A few years ago, I assembled a mastermind group - a collective higher conscience to enforce discipline, support and accountability. Amongst other things, we were required to give weekly speeches.
Then I taught troublesome children from vulnerable socioeconomic backgrounds the rightful path to peaceful coexistence, through public speaking. Children have a short attention span, so I had to be succinct.
At work, I coached my colleagues on diverse software engineering subjects, such as architecture, defining boundaries, API and OO design, functional programming, best practices, and agile methodologies.
While they always got my message, and usually agreed with it, I always felt that the delivery could be greatly improved. My heart shouldn’t race and my throat shouldn’t close. But they did, too many times.
The last incident
Two days ago I attended a presentation on how to become an epic freelancer, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The presentation was delivered by Josh Hoffman, a young and charismatic individual, just like me. Except that I’m not that charismatic. Yet.
Somewhere along his speech, he said:
I'm gonna ask a question, and I appreciate some audience participation. As a freelancer, what is your most important asset?
I raised my hand and, when I was given permission to speak, I answered with confidence: “time”. Happiness flowed through his face as he exalted “bingo!”. He asked why, after a short pause to let the audience absorb his message.
Then I elaborated:
Time can only be spent. It cannot be saved. You cannot have a jar of time. And time is life. You work for money, and you spend life getting money.
He was very pleased with my answer, and gave me a high five. As he continued with his presentation, I noticed that I was very nervous and jittery, just because I said a few sentences in front of a small crowd. If the audience looked at me, they could see waves on my shirt, produced by my fast heartbeat.
The turning point
Out of that frustration, I decided to be truly gifted with words, written or spoken. In content and in delivery.
Words enable us to interpret and to express. If we have a limited vocabulary, we will also have a limited vision and a limited future. And I envision a better future.
I will write more often on my blog. Mostly to practice, but to share some strong opinions, loosely held, that I have about software engineering and how to make it more productive and enjoyable.