Time for another Who-Is. Some time ago, I received within the same hour, the answers of both Oana & Jerry. They both proposed me to answer the questions also. My reaction to the first mail was, hey, this is something I do for the community, this is not about me. When I received/read the second mail, my thoughts were mmm if someone would ask me who to ask next, my reaction would also be: “you“. My last thought was something like Ok I might do that. And then I forgot about it.
I knew I had to come up with a date for myself, but I didn’t. I already had too many answers coming in. Maybe I felt I had to be the last person answering the questions. In fact I was using LeanProcrastination. And it turned out fine, because a few days later I started adding publishing dates to my spreadsheet with people who wrote answers. I then realized that one of the publishing Tuesdays was 25 October 2011 (That’s right that was last week .) 25 october is a date that is rather important to me and to my parents. (And to some important Belgium people too.) I decided that I would publish my Who Is on my 40the birthday.
Update: Because of the unfortunate accident of Grant Rule. I have postponed this publication with a week. It’s less cool to publish this a week after my birthday. Some things are more important than being cool.
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I guess by now everybody already knows that I burned down my parents house. As that does not count, I think another thing that influence me a lot was the fact that I am born on this day.Why is my date of birth an influence? Today is almost at the end of the year. In Belgium, school classes are created based on calendar years. This means that I was almost 11 months younger then the oldest person in my class. It was not until my kids went to school, that I realized how this has influenced me.
Being one of the youngest persons in my class, I was always on the tip of my toes to keep up with my peers. This means that today I am very comfortable with going-out-of-my-comfort-zone. At Agile Coach Camp Germany in 2010 we noticed that a lot of agile coaches have this personality feature. In that sense I think I am a coach today because my parents decided to let me go to the year they let me to. (Thank you for that.)
When I was 14, I decided that I wanted to repeat a year. I had exams the last 2 years during holidays, and now I wanted to have a full holiday. [My English, French and German are not considered good enough to Belgium school standards.]
It also had an influence on another level, I think that this is part of the reason why I read so much. I did not hang out with friends much when I was young, but I read every book I could. (During 2 years in my life I read one book a day.) Reading that many books and stories, is visible to anyone that has seen me talk at conferences. When I lead a session, or a keynote, I use stories to explain things.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
When I finished studying, I went to France working 2 months as a full time DJ. (I had being doing DJ work, while studying.) This was 1994, pre-commercial internet, pre-social media even pre-cell phones. The only contact I had with friends was doing expensive calls from a pay-phone. And my best friend, preferred F2F over phone-calls, how very agile of her.
Being away from my friends, made me think really hard about my future. Did I really wanted to have a life of getting up halfway the day and work till 5 or 6 in the morning? I have some friends playing in Belgium rock bands. I had been going with them to their rock-concerts and festivals for the last 4 years. I knew that my life in these 2 months was more or less the same as they had. (Or worse because most concerts are finished by before 3 am) Yep life of a rock musician is a lot less glamorous as most people think. They are people with ups and downs, with their doubts, relation issue’s, bad-hair day, illness, … (Oh and they have to go to the toilet just like anyone else…)
It was not so much the limited amount of money I made. As I had been living of well-fare (375 euro a month) for 3 years, I was really happy with the money I made these 2 months. I was wondering about the hours and the nightlife. Which was kind of crazy, as I was a night-owl (I still am). But I was not sure how I could combine this later with children. I was single and 23 years old. Wondering about how to combine my work-life with children. Begin with the end in mind. It was part of me already then. Kind of funny if you see that as a change artist I have been popping in and out of planes a lot the last 4 years. Yep, my partner had some though years supporting our children.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
As you might have guessed from the last answer, my biggest challenge is keeping my work-life in balance and keeping a sustainable pace. I’m fortunate to be together with a partner who is as stubborn as me and who pushes back when I start let my balance move too much into one or another direction.
This is a good thing as most of my clients and I would say the majority of the working people (maybe I should even add my children with their full lifes) share the same problem. Which makes it easier for me to understand their problems when I am trying to help them.
What drives you ?
While doing this, I realize that what drives me for this project, is getting to know new people. I’m very exited when I get a proposal to add someone I don’t know, or only know by name.
Outside this project, learning new things is the global factor that unites most of the things I have done in my life.
What is your biggest achievement?
Being able to look back at the burning down of my parents house, now 20 years ago and seeing it as one of the best events of my life. It has become something I am proud of, so proud that this year I organized an event to celebrate the fire. Ok, this is more an achievement of my parents, who never ever blamed me for the fire.
What is the last book you have read?
Lift Off (Diana Larsen), seeing the impact of agile retrospectives on my work, this is a book I had to read. And wow, I think it will have a huger impact on the agile world. (As this was a draft I can not give you a link…)
What’s mine is yours. About collaborative consumption.
Training From the back of the room, finally took the time to read this one. (As Gerry and I had agreed to use these techniques for our workshop.) I already use lots of these idea’s in my training for years. It’s nice to see there is a theory behind it and even better to see how I can improve my trainings and talks with it.
The Creating Time: wonderful book about the core protocols. Again a draft book.
Continuous delivery: one of my clients struggle with this, so I thought I should know more of it.
Reading right now: How to run your business like a girl. I bought that book a year of 3 ago to read on the plane. (Together with 7 other books) I finally started to read it, on my way to the AYE conference. The book is targetted at women, but hey I want to learn from women too.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
You seem to invest a lot of time into creating communities, why do you do that?
Creating communities, is for me asking for help on steroids. It’s win-win-win-win. (win for me, win for the other person, win for the community, win for our clients)
When I started to go to more and more international agile conferences I had no overview of what conferences existed. I did not have time (neither the desire) to keep a personal list up-to-date, but realized I was not along with the problem. Creating an agile google calendar and share it with everyone that was interested in that data was the natural thing to do.
In ALE2011, Chris Matts reminded me about another advantage: XpDay London used the calendar to make sure that their date did not collide with another conference. (The people from AgileEE go even further as they put all their options onthe calendar.)
If you look at all the initiatives I started they have the next things in common:
- I have a personal problem
- I realize I’m not alone
- I create a walking skeleton version of a solution
- share it with my network
- spend a lot of time with my network to refine the solution
- give my network free access to what I created
- lots of time and energy
- sometime later, the network takes over
- I thank the people that spend energy on the project
- Make a lot of publicity for the community
- When people ask me for a descision, I give the question back to the community.
Who do you think I should ask next?
Most people answer this questions with people they know and respect. I want to turn this around, I prefer reading about people I don’t know. Ever since I started Who-Is, I have been careful to make sure that I invited a very diverse set of people. (That is why you see a lot of people I invited) At this moment I think we miss Asian people, actually we miss a whole set of non-English speakers. (Which I don’t have a big network of.)