agility practice lead

Category: Learning

Masks Create Challenges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

In latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is wearing masks. This creates significant challenges for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, however.

If you know me, you probably know my mother was born profoundly deaf. Having a deaf parent affords me the ability to empathize, at least a little, with people who need inclusive design. Though there remains so much that we can do to be more inclusive for all people, right now I’m worried about my mom.

While my mother is deaf, she can also hear with technology. My mother has two cochlear implants and is able to understand quite a bit of speech due to tenacity and years studying. I spoke (starting at minute 20:23) and wrote about it last year on just how far the technology has come, and that she can now listen to, and enjoy music like never before. All quite hopeful…

The current crisis, however, is creating a new challenge for her.

Firstly, she struggles to understand others without visual cues from their face. Masks create a significant disadvantage for deaf and hard of hearing. As an example, earlier this week a friend hand-delivered a birthday cake (low contact delivery) to my mother, but my mother couldn’t understand the friend because of the mask. Leading my friend to drop her mask. This increases risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The second is she struggles to wear a mask due to her cochlear implants. A deaf or hard-of-hearing person who uses hearing aids or cochlear implants may find that masks that go over the ears or tie around the head can interfere with their hearing assistive devices. The majority of masks work this way, thus finding masks that work, or making their own becomes challenging.

What You Can Do

Masking for People with Cochlear Implant / Hearing Aids

Use an infinity scarf

Mask using infinity scarf
My mother came up with this way of masking to allow her to continue to wear cochlear implant and be masked.

Surviving Coronavirus – Lists

I’m going to break from my norm of keeping my content almost entirely professional here, and talk about something pretty personal.

This is intended to share resources that helped me during my journey. Maybe they will help you too.

I tested positive for COVID in March, and I am now on week 5. It’s been a long road. There were multiple times I thought I was going to die. I didn’t, and I didn’t get admitted to the hospital, so my case is considered mild. From this side of things, it has felt anything but mild. Mild encompasses a wide span – from asymptomatic to the flu, to, “OMG, I might die.” Mild minimizes how much suffering this virus causes. We need new words for it.

I had the symptoms they talk about and a lot more, including significant GI upset. Last week I went to the ER for trouble breathing and was treated for a secondary infection (pnemonia) caused by the virus. I also tested negative for COVID at that time. This was great news because I had agonized over returning to doing things for myself and worried I might get someone sick going to the grocery or pharmacy.

This makes the journey sound small, but it hasn’t been. I’ve been alone for many weeks. COVID has consumed my life the last 5 weeks. I am still not entirely better. I still get short of breath and am not getting enough oxygen consistently. My body is not back to normal by any stretch. It passes, and overall I am getting a little better each day. I need people to know though, it’s not like I woke up one day with everything better again. It’s an arduous process of better and then worse.

I will probably write more about this later. Right now I want to share with you the resources that have made a difference for me over these long weeks.

What Helped Me





What I Wish I Had Known At Onset

Last week I wrote this list – things I wish I had known from the start – I add as I learn:

  • What you can do at home:
    • if you’re sick, start a symptom log (if you don’t have one, start now!) and log fever readings, symptoms, day by day or hour by hour, whatever makes sense – if there’s one thing I can recommend universally it’s this. You get asked over and over, and having a log will help. Date and timestamp it.
    • rest AND get up and move, both are important
      • walk around if you can
      • stand if you can
      • try sleeping partially reclined if you can, helps with breathing,
      • try changing positions
      • try laying on your belly
    • if you feel like you can’t breathe, you won’t be getting to read/do as much as you were thinking you would, accept it instead of pushing too hard to get back into things 100%
    • do the breathing exercises! do all of them
      • 5 deep breaths then cough on 6
      • hold your breath to count of 10
      • arms above your head to stretch
      • pursed lips breathing
      • lay on your stomach 
      • lots more… 
    • you can take Tylenol (but check with a doctor just in case)
    • hot showers help
    • hot tea helps
    • a good broth helps
    • stock up on electrolytes, and get them in every day even if you can’t eat it will help 
    • if experiencing nausea, just eat when you get hungry; hunger may pass too quickly to make a meal, so just find *something*
    • if you’re experiencing nausea, placing a grocery order for next week thinking your appetite will be back is probably over-optimistic, buy anything that can’t be frozen conservatively 
  • Treatment options:
    • lidocaine patch, cream or roll-on helps covid chest pain
    • get a pulse oximeter quickly – potential/positive covid cases can self monitor- gives at least a little piece of mind
    • inhaler prescribed by doctor can help with chest tightness
    • for GI there are prescriptions from your doctor – antispasmodics or meds for nausea that can really help
    • medicine to help with cough from your doctor
  • Ask for help – you will need it:
    • groceries pick ups
    • prescription pick ups
    • taking out your trash to the curb if you are too sick to
    • now as spring arrives, help with your lawn

Newly learned:

  • gluten exposure for celiacs can make you more susceptible to COVID (or any virus)
  • in my case, we suspect COVID activated celiac response causing about 2 weeks of gluten exposure symptoms with no gluten exposure

Create a Virtual Team Lobby or Team Room

With the move to remote work for so many, including myself, an idea occurred to me. Likely, your teams and colleagues are using many new tools and connecting in different ways if you were previously and primarily co-located.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve collected and cataloged tools, articles, and resources on overdrive to support the many people I work with. Events I organize required work to make the shift to remote attendance and participation. This led to my reflecting quite a bit on just how much has changed in a short period of time. Many of us are experiencing change at a rate we have never seen before. And it’s all virtually located and organized inside our heads in most cases.

As a coach and consultant, I frequently make use of visual information on whiteboards, flip charts, paper even on an iPad with use of Apple Pencil. The first three are nice low-tech options that can be used over video meetings, and there are lots of tools available online or to download to use for these purposes as well.

Likely there are ALREADY tools that allow for this idea I am suggesting here: a virtual team space that connects all the things an employee might need AND gives a sense of physical space for the team to connect in.

There’s a hitch though. Many organizations are currently watching costs given the current financial situation. You may be finding that additional tool licenses are not in the budget.

Some of the amazing work coming out of Business Agility Institute for remote attendance of the NYC conference sparked this idea for me. In a short amount of time, conference organizers created a virtual conference lobby, if you will, for people to be able to visualize the conference experience and connect to the resources necessary for remote attendance. Conferences that are all remote have been doing this for years. It’s not necessarily new. Given the times and pressure, and the shift to attend remotely for many, this was a nice touch that significantly enhanced the virtual conference experience for me.

Borrowing from that experience, here’s a low tech suggestion to help your team members visualize their new way of work.

Create a virtual team space or virtual team lobby that contains image representations for all of the team’s assets, tools etc and that visually represents your virtual team or virtual team space. It might help to consider what you wish that virtual space would look like, and to consider icons or representations that align with the purpose of the tool or link your team uses and their personality.

In this virtual team space, you could consider

  • a visual representation of how you track your work with an image of a digital work board that links to a Trello or JIRA or a picture of your previously physical board
  • a document or file box image that connects to Google Drive or Confluence or other documentation/wiki for your team
  • a team meeting table image that links to Slack, Zoom Room or WebEx
  • for teams who support software or develop software remotely, you might consider a desk picture that connects the team to customized links for their work such as ticketing systems, development tools and virtual machines
  • a picture of the team, or individual pictures of each team member
  • a kudos or sticky wall that includes thanks and appreciation to team members
  • a picture of your workplace that links back to organizational resources, news and collaboration spaces, especially if you have essential personnel on site that you want to thank or spotlight for the work they are doing to support the organization in this difficult time.

I can’t be the first person who has thought of this, so I’m not claiming credit. Happy to connect to others who have done this well, if you know of any examples or if this idea already has a nifty name.

2019 My Year in Books

I blew past my goal! I set it lower based on last year’s experience where I felt like I wasn’t absorbing everything toward the end.

This year though, while I did have a few weeks where reading felt less enjoyable, I didn’t feel like stopping at my more modest goal.

I can’t help myself! So many good books, so little time.

Best nonfiction:

  1. Atomic Habits, James Clear
  2. Nudge, Richard Thaler
  3. Not That Bad, Roxane Gay
  4. The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge
  5. Range, David Epstein
  6. Fascism, Madeleine Albright
  7. Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
  8. How to Be Heard, Julian Treasure
  9. So You Wanna Talk About Race, Ijeoma Olua
  1. Liminal Thinking, Dave Gray
  2. The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells

Best fiction:

    American Gods, Neil Gaiman
    The Nickel Boys, Corson Whitehead
    Daisy Jones and The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Where’d You Go Bernadette? Maria Semple
    The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehsi Coates
    11.22.63, Stephen King
    Dune, Frank Herbert
    Minority Report and Other Stories, Philip K Dick
    Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman
    A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

See more here: Carina’s 2019 Year in Books

First Inaugural Women In Agile Conference at Business Agility Midwest 2019

On Tuesday, November 5th, 2019, the afternoon before Business Agility Midwest 2019, the Women in Agile (WIA) conference here in Columbus gathered nearly 80 women and allies to learn and share our experience and knowledge with each other.


Maureen Metcalf, CEO of The Innovative Leadership Institute, whose podcast airs on Voice America and author of nearly a dozen books, shared Leadership Trends for 2020 and beyond in an engaging and interactive keynote. Attendees were invited to reflect on key trends and how they plan to meet the challenges ahead.

Speed Mentoring

We dedicated most of our conference time to speed mentoring, a collaborative technique I first experienced in New York as part of the WIA event before the Business Agility Conference in March this year. this activity allows each person to practice speaking or teaching on a topic of their choosing in a safe and supportive environment.

There were so many great topics all across the room. Examples from our table included:

  • building trust
  • coaching mindset shifts
  • expanding your network
  • leadership
  • making salad jars

In Closing

At the end of our engaging event, we invited participants to give us feedback- and we will apply the helpful constructive criticism to make our next event even better.

A big thank you to Business Agility Midwest for making this event possible, to Maureen Metcalf for her wonderful keynote and to our sponsor, Nationwide Insurance!

Photos from the event

I am collecting photos of the event here – please feel free to browse for examples from speed mentoring, pictures of the room and volunteers as well as our retrospective artifacts.

Let’s Connect!

You can get involved with Women in Agile in a number of ways:

A Work In Progress

Growing up I played the piano. I must have been at least slightly musically gifted because there were definitely times I didn’t practice and I got away with it. My music teacher finally quit me, and that was probably a good call. I held myself to such crazy expectations to get things quickly it was difficult to practice. I was a fast learner. It should come easily with minimal practice. And sometimes I did not and that had to be maddening for my teacher. Also I was 12(?) when I was left without a teacher. I’d like to think I’d be kinder to myself now, and if I wanted to I’d stick with it but I need to test that theory.

For some time from youth until adulthood, I still had a piano in my house, and I would sit down to play, just not consistently. Now there’s no piano given many moves… so I’m trying something different- to learn to play the Kalimba. I’m enjoying it and there’s no pressure, it’s just picking up musical notation again, and sometimes just toying around to learn a song that just pops in my head.

You are a work in progress, no matter the age. What kinds of things do YOU do to further your work in progress?

Best Books I’ve Read This Year (So Far)

I read A LOT! This year I scaled back my Goodreads Reading Challenge to only 175 books. I’m more than halfway there at 91 books. I’ve been mixing it up, per usual with books both inside and outside my comfort zone. I continue to learn a lot along the way.

I’ve got a few, like The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, than are big volumes I’ve been taking my time to really absorb, but can still strongly recommend. Below are the books I’ve finished and either loved, found challenging in a good way, or really learned a lot from.

Good fiction

  • I finally finished the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Neil Gaiman was suggested. Dunno how I missed this wonderful writer. Now I’m devouring all of his work.
  • What else? The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera was lovely. And The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Cary was a page turner. Lots more but these were the standouts.

    Good nonfiction

    I’ve read a lot more nonfiction this year. Universally interesting reads include:

    1. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
    1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
    2. The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klas Schwab
    1. Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
    1. Quiet by Susan Cain
    2. Endure by Alex Hutchinson
      The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
    1. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
    2. Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
    3. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

    Helpful for Agilists

    1. Nudge by Richard Thaler
      Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
      The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
      Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows
      Atomic Habits by James Clear
      Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
      Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke
      Measure What Matters by John Doerr
      Lateral Leadership by Tim Herbig
      The Human Side of Agile by Gil Broza

    You can see my full list of books I’ve read in 2019 over at Goodreads, linked to on the footer of this page.

    I’ve got a running queue of over 2,000 books to-read, and the list just keeps getting longer! Since I’ve started tracking my reads on Goodreads I’ve read 860 books and I’m always taking recommendations.

    What have you read this year and either loved or found recommendation-worthy?

    Gaining a Sense

    My mother got a second cochlear implant last year and it was turned on last week. The first involved shaving a good bit of her head, much more invasive surgery. This time was much better, outpatient surgery, with a small incision.

    Here you can see and hear the difference between her first, 20 years ago, and her new one.

    I’ll say my mother is nothing short of amazing. She had never heard, her entire life, and even with the limited capabilities of her first implant, and despite being warned she’d never understand speech, she persevered. She spent hours studying, listening to audiobooks reading along, to *learn* to understand speech. If that’s not being a learn-it-all, I don’t know what is.

    And… data makes a difference. The difference between the first and second implant, for me, is the difference between a single instrument and an orchestra.

    Below you can hear the before and after comparison – what she heard with her first implant and what she can hear now. This difference is striking.

    See the original post here.

    Read More, Read Better 2019 edition

    I am a voracious reader, and am always learning. I figure my ability to read and learn is one of my most valuable skills, so it’s one I practice.

    I have a lot of tricks to remember what I read, and be able to use it. These are some great ones I use – though not complete when it comes to how I read. I’d add these additional tips:

    • Set a reading goal and track it with a tool (I recommend GoodReads so you can track page/percent progress), this is my number #1 tip – use a WIP limit and focus on done to make greater progress
    • Find a note taking technique that works for you, this helps you retain what you learn better. Some have use an old-fashioned notebook, iPad and Apple Pencil, or type up notes in a tool like Evernote.
    • Figure out your favorite way to read (audiobooks, ebooks, physical books) or if you’re like me, a combination. Do your favorites most.
    • Spend time summarizing what you’ve learned (drawing, writing, talking, teaching, etc)
    • Use what you read as jumping off points for new reads: I often check out everything on a subject from the library and pour through them to find the best books.
    • Turn off the TV – it’s amazing how much you can do when you’re not in front of the TV.
    • Find places you like for reading – it’s easier to make time to read when you’re doing it somewhere you like.
    • Try alternate reading techniques for using your available time for reading – for example, if your hands are busy driving or doing chores, listen to audiobooks.
    • Try reading, then take notes – sometimes I’d rather read once and return for notes, which can make it easier to find the salient points if I’m not sure where a book is driving to.
    • Read it again – if I find a book particularly enjoyable or profound, I may read (or listen to) it again
    • Branch out by trying books you might not normally read – you may learn something, or at least expand your horizons – cultivate curiosity and ask questions along the way.
    • Be sure to throw in books you know you will like too – this makes it easier to read if you’re in a slump.
    • Find other people who read like you (or not like you!) – you’ll get their recommendations and can share yours, as well as finding interesting ways of connecting unrelated ideas together.
    • Subscribe to or find a summarizing service if you find it helps you – it can be helpful to refresh your memory (this doesn’t work for me but I know a few readers who like it)

    Learn more at

    Farnam Street: 

  • James Clear:
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