Sunset at the beach is a moment of clarity!

Silence is a powerful tool to guide conversations and mine information from the stream of consciousness that flows around us. If silence was just a tool to improve our connections with people and to improve listening, it would be worth practicing. But, silence is also a tool to peer deeper into our minds. Silence improves relaxation and helps individuals to focuses. On the other hand, sound and input also have physiological impacts.  (more…)


The longest days of winter are often a trigger for introspection. Introspection provides time for evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t, it provides time to consider the path you are on and to decide to change that path. As importantly introspection provides an opportunity to navigate feelings, issues, and words at a conversation level. Silence is an enabler for introspection at many levels. Silence is the space between sounds and other inputs. Silence can happen or be manufactured. Silence is powerful because it both allows thought in yourself and evokes action in others at exactly the same time. Silence at the level of a conversation can have multiple benefits.

Silence enables listening – simply put if you are talking you are not listening. Close your mouth and listen to what is being said. One of the hardest lessons of interviewing I have learned from the past 11’ish years of the Software Process and Measurement Cast is not listening just to know when it is your turn to talk or to listen just to generate the next question. Both are destructive to understanding. (more…)


Emotional intelligence is the proficiency of identifying and managing our own emotions and the emotions of others. Not everyone has the skills to be emotionally intelligent.  Skills represent an ability that comes from knowledge, practice, and aptitude in order to do something well. While everyone has a different beginning and maximum level of natural capability, between those boundaries skills can be learned and honed. (more…)

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Happy New Year!  

SPaMCAST 425 features our annual tune-up ideas. We need to strive to be more effective and efficient every day or the world will pass us by!  These are suggestions that have worked for me and might be useful for you.

We will also have columns from Steve Tendon with another chapter in his Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban, published by J Ross (buy a copy here).  Steve and I talked about Chapter 14 which covers kanban, flow, and throughput.  

Anchoring the cast is Gene Hughson’s Form Follows Function Blog with an entry in his theme of leadership patterns and anti-patterns.  This week we talk about The Great Pretender.

Remember that Penny Pullan in SPaMCAST 424 offered listeners a great offer!  Penny provided a coupon for her new book  Virtual Leadership for 20% off.  Use the code  VLF20 at, which includes post and packing in the UK and the USA. (more…)

Getting older and getting wiser!

Getting older and getting wiser!

At the end of the year I take time for reflection, introspection, and retooling; an activity that I highly recommend. The question I often ask myself as I reflect is how can I become more effective and efficient.  For the sake of clarity, I define effectiveness as the ability to deliver desired results.  Effectiveness means that we have to know what we are trying to deliver and that what we are delivering matches the need when it’s delivered. Being “effective” is more complicated than just doing what you were asked to do because that might not be what is needed when you get the end of a piece of work.  Being effective requires efficient execution and carefully listening to feedback.  Efficiency is a far simpler topic.  Efficiency is doing useful work with least amount of energy.  For knowledge workers, the most significant input into the efficiency is their time. A few evenings ago as my wife and I talked over a glass of wine, cider and a few tacos (it was taco night) about plans for the new year, she chided me on wanting to write more columns and extend the podcast franchise.  As Kevin Kruse (SPaMCAST 398) says there are only 1,440 minutes in a day and without a time machine it is nearly impossible to generate more.  Efficient and effective use of our minutes is more than an academic question, it is a matter directly tied to meeting our goals and feeling fulfilled. Over the years I have found nine improvement areas that commonly can be capitalized on at a personal level.  I will openly admit that each item on our list are areas that I strive to be better at almost on a daily basis. (more…)

Podcamp Toronto

I am attending the 10th anniversary PodCamp Toronto 2016.  Podcamp Toronto is an unconference that is focused on social media, podcasting and content marketing.  Why did I start attending Podcamps and other content marketing conferences?  On one level, it is simple, I am interested. It is complicated on another level, I am a bit of an introvert and the people that attended were not people that I normally rub shoulders with on a day-to-day basis. Therefore attending is a push outside of my comfort zone. Attending conferences like Podcamp help me extend my skills in podcasting, help me make new friends and has occasionally sparked new interests.  Said another way, attending Podcamps has helped me to continuously reinvent myself.  As I am sitting in the halls and classrooms on Ryerson University, I would like you to ask yourself: what are you doing to reinvent yourself?  While we are taking a break from the standard Re-read Saturday fare spend a few minutes contemplating what new idea or skill you would like to explore, and thinking about what is the next step in making the exploration a reality.  (more…)

When I get near the end of the year I begin to wax philosophical about the year and what I am going do to be a better me next year. Things like not eating onion rings for breakfast, reading a novel or two or learning a new skill. While I spend time every week honing my skills (what else are you going to do in a hotel room) it is important to make plans and set goals. So you will understand the theme of the next few essays . . . This week “Who Is In Charge Of Your Career?”

Who Is In Charge Of Your Career?
Thomas M. Cagley Jr.

Who is in charge of your career?  At some point in my evolution, I came to the realization that I was in charge of my own career regardless of who I worked for or what the economy was like.   I was my own brand to be managed and improved over time.  Thinking of myself as a brand is an artifact of beginning my work life in the garment industry, of my masters work at Cleveland State University and Dr. Rao.  Today this is an easy perspective to continue, having once been a small business (an independent consultant).  Once you become a small business person you have no choice but to become a brand manager.  Once that idea gets underneath your skin, your perspective will change from that of the 8 to 5 cube farm victim.

The difference in perspective between brand manager and victim is stark.  One of the simple differences is an active pursuit of new knowledge and skills.  The person taking the active approach will reach out for new ideas whether someone else is paying for it or not.  The person taking the active view sees the opportunity, grabs hold of it because they have an innate optimism.  Optimism contributes to career resiliency in which employees realize they are responsible for their careers, for reinventing themselves to make their skills marketable (Psychological Capital  By Fred Luthans, Carolyn M. Youssef, Bruce J. Avolio, Oxford University Press) They rallying cry of the optimists might be “The future will be brighter and I want a part of it.”.  The difference between the extremes in the perspectives was demonstrated when I was talking with friends over a few beers.  After a spirited discussion of football, baseball, basketball and competitive grass growing the talk turned to careers and professional growth (it was getting late in the evening).  More than a few of the cohort lamented the fact that their organizations had slashed training dollars to improve the bottom line.  Slashing training is a short sighted act. In their opinion, the slashed training budgets meant that my friends will not be “getting” any training in the coming year.  The question that quieted the table was “well what are you going to do for yourself?”  The bottom line is that some portion of our society still believes that the company is obliged to keep them trained.  It is obvious that many people in today’s work place have forgotten the lessons of the two year recession in the early 1980’s. The 1980’s recession was the last severe recession that challenged broad swaths of workforce to reinvent themselves.

Baseline Magazine had a headline, “Innovate or Perish”.  While they were targeting organizations I would suggest is the same is true for me, you and your neighbors in the cube next door. Make an early New Year’s resolution; decide that you will continuously add to your store of knowledge. The options are endless (some of them are free or very cheap); pick up a professional magazine, go to the library check out a book (and read it), listen to a podcast (I have one I would recommend), read a blog or take a class.   You own your brand, make sure you are continually stamping “New and Improved” on your forehead.