by Phil Lew
I am an introvert. I’m the one who goes to a happy hour or networking event and stands there wondering what to do with myself. When I started and ran my first company, Pulse Technologies, back in the ‘90s, I had others around me — in particular, my business partner, who could do the talking. I was responsible for making things happen once we secured the client; my partner was responsible for developing relationships and bringing in clients. I used to watch him and was amazed at how he seemed to know what to do and what to say at all the right times.
When I started XBOSoft in 2006, I knew that my communication skills needed work. Engineering skills are second nature. Problem-solving and creativity come easily. But talking to people? I’d rather work in my garden.
To this day, I remember my faculty advisor’s words when I was finishing my Ph.D.: “No matter how great your ideas are if you can’t communicate them passionately to convince others of your ideas, your ideas are close to worthless.” So, back in 2006, after learning how to give the company pitch and gaining some ground, getting new clients such as Autodesk, Oracle, and BlackLine, I started to give talks because I thought public speaking was an important skill. Anywhere I could get the opportunity, I’d give a talk. Even though I sweated profusely and hated it, I did it anyway. After a few years, I could talk without sweating. What I realized was that speaking to a group of people is really a series of individual conversations, talking to one person at a time. And when I do that, I can also connect with people and not be so nervous. Another trick I learned from Barack Obama where I would see him jog up on stage. I do that too sometimes because it helps to get rid of nervous energy.
After about 25-30 talks, I decided to present at PNSQC in 2012. I submitted an abstract. My abstract was accepted and that was the beginning of my involvement with PNSQC. I remember stopping by the PNSQC table and asking if I could have a T-shirt. Srilu, who was staffing the table as a volunteer for PNSQC, responded, “You can have a T-shirt if you volunteer for PNSQC.” I thought, OK, how hard can that be? Small price for a T-shirt. 🙂
So, I volunteered for PNSQC in 2013 and continued to hone my presentation skills, speaking 8-10 times a year at conferences such as Better Software East and West, Star East and West, Quest, and Software Test Professionals, ASTQB, and PSQT. In 2014, I was invited to talk at PNSQC and realized that I loved being part of the organization and contributing. Later the following year, I was invited to join the board and I’ve been contributing as much as I can, whatever is needed.
Since that time, not only have I forged friendships and professional relationships at PNSQC, I have also been a keynote speaker at conferences and have met other international speakers. I recently presented the closing keynote speech at TestIstanbul in Turkey. And I didn’t even sweat! I’ve also been invited as a keynote speaker later this year in Malaysia at SOFTEC 2017. Public speaking has served as a platform for me to meet people from all over the world. As I talk to different people, I’m able to absorb and listen to many viewpoints, not just about Agile testing, but about life in general. Indeed, I learn more from others than I believe I teach others. When someone asks a question, it forces me to think. And often they inject their thoughts, culture, and ideas into the presentation, making me think, “Wow”.
The more people I meet and the more I learn, the more I want to learn. It’s been an amazing journey being the CEO of XBOSoft and being on the board at PNSQC. I hope I can continue to contribute, help others in the organization grow and help make this year’s conference the best ever.