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Showing posts from 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Entanglement (Office Space Edition)

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Bet you thought I forgot about this series, didn't you? I admit I got distracted by the EBER project but 2017 is still the year of being agile.

One of the things that bugs me about traditional risk management is that you have a "risk register" where all your individual risks go to live and are then mitigated, one by one, through your risk process. This makes no sense to me.

Risks aren't discrete and independent units. In fact, risks come in interrelated webs, with dependencies that impact each other's likelihood and potential severity. Let me give you an example:

Randolph has been dealing with chronic stress-related health issues. They come from his job, which is 12 kinds of shit in a shit box. He can't afford to quit his job, first because they don't pay enough to build up a cushion of savings and second, because they pay his health insurance. He also can't find a new job because, hello? health issues again. So his health is a risk, his job is a risk…

Life is Too Short to Eat Shit -- Media Edition

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As I mentioned before, one of my personal maxims is that life is too short to eat shit. And it turns out that even the Pope agrees with me.

So in thinking about self-imposed limits on media, I've been subjecting everything to a smell test. If it smells like shit, I've been cutting it out. But this is tricky because I want to distinguish shit from things that aren't shit, but that have a smell I don't particularly like. Because if I only subject myself to things that smell lovely, well then I'm back in the bubble. And none of us can afford to be in the bubble right now.

Here are the metrics I've been using:
How relevant it is? Local traffic and weather is highly relevant to my life. The more relevant it is, the easier it is to validate. They say that the snow will start around 1pm, did it? In most cases, relevant = local. However, there are things that are potentially relevant on a larger scale. You know what's not relevant though? Almost everything coming ou…

How to Become a Project Manager -- Lessons From the Corporate World

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Since this has come up a couple of times recently (in both my online and IRL lives), I thought it would be useful to spread the PM gospel. While I believe that everyone can benefit from acquiring some PM skills in order to meet their own goals, there are also some people for whom project management would be a good career.

First of all, why would anyone want to be a project manager for a living?

The skills are cross functional and can be used in many industries, from computers to medical care to construction. That means more options in the job market based on other skills you already have.The money is good. Let's just be blunt about it. PMs make a good living. They tend to be respected and valued for the work they do.Your job isn't going to get replaced by a robot any time soon.The role isn't easy to off-shore (and if you have PM skills managing off-shore teams, you are doubly valuable).You don't need -- and likely don't even want -- a college degree in PM. This is a …

EBER Project -- Play to Your Strengths (Lessons from the Corporate Sphere)

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This post is an expansion of part of this earlier post on setting big goals. If you are trying to figure out what big thing to pursue, I still recommend that post (plus it has a nifty Dr. Horrible theme). This post is about just one important piece of that... focusing on what you do well.

The idea is to play to your strengths and talents. Not because working on your weaknesses is bad but because it's not the best use of your energy. And for a really big goal, you need all the energy you can get. Being athletic has never been a strength of mine, but in looking at ways to be more fit, I need to focus on things I can do. Joining a sports team would be terrible idea, but an activity where I only compete with myself and have a way of seeing progress... that plays to my strengths.

Lots of business and life coaches suggest playing on strengths, so I went hunting for actual research that backs it up. And there is plenty. Plus doing a lot of what you suck at just kind of sucks. It's not …

Bullet Ephemeris Public Service Announcement

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Ever since mentioning my Bullet Ephemeris (and then blogging about it), I've been seeing masses of directed advertising for custom hardbound planner books. I am frankly stunned at the number and variety of these, to the point that I feel obliged to make sort of a public service announcement.

Each of these ads makes roughly the same claims for their product:

It will help you achieve every single goal you've ever even remotely contemplatedIt will turn you into hyper-achieving accomplishment machinesIt will banish all stress, wasted time, and bad hair-days from your lifeIt is, each and every one, better than all the others
Sigh. Let's have a little chat.

First of all, writing stuff down and being organized isn't a bad thing. But if a fancy form you fill out was all it took to meet your goals... well, there wouldn't be literally dozens of these out there on the Internet. This is why I don't ever give templates to my private consulting clients. In part because I lear…

FAQs About my Consulting Services

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Well, there's been a lot of interest in my consulting services since I went on Gordon's podcast. And I've gotten several questions that I though would be useful to answer here.



First of all, what consulting services? Go take a look -- if you ever wanted to be more organized or have someone to help you get your shit together, well that's what I do. And if you want to combine that with magic for even more leverage? That's my specialty.

FAQs
How do I start?
I usually like to start with a free half hour Skype chat. I learn what you're after and you to learn how I work. The goal is to decide whether we're a good fit before you spend any money.

How do you work?
I'm neither a therapist or life coach. I like to keep things super practical. Every minute of our consultation needs to be productive and you should come away feeling like you have concrete next steps. You will have homework that I review before the next session. That means our time together is more foc…

The EBER Project -- When Goals Attack

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When I started planning my major, three year project (dubbed Early to Bed, Early to Rise -- EBER) I knew it was important to immediately begin working on one or two of the goals. So I broke down part of the project into epics and then chose a couple of stories to get started on. This even before initiating the project.

This is useful because it keeps me from getting too caught up in planning. I need to be making traction even while the rest of the plan comes into focus.

My two chosen epics were around physical fitness and information gathering. Now, there's an argument to be made against focusing on too many things at once. But there's also some logic around intelligently picking stories that compliment one another.

My physical fitness stories are primarily physical -- though they have emotional and mental benefits. They are active but allow me time to think. My information gathering stories are mental / spiritual. They are contemplative but require focus and quiet time.

So th…

Sustain-ability: what you can, with what you've got, where you are.

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Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Boy, this past week has been crazy and the next is shaping up the same. We've got family illness, migraines, too much work, not enough sleep, etc. And lots of good stuff going on too (like PM consults and travel and plans to meet people and so forth). We've all been focused on just motoring through the tough stuff so we can try to enjoy the good.

This happens to everyone of course. Chaos theory tells us that shit clumps up (actually it probably tells us some more elegant things using math, but go with me here) and good or bad, stuff does seem to clump. Even the budding psychonaut commented on it: "why is it completely boring for weeks and then suddenly everything happens all at once?"


When things get crazy, I like to remind myself of the quote above. Sometimes plans, goals, and best intentions are all sacrificed on the altar of the daily grind. Whatever you want to do, sometimes there are t…

EBER Project -- Bullet Ephemeris Redux

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Since I'm in the middle of flushing out the EBER project, I wanted to explain how I've been using the bullet ephemeris for project planning and management.

First, I created a main project page to capture the high level stuff:


Sorry for all the blank space, but it is a personal project after all.

I ended up using vision statements rather than a long narrative paragraph. This means that my vision statement sounds a lot like the kind of things I'd make sigils out of -- and don't think I won't take advantage of that.

I also very briefly outlined the first two main phases of the project, which are scheduled to take a year. Then I'll have a month long review / planning period to define and kick off year two. This is important for two reasons: one, the entire first year is focused on information gathering so I won't know what's next until I have more information and two, with agile planning I don't have to know everything in advance.

Consider how lightweig…

Talking About Magic and Project Management with Gordon

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I was so pleased to be able to chat with Gordon on his RuneSoup podcast recently. He's a great interviewer and is really good at putting people at ease. Pretty much everything he does is highly recommended.
Amusing note, I'm so bad at marketing that the spouse had to remind me that maybe I want to mention it on my blog too!

The EBER Project -- Backlog and Schedule and Phases Oh my!

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So, let's talk a little bit more about the component parts of a major agile project like the EBER project. At the highest level, your project contains goals, plans, and deadlines. However, we now know more about how each of those things is handled.



Goals



The epics, stories, and tasks that you started creating become part of the backlog of work. A backlog is basically a stack-ranked list of things you need to do to meet your goals. So for example:

[EPIC] story
    task
    task
    task

So for my physical fitness epic, I might have the following stories and tasks

[Fit] I want to get additional regular exercise to increase strength and stamina
        Buy new running shoes
        Take the dog for a run instead of a walk
        Take a walk at lunch during the week
        Research three gym options in the area
        Update budget to account for gym membership
        Schedule gym visits in advance 3x per week
        Sign up for membership
        Pack a gym bag
        Get your a…

The EBER Project -- Epics and Stories

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One of the things that appealed to be most when I first learned about Agile was that they had epics and stories (and themes too, though I don't usually work with those). Since I take a narrative-focused view of life and magic, it makes sense that these terms would appeal to me.

In the last EBER project post, we walked down from strategic to tactical as far as goals. But it's not always a clean jump from a goal to the day to day things you need to do to meet the goal.

I'm going to steal an example from Dave Ramsey's Getting Things Done (tm) method here. I don't like everything about his method (his hoarders-level attitude to saving paper, for example) but there are lots of good nuggets in the system. He talks about how you probably have items on your to do list that never get done like "clean the garage." This is because "clean the garage" isn't granular enough. It's too overwhelming. You really need to break it down to much smaller bits …

The Bullet Ephemeris

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I promised a review of this to someone on Facebook, so I figured why not write about it here and get a 2-fer.

I currently track the majority of my magical stuff in a bullet journal style ephemeris. I know there are some very awesome magical astrological journals and such (like this gorgeous one by Benebell Wen) but for me, there's something important about having my own journal.

First, it's always going to be more accurate. I track some things that are either less common (thanks to Gordon I'm a Decan fan) or completely personal (like times when the current astrological alignments match my personal horoscope). Things that I don't care about don't get in the way. Plus everything is in my timezone.

Second, there's a real power to handwriting the information in. There's skin in the game and a sense of ownership of the book. Plus unlike digital solutions, it's a real world object, which is important in my very digital life.

So what's a bullet journal? Th…

The EBER Project -- Connecting the Dots

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OK, for those of you who work for a company, does your company have a mission statement? Do they have values? Do they articulate some annual or quarterly vision? (Quick Googling is allowed here).

Odds are they do (this is what E-staff do on all those off-sites and retreats after all). However, odds are lower that you know what those things say. And even if you are familiar, those lofty sounding and buzzword laden statements may not have any discernible connection to or impact on what you do every day at work. This is super common by the way, and has been the case at most of the companies I've worked for. They can't connect the dots between the strategic and the tactical. The strategy might actually make sense, but there's no link to your actual work. And the values sound good, but the company may not live by them.

But we aren't talking about companies here, we're talking about your life. And in your life you can do better. You are your own CEO -- who creates the s…