I got an interesting EMAIL, the other day, from the current Chairman of the ANZTB (the local ISTQB Testing Board). He wanted to inform me that a recent request of me to fill in for a (now unavailable) speaker, at their upcoming Melbourne SIG, was being withdrawn. He was very specific in his reasons for doing so. He felt that “somewhat negative” feedback from my recent “Lightning Talk” at the ANZTB Annual Conference in Canberra was grounds enough to rescind the offer and overrule the local Chairperson (who asked me the favour in the first place).
Evidently, this (negative) feedback was in relation to “sexism and ageism in some of your remarks”. There was also something about “several people taking offence to ‘the big kiwi twat’ comment” – a suggestion I made regarding a creative Twitter “handles”. Edwin Dando (@EdwinDando) is the “big Kiwi” and he has confirmed (via Twitter) that he took no offence whatsoever at my comments – in fact, Edwin invited me to “link up with him” on both Twitter and LinkedIn within hours of my talk in Canberra.
Now, I’m not one to over-analyse or lose sleep over constructive or warranted feedback, but when it comes in the form of an attack on my values, beliefs and ethics I want to know what’s behind it. I recorded my talk (excellent foresight, as it turns out) and have since replayed it several times to try and understand what all the fuss is about.
Unlike, a court of law, I can declare that this is not my first offence. I have been reprimanded by the same Chairman previously for “crimes against the ANZTB“. Interestingly enough, none of these previous incidents were severe enough to prevent them asking me to present my “Lightning Talk” in Canberra.
If I cared about his feedback, I may have reported these goings on something like this….
“We’d like a short piece (of your choice) in line with the Conference theme”. I give them four options. They choose “10 Minutes that will Change your Testing Career FOREVER”. Gotta think big and bold with these “Lightning Talks”. Make an impact. Leave them wanting more.
And then, two weeks before the Conference, another EMAIL arrives…. “The Committee thinks your Social Media piece may be more topical”. “Sure”‘ I say, “Anything to help”. So I go with the flow and begin researching the impact of Social Media on the world of Software Testing. It’s a personal journey sprinkled with evidence of the impact social media is having on our lives today. And then the day arrives.
“Next, we have the Editor of OZTester Magazine, from Melbourne, Colin Cherry….” I rise from my chair slowly and deliberately. No need to rush, gotta get the breathing right. Gotta be relaxed when I turn to face the audience. Remember to smile. Remember to turn on the timer – I only have 10 minutes. Still no need to rush – timing is everything. Remember to find someone to focus on – someone you know – a friendly face. Breathe….
And then it’s over, the adrenaline is still pumping. I leave the stage and look for reassurance. A friendly smile. A knowing nod. A thumb to the sky. Later, over drinks, people come up and say how much they enjoyed my talk. They politely ask questions and want to know if there are any notes or slides I can make available. Time passes and the adrenaline subsides and I go back to my room. To the solace. It’s a massive effort to share my thoughts publicly, on a stage, with a bunch of strangers. It does get easier over time. It even becomes fun. But there’s always that nagging doubt, the self talk. “Did everyone really enjoy that?”. “Did I stuff up?”. “Will anyone remember ANY of it?”. My mind bounces around like a football. Time to call home. Time to listen to someone I love and trust. Time to find out what happened in the real world during my day in the Conference cocoon.
Time passes. I’m back home. And then it starts.
I remember that they cut me, with small nicks at first. Then, they cut me deeper and the wound has trouble healing. And the wound leaves a scar and the scar reminds me. And the reminders haunt me and become harder to ignore. But eventually, more time passes and I begin to forget. I forget the pain. I forget the betrayal. I forget that there are people out there with the ability to hurt me. And I’m going about my daily routine and I get another EMAIL. They need my help again, this time in Melbourne. So I reach out. I reach out because the greater good takes precedence over my personal beliefs and needs. And then they cut me again…..
But I really don’t care about his feedback, so I dangle the EMAIL over the Trash icon, let it fall like a stone and go and get changed for a game of tennis.
As Ed Sheeran wrote so eloquently – “You need me, I don’t need you”.
Dateline: Melbourne, Monday June 17 2013