Pathfinding 101 Completed

I knew the pathfinding class I signed up for would be worth it. The class was led by Pace Smith, and structured as three weekly webinars, along with a series of homework assignments, a daily meditation, and weekly meetings with different assignment buddies to help us coach ourselves through the process.

The assignment buddies were the part I thought was going to be most difficult. The class materials were about very tender subjects, and honestly I was feeling a little bit shy already just about having signed up in the first place. But I was amazed, when I met the other people I was paired to speak with to complete the assignments, how much my story resonated with theirs.

For example, one of the people I spoke with was also a holistic massage therapist, and had had experience with both vibrational energy healing and Touch for Health. Another person was also a podcaster, and her experiences with lining up guests and publishing episodes give me more confidence about my own abilities to the same.

The final coaching session with Pace was really the crowning jewel of the process. It was such a delight to speak to her and get her insights. She was able to draw out of me the realization that my own difficulties point out the path I can follow to help myself and others. It wasn’t something I hadn’t heard before, but it was as if I hadn’t really been listening until I heard myself say it to her during our talk.

I think I’m going to want to have her as a guest on my podcast once I get it going. That prospect makes the process seem a lot more approachable.

Pathfinding with Pace Smith

On a whim, I signed up for a class on pathfinding with Pace Smith that starts today. Pace is a remarkable woman, and I’ve been watching her and her wife Kyeli as they’ve slowly built their media empire over the years. I always really enjoy listening to their podcasts.

I started reading their blog posts back when they called themselves the Freak Revolution. They’ve gone through a number of iterations since then, but their focus always seems to be on effective communication strategies, both between people and inside of their own heads.

They’ve also published a number of books and courses, including one of my favorite books on interpersonal communication: The Usual Error. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s worth checking out. I bought the recorded audio version, so I could hear them narrate it in their own voices.

The pathfinding class should be fun. It’s a chance to find out a little bit more about what Pace has been teaching.She has such strong energy, and such a creative way of putting ideas. plus, at the end of the course, I get a one-hour coaching session with Pace one-on-one. That alone is easily worth the price of admission.

Podcasting Master Class with Lewis Howes

Today I attended a podcasting class with Lewis Howes, who has a podcast called The School of Greatness.  the class was being offered at CreativeLive, where I have taken classes before. In fact, earlier this year I took a class there on video distribution which was really amazing.

One of the nice things about living in San Francisco is that a lot of companies like CreativeLive have local offices, which means I can take advantage of things like meetups, local events, and being a live studio audience participant in classes like these. CreativeLive brings guests from all over to host classes like this one, and broadcasts them free while they’re being filmed. When you attend live in the studio, you even get to have a free copy of the class forever.

Lewis provided a lot of great information about what’s involved in putting together a podcast, and building a personal brand around it. He’s just in the middle of launching a book tour to promote his new book, also called The School of Greatness, based on the lessons from the podcast.

The man’s energy is amazing. I really admire the way he’s trying so hard to promote the book to get it onto the New York Times bestseller list. I think he’ll make it.

I met some amazing people in the class, too. I want to see if I can stay in touch with some of them. Many of them already have podcasts, and everybody was planning on launching one if they didn’t have one already. I think having a group of folks like that in my network could help motivate me to get my own podcast off the ground.

edit:  Here’s a link to the CreativeLive class Lewis taught. If you watch the videos, you’ll see me asking some questions. It was a good investment of my time, and I think it’s worth the money.

edit: Congratulations to Lewis Howes for getting his book on the New York Time bestseller list two weeks in a row!

Fiction and Nonfiction

I’m having a blast working on my new book about scrum for web and mobile development for SitePoint. I decided to take a slightly offbeat approach to the subject, and incorporate a little fiction into the work.

It’s easy to list out the details of how scrum works, and explain abstractly why it’s such a useful system for supporting web and mobile development teams. It’s something else to make the process come alive for the reader. So I decided to dust off my fiction writing skills and give the team in the book a little color.

I’ve created a set of characters derived broadly from the interactions of engineers, product managers, designers, executives, and others I’ve worked with or coached over the years. I’m trying to show how real people work together, what problems they face, and how they can use the tools of scrum to deal with them.

Scope creep? Covered.

Technical debt? Covered.

Insecurity? Covered.

Unrealistic expectations? Covered.

So far the editors seem to like what I’m doing.

By showing realistic situations, fears, challenges, and accomplishments, I’m hoping to make the subject more concrete. I also want to address some of the concerns about scrum that I’ve read from people who may have had strong negative experiences.

I truly believe that scrum, properly applied by people who don’t think that it’s either going to magically give them the team they always dreamed of having, or that it is a management plot to steal an engineer’s freedom, can be powerful and effective.

Don’t read yourself into any of the characters; more than the names have been changed….


Starting a New Book on Scrum

I was really excited when my publisher, SitePoint, contacted me and asked me to write a book about scrum for mobile and web development teams. I’ve been writing articles about web development and scrum for SitePoint for a little over a year now. And when I did the math, it turned out I have over 10,000 hours of experience leading and participating in scrum engineering teams doing web or mobile development.

What really impressed me was the way the process was structured to make sure the book got written and edited efficiently. SitePoint uses Github to track changes and manage feedback. The entire manuscript is written in markdown and submitted through pull requests for each chapter. Editors for content, copy, and overall project management are assigned at the start, and an agreed schedule breaks down the writing time separately from the revision time.

Writing long-form pieces is always challenging, but a structure like this seems more likely to result in a finished piece and a predictable timeline. Every chunk is clearly defined before starting, and seems do-able.

Wish me luck!