Archive for January, 2009

Networking for the 20-something PM Professional

Friday, January 30th, 2009

I went out to a Professional Development Dinner Meeting, courtesy of the Project Management Institute- San Diego Chapter, this last Wednesday. I love networking events- the reason being that I have a propensity to talk to complete strangers in social gatherings, and networking events such as these allow me to fully capitalize on this characteristic instead of trying to suppress it. 

I took off for this networking event with a full arsenal of business cards, notepad and pens, and a cheerful disposition (which was partially due the unseasonable nice weather we have been having here).

I have been making more of an effort to go to PM networking events as of late, as I think it is important to tap into the local community of peer project managers for inspiration, collaboration, and support. Attending these events I have noticed that while there is a handful of other young professional Project Managers, there is not as many as I would have expected. I think as the Project Management Profession grows increasingly popular amongst the 20-something crowd, networking events will eventual reflect this. The leap is making young project managers aware of events and for them to realize the benefits associated with networking. 

I interviewed one young PM Professionals at this dinner to get a gauge on what her motivation was to attend PM networking events, and this is what I found out..

Name: Sarah Elizabeth Aronsohn

How did you here about the PMI networking event: I’m a member of PMI, so I look on the monthly calendar on their web site for events like this. I actually heard about PMI from my friend’s boy friend that is in it.  He took me to my first meeting.

What are you hoping to get out of this PMI dinner and networking events such as these: I want to meet people in the San Diego community so I have an idea of what’s going on in this town.  It’s not that I can’t meet people on Garnett (local street that is popular with the college crowd, but not what you would call a “professional oriented” scene); it’s just that those people aren’t necessarily going to help me get my PMP one day.  It’s great to get to know people who aren’t in your daily routine, especially because I’m still pretty new to San Diego.  Even though I love my job and am not actively looking for another job, you never know when something even better might come along.  I also really want to get more involved in PMI for experience and a resume builder. Oh yeah, and building your conversation skills and learning how to handle yourself at dinner with strangers is always a great skill to have.

What are your feelings about networking, particularly networking as a young professional, at these events: It’s so much easier for us 20-somethings to get career advice and guidance at events like these than at longboards (popular local bar). It’s nice to be able to step away from your own peer group for a few hours and meet people who you want to mirror professionally.  At every event I’ve gone to I’ve collected a few business cards and have actually kept in touch with those people.  They’re really a great resource.

Looking around, I don’t see many people here under 30. Why do you think that is, and what would encourage more young PM professional to come to these events?  Because it’s intimidating for a 20 something to walk into a room with older, serious looking, professionals and strike up a conversation with just any Dick, Jane or Harry.  Eleanor Roosevelt said you should do one thing a day that scares you.  Going to these meetings was that one thing for me at first.  The funny thing is though, once you start going, you meet so many people that you forget that you came alone. 

What are your goals in obtaining your CAPM? What obstacles are you facing in taking this test? My first goal is for my company to pay for it!!  They stopped all tuition reimbursement and programs that would pay for these tests, so I’m going to wait until I can get their money to take it.  I’m an assistant trying to become a PM someday, so I’m really hoping that taking the CAPM will edge people to taking me more seriously at my goal.  I wish there was a really cheap class to study for the CAPM too, I learn best in a class setting, but they are all way too expensive!

Are there any other perks you find in coming to these events?  

I must also say that the 20 something people that do show up at these events are quite the lookers.  I’d so much rather meet a guy here than at PB Bar and Grill (yet another popular local bar).

Well there you have it folks, straight from the mouth of a real live young PM Professional who is using some her best assets-intellectual and social capital-to give her career a significant boost.

Thank you Sarah or sharing your thoughts. And to the young networkers out there everywhere- PM or otherwise- in these times where financial capital is not of great abundance, networking is a great activity to boost your career and strengthen the assets that you do have.

Thanks for reading,

Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM    

Obama’s Inaugural Address and… Project Management?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


Barack & Michelle Obama

Barack & Michelle Obama

On Tuesday, January 20th, Barack Obama gave his Inaugural Address to an audience of 37.8 million TV viewers, which was the largest audience for an inaugural speech in decades. This speech marked an extraordinary event in that it was the Inauguration of the first African American President, and also in that it was the initiation of one of the most important projects of the century: Reviving the country from a severe economic depression.

Barack’s inaugural speech demonstrates how his Presidential term is, in fact, a project.  PMI defines a project as “… a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Obama’s inaugural speech reveals many key aspects of his Presidential term that are characteristic of a project and how he plans to implement project management tools and techniques.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), is created by the Project Management Institute (PMI), and states the five basic Project Management Processes, which are: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control, and Closing.

To illustrate Barack Obama’s presidential term as a Project, and his application of Project Management tools and techniques, I have selected key quotes from his inaugural speech that demonstrate the five basic Project Management Processes.

Initiation- “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.” – This signifies the end of Bush’s presidential period and the beginning, or initiation, of Barack’s presidency.

Planning- “Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” This excerpt shows the need for adequate planning in order tackle the obstacles that the current President faces.

Execution- “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.”  To execute a successful presidential term, Barack will need to direct and manage project execution, perform quality assurance, and acquire develop a project team.

Control- “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, car they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.” Barack and his team will use work performance information and performance reports to provide resolutions of issues for the nation.

Closing- “America, in the face of our common dangers, in the winter of our hardships, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generation.”  The deliverables of Barack’s presidency are stated here as the gift of freedom being delivered to future generation, which will signify the closing of Barack’s completed and fulfilled presidential term.

Barack Obama is undoubtedly a brilliant person, an eloquent speaker, and a charismatic leader. I am hopeful and confident that his Project Management skills are reflective of his many other positive attributes.


Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM




Happy Chinese New Year – 2009 – The Year of the Ox

Monday, January 26th, 2009
2009 is the Year of the Ox.  The Ox symbolizes prosperity through hard work and mental fortitude.

2009 is the Year of the Ox. The Ox ymbolizes prosperity through hard work and mental fortitude.

2009 – The Year of the Ox

The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Ox is one of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.

The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. This is a GREAT year for the year of the Ox.   The Ox represents calm, hard work, resolve and tenacity.   While the mass media continues to spread doom and gloom news about the dire straights of our economy, I will  celebrate and live the year of the Ox.   Like most other folks on the planet who have lived at least four decades,  I have experienced numerous adverse situations.   It is through my desire to work hard and persevere that I developed my strengths that have helped me be successful today and will carry me through tomorrow.

To help Cheetah Learning students learn how to become as strong as an Ox this year, they can start off the Chinese New Year by:

A.  Taking a  survey to find out how we each uniquely use and develop our strengths. For people who take our survey, they can take a free 1 PDU class on doing risk assessments to reduce the risks that reduce their strength.

B.  Listening to a podcast that explores how we can become as strong as an ox by building up our unique strengths in difficult times.

C.  Downloading our  free “Worryometer” tool to help handle the worries of life.

D.  Getting a discount for our 30 hour Online Project Risk Management course.  Contact Rita Soto for more information.

The Adventure of Pumpkin Bagels, Killer Whales and Porpoises

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Occasionally I find myself “going domestic.” Yesterday was one such day where I became fixated on making pumpkin bagels. Just what spurred this craving is beyond me. I was doing laps in the pool and it just popped into my mind – pumpkin bagels that sounds great. Now I have to put a caveat in here – I am in Alaska right now – so it’s not like I can saunter down to the corner bagel shop and pick them up. And I only ever found one location that made pumpkin bagels anyhow – a Noah’s bagel shop in Camarillo, CA near my graphics designer’s office. And another disclaimer, no I am not pregnant. My “baby” is heading off to college in the fall.

That small splash is a killer whale chasing a porpoise.

That small splash is a killer whale chasing a porpoise.

I scoured the internet and found some very interesting tips on making “NY” style bagels (which involves boiling potatoes and using the water). And I found a number of recipes for making pumpkin bagels using the bread machine (which I don’t have and had no way of getting on a Sunday in remote Alaska). But I did at least have a list of ingredients.

I made my way into town and after visiting the three grocery stores, managed to procure the necessary items. I was well into bagel making planning on the drive home when I saw a guy on the beach waving frantically. I sped past and about ten seconds later it dawned on me – this is out in the middle of no where – I better turn around to help him out. THANK GOD. I saw the most amazing wild life scene of my entire life. YES, my entire life. He was waving me in to share with me something so totally incredible that he needed to share it with another human being to make it even more real.

There was a large pod of killer whales – about 20 of them chasing a school of porpoises. All of them were jumping out of the water. It was a very large marine mammal water ballet show. It rivaled anything the Belllagio could ever put on. It was just he and I watching the most incredible aquatics show on the planet. We watched in awe for a half hour – when they calmed down, I went home to get my camera. Here is the picture – but they were not jumping anymore.

I was sharing this story later with my Dad and he said – and you saw all of this in Nevada? No Dad, I’m in Alaska. Given that I change locales more often than my teenagers change their hairstyle, Dad is forgiven for not keeping up with where I am. But at least now I know why he occasionally forwards those odd emails related to your mental state as you age. I have seen odd things in Nevada too that I’m sure I shared with him at some point it time.  It was a zebra like creature- come to think of it – it was on a Sunday and it was related to swimming as well (I was again on my way home from the pool).  Maybe I need to start reading those emails he is forwarding about losing your marbles.

It took me a couple hours to “process” all my ingredients and finish the pumpkin bagels. Here is the recipe. I like to make my bagels small. I was reading in this month’s Consumer Reports issue that the number one thing that thin people do to stay thin is to control the portion size of what they eat. I figured making the bagels smaller will help me do that too. So keep this in mind if you try out this recipe – you can make your own bagels whatever size you want to. The cooking time appears to be about the same because it matters more about the plumpness of the bagel than the width.

Ta Da - Mini-Pumpkin Bagels

Ta Da – Mini-Pumpkin Bagels

Pumpkin Bagel Recipe (NO BREAD MACHINE) Ingredients:

2 peeled potatoes cut into quarters.
About 2 quarts of water (enough to cover the potatoes)
one package of fast rising yeast.
4 tbs brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar.
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour (may need more).
1 cup pumpkin puree.
2 tbs pumpkin butter (if you don’t have this put at least 1 tbs of oil).
1 tbs of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Glaze (don’t mix this in with the bagel ingredients)
1 egg white
1 tbs honey or agave nectar

Boil the potatoes in the water until they are soft and the water is cloudy. Remove the potatoes. Let the water cool to about 100 degrees (too hot and it will kill the yeast). Mix about 3/4 cup of the 100 degree water with the yeast and the 4 tbs of sugar. Save the remaining water. Wait until the yeast gets bubbly (this is called “proofing” the yeast). If after 5 minutes the mixture does not bubble, you have bad yeast. Get some new yeast and start again. Mix the remaining ingredients into the proofed yeast. If the mixture is sticky, keep adding flour until it is not sticky and somewhat elastic. If you are using a big mixer, you are essentially kneading the dough. If you are not, you knead the dough by hand continuing to add white flour until the dough is elastic and not sticky.

Let the dough rise until about double in size. To create a nice warm, moist environment for the dough to rise, I boil a small pan of water and put that and the dough (loosely covered) in an oven that is NOT turned on. With the fast rising yeast, it takes about an hour for the dough to double in size.

Pull the dough out, and shape it into bagels of whatever size you’d like. I made mine about three inches across. I made about 20 mini bagels with this amount of dough. Put the bagels on a cookie sheet covered in corn meal to prevent sticking. Let rise again for about a half hour.

Boil the potato water again – adding more water to get more water to fill the pot. Drop the bagels into the boiling water – only put as many bagels into the pot as can fit on the surface. Boil on each side for 30 seconds. Take out and put on cookie sheet – lightly brush each one on top with the egg white and honey glaze.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees (AFTER YOU REMOVE THE RISING BAGEL DOUGH). Cook the bagels for 15 minutes or until top is a bit hard.

For some delicious reading to go with your delicious pumpkin bagels, download the Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the PMP.

Project Energy Independence Feasiiblity Studies and Mind Maps

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Project Energy Independence WBS Mind Map

Project Energy Independence WBS Mind Map

The official name for my New Year’s resolution of becoming energy self-sufficient is now Project Energy Independence. My energy improvement activities are well under way with replacing hot water tanks with tankless hot water heaters and swapping out high wattage light bulbs and appliances with low wattage ones. The next phase of my energy independence project is to assess the opportunities I have at each site for creating my own power. Here is what I’ve found so far:

Nevada – great opportunities for solar. The only constraint is space and money to purchase solar panels. For both properties there I can meet all the electrical power needs with solar panels. On one property, there is sufficient space to put up several wind mills and consider installing a geothermal heat pump system as well. I created a free Solar Energy Smart Start Guide based on what I learned evaluating solar opportunities in Nevada – you can get it at

Power Profile for the Nevada Property

Power Profile Mind Map for the Northern Nevada Property

Connecticut – good location to do a geothermal heat pump application. Favorable legislative climate for creating my own power from solar – so I’m looking at putting up both solar shingles and some ground mounted solar panels.

Alaska – I have numerous energy generating opportunities on the land up there. I might be able to power the entire town with the wind out on my point. I was looking at a potential hydro power application using rain catchment – it would only produce about 1/3 the electricity for a small home – but it may not cost that much to implement. And I have some great geothermal heat pump opportunities as well.

If you would like to see the details of what I have been evaluating – visit

Dare to Dream

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Dare to Dream

Dare to Dream

Today is the day that I spend daring to dream the big dreams of life. And I want to encourage all of you to do the same. My big dream is to one day have all of us be sustainably energy independent – where we truly have free market economies in how we choose to heat, cool and power our homes. My Cheetah Learning team and I have been busy assembling a series of activities to inspire you to dream big as well:

1. Dare to Dream Survey – Click here to take our survey to share your big dreams.
2. Podcast – Click here to listen to my dare to dream interview and what I’m doing about the big dream of energy self-sufficiency.
3. Free 1 PDU class on Payback Analysis – use the promotion code “cheetahpower” and click here to learn how to assess the break even point on pursuing your dreams.
4. Click here for our Free Solar Energy Smart Start Guide download – This is in pursuit of my big dream – to help all become energy independent.

Dream BIG – GO FOR IT.

Truly “Green” Architecture

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

As part of my drive to become energy self-sufficient (and to help others do the same, I get google alerts for a number of terms, and stumbled into this website by Design Pedia from the term “Energy Independence.”

Amongst the many fantastic design concepts, something about these three images were really charming. And just how did the little square house with four sides and white picket fence become the aspirational norm?

Would you like to come over to my hovel for a nice cup of tea?

Would you like to come over to my hovel for a nice cup of tea?

What if I invite over my neighbor, a former NBA star?

What if I invite over my neighbor, a former NBA star?

What if the roof was covered with mint and there were sheep up there?

What if the roof was covered with mint and there were sheep up there?

Research on Geothermal Ground Heat Pumps For Residential Heating and Cooling

Friday, January 16th, 2009

As part of my quest to become energy self-sufficient, I’ve learned a great deal about using geothermal ground pump systems for residential heating and cooling. I’m managing properties in Nevada, Alaska, and Connecticut and my goal is to make all of them energy self-sufficient – this means that I don’t have to pay utility bills to heat, cool, and power the properties. Right now with inflation exceeding the interest rate I can earn on my retirement funds and the stock market being about as smart a place to invest as a casino slot machine, there are no safe places to invest my retirement funds anyhow. Investing in making these properties energy self-sufficient looks like the best returns long term. Visit to see how to analyze payback scenarios for multiple energy self-sufficiency applications.

I’m researching geothermal ground heat pump applications in Alaska and Connecticut. There are three ways to access the heat in the ground – drill deep wells, run long horizontal pipes below the frost line where the ground temperature is a constant 60 degrees, and the third is to use the water from a pond (one that I trust does not freeze). I’m still researching the need for geothermal in Nevada as there is ample solar and wind power options on the Nevada site to cover the heating, cooling, and power requirements of the properties there.

For more information on geothermal energy applications check out –

The Solar Energy Awning

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

The Solar Awning Made the Sun My Best Friend

The Solar Awning Made the Sun My Best Friend

As part of my energy self-sufficiency goal, I’m working on making all the properties I manage energy self-sufficient. One property had a very high heat load in the summer because of a bank of windows facing south, but in the winter, this heat load greatly reduces heating costs. We’re in the first phase of the energy self-sufficiency project on this property where we assess the opportunities to reduce energy use while identifying ways to create our own energy specific to that property. We came up with a fairly simple solution that has a triple impact – the solar awning. It decreases the solar heat load in the summer, it allows the sun to make it’s way into the house in the winter for passive solar heating, and it is made of solar panels so it produces close to 3KW of electricity – meeting about 3/4 of the electricity needs for this property.

The design of the solar awning is available on

To learn how to get started with solar energy – check out the free solar energy smart guide on

Progress on New Year’s Resolution to Become More Energy Independent

Friday, January 9th, 2009
Small improvement to cut my natural gas use by 50%

Small improvement to cut my natural gas use by 50%

My New Year’s resolution is to become more energy self-sufficient in 2009.   I created my
project plan, and then started by reducing the energy needed to heat the house and the water.   I am eventually going to be creating my own electricity with solar and maybe wind power,  but I learned that for every dollar I could save in energy usage, that was $5 less I’d have to spend with creating my own energy to power and heat my home.  So I figured I would start with reducing my energy usage first.

I started with the heavy hitters first – the natural gas I was using to heat the house and the water.  I had a very old natural gas water heater and with my travel schedule, I was paying to keep a lot of water hot that I was never around to use.   I also had this open natural gas fireplace that used 40,000 BTUs of natural gas and let a lot of heat out through the chimney.   I replaced the water heater with an instant on tankless water heater – still working on the cost savings with that.  But with my travel schedule, it just made no sense for me to keep a tank of water, no matter how well insulated, heated.   For the fire place, that is easier,  I installed a natural gas fireplace insert that  uses half the BTUs, and is rated to heat the entire space of my house.  Plus the insert is very well insulated so I won’t have the heat rushing up the chimney when it’s not on.   By my back of the envelope estimates, I cut my natural gas use by at least 50%.   This means I am saving $70 per month.   I’ll have the upgrades paid back in less than four years.

Next I am making warm window shades to reduce the heat loss through my windows, improving the insulation under the house, and swapping out light bulbs with LED bulbs as they burn out.

Click here to see the project plan for becoming energy self-sufficient with this house.

Check out