Category Archives: personal favourite

Analyzing Blog For Personal Favourites

I roll up to a seat at the counter of my favourite cafe/bookstore in Boston’s Back Bay, ordering a double cappuccino with a wink and a nod. I tear out a laptop from my purse gym bag. I open up that sucker, ready to bust out another blog post, and pause.

Aaaaand SCENE!

Now, imagine this happening over 100 times.

That’s a lot of double cappuccinos (usually followed by a beer and further followed by a large chocolate chip cookie). That’s a lot of sitting down in front of a glowing rectangle with the intent of not only creating some text associated with the exploration of applying Scrum principles to personal development, but sharing it with folks via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. That’s a lot of pause.

The creative process for me, at least writing these posts, starts with bringing to the table (and propping up against the laptop) an external resource (a poem, a sermon, an inspiring quote, a passage from some book, et cetera), or a theme to explore (kaizen, retrospectives, product backlogs for ScrumOfOne, planning for less, and so on), or a story to tell (getting engaged, moving to a new apartment, lying about how I work for Taco Bell, yada yada yada). From here, it is never consistent.

Sometimes, I’m so excited to get into sharing this thing that I burst through the gates, typing at the speed of thought, usually running out of steam by the time some logical conclusion is supposed to present itself. Coincidentally, this is how I ran cross-country races in high school.

Sometimes, I’m torturously clawing through the empty virtual canvas, dragging myself away from the top of the page, weaving in the good bits of this thing I want to share until I can start getting into it properly. It is painful to watch myself do it… I’ll start way too many analogies that I don’t carry through the rest of the post… I’ll make you, dear reader, read through details that have little to do with the thesis or are entertaining in any way… I’ll spend way too much time on the introduction.

Aaaaand I’ve spent way too much time on the introduction.

Now, imagine that somehow Zeus smiles down on me from Mount Olympus and I finish a post where I deem it worthy of the ‘personal favourite’ tag. As part of learning and relearning from this blog, I’ve read over those posts with this tag, like the bear who went over the mountain.

Aaaaand I’ve started way too many analogies that I’m not carrying through the rest of the post.

If it is a personal favourite, it is because I am particularly proud of the post, and this evidently can be for a number of reasons.

So now that I have analyzed this WordPress category, what have I learned or relearned? I’m proud that I keep writing. I’m also proud that I keep exploring this niche intersection of software development philosophy and self-actualization. I’m also also proud that I am practicing what I preach, creating and sharing. I’m also also also proud that I can accept my own creative output, whether it’s a post where I smile, like this one, or a post where I cringe, like this one.

(And thus, I write about posts that are personal favourites via a post that is very much the antithesis of one. Ironically, this is the kind of self-referential self-amusement that would make this post a personal favourite. I think I’ve gone cross-eyed.)

Plan For Less

Lately, I’ve pulled off this seemingly impossible goal: complete all the things I planned to do per Sprint! My secret? Plan for less.

By planning for less per Sprint, yes, I leave myself open to do more and to go with the flow …of the day. This means a couple of things, and I think of it like an equation:

My Sprint Backlog = low number of planned stories + high number of unplanned stories

To get the most out of the planned stories, I have them associated with my Sprint Goal, which used to answer the question, “What is the exciting new thing I will share proudly with the world at the end of my Sprint?” and nowadays answers the question, “What do I want to make sure I get done by the end of my Sprint?” This sentiment is more practical, more self-serving, and way less stressful, ’cause all I have to do to accomplish this declarative Sprint Goal is one or two small and specific things. A few hours of focus effort, et voilà, I can proudly wave the flag of the Republic of Productivity (I hear David Allen is the Prime Minister).

To get the most out of the unplanned stories, I look in two places.

First, I’ll look at my Product Backlogs. I just look at the top, ’cause that’s where the high-priority items are. If there’s something there that is convenient to do, or that I’m particularly inspired to do, voilà, I cherry pick. These Product Backlogs then serve as reminders of all the cool and/or important things I want to do.

Second, I’ll look… around. I’ll look at anything that is not a list. Whether it is doing something spontaneous or living like a millionaire, most of my Sprint Backlog stories end up being emergent stories as of late. As long as I check in with myself often enough, I can maintain a level of strategic personal growth while embracing… life.

Folks, this is the most empowering version of my ScrumOfOne experiment I’ve found for healthily balancing the Agile constraints of personal development through Scrum, with the dynamicity of daily life.

I’m hesitating to press the ‘Publish’ button. This post just ain’t that funny… it’s not inspiring… it’s not captivating. While it’s unsettlingly dry, I write this because it is settlingly culminating.

Since I cut my Sprintly time-box in half, I’ve had more practice with performing the Retrospective and Sprint Planning per Sprint ‘turn-over’: it takes an hour and change. From the more opportunities to adapt, I’ve removed how I used to feel like a bum for not getting done the things I’d ‘commit to myself’ to doing, and actually get more stuff done. And I’ve been punting on this particular post for a while because this is effectively a report on research.

I used to do shit like this, and it’s been kinda sucky. Now I do shit this other way, and things’ve been way more rockin’.

Oh, that’s right. That’s what this blog is about. Where’s that ‘Publish’ button…

Scrum And The City

It spoke to me in a hushed, spiteful tone.

You suck!

I turned to face the source of such antagonistic mockery and made eye contact. From the same hole that was staring me down, it sneered a taunt from just out of reach, actively engaging in guerrilla warfare.

Welcome home, you jerk-faced low-life.

I was already feeling like crap, so this was the last thing I wanted upon dragging duffel bags filled with college text books up a couple of flights of stairs. Granted, it was one way to stay warm on a drizzly January afternoon. Granted, it was one way to fit in my daily work-out. Granted, it was a Sisyphusian reminder to ditch the dead tree I’ve dragged from home to home. Granted, it was -

Hey, you uncreative low-lifed jerk-face.

I had it – this was getting out of hand.

Yeah? Well whacha gonna do about it, punk?

I turned towards the fridge, knelt down, and stood back up, Cheerio in hand. I looked around the kitchen for a place to put it, preferably a container that loosely resembled a trash can. A rubbish bin. A garbage receptacle. An empty container of little-to-no value.

Like your soulless shell of a body, ya bum?

Again, I was already feeling like crap. I just came off a rough break-up, resulting in a desperate apartment hunt in mid-January, which is way off-season in this college town. I somehow found a place and threw wads of cash at the realtor to take it off the market. Now, everything of value to me was splayed across the kitchen floor in a haggered landscape of memories – all 5 taxi-loads. Except for the desk – I had a guy from Craig’s List help me with that. I had nothing to offer him besides the agreed upon amount, so we toasted with the one thing in my fridge: vodka.

You gonna offer me a shot, loser? Or are you just gonna continue projecting your inner monologue through a piece of cereal you picked off the floor of your filthy apartment?

The Cheerio was right. I was lonely. And physically spent. And emotionally spent. And in need of a trash can.

I thus started my single life in Boston – with a list. First item on that list: trash can. Defeated, I put my new and abusive friend back under the fridge.

Hey, if you like lists so much, why don’t you use that stupid Scrum certification to get your life in order, tough guy.

Again, the Cheerio was right.

I Am A Millionaire (And So Can You!)

Folks, it happened. I am a millionaire. After 10,000 hours, I’m popping tags like the silly can holders.

Or at least… I live like a millionaire. On the daily, I swan dive into a multi-storey vault of Dogecoin a la Scrooge McDuck. Luckily, such riches have afforded me the necessary thick skin and equally necessary metallic Beyonce bouyancy to not get all cut up by or drown in said vault of said coin. (I got 99 problems, but tetanus ain’t one. (Hit me!))

So after my morning swim, after shimmying the moon dust off my shoulders, I get on with my day. And my days are pretty ordinary, except for the ‘living like a millionaire’ part. My vast wealth of cryptocurrency stays in that vault because I don’t need it to live like a millionaire. I already know how without all that.

“What?” you say, “Are you gettin’ all cheesy on me?” Naw, Pepper Jack, this is something that recently hit me like a tonne of feathers with a brick in the middle.

Fill in this sentence for yourself:

I live like a millionaire when I…

Here, let me help you out – this is just some of what’s on my list. I live like a millionaire when I:

  • play Candy Crush when I go to the bathroom.
  • beatbox in the shower.
  • rack my brain around Chinese Checkers.
  • commandeer a public piano.
  • crack a bad joke.
  • watch and hear my wife’s reaction to said bad joke.
  • walk around holding my wife’s hand.
  • say ‘wife’ whenever I can ’cause it still sounds foreign.
  • blare ‘And You and I’ by Yes before getting married.
  • jam to ‘Burn’ by Ellie Goulding as I walk out of work.
  • bask in ‘Express Yourself’ by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band just about any other time of day.
  • whistle my theme song.
  • sit at my throne desk.
  • hang out at a cafe.
  • drink a cappuccino.
  • go on a date with a buddy.
  • make up a silly story.
  • tell the story behind my watch.
  • tell the story behind my pen.
  • tell the story behind my wedding band.
  • tell the story behind the number four on clocks.
  • tell the story of how I work for Taco Bell as a motivational speaker.
  • tell this joke: Did you hear about the Scottish cross-dresser? He wore pants.
  • watch and hear your reaction to that joke.

Sure, if I had some loose Hamiltons I’d build a community music studio and start a hovercraft polo league, but I’d also continue to do the above already awesome things. And of course, how I live like a millionaire will differ from how you live like a millionaire.

How do you live like a millionaire?

How can you live like a millionaire right now?