Starred notes from Kalamazoo X 2015

March 16, 2015 // irl

We made it back to Kalamazoo X this year for another day of soft skills, and I have to say it was even better the second time around. 🙂

Similar to the CodeMash post a couple months ago, here’s my set of bullet point take-away’s from each of the sessions.  They may be taken out of context, and are absolutely tainted with my perspective and interpretation – but hopefully they encourage you to catch these talks at other conferences.  Every one of the speakers had a great message and is worth taking the time to hear.

Note: You can also get excerpts from each of the talks at the conference site here and see a lot of chatter on Twitter at #kalx15

Jeff Blankenburg (@jeffblankenburg) – Be A Beginner

  • Beginners learn, experts know.  Wouldn’t you rather be learning?
  • Somebody being better than you, doesn’t mean you’re not an expert (i.e. there’s not only one expert).
  • After 7-8 years, inspiration fades.. then what?
  • Give permission to fail, it encourages risk taking.

Cori Drew (@coridrew) – Ignition: Geek Parenting’s Lessons Learned…so far

  • Git is a gateway drug (amen).
  • The saying “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” is not true at all for our industry.
  • Kids learn much better from each other than adults.
  • Let your kids epic fail, you don’t have to sugar coat everything.

Jim Holmes (@aJimHolmes) – Growing Into Leadership

  • Who can you help be more awesome?
  • You’ll seldom regret stepping away from the keyboard.
  • Give your team a safe place.
  • A leader makes their team awesome, not themselves.

Alan Stevens (@alanstevens) – Values Driven Development

  • In software, there’s always compromise.  There is no flawless system.
  • It doesn’t matter how well you build the wrong thing.
  • The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Cory House (@housecor) – Confessions of a Technical Speaker: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour

  • Manufacture urgency to get things done.
  • I’m not the best, nor am I the worst.  That’s OK and I can still be valuable.
  • Risk is an irreversible bad outcome.  What is truly irreversible?
  • People chose you over alternatives, they want you to succeed.

Jay Harris (@jayharris) – Conviction

  • Talent is critical, and more important than passion.
  • Find yourself at the end of each day better than when you started.
  • Success shouldn’t be hitting your goals, it should be all the milestones on the way.
  • Figure out your talents, get paid to use them.

Dawn E. Kuczwara (@digitaldawn) – Give Up!

  • To pick up something new, you must let go of something old.
  • Figure out what you are still doing that isn’t helping you to your goals.
  • Holding on to something may be blocking somebody else’s chance to grow.

Elizabeth Naramore (@ElizabethN) – The Beauty of a Beginner’s Mind

  • Todo’s are a long pointless grind.
  • The more you do something, the more your brain will grow to accommodate.
  • Time spent learning is never wasted.
  • You have 2.5hrs each day where you account to nobody.


Kalamazoo X is well worth the time, very open and inviting, and extremely affordable.  Thanks again to the speakers, participants and most of all organizers for making it so memorable. 🙂

About the author

Steve Cadwallader is a software developer who geeks out on user interfaces, clean code and making things easier.

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