Why I Write and Speak

I’m planning to give an internal presentation this week on what I do. I’ve been in my new job for three months, and although I’m still learning, I have enough of a routine that I’d like to share it with a few peers across the company to get feedback and ideas. Most of what I do is my job (that’s probably important, right?). I also still do a lot of cross company stuff (that’s probably pretty important too!).

With my remaining hours, I do “other stuff about testing” (I’ve been thinking about calling this “Project OSAT”, but it’s probably better to just call it “other stuff”). This includes writing books, contributing to other books, writing articles and blog posts, interacting on twitter, and participating in the overall testing community as much as I can find time for.

Sometimes, colleagues ask why I write, or why I speak at conferences. It’s not fame, and it’s certainly not for the money. It’s for ONE reason, and probably because of my lack of sleep due to 4:30am world cup matches, I’m going to share my motivation with everyone.

I write and speak because I’m lazy and cheap.

I suppose I should explain…

How We Test Software At Microsoft was written for one main reason. I talk to a LOT of people and companies about testing – many want to know Microsoft’s general approach to testing. I gave many of these companies the same answers. Over, and over and over again. Finally, I decided (with the help of a few colleagues) to write it all down and sell it for 25 bucks a pop (street price). There was just no way I could keep my sanity and continue to tell people about what testers do at Microsoft. Most of the articles and blog posts I’ve written have been for the same reason – I’m too lazy to give the same answer to multiple people, so when I start hearing the same question too many times, I write it down somewhere (NOTE: this is often also a good heuristic for automation).

Let’s not forget cheap. I hate paying to attend conferences (even if it’s technically my employer’s money). I do like to meet with other testers and talk shop (aka Project OSAT), but if I can get into the conference for free, I’m all over it (sometimes I even manage to get flights or more covered). So I submit proposals to a few conferences a year, and I typically get asked to speak at a few more. I do try to do a good job when I’m there (despite my laziness, I have a high bar for personal quality), but I go to conferences mostly because I get in for free.

Just because I’m lazy and cheap doesn’t mean I don’t care. I love writing, and I love speaking about testing and sharing what I’ve learned. I have worked, and continue to work extremely hard at both of these endeavors (see the note about my high bar for personal quality above). In fact, I’ve never taken money for any writing or speaking (some of probably think this is dumb, but it’s true). Way back when I first started writing for Better Software, I did this because not getting paid was easier than trying to decipher the company moonlighting policy. These days, I’ve found that I actually can get paid for most of this stuff, but I still don’t bother with it. When I consider how much I enjoy writing and speaking, doing it for free seems like the right thing to do (as long as you give me something free too – I’m still cheap).

One Comment

  1. Lazy and Cheap is not a bad way to be…

    Lazy and Cheap, but Caring and Willing to Share – sounds like a really good way to live a life.


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