The jbrains Experience

Affordable Personal Mentoring and Coaching

You need help, but you can’t justify the expense of a full-time coach. Maybe you’re not yet sure about buying one-on-one coaching sessions. You’re struggling to convince your employer to pay for the mentoring you need. You need more than what the world offers you for free, but your budget doesn’t have room for enterprise-level consulting. I would like to help you.

“We (you and me) had one year of fruitful email conversations and I learned a lot from you and your courses. I think we accomplished a lot of the things we talked about in the beginning on how I can get better in software development and why I need to change a job: I got a new job, I leave my old company changed by your and my ideas and the situation is much better there than last year. My colleagues are still motivated to someday break through the management problems or work around them in a way, that the whole company benefits from it even more.” — M. S.

Do any of these sound like you?

In the space between Do It All Yourself and intensive 1-on-1 coaching lies The jbrains Experience. It works like this:

What You Get

All subscriptions are monthly, so there’s no pressure and no long-term commitment: stay as long as it’s helping and leave when you’ve got what you needed!

“We (you and me) had one year of fruitful email conversations and I learned a lot from you and your courses. I think we accomplished a lot of the things we talked about in the beginning on how I can get better in software development and why I need to change a job: I got a new job, I leave my old company changed by your and my ideas and the situation is much better there than last year. My colleagues are still motivated to someday break through the management problems or work around them in a way, that the whole company benefits from it even more.” — M. S.

What Kind of Help Can You Expect?

Here are some areas in which I have been helping people since the early 2000s:

Not Only “Agile”

I’m known in some circles for being “an old XP dude”, for teaching TDD, and for generally leaning towards “Agile” ways of working. Even so, I don’t push Agile frameworks. I value feedback and simplicity, I recognize the power of habits, and I like to help people figure out when they need to increase capacity and when they need to reduce interference. No matter the topic, we spend most of our time talking about the nature of the problem, then potential solutions seem to present themselves to us.

its amazing that you understand it [my situation and how I’m feeling about it] correctly and comprehensively — a comment during an Office Hours session

Not Only For Programmers

Although programmers are still the largest group of software professionals who find me, we address issues that go far beyond writing code, cultivating design, and testing systems. I also help software professionals with other aspects of their work and indeed their lives away from their job.

I was stressing about non-business related personal finance issues. Your advice was that the business should be working for me or there’s really no point in having it. [After talking with you for an hour] I turned the corner and understood what I needed to do to make the business enjoyable and successful. — A. E.

Don’t worry! I’m not a “life coach” and I’m definitely not a licensed therapist. I commit firmly to avoid stepping over that line. Even so, I do my best to create a space in which software professionals feel safe about asking for the help they need.

Often I start working with clients by discussing software delivery techniques, but as we start addressing those issues, it becomes clear that we need to account for outside forces. This mostly means some combination of “other people” and “the stories I tell myself”. We start trying to split features into thin slices and we end up talking about the problem of the eternally impatient customer. We start trying to refactor code and we end up talking about the technical lead who refuses to write anything down. We start trying to write smaller tests and we end up talking about how hard it will be to justify this approach to their co-workers. I learned it from Jerry Weinberg: every problem eventually becomes a “people problem”. And remember that we are also people, so we are often part of the problem!

[Your communication style and coaching approach] is most of the value that I’m getting from you. — A. 

A Note To Companies

I offer this mentoring service to individuals, but companies also hire me for this style of incremental consulting at a distance. If you’re bigger than a “one-person show”, then please read more about how to book a working session with me. This service is not suitable for me to mentor a team nor to do roving consulting for various teams within a larger organization. If you need a more comprehensive program than merely the occasional working session, then find out more at https://consulting.jbrains.ca.

If you’re an individual working in a larger organization, then please join us! If, over time, you decided that it would benefit the organization to engage me, then we would know enough by then to start designing a coaching program that fits your wider community.