Mar 4 – Success Leaves Clues

Who is doing what you would like to do?   What type of clues have they left for you to follow?

Who is doing what you would like to do? What type of clues have they left for you to follow?

Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM) Tip of the Day

March 4 – Find those people you aspire to be like and see what it took for them to create what they did.


Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP

Early in my career, I was an Air Force Officer and an Aerospace Engineer. I was sent to a class taught by David Steinberg on designing electronics to withstand vibration environments in jet aircrafts. Yes, there was a person making a living teaching such a class. And he was making a great living doing it. My field at the time was not just the vibration environments these electronics had to withstand, but all the environmental conditions – from massive temperature fluctuations, humidity, and corrosive salt fog, to sand and dust. I sat in Mr. Steinberg’s class and calculated what he was making for each student (there were twenty of us in the class). Then I inquired with the hotel how much it cost to hold a class there. After the class, I took the material to a copy shop near me and asked how much it could cost to reproduce something like that. I set up my first business model on how to make a living teaching a niche engineering class. I was twenty five years old.

When I got out of the Air Force, I taught my first course. It was a three day class on how to design electronics to withstand all the environmental conditions they would encounter in a wide variety of vehicles (planes, trains, boats, and automobiles). I actually got people to register for it. My big break came in a different realm, though – defense contractors had to learn how to set up their programs to better design and test their electronic systems for these environmental conditions, and they had to prove in their proposals for competitive and very lucrative government contracts that they knew how to do this. I started getting hired by a wide variety of Aerospace firms to lead their development and proposal writing efforts for this field. I delivered a two day class on how to create the environmental design and testing programs for the electronics, and I hired Mr. Steinberg to come in and teach his two day vibrations course after mine.

I followed the success of Mr. Steinberg and built on it with my own unique capabilities. I was at lunch with one of my clients, from Texas Instruments, and the gentleman who hired me asked how it was working for Mr. Steinberg (he was in his 60s). I said, “Oh I don’t work for Mr. Steinberg, he works for me.” It was a mutually beneficial arrangement as I was able to get David more work with my contacts than he was able to connect with on his own. And my clients won because they got a more comprehensive approach to designing their electronic systems.

Who in life is doing what you think you’d like to do? How can you do something similar? And better yet, how can you help someone else be even more successful? This was my early formula for success and it continues to be my formula today. When you become a Cheetah Certified Project Manager, you learn how to leverage your unique strengths with those of others to create more opportunities together than either one of you could create on your own, just like I did with Mr. Steinberg.

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