It’s time for me to share something about my next personal hero.
I thought long and hard and it has to be Johanna Rothman. In this case, it’s not something specific that Johanna has done for me.
Of course, we know each other and have run around the same conference circles for quite a few years. But in this case, it’s the role model aspect that makes Johanna my hero.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was trying to find myself as a software engineer and leader. I’d been working for companies over the years, but I had this idea to establish my own brand. It started by speaking at conferences and writing.
In those early days, both of those activities were limited. I was a “new guy” on the landscape and just trying to figure out how to become more of an influencer, a subject matter expert, a consultant if you will.
So, I looked around for role models. After a while, I found one. It was Johanna Rothman. She was doing the things that I wanted to do. She was speaking and writing about software development topics like project management, leadership, and testing. She seemed to be “everywhere” to me and had a relatively well-established consulting brand.
I have a confession to make. Over the years, I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on my incorporated name: RGalen Consulting Group. Well, I have a confession. I borrowed that model from Johanna. As well as much of the structure of her services on her website.
She gave me inspiration in how to construct a brand and a focus in the world of software development consulting when I had few ideas of my own. And it helped me to get established and gain some initial confidence.
As I attended more conferences as a presenter and workshop provider, I ran into Johanna more and more often. I continued to observe how she did what she did. Her area focuses, her way of presenting and connecting to an audience. And her posture and confidence when it came to providing advice.
No, I wasn’t becoming Johanna. No one could do that. Nor was I “stalking” her. But I was learning from her and using her as a phenomenal role model in my own journey.
And the writing…
I have another confession to make. As you can see in the picture I’ve attached to this post, Johanna has written quite a few books.
When I first met her, she was just starting her book authoring. Sure, she had written many articles, but only one book as I recall. Over time I followed her as she began to share her vast experience in this medium. And it too inspired me.
You see, I’m not a natural writer. I’m still not. And it’s been one of my greatest weaknesses. But watching Johanna write, share, and seeing the impact it had on others, again inspired me to begin writing.
More than fifteen years later and I’ve written four books and countless articles and blog posts. Am I a good writer? I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that. But I’ve improved drastically over those years and I’ve come to appreciate this way of sharing my learning and experience with others.
I've missed Johanna at many events on the "conference circuit". I think back on examples of her sharing her experience, wisdom, and wit at nearly every event.
Since 2009, Johanna has been battling with permanent vertigo which has curtailed much of her travel. Nonetheless, I see that she still tries to travel some. And her writing seems to have, if anything, increased.
When I have seen her during this time she displays the same pluckiness and helpful posture that everyone has come to know and love. Point being - she's working thru the adversity. I would expect nothing less from Johanna Rothman.
Johanna, I want to thank you for being a role model to me and countless others as to what a professional, courageous, and principled consultant and author should be.
One of the highest compliments I can pay you is that I always saw you walk your talk. In everything, you said and did.
You are the consummate role model and professional and I am forever in your debt for your inspiration. An inspiration that you’re probably not even aware of.
Anyway, Johanna, I’m incredibly blessed to know you and want you to know that you are my Hero.
Stay agile my friends,