Meetups where you’ll find Mike’s hat, Spring 2016 edition

Occasionally I’ll tell people I meet about all the meetups I have so much fun at.

Or rather, I’ll try to enumerate them all, and fail each and every time.

Primarily because there’s so many meetups I like to check in on.

So occasionally I’ll enumerate them like this, so that my friends have a valiant hope of crossing paths with me before the amazing event has passed.

Meetups I’m slavishly devoted to

Meetups I’ll attend anytime they’re alive

Meetups I sample like caviar – occasionally and cautiously

Recent additions that may soon pass the test of my time


Leaving Intel on a (commuter transit vehicle?) – New Relic here I come!

Good news. Hell, great news!!  I’ve accepted a role as Product Manager at New Relic (a very cool, local Portland-based software company). I’ll be joining them later in July – wild adventures await!

So with that simple admission comes a little Story Time: you know me, and you know I’ve grown into a well-oiled Product Owner and Interaction Designer in my work at Intel (for basically the same organization for my eight years there).  

Working for them allowed me to grow into these skills while delivering a suite of business applications, a Security Conference website and as little paperwork as I could get away with.  

[None of those fully-stocked portfolios of art pieces for me – I stopped trying to “build my portfolio” when I realized it was a textbook example of the Waste that gets in the way of thoroughly agile development.]

Using those skills, I birthed the core application out of conversations I had with team members in 2008, and shepherded it through:

  • its underground “you shouldn’t spend any time on this Mike” phase
  • a series of dev teams (man, when I was first delegated “half an engineer”, what a momentous achievement that was!)
  • many competing ‘visions’ of what it should be when it grew up, and
  • over 100 sprints of delivery – short, long, successful, abject failure, research, tech debt, “spike” (aka “we have no idea what we’re doing”), breakneck, misdirected and surprising

Recently I took on an exciting and challenging volunteer assignment with an IT team who are responsible for internal collaboration tools.  Which was both a rewarding and fast-moving learning experience – it’s incredible how much planning goes on when you have a 4:1 ratio of non-doers to doers, and it’s amazing to see how much good dev work actually happens despite that.

A little while later, a friend recommended me to a hiring manager at New Relic, who reached out for a coffee to talk about a ridiculously challenging role they’ve designed to assist their Agents teams. That conversation continued through three rounds of interviews (and a heavy-duty homework assignment!) and blew my mind by manifesting into an offer I patently couldn’t refuse.

This new PM role is both incredibly suited to my talents and brings a range of new challenges for me to tackle – I’ll be contributing to product direction for six teams in a fast-growing, revenue-focused organization with a heavy engineering bent and a lot of new customers and technologies to learn. I couldn’t be more excited about this.

So hey, if you happen to be looking for new features in the New Relic product stack, drop me a line come end of July and I’ll see if I can’t connect you to the right players (it might even be me!).  I will use my newfound powers with utmost gravity…

PDX-local Meetups in my coherent rotation

(Hah – I meant to type “current rotation” but sometimes autocorrect makes me sound much more nuanced than I meant)

Here’s where you’ll find me lurking and entertaining the not-so-innocent bystanders: meetup-in-a-bar

Occasional fly-bys:

Where’s Mike, September edition

Summer’s over, I can go back to being a couch slug and no one will be the wiser because they’re all back indoors too. I love the great indoors, with all of those mental vistas to take in.


I wanna get back in touch with you. See you here?:

Further out, I’ll be at

Where are you headed this month?

See me speak at PDMA on UX for Product Managers (May 15th)

By the way, this Thursday I’ll be joining a panel of UX geeks talking at the Product Managers Association of Portland on “User Experience – What’s the Big Deal?”  I’m going in as the resident hybrid – UX geek and Product Owner, giving me the superpower to empathize with both halves of my brain when I do a crappy job for each of them. 🙂

Here’s a twist: I finally found a use for those “view this email in a browser”, because for some reason the PDMA doesn’t have a URL-able web page describing the logistics for this event:

Hey, it’s a low-cost gathering of PO’s and PM’s getting together at the Lucky Lab for beer, food and some interesting conversation.  How bad could it be?



See me speak at Devsigner Con

My talk “Great Storytelling UX in Comics” has been accepted at the Devsigner conference here in Portland, last week of May.  I’m excited to see more wild-eyed designers discover the amazing variety of ways that comics show us how to engage the user and immerse them more fully in the reading experience.

Have you seen my talk?  If not, this is an affordable opportunity to come see me in my Superman Kilt finery.

Devsigner Con, Portland, May 23-25th.


Where’s Waldo, May edition

Upcoming speaking gig: I’ll be a co-panellist for the PDMA meetup “What’s the Big Deal About UX?”.  Talking to Product Managers and Product Owners about the challenges of integrating UX into our work – and I get to live the dream, because I wear both hats every day!

You’ll also find me at:

Let’s talk comics!

Ready? Set? Spidey-sense!

One week from now, I expect to see you smiling back at me from the audience of CHIFOO, hearing me regale you with great UX moments I’ve discovered in my favourite comic books.

Like this one:


If that’s not quite enough to entice you out to the warrens of NW Portland, consider this: you will be one of a privileged few who get to see me sporting the masterpiece that is the Superman kilt handcrafted by my lovely partner Sara.

Hope to see you there!

Details here:
CHIFOO Storytelling Comics

Brain-wringing meetups and my upcoming CHIFOO talk on UX of Comics

I’m getting rather excited about my upcoming talk at CHIFOO on Great Storytelling UX in Modern Comic Books.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be finalizing the content and doing a few dry runs to smooth out the kinks and ensure I’m connecting with the audience at each page that I show during the presentation.  If you have the time and interest in seeing where this is headed, or helping out a guy make sure he’s making best use of the audience’s time, gimme a jangle.


I’ve been out to a few meetups already this year (JavaScript Admirers, CHIFOO, STC) and helped out my poor dog who had a severe glaucoma attack and had to have an eye removed.  She’s bounced back amazingly and doesn’t seem to know that she’s not supposed to be missing an eye, which is a helluva lesson in staying present and adapting to change in this world. (Who knew my dog was a Buddhist?)


Where will you find me in the next couple of weeks?

Further out I’m planning on BarCamp Portland 8 and ProductCamp Portland 2014.  Should be a brain-wringer.

Where has “this week in my meetups” been?

lebowski barEarlier this year I set out to build for myself a community of people I could get together with after work, and wanted to leverage the amazing array of Meetups, events and ad-hoc gathering spots in Portland where interesting geeks and nerds gather to talk shop, get to know one another and advance their personal and professional interests.  I’d started pulling in people I like and that express an interest in the UX & tech scene in Portland, then created a personal mailing, and kept adding more effort to the weekly emails I was sending (like I was trying to impress myself with just how “good” I could make it).
Then I decided to give up sending that email out a month ago, when I realised that the whole point of sending it was to encourage folks I liked to come out to the events I’m attending, and that (I can say pretty confidently) I saw few if any people come to any event because of those emails.  I don’t remember ever getting a response on email that was anything but “keep sending the emails”, but notably never any encouragement of my goal like  “I’m sorry I can’t make it, I’ll see you at the next one”.
It became a job, a weekly duty that consumed so much of my time that I started to devote Sunday afternoons to the research, the picture selections and the prose to wrap around the selected meetups.  And yet for all that labour, the self-satisfaction of “building a community”, the net effect since stopping the emails has been the same: no more or fewer people I like attending these events and reaching out to me there than before I even started.
It was a disappointing result, because I really like connecting with a community (not just showing up alone and never getting to know people past the small talk), so I’m still trying to figure out if there’s any way to encourage the folks I like to come out to these events (that *doesn’t* cost me hours every week without visible payoff).  At the moment, the next-best tools I’ve got are Twitter, txt and IFTTT.  I’m pretty much stumped, so I’ve been sitting on my heels.
Which doesn’t feel good, and I’d like to make something work.
Ruminating on this all day, I couldn’t decide if there was any reason to continue – except one: for low cost of personal effort, the effort of posting word to the world that I’m going out somewhere public gives me incentive to follow through beyond my anxieties, fears and self-doubt.
So tonight, in my darkest moment, I prayed to the gods of google, and the pantheon of stackexchange answered:
“ifttt send email to many recipients” coughed up “Using IFTTT to trigger email notifications to group of recipients
Create a mailing list, that gets sent whenever I post something to my Design blog? 

Sure, why the hell not?  If I can make this work, it’ll make my life easier, reduce the mental burden of getting this stuff “out there”, and open the door for others to contribute on their own.  This’ll be an experiment with a different direction: it’s for me, at my whim, and everyone else is welcome to participate or not at their whim.

I’m going to commit to *not* making it a weekly, regular, grinding responsibility for myself.  If this is truly for me, and to encourage myself to post when *I* want, and not when I feel I must post to meet some arbitrary self-imposed obligation, then it doesn’t really matter what frequency it happens.
And so, dear reader, while I’m on the subject, I pose the questions that I keep asking myself: why haven’t you come out to the events I’ve invited you to?  Did I not make you feel welcome?  Do you not have the time, but haven’t gotten around to admitting it to yourself?  Do you, like me, have serious social anxiety and have a hard time making the effort to go out to an event where 95% of the people don’t know you and pose a threat?  Do you, like me, like to feel included in something personal, but just aren’t interested in participating in the events I’ve mentioned?  Do you like to have others do the work for you, and once it’s done, you realise how uninteresting it all is?  Do you like to know about the world outside work, and feel comforted that it exists, so that someday in the future you might decide to engage in it all?  Or are you like me a people-pleaser, not wanting to say no to my face when asked if you’d like to join this list, and don’t have the heart to let me know that you’re not really into it?
These questions come from my own personal curiosity, and my earnest desire to understand why I’ve failed to draw you out and what I can meaningfully do to make this change (if anything).  I don’t expect an answer – it’s entirely unlikely I’ll ever really know – but these are the questions that have been rattling around in my head for the weeks since I put my efforts on hiatus.
I know that when I used to mention an individual event to people in person, I was actually rewarded with real participation.  I know it wasn’t about me, and that there were probably many other motivators; heck, it’s entirely possible that once they got out to those events, they decided that such events just weren’t for them and just didn’t bother to let themselves know that they’re not really committed to going anymore.
I sincerely hope it’s not that, that the timing was bad, and that there is genuine interest in communing with folks like myself at after-work meetups where we can relax a little, learn a little and grow our circle of people we can call friends.  Hope to see you there.
P.S. I’ll be at Portland UX Book Club on Tuesday night.