Jessica Katz

Business & Management

Information & Communications Technology

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Jessica Katz

Liberated Elephant LLC, Owner, Coach, Trainer, Speaker

Jessica Katz is a trainer, mentor and coach helping people find and nurture their authentic selves. Through Liberated Elephant, Jessica works with individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations to help them discover where they are, and with their new knowledge, help them uncover solutions that move them forward on their journey. Her methodology is informed by Agile values, principles, and practices, creating a safe space for clients to be their full selves without judgement.

Current sessions

Serving TEA with NVC

Have you ever left a conversation (in person or in text) and immediately regretted your words or behavior? What about just a general feeling of confusion or dissatisfaction with an interaction? Or maybe you wished the outcome had been different? How about that one person who you always dread talking to? There is a way to feel more mutual satisfaction with your communications, interactions, and relationships both professionally and personally.

You can empower yourself using tools from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the Nonviolent Communication models. We will practice a pragmatic approach to fully understand and be understood and to achieve mutually satisfying outcomes for all participants. Join us to begin the adventure of building open and honest relationships with your colleagues and maybe also your more personal connections.


Building in Resilience

In a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, one must be ready to turn on a dime as conditions change. In technology, we build in disaster recovery which offers us technological resilience. As individuals, we're also in need of our own disaster recovery plan.

This session will explore how we build in resilience so we have the ability to turn away from how we used to work to the way we need to work now. We'll also look at how we welcome change rather than following a plan leveraging Agile ideas in our life and work.

Learning Objectives:
Explore concepts of VUCA and how they are affecting you today.
Shift perceptions so that change can be seen as an opportunity instead of a challenge.
Discover ways to be resilient professionally, mentally, emotionally, financially, and socially.
Identify some actions to that can be taken to make yourself more resilient.


Distributed Culture

Teams thrive on a culture of collaboration, positive energy, and deep trust. Culture is often built in the spaces in between work during hallway talks and at lunch. But when we're all remote, how do we adapt? What are the techniques we can use to build and reinforce great culture in our teams?

Learning Objectives

Recall what a Team is and what builds collaboration and trust
Investigate what is lost when teams are distributed
Review strategies for retaining and supporting healthy team culture
Create a strategy for culture in your team


Managing Distributed Employees

Whether you're a new manager or work from home policies are the new norm, managing employees from afar presents an interesting challenge. Management is about building good relationships. How do you build a relationship with someone you never see? This session answers the question, "You've become a manager of distributed employees, now what?"

Learning Objectives

Discuss the behaviors and responsibilities of a great manager
Investigate the challenges for employees and managers when trying to create a good relationship from a distance
Review strategies for connecting with employees and being an awesome distributed manager.
Identify one or two things you can do in the coming weeks to improve your management for your distributed employees


Transparency: Becoming a Better Window

The more we see into every level in an organization, the more empowered we are to make informed decisions. The more empowered we are as individuals, teams, and organizations, the better we are at providing products and services quickly and with high quality inside and outside the four walls of our offices. We cannot see into every level in the organization with closed doors and secrecy. We must put windows of visibility onto everything we do. The Scrum pillar of transparency is designed to create just such a window.

As with most things in Scrum, the idea of transparency is simple but the practice is difficult. Transparency is built on trust and courage in relationships and requires an overarching ethical relationship mindset and approach. From this perspective, behaviors change to create healthy and genuine relationships that make the space for transparency to show up and broaden.

Learning Objectives:
• Define transparency
• Identify key benefits of transparency
• Describe challenges faced when becoming transparent
• Discover how ethical relationships are key to an environment of transparency
• Review the mindset, values, and principles intrinsic to ethical relationships
• Apply the ethical relationship model to real world problems
• Create a plan to move transparency forward


Safety and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

The key role of leaders in Agile organizations is to enable the mindset, values, and principles of Agile to take shape in their teams and organizational culture. This means that leaders must also go through a transformation in which they face the self-deceptions that helped them get where they are but now hinder their ability to support their organization. All transformation efforts are a journey through change whether they be for one person or many. Awareness of one's self-deception offers an opportunity to investigate what is really driving the behaviors that support and undermine the journey.

This session will investigate the lies we tell ourselves that both help and hinder our individual and organizational success. Participants will be given an opportunity to explicitly identify self-deceptions and identify an action that begins the journey to deeper self-awareness.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to
• Explain the common types of lies we tell ourselves
• Describe how we benefit from self-deception
• Recognize accepted group deceptions in organizational cultures
• Discuss the impacts of deceptive behavior at the individual, team and organization levels
• Practice bringing self-deception and group deception forward transparently
• Identify a specific action that can be taken to apply this knowledge in your day to day life


Creating Boundaries, Practicing Curiosity, and Making Requests

We don't always get to choose who we work with. We seldom get to choose the policies that affect us day to day. We do have the ability to request what we need, the ability to manage our own perceptions, and the ability to choose to act instead of reacting.

This session will lead you down a path towards recognizing where boundaries exist, how to manage your emotions when they're crossed, how to make space to help others when their emotions create unpleasant reactions, and teach you skills for making solid requests that get results.


Brain Hacks: Retaining and using what you learn

You've attended a conference, gone to a training course, watched a video, or read a book! Good job, that's the first step to learning. Now what? How will you hold onto that learning and put it into practice?

We'll leverage psychology, neuroscience, and productivity techniques to uncover ways to hack your brain. Join us for this interactive exploration of ways to improve learning and increase your ability to apply that learning more deeply in your life and work.


Welcome to Whose Agile is it Anyway? Where the stories are made up and the points don't matter

That’s right the points are just like t-shirt sizes, only useful if you’re buying clothes. The #NoEstimates movement would tell us we shouldn’t waste time estimating as it alone adds no value to the process or product. It is true that we utterly suck at estimating thanks to planning fallacy mired in a cognitive bias known as the optimism bias.

There are still places where estimating makes sense. In this session, I’ll share my transition of thinking from “always estimate” to “no estimate needed”. We’ll talk about how to recognize when a team needs estimating and when a team can avoid estimating. As well as reviewing the pitfalls and traps of estimating in an Agile world. Attendees can expect to walk away with an understanding of how to coach and mentor teams through this transition if #NoEstimates is actually the right way for their teams.


Creating an Environment for Wholeness to Make Space for Creativity

People are their most creative when they feel safe to bring their whole self forward. In our agile environments, we are looking for that level of investment so that individuals can flourish and our customers can benefit from what comes forth. How do we make space for courageous creativity in our workplaces? What does it take to really be a place that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools?

This session will cover how we move to a mindset that fully embraces people and gives them room to explore their full potential. We’ll discuss the fears and mental models that are holding companies back from this. Using the Relationship Bill of Rights we’ll investigate a possibility of what our day to day lives could be like.

Learning outcomes:

Identify what Wholeness is and the parts necessary to understanding this concept
Understand the impacts of the scarcity and abundance mindsets
Review the Teal organization model and how it relates to Dan Pink's motivation model
Investigate the ethics of relationships and how labels limit us
Learn the assumptions necessary to support wholeness and ethical relationships
Explore the Relationship Bill of Rights gaining an awareness of what might be possible

The Relationship Bill of Rights can be found here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1t5PFrW0HhZdNg_Dhs-BwtzDAbvWLC9JCXaHarr8IMRM. This has been adapted with permission from the authors of “More Than Two”. My intent is to bring the abundance mindset and the idea of full personal agency to the agile community


Past and future events

CodeStock 2020

17 Apr 2020 - 18 Apr 2020
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Agile Midwest Conference 2019

24 Sep 2019 - 26 Sep 2019
Saint Charles, Missouri, United States

Music City Tech 2019

5 Sep 2019 - 7 Sep 2019
Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Agile Midwest Conference 2018

27 Aug 2018 - 30 Aug 2018
Saint Charles, Missouri, United States

Music City Tech 2018

31 May 2018 - 2 Jun 2018
Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Agile NZ

6 Nov 2017 - 7 Nov 2017
Wellington, New Zealand

Agile Midwest

11 Oct 2017 - 12 Oct 2017

Dog Food Con

5 Oct 2017 - 6 Oct 2017

Music City Agile

30 May 2017 - 31 May 2017