Why I am the one who is turning the lights out at every conference?

I spoke about Legacy Code at Agile Prague 2014 conference this week (You can find slides here). The conference itself reminds me that in last few years every time when I participated in such an event usually I was the one who left the conference venue or after-party as the last one. You can find some thoughts about conference content below, but first I would like to share with you answer to the question from the title of this post.

Why I am the one who turns the lights out at every conference?

Now when I think about it, it might look funny from someone else’s perspective that this guy stays at the conference till the very end just to talk with random people about Agile, Coding, Craftsmanship or Life and really enjoys it.

When I started to look for the reason of it I realized that two things that happened to me a few years ago played a significant role in this process.

At the beginning of 2010, I had been driving my old car from Krakow to my hometown and because of bad weather conditions, or maybe because I was so tired, I had a terrible car accident. I nearly died! If my car would have slept out of the road one meter forward I would hit concrete column and I would probably be dead now. Fortunately, I survived (my car was not so lucky). I learned that day how easy is to lose everything and how important it is to enjoy every single moment of our life. One week after the car accident my mother died. That way I have become even more convinced that every moment of joy is important and we need to use every opportunity to enjoy it.

I love smart discussions with smart people! Agile, Coaching and Software Craftsmanship is not only my work but also my passion. I love learning new things and since the most efficient way of doing so is to listen to what other people have to say I can’t miss any opportunity. Besides, I really adore teaching others and helping them solve their problems. This is the reason why I am trying to use every opportunity to talk about my passion.

Agile Prague 2014

Agile Prague 2014 was one of this events which I like the most. A lot of networking, great presentations, and awesome people. This year I learned a lot and of course the most important things happened during coffee breaks, at after-party or in the lobby (when I decided to skip some presentations).

“Less is more” – that’s way I  am going to share with you my thoughts about only three presentations, which I consider to be an essence of the entire conference.

Linda Rising – Opening Keynote

The opening keynote was awesome. Linda talked about Agile Mindset, what it is and how we can shape it. She gave some examples of how we can influence the mindset of other people by use of proper words or deliberately formulated sentences in one way or another.

Another important takeaway from this presentation is that in case of self-development it does not matter how intelligent or talented you are. The mindset we have while doing things and learning is what matters the most. Linda presented results of an experiment where youngsters with fixed mindset which could be defined as a mindset of the person who is always winning (teacher told them: “You are very smart”, “You are better than others”) after few iterations of solving different problems had worst results than people with “Agile” mindset (teacher told them: “Oh, you must have been working very hard to get this result, what could you do to have a better score next time?”).

Can you see the difference? Later I asked Linda what about adults because it might be easier to shape kids mindset than the mindset of the experienced adult person. This kind of neuro-linguistic programming is effective in a short period of time and it is very difficult to change people’s mindset for a long period of time. You can continuously coach them using this method and help them keep this Agile Mindset.

Opening Keynote was exactly as opening keynote should be – it was extremely inspiring, it shaped other speakers and participants mindset and opened our minds for new ideas.

Coach Mindset and who is your Client?

During the dinner, we had a great discussion with few speakers and conference participants about Coaching, Non-Violent Communication and Coach Mindset. I have learned from Paul Klipp and Pierluigi Pugliese that when you are angry (or feel any different emotion) on someone or on what someone did, you are in fact not angry on that person, but on what you think about that person or why that person did what he did. You can teach yourself how to be aware of that feeling – your body reacts to different emotions in different ways. For example, I discovered that when I am frustrated I can feel the tension in my back. This is a signal for me that “I am frustrated right now and I am probably behaving like a frustrated person – stop, be rational, behave rationally!”.

Another great discussion we had together with Pierluigi and Andrea Provaglio. It was about Coach Mindset in the context when you as a coach are in the “triangle” between people who are paying you and the person who is coached by you. The employer pays for coaching of his employees.
The problem starts when those two people have different, often opposite goals.
My conclusion was that if you as a coach found yourself in such a situation it means that you found a different kind of problem. Probably the organization you are working for hired people whose values are totally different than the organisation’s values.

Listen, Listen, Listen.

Listening – this is something which I learned from Paul’s Klipp presentations. Letting others say what they have to say is probably one of the best ways to improve the way they think. We are great thinkers but we are often not thinking well because the environment does not allow us to do it well.  There are two things which you need to do if you want to be a good listener:

  1. Stop talking
  2. Stop thinking about talking

Both seem to be easy, but in fact, they are not. If you want to learn more, read the articles and look for opportunities to see Paul talking about this topic at various conferences and events around the world.

Agile Prague 2014 – final Conclusion

Agile Prague was a great conference! As always I have learned the most from conversations with other people – participants, speakers, organizers even the driver who picked me up at the airport. So my recommendation for all of you is: always take every opportunity to talk with other smart people about things which you love to do!

If you want to find out more about agile methods we use in Pragmatic Coders, read more here: