Archive for December, 2008

How to be the first one hired and the last one fired…..

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Are you a pro at getting things done fast with next to no resources or authority to do it? If so, then you might just be an exceptional project manager. Faster, Better, Cheaper – that is what makes for a stellar employee, a stellar contractor, and is what makes one vendor a lot more attractive than another. Take this quiz by CNN Money to see how well positioned you are to keep your job.

Before starting Cheetah Learning, I was working for a large corporate research operation. They got rid of my department but not me – why? Because I was well known for getting things done, fast, with no money and no authority to do it. I didn’t wait around for people to ask me to do things – I saw what needed to get done, created a project plan for how I would do it for just my salary, and was able to sell the idea to the folks who had to approve such things.

Being able to do my projects fast, for little to no money, saved my job and saved my assets.

I left that job to start Cheetah Learning – I wanted to share with other people what I learned about doing projects fast using accelerated learning techniques. Plus I wanted more excitement and more control over my destiny. I had gone to that company to work for my boss, and with her gone, it just wasn’t that much fun anymore. Keeping a job I just didn’t love seemed like a total waste of my life.

I started Cheetah Learning nine years ago and over the years have created a whole slew of courses to teach others how to be the first one hired and the last one fired (we’ve put over 30,000 people through these to date). Most folks if they are unemployed get hired either while they are still taking the courses or soon there after. And if they are employed, get nice promotions with their new skills. Based on our surveys, many of our students get at least a $10k pay raise once they finish our PM Masters Certification Programs.

We’ve gotten a bunch of awards for our courses and even got certified to give college credits for them a few years back. If there is anything in life that is a sure bet, mastering the skills to do your projects fast is it. And that is what we’re about. We are so confident that you will reach your goals with our courses, we offer a money back guarantee on all our courses. If after taking the programs, you don’t achieve what you set out to achieve, we do refund your money, in full. This doesn’t happen that often which is why we can offer it.

If you’d like to be the first one hired and the last one fired – come visit us at Cheetah Learning. if you’d like to become a Cheetah., use the promotion code beacheetah and get a 10% discount on any course we have.

Jubilee Day – Forgive the Debts of Yesterday with the Setting of the Year

Monday, December 29th, 2008
Jubilee Day - Forgive the debts of yesterday with the setting of the year.

Jubilee Day - Forgive the debts of yesterday with the setting of the year.

I’m here on a family reunion vacation and got the idea of doing a day of forgiving debts and transgressions (this was after hearing my Mom remind everyone once again how I quit the mother/daughter tennis tournament when I was 10). I talked this idea over with the Cheetah team and we all thought it was a good idea to make December 30th Jubliee day. And yes, I am forgiving my Mom for needing to continue to bring this up – I don’t even remember the event.

The concept of Jubilee day is very ancient. Seven weeks of seven years (that is 49 years) the rich were encouraged to forgive the debts of the poor. We figured, why not forgive all the debts that we felt others owed us – minor transgressions, favors never repayed, and actual financial debts. And start 2009 with a clean slate.

To help others celebrate Jubilee day with us, we have created several fun activities:

1. A survey on ways to move on from painful past events.

2. A free download with conflict resolution tips to reduce the chance of creating new mis-understandings.

3. A podcast that explores more ideas on participating in Jubilee day.

For various elements of participation, we have special promotional offers for the course that teaches how to live a prosperous and debt free existence using project management – Project Prosperity.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Mahatma Ghandi

Anti-Cancer Book Mind Map – Project Health

Monday, December 29th, 2008
Anti-Cancer - A New Way of Life - David Servenr - Screiber
Anti-Cancer – A New Way of Life –

David Servan-Schreiber

One of my projects for this year has been Project Health.  In late April it was discovered that I had a tumor the size of a golf ball attached to my adrenal gland.  After extensive tests and a very minor intervention, the medical professionals determined the tumor was better left alone since the main problem it was creating had been corrected (extremely high blood pressure).   I got several opinions and there was general concurrence – continue to implement my project health practices and the tumor and I could co-exist just fine.  

In early November, I stumbled upon David Servan-Schreiber’s book – Anti – Cancer, a New Way of Life.  I’ve been slowly reading it over the past six weeks.  (I posted several blog entries on it).   I learned a tremendous amount on how to prevent cancer and shrink tumors from the book.  I decided to create a mind map summarizing the book so I would more easily remember and implement it.  

I highly recommend this book.   It seems that while a tremendous amount of effort goes into preventing heart disease, we’re still in the cancer is “god’s will” perspective on this disease.  This book shows you how you can adopt specific lifestyle practices that will help you prevent cancer as well.   What I’ve learned doing Project Health is that it is the choices I make every minute of every day that determine if I’m going to exist in a state of vibrant good health or a state of gradual decline.  I’m learning how to make the choices that lead to vibrant good health that are right for me.

I don’t purport to be the expert on what choices other people should make as we all are responsible for our own lives. So, please follow your own path to health (this is my general disclaimer). But I’m happy to share with others what I am learning on my Project Health efforts.

Science of Success Mind Map

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
This is what success at Cheetah Speed Looks Like

You too can succeed at Cheetah Speed

I was reading @zentropikCEO posts on twitter and he found the title of the book called the Science of Getting Rich misleading. His preference is that if people are going to use the term “science” that they have axioms, proofs, and theorms.

While I appreciate his desire for scientific purity, having been a research scientist at one point in my life,  Science is full of inexact hypothesis that one tries to prove or disprove through a variety of creative tests. Just because a hypothesis is still in the process of being proven, does not mean that science is not being practiced. Quiet the opposite – it is this fertile ground of experimentation that all new discoveries are made.

I was analyzing how to help project managers become more successful.  Five areas consistently created far more success for project managers (and for most other people as well).  Attached is the mind map from the presentation I delivered for thousands of project managers around the world for the past decade.   If you’re interested in a free Science of Success webinar or in person presentation for your organization  – contact us at 888-659-2013.

Learn how to use your unique strengths to become more successful on your important life projects.  Take our free PM Personality Assessment and see what you can do to achieve your goals at Cheetah speed.

Science Of Success Mind Map - Take Expand Your Success Story to Learn More

Science Of Success Mind Map – How to Thrive In a Fast Changing World


Succeeding in the Age of Uncertainty – Study History

Thursday, December 25th, 2008
Orison Swett Marden Knew How To Succeed In Any Circumstance

Orison Swett Marden Knew How To Succeed In Any Circumstance

I realize some people are feeling a chill breeze blowing through their ideas of prosperity right now.   But really it’s just a matter of perspective.   Lets look at history, and one person in particular – Orison Swett Marden.   Marden lived from 1850 – 1924.  He was orphaned at 7 years old and had to work as a houseboy to survive early in life.  He managed to graduate from Harvard Medical School and went on to a life that had it’s trials and triumphs.  

He published a scad of books on personal success and believed that our thoughts influenced our lives and our life circumstances. He said, “We make the world we live in and shape our own environment.”  “The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.”

Here is a list of the books he penned:

  • Pushing to the Front or, Success Under Difficulties. 1894.
  • How to Succeed or, Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune. 1896.
  • Architects of Fate or, Steps to Success and Power. 1897.
  • The Secret of Achievement. 1898.
  • Cheerfulness as a Life Power. 1899.
  • Character 1899.
  • The Hour of Opportunity. 1900.
  • An Iron Will. 1901.
  • Every Man a King 1906
  • Do It to a Finish 1909.
  • Eclectic School Readings: Stories from Life, A Book for Young People.
  • The Man You Long to Be article printed in Nautilus January 1918
  • Ambition. 1919.
  • Prosperity – How to Attract It. 1922.
  • Thank you to Mike Litman for introducing me to the work of Orisson Swett Marden

    Shift Happens

    Monday, December 22nd, 2008

    I got on the US Treasury’s email list in September as a way to become more informed about how the US Government was making economic policy decisions.  It’s been a fascinating bit of education.   There are so many complex variables – you can’t just look at one indicator and say – the world is going to hell in a hand basket, or another and say life is just rosy.   Here are the economic quarterly indicators for the past four quarters and the past four years.  

    What I notice is that while manufacturing is down, non-farm jobs are up.   While residential construction is down, it’s didn’t drop nearly as bad as it did last year this time (I guess when you’re pretty much near the bottom, there is not much further you can go).   While imports are down, exports are up (now this is a GOOD thing).   Business investment in structures is up while purchases of equipment and software are down.  The construction companies I know that are doing well did make the shift from residential to business infrastructure – they saw it coming and shifted.  

    This gets to what I said in a post about six weeks ago – to be successful in business you have to be able to put your ear to the ground and listen to the direction of the buffalo.  When the external environment shifts, to continue on the same path without shifting is like staying the course with a boat heading for a waterfall. 

    This is why I find it imperative to complete projects in three months.   Anything longer, especially in today’s environment – and you find you’re toiling away on the bridge to no where that no one wants any longer. This is why I like to be and think like a cheetah – move fast and change directions quick.

    Printing Money – What an Old Fashioned Concept

    Saturday, December 20th, 2008


    Creating Value is Better than Printing Money

    Creating Value is Better than Printing Money

    I was reading the Wall Street Journal this morning. Yes that seems so odd I am even saying that. It’s not like it’s my daily habit to read the Wall Street Journal. I am stuck here in San Francisco – been trying to get to a family reunion for the holidays and have faced one weather delay after another. The WSJ was dropped off by my hotel room door. The Weekend Journal has a very interesting article on how the Fed is printing money like crazy – yet they aren’t even printing the money. It’s all just being created on the computer. They are “creating” the money through the same old scheme of loaning money based on the fractional reserve. BUT look at this paragraph from the WSJ article:

    “In this crisis, the Fed’s assets have grown much faster than its capital. The truth is that the Federal Reserve is itself a highly leveraged financial institution. The flagship branch of the 12-bank system, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shows assets of $1.3 trillion and capital of just $12.2 billion. Its leverage ratio, a mere 0.9%, is less than one-third of that prescribed for banks in the private sector. Such a thin film of protection would present no special risk if the bank managed by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary-designate, owned only short-dated Treasurys. However, the mystery meat acquired from Bear Stearns and AIG foots to $66.6 billion. A writedown of just 18.3% in the value of those risky portfolios would erase the New York Fed’s capital account. In congressional testimony eight years ago, Laurence Meyer, then a Fed governor, tried to allay any such concerns (which then must have seemed remote, indeed). “Creditors of central banks…are at no risk of a loss because the central bank can always create additional currency to meet any obligation denominated in that currency,” he soothingly reminded his listeners.”

    Why would people experiencing unprecedented deflation be concerned about actions by our federal government that could create outrageous inflation? Mostly we should all be concerned about this because there is no way to predict the future as these are unprecedented times. All you can really do right now is be able to respond fast to emerging opportunities. Where can you turn for advice during a time like this when no one knows where things are heading? Here are some of my strategies to not just weather this fast changing situation, but to also capitalize on it:

    1. Get really good at creating value for others, FAST.   This is where project management comes in especially handy as the faster you can finish your projects, the more value you create.

    2. Get very good at adapting fast to changing circumstances. This is where learning how to learn fast and also learning how to complete projects fast will stand you well during any time.

    3. Create your own risk management plans. Look at the probability of various scenarios, and the impact of those occuring. Understand the expected monetary value of these scenarios and develop strategies that are appropriate for YOU. This is where the people who become certified Project Management Professionals through Cheetah Learning have an edge over others as these concepts are second nature to them.

    Believing in Yourself is the Most Sure Way to Win

    Saturday, December 20th, 2008

    The Drum Roll Please.......

    The Drum Roll Please.......

    On Wednesday, December 17, 2008, we hosted “Believe In Yourself Day.” We asked people to share their stories of overcoming adversity. We also offered a number of other ways to participate in the Believe in Yourself day. For those who participated in the other activities, they were given three courses (total 23 PDUs or 2.3 CEUs). We also offered 60 PDUs or a free PMP online course for the winner of our adversity story activity. We got some fantastic stories so we extended it to a first, second and third place winner. We rated each story based on level of adversity to overcome, perseverance, and guts. Here are their stories:

    First Place – The Ugly Duckling

    Several Years Ago, I Entered The Project Management (PM) Space Quite By Accident. I Was In Career Transition, So I Moved To Another City In To Take A Job In A Heavy Engineering (EPC) Environment. Much Of The Work Involved Large Capital Projects And I Was Involved With Providing Financial Planning And Analysis. About One Year Later, The Work Emphasis Shifted To Project Controls. Further, New Boss Told Me That I Had To Start From Scratch And That Nothing I Did, Or Studied Before Mattered. Because I Hold An MBA, My Assumption Was That I Knew PM. How Wrong I Was! For A Number Of Years, I Knuckled Under, Learning About Earned-value, Seeking Mentors And Applied These Principles To My Work. My Financial Background Served As A Bridge Into ! Knowledge
    Areas Like Cost And Risk. Next, I Earned A One-year Certificate In PM At A University Extension; Ironically, The Same Boss Who Told Me I Did Not Know PM Was In The Same Class! I Finished Near The Top Of My Class And Was Even Asked By My Instructors To Apply As An Instructor. Eventually, I Began To Co-lead Projects Along With Project Engineers.This Year, 2008, I Attended The Cheetah Exam Prep For The PMP And Passed On The Fifth Day! I Have Also Have Earned A PM Certification Through The International Project Management Association. Finally, I Have Been Trained in The Lean Six Sigma Method Of Process Improvement. Interestingly Enough, PM Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, And Quality Control Can Use Lean Six Sigma As A Firm Foundation. In Summary, I went From Being Despondent About My Career, A Non-CPA Battling A Horde Of CPA’s For The Better Finance Jobs, To A Double-certified PM In The Hot Energy Sector.

    Second Place – Sharing My Gifts.

    Demonstrating Unique Talents In Business And Personal Life Can Provide You With Unusual Opportunities. The Following Story Has The Creativity Of A Non Discipline Mixed With The Strategy Of A Project Manager And A Well Defined Discipline.My Story Is About Winning Second Place In A National Gift Wrapping Contest. I Have Always Had A Creative Perspective In My Career And My Life In General. A Friend Told Me Of A Contest For Persons With Unique Gift Wrapping Skills. Sure I Have Created Some Impressive Looking Gifts However I Surely Could Not Compete With Professionals Or Others More Creative Than I.I Decided To Approach The Opportunity As I Do My Career, As A Project Manager For A Large Financial Organization. This Contest Was Going To Be My Personal Unique Project. The Entry Required The Completion Of A 100 Word Essay On Why I Should Be Chosen For The Contest. Again Like Any Good Project Manager, I Looked At Who My Customer Was The Scope Of The Project And Implementation Alternatives.I Completed The Initiation Phase Of The Project By Analyzing The Contest Sponsor, Their Business, Customers And Products. Using An Eye Catching Graphic I Completed The Essay And To My Surprise Was Selected As One Of The 8 Contestants. As A Contestant I Was Flown To New York City For The Weekend Of The Contest Along With My Family. Accommodations And Typical Tourist Activities Were Planned And Compensated By The Sponsor. Along With Three Other Amateurs And Four Professionals We Were Shown The Gifts For The Next Day’s Wrapping Contest. Putting My Project Management Hat Back On, Out Came The Work Break Down Structure, Net Work Diagrams, Requirements Traceability And Control Plan. I Knew As A Methodical Manner I Could Execute Projects However Was Not Sure Of The Mix With Creativity.The Day Of The Contest My Family Served As My Testing Analysts Holding Me To The Planned Designs. Under The Pressure Of The Timed Wrapping Event They Proved To Be A Valuable Asset (as All Testing Is). After Three Progressive Rounds I Was Matched Against The Best Professional Gift Wrapper.The Last And Final Round Proved Too Much For My Design And Materials. Coming In Second Place Netted A Cash Prize, An All Expenses Paid Weekend In New York City And Multiple Local Media Events. The Exposure Of The Contest Lasted Three Years And Additional Unexpected Financial Gains.Project Management Is A Rewarding And Creative Career If You Allow It. With The Award As Winner Of This Contest And The 60PDUs I Plan To Schedule My PMP Exam And Become A CCPM (Creative And Certified Project Manager).

    Third Place – Cheaper by the Dozen

    It Took Me Several Years To Really Believe In Myself. Growing Up In A Very Large Family (12 children), My Life Led Me Down A Path Of Entering The Workforce At An Early Adult Age But Only Securing Basic Education, College Was Not An Option. I Loved Working And Really Wanted A “career”. In Certain Circles I Was Told That Not Having A College Degree Would Be A Detriment To Me And I Would Never Get Anywhere. I Pondered Those Comments Because I Wanted To Suceed And Make Money (I Was Doing Secretarial And Administrative Work At This Time)! Throughout The Years Taking A Few College Classes Worked Out But Never Quite Made It To That “degree”. Knowing I Was A Responsible, Smart, Hardworking Girl, I Continued To Make My Way Through The Corporate World Taking Classes Where Offered At My Place Of Employment, Offering To Fill In For Other Positions Where I Could To Learn New Stuff. If Anything I Was Reliable, Kept My Word And Could Learn Just About Anything. Organization And Communication Came Natural To Me And As Project Management Became More Commonplace, I Decided That I Had The Unique Strengths That Applied To That. Being From A Large Family And Working In Many Diverse Markets, I’m Very Comfortable With Communication And People In General. Starting Out As A Project Coordinator, I Was Soon Asked To Fill In For A Project Manager That Was On Maternity Leave. After She Came Back, Some Of Her Projects Stayed With Me. I Was Eventually Promoted To Project Manager. Still Have A Lot To Learn, Not Diminishing The Importance Of A Good Education, I Feel It All Paid Off For Me. If I Would Have Let The “no College Degree Label” Hang On, I Don’t Think I Would Have Even Applied For A Project Manager Position But I Did Because I Knew I Had Other Really Good Strengths Such As Competent Communication, Follow-thru, Adaptability And Years Of Experience As A Professional.

    Believe in Yourself!

    Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

    Over the past week I’ve seen several cars with “We Believe” painted in their back window. I am assuming this refers to the belief in that jolly guy from the North Pole who flies through the night with a sleigh pulled by reindeer to deliver presents worldwide. It got me thinking, why not spend as much time and energy this season in improving a belief in ourselves to achieve the challenges before us? I’ve been in business 21 years – time after time, when I’m faced with challenges, I’ve had to dig down deep into my own internal sense of self, reestablish the base of my strengths to find the path up the next mountain. I’ve been blogging about these concepts this entire week:

    Leverage your strengths to pursue opportunities – see the Creating Meaningful Work posting.
    Create value from your unique differences – see the Standing Out from the Crowd posting.
    Find the opportunity from adversity – see the Concerned About Keeping or Getting a Job in Today’s Environment posting.

    In this “Believe in Yourself” day, that we are dedicating to helping others harness a belief in themselves to pursue their life’s challenges, my Cheetah Team and I have created a number of fun activities (for participating we have selected several courses you can take for free that will help you enhance your capabilities to climb that next mountain in your life):

    If we encourage innocent children to believe reindeer can fly, then lets encourage each other to soar in life as well.

    Just as we encourage innocent children to believe reindeer can fly, lets encourage each other to soar in life as well.

    1. Share your own story of how a belief in yourself helped you rise to a challenge in your life. On December 19, 2008 we will pick a winner. The winner will get a free 60 PDU course or a free PMP Online Exam Prep course. Just for participating, you will find out how you can take our Cheetah Action Project or PM of Weightloss online courses for half price.

    Share Your Story.

    2. Participate in our survey to learn how you and others improve a belief in yourself. Just for participating, you will learn how you can take our free 1 PDU online course called Believe to Achieve.

    Take our Survey

    3. Download our Free Believe In Yourself assessment to develop the base from which to chart the path up the next mountain in your life. By completing the assessment, you will learn how to take a free 2 PDU online course called PM Myth Buster – where you explore the common myths facing project managers today and how to move past them. You will also get an offer for 50% off two of our most popular and newest online classes: Project Prosperity and Cheetah Family Office.

    Download the Free Believe in Yourself Assessment

    4. Listen to our Believe In Yourself Podcast where Michelle LaBrosse and Bryne Edwards share their ideas of how to use a deep understanding of your own capabilities to overcome risks and thrive where others see adversity. For listening, you will learn how to take our 20 PDU online course Cheetah Family Office for free.

    Listen to our Believe in Yourself Podcast


    Creating Meaningful Work

    Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

    Doing what I love creates meaningful work for me and brings tremendous value to others.

    Doing what I love creates meaningful work for me and brings tremendous value to others.

    My friend Joy Baldridge gave me Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers – the Story of Success. FANTASTIC read. He talks about what makes work meaningful – autonomy, complexity, and a link between effort and reward. It’s not about the money – yes we all have to make a living. It’s better for your overall well being though to take the lower paying job that gives you more meaningful work than to take the high paying job of repetitive labor with no autonomy where you are shut down at any turn for innovation and effort. It is by paying your dues with the lower paying work where you develop meaning (and skills) for your life, where the opportunities for significant advancement arise.

    For the past four months, I have been advocating that we all learn how to leverage our four sources of capital as a way to muscle past the current worldwide credit crisis. By leveraging your four sources of capital – you will be creating more meaning in your life. You will be creating the tools that can help you thrive in any environment. Here are some examples of how to better develop and leverage your four sources of capital:

    Social Capital – this is your relationships. How do you build good relationships? CARE about others. Find opportunities for them to be successful. Be grateful for how others help you. If people slight you, forgive them FAST. Grudges make you old, mean, and slow. I like to apply two of the four agreements here – don’t take things personally and don’t make assumptions. Most of us judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intent. Reverse that and you will have relationships that stand the test of time.

    Knowledge Capital – this is what you know and how you can use it. How do you build your knowledge capital? Do what you love and do it and do it and do it. Practice makes perfect. Gladwell points out in his Outlier’s book that for people to rise to any level of success in a field, they have to have at least 10,000 hours of practice in what it is they are doing. If you are doing what you love to do, that 10,000 hours goes by in the blink of an eye. Also, learn how to learn – the faster you can learn, the faster you can change. When you get to the level of mastery in what you love, the learning happens effortlessly and often. You will then start to find the opportunities all over the place to apply what it is you have mastered to help others every place you turn.

    Brand Capital – this is your credentials and your reputation. How do you build your brand capital? This is where I live by the other two of the four agreements – Be impeccable with your word and always do your best. Word of mouth of your capabilities is the best endorsement you can get. Yes you have to get the requisite credentials in any field you want to go into. But credentials will only get you in the door. To keep finding open doors, your reputation needs to be rock solid for being able to deliver on what others need from you. This is where I find being great at doing projects comes in especially handy.

    Operating Capital – this is your infrastructure for delivering value to others. If you rely on your car to get to locations where you create value for others, you better make sure you keep that car in good working order. The same of your computer systems, your internet connections, anything you need to keep yourself operational. Over time you can create more infrastructure to create more value – but that takes time and maintenance. Only create and maintain that which you truly need to create value for others. For example, when I started my company, I thought I needed bricks and mortar – at one point in time I had six training centers. These did not create value commensurate with their cost. Now my company is essentially virtual. I have one small training center in a city where it is the more cost effective route than using public venues. We still create tremendous value for our students, my team is much happier working virtually, and my overhead and risk is way down. My main infrastructure is my web system that enables me to support my business worldwide. We take extremely good care of that and are very vigilant in it’s performance and upkeep.

    For more information on how to create meaningful work, check out my free downloads.