Agile Testing Days 2023 - Day 1

Let me tell you a story about how a conference made me feel like a special unicorn.

As with all good stories, we must set the scene first. I had been successful in 2 submissions to Agile Testing Days conferences in 2023 (Chicago and Open Air). Soon after, I received an email from Uwe letting me know that my submissions had received such excellent reviews, they wondered if I had a topic that would work for a Keynote at the Anniversary conference in Germany.

A million things went through my mind. “Am I good enough?” “What can I speak about?” “What if I fail?” etc. Once I calmed my mind down, I sent Uwe a list of possible things I could speak about and he and the team chose the one that best fit their program.

Now everyone talks about the magic of unicorn land. I believed some of it to an extent and I experienced some of it at Chicago and Open Air. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience of ATD in Germany, of feeling like a unicorn once I got to Germany!

We were greeted at the airport by a taxi driver to take us to the hotel. This gave me an opportunity to not absolutely stress to the max about figuring this out myself. It also helped me to get to know one of my fellow speakers, Yi Min Yang, and ease my nerves heading into the week.

When I got to the hotel, there was a quick catch up with some familiar faces and friends before going up to my room to practise my talk one more time before the evening activities really kicked off. The excitement and nerves were building!

First, we had an excellent keynote from Maaike Brinkhof. Not only was the content educational and entertaining, the slides were definitely in the running for best at the event! Then we had a challenge from Veerle Verhagen that I took with me throughout the week, setting myself mini missions to get the best out of the conference.

Then it was time for the speaker’s dinner where I really started to feel damn special. I had heard stories about how epic this would be. I’d seen posts on social media from Jose about the amount of wine that had been bought for it.

The speakers were whisked away in buses to a beautiful venue. Vaulted ceilings, windows overlooking the water, a gas fire and, of course, lots of wonderful people to chat to. I met friends old and new. The conversations never stopped flowing. I felt inspired, excited, overwhelmed and grateful all at once. Discussions here led to so many collaborations over the next few months….watch this space!

But Heather, you said you felt like a special unicorn, when did this happen? Well, I do like wonderful food yet I’ve only ever had one experience of a Michelin starred restaurant (it was amazing by the way). It feels like a special occasion type of thing, 10 year wedding anniversary, 40th birthday, engagement, those sort of occasions.

The meal that we were served at the speaker dinner was special. It was up there with the Michelin experience I’d had. Six courses of some of the most fabulous food I have ever been special enough to get the opportunity to try. The wine was paired perfectly with the food and there were really nice alcohol free options too.

I left the speaker’s dinner feeling truly special. I was filled with even more excitement and hope for the rest of the week. I left feeling like a special unicorn. I wondered why I hadn’t submitted to speak at this conference sooner!

If you want to be treated like a special unicorn as a speaker, I encourage you to submit an abstract to Agile Testing Days.