And I thought I had time….

I have forever been intrigued with the ways Jerry Weinberg’s thought. James Bach introduced his existence to me. I looked up his name. I got impressed. End of story.

Every now and then I would read his work. And feel a pull to his ways of thinking. People in testing world specially, quote him left, right and center.  Let me tell you something about me, before I go further in my story – I love talking to creative and sharp minds. Minds that are so logical that nothing can beat them and yet humane in their own way – I feel instantly connected with them in some karmic ways. And then I just want to talk to them, know them more and learn from them.

As destiny would have it – Over the next few years, his name just grew on my mind. I saw his mention and work so much all around that I decided to meet him. (More so, because most of his work can not be defeated by some anti – theory). When I started to make my bridge towards him, people all around told me – he doesn’t travel around anymore for health reasons. But I wanted to see him in real like face 2 face and interview him- not just hear him like I hear him on some youtube video. I wanted to watch how his eyes move, how his expressions change, when he smiles, what raises his brows. In short – Wanted to understand him in my own unique way.

So I reached out to him, asking if I could do a video call with him- that was in May 2016. He immediately said yes and infact said that he would love to do it. Being in different time zones, our times would never match – he was old (sleeping and waking hours thing) and I am a working mother of 2 growing kids. After some tries of different permutation ad combination on timings, I got busy with more bread n butter related work and my desire to do the video call with Jerry got pushed towards rear in the ever humongous queue of my to-do.

A couple of days later – I receive an email from Jerry, saying – Did you recv my response about possible times for a call? I didnt hearback from you.

Ahhhh….I was like – ooopppsssss- told him, I was still struggling with a match for our times and that I will figure out something soon.

Jerry

Later that day – he mentioned the time and date best for him. I was very happy that day – because firstly it seemed a leader like Jerry was interested in talking to me and secondly, he did take time out of his busy schedule and inform me. So, I was all set. Technically, nothing was pending for this call to happen. But it didnt.

I spent another month or so before I remembered I had to schedule this. Towards end of July, when summer vacation for my kids were over and I could work more hours, I again wrote to him that maybe we could do the call now.
He responds back a day later – says, he is hoping we can do it and that he is looking forward to it.Jerry2

And it again didn’t happen. I had the go ahead, available time-slots known but I still didn’t schedule it right away. As it happens to every one – it happened to me too – I got immersed into 20 other “critical” work. Every now and then the thought would come to me and I used to think – its fine, I will do it soon. I HAVE TIME.

For almost 2 yrs. 7/22/2016 to 8/7/2018 I thought I had time, only to realise today, that I dont have Jerry now. With all the time that I have for the rest of my life, I wont get to do something that was so close to my heart.

Jerry – I will miss you and your ways. But like a true teacher, even when leaving us, you taught me a lesson in it.

I realized today I DON’T HAVE TIME.

The places I need to see on this planet – needs to be done today. Atleast get started with the list of places and timelines and plans to visit them.

The People I need to meet, hug, interview, know better, be friends with, click selfies with – has to happen today  – whatever little we can begin with. Whoever I can start with.

The money I wish to make – has to be made today. Atleast I need to start making some of it today.

The Fame I want through the influence / impact I shall have, need to be to built today. Atleast the beginning of it.

I have always wanted to make world a better place. I started Fandoro, with that thought in my mind. I encourage people to perform  Individual Social Responsibility through meaningful gifting on our platform. On an average 2-3 new NGOs register daily on this platform . But the need for help and support is too high. And I need to add more enterprises in my kitty per day, whose employees contribute towards these NGO needs and make this world a better place. I havent been doing it with utter sincerity. But I do dream of a successful  startup – Fandoro Technologies Pvt Ltd- EVERYDAY.

All of my procrastination ends today with Jerry’s last teaching to me – There is no time to do all I wish to in this life. I need to work on NGOs and Enterprises – EVERYDAY.

We will miss you Jerry. But your teachings will forever enlighten our mind and guide our paths.

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Just Half A Glass of Water

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I was once watching a show where the comedian attributes his being fat to the African children. The basis being  the constant reinforcement of the thought, in his childhood- Don’t leave any food uneaten – remember there are kids in Africa who go hungry without food for days. I got his humor and smiled. There was no point judging him – he (now a grown up adult) had a valid point – his not eating actually would not help African kids – as he rightly asked – how have we truly contributed to the concern.

While the focus was on food, I do see a growing concern on drinking water too today. But the issue seems more serious because it is not “just an African issue”. We are all aware of the epidemic situation of water scarcity in Cape Town. We are all headed to the same.

Drinking water is in shortage and is increasingly becoming a more precious commodity across the globe including my nation India once where the civilization started on the banks of river Indus.

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I do see citizens, travellers , kids – all concerned about it and lot of practical tips are being included in one’s daily routine. We ourselves have moved to bathing with Bucket and Mug instead of showers. We have sensors in water tank , pretty effective in stopping overflowing of consumable water. We measure the water we use and misuse too.

But when it comes to offering water to others, we get more generous. It is always a full glass of water. We never think twice if it is going to be consumed all or not. At a personal home setup the wastage may not appear huge because it is mostly 1-2 guests at a time. The whole idea of this blog came to me when I was having multiple lunches and dinners at different restaurants this past week with huge numbers of family and friends – most of whom did order additional drinks and never bothered to finish water in their glasses. The thought stayed with me – why couldn’t the service men offer half a glass of water and offer more when asked for.

Offering a glass of water is the basics of serving the guests and in a country like India – where we treat Guests as Gods ( Atithi Devo Bhava) , it may feel a bit uneasy to offer only half a glass of water but as guests if we can handle it without getting offended, maybe we can save some serious amount of potable water, daily – considering we have millions of eateries, serving multi million people globally.  Think about it.

Next time when you visit an eating joint – specifically ask for #justhalfaglassofwater to be served. Maybe we start the revolution and save some water for our grandchildren.

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Glasses with illusions – get creative!!

Restaurants can get creative with their serving glasses if needed.

Quick side note – I do see bottled water as a very good alternative, as it can be carried and consumed without being wasted but unless I see a bottle that’s not plastic, I find its use as dangerous and hence not promotable – it shall have counter effects.

 

Remember the Roses

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I am not an avid reader and my confession is not going to reflect highly on me , specially since I am trying to make it in a knowledge era. Don’t mistake this for – I never read. I am more of an experiential learner. However, the books I read, the stories I love – stay with me, word by word , feeling by feeling forever.

One such story I read, was – Remember the Roses. I read it more than 22 years back(Proves my point that I love reading sometimes). Written by Avery Taylor, a British author, published originally in 1967 (I wasn’t born then). Will quickly brief the plot for you:

” During the Second World War, Robert, an English agent, comes to rescue Paul Renard, a key member of the French Resistance, who has been taken by the Gestapo and is being held in a prison in Rouen, France. Robert parachutes into a field near Rouen. When he tries to make a contact with a member of the Resistance, Robert is almost captured by the Nazis. A young girl called Jehane le Brun rescues him and helps him to locate and free Renard. When Robert returns to England, no one believes his account of how he returned with Renard.

But when they all inspect the evidence, Robert finds that Jehane could have been none other than the legendary Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, who had fought for France in 1429.”

Second world war was fought in the years 1939-45. The story of the girl’s bravery never left me. And it has forever inspired me.

The reason I write this – I would so love to meet the author and I am unable to find her on any social media.

Humble appeal to anyone who reads this blog – if you can find the author – Avery Taylor, can you please tell her I am so inspired by her writing and if possible, get me her contact details – reach me here or on my twitter @smitapmishra.

Thanks for your time!! Keep reading lovely books and stories!! Keep inspiring and getting inspired!!

 

Inspiring meetup, but with -1

Test Practitioners Club is a Testing Meetup based mostly in National Capital Region , India. We have been in existence since January 2014, that’s when we hosted our first meetup.

We started with 8 subscribers to the thought and all of them attended.

And I was the only woman and I was a bit disappointed at this but not disheartened. I was determined to change this and I knew how to. Little did I know back then, that I am not thinking right.

We now have 943 members on the meetup group alone (excluding FB page followers)and at our latest meetup we had over 40 members join us. We try to do the meetup as frequently as possible. We would love to do it once a month but we are unable to. Regular members of the meetup are now stepping up to take more initiatives and sometimes they host the event at their venue, and find speakers too. That kind of leadership helps a lot to continue organizing the meetup.

Test Practitioners Club April 2018 meetup was held at Oracle office thanks to Manoj Jain, the Director (Software Development). Among the speakers were a few regular attendees and core team members (Gaurav Bansal (Snapdeal) / Nitin Mukhija (PayUMoney) / Omkar (Naukri), some from Oracle –  Amit Vashishtha and one surprise speaker – Siddharth Taneja (Make My Trip).

 

Siddharth Taneja came out to be a very special story. He is braving Cerebral Palsy .

He works as a FTE at MakeMyTrip and he is not just surviving there on compassionate grounds but is winning as one of the best performers in his team. A glimpse of his story can be seen at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P600zzicDZc

 

He set us thinking that there can be no limitation too big to learn, if there is a strong will and desire to learn. When asked what he wanted to do – he said “I want to make a dent on the world“. He wants to be someone who is taken note of when he leaves.

With the overwhelming execution of the current meetup in April 2018 – we feel very successful in being able to mobilise the testers to a point where community learning is being enjoyed and looked forward to. We have consistently had over 40 members attendance and atleast 35-40% women testers participating as attendees.

But there is one aspect that has made us feel a bit like failure. Infact, not just a bit, but more like a big embarrassing failure.  Personally, being someone who has participated in different capacities in so many initiatives for including more women in technology and being a very known enthusiast for leading such initiatives, it feels like a big MINUS ONE when I am unable to bring women speakers to our meetup.

It gets even more disturbing to me when we are seeking women speakers from the best of the organizations in the region and we don’t get even ONE submission or interest from them. Occasionally we have had women speakers from “Srijan Technologies” thanks to our evangelist Anil Chandana there. But that’s about it.

Not sure where we are going wrong. I am going to continue tryng to fix it going forward. Our next meetup is in May 2018. And we are going to organize meetups as frequently as possible – hopefully once a month.

If any tester is interested in speaking at the meetup , please email me directly at smita.mishra@qazone.in or reach out to us at our Meetup page or Facebook Page.

My humble appeal – If you are a women tester or technology enthusiast, and wish to speak or know of some such women technocrats – please reach out to us. We will also support them in getting mentored on how to present if they have never done Public Speaking before. Point to note here – This doesn’t stop men from reaching out to us to get the same support.

Looking forward to having women speakers at our meet-ups.

What a Sunday!!

Monday morning – absolutely the most wrong time to write a blog. The moment this one is published, my CTO friend is going to call me to say those 3 magical words – What The Heck!!! I have so much work pending on me to do and yet I am typing this up because I feel compelled to do so.

This past Sunday on 16th April’17 , I over committed my time with a couple of events on a weekend – a time which is exclusively owned by my kids otherwise. I was afraid I will feel guilty at the end of it.

I had been invited earlier to this event that was coming up but couldn’t make it then; And since it had a very interesting name – FeministMohalla, I was curious to try it out atleast once. Add to it – it was an initiative by a dear friend Swarnima Bhattacharya and her partner Rachel – So I had to do it!

As I reach the Humayun Tomb, which is a recognized World Heritage Site – I did not really know what to expect. I saw a group of people surrounding lovely Swarnima in yellow- the storytelling had already begun – yes I was late by few minutes.
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The discussion started with the real meaning of a harem and went on to de-mythify a lot of our impressions about the status of royal and ordinary women and their role in the administration and ruling of various lands -in those times. I had heard of Humayun, Babur and Akbar but I had never heard much about the women around them.

The first lady I heard of, was Aisan Daulat Begum – Babur’s maternal grandmother. She was wife of Yunus Khan of Moghulistan (in today’s Afghanistan). A sternly bought up woman herself- she had tremendous influence on Babur’s bringing up and his rule across and thats how the entire lineage was called Moghuls here in India.

There after, we heard of many names, many of them unheard of before.

1. Aisan Daulat Begum- Babur’s maternal grandmother
2. Gulbadan Begum- Humayun’s sister
3. Bega Begum- Humayun’s chief queen
4. Hamida Banu Begum- Humayun’s wife -Akbar’s mother
5. Mahchahak Begum -Humayun’s wife and governor of Kabul
6. Jahanara- Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter

Each of them had such beautiful stories of courage, love, loyalty and a display of tremendous talent and amazing administration abilities to their credit. The one that stayed with me was Mahchahak Begum (incorrectly known as MahChuchak Begum)- threw out the then Naib Subadar and ruled Kabul on her own. She lead her army in person and defeated Munim Khan at Jalalabad. She chose to rule in her own name not in the name of her 3 year old son Mirza Muhammad Hakim (whom Humayun had appointed as the governor) – a clear sign of courage to oppose blind patriarch.

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Besides the women warriors, rulers and queens , I also understood a few things about Mughal architecture. It never occurred to me that the water bodies around every monument could be there for any reason beyond beautification. And then there was light thrown on the fact that the people who came from the deserts had a thought that  heaven is a place where there is water in abundance and hence the water fountains and water columns around the monuments. This made sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the monument and the story telling. A very honest attempt to dig out genuine details of history. Well done team! I am absolutely sure, I am registering for the next event asap. Follow the #FeministaMohalla on twitter for more updates!

I had to miss the concluding story and rush back to my place since there was another event I had to go to and in between had to pick my daughter / get my son going for his studies for the Monday test.
Started back for Innov8 for the  Google Women TechMakers event being held in conjunction with the Google Developers Group, New Delhi for International Women’s Day. I did expect some tech enthusiasts and knowledge sharing. But the energy I felt there was unmatched to any tech event I have attended before. A group of 40-50 odd college going young girls and a couple of trail blazers like Neha from JSLovers and Sanya Khurana. What energy and passion at show!! So many technical resources and forums discussed and bought to the front for both young men and women to learn technology. They had so many questions and all they wanted was to build something meaningful and reach their dreams!!

So proud of each of the girls in the event. True gems – precious ones. I am so looking forward to see each of them build a legacy for their self and the world.

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I was lucky to have as enthusiastic co-panelists like Dolly Bhasin, Tarusha Mittal, Ankita Gulati and Rohini! We had some awesome time – getting to know each other and sharing our experiences.

As I was heading back home from the event – I couldn’t get over the fact that since history,  women have had  active careers and yet, we were still struggling to accept that women are able decision makers and still dont allow them the freedom of choice. Though we need a lot more societal changes for that day when its just a TechMaker event and we dont need a Women Tech Maker event – a lot is happening and changing and until it does happen as we want it to be – our salute to all the resilient women out there. Keep going. And our dearest men – thank you. Thank you for being by our side and fighting it out together.

Happy Sunday for me- it was worth it, out and out. And a Happy Successful life to all of us!!

Continue, Change or Let it go…

continue-change-or-let-it-go
I often hear my daughter sing – Let it go (the Frozen song) and I enjoy it as a beautiful song in young voice. And she truly enjoys singing it.
Recently I saw an update from a dear friend and a professional who has my truest respect – Pradeepa Narayanaswamy. Her update had her site that mentioned her aspirations and achievements so far, as a life coach. That got me interested, because the Pradeepa I knew, was more of a technology person, teaching teams to work together and getting truly agile. On going through her work, I landed on her blog post Let it go, Let it go…
That article talks about letting go of those relationships that end for reasons you may not fully accept or understand. And it got me thinking about work and personal relationships all around us. Yes, when the relationships end – you have less choice but to accept it. And even though it may be a bitter end or unexplained, its in your interest to let it go. It made me think of relationships that have not ended but have lost its original sheen and meaning. Relationships that give you more pain than pleasure.
What do we do when it is simply not working out between the 2 and its becoming a daily nightmare to carry on with it? And neither of the party is giving up either. What does it truly mean? And think about it in terms of not only husband-wife, girl friend – boyfriend, or with ones in-laws but also between and with co-founders, investors, advisors, team, managers – why is the relationship so difficult?

More often than not, when money or kids are involved- it could offer a very straight forward insight into why the painful relationship still exists. However, let’s also get this understanding – that in such cases, though the official name of the relationship still remains what it used to be- the relationship has now evolved into meaningless forced bond.

At first, a relationship is conceived because 2 individuals or entities found something in each other  they needed. It continues to be pleasurable if they are happily deriving what they need and are happy to give what the other needs. Its universal truth hidden from none that you can’t have everything in the world and that forces one to have their priorities clear. Because very often one has to trade off 1 benefit for another. Now if both the parties have the same priorities for the benefits and willing to do the required trade offs – the relationship continues to work. Occasional hiccups are a sign of a healthy relationship – exceptions prove the theory.

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But when the priorities of the 2 parties are not clearly defined or do not sync , then how difficult the relationship will be shall depend upon how far are the trade offs and core objectives of either one, from each other.
If you find yourself constantly misunderstood, having trust issues, backstabs and constant complaints of not doing enough in the relationship, then you probably are going through this. Specially more, if you feel helpless in getting your point across and for others to not see your point of view. And, if you do find yourself stuck in such a situation – what are your ways out?
1. Continue – until you physically give up and your body shows signs of ageing and being sick . And one day either of you will be dead. And so will the fight. But it won’t keep you from feeling incomplete and having tons of ugly memories to live with. And substantial loss of reputation (for all the things you do to show the world a perfect picture). In a way, this is easiest to do and pretend like all is well, when everything inside you is breaking and crying for help – because it keeps you in your comfort zone wrt the outer world. This is very draining emotionally, everyday. Keeps you from achieving your true potential in life.
2. Try something new. Change your stand, if you can. If you are going to apply the same solution to the problem over and over , and it didn’t work for so many times why do you think it would work now? Can you try changing your stance and giving in and if the relationship is truly worth, can you realign your priorities to the other party and see if that brings you closer to the larger goals. It may not be a perfect win-win situation but it will save your relationship and maybe, just maybe – you realize that for the longest time you were holding on to something non-critical, just for the heck of it. Weigh in your trade offs and priorities.
3. Let it go – Now, this is the toughest part. Not only because the world sees it and that makes you uncomfortable with “what the world would think of this”. But also if we are insecure and having difficulty imagining the other individual or entity in another relationship or yourself living by just your own self (technically single). If having the possession of the relationship is more important to you than the relationship itself – you could very well be trapped here. But when you are in a situation where you can’t continue anymore or have tried everything you can to realign in order to keep it, then it’s officially the time to “let it go”. Keep in mind that the same body (as sick it may be) feels heavier post death. And the longer you carry a weight , the heavier it begins to feel.

Choose the way forward carefully – pause, get your head and heart sorted and then charge ahead – remember – being happy and healthy is most important!! Focus on leading a meaningful life that matters.

Buy from your friends

Yes – thats what I said. BUY from your friends. I say so because I saw a marked difference in the way my business grew when my friends decided to support it.

Dont limit your support to good wishes and motivational talks and FACEBOOK LIKES. Your friend is certainly a motivated person – why else would she decide to be an entrepreneur to begin with. Surely, she has a plan, a strategy , business objective and tons of self – motivation. Help her spread the word out about her work.

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Something you may not know is everytime she goes to an investor , they tell her – her first few hundred customers would come from friends and family. And surely, investors are not bluffing it. They have seen the trend and they know this is how it goes. Why should your friend not get the same level of support from you that quite few  entrepreneurs around the globe are getting from their friends.

Generally, its our tendencies to expect discounts and benefits from our friends if they own the business for the products  / services we are interested in.  And its not bad. Ask for discounts from your friends. Ask them for customizations you need. Chances are they are in a better position to serve you in those ways.

Frens business

Lot of times the situation gets comparable to elections, where lot of good people don’t vote thinking either they cant make a difference or they think someone else is taking care of it for them. Instead of not doing business with your “startup” friends – for any of such reason, do it for the SIMPLE one – You want your friend to succeed and if friends around the globe are making difference in successes or not of startups , then you dont want to be on the other side of the fence wishing you should have done all you could to support her in time.

Friends Business

Word of caution : If you think the product / service is truly something that you dont see much use of – walk upto her and tell her. Help her see your perspective. This is as important for her to know.

Happy Supporting!!