Remotely Audacious At Agile Atlanta Conference

Posted July 27, 2016 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Conference, Teams

sococo_2016-Jul-26

You can see the Kubi on the table…

This week I participated remotely in the Audacious Salon at the Agile2016 Conference in Atlanta. My friend, and fellow coach, Mark Kilby was leading a session for attendees to to brainstorm solutions to the many challenges teams face when some of the team members  are not all in the same place (i.e. working at a different office, from home, in a different country, etc.)

 

 

At the audacious Salon, I connected via a tool called Sococo – which has virtual rooms, in which you can connect by chat and video conference with  co-workers, spontaneously.  I was one of about 7 to join, including two from London.  

2016-07-25 10.58.28

The view for me of the other remote participants and the slide deck used at that moment. 

We could hear each other as well as the conversation at the table, and we were included during the introductions, but it became apparent how easy it is for the in situ people to forget about those who are joining remotely.  It takes some practice and discipline to overcome this hurdle. When one person is remote, act as if everyone in the room is remote.  What I love about Sococo though is the ability to spontaneously connect with co-workers and know where they are. Easier than email, cell phone, text, and much more effective for making connections, and getting information quickly. It is no silver bullet for all the issues on remote teams, but an interesting newish way of connecting remotely.

Me_Kubi_teleporting to the Netherlands

Teleporting to the Netherlands to see Lisette’s office space on a Kubi

I was also able to join at the ‘table’ in Atlanta, by ‘tele-porting’ into the Revolve Robotics Kubi device, which I could control remotely to check out who was at the table.  I could swivel it up and down and left and right. This enabled me to see all the people at the table without bothering them. Scroll left and right to swivel. Up to see the ceiling, down to the floor. For a fantastic example of how distance learning can be enhanced using the Kubi, watch the first few minutes of the video entitled Zoom On Kubi webinar at the Revolve Robotics website.

In a conference interview with Josh Fruit, of Solutions IQ, Mark Kilby shares that success with remote teams is not really about tools, but rather, the degree of connection between people.  He asks: 

          How do you make sure you have connection on your team?

This is not just an issue with remote teams, but one that exists on many teams. My company,  Connections At Work, has the explicit goal of improving connection no matter where the teams are located.  A few of the goals your leadership or your teams would be striving for if you asked me for help can be gleaned from this collaborative teaming article in the Harvard Business Review.  It is all about team emotional IQ.

There are a growing number of people who are collecting the body of knowledge about teams that work remotely.   One is my friend Lisette Sutherland who works in the Netherlands. You can visit her Collaboration Superpowers website and her podcast for a wealth of information. Her co-conspirator on many projects is Pilar Orti, working from London. You can see her activities, podcast, and blog posts at Virtual Not Distant.  Judy Rees is also highly qualified to help teams get the connections going remotely and has a wonderful blog post on this topic here.  Thanks to Mark Kilby and Jesse Fewell for continuing to explore, experiment with, and promote a distributed way of working in the agile community. 

As I’ve just completed the Collaborations Superpowers course, I’ll be able to start giving the same training to others who need it.  So if YOUR team needs help with the challenges of partially remote teams or connections on any team, do be in touch – contact information is also on my Connections At Work website.

Collective Intelligence with Mob Programming

Posted May 8, 2016 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Conference, Mobprogramming, Teams

 

2016-04-30 16.19.08

I returned on May 2nd from the first ever Mob Programming conference in Cambridge, MA.

Many people from around the world (US, England, Finland, Denmark, France, Africa, China, India) gathered to learn from Woody Zuill, Llewellyn Falco and others about a relatively new phenomenon in the IT world – that of groups interacting in the same (head) space to maximize the (coding) results while using the collective intelligence of those present.

The premise of  mob programming or ‘mobbing’ as it is sometimes called, is that people will learn together how to ’turn up the good’ in the team and in each other to the benefit their customers. The result is less time spent churning, estimating, waiting for answers, deciphering someone else’s code, fixing bugs. The greatest possible intelligence is collected into the code in a focussed and collaborative manner with the whole team (analysts, testers, programmers, and other specialists, as needed). When paired with solid tests, written first, this technique is a great way to produce high quality software that is more easily maintained. It operates more like a great team of scullers on the Charles River than a traditional IT shop.Harvard Crew

What happens in the majority of organizations that produce software is that most code writing is done by individuals using different styles at different times, at different desks, without much consultation – yet with the hope that the disparate parts will be able to be integrated.  In the status quo organization, there is not much attention paid to the ecosystem that the code ‘lives in’. Sometimes people are moved from team to team like chess pieces for short term gains.  Teams are treated as temporary constructs. The resulting software may appear cracked in places, and mis-understood, poorly formed in stressful situations.

If one developer wrote it and no one else understands it, the future ability to modify such code will be diminished. Therefore, the best way to have great code now and in the future is to put many minds at the same task, at the same time, in the same room (virtually or physically). The likelihood is higher that the best ideas from people will emerge and be used when people collaborate this way. 

2016-05-01 11.31.39I got to experience this first hand myself. I took part in a small group of coders who had to code the solution to a small problem together. Only one person ’the driver’  is allowed at the keyboard at a time and this person is not allowed to type anything other than what others in the room agree to have them type.  The screen is projected so that everyone can see.  All ideas and code must be verbally expressed and transmitted to the person in the ‘driver’s’ seat. The first time we did this, we had one designated navigator – who could direct the driver. The driver stays in the driver seat for a very short time – perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, after which the person who was driving can become a navigator and contribute again to the ideation about what to work on next, taking input from the others.  I very  much enjoyed learning and participating in this, and certainly felt there was no hesitation in people sharing their ignorance or their knowledge. Everyone learned.  In the conference setting, there were numerous opportunities to do this at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. The beginners used simple coding katas, and even some ‘koan’ lessons for learning to code in a new language.  Everyone had fun.

We also used simulations using other tools to teach about mobbing. One group, that I participated in briefly, produced an article for InfoQ as a mob, writing together in a very short time.  Another group used the card game ‘Set’ (which was invented by Llewelyn’s mother) to simulate a mob session for solving the puzzle.  Done in several rounds, once with a single navigator, then later with no single navigator (giving directions), it clearly shows how messy it can get -when first starting out – to have a group of people giving directions all at once.  But I observed that the time constraints work well in combination with a self-organizing team. The team learns best with trial and error how to moderate itself and inquire of each other before directing the ‘driver’ to take action.  In fact, after each change in the driver, we held a mini retrospective: each person contributed their ‘aha’, or passed.  Mobbing groups are encouraged to experiment.  Some teams are even working this way when not co-located, using video and screen sharing software.  As others have pointed out, great teams develop implicit and/or explicit protocols – you can read more about such teams here.

Whether with coding, or with non-coding simulations, the best individual performance on a challenge is almost never as good as the performance of a team of possibly less ‘able’ individuals. I took this lesson away at a wonderful simulation activity at Amplify Your Effectiveness conference in 2010. We compared the performance of individuals at estimating ten ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ to the performance of teams that worked on the same challenge together.  We observed that it is never the team with the best individual scorer that wins the team competition, even with the same 10 records repeated. 

I am quite sure that I experience both peaks and troughs in my productivity throughout the day.  I would be thrilled to be able to lean on other teammates and vice versa to ideate and produce the best possible products and deliverables.  If only managers could give up a fixation on ‘time spent’ on code, in favor of frequent delivery of valuable code for the business, I bet they would experiment with Mob Programming and find it very beneficial. And ‘valuable means too that it will be more easily maintained in the future – it won’t only be the tech lead who makes decisions and knows the history of the code’s back-alleys.  It will be collectively understood.

Finally, as you will read from Woody’s writings, and from his talks on mob programming, this technique should never be something anyone can or should mandate.  Teams should be left to choose their best way of working and be encouraged to experiment with their collective intelligence.  

I really appreciated the people who travelled from afar to talk about and practice the principles of mob programming and I would definitely attend this conference a second time.



If you need a facilitator to help you get started, please reach out to me. If you wish to read more about Mob Programming, you can read Woody’s book and Llewellyn’s books here and here and watch the time lapse of a day in the life of a team that mob programs.  On May 18th, I’ll be giving a workshop on The Core Protocols (another great team productivity enhancer) with an open discussion about mob programming at the end. These two ways of working and interacting are quite awesome for the audacious and courageous self-organizing teams.    If you are in DC, you can RSVP here. You do not have to be a woman to attend.

A last note: at the end of the conference, I offered up the idea of creating a community book about teams that are coding using the Mob Programming principles. It would involve interview questions and answers about the teams’ experiences, perhaps modeled along the lines of the Who Is Using Clean Language, Anyway? book. (That book is itself modeled after Who is Agile? book that I helped edit years ago). I would need a co-author and a couple of teams to volunteer for interviews to get started. It would evolve as a Leanpub book until we had a great cross section of teams from around the world representing different domains and challenges, perhaps 20 or 25 teams.  If you are interested, please leave me a note below or contact me via Twitter at @andreachiou

My ‘Intentional’ Mindful Leadership Retreat

Posted March 26, 2016 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean Language, Conference, Core Protocols, Courage, Dialogue, Event Offer, Influence Maps, Leadership, Listening, Personal Growth, Satir

cherriesI am planning a retreat with Selena Delesie, called the Mindful Leadership Retreat at the April 22-24th, 2016. You can read about it here, and register here.

I want to share why I am running this retreat, why at my home, and why now in my life? I want to disclose my intent!

My Intent in running the retreat is to:

1.) Share.  What holding this retreat does for me that it holds space for others to learn and share. The magic that can happen over a three day period with a small group of people is incomparably rich as compared to short  workshops. It is the ambience and generative experience I wish to replicate  – especially for those who have NOT had this opportunity before.  

2.) Invite people into my space.  Where one does one’s important life-advancing work is as important as discussing what the work is.  The learning environment you will come to has both beauty and serenity.   If you want to make a meaningful connection with someone at work, it is best not to do so with a desk between you.  Take a walk, go to a space where there is openness. That will have a beneficial effect on your communication. Learn why by experiencing it here.

3.) Spread the wealth of mindfulness and of my past influencers.  I want the effect to be far-reaching. I want to know that you’ve gotten what you needed by coming to this retreat and that I can support you even after it is over. I have my own influencers to thank. And want you to carry the torch forward.

4.) Collaborate with an amazing woman in doing something new.  Learning to go with the energy of the present moment is a gift – being able to let go of past stories, and create meaning and value in one’s life. If Selena and I can model a fresh new collaboration like ours for you, I’ll feel great – and you’ll see the reward in our faces for having tried something new and a bit scary.

5.) Create close connections between people.  Quite simply put, that’s where the magic happens and where the problems are solved. I want others to see how they can foster that happening as well.

What are some concrete Mindful Leadership exercises that you can expect from us?

Checking in: We will use checking in to launch each day in the morning and afternoon.

Temenos:  Influence Mapping / Vision Mapping – exercise in self-reflection, mapping one’s influences  and envisioning the future. Each person will be narrating their influence and vision maps during the retreat. This is story telling, a leader’s gift.

Jim and Michelle McCarthy: Personal Alignment exercise – identifying what you want, and what is blocking you from getting there. Identifying your core resources for overcoming these blocks.

Virginia Satir:

  • Five Freedoms – creating safety to speak (both at the retreat and at work)
  • Interaction Model – what happens when we are talking and responding in pairs, in slow motion
  • Congruence Model – (self, other, context) practice session with simulation of the five stances

Grove: Clean Language Questions – will be taught to help participants train their attention on others – and to remain judgement  free – a good practice for information gathering prior to reacting – for any leader.

Caitlin Walker: Systemic Modeling exercises, building up the power of the group to notice (each other) and take advantage of the diversity of experience in the room.

These tools are simple and therefore very powerful. We want you to take back some things that you can use right away!

Call to Action

Discovering, sharing and implementing your own intentions  is what Selena and I will help you do at the retreat.  The downsides of remaining with the status quo, not fulfilling yourself at work, of faltering with interpersonal or business relationship issues, and of observing disengaged workers are too many for us not to be doing this work together with you.   We do hope that if this appeals to you, you will sign up now, or join us on the upcoming webinar Q&A sessions. Details to be posted soon.


More on Intent Based Leadership

Intent based leadership is described in Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders – one of the very best leadership stories I’ve read.

Clean Language for Teams Training Events

Posted January 27, 2016 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Uncategorized

CleanForTeams training

Marian Way (left of flipchart) Caitlin Walker (right of flipchart)

Before reading the rest of this post about an offer for training, I highly recommend that you listen to this fantastic radio interview about Clean Language. There are so many examples here about how Clean Language is applied in business settings – I imagine you’ll better know why you might want to sign up for Clean Language training after listening to it.

Clean Language for Teams training is going to be offered April 1st and 2nd 2015 in the Pearl district of Portland (close to downtown). The training will be provided by the outstanding Marian Way from the U.K.  If you are in the US, here is your chance to get in person training from a pro. Let’s make Clean Language and Systemic Modelling be a well known toolset for communication in the agile community – starting now!  Clean for Teams will help agile teams adopt a learning, inquisitive mindset quite easily – something that is often missing when processes are adopted without some deep group reflection and group norms. Its not the only way, but its a great way – to instill a great culture. 

The two day course is an outstanding value. For a low price of $550 dollars – anyone who works collaboratively with others can get first hand experience in the proven tools of clean communication.  The word ‘experience’ is the critical one.  This course is not a theoretical powerpoint driven course – instead you will be introduced to the techniques, one by one, and right away be asked to practice them live, with the other group members. 

If you’ve been reading my blog or seen my slide decks on Slide share, you may be interested in Clean already, but not sure where to begin. You may not have had time to read books about Clean Language, but perhaps your interest is piqued enough that you might want to attend an in person workshop.

If you go, you’ll cover all the basic techniques like: Clean Questions, Developmental Tasks, Drama Triangle, Triune Brain, Metaphors for Learning at Your Best, Time Management and Decision Making, Pattern Spotting, among others. Put together, these techniques are incredibly powerful in groups for getting people to pay exquisite attention to each other and create self-supporting systems of learning and inquiry.  Your team members will have another tool to use to diffuse conflict, celebrate different opinions, develop each other’s thinking BEFORE piling on their own opinions.  New self and group awareness will develop as a result.  Essentially this course will give you a way of thinking about communication – and honoring each individual –  that is vastly different from what you or your organization may be used to.   

I highly recommend this course to all my agile colleagues (coaches, developers, analysts, testers, designers – UX folks, managers) in the Portland area (and of course to anyone who would be ok to travel there).  Get started with Clean Language in two days!  If you have a team in need of a better collaboration tools, better listening, more mutual respect, bring the whole team! 

There is also an option for an additional 3 days training after a one day break.  You can access the details for that here.  The second section will be geared towards helping those who are interested to become proficient at facilitating others in learning and using these techniques.   That is, these techniques are best used when your whole team knows them, not just you. So learning how to teach/facilitate others learning them is the next step. 

A similar Clean Language for Teams training will be held by Caitlin Walker in Asheville, N.C. in late April. The price for this two day experiential introduction is also $550 for this one if you book by February 15th.  It goes up to $650 thereafter.  

If you would like to know more, feel feel ask questions in the comments section.  I can help put you in touch with the organizers as well, if you have special needs or questions.

Santa Barbara Clean Language Workshop

Posted January 11, 2016 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean Language


2016-01-07 17.39.22Here is a quick recap of the Santa Barbara agile community meetup workshop I led on January 6th and a list of learning links as many expressed interest in continuing their learning journey.


There were about 40 people in the room at Citrix headquarters. A quick poll showed an even distribution of developers, analysts/product owners, coaches, and ‘other’ – including a few designers\UX folks and testers.  We started the session w2016-01-07 17.43.35ith the ‘Life is like..’ warm up exercise to introduce folks to metaphor.  There was lots of laughter and confusion as people played with the words and meanings. 

The workshop continued with a mix of stories about clean, how it evolved, and how to create clean questions. I interspersed that with exercises, practice and demos. While some left curious and pondering its application, several folks came up to me after and knew that they would be figuring out how to incorporate clean thinking processing into their work. I recall in particular a designer and a person dealing with selling of the product who could see the usefulness of clean questions.  Another lady, not affiliated with IT at all, had come because she is in career transition into health arena and thought it might be applicable. She left sure that she would continue exploring and taking classes.

Here is what I compiled for the participants afterwards so that they could have access to further information and learning opportunities about Clean Language. 

My personal recommendations list for books and online resources is posted on my webpage, Adaptive Collaboration

For those who do want to continue ‘live’ with practice and learning, here are a few links to upcoming events:  

A webinar by Caitlin Walker coming up February 4th (9 am pacific time on a Thursday)  – this will be similar to the workshop I gave. Caitlin has been doing Clean Language for 20+ years. She’s an expert. There will be lots of interaction via the text chats, and some live participation with volunteers using Adobe Connect.

If you would like to participate in small group Skype based Metaphor Mastery class, Judy Rees does a great job facilitating those. Scroll to the bottom of the link to sign up. 

There is A LOT of information on clean learning events around the world. Go to the April timeframe for links to Clean for Teams type programs some of which are occurring in Portland, and others of which are occurring in Asheville, NC.  

My friend in San Luis Obispo, Sharon Small, has not yet posted a full 2016 schedule of trainings but will likely do them in the fall timeframe in the San Luis Obispo area. You can sign up for her newsletter and learn what her curriculum is like here.  Sharon offered the nice bookmarks for the event. She’s the co-author (co-compiler) of the book I mentioned that she and I put together, called, Who Is Using Clean Language anyway.

By the way, don’t forget to pick up your copy (for free) here – for inspiration. The book contains interview stories of people and how Clean Language changed their life outlook, business, and relationships. It is similar in style to the Who Is Agile book that is also published on Leanpub.

Lastly, a few of you wanted something more concrete on how to use this right away at work.  The CleanLanguage.co.uk web site is an absolute treasure trove, but can be a bit daunting to find just the right stuff.  So I propose you take a look specifically at the section here, on business applications.  There’s a particularly good transcript of Meeting facilitation using Clean Setup – something Caitlin Walker developed, that may give you a sense of how you might begin to use the basic questions to get great clarity for an upcoming meeting. 

Thanks again to Citrix for hosting and Heidi Helfand for inviting me. I loved Santa Barbara and wish you all well and a fantastic 2016. 

Northern Taste of Clean – Sept 2015, West Kirby, England

Posted September 23, 2015 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean Language, Conference, Personal Growth, psychology

2015-09-18 09.07.04

I took another leap (flight) into the realm of Clean Language last week – in West Kirby, England – which is an area just West of Liverpool – at a very atypical conference/gathering called ‘The Northern Taste of Clean’. This event is now in its 4th year, and is hosted by Caitlin Walker and Shaun Hotchkiss in their home.

It was part social gathering, part conference, focussed on building shared knowledge, community, and finding new opportunities and connections in the Clean Language Community. The forty participants ranged from the well-known (the hosts Caitlin and Shaun, Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, Wendy Sullivan, and Marian Way to name a few)  to  established practitioners in the field making a living using Clean,  to those who are more recent and passionate enthusiasts, wanting to do much more with Clean Language than they currently do. I count myself in the latter group.  

2015-09-20I came away inspired by and learning from everyone I talked to.  Shaun and the many volunteer helpers provided tea and food throughout the day – all vegetarian fare – tasty and homemade by Shaun and others.  Body and mind thrived and even the weather cooperated much of the time – so we could enjoy the sun and beautiful garden, as well as Caitlin and Shaun’s lovely labradoodle Stella.  It was a fantastic event and very much worth the transatlantic flight.

I can’t possibly jot down all the  learnings and rich conversations I had, but I will share a brief listing of the sessions I attended – as much for my own recollection later as for your curiosity, if you wish to read on.

Clean Learning Thresholds, facilitated by Marian Way – a look at modeling the session participants to see when they ‘grasped’  specific subtleties of Clean Language, what happened ‘just before’? What ‘aha’s’ in learning could they recall and what were the conditions that lead to it.  The aim was to identify thresholds and to understand how people cross them. I’ve started documenting my own (from the past 4 years) as a result of this session.

Clean Selling – Simon Coles – a group discussion about the position of Clean Language in the model of ‘Crossing the Chasm’ (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm) and why Clean Language is still in the Early Adopters stage.  How can the community support each other in promoting Clean Language in the best way possible such that it might cross to Early Majority stage?

Self-Organizing Systems – James Lawley – a session to learn from participants what principles from Clean or elsewhere might support self organizing groups of people (such as for organizing a conference, for example).  James and Penny plan to host a self-organizing conference in 2016. We broke into groups and reported out on 4 main themes at the end.

Modelling Session Demo – Caitlin Walker, facilitated a participant on her research/writing desired outcome. Caitlin included the observers in the analysis of the facilitated session as it was going on (when put in pause mode). This I had seen in some of Caitlin’s training CDs, but had not ever experienced it in person.   It was powerful and the subject also was able to resolve the issue.

Working with Disaffected Youth – Stuart Clark and James Jeffers – shared fascinating outcomes of their ongoing work in Caitlin’s company – with the unemployed youth of the area right nearby Liverpool.  The techniques come from Systemic Modelling which you can read about in ‘From Contempt to Curiosity’.  James Jeffers had been a participant in the program and is now apprenticing with Caitlin and being paid as a facilitator in the program. It was fantastic having him there as living proof of the transformational nature of Clean Language and Systemic Modeling.  This program has seen roughly 250 of 300+ participants graduate from NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) to EET (now either Employed, in Education, or in Training) with no recidivism.  Many of these youth are from multi-generational unemployed families.  So inspiring.

Clean Interviewing – James Lawley and Caitlin Walker – session to learn how to discern the difference between leading questions and clean-ish questions when trying to collect real data for qualitative interviews. After James and Caitlin shared a brief history of and introduction to  this topic, we were handed a sample questionnaire for study and then broke into small groups to assess the questions in it (categories were strongly leading, mildly leading, or contextually appropriate). After debriefing that, we were guided to practice spontaneous clean interviewing in triads.

Modelling Gender – with yours truly and Caitlin Walker.  This was my proposed session – run in parallel with the pre-set conference sessions – and many wanted to come to it.  In the end we had eight people discussing what their experience of gender is like followed by ‘who is different?’ and other clean questions and discussion. A friend of Caitlin’s who was not part of the conference was invited in  to participate in this session as she has a transgender child (but no support group in the area of West Kirby). Everyone found something new to think about on a topic most never discuss.

For the last session on Day 2, I floated back and forth between two spaces/sessions. The first was titled: Whirly-gig, Clean Space and Emergent Knowledge. It took place outside with one participant at a time on the ‘Whirly-gig’ a contraption that is used to suspend people in space.
WhirlyGig2Each participant can explore perceptions spatially in a unique way while being clean questioned  about a desired outcome and rotated to new positions as requested. If you’ve never heard of Clean Space, you might have to read The Power of Six, by Phillip Harland. Clean Space was a late emerging gift from David Grove prior to his passing.  The Whirly-gig is not required to experience Clean Space, and only one of those exists in the world, as far as I know.
 

The second session titled Systemic Modeling in the Real World  was given by Jacqueline Surin from Malaysia in which she was interviewed by James Jeffers and participants on how she got to where she is.  I was very inspired by her story. I had not yet met anyone who had put her first career aside to devote herself to Systemic Modeling based on reading Caitlin’s book, from Contempt to Curiosity. Jacqueline had been a well-known journalist in Malaysia!  She inspires me!

A few of the other sessions I had very much wanted to attend were:

Looking for Literacy – A Modeling Approach to Learning to Read – Cricket Kemp – on her proven techniques to help kids learn how to read and spell.

Clean Voice – Sophie Kirkham – a method for retracting your vocal chords

The Advantages and Disadvantages to having an outcome – Shaun Hotchkiss and James Jeffers 

The weekend event was preceded by a two day workshop given by the partner and ex-wife of the late David Grove, Cei (pronounced Kai) Davies on using Clean Language to resolve traumatic experiences. I attended this event purely because of who she is, but also because the topic is extremely fascinating. I also learned about many of the theoretical underpinnings and historical influences on Clean Language from the fields of psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.  Cei has extensive experience working with Trauma victims around the world and gave two very powerful demonstrations of facilitation to two volunteer participants. Each of those lasted about an hour or so, followed by some debriefing and questions. Most of the two days was a lecture/discussion format and was very informative indeed. I got a certificate again for CECs (continuing education credits) – but I have no idea which program would take these! I am neither a certified coach (yet) nor a therapist!

Lastly, flying to England gave me the added opportunity to meet some second cousins I had never met, one family from West Kirby, one from Liverpool, and one from Manchester.   Now that was extremely special for me and for them.  And who knew I have a second cousin twice removed  – a young 12 year old – who performs regularly in London musicals – look him up on Youtube, his name is Ilan Galkoff….

It was an amazing week on many fronts and as always I am so grateful that I have such great opportunities to learn and grow.

 

How ‘I’ met Virginia Satir

Posted July 30, 2015 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Uncategorized

Jerry Weinberg and me (1)When I was recently at Problem Solving Leadership (PSL) workshop run by Jerry Weinberg and Esther Derby, I had the opportunity to eat lunch with Jerry and to ask him how he had come to meet Virginia Satir.  He was very happy to be asked this question.  

He started by explaining to me how when he was first studying psychology, he had read Frogs into Princes, one of the first Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) books, in which Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson were both mentioned. Based on the publication date of that book, 1979, and Virginia’s birth year, 1916, he had mistakenly assumed Virginia was already deceased.  Some time later – perhaps a year or two, by around 1985, he discovered she was still alive and was astonished and thrilled. He made sure to immediately find out where to meet her and some time later, he was able to. This is the recollection Jerry shared of their first meeting.

‘I could take you right now to the exact hotel in Mt Crested Butte, Colorado, into the exact room in that hotel, and point to the exact spot within that room, even which floorboard – where she was greeting people, one at a time, in a sort of ‘receiving’ line.  The reason I can remember this is that Virginia made each and every person she encountered feel like they were the exact focus of the universe for the time they had with her.  And those minutes felt like an eternity. You see, once I had experienced that kind of attention, it was indelibly imprinted on me.  After that, I was determined to become her student and spent many months and years training with her.  Eventually I became one of her favorite students.”

I saw the deep emotion in Jerry’s face as he described that first meeting (he was on the verge of what I’ll call happy memory tears, though I don’t know if they were sad reminiscing tears to him).  I found joy in myself because he was passing along not just the story of how he met her, but the meaning, and feelings he had at that moment.  And it helped me to understand Jerry in a different way – through connecting with emotion, which is something I cherish.

Jerry has passed on Satir’s influence to many people around the world – whether they know it or not. He has done this through his many great books about software development and consulting and also via his famed Amplify Your Effectiveness  and  Problem Solving Leadership experiential workshops.  Hearing Jerry tell his story first hand in this way, after having soaked up all the wisdom from his Satir-influenced books, was like finding the source of the Nile!

It was a great lunch and I’ll never ever forget it – city, hotel, as well as the table we sat at.


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