Thursday, December 20, 2018

2018 - A Crazy Year in Retrospect

What a year. It was crazily busy and yet incredibly awesome. Here's my end-of-year review of all the great things that happened in 2018. Time to celebrate and take a deep breath!

Timeline of 2018

If it's scary, do it more often, right? Like releases? As you can see below, this wisdom applied to both my public speaking as well as my pair testing challenges as well.
  • January
  • February
    • I joined our company's newly found Tech Chapter, a cross-team structure to drive technical topics on a global level.
    • European Testing ConferenceToyer Mamoojee and I told our story how we became learning partners. In addition, this was our very first paired talk!
  • March
    • I created the concept for the first tech conference of my company, the FlixTechSummit, and started putting the plan into practice together with a group of wonderful people across tech. 
  • April
    • Mob Programming Conference: I got invited to facilitate two mob sessions and visited the US for my very first time.
    • DevExperience: This developer conference added a new testing track and invited me as speaker.
    • My product team implemented and achieved a zero defect tolerance policy and has adhered to it ever since.
    • I introduced two other product teams at our company to the mob approach.
  • May
    • I wrote my first post for our company's new tech blog about my story as first-time conference speaker.
    • Toyer Mamoojee and my extended pact group kicked off.
    • I mentored people on public speaking for the first time.
  • June
  • July
    • I got promoted to "Principal", which is the next seniority level after senior in our company and comes with working on a global level in addition to the work in our product teams.
  • August
    • CAST: I shared the lessons learned on my testing tour and inspired others to go on their own tour. Also, I introduced further people to the mob approach.
  • September
    • SwanseaCon: I got selected again to speak at this wonderful software crafter conference, sharing my testing tour lessons here as well.
    • TestBash Germany: I started my sketchnoting experiment, inspired by Marianne Duijst. I did sketchnoting at four conferences now, and I can clearly see my progress as well as the benefits this method provides. I even managed to inspire others to start their own sketchnoting journey!
    • I learned once more about the power of visibility and positive feedback, this time within my own company.
    • Agile Greece Summit: Thanks to Maaret Pyhäjärvi I got invited to speak in Athens about my journey at my current company FlixBus as well as facilitate a mob session. The talk triggered lots of conversations, the mob session inspired people to try it in their own companies!
    • Toyer Mamoojee and my extended pact group evolved into a power learning group bringing together even more wonderful people to learn from.
    • Despite all the time I've spent away from my product team during the year already, my team still had my back and everything was working very well.
    • I had learned to acknowledge that I am technical during the past years, and to tell people so. This time I received a wonderful reminder not to belittle any skills I have.
  • October
    • A dear teammate triggered revising our automated end-to-end tests in an incremental way by frequently pairing with me.
    • HerCAREER: I facilitated a meetup at this career fair and exhibition targeted at women, sharing my story as well as answering any of their questions regarding my job as tester.
    • My testing tour ended - and it was a full success.
  • November
  • December
    • I received absolutely lovely peer feedback from my product team, even though I've been a lot at conferences or working on other company initiatives. Seems I managed to strike the balance in their point of view!
  • General
    • Overall, I now gave 15 sessions at 11 conferences in 7 different countries since September 2017.
    • I received further speaking offers and other opportunities and was strong enough to say no. Note to myself: Practice that more often.
    • Including this one, I wrote 45 blog posts this year, summing up of a total of 75 since I started this blog in December 2016.
    • I continued to attend several different local meetups, something I only started last year.
    • In my company's testing community, the other two moderators got engaged a lot more this year. We tried lots of different formats for our monthly meetups, aiming for continuously improving how we can provide value for each other.
    • I made some further steps towards changing the world to the better when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I spoke up in case of bad talk; not always, but a lot more often. I made colleagues aware of the singular they and asked them to get used to it. I made clear that as a woman I don't feel included in "guys", and I know many more who don't as well.
    • I received so much lovely feedback from the community. This means a lot for me and is super encouraging!
    • As you can clearly see above: I got a LOT better at recognizing and stating my own achievements. I indeed practiced to do so! I'll be glad I wrote about them so I can remind myself of them whenever impostor syndrome overcomes me again.

Thanks Are Due

There are so many people to thank. Simply look at above tweets and you see I was not and am not alone on my journey. I am so grateful to have so many people around me! Lists are always incomplete, however, I'd like to give it at least a try and close this year by explicitly thanking the following people as they gave me a boost this year, provided invaluable feedback, support, encouragement, advice, and more. THANK YOU.
  • My personal learning network, with my accountability and learning partner Toyer Mamoojee leading the way! Also, I'd like to thank everyone of our power learning group explicitly: Dianë XhymshitiJoão Proença, Mirjana Kolarov, Viktorija ManevskaSimon Berner, Lilit Sharkhatunyan, Pooja Shah, Dragan Spiridonov.
  • All those wonderful people who joined me on my testing tour this year, with Maaret Pyhäjärvi in first place who heavily influenced my tour through leading by example. Peter Kofler for having three pair testing sessions with me and agreeing to continue pairing regularly in 2019.
  • All people of the Women in Testing slack as this is a most wonderful support group and network I learned to heavily appreciated.
  • All those people who provided me new opportunities! Like getting selected or even invited to conferences, webinars, podcasts, writing articles, and more.
  • All those people with whom I went sightseeing after conferences - I had a lovely time with you! Lisa Crispin, Barney Dellar, Marcus Hammarberg, Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, Woody Zuill, Dawna Jones, Mark WestMarianne DuijstGwen Diagram.
  • Marianne Duijst, for being such a huge inspiration when it comes to getting out of our own comfort zone, public speaking, sketchnoting, and more.
  • Patrick Prill, whose kindness, encouragement, support and wonderful constructive feedback on my conference talks is invaluable.
  • Thomas Rinke, for all the things he does to drive our community forward, for being a great ally, for being a wonderful person to talk with in general.
  • Ashley Hunsberger, for openly sharing her thoughts and emotions and for providing sound advice on my very first keynote!
  • George Dinwiddie, for sharing his story when it comes to bad talk, and for having a sympathetic ear when it was most needed.
  • My fellow FlixTechSummit organizers, for their hands-on support and hard work. No one could have done it alone and we made this first tech conference happen together!
  • And last but not least: My wonderful product team! I know we have each other's backs and this is not taken for granted. THANK YOU.

Outlook for 2019

Here's a sneak peek of what's coming next.
  • #CodeConfident: I decided on my personal challenge for 2019. Several people already offered their support and am eager to kick it off.
  • I will continue pair testing on the topic of security with Peter Kofler.
  • In the first quarter I offer cross-team and cross-role mob sessions at my company to have people learn with and from each other. The first response was positive and people already signed up.
  • TestBash Brighton: I have the chance to finally experience the home of all TestBashes and share my lessons from my testing tour.
  • There are more conferences to come, so stay tuned.
  • There will be a second FlixTechSummit to organize! I hope we can include our lessons learned and make it even an better learning experience for everyone.

The Biggest Challenges

Other speakers are frequently asking me: You're all over the place, doing so many things - do you still work? When do you work? How to deal with work when you're speaking? The funny thing is that my colleagues keep asking me: Do you have any free time at all? (They know I do work indeed.)

Now, I do all of that and more. There's family, friends, and personal interests. Last year I wrote I noticed I played a lot less computer games! Unfortunately that's still true. Therefore, I explicitly included this as an indicator to pause in my new #CodeConfident challenge. So, besides that, my biggest challenge for 2019 will be to take care of myself.
  • Avoid "hamstering". The more I did and shared publicly, the more visible I got, the more opportunities opened up for me. Which is great! The downside: it's really hard to say no to things I'd love to do, however, I only have limited capacities just like anyone else.
  • Balance the load. Even when carefully selecting what I do, I know I will do a lot. So I need to balance my time even more carefully.
Portia Tung at Agile Greece Summit 2018 told us: "You may." Allow yourself to play. I add: and allow yourself to take a break and rest. I am looking back at wonderful 12 months and I am looking forward to what's coming in the new year. See you all in 2019!


  1. Such an awesome review of your breakthrough year! What a year it's been for you. Many reasons to be proud. thank you for the many mentions too :) it's always awesome working closely with you.

    1. Thank you so much for getting me out of my comfort zone in the first place! Our awesome learning partnership made this happen. To many more great years!

  2. A great year Lisi, wishing you continued success!

    1. Thanks John for your continued support, encouragement and trust!