Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

A Little Story About Personal Branding

Career, Events, Presentation, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Dec 13 2014

[Originally posted on Facebook]

A little story about personal branding.

I’m attending the Better Software Conference/Agile Development Conference in Orlando, Florida as a speaker. I did a tutorial on Monday on my philosophy of “It’s All About Me!™” and a short session on the subtlety of language on Wednesday.

After my session on Wednesday, I attended a session that a friend of mine delivered on personal branding. First, I’d never seen her present and wanted to. Second, I thought I might learn something new.

After her session, I wandered into the exhibit area (a.k.a. the break area). I picked up a lovely little snack and a cup of hot chocolate, and moved to a standup table and introduced myself to the fellow there. He introduced himself – he’s from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) – and said “Oh! We know all about you at the CBC!”.

I’ve never been to the CBC, never worked with anyone from the CBC, don’t know anyone at the CBC, as far as I know. It seems that their internal agile coach has attended one of my conference sessions somewhere, and when he returned he talked about it (okay, maybe he raved about it). If it’s the session I think it is, I give out some cards that are used for a role play simulation about facilitation.

Later, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who’d done the session on personal branding. She said “I saw you in the session and I thought ‘What is he doing here? He has done an amazing job of personal branding. Get out of here, Doc!'”

This stuff surprises me. I mean, I know I’ve worked at it, and established “Doc List” as a brand and a persona. It still surprises me.

When my team gave me the nickname in 2007, I freely admit that I set out to make it my brand.

Apparently it has worked.

Summer Camp Syndrome™

Events, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 13 2011

Have you ever attended summer camp? I did, several times, as a kid. I think the last time was when I was thirteen years old. Growing up in New York City, it provided an escape for me (although I didn’t always love it) and a break for my mother, who spent her year working and raising two children.

Why do you care?

I just returned from attending Agile2011. I spent five nights and five days immersed in the community of friends, colleagues, luminaries, associates, strangers, and vendors that comprise the event. As always, it was entertaining, illuminating, exhausting, and heart-warming.

I had conversations about techniques and challenges, career and day-to-day work, my recent job situation, family, friendship, travel, technology, games,… I’m sure you get the picture.

I spent much of my time in the Open Jam, as I was the Producer and felt some responsibility there, and because that’s where I would spend a lot of time anyway because I love to shmooze with people, and because I’m looking for a new job and it was a good place to catch up with people to talk about it. And I did – shmooze, talk about jobs, and fulfill my responsibilities.

I also attended a couple of sessions, and poked my head into a few others.  I delivered my Facilitation Fun! session in the Open Jam Fringe to a small but enthusiastic group. I coordinated the PechaKucha area and presented there one evening.

I wrote a few blog posts while I was there, stimulated by recent events in my career and by the book I’m currently reading.

Mostly, I was immersed in the sense of community that exists at this event. I’ve experienced it at lots of other events, as well, but the Agile20xx events bring a sense of community that is remarkable. There’s a sense of intention, collaboration, and connection that I rarely experience elsewhere.
And then it was Friday. I had two meetings on Friday morning, so was only able to spend a short time in the halls, catching up with a few people with whom I had not yet caught up, and waving and saying goodbye to and hugging a number of others. The event was primarily at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City, with some sessions and some lodging across the street in the Little America hotel.  On Friday morning after my last meeting, as I started to leave the Grand America to go across to finish packing and leaving, I hesitated on the threshhold of the Grand America.

“Have I seen the people I wanted to see, and said goodbye properly?”

I looked at my watch, and thought about it for a minute, standing there quietly, looking across the driveway towards the Little America across the street.

Summer Camp Syndrome™.

I found myself feeling drawn back into the venue so I could extend the immersion and the feeling of connectedness and belonging. I was exhausted, had just enough time to finish packing and check out, and still – irrationally – felt myself drawn back in. After all, with 1600+ people attending, and knowing many dozens, perhaps hundreds, of them, it’s obvious that I had not been able to even see, much less talk with, all the folks that I would have liked to connect with.

So there I stood, on the threshold both physically and emotionally, considering the irrational. Should I go back in, make at least one more pass through the halls, maybe feeling rushed for time, or continue on my way and do the rational thing.

It was agony. The banquet the night before was “the climax” of the event, but of course I only saw a relatively small number of people there. I was feeling like I wanted something like the closing circle of an Open Space. Not exactly, but something like it. Some sense of closure and completion was lacking for me.

I did the rational thing, mentally and emotionally and physically leaving the event and the community, and walked across the street to the Little America.

Of course, it’s never that clean and simple. I ran into friends from ThoughtWorks in the lobby of the Little America and stopped to chat. After packing and while on my way out, I ran into friends from Leandog and stopped to chat. Waiting outside to go to the airport were Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd, creators of the Agile Coaching Institute. We rode to the airport together, and I continued the connection while walking through the airport and having lunch with Lyssa.

Lyssa and I separated after lunch, me going directly to my gate, which was right there, Lyssa heading off to another terminal for a later flight.

Summer Camp Syndrome™.

There’s a feeling almost like addiction and withdrawal, regarding an event like this. The immersion is so powerful, so emotional, that it’s almost a physical pain to end it – to cut it off. That’s “Summer Camp Syndrome” – the sadness, sorrow, and sense of disconnection that comes at the end of an immersive, community event in which strong connections are formed. The need for continuation and closure, all at the same time, that leaves me (and maybe you) standing at the threshold feeling simultaneously drawn in and out.

There’s no question that I’m very happy to be home with my lovely wife of 35 years, Debbie.

And there’s no question that I’m feeling sad about the people I didn’t see and talk with, the people I did see and talk with but didn’t get to say farewell to, and even the people I spent time with at the end, because that time ended too. I am, as I said, exhausted, but in the best possible way. And I’m eager for next year’s conference, so I can do it all again.

In the meantime, I hope I’ll see some of these folks at other events coming up, like Pablo’s Fiesta, Agile Open Southern California, and Øredev.

I don’t even want to stop writing this post, because it helps me to keep feeling connected.

But I will. 😉

The joy of conferencing – Agile2011

Agile & Lean, Events | Posted by Doc
Aug 05 2011

It’s coming up – the biggest conference in the Agile community each year: Agile2011.

This year, I’m the producer of the Open Jam, with my assistant producer being Rachel Davies. I’ll get back to this in a minute.

There are several reasons to attend a conference like this:

  1. Learning
  2. Networking (shmoozing)
  3. Selling and marketing
  4. Teaching and sharing
  5. Volunteering or otherwise working at the conference

The first question I ask myself before I go is “What is my purpose here? Do I have multiple purposes? Is there one thing, or some small set of things, that I’d like to accomplish? When I get back home, what will make me feel that the time was well spent or wasted?”

If you know me, you know I spend a bunch of time in #2 (shmoozing) and, if given the opportunity, a bunch of time in #4 (teaching and sharing). It’s not unlikely that I will be doing #5 (volunteering) and #1 (learning). Up until Tuesday of this week, I was expecting to do a bit of #3 (selling/marketing) on behalf of ThoughtWorks. Clearly, I’ll have that time free. 😉

Are you going? If so, what’s your purpose? If your employer/organization is sending you, how will you justify their investment? Will you be better at your job? Be sure that you have some way to identify the benefits you receive, and that your employer/organization therefore receives, based on the events you attend and connections you make.

Now, that said, on to the Open Jam…

In order to make the whole event richer, the organizers of Agile2011 have, for the past few years held an “Open Jam”. It partakes of concepts like birds-of-a-feather (BOF), Open Space Technology/Unconferences, and lounge. Depending on where it has been, who has been responsible, and what’s going on in the conference, it has presented a different face each year. This year, with Rachel and myself producing it, we’ve decided to introduce a couple of extras as part of the Open Jam.

  1. PechaKucha (pronounced, if you care, as p’cha-k’cha, not peh-cha-koo-cha): each day, after the programmed sessions have ended, the stage is yours. Come present 20 slides at 20 seconds each for a total of six minutes and forty seconds (6:40). Talk about anything you like: hobbies, technology, passions, sports, design, whatever you like. It should be fun and exciting!
  2. Coaches Corner: thanks to the leadership of Mark Levison, there will be an area with experienced Agile coaches who will maintain “office hours” so others can come talk with them. Got challenges? Problems? Curiosity? Just learning? Come and talk to them during their office hours. Various organizations and independents will be represented. You can’t lose!
  3. The Fringe: there were many excellent proposals submitted to the conference earlier this year. Having been one of the reviewers, I can tell you that it is never easy to eliminate some. It’s like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance – it doesn’t matter how good you are, not everyone can win. So we (okay, Rachel) thought it might be nice to have a non-stage on which some of these folks can deliver the goods. We went through the non-accepted proposals (they weren’t rejected, y’know), and have picked an interesting sample (including yours truly, btw) for you.
  4. Park Bench: this will be a place where, among other things, the original authors of A Manifesto for Agile Software Development (“the Agile manifesto”) will be dropping by from time to time.
I won’t tell you what it is, but there’s one more cool surprise in store for folks in the Open Jam.  Seriously.  It’ll be awesome.

I’ll be there from Sunday afternoon through Friday evening.  Not necessarily in the Open Jam the whole time, but the odds are good that you’ll see me there a time or two if you look for me.

Facilitation Patterns at Houston APLN April 15

Events, Facilitation | Posted by Doc
Feb 05 2010

Another opportunity to tighten it up, thanks to Robbie Mac Iver and Houston APLN.

Presenting at XP2010 in Norway and Better Software in Las Vegas

Events, Facilitation | Posted by Doc
Feb 01 2010

I’ve put these together – XP2010 and Better Software – because they occur one after the other. So I may be insane for considering this, but I’m just so psyched that these conferences are embracing my work on Facilitation Patterns and Antipatterns.

Now to work on the second deck of cards for March (SDC2010) – I want to have two variants of the deck ready to go for all three conferences.

Interviewed at CodeMash 2010 about Open Space

Events, Facilitation, Open Space | Posted by Doc
Feb 01 2010

I love talking about this stuff, and David Giard gave me the opportunity at the CodeMash 2010 conference.

Presenting Facilitation Patterns at SDC2010 in Sweden

Events, Facilitation | Posted by Doc
Jan 27 2010

This one has me psyched – my first time presenting at a European conference, and more validation through interest in my work facilitation patterns and antipatterns.

Pablo’s Fiesta Open Space in Austin

Events, Facilitation, Open Space | Posted by Doc
Jan 27 2010

I get to facilitate an Open Space in my own home town! Woohoo!

Facilitating Open Space at Alt.Net Seattle again!

Events, Facilitation, Open Space | Posted by Doc
Jan 26 2010

It was sad for me – I couldn’t do it last year because I was already booked for another Open Space. I’m delighted that they’ve invited me again this year, and that I’m available. This is my people!

ThoughtWorks India helping to put on the first RubyConf India 20-21 March

Events | Posted by Doc
Jan 25 2010

I’m really proud of our team in India.

ThoughtWorks India is taking the lead in making the first ever RubyConf India happen on Mar 20th and 21st in Bangalore. RubyConf India is being organised by the Ruby community in India and actively supported by Ruby Central. It will feature keynote addresses and talks by Chad Fowler, Ola Bini and other key figures in the Ruby community like (*cough*) Roy Singham. 🙂

This is a big deal for the Ruby community in India, and for ThoughtWorks.

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