2014 DogFood Conference – Call For Speakers

dogfoog

Call for speakers, submit your topics by July 9th!

The 2014 Dog Food Conference will be held in Columbus, Ohio on September 29th & 30th at the Quest Conference Center near Polaris Parkway.  This is a fun event started by Danilo Casino and now taken over by the community.

Registration opens July 29th, last year sold out in less than 1 day so be sure to put this on the calendar if interested in attending.

One of the things that make the DogFood conference great are the wide selection of sessions.  Last year there were 585 attendees with over 90 sessions from SharePoint to System Center to TFS (my love) and everything in between!

There will be several tracks:

  • ALM (Application Lifecycle Management, TFS, Agile, etc.)
  • Windows Phone and Mobility
  • Lync
  • SharePoint
  • Infrastructure
  • .NET
  • Azure & SOA

I am lucky enough to be working directly with the ALM Track Owner and am actively looking for presenters.

Here are some ideas for topics in ALM:

  • TFS Implementation lessons learned
  • DVCS with TFS and Git
  • TFS cloud (Visual Studio Online) vs/ TFS on-prem
  • VS 2013 overview
  • TFS 2013 overview
  • Common TFS Customizations (work item types, etc.)
  • QA best practices with TFS and Microsoft Test Manager
  • TFS Branching and Merging Strategies
  • Scrum development with TFS and Visual Studio
  • Continuous Integration, Builds, Deployment, Delivery (include build template customization)
  • Any kind of case study or real-world stories from the field

If you’d like to submit a session on one of these topics then do so at http://dogfoodcon.com/tracks.html.

If you just want to attend what will be a great event, then watch the http://dogfoodcon.com/ site for more information and be ready to register when it becomes available.

If you are interested in sponsoring this unique community-driven event, contact me or check out this document for details.

Dog Food for Human Food

Also, the steering committee for the Dog Food Conference will be helping local charities by collecting non-perishable food items at the conference.  If you are attending (or even if you just want to stop by and drop some off!) you can bring “shelf-stable” goods to the conference.  These donations will go to the following charities:

2013 Dog Food Conference – Call For Speakers

UPDATE: The topic submission deadline has been extended to October 2nd, 11:59PM.  Still lots of time to submit those topics!

The 2013 Dog Food Conference (the site will be updated soon) will be held in Columbus, Ohio on November 21st & 22nd.  This is a fun event started by Danilo Casino and now taken over by the community.  There are tons of great sessions, last year had around 45!

There is a good mix of development stuff, but probably a stronger focus on topics the IT Pro will find interesting.

There will be several tracks:

  • ALM (Application Lifecycle Management, TFS, Agile, etc.)
  • Windows Phone and Mobility
  • Lync
  • SharePoint
  • Infrastructure
  • .NET
  • Azure & SOA

I am lucky (gullible) enough to be the ALM Track Owner and am looking for presenters!

Here are some ideas for topics in ALM:

  • TFS Implementation lessons learned
  • DVCS with TFS and Git
  • VS 2013 overview
  • TFS 2013 overview
  • TFS Customization (work item types, etc.)
  • QA best practices with TFS and Microsoft Test Manager
  • TFS Branching and Merging Strategies
  • Scrum development with TFS and Visual Studio
  • Continuous Integration, Builds, Deployment, Delivery (include build template customization)
  • Any kind of case study or real-world stories from the field

If you’d like to submit a session on one of these topics then do so at http://dogfoodcon.com/tracks.html.

If you just want to attend what will be a great event, then watch the http://dogfoodcon.com/ site for more information and be ready to register when it becomes available.

Dog Food for Human Food

Also, the steering committee for the Dog Food Conference will be helping local charities by collecting non-perishable food items at the conference.  If you are attending (or even if you just want to stop by and drop some off!) you can bring “shelf-stable” goods to the conference.  These donations will go to the following charities:

Dog Food sponsor, Halcyon Solutions, is organizing the food drive.

Defining Leadership – Part 1

Defining Leadership

In my previous post I mentioned digging into leadership a little more deeply.  I feel like this is important for two reasons:

  1. The attempt to define a thing, whether successful or not, inevitably provides clarity about the thing.
  2. I found myself in a leadership role with absolutely no idea what I was doing and didn’t want to be called out as a fraud.

Traditionally we think of a leader as someone having specific characteristics such as the following:

  • Many long years with the company
  • An email signature that you have to scroll to read
  • An army of subordinates
  • An engaging charismatic personality
  • A loud booming voice
  • A winning white-toothed smile
  • A controlling or commanding personality


However, I now believe that the most effective leaders have an entirely different set of characteristics (thankfully).

Servant Leadership

Rather than rephrase Wikipedia and claim it as my own, I will simply paste in the definition directly:

“Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”

- Wikipedia

The driving principle shifts from “what can you do for me” to “what can I do to help you.

Traditional leaders will attempt to inject themselves into your work in order to exercise more control over the outcome.  This can discourage independence and increase your reliance on said traditional leader (which unfortunately may be their point).

The simplest distinction I can think of is this; the traditional leader drives while the servant leader empowers.

The servant leader will seek out ways to help their team to “fall into the pit of success“.  This beats the pants off of placing a mountain in front of your people and forcing them to scale to the summit.  Essentially, the servant leader will keep their ears (well, one at a time) to the ground for good opportunities.

A servant leader is able to put ego aside.  Note I didn’t say they have no ego; they simply favor team success over individual accomplishment.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

- Harry Truman

A traditional leader is reactionary and quick to place blame.  This comes from a desire to deflect negative attention from themselves.  They are fearful of criticism.  More on this later.

The servant leader instead courageously accepts blame and is the first person to take the fall when things the fan.  They accept criticism and feedback as a natural consequence of taking risk.  They absorb negativity on behalf of their team and turn it into positive action.

In short, the servant leader has your back even if (when) you falter.

More To Come

What started off as a single post is now looking like a 3 part series.  This seems like a good place to stop for now.  The concept of servant leadership is recurring throughout all self-help literature that I have consumed and is important to let soak in.

Future posts will talk about trust, respect, and other important aspects of leadership.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and as always thanks for reading!

Initial Thoughts on Leadership

Flawed

I am not a born leader.  I am lazy.  I procrastinate.  I get frustrated with people.  I have self-esteem issues.  I lack confidence in social situations.  I lose patience with my children.  I enjoy praise and recognition.  I have trouble making decisions.  Relinquishing control gives me heartburn.  I make excuses for my bad behavior.  Being candid gives me anxiety (hence the sweaty palms as I type this).

In other words, I am human; flawed, imperfect, transient in nature.  But that also means that I am both adaptable and self-aware.  I can look in the mirror and see my flaws, and I can take positive action towards improving.

Take Heed Unto Thyself

So what does this have to do with leadership?  Everything, actually.  Would you see a personal trainer who smoked a pack a day and buttered his bacon for breakfast?  Would you take your car to a mechanic who never got a driver’s license?

Maybe.  But only once.  To lead others, you must first become a leader of your own life.  It’s great practice for the real thing.

“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct.”

— Dee Hock
Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa

I have spent one-third of my life thinking about leadership in one way or another.  I’m a serious self-help junkie.  Of course I started off with many more questions than answers, such as:

  • What are the traits of a good leader?
  • How can I get more opportunities to step into a leadership role?
  • How can I inspire others to achieve their goals?
  • How can I apply these leadership principles to be a more effective coworker, husband, father?
  • Are leaders born or made?  Is there hope for me?

Hope

I can answer the last question right now.  Yes, there is hope for me, just as there is for you.  Everyone has leadership qualities, some lying dormant just waiting to be uncovered and unleashed.  But you’ll have to start somewhere, probably at the beginning.

We’ve arrived at the reason I created this blog.  I want to share the things I have learned.  Some of it has been through hard-fought experience and some ugly crying.  The vast majority of it was from someone else who took the time to provide guidance and expert knowledge.  I’m not an original thinker, so instead I’d like to aggregate what I learned (and continue to learn) and simmer it down to more bite-sized portions for your enjoyment.

In a future post I’ll collect some of the better ideas and lessons learned regarding leadership into a list of important leadership qualities.  Until then, thanks for reading!