on the top). I am still searching how to shape my website and blog. I am writing for myself, but I am aware that others are reading as well. By look on topics where the traffic goes it gives me strange feeling and reveals delta between what I want to write about and what seems you want to read about. This is top 3 of most viewed posts:

  1. AM I A SEXIST?                                                                  with 941 views

  2. HOW YOU MEASURE SUCCESS IN TESTING?   with 308 views

  3. EXPLAINING SOFTWARE TESTING                        with 212 views

Unfortunately, articles which are important to me, like Attracting Girls To Engineering(71 views), Words Has Meanings – QA(51 views) and Today I Learned(47 views), are not under top 14. To serve readers, but to stay true to myself I decided to improve my blogging and to share more everyday stuff, things what I do as a trainer, consultant and speaker ( I thought it is boring, but after some private conversations discovered the opposite).

I notice other bloggers to put information about advertisements, paid products or affiliate programs. I guess this is the right time to say that I am not using any of it and everything I write, I write because I want to share or because I wanted to understand it better myself, did little research and then wrote a summary. Yes, I work at trendig and they pay me salary, but they pay me for being a trainer and not for writing my personal blog.

What did not go well

I got sick and could not really get well again. I had to cancel several events and despite of support of my team, I felt like I am letting them down by not carrying out with my commitments. Only after longer break, reflections to my last working years and acknowledgement what I did wrong, I could rejoin my team. Thank you, Jana for being there for me when I needed. I am happy to work for CEO, who cares for people so much.

meet-ups

TestParadies was project which suffered the most. To compare with 9 events in 2017, in 2018 I managed to organise only 3. Unfortunately due my current work situation there is no improvement to expect. I am calling for support. If no-one will be willing to help or overtake, I will have to close the meet-up.

 

Wishes for 2019

First and most important one – I want to get my health under control. By “health” I mean physical, but everything is connected, so… whole health.

Second,  to keep my believe system strong and keep changing world to be a better place by changing myself to be a better person. Leading by example works, I verified it.

Update: just noticed that this is my 100th blog post! Another reason to celebrate tonight, juhuu! 💃💃💃 Happy New Year, everyone!

3 Ideas for Beginners in Public Speaking

We at SpeakEasy get tons of requests to mentor people who wants to start public speaking. Because we all are volunteers and matchmaking is very sensitive process, sometimes it takes time until mentee is matched with a mentor. To speed it up we are looking and experimenting with new ideas.

Other bottleneck is how long time it takes for mentee to get accepted for a talk. In many cases basic understanding about public speaking and/or personal goals are missing. To fix that here is my short list what I suggest all mentees to start with:

1. Blazingly Simple Guide

Rob Lambert, who is very entertaining speaker himself, put a list “how to Submit and Speak at a Conference” together with all kind of aspects new speakers should have a thought about.

2. Practical Slide Deck

I used it for my very first talk and I still like to use it as a frame for my talks. Keeps me focused on listeners. A 15 Minute Guide : How to Create a Conference Presentation.

3. A book

Scott Berkun “Confessions of a Public Speaker” It is not a lecture, but more like a collection of stories and tips. This book helped me to lose my fear and start to enjoy public speaking.

Important

No matter what is your topic – technical, soft skill, experience story – one thing is essential. You have to be emotionally connected to your message. Talk on topics you are really passionate about.