Hola, everyone! I know it’s been a while but I had to race off and get back on the startup carousel on more time. A small company out of downtown San Francisco made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I ran off to pursue passion and like most people who do that, I ended up finding something else.
So after seven months or so I have this to say about the experience …. wow. It was a ride and a half. I’m still sort of processing what happened and how it all ended but I’ve done some amazing things and learned a few more. I wanted to share them with you while they’re still fresh in my mind.
You’re welcome in advance.
The first thing I learned about myself was repeating the same mistakes is very possible if you’re not constantly on your guard. I used to joke about people who rushed into the same situations claiming it was going to be different this time because of this or that qualifier. I used to wonder at the lack of insight and self-reflection. Well I would officially like to apologize for that. You see it is entirely possible to go through a lot of debate, self-reflection, independent analysis, and advice seeking from mentors and friends and yet still find yourself right back in the same mess you’d thought you’d left behind. You see for every indicator you think you know, there are around 384 different indicators for the same thing. You can’t know them all. As a result looking for indicators is the wrong thing to do when making life decisions. What you need to do is look at yourself. Ask yourself if this feeling or circumstance feels somehow familiar. You’ll probably give yourself an intuitive response, but that’s often more valid than a rational one in these circumstances. I have a blog post or article in the works about how intuition is a tester’s best tool, so stay tuned for that. Digression aside, the answer you give yourself is going to be very instructive. Since you can’t predict things outside of your control, ask yourself if YOU are doing that thing you always do that results in being at that place you always wind up. If you are, don’t do it. It’s that simple. We can talk ourselves into anything so don’t try to do that. Just do something else.
The second thing I learned is I really want to work at a place that feels passionately about what they’re doing. I had a boon when the startup company and I parted ways. The week after it happened I was scheduled to speak at the SFAgile 2012 conference even though we had a major release scheduled to roll out the door at the end of the month. With the Very Important Release in the near future and things starting to get crazy, I was afraid I’d only be able to speak and perhaps attend the mixers at the end of the night. Well things changed and I was able to attend the whole conference.
It was an amazing experience. I met incredible people. I heard some amazing speakers. I finally got to meet or hang out with it seemed like 1/4 of my Twitter list. It was a powerful experience and the sense of it was infectious. Everyone involved could only talk about what a great conference it turned into. The common thread I finally isolated was everyone there felt passionately about agile, quality, and doing great things. I didn’t meet a single person who was attending because their manager sent them there or their company had a training budget they needed to spend or lose. Attendees showed up interested, prepared, engaged, and (somewhat) sober from the night before. A few days later I realized that’s what I’ve been searching for in a position. I’ve felt that a few times in my career. I felt it at Microsoft back when we were launching this guaranteed money-losing thing no one in the industry thought would amount to much called an “XBox.” I’ve felt it at a few other places as well, but it’s definitely not the norm for some reason. I want to go to work and feel like my co-workers are just as passionate about what we’re doing as me. I want to know that disagreements about rooted in something other than personal egos or perceived pecking orders. I want people to feel like they have a personal stake in what’s going out the door and that thing matters.
Anyway those are the two insights I’ve taken away from the past year or so down here in San Francisco. For those of you coming here for CAST 2012, I’ll be there as well. Toss a wet rag at my head if I don’t seem like I’m getting the hint that you want to chat. If you’re particularly amusing I might even take you to the Bavarian beer garden near there for a quick pint or two. I’m nervous and excited to see what this conference will bring. So if you’re coming, come prepared, come engaged, and come with passion or don’t come at all.
Okay, you can still come, but hopefully we can find some passion to put into your swag bags.