Subfictional Studios Personal audio blog for Christie Koehler. "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." Fri, 18 Nov 2022 04:43:49 +0000 en-US © 2016 Subfictional Studios Personal audio blog for Christie Koehler. "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." Subfictional Studios Personal audio blog for Christie Koehler. "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." Christie Koehler clean Subfictional Studios Subfictional Studios Personal audio blog for Christie Koehler. "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." No 33691968 Announcing Authentic Engine, my Empathy-Based Leadership Development Consultancy Thu, 07 Jan 2016 18:46:53 +0000 Christie Koehler consulting,uncareerplanning Since I last posted on the subject, I’ve made quite a bit of progress towards starting the next phase of my career. I’m excited to share that with you all now.

One of the things I’ve learned through my 4 years at Mozilla and 8+ organizing in the tech community is that most everyone wants to contribute towards making stronger, healthier, more inclusive and resilient communities. The problem is that they don’t know how and the opportunities to learn and practice the requisite skills are few and far between.

So that’s what I’m going to concentrate on: Providing the leadership learning we need and hunger for.

logo-horizontal-250pxAs such, I’ve founded a consultancy, Authentic Engine, which will focus on providing empathy-based leadership learning and practice opportunities.

There’s a huge emphasis now in our community on improving Diversity & Inclusion, as well as safety and incident response (including Code of Conduct adoption and enforcement). These are important skills our community organizers need help developing and honing. Talented folks are leading efforts here and I look forward to working with them.

I have chosen something slightly different, although complementary. I want to help develop leaders, stewards, and organizers who cultivate wisdom over time and who will be equipped to adapt to the changing needs, stresses, and resources of their communities. I want to teach people how to lead and steward authentically, utilizing their unique combination of experiences, talents, and interests.

With Authentic Engine, I’ll help people develop into the leaders and stewards our communities need now and into the future.

Here’s what I hope to accomplish this year:

  1. Launch 4 (roughly one per quarter) 3-4 hour workshops, each on a specific leadership/stewardship topic. The first will be a guided exploration of what leadership is, what kind of leader you want to be and how to become that leader. The workshops will likely debut in Portland and I’ll bring them to other cities as there is demand. The workshops will not be free, but they will be affordable and have scholarship slots.
  2. Facilitate an on-going community cohort so that folks engaged in improving themselves as leaders and stewards have a support and peer-learning network.
  3. Provide at least 100 hours of one-on-one coaching and mentoring. Anyone who takes one of my workshops will get some amount of free coaching.
  4. Help 2-3 organizations improve or develop their leadership capacity. This could take many forms from counseling an ad-hoc group of conference organizers about how best to take the next step toward formal incorporation, to helping an open source project create a training program for its contributors, to customizing one of my workshops for in-house presentation. (More ideas further down.)

I’m excited about this work because it will bring greatly needed leadership resources to our communities, helping us all to improve sustainability and resiliency. I’m also thrilled because it will allow me to draw upon and apply the varied skills and experiences I’ve developed over my entire career. This includes:

  • managing technical teams and products
  • running a small business
  • serving on the working board of a trade association (501(c)(6)
  • founding and serving on the working board of a tax-exempt non-profit (501(c)(3)
  • developing software
  • writing, publishing, and podcasting
  • organizing communities around open source projects
  • coaching and teaching others
  • documenting and improving systems & processes
  • designing, organizing, and running participatory learning events
  • managing and responding to crises, including: embezzlement, intimate partner violence, food-borne illness, unexpected budget shortfalls, and more.

This is a huge venture to undertake and I’m excited about it. I hope you’ll be part of making my journey successful.

Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Sign-up for the Authentic Engine mailing list so you’ll be notified when I launch new workshops. Register to attend a workshop (once they are launched).
  2. Let me know which leadership/stewardship topics you’re most interested by completing this interest form.
  3. If we’ve worked together and you found the experience worthwhile, write and send me a testimonial I can post to my website (and/or recommend me via LinkedIn).
  4. Recommend me to folks who could benefit from my leadership development consulting services (see above for the list of things I have experience doing).

Most of all, continue to send me your encouraging words. These mean so much to me and really help carry me through the days that feel completely overwhelming.

clean no 0:00 Christie Koehler No no
Wisdom is lived out in community Mon, 28 Dec 2015 21:06:07 +0000 Christie Koehler Community,wisdom This Odd and Wondrous Calling (cover)
I’m in the middle of reading This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, by Lillian Daniel and Martin B. Copenhaver.

In a chapter called Expertise and Wisdom, Copenhaver provides a definition of wisdom that resonates with me deeply. He says:

Before going further with this, I need to pause to say a word about what I mean by wisdom. It has been called the woolly mammoth of ideas — big, shaggy, and elusive. Philosophers, theologians, and social scientists have all found wisdom notoriously difficult to define. In part, this is because wisdom is more than a single attribute. It is more like a cluster of attributes, including a clear-eyed view of human behavior, coupled with a keen self-understanding; a certain tolerance for ambiguity and what might be called the messiness of life; emotional resiliency; an ability to think clearly in circumstance of conflict or stress; a tendency to approach a crisis as an intriguing puzzle to be solved; an inclination to forgive and move on; humility enough to know that it is not all about you; a gift for seeing how smaller facts fit in within a larger picture; a mix of empathy and detachment; a knack for learning from lifetime experiences; a way of suspending judgement long enough to achieve greater clarity; an ability to act coupled with a willingness to embrace judicious inaction.

A bit later, he continues, explaining the importance of community in cultivating wisdom:

Unlike expertise, wisdom is lived out in community. One can become an expert by solitary study. One could, for instance, become an expert in the mating habits of turtles by reading every published study on the subject and doing one’s own field study. Wisdom, by contrast, is not a solitary activity. Wisdom is formed in the ongoing life of a community and it is exercised in community. One cannot speak of wisdom without reference to human community.

I’m sharing this here because these words speak so eloquently about the nature of the community work I strive to do, and the role I strive to fulfill.

clean no 0:00 Christie Koehler No no
Imagine a Tech Community… Mon, 07 Dec 2015 21:09:53 +0000 Christie Koehler Community Imagine a tech community…

That is inclusive to the point of radicalness, where people gather in solidarity at the edges.

Where everyone is able to contribute fully and authentically, whatever that means for them.

Where everyone has a part in making the community more prosperous and resilient. Where we plan collaboratively, thoughtfully balancing short- and long-term goals.

Where compassion and empathy are as present and valued as technical skill.

Where a code of conduct is an expression of shared values and but one of many tools we have and are able to use effectively to increase belonging among us.

Where expulsion is rare. Where those who transgress and those who are transgressed upon are supported alike. Where we work collectively to resolve conflict and division between us.

Where we are able to stand with the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised and strive to understand the world from their point of view. Where we create tech products together, that serve all of us better.

Where we are able to shift technology as a mechanism for concentrating power to one that distributes it and empowers all the world’s people.

Where we recognize that technological decisions cannot be divorced from their emotional, sociological and political contexts and we strive to take these factors into account.

Where we develop the wisdom to recognize when issues are primarily social/political not technological and we work to address them in their appropriate spheres.

Where we have the courage to speak up when we see destructive behavior because we know others will have our backs and we will not stand alone and become targets ourselves.

Where we love the difficult people as well as the easy ones and we give each the time and support they need.

Where we can gather and find fellowship in good times and bad times alike.

Where we recognize, honor and respect the great diversity in our backgrounds, life histories and worldviews. Where we strive to minimize the discord that might come from our differences and maximize the harmony of our share experiences.

…That’s the tech community I want to be a part of.

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Life After Mozilla, or My Next Adventure Fri, 30 Oct 2015 20:30:25 +0000 Christie Koehler consulting,mozilla,uncareerplanning 2015-09-24_08-11-19
Portland in Fall. It’s my favorite season here.

It’s been 2 months since my last day at Mozilla. Hard to believe that much time has past and yet it feels like it’s gone by so quickly. Rainy, gloomy weather has arrived here in Portland, for which I’m very grateful after such a long, hot summer. My plan for my first weeks away from Mozilla, most of September, was to spend as little time on the computer as possible and to intentionally not think about my next career steps. I give myself a B at following this plan. At first I did great. I did a lot of work around our house, mostly in the form of tidying and organizing. I made a bookshelf from scratch and am very happy with how it turned out. I played a lot of Civilization. I read. I slept in. I played with the dogs and took photos.

Bertie is always around to remind me of the value of play.

And then I started reading & responding to my email.

More that a few of you were interested in how I was doing, what I was planning to do next and maybe I might be interested in this or that. It’s been amazing to hear from you, to know you value my skills and experience and want to be a part of helping me find what’s next. Not only amazing, but unexpected. Often I struggle with recognizing my own value and how I contribute to others and so explicit feedback is really helpful. Thank you everyone who’s reached out. (And know I’m still working on replying to you all.)

As good as it was to hear from everyone, it also meant that I started thinking about “what next” much sooner and in greater detail than I was ready for. I started having some conversations about projects that were exciting, but also left me agitated and unsettled.

Earlier this month I had a follow-up with my doctor that left me feeling down and depleted. It wasn’t a bad visit and was actually rather uneventful except that I left with an even longer list of asthma-related tasks to do. Pull up the carpet in our daylight basement (where my office is), have the air ducts cleaned, make the bedroom as sparse as possible, do this breathing training program, etc. And my blood pressure is a tad on the high side (in the right arm, but not the left?).

As my lack of accomplishment and I left the doctor’s I decided to stop by Powell’s as a way to cheer myself up. (I almost always want to browse books and it nearly always cheers me up.) I did a quick scan of the ‘careers’ section — which is a bit of gamble because there is so much there that’s either irrelevant (“You’ve just graduated, now what?”) or cheesy (literally, “Who Moved my Cheese?”) or just not applicable (there’s no “The Tech Industry Burned Me Out but Then I Found This Awesome, Life-Fullfilling Vocation and Here’s How You Can Too!”).

I did notice a copy of The Joy of Not Working. Huh, I thought, that sounds nice and bought it after scanning through the first couple of pages. I continued reading at home and finished that day.

What I got from the book was less factual information and more inspiration and permission to pursue the kind of work that would allow me the time to do lots of other things that I’m interested in and care about. The book’s primary audience are retirees and others who suddenly have time on their hands due to lack of employment (voluntary or otherwise). Zelinsky emphasizes the importance of cultivating many interests and community connections, not just ones associated with work. He explores just how much there is to experience in life and how much of that experience we sacrifice when we prioritize the 40+ hour workweek and how unnecessary it is to do so. Reading The Joy of Not Working made me realize a couple of things:

  • I definitely don’t want to work for someone else. Working for myself will give me the greatest freedom and agility.
  • I need to focus on fewer work-related things so that I can do them really well.
  • I need to give myself the time and the space (even if it’s scary) so that I can identity the work I truly want to be doing and how to make that possible.
  • I want to get to the point where my average work day is 4 hours so that I have plenty of do other activities that nourish my mind, body and soul.

Sounds nice, how to put this into practice? First, I identified the work projects that I would stay committed to: Stumptown Syndicate, Recompiler podcast, and whatever “working for myself” turns out to be. I’m either in the process of wrapping up or have already wrapped up my commitments to other projects. I’m not going to continue as a volunteer in any capacity for Mozilla (many feels about that, all for another blog post). Second, I’ve been making the space and doing the work to figure out what shape “working for myself” will take. I’ve thought a lot about what I’m good at and what I love doing and here’s what I’ve figured out:

  • I want to utilize and expand my experience facilitating teams, communities and organizations.
  • I want to apply and hone my aptitude for systems thinking, for motivating people to do awesome things, and for improving processes.
  • I want to apply my knowledge and love of business (nonprofit and for-profit) as well as tech.
  • I want to help businesses and organizations do better work with happier, healthier and more productive teams.

At some point I realized, “this is what consultants do!” And so I’ve been reading every book about consulting I can get my hands on. And things are clicking. I find myself saying, “I can do this. I should do this. I will do this.”

I have a name picked out. I have a marketing plan and continue to improve it as I learn more and more about marketing. I have a launch plan. I’m figuring out how to make the finances work while I drum up business. It might involve some crowdfunding. I’ll be reaching out to a lot of you for support, in whatever capacity you can provide it (hugs, referrals, a loan/gift/investment of equipment or cash, etc.). If you know someone doing this kind of work and think they would be willing to chat with me about their experience, please introduce us.

If we’ve worked together, or you know of my work so far, I hope you’re excited. I am certainly am. I’m excited about bringing the same kind of energy, vision and integrity to this new practice as I have to other projects. I’m excited at the opportunity to partner with all kinds of organizations do their work better, more prosperously.

If you want to know for sure when I launch, subscribe to my TinyLetter.

Meanwhile, I’ll be sure to keep making time for rest and for taking awesome photos of Bertie, Dora and the rest of the critter cadre.


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