This post is about an experience I had recently. An experience that proves to me that there are more hard working people than me and I shouldn't feel too proud of what I have achieved so far.
I was at a conference recently. I was at several conferences, so don't get confused with what is shown in my Events page. This conference was not listed and doesn't have a conference page either. It happened in Bangalore on 2nd Nov, 2010, right after my return from Google Test Automation Conference - Hyderabad, India.
Due to my popularity, I was hoping people would come, recognize me and talk to me about their testing problems. It just didn't happen. Some other person was getting all attention and there were people surrounding him and asking questions. There were so many people around him that I couldn't get a chance to see the man who was getting all this attention. I was wondering who is this guy getting an edge over me in India?
I then thought it must be someone who traveled to India from a western country. Only then people forget their local guy. Nothing new to me. I was just waiting for my chance to shake hands with that guy and talk to him about testing. Well, I just wanted to know what makes him so special that he is getting all attention in India.
Check at my stats, I am supposed to be the popular guy out here. If you are seeing the popularity hungry Pradeep now, I must say; I too saw him. The difference between us is, you might feel ashamed of having known Pradeep and I don't.
An hour passed by and still I could not get to meet that guy. I saw a tester coming out and asked her,
"What's about the guy in center?"
"Oh, you don't know him? He is an expert in test estimation"
"Everybody in here is an expert, din't you know that? So which country is he from?"
"India" she said.
What? an Indian? and I don't know him yet? I know everybody who blogs from India. At least, everybody who blogs from India knows me. How come I don't know about this guy who seems to be more popular than me? Maybe he doesn't blog but even then I should have known him.
All this was driving me crazy. Added to that were some of the talks I wanted to attend and it had started. I just pushed myself into one of the track hoping I could catch hold of that guy at one of the lunch tables. I have never waited for lunch so much, not even when I was very hungry. I wanted to meet this guy. He was a challenge I wanted to face.
At lunch, same bloody thing that happened in the morning repeated. People surrounded by him and I just cant get to meet him. My ego hurts me a lot if I have to go introduce myself to him amidst other testers who might think that I am not as popular as they thought. So, I picked up a plate and tried to eat alone. Fortunately, some testers who couldn't get to talk to him saw me and approached to have a conversation. My mind was somewhere else. I guess I don't know if I did answer the questions those testers asked me. Maybe they would have stopped reading my blog as I don't know how crazy my answers were. I just wanted to meet that guy.
Finally the moment arrived. The only way I could corner him was in the washroom. I was waiting for him there adjusting my shirt and trousers making it look to other people as though I care too much about my how neatly my shirt is tucked in. There he came. I didn't mind if his hands were wet but just put my hands forward and said, "Hi, I am Pradeep Soundararajan". He shook hands with confidence and said, "Oh, I know you. I read your blog and follow your work closely".
At one end, I felt happy that the man who was sought much more than me follows my work but it was still aching as to how this guy managed to be the center of attraction amidst my presence. I took courage and asked him, "How come I don't know you. What's so special about you that these people are flogging you?"
"I have learned to help people estimate their work in a way that makes them feel successful following my advice" he said that with a soft and gentle tone. I put a step towards the door closeby and turned to him and said, "Why don't we discuss this off the washroom?"
My intention was to steal the idea. After several years of hard work, I can't allow someone to steal away the limelight I have been enjoying. When I say I wanted to steal, I mean, I wanted to know what his education was. How different was it from mine?
We sat on a couch and I asked a question that was designed for deception or to learn about what he has learned
"So, what's your source of learning?"
He had a smile on his face before he said, "I read Bach, Bolton, Kaner, Jerry and you"
"Sounds interesting. I do the same too but how come you seem to be doing better than me?"
"I don't know"
I was pissed off but couldn't let it out because I still hadn't got the secret out of him.
"So, you are suggesting that you learn something more from them than me?"
"No, I haven't met them Pradeep and they don't know about me"
"Pretty sure because if they did know, they would have let me know about you"
"So, let me stop beating around the bush. How do you help people with their estimation problems?"
"I do it ............................................................................... this way"
"Wow. That's cool"
"Where did you learn that?"
"You are so humble Pradeep. You have read it, too. I picked up ideas from Michael Bolton's Test Estimation & Black Swan series of posts, experimented with them, made my own notes, refined them for a while to arrive at this point" and then he walked away saying he had to deliver a talk and it was getting late.
If you had been to the conference, you would have seen me crying on the couch post that meeting. I wasn't crying because someone gained an edge over me but was crying that I learnt the cost of not reading those lengthy posts just because it was lengthy.
I finished crying and went around looking for that person to thank him for the lesson he offered. He had already left. The series of posts from Michael Bolton on Test Estimation & Black Swans had been lying there on his blog and I just kept feeling lazy to not read those lengthy posts. I am probably in the Twitter Era. I want people to say anything great or stupid in 140 characters and I also hope they say that around my timeline.
Walked around with disappointment. I decided to go out of the conference venue. I wanted to go home, have a drink and get a tight sleep to forget all this. I thought I was reading everything by Michael Bolton. When he posted about estimation, I thought I had already read enough of estimation from him and he was packaging the same stuff. Just then, the conference was getting over and the final lightening talk was mine. I was called to the stage. I went on the stage with tears still dropping at 1 drop every 10 seconds, forgot about my talk and asked the audience in a shrill voice, "Have you people read the series of post on Test Estimation & Black Swans from Michael Bolton?".
The responses were, "Its lengthy", "We didn't find time to go through it", "I got a call in between and almost forgot to continue", "I was too busy with my project". Almost everyone were saying the same thing, "No, I didn't read it because it was lengthy". I laughed out loud and walked away as though I had seen myself in hundreds of mirrors placed in front of me. There are so many Pradeep's in our industry. Some Pradeep might not even have got this far on this post because he might have thought, "Oh, this is lengthy".
If you don't look like Pradeep when you stand in the mirror, here are the posts:
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 1)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 2)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 3)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 4)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 5): Test Estimation
The next time you don't want to read a post just because its lengthy, remind yourself that if you miss spotting the Black Swan, it doesn't mean Black Swans don't exist. They bite hard to remind you that they existed and you didn't pay attention to them.