Posts tagged: training


By , May 11, 2010 6:00 am

Awhile back I received an e-mail from a headhunter asking if I was interested in joining their Agile leadership team. I shared it with Rich, then politely declined their offer. I didn’t think about it again until I was talking with Rich later that week.

He said to me, “I didn’t leave work that night worrying that you were going to go because I knew that’s not where your passion lies. And if it is, then it would be right for you to go.” It turned out to be a great launching point for a conversation about what it is that we do at Menlo, and why we do it.

It all starts with Passion. Passion for the work we do. Passion for sharing what we do with others.

When we started exploring all the ways we share our passion, we started scribbling on an index card.


In reflecting on the things we discussed, I have to admit that I was a little surprised. After all, we’re a custom software design and development firm — what does all this other stuff have to do with software design or development? What do we get out of public speaking, tours, books, training, this blog, Twitter, etc… ?

For me, it’s that I get to share the joy and passion I have for my work with other people. Really, it’s that simple.

I’m fortunate in that I’m asked to do a lot of public speaking. I’ve traveled around Michigan, around the country, and even around Canada and Latin America sharing what I’ve learned over the years, particularly what I’ve learned from the Agile movement and how we apply it here at Menlo. Always the reaction is the same: disbelief that work can be joyful, tons of questions about how we make it work, and finally a glint of hope in their eyes as they really start to grok what they’ve heard.

That’s why we write this blog. That’s why we wrote our book. That’s why we tweet. We want to restore belief in joy.

Joy is infectious. Pass it on.

Gratitude and Joy

By , October 29, 2009 8:30 am

Exactly seven years ago, at 8:30 am EST, I got my first taste of “Agile.”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long, but I still bear the scars of my life in a waterfall world. Once I was Director of Software Programs for a great little company in Southfield, Michigan. Unfortunately, no matter how many hours I worked, I couldn’t keep the bomb from imploding our industry.  After laying off the majority of my team — a pain I hope never to repeat — I found myself laid off.

After months of relentless job searching, I had nothing. To say that I was demoralized was an understatement. I began thinking about a career change. A contemplative life baking bread was beginning to hold great appeal.

A friend who was likewise unemployed told me he’d just gotten a job with a company in Ann Arbor. He encouraged me to send a resume. I did.

The company invited me to come to a day of training gratis because I was unemployed. “What the heck!” I thought, “It beats staying home and sending out more resumes…”

The company was Menlo Innovations, a small (at that time) startup in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They had been founded as an Agile design and development shop, though I didn’t know that at the time. (In my haste to get a resume in their hands, I had committed a capital offense: I didn’t visit their website. Bad, bad Lisamarie!) The class they invited me to was called Agile Explained.

That day changed the course of my career and my life.

I learned about story cards, planning game, collocation, weekly iterations, standup meetings, and much, much more. By the end of the day, my head was swimming. I thought, “Why in the world didn’t I know about this before?” I felt like I’d been handed the keys to the kingdom.

We had a standup meeting at the end of the class and I still remember what I said, “My name is Lisamarie. Today I learned that I may never have to use Microsoft Project again, and I don’t ever want to leave here.” The comment drew a few chuckles, but I was serious. I wanted to be a part of this organization that had just turned everything I thought I knew on its head.

It’s been said that “half of life is just showing up,” and I started showing up. Much like those who came to work for Edison, I was willing to do anything. The first place they focused my energy was as a software developer on a pro bono project for a local non-profit. Though my coding skills were rusty, paired programming enabled me to jump in and start working right away. And unit testing! I learned about unit testing, something that my developers had always wanted to do but for which they could somehow never find time.

As time passed I learned more and more. I worked as a software developer on a handful of paying projects. I worked as a project manager. Eventually I became the Factory Floor Manager and helped them run the wonder they had created. These days I focus my time and effort on evangelism for Menlo and for the “Agile cause.”

Seven years is a long time, but the honeymoon isn’t over. Every morning I jump out of bed and can’t wait to get to work because I’ve rediscovered the joy that comes from meaningful work. It’s an amazing contrast to the years I spent before Menlo, where I laid in bed lamenting yet another day each time the alarm clock sounded.

On this, my anniversary, I wish that all of you rediscover the joy in your own work. It’ll change your life.

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