I know, I know, the Turkey has all been eaten, the presents all
unwrapped, one neighbor has thrown out his tree and the other is taking
down his lights. The holidays, as they say, are over.
Or are they?
Did you know that in the classical calendar, the Christmas season actually begins
on December 25th, where it goes on for twelve days, ending with the
visitation of the Magi (the "three kings who traveled so far") on
December 1st-24th are not supposed to be days of running around, buying gifts, but instead days of, well ... waiting.
It's December 27th, and the wait is over, but the gifts are not supposed to end.
In the spirit, I have two for you.
First - a whole new conference!
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the entire Software Test Professionals Spring 2012 Conference
Brochure is out - and it's awesome!
Take a look, for example, at the STPCon Schedule at a glance
. There are five different high-end tutorials on Monday, including Doug Hoffman's Day of Exploratory Test Automation
and Anne Marie Charrett on Career Management for Testers
. Tuesday brings Jon Bach
presenting on a keynote-level reply to the "test is dead" movement
along with Ben Simo coming out of presentation semi-retirement to talk
about Cloud Testing at GoDaddy
(Ok, Ok. I don't actually know if Ben was in presentation
semi-retirement, or what that even means exactly, really. But I do know
I haven't seen the dude since 2008, and, to be frank, I get around to
On Wednesday, Scott Barber and Dawn Hayes team up to run a keynote on presenting feedback
and I'm running a panel session on Tough Questions About Agile Testing
-- and Agile Conversions, and "Agile" Compromises, and Fragile Development, and ScrummerFall ... take your pick.
And there's more. Lynn McKee, Robert Walsh, Jason Huggins, Lanette Creamer, and still more experts about software testing and development.
So, if I may be so bold, please allow me to offer you a suggestion.
Most people spend Christmas "break" doing nothing. If they aren't on
vacation, and by some miracle come into the office, people spend the
time on research projects, long coffee breaks, infrastructure stuff, and
maybe, just maybe, a little work. It's a time of year where, by it's
very nature, there is a little bit of discretionary time -- time you may
use as you see fit.
My suggestion is to use that discretionary time to invest in yourself.
Think of one goal, one thing you'd like to get done, and assemble the
resources you need to do it.
If the goal is to attend STPCon, well, print out the schedule at a
glance. Schedule the tutorial you'd like to attend, and map that back
to your teams tactical needs or the company's strategic growth plan.
Print out the hotel information; go to kayak.com and price the cheapest
In other words, if you'd like to go to STPCon but know that budget will
be a problem, you might use that discretionary time to prepare yourself
for the uncomfortable conversation.
It doesn't have to be STPCon, of course. It could be anything else -- the point is to stop wishing and take action.
In fact, that's my second gift.
A Predisposition for Action
Years ago, when I was a project manager, I found that in any
conversation, there were at least three ways of doing thing. We could
keep talking about option A, sure, or we could keep talking about option
B, or we could pick one and actually do something
I found that when we actually did something, we tended to actually get
somewhere. Even if we guessed "wrong", we would get feedback that would
allow us to change the decision, make a better one, and get to the
finish line faster.
Meanwhile, the talkers would still be sitting around, talking.
Yes, when I do that, I want to make a smart choice, so I tend to make
decisions that are small, cheap, fast experiments that will yield
results quickly -- the kind of thing that keeps our options open,
instead of closing all options but that one decision.
This value system of mine has consequences. Some things, like writing a
book or earning a medical or law degree, take a sustained, long-term
investment. If you live this value system, it's likely that you end up
like me, publishing a hundred articles
before getting a single book out. But is that really such a bad place to be?
As I said, I'm predisposed to action. Just do something. Many people
find an outlet in twitter, blogging, writing or presenting, but that
might not be your bag. For you, it might be volunteering at a local
user's group, or investing some more time in reading, or, hey, putting
the time in to golf or mountain biking or running to take things to that
We don't all need to be software geeks.
I'm not doing this idea justice, but there is someone who has - Seth Godin has a great little book on the subject called Poke the Box
So here's the deal: I am going to give away five copies of Poke the Box
, free, to the first five people that email me a request, no strings attached. My email is Matt dot Heusser at gmail dot com.
This offer may apply to North American Customers only. If you ask, and
you are one of the five, and you are outside of North America, and the
shipping is a reasonable cost, I will go ahead and order it for you.
This offer is not sponsored by anyone, it's just little old me.
The book is free and yours for the asking ... if you just see the opportunity and seize it.
UPDATE - 12/28/2011
I'm afraid all five of the give-away books are spoken for; Amazon is currently in the process of shipping books to Phil Kirkham, Sigurdur Birgisson, Steven Vath, Dan Panachyda and Duke Kalra.
Duke gets special bonus points because he is based on the Indian Sub-Continent of Asia, and came up with the idea of getting a kindle edition to save shipping. Way to overcome, Duke!
Though there was no sponsor strictly speaking, my friend Mark Tomlinson
recently sent me an Amazon Gift card as a Christmas-ish gift. I thought that was a neat thing to do and decided to 'pay it forward' a bit with the Christmas book offer. I hope you liked it.
More to come!