Appreciation Post – Bob Sarni

By April 30, 2024No Comments

Unfortunately, saying thank you seems to be an afterthought more and more.  So at least once a month, I will take a few minutes to publicly appreciate someone that has had an impact on me.

This round:  Bob Sarni

It has taken me a bit to write this post.  Here I have been doing this appreciation post monthly for years – knowing tomorrow is never guaranteed… and a single email made me reflect on the importance of someone and realized that I had not thanked him enough nor publicly.

Bob Sarni passed away last week.  He sent a goodbye message to a shared community just shortly before his death.  Even in his final moments, he was still giving gifts to people.  This message gave me the gift of having the chance to say thank you directly. But I also want to do some of the appreciation publicly.

I always highlight how lucky I was that I had people looking out for me.  David Hussman opened doors for getting me on review teams for the Agile Alliance.  That led to Mitch Lacey recommending me as a co-track chair to Bob Sarni.  Bob didn’t know me at all.  Yet, he embraced me as his co-track chair for the Agile Alliance conference in 2012.   Bob later became an advocate for me joining the Agile Alliance program team in 2015 and becoming a CST.  From the very minute we interacted to our very last interaction, the only way I can describe him is as a badass genuine kindhearted friend.

I am not sure I can do him justice but there here are a couple of moments that I’ll hold with me forever…

When I was a complete stranger as a co-track chair with him, I was super nervous about making the final decision on the speakers selection.  We were having to choose between two sessions (due to allocation limits and the topics were similar).   I was trying to defer to him and he was just not having it.  He said something like “what’s your choice?”.  I gave my choice and immediately started to justify as it kind of was opposite from most of the review team thoughts.  He stopped me.  He then said something that I’ve carried with me all these years, “there are times you need to explain and there are times that you’ve earned the choice.  And you’ve earned this choice”.  My battle with my imposter syndrome is always present, but in that moment, I felt his recognition and celebration of all of my hard work and achievements.  I felt respected, seen and appreciated.

The Agile Alliance conference of 2015 was an incredible year.  But there was a moment that most people don’t know about.  I was outside of a speaker room.  The speaker had requested the room attendance to be limited.  I knew this would be a problem with a popular speaker so I stuck around to help volunteers indicate that the room was full. Ten minutes after the session start time, I was getting ready to walk away when a man approached the session door.  I expressed that the room was full and he couldn’t go in.  He proceeded to start yelling at me.  I repeated that I was respecting the speakers’s wishes. He proceeded to shove me to get past me through the door.  Before I could react, suddenly Bob was right there.  Bob physically moved him down the hall out of sight instantly.  That was something I learned about Bob, he was always watching and immediately doing the right thing for others. He made environments safe for people. I always felt safe with him.

In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say a bad word about Bob.  He was just a good good human in every aspect.  Truthfully, I’m rather heartbroken that really good people keep dying way too soon.  I’m sad that I’m going to be heading into conference season knowing I won’t see him there.  And that just sucks.

If you would like to help his family, you can contribute here.

Thank you Bob…for being authentic, lifting others and being a great friend.  Thank you to his family and friends for sharing him with us.  We are better because of him.

A few pictures from over the years that always make me smile.

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.

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