Have you heard of Chocolate Rain
? It's a song by a college kid named Tay Zonday.
No, seriously, he made up the words, pre-recorded the keyboards, got a microphone and a webcam, made a little music video and uploaded it to youtube.
That dude has a serious set of pipes. The funny thing is his singing style. He uses a lot of voice and sings until he's out of air, then takes a gulp in. He didn't want this to show up in the song, so he moves his head away from the microphone to breathe.
This is fine for a song, but for the music video, it's kind of odd. So he used some software to put this line in the middle of the video:
I move away from the the mic to breathe
Somebody picked up on this and sent it around to his buddies as hilarious. ...
... Time passes ...
And suddenly it's an internet meme
. Tay has 49 millions views and his own Dr. Pepper Advertisement
. He's been parodied by Chad Vader
and is showing up on late night TV
It seems like every conversation I have about how terrible the recession is, how the jobs aren't there, how no company has money for training, promotions or raises.
Yet we live in a world where it is possible to go from zero to hero in about six months on the interwebs.
Between the "terrible economy" and the zero to hero, it seems to me that there's contradiction in there somewhere.
Years ago, I considered putting "I make my own luck" as a bullet-point on my resume. Now, I know, that's taking credit for too much, and just asking to get smacked around. But the spirit behind that comment is an idea of doing a lot out of personal initiative, trying, experimenting, and growing, in the hope that they add up to make a difference.
So let me tell you about a few people who've shown some initiative:
I met John Kotzian
shortly after he'd been laid off. He responded to that layoff by immediately emailing the people he respected, looking for leads. Since he lived in Michigan, James Bach pointed him to me. We talked about a few opportunities in Michigan; John asked to take a Miagi-Do testing challenge, where he did well. I recommended he check out uTest.com, where he did extremely
well, and, maybe a month later, is basically making a living wage doing testing. Sure, it's a beans and baloney, drive a VW-Rabbit sort of living wage, but the guy practically breathed into a handful of dust and created a job. He is doing real, respectable work, not sitting on a couch collecting a check from the Gub'ment -- and I have a deep respect that.
My friend Lanette Creamer
is facing a layoff at Adobe. If you don't know Lanette, you should
. Her presentation and paper at PNSQC got the best paper award in 2008. She's also been active on the writing about test community for the past year or so. Lanette's goal was to get to STAREast this year, but she was facing a layoff, had no money for a conference fee, and the speaking deadline had passed. So she contacted the conference company and offered to do volunteer work in order to get a reduction in her conference fee, and got in touch with the Rebel Alliance about how to stay cheaply in Orlando. (What's the Rebel Alliance? More about that later.)
My colleague Chris McMahon
took a layoff at Socialtext. The whole dang web world conspired to find him another gig, and he turned out fine. More importantly, he started to build a community of people who are currently writing about testing in public and serious about it, called the Writing About Testing Google Group
, that now includes several editors and conference program chairs. He's also organizing a non-commerical peer conference in his home town of Durango, Colorado to talk about writing about testing.
Then there's Marlena Compton
. Marlena's another blogger and PNSQC presenter, who was testing in the south-east US while working on a master's at night. Based on her PNSQC presentation, she was invited to present at Adobe and Microsoft. Marlena also participated in and *won* a testing challenge I offered here on this website. After she finished her Masters (at night), Marlena decided to go for her dream job -- a testing position in Austrailia, ideally with a collaboration software company. Six months later, she moved to the land down under to work for Atlassian.
Not to mention Govind Kulkarni
. All that guy did was start a single linkedin discussion thread on the cost of testing. It's now had hundreds of replies. But then Govind took one extra step: He sent emails to his favorite respondents and suggested we combine to form a book project.
... and we can't forget Ajay Balamurugadas
. Another Miagi-Do tester, yes, Ajay started his own blog, but more importantly, he co-founded weekend testers in India, a testing user group where the participants bring laptops and do actual testing, in a introspective, self-critical way in their spare time. This allows them to focus on experimenting and learning instead of trying to hit a deadline. Ajay's work has brought him mention and references in blogs and at conferences. This year, he'll be doing a Eurostar talk; two weeks ago he did an interview with uTest.com
Based on that interview, google called him to ask if he'd be willing to interview with them.
No, really, I'm serious.
I could keep going on like this, and likely should include Markus Gaertner, Pradeep Soundararajan, Parimala Shankaraiah, and a host of others.
But here's the thing you don't know: John's insecure about his job. Lanette's insecure about her writing skills. It concerns Chris that he lives in such a rural area and has to rely on the (very) few "telecommuting tester" jobs available. Ajay's worried about his lack of programming skills. Yes, even the great Indian tester Pradeep went through some very tough times, and Markus is stressed out by his job.
Now, again, I'm reluctant to say that these people "make their own luck", but what they are doing is ducking and grooving, marching and moving, trying to earn some success in this free, market economy.
The opportunities are out there; do you see them? Are you pursuing them?