Megan Leigh McDonald
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'Don't make me think.' Steve Krug

Megan Leigh McDonald

Parlons-nous…what I learn from trying to speak French…

Last night I attended a French conversation group to get some practice and build some confidence in my speaking abilities. It’s interesting what came out of that for me and how that applies to my normal 9 to 5. Upon reflection afterward and during my long bike ride through the rain back home, I realized that learning another language builds some very important skills.

For example, it challenges one to think on one’s feet. There were a lot of people with different levels of knowledge. Choosing partners to talk with was somewhat challenging in that regard. On top of who looked interesting, I also wanted to choose someone who was at or around the same level as myself, but who would provide a slight challenge. For awhile I spoke to two very lovely ladies, a teacher/artist and an architect. We chatted away half the evening, talking about art and Paris.

Later in the evening, I found myself in a group with the ‘organitrice’ and some actual French people. I was a little surprised that French people would attend, but pleasantly so. At any rate, I found myself needing to strategize the way I phrased my thoughts in order to communicate clearly. Not having as many nouns and verbs in my repetoire meant that I needed to think creatively in order to describe at least the concept of what I was trying to say. I found that the more experienced speakers were more than happy to translate my attempts by reflecting back to me a better way to say it.

I have to say, I left feeling, well a little smarter and a little more practiced. If you’re at all interested in joining this group, here’s the information.

Scrum Task Board Template

Even when working under the ‘Waterfall’ methodology, I always make it a point to keep a ‘task board’ at my desk or nearby. It’s something I borrowed from Scrum but it works so well for my own personal workload.

Ah, Twitter

So when this really cool, knowledgeable Product Manager started, she got me re-interested in Twitter. It’s a simple social tool, really. It is basically a thread of random thoughts that tile down your page. Entwined in it are the random thoughts posted by any of the ‘friends’ that you ‘follow’.