Posts Tagged ‘IAAM’

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.

It’s All About Me!™ in Orlando

Coping and Communicating, Musings, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Nov 13 2014

I just did my first half-day tutorial on my favorite topic, It’s All About Me!™. You’d think after talking and writing about it for years, I might have done something sooner.


In reflecting on it, I conclude that I’ve been afraid that I’d put it out there and someone would call bullshit on me.

Happily, that didn’t happen. The feedback was excellent. My favorite was “Great session! Included original material rather than just rehashing existing stuff.”

I’ll be doing more sessions, and maybe sometime soon I’ll finish the book I’ve been working on.

Channel Yourself

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
May 12 2012

For a time, I was a coach. A personal / life / business coach. I loved the work. Well, it didn’t feel like work. It was joyful and amazing.

It was not uncommon for a client to tell me that they felt that they were not yet what / who they wanted to be. When this came up, we’d discuss the question of who or what they wanted to be. We’d create an image of that future self, including the way they’d talk, the way they’d walk, how they’d hold themselves, their posture, their gestures, the presence they’d create when they entered a room, and so on. A rich, full vision of the future self.


“Wow! That’s who I want to be. How do I get there?”

Sounds tricky, right? I mean, if it were easy, wouldn’t we all be powerful or leaders or loved or in the job we want or…

Here’s the technique I shared with my clients.

I get that you’re not yet that person. You have a clear picture of that version of you, who seems like a different person right now. You have a clear picture of how that person would speak, what they’d say, how they’d stand, how they’d move, and the gestures they’d use, right?

Channel that person. Don’t try to be that person. Act like that person.

What would that person say in this situation? Say that.

What would that person do in this situation? Do that.

It has been successfully demonstrated repeatedly that we can change our feelings by changing our words. We can change our behavior by choice, repeating the changes until they become our real selves.

So rather than wondering what I need to do to become the person I am visualizing, I choose to act like that person until I become that person.

Take it on like a persona, until it “takes”.

As it settles in, my feelings will change to reflect the confidence I begin to feel. The behavior will become natural and mine.

One day, I will wake up and discover that I have become the person I was visualizing.

The impact of desperation

Career | Posted by Doc
Aug 24 2011

In my previous post about “Everything at stake“, several folks have commented to me both publicly and privately. One of the important points that came up is about the reality for some folks – especially in a time of high unemployment – that everything really is at stake.

I do get that. There are times – and I’ve experienced them myself – when getting this job is critical to me being able to feed my family, make my mortgage payment, or fill my gas tank. This may lead to a feeling of anxiety or even desperation.

If I start feeling like that, how does it affect my behavior?

I may display some symptoms of neediness. I may try to be whatever the interviewer needs, whether or not it is what I want to do, or whether it is harmonious with who I am.

Is this exciting to the interviewer? Will the interviewer recognize, either consciously or unconsciously, that I am trying to sell myself as something I am not? And if so, will the interviewer start to discount what I say because it’s clear that I’m saying whatever I think he wants to hear?

I realize that there are times when each of us feels the pressure of need, and it’s just freakin’ hard to ignore those feelings.

What I want to convey is that you will – and should – be judged/assessed/considered based on your behavior. The more relaxed you can behave in an interview, the more likely you will be accepted as who and what you are, and the more likely that you will establish a rapport with your interviewer(s).

Everything at stake

Career | Posted by Doc
Aug 17 2011

Given that I’m in the process of job searching, and spent a chunk of this year supporting my wife in her job search, I’ve had a few realizations. Some of them are things I’ve taken for granted in the past, some are new.

Today’s is something that I’ve been aware of but never before articulated.

Many people experience the job search process as an “everything’s at stake” series of situations. Every phone conversation is treated as though their entire future depends on it. Every interview is treated as though they must get this job or they will be seen as useless, unemployable, or otherwise worthless.

Of course, searching for a job is – and should be – treated as a job. After all, there is truly a lot at stake. It should be taken seriously, and given appropriate time, energy, and responsibility.

That said, though, there’s no reason that it can’t also be – wait for it – fun!

I’ll admit that I might be an anomaly, an oddity, an outlier. I enjoy interviewing. I enjoy networking. I enjoy the opportunity – yes, opportunity – to meet new people, learn about businesses, and explore where I fit into the world of business and work.

The reality is that I will not get most of the jobs I apply for. Most of the companies I talk with won’t offer to hire me.

So if I accept that as the reality of my situation, and if I approach each individual situation with the seriousness and respect it deserves, is there any reason I should not enjoy myself along the way?

In the book “Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There” by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, the authors make the case that if you are going to get 99 nos for every yes in your sales career, then the sooner you get the nos, the sooner you’ll get to the yes! And interviewing and job searching is, in its own way, about selling, and you are the product you’re selling.

Last week, while attending Agile2011, I met and talked with dozens of people. I learned more about the Agile community, the businesses in that community, and the opportunities that might – or might not – suit me. My world and my worldview are richer as a result.  When one (or maybe more than one) of those companies I spoke with makes me an offer, I’ll be in a better position to make a decision.

For me, I do much better when I approach each conversation (and interviews are conversations) in a relaxed manner.

This means that I have to avoid the feeling that everything is at stake in this conversation. And, since most of the people/companies I talk with won’t make me an offer for any number of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with my value as a human being and a professional of some kind, then maybe I can enjoy the conversation.

If you know me, you know that I do enjoy them. I wish more people could.

Look forward

Career, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 08 2011

Having been laid off from my job at ThoughtWorks this past Tuesday, it’s been an interesting few days.

My wife of 35 years* is not a big fan of change, and has said that being laid off would feel to her as if she were being judged, and had been judged to fail.

I, on the other hand, know that whatever reasons they gave or actually had, the people who made the decision to lay me off had their own reasons. Those reasons were mostly about them, and only a little bit about me.  Their decision does not change who I am, what I’m capable of, nor my value to an employer or to the world I live in.

The fact that it was done the way it was** is annoying, and speaks more about them than about me. Having worked at a number of startups in my career, and having been laid off more than once, I can tell you that there are good ways and less good ways. This was a less good way. It makes me wonder why.

However, the main point of this is this: looking backward makes you stumble, so look forward.

It’s possible this may happen to you at some time in your career. After all, businesses suffer setbacks, some fail, and sometimes they just feel the need to shuffle things around. You may be the beneficiary or the victim in these circumstances. If so, I hope you’ll remember this lesson.

Let me say it again: Their decision does not change who I am, what I’m capable of, nor my value to an employer or to the world I live in.

Of course, if you find yourself without income or employment, and the market is not healthy, it may be harder to see it as an exciting opportunity. Try anyway.

I know – I’ve written about change and how frightening and threatening it is. Nonetheless, I find my adrenaline pumping. I’m exploring the world. I’m meeting new people. I’m facing the challenge head on, and reflecting on who I am and what I want to do. That’s a good thing.

If you give in to the fear of change, you lose. If you let “them” lead you to feeling less good about yourself, you lose. If you forget how important and valuable you are, you lose.

For me, predictability is both essential (I am TRULY borderline OCD) and boring. As I say when I’m talking about “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools”, processes and tools (and predictability) should be enablers not the focus of my attention.

I have an opportunity. So do you.

Look forward.

* yes, I’m bragging 🙂

** no, I’m not going to fill in any more details

Change is hard, still

Agile & Lean | Posted by Doc
Apr 17 2011

I had a chat with a new friend yesterday. We walked down the road from the hotel into Wolvercote, and chatted about life and work.

This fellow manages a development team. He’s concerned that they’re not as effective as he thinks they could be, that they have a low “bus factor” (my term), and that testing in particular is not what it could be. They have legacy code, and it sounded like they have quite a bit of specialization, in spite of having only four developers.

I latched onto that last point first. “Have you tried pairing?” I asked.

“No, I hadn’t really thought of it yet.”

Lots of intermediate discussion…

“What do you do when you have an odd number of people?”

I knew he was listening carefully, and yet I was getting a feeling of resistance. I tried to offer ways in which he could get buy in from the team, make some changes that would encourage them to think and examine the way they’ve been working, and make it a team thing, not something imposed from above.

“Well, I’m really concerned about the testers.”

I suggested co-location, or some version of it. He explained that they have separate two-person offices, and he can’t change that.

All of this got me to wondering whether he really wants to facilitate change, or he just wants to talk about it. He said some of the right things, but when it got down to actually doing it, he repeatedly explained to me how hard it would be, and what the obstacles are.

Change is hard. Embrace change only if you really believe that it has the potential to deliver benefit. And then embrace it wholeheartedly.

Driven by Desire

Agile & Lean, Coping and Communicating, Facilitation, Musings | Posted by Doc
Oct 07 2010

one_angry_man_facing right-flippedChange. It’s what I spend my time thinking and talking about. Whether it’s coaching or training or organizational or individual, change.

And change is hard.

Thinking back to the Plow, there will be varying amounts and degrees of resistance whenever change is occurring. It doesn’t matter whether the change is initiated internally or externally.

The challenge when you’re an agent of change, therefore, is to reduce the amount and degree of resistance. Of course, if you know my IAAM philosophy, then you know that I believe that you can’t cause change or change resistance. Rather you can offer others the information and perspective that you bring to the table, perhaps couched in such a way as to be most influential or persuasive. But when you get right down to it, change must come from within: within the individual and within the organization.

There’s an implication here for those of us who are, in fact, agents of change. The implication is this: our job is not to change people or organizations.

Our job, then, is to help individuals and organizations desire change.

Whoa. That’s a challenge. How do you guide/help/lead one person, much less an organization, to want change, when change is threatening, frightening, intimidating?

Start by understanding the pain points that they live with today. I know this seems simple and obvious, and to a certain extent it is.

Sadly, too often we go in with the attitude “change is coming, so toughen up, and let’s go!”

That doesn’t work.

Think about yourself. When have you been successful in making a change in yourself? For me, I know it’s only when I want to, not when I think I should. Even when I need to, I still have to want to or the change will fail.

Just look at my waistline. 😉 I’m working on it. Ignoring traveling, I’m actually achieving change.  Change in my eating habits and exercise habits and attitude toward food.  Not because someone told me I should.  Not because someone else cares (although they might). It’s because *I* want to change.

So the next time you are sitting in the change agent’s seat, stop and ask the first question: “Why should they care?”

Family self-organization

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 10 2010

I was talking with my brother the other day. He has gotten his iPhone 4 (after standing in line for 5 hours in the middle of the night in Melbourne). Now he has a dilemma – one iPhone 3G and two daughters.

We banged the challenge around for a while. We approached it in typical parental fashion, exploring the tradeoffs and options. Give the phone to one, money to the other. But one has six months to go on her contract and the other has a year. All the details, all the challenges, the concern that one or the other or both would be unhappy with him because no matter what he does…

I’m sure you get it.

Finally, my brother said that he was willing to put up the phone and some money. The question is, which to which. Phone, money, two girls.

As we walked down the street together talking, it occurred to me that I was ignoring all the things I’ve been learning, teaching, and doing. When I teach Agile fundamentals, I include a session of the Agile Lego Game, which along with it’s other lessons clearly demonstrates the concept of self-organization.

With this in mind, and knowing that my nieces are smart and that they like each other, I said “Put the phone and the money on the table and let them work it out.”

After all, I’ve seen it demonstrated over and over – give people the chance to work together and figure things out, and the odds are that they will.

I’ll let you know how things go with my nieces. 😉

Driving for Self, Driving for Other

Agile & Lean, Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Jul 18 2010

I spent the past weekend with my brother. We drove from Melbourne down to Aireys Inlet along the Great Ocean Road. The scenery is spectacular.

While driving, I began to notice some of my brother’s patterns, and it got me thinking about my own patterns.

I think there are two main categories of drivers: those who become one with the vehicle, and those for whom the vehicle is a mechanical conveyance that they manipulate. In either case, we generally drive for ourselves. That is, we react in advance, based on what we see and what we expect to do.

Unfortunately, as I experienced with my brother, this means that while the driver’s body is already moving into what’s happening, the passengers are caught by surprise and may feel bumped, bounced, and thrown around.

I think of myself as one of the people in the first category – the vehicle is an extension of my body, and so I move the vehicle almost unconsciously, and my core body is rarely taken by surprise. My wife and children and friends, on the other hand, may find themselves tossed about from time to time.

This got me thinking about Agile adoption. Those of us who feel that we really know Agile are the first kind of driver – we move unconsciously based on what we know or expect to happen next. This is just fine when we’re working on/with teams that already understand and practice Agile.

But what about when we’re working with teams that are new to Agile? Are we moving so unconsciously that they’re being emotionally tossed about? Are they finding themselves caught by surprise, confused, or frustrated because we’re jinking left when they expected us to go right?

The challenge for me is to figure out how to get the “passengers” in sync with the changes so that we reduce the frequency and amplitude of the surprises to the point where they’re no longer surprised.

%d bloggers like this: