June 24, 2011

Awesome Coach of the Week: J. B. @JBRains Rainsberger

We honour J. B. Rainsberger as awesome coach of the week 25, 2011!

I met J. B. Rainsberger at the XP2011 conference in Madrid, only a few weeks ago. We’ve been connected on Twitter since and I must say we resonate in a way as it seldom happens to me… So, what's special and awesome about @JBRains?

Wisdom for Life

JBrains retired at the age of 34. Not because he was so rich. He calculated the units of lifetime he invested per dollar earned and didn’t like the result. He evaluated his and his wife’s actual needs and discovered they differed a lot from those surmised previously. They didn’t actually need as much money as they were used to spend. So they decided to change their lifestyle and habits in a way that fit the money flow they received from their savings. This approach is quite unusual. Most people think that if you want to retire, you need as much money as you’ve been used to before…

He turned the problem upside down and found it looked different from the perspective of the solution. Read his How Much Do You Really Earn post if you want to learn more… This approach corresponds to the Creative Problem Solving technique I’ve recently blogged about, and to the way I usually approach problems (in those cases where I’m successful in finding a creative solution). I very much like the fact that it matches the humorous approach that Scrumphony, one of the other Awesome Coaches Of The Week, takes when talking about Scrum.

Grumpy Old Coaches

At XP2011, Rachel Davies invited J.B. and me to a session called “Grumpy Old Coaches”. I didn’t know what to expect, I was just honoured she even considered me… I had been out to dinner with JBrains, his friend Mike GeePaw Hill, Rachel and a few others on my first night in Madrid, and I had talked a lot with J.B. about ALE (see below) and the interesting answers to the question if he’s actually a European… But not very much about his work. I didn’t actually know he was an XP veteran, having founded XPDays North America and written a book about JUnit Recipes

JBRains and GeePawHill

@JBRains and @GeePawHill—From XP2011 Grumpy Old Coaches Session

When Rachel called us to her session, we didn’t really know what to expect… She’d set up two park benches in the front where we were expected to sit. So we did… and started to talk (without looking too grumpy, I hope). Mike Hill was introducing Joe—they are close friends—which gave me a chance to learn more about him. They first met at an XP Immersion in the late nineties. Mike realised he was more closely connected to the coaches, and then met one who said he wanted to hang with the problem children… So he introduced Joe to them. “It doesn’t take very long when you hang out with Joe before you realise he’s smart as a whip, he has good energy and he’s a very straight talker. Joe has the ability to just explain what you mean.” 

To put it using his own words (he said it when he introduced Mike, but IMO it applies equally to himself): “He’s grumpy in the most loveable way.”


JBrains is the first Canadian who signed the book that “founded” the ALE network in Madrid. (But he’s only the second Canadian to play an instrumental role in getting the network going. Michael Sahota facilitated Jurgen Appelo and me devising the plan for reaching out to the communities and getting the right people to Madrid to create a vision.)

ALE2011 world café at XP2011 in Madrid
ALE2011 world café at XP2011 in Madrid

JBrains committed to 4 initiatives, the one I like most being the “Let Jurgen and Olaf Do It All” one… But there are quite serious ones like #ALESOS (where he actually helped me a lot this week, click the link to see how #ALESOS works). Another initiative is committing to the Agile Software Development Stack Exchange site, a Q&A site dedicated to Agile.

Last and IMO most useful of his endeavours is to support training apprentices in different countries. JBrains will be travelling Europe this autumn. Above all, Joe is a most generous person. He privately sponsors the ALE2011 unconference in Berlin as well as the SoCraTes 2011 in Rückersbach. Thank you!

Awesome Coach of the Week

This is why we think JBrains is an Awesome Coach. If you can add an awesome experience with Joe, please do so in the comments. We honour one Coach a week. Suggestions welcome!

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