What Makes Your Heart Sing?

I was at Agile 2014, the big conference in my field last week. I had a blast. For my readers who are not software people, agile is a way to integrate change into a software project and make the project successful. I’m a Big Name, although a short person :-) BTW, there are many Big Names. I’m not buying into my own press.

Doc List, @athought, made me laugh the zeroth day, before things had gotten started. I was rolling by. He said, “Johanna! I have to say hi.” He walked over. Then he said, “I was just telling my friends I had to run over and say hi, but then I said, I could walk over. You wouldn’t move fast enough to get away from me.” I cracked up, laughing. The two of us were standing there, hysterical.

You need friends to laugh with you.

The conference got even better.

I happened to sit with Lyssa Adkins, @lyssaadkins, for Sam Guckenheimer’s, @SamGuckenheimer, keynote. I have known Sam since at least the late 90’s. I later discovered that Sam had only 3 days to prepare for his Monday keynote. Yes, 3 days. Well, at one point, I tweeted that Lyssa and I were ROTFLOL. For those of you who are too young to know, that means Rolling on the Floor, Laughing Out Loud.

During the week, I had breakfast with Woody Zuill, @woodyzuill, Clare Moss, @aclairefication, Linda Cook, @lindamcook1, and Benny Bagott, @bennybaggot some of the days. Don’t ask me which days. They have all run together. What do I remember? Explaining how #Noestimates work, learning some of Linda’s program management work, and laughing with Benny. Now, why was I explaining how NoEstimates work when Woody was right there? I do this to make sure I understand things. If the guy who started the hashtag is right there, he can explain to me when I’m wrong. BTW, the idea behind NoEstimates is that you break the work down small enough that the team can swarm around it and finish it so you don’t need estimates. I met other lovely people for breakfast. I was not awake enough to ask for their twitter handles.

I met Pawel Brodzinski, @pawelbrodzinski, in person. We had dinner with a bunch of people one night. We laughed about a number of things together, too.

I remember cracking up with Linda Cook, @lindamcook1, at some point in the Agile Alliance lounge. I no longer remember the topic or when that was.

I had lunch with many new people. I try to sit with people I don’t know at lunches. I’m awake then and won’t make a fool of myself.

Lori Priller, @indyagilista, and I coached each other. I suggested some writing tips for her. I asked her for help on titling the management myths book. That night, I woke up at midnight, and wrote down what might be right title. Thanks, Lori! Oh, yes, we laughed together, too.

I did not have lunch this year with David Bulkin, @Davidbulkin. For the last several years, I have plunked myself down next to him, not even trying to find him. This year, we made jokes about this in email, and I missed him. Boo. But, he teased me about it! Yay! David, it is your animal magnetism that got us into the same session. It must be.

I had a lovely coffee with Shane Hastie, @Shanehastie, one of my pairing colleagues.

I had dinner with Don Gray, @donaldegray, and George Dinwiddie, @gdinwiddie. Well, Don and I ate. George joined us after we ate. At one point, I remember laughing at something one or the other said.

I had a great conversation with Mark Levison, @mlevison. We laughed, too. Yes, Mark, I still owe you pictures. On the way.

I recorded a podcast with Gil Broza, @gilbroza, another pairing partner for Dave Prior, @mrsungo. We had to do this twice! The first time, we had technical difficulties. Oh well. I laughed.

I gave a talk on the Bootcamp track about project, programs, and the project portfolio. I was a little worried. People kept leaving. I’m an experienced-enough speaker to not let things like that bother me normally, but I was a little worried. Later on that day, a woman stopped me in the hall, and said, “I loved your talk. We’ve been doing agile for a while, but I thought I would hear you to see if we missed any of the basics. Sure enough, we had. I’m so glad you gave that talk.” I did my little happy dance inside. Then she said, “My phone kept buzzing, so I had to leave. I stayed as long as I could.” Oooh. Maybe that’s why people left. Maybe it wasn’t all about me :-)

Later on, several other people stopped me and told me the same thing—that they loved my talk. I realized something. I was talking to project, program and portfolio managers. Light dawns over marble head (mine). I bet the reason these people left was because they had work to do back at their offices. Face-palm.

I caught up with Linda Rising, @rising_linda. While we talked, another pairing partner, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, @rebeccawb, stopped by. The three of us hung out for a while. What do you think happened? We laughed. I had a chance to go to Rebecca’s  awesome session on thinking fast and slow.

Jutta Eckstein and I paired on a workshop this year, which turned out great. (Happy dance!) I loved the way we worked together. I am very happy about our leanpub book, Diving for Hidden Treasures: Finding the Real Value in Your Project Portfolio. I had a chance to meet Bob Woods, @mindoverprocess, the reviewer who helped us think about a title for our session and the book.

I had dinner the last  night with Troy Magennis, @t_magennis, and Israel Gat, @agile_exec. We talked. We laughed. We ate. We laughed more.

On the last day of the conference, I talked to Woody Zuill again. His wife, Andrea Zuill, @badbirdsart, does all of his drawings. He offered me one. I chose this one:

LittleRabbitPicksFight.300 Don’t ask me if I’m the little rabbit or the big bear. You know the answer!

My heart sang all week. Why? I had the opportunity to do some great work, reconnect with colleagues, meet new ones, and laugh.

When you are with your good friends and wonderful colleagues, and especially when you laugh, your heart sings.

This is the question of the week: What makes your heart sing? Are you doing work, creating an environment, putting yourself in a place that makes your heart sing? If not, what do you need to do to make your heart sing?

3 thoughts on “What Makes Your Heart Sing?

  1. Pingback: Agile2014 – Let’s Build a Better Tribe | A servant leader's lessons

  2. Mark Levison

    Johanna – Thanks for the shout out. It was fun just chatting over breakfast and helping Paul breakout. Builiding/rekindling relationships has become my primary focus for every Agile20xx conference now.

    Thanks for welcoming me into yours
    Mark

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