Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow

Paul Tevis


Unpacking In Progress

I’m back from Agile2013 in Nashville, which did all sorts of fun things to my head.

The last time I attended, in 2010, I was very new to Agile, so attending the conference was like drinking from the firehose. Almost everything I encountered then was new, so I had to work hard to catch it all. This time was a little different. I had a much stronger background coming in, which meant that most of the learning I did involved integration. I didn’t encounter many ideas that were radically new to me, but I did see connections between things that I hadn’t noticed before. It helped me build a much stronger, more cohesive and coherent framework of thought. And that was fantastic.

I’ll likely be writing more about specific sessions I attended and conversations I had as I process them.


Ears Open, Mouth Closed

This has been my most silent week of work ever.

On Monday, I started my job as an Agile Coach at AppFolio. The first thing I have had to get used to is that I’m not writing code. This job is an opportunity to step fully into the coaching and facilitative role that I’ve said that I want, which is vaguely terrifying in and of itself. It’s also led to the second thing I’ve had to get used to: It’s far more useful for me to listen than it is for me to speak. I’m in a staff position, rather than in the line of production. My job is to be of service to the team, to help them get more of what they want. So I need to listen, to observe, to soak up what’s going on and how things work. I need to see what normal is and what that implies. I need to not start by assuming I know what changes should be made and simply speak from my own perspective. In time, I will start asking powerful questions and offering suggestions for improvement, but for now I mostly need to keep quiet, to watch and to listen.

For those of you who know me, you can understand how hard this is.


Waiting To Be Born

My birthday was two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been waiting to be born.

Three weeks ago I accepted a new job. Then were were closed for the week of Fourth of July. This week I’ve been wrapping up loose ends at work; my last day is next Wednesday. A week from Monday I’ll start at the new place. I’ll be there for a week and a half before taking a few days of vacation and going to conference for a week. It’ll be the middle of August before things fall into a new routine.

The net effect is that for roughly two months I’ll be in this weird, transitional limbo. I’ve started letting go of the past, but I don’t quite have a future to grab on to.


Writing and Not Writing

Why have there suddenly been posts here in last week or so, when there hadn’t been for months? What’s been happening recently that’s different?

Quite simply, I’m writing more because I’m reading, watching, and listening more. I write when I feel I have an idea worth sharing. Those ideas largely come from somewhere outside my head, from a book, an article, a video, or conversation. They then bounce around inside my head, collide with each other, and turn into something new. For the first four months of this year, though, I wasn’t exposing myself to those idea sources nearly enough.

And that has changed.


Error and Emotion

“Our capacity to tolerate error depends on our capacity to tolerate emotion.”
—Irna Gadd

I came across this quote in Kathryn Schulz’s excellent Being Wrong, a study of what it is like to discover we no longer believe things that we used to be believe. (“I used to believe that meeting was at 8 AM. I now believe it was at 6 AM. I also believe I wasn’t there.”) There’s at least three ideas directly from that book that I want to write about, but this one is somewhat tangential and also the most troublesome.

At first glance, I thought, “That makes sense. It’s hard to tolerate unpleasant emotions.” But as I thought about it, I realized that it’s not just the unpleasant ones that I’ve seen myself and others shy away from: it’s the intense ones.

When was the last time you let yourself be estatically happy? Feel unalloyed joy?