When I completed my diary entry last time, I had signed off stating that God is meeting me for dinner next month. well, I did have dinner with God.

God = James Bach.

I extended the dinner to 4 hours by driving as slowly as possible to get more time with him. Sorry James. Keeping his love for exploratory testing in mind, I did not prepare for any questions that I wanted to ask prior to the meeting; the only prepared question that I had was on the health of his father since his world famous father had met with an accident sometime back. Like an exploratory tester, I decided that I would talk about topics that would come to my mind at that point in time with intent on learning more about James Bach, his methods and restricted my questions to curiosity questions. (There, that’s a definition for “exploratory interviews” for the definition lovers). Though the dinner got over in 4 hours, I lived those hours again and again over the next few days.  I made a lot of mental notes during that session and came back and wrote down my notes on my pad. The first lesson, which I learnt from this meeting, was to keep a journal and keep making notes of whatever you come across; and keep revisiting those notes. More of what I learnt is documented below. All these things that I learnt from him started taking the form of New Year resolutions; but instead of making it a New Year resolution, I resolved to break practice and call it “December Resolution”; When you come across good things, you don’t want to wait for a good time to start practicing it; the present time is the best time to start.

Before I go in detail, I should take a few words here to thank Moolya for bringing James Bach to India and for helping Indian testers get a chance to interact with him.

Question assumptions; don’t get Unfazed if you hit a dead-end and being a fast learner.
In any challenge, it is very easy to assume the most obvious thing and get lost in the problem; teach yourself the ability to learn on the ground; giving yourself the ability to question the most obvious assumptions that you would tend to make while working on any problem will help you come out trumps. Always work with your peer network to understand and check if you and they have the same solution or if someone has actually solved the problem sometime earlier. I also learnt on how to recognize if I have hit a dead end and how to search out for solutions to get myself out of the corner. Seeing him do this in person helped me realize how I can practice the same too.


In our meeting, after knowing our names and settling down, he came straight to the point and threw us a testing puzzle.  His ability to cut to the chase right at the start , define and get into the topics of interest and maintain the momentum on the topic being discussed is something which I have never seen before. After this, I did learn the importance of the respect that is purchased by the individual when he cuts to the chase right at the beginning.

Give your listeners Dedicated Time

In the four hours that he spent with us, not even once did he look up his emails in a blackberry or look at any phones for missed conversations; these days, across dining tables of the dinner of a family of four, we see the adults engrossed about approvals, meetings, fire-fighting and escalations in a blackberry. In 1-on-1 conversations with our managers, we see them keep fiddling with their laptop to see for any escalation emails, last minute responses; I have actually asked my team member to wait for 10 minutes in the middle of a career discussion with him while I had to respond to emails. I did not see any of these habits from him in this discussion. What I learnt here was the ability to give dedicated time to your listeners, be it your bosses, or sub-ordinates, or family members. Being a recipient of such dedicated time, I actually felt that I was being respected by him; and one of my new (NOT New Year) resolutions is to never look at emails, or messenger conversations, or blackberry emails while I am talking with other individuals.

The Pride of being a hands-on individual

Be it teaching, or testing; there’s a pride that you wear on your sleeves when you are hands-on. Exhibiting such pride very visibly is important since at the end of the day, after being a hands-on individual, it’s this pride that you strive for.

Spending time with newbies

In spite of the fact that we were elementary students, given his knowledge of the topic, he took out time from his busy schedule to meet us and spend some quality time with us, and also imparted some of his learning’s as part of his session with us; I don’t see the CEO of any company or other top industry leaders seeking out its employees and spending time with them, or top notch industry leaders trying to meet individuals and talk with them. I am hoping that most of you readers will reach out the summit that you seek to climb, and when you do, do reach out to the folks at the bottom and take time to talk to them individually.

The importance of re-reading a book or journal

Most of us read a book; less than 10% of us re-read a book. Re-reading a book is very important since that’s when you actually contemplate and digest what you wanted to absorb from the 1st read. And it’s highly likely that we may have forgotten what we read; if you re-read a book, that helps you retain what you had learnt earlier.

Falling in love with the craft

And the last reason is on his love for the craft that he teaches; that is why I guess he became who he is; and that is why I went to him. When you talk to him, you realize the amount of passion that he had for the craft. Falling in love with your partner in life and the craft that you choose to undertake in life is very important; and it is the love for your craft that takes you to where you deserve to be at.

And I have much more to add to the list; but keeping in mind the space provided by the editor to me, I am stopping right here. If you folks want to know more, feel free to write to me.  As I drove away, I remember his last words to me “You are the fake fake tester”. Thank you James. I will never forget those words in this lifetime.

Fake Software TesterA Fake Tester's DiaryFake Tester,Fake Tester's DiaryWhen I completed my diary entry last time, I had signed off stating that God is meeting me for dinner next month. well, I did have dinner with God. God = James Bach. I extended the dinner to 4 hours by driving as slowly as possible to get more time with...