Saturday, March 26, 2016

Scrum Journal : Day 6 (The Retrospective)

A lot has happened in the 6 days since starting my scrum journey. I have morphed from reading Jeff Sutherland’s Scrum book to reading Scrum for Dummies to enrolling in CC Pace’s certified scrum master prep course to passing the CSM exam.  As I have noted that I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired with the same old results. Remember, insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Well, last Sunday I was sick of the same old result and decided to email four LinkedIn connections regarding scrum, agile and ITIL. All four had PMPs like me so they knew what it took as project managers to pass the other certification exams. The three who responded all told me that scrum was the way to go so I embarked on my journey. The hardest part was finding a CSM exam prep workshop on such short notice. I found one because I was determined! Nothing was going to stop me from changing my life around!
                First, in scrum, let’s start with a definition of ‘done’. The Scrum Guide defines the definition of done as ‘ a shared understanding of what it means for work to be complete’. Although I don’t have a team, my definition of ‘done’ is earning my certified scrum master (CSM) license by Thursday. Once, I have a definition of ‘done’, I start planning my sprint. My sprint in this case is the reading and workshop necessary to complete my definition of ‘done’. Since I have defined done and completed the sprint, I am going through to the sprint retrospective (there is no sprint review meeting here). Below are the three sprint retrospective questions:

What went well?

People: My LinkedIn connections were phenomenal with their advice.

What didn’t go well?

I could had done without the blowhard instructor who went on massive 25-30 minute tangents (Tuesday’s lunch was 20 minutes late due to one.). I was forced to take control of my own education through reading the Scrum Guide and Scrum for Dummies because I did not get what was sufficient to pass the CSM exam. My team also had someone who constantly talked about the Army but never fought in battle (my father fought in Vietnam, maternal grandfather fought in Korea and paternal grandfather fought in World War II). The Scrum Alliance’s CSM exam portal went down because there were too many of us on the site. I was forced to take the CSM exam at home. I received harder questions forcing me to find two online test resources and relying on the Scrum Guide. I passed the CSM scoring 94.3% (33/35).

What have I learned?

My biggest learning lesson is that I can change my circumstances in 5 days flat. My mentality has changed. That CSM workshop class costs $1295 but I view this amount as an investment instead of an expense. I have paid nearly $2000 to prepare for the CAPM and PMP certifications. Attaining these two licenses, have propelled my income from $71,400 to $115,000. Scrum gives me more continuous improvement tools to better myself. That the product owner role is right up my alley because it has a business slant to it. I possess an MBA and this is right up my alley. Furthermore, I am clearer on agile, scrum and will consider resubmitting my PMI-ACP certification application. I love technology and continuous improvement. I will start reading more about scrum and agile books because I am big on both. Finally, I now qualify for 2-3 times as many jobs because of my CSM. I know that my future is bright and that I this $1295 CSM workshop will pay dividends.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Scrum Journal : Day 5

Thursday, March 24, 2016, I awoke at 6am because I had the routine down pat. I nearly forgot my laptop so I had to return after getting to the basement level. At least I wasn’t on the metro. I still managed to board the earlier orange line train to Vienna station. Creating a buffer was essential since this was the metro. I transferred to the 2B and this time remembered to pull the bell in the right spot to avoid walking over the bridge. I was the fourth person there. I just prayed that there was over with so that I could take the test and pass it.
                The instructor started discussing technical debt which was because of my questions. I was validated because I did not think that I was learning a whole lot the day before. However, I did admit that doing the user stories, spring and product backlog activities taught me something. I would give the training that. During the morning break, I crossed the bridge to the PNC to get Uber driver tip money. During lunch, I dined on Uncle Julio’s patio (I fell for the trip of eating all of the chips and salsa. I filled up so much that I couldn’t finish the fajitas. Hey, I was starving. That chocolate bar wasn’t enough.).
                I returned to training still nursing a headache with no Aleve. I managed to survive more tangents and rumblings. I went to use the bathroom and boom I was shut out of the ScrumAlliance CSM exam page. That poor website said that it was busy. I packed my stuff, ordered an Uber and went on my way. Or so I thought…The Uber driver missed the Vienna exit. He asked me. I told her that I lived in DC. I did not know anything about Virginia. We managed to get to Dunn Loring metro. I did not recognize this Dunn Loring. I stopped going there ever since the silver line opened because it had Tysons Corner stops. A Smashburger franchise was built where the old parking lot was. It looked like all of those other planning communities for middle-middle class people (You would not find a Smashburger or other franchises in DuPont so that was a couple rungs below but still). I boarded the orange line returning home. I dropped my bags, reconfigured my laptop and took the test.
                My test was harder than the questions that my classmates received. Immediately I started surfing the Internet for scrum help. I found two sites which helped. Also I grabbed the Scrum Guide. It was written by scrum’s cofounders so I knew that I was good. I scored 94.3% (33/35) passing the exam. Immediately I photographed my certificate posting it on Instagram. I tried uploading it to LinkedIn, but the photo was upside down. Therefore, I found my digital camera in my black oversized Kate Spade purse and re-photographed it. LinkedIn liked that one. Afterward, I typed my CSM announcement posting it on my site. I then copied that to Medium.
                I thought that passing the CSM would be different, at least dinner. In my mind, I thought I would be dining at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons. I dined at Morton’s steakhouse right after passing the PMP. Nope! Combined the headache, the misfit Uber driver and the ScrumAlliance’s crashed website, I settled for a frozen macaroni and cheese dinner from CVS. Hey, at least I was certified! No one can take CSM away from me! My biggest epiphany was my emotional intelligence. I did not flip out against the Uber driver. I just got home and carried on. I did not let that affect my certification exam performance. Now that was maturity!
I fulfilled this week’s goal of earning my CSM because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired in my job search. Immediately after passing, I created a scrum job alert. There were no less than 20-25 jobs. Also I emailed the three LinkedIn connections who helped me privately and highlighted their names publicly on my LinkedIn status. Giving credit and being gracious were essential. I changed my LinkedIn profile uploading my certificate and adding it to my certifications list. It was like Christmas and I was opening up a present. After 5 days, I was finally certified! Next I told my career coach because we had to start working on integrating this new certification into my personal brand. We had work to do. I had to write a new story.
Finally, I email someone who had impacted me. I was telling him that dipping into a specific fund felt like lack. He said to view this as a business investment since I filed my LLC. That CC Pace training cost $1295. I viewed it as an investment instead of a cost. I started this Sunday sick and tired of being sick and tired. Five days later, I was now a certified Scrum Master. That was an investment indeed!

Scrum Journal : Day 4

Today I awake at 5:45am to leave the house at 6:50am and board the early orange line to Vienna. I am up early because becoming scrum certified is my goal. I admit that I am a techie and love doing statistical programming. My first foray into project management is actually IT project management. Scrum is natural to me especially since it provides the framework for continuous improvement; and, I am all about this.
This stop is the last of the line and I have never been here before. Dunn Loring, the penultimate stop, is the farthest I have even been. I then transfer to the 2B bus to the office building. The ride is going very well but I miscalculated staying on the bus an extra stop forcing me to walk back over the bridge. I have managed to find it. I arrive at 8:30am right on the dot. Well, this is an adventure.
I sit in the only remaining seat (in the front, of course). I thumb through the material and it looks manageable; that’s until the instructor starts going off on tangents. I admit that I am scared because we start at 8:30am ending at 12:20pm (Lunch was supposed to be at 12 noon but there was another tangent) and we’ve only covered 8 slides on 4 pages. I’m just happy that I have read Jeff Sutherland’s book and some Scrum for Dummies because I’ve felt abandoned. While dining at P.J. Chang’s for lunch, I am writing in my notebook about ways to study in order to pass the CSM. I have paid my own money and have been dead set on getting my scrum certification. I will figure this out. Luckily, he speeds up the pace. At the end of day one.
I do have a tablemate who lets everyone know that he is taking a graduate software engineering program. Okay, when I advise him that he convert the scrum certification into an elective. This advice is coming from someone who has earned her MBA in her 20s. His response : ‘the way that I am set up, I am only 4 courses away from my masters.’ Dummy. He could have used this certification converting it into something else. However, I must remember that I am a quick study. I bet that we are the same age but have different paths. I refuse to pay more money than I need to on anything especially my education. Good luck with that! My father fighting in Vietnam and my paternal grandfather fighting in World War II also perturbs me about this tablemate who has never seen war but always talks about the Army. Sheesh! One more day!
I have started practicing for the CSM because I am anal and need to have as many looks as possible. It is one thing for the instructor to recommend what I should study on the exam. It is another to be able to problem solve. I need to know the why because scrum is a part of agile project management. Mastering scrum is essential towards my deeper understanding of this. Furthermore, I love tinkering with technology. For me it is all about walking into the workshop knowing all of my stuff not just what is recommended.
Yippie! I have scored 80% on a mock CSM exam. I have gotten 12 out of 15 correct. Two out of the three that I have gotten wrong are because I don’t know the terminology. I don’t know anything about technical debt of maintainability. I will ask the instructor about this.
More yippie! I have taken a full 35-question mock exam and increased my score to (29/35)! That’s better than the 15-question one. It is essential to build my stamina by taking a full mock exam because I need to know how I will react. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scrum Journal : Day 3

Okay so I awoke on time but fell back asleep. I need to get myself in gear in order to be up and Adam by Wednesday 8:30am’s training. My future certification depends upon it. This means that I will be going to sleep at 10pm. I need to awake at 6am to catch that orange line train.
                I am at Cove DuPont, a work sharing space this morning and afternoon, because my apartment is getting cleaned. This also provides me with the great opportunity to use its printers and read up on Scrum. I have read and printed the Scrum Guide authored by the discipline’s cofounders Jeff Sutherland and Kenneth Schwaber. These 16 pages crystallize a lot for me. I can absorb all of the information because it is written in plain English. It is not so jargon-filled and esoteric that it flies over my head. As I mentioned in yesterday’s journal entry, I am reading up on Scrum because I refuse to waltz into my certification training without any prior knowledge. It is the Type A in me. I just always have to know what I am walking into before it happens. I always need a contingency plan just in case something does happen. I will have a back-up for it. Furthermore, I like being able to come up with a solution as soon as possible.  Reading the Scrum guide gives me this because it is from the cofounders. Furthermore, while at Cove, I get to print more practice exams because I need to have as many CSM exam ‘looks’ as possible. I will interrupt reading Scrum for Dummies in order to read the Scrum Guide because I am learning from the masters! Finally, my ultimate goals are to master scrum, to use it as a tool applying it to my personal and professional lives, and to earn CSM by successfully passing the exam (I do want to score 80% although 68% is the minimum. I just cannot be average. That’s a dreadful habit!).

                Another yesterday update: I wrote my website announcement detailing the resources that I have used to pass the certified scrum master exam. Just a little bit of positive creative visualization to get me through today. I have printed 3 copies: one I will plaster on my wall and the other two will accompany me while I get into training. I am very dogged in my CSM pursuit because it is tech-related. I am such techie. Ever since I was little, tech and space inspired me. My mother had my brother and I watch the original StarTrek with William Shatner on WUAB-43. I still feel like I can become an astronaut even with my epilepsy. All that’s standing in my way is my getting a statistics degree and then boom I qualify! By then I not only will have my CSM certification but probably also my PMI-ACP and ITIL certifications. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scrum Journal: Day 2

                I have decided to pursue my certified scrum master license. Telvin has okayed it and I have learned that the Fairfax CSM training class has 8 more slots. Furthermore, I have learned from Peter that I can write this sucker off on my taxes (which is cool but my ultimate goal is earning my certification to increase my competitive advantage). After all of this, I have bought Scrum for Dummies reading all the way to page 57. I must admit that I have learned so much more from this than I previously thought. I was skeptical because yesterday I read a scrum book from the master! Jeff Sutherland was the discipline’s cofounder. I thought that I knew everything; but, Scrum for Dummies is teaching so much more about the discipline. Although I am resting my finger, I know that I will surpass 75 pages even the first 100 pages by the end of tonight. I am very hungry to walk into Wednesday’s workshop with working scrum knowledge. I refuse to be half-cocked rolling in there even if it is 8:30am!
                I have started developing a new morning routine. My normal routine is to work from 10am to 3:30am so when I learn that the CSM workshop starting time is 8:30am, I know that I have to change. I make my cell phone’s clock alarm goes off at 6am and 6:30am ( I have awakened at 6:20am). This course costs over $1000 which is too much money to mess up oversleeping! This is the rest of my life. I must admit that I am quite amazed that I am still fully functioning during the evening.
                I have plunked down the money for the CSM training. There is no going back. I will stick to my schedule because I truly believe that come Friday, I will be certified and my life will change. CSM will help solidify my being a techie. I always love tinkering and learning about new trends. Scrum is a framework about doing things rapidly in many iterations. In a way, Scrum resembles my life. Having been in DC for nearly 10 years, my life Monday couldn’t mirror my life Friday of the same week. I have had situations where my life has completely changed (for the better) in one year. I vividly remembered the difference before and after my Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). One day I was struggling to get by, the next day, I had more than enough income. The same with my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. After obtaining my PMP, employers just start coming out of the woodwork. Many told me that they would only interview me because I had the MBA/PMP combination. I feel the same way with the CSM. I love being a techie and an ardent advocate of continuous improvement; and, scrum is all about continuous improvement. Scrum is starting to be my sweet spot because I love continuous improvement and using my intuition to hack myself. This looks like it is going to work out well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Protecting Myself One Idea at a Time

                Today I have received my US Copyright Office papers for my book. Protecting my intellectual property is indispensable in a knowledge economy. You must protect your ideas at all costs. I feel so much safer knowing that my upcoming book is protected and that no one can rip me off. Below is the official paperwork:

I am way more motivated to keep at it and finish my book’s revision this month.

I am doing intellectual property protection beyond just my ideas. I have protected my name by buying the because I must control my media and content. If you don’t control it, someone else will. Here is the official US Copyright Office site:

Scrum Journal : Day 1

Early Sunday morning at 12:45am, I emailed four of my LinkedIn connections who had both PMP and (CSM) certified scrum master certifications asking them about CSM. I have done this instead of sleep, because I have had things swirling in my head. I am also fed up of potential employers asking me if my PMP certification the only certification; or, if I am considering ITIL certification. This morning I got sick and tired of being sick and tired! I was in a rut and had to get out of it.
                When I reawaked, three of the four connections responded. All three mentioned that scrum was hot. Also one person recommended a book by scrum cofounder Jeff Sutherland. After one sample chapter, I was enthralled finding the Crown publishing larger sample chapters. Although I bought the paper book, I decided not to wait until after 8pm in order to receive the information. That was the best decision I made today because my paper book arrived at 8:30pm and I finished reading and outlining the book at 9:30pm. Jeff Sutherland’s book took you through Scrum’s past, present and future. The appendix was a goldmine taking the reader through ten steps. Upon completing the book, I decide to take the CSM exam. My business analysis background and IT project management helped so much with this decision.

Once I decided to earn CSM certification, I went to ScrumAlliance to check out the local courses. Now although there was no eligibility criteria (like 4500 project management hours for PMP with college degrees), those 2-day workshop prices were sky high. $993 was the cheapest. Yikes! I just thanked God that I had the money on my credit card. Another problem was timing. I got this CSM epiphany on a Sunday. Three workshops started Monday so of course they were full. In addition, another CSM workshop was filled for Thursday and Friday. My research skills went into overdrive because I would not be denied this opportunity to advance my career! I found some other courses but these companies straight up lied about their locations. One in particular, had the unmitigated gall to say Washington, DC but its workshop was happening in Sterling, Virginia at the Dulles Spring Hill Suites. Look Dulles airport was far away in Virginia. Washington, DC had National Airport. That company was trying to capture the unsuspecting non-natives. It would not get me though! I did manage to find another CSM workshop in Fairfax; but, I checked the map and saw it was near George Mason University (or the boonies as a downtown Washingtonian would say). I checked the address learning that it was off of the Vienna, Virginia metro stop. Okay, cool. The orange line was manageable. The price was lower than the $1300, $1650 and $1950 that I saw. I emailed the vendor for more accurate address and information. And, with that, I was well on my way towards becoming a certified scrum master.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pi Day at Paradiso Pizzeria

                Yesterday I celebrated PiDay by having what else? Pizza! Check out the Quattro fromaggi (4-cheese) pizza! It was my first time there (and, of course, it was a madhouse due to PiDay because I still managed to snag a seat) but I liked the ambiance and more importantly, the food.