I went to a really long party. (How long was it?) It was 8 blocks long! (That makes no sense!) They closed down Newbury Street!! (BUT THAT’S DISRUPTIVE!!!) IT WAS AWESOME!!! (GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF, AND stop shouting – it’s your own blog.)

Last Thursday was Fashion’s Night Out. Newbury Street was closed down to make way for fancy cars parked outside of fancy clothing stores with fancy people prancing around wearing fancy clothes and looking all fancy. And really really important. And cool.

Random red carpet and bands on every block aside, it was fitting to strut into a pop-up store. I’m still not entirely sure what one of those is either, but I walked into one. There was an outfit that made tailored suits, a gal who made bow ties, and then there were the guys in the back.

Hey, wanna hear our story?

That worked. I was intrigued – somebody had a story to tell me (What’s special about that?) – it was their own story. These entrepreneurs were showing off their side business: colored collar stays. (How the heck do you see colored collar stays?) You see colored collar stays through holes in shirt collars. (Don’t say they were selling shirts with – ) And yes, they were selling shirts with cut-outs in the collars.

They were excited. They had samples – hand-painted prototypes. They had the sacred holey shirts. They had business cards. They had a website from which you could order this new-fangled thang they introduced into the world. They had smiles. They had pride.

I quietly listened to them play ‘show & tell’. You would, too. They were in the zone. They were sharing a story that was their very own. They wanted to leave their mark on the world. They wanted to leave their legacy. It started with a story.

What’s your story going to be?

What Are Questions?

Riding the T home from work, surrounded by Red Sox fans and other fellow Massholes, I find a strategic spot in the train car where I can stand lookin’ all cool ‘n’ stuff and read blog posts on my wikked smaaht phone in relative peace, tucked away from the ebb and flow of baby carriages, clueless tourists staring at the Green Line map, fresh college freshmen wearing their lanyards like an Olympic medal, and seasoned locals who are plugged in and tuned out.

That’s when my head explodes.

There is a mess. It’s fugly. I’m rather embarrassed. Lucky for me, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, plus one eggs-pert, put me back together again. I had some ‘splaining to do. I told the team of onlookers teeming with curiosity and gore that I had just read a literally mind-blowing blog post. Consider this the lit fuse to the detonating words that made it rain white- and grey-matter like a spontaneous rainbow, a weather event unnaturally left out of the Metro. I apologize in advance.

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.

Hi again. Sorry to do that to ya. So now that you’re back, let’s talk about this.

I got this gem, entitled ‘What are questions?‘, from the Signal vs. Noise blog by 37signals. Think of all the answers that are bouncing off your now-duct-taped mind. If you’re not asking the right questions, you won’t be ready to appreciate the right answers, even if they’re being flung at you. Likewise, sudden ideas and opportunistic openings in life can’t be seen in a fruitful light if you don’t have the intention to get your ScrumOfOne stories to done.

So, ask the question. Actively intend to move along your very own life vector. That’s when the answers, that may be already in front of you, will stick.

Sorry for the splitting head(…ache). I’m sure you’ll agree ’twas worth it.

Your Power Hour

Some people are night owls. Other people are early birds. I people am not a fowl of any kind, thank you very much. (However, I am a male seahorse named Spikey, but that’s a different story…)

Do you ever get that jolt of inspired activity, where you suddenly want to do this thing and then you do it? Well, capture the nature of that jolt and ask yourself if you have a time of day where you’re likely to be as productive, relative to this jolt. This is your Power Hour! Now, apologize to yourself for asking yourself another question, then ask yourself: When is your Power Hour?

For me, if I can plop myself in front of a computer from the moment I wake up, I am super productive. Also, between 8:30 and 9:30 before my first meeting seems to be when I get lots of stuff done. Such times are usually ones where I am least prone to interruption and have a strict deadline. In the latter example, that Power Hour ends with the morning Scrum at work, whereas in the former example, that Power Hour ends when I start getting hungry. These are moments of sheer focus and Matrix-like clarity.

These times of day may not happen every day, but I wager that more often than not, much like for night owls and early birds, there is a time of day where you’re naturally more efficient. If you don’t know this for yourself, find it, even if it is by process of elimination, e.g., you’re useless after dinner or before your third cup of coffee.

After determining your Power Hour (and this is more a time of day than a strict 60 minutes), think about which tasks/stories you would want to have done during this time. Also, think about this somewhat physiological logistic when setting the day’s game plan during the Scrum. Besides prioritizing to work with your natural inclinations, this visualizing of getting a set of things done during that magical time feeds the good kind of self-fulfilling prophesy, and I’ll take a positive feedback loop like this whenever I can.

Two Metrics At Any Time

The last post talked about measuring life and how ScrumOfOne can do this to manage life, in a sense. The morning Scrum allows for a granularity of a day, but what about a measure with higher resolution? And would you even want one?

In ‘The $100 Startup’ by Chris Guillebeau, he proposes that in the monitoring of your business, select one or two metrics and be aware of them at any time, such that you can determine ’em in very short order. Examples include sales, cash flow, and incoming leads. To balance out the monitoring overhead, any other metrics would be subject to a biweekly or monthly review.

From a Scrum perspective, the burndown chart could be a visual representation of one of these metrics: how many hours left to complete all tasks associated with Sprint stories. For myself, I don’t have stories that I need to break into tasks quite yet… nor do I have a means to track this at a low enough overhead that I care to use.

The metric in this category that I do follow is how close to my Sprintly (financial) budget I am.

What would yours be?

Don’t Have A Fine Day

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Whatever it takes.

If somebody asks you, “Greetings, citizen! How fares your day?” and you say, “Fine!” …then… think about that.

Fine? Do you really want a fine day? Just… fine? It’s your day, so if you could chose an adjective to be associated with it, would you really want it to be ‘fine’? Come now, fair citizen, surely you wish this not.

This line of thinking comes from ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin, where he says that if you are having a fine day, then you’re not leading, because leaders are the heretics, out causing trouble, passionately speaking out against the status quo and creating change because the marketplace demands it. To be a leader, I can see this definitely applying.

To be a living human being, I can’t see why this shouldn’t apply.

If you’re having a fine day, then it is not an exciting day. Could you have an exciting day and honestly say it was just, well, y’know, fine? This echoes a definition of happiness from ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, where he equates happiness to excitement. If you are doing things that excite you (excites you to your core), then you are living life happily.

Let’s take this a step further and rock the boat a little: If you’re having a fine day, then you are not happy.

Ending on a lighter note, I challenge you to not have a fine day. Ever. Fo’ realz. Don’t float along the currents of everybody else’s life. Wake up every morning and tell yourself to make waves. I make this a part of my morning Scrum.

Stay in trouble, citizen.