Archive for May, 2016

High Performing Business – Technology – Change Process

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

When you need to make a change, recognize you can choose to take the bitter path or the better path.

When you need to make a change, recognize you can choose to take the bitter path or the better path.

The previous post on shifting from being super frustrated with the technology in my life to becoming delighted with it is all about change management (and learning).   I was thinking about how technology changed during my grandmother’s life.  She was born in 1900, at home.  The family did not have a car at that time but had horses, wagons, and sleds  to get around (she lived in Northern Quebec).   When cleaning out my parents home a few years back, we found letters she and my grandfather exchanged when he emigrated to Rhode Island in his mid – 20’s.  She joined him several years later – most likely traveling by train to get into America.   She moved into her lifelong home in her early 30’s where she lived for the next fifty years – never learning how to drive (or speak English) – and she was an educated woman having gone to college and been an elementary school teacher before coming to America.   The family had a car in the late 30’s as there are pictures of my mother as a child by the family’s car.   I remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on her black and white TV when I was 7.   As far as I can remember,  she had the same phone in her hallway the twenty years I knew her.  I remember her being very excited when I was a teenager and she got an automatic dishwasher – she would push it across the kitchen and hook it up to the sink faucet.  I’m pretty sure she never flew anywhere on a plane as she didn’t like traveling all that far from home.  Yes she did experience some fairly significant technological changes in her lifetime – the introduction of the automobile, TV, telephone, space exploration, and the upgrading of kitchen appliances, and a mass migration of people moving from generational homes  to live in another country.  I don’t want to down play the technical changes the people of her generation experienced.   But what is different for us now is how quickly the technology we use day in and day out changes.

I heard something years back that children are born with the ability to use the technology of the time they are born into.  This is why kids seem to be more adept at programming their smart phones then older adults.   This makes sense too as it was very easy for me to learn how to drive. Unlike my grandmother who was born at home and did not even see a car until her teen years, I was born in a hospital.  I grew up being in the car from the get go as my parents had to take me home from where I was born in the family car.  So it was a very easy thing for me to learn how to drive – I was sensorily calibrated for it.  My grandmother was not.   Just like kids born today are sensorily calibrated for all the communications technologies, but for those of us who are older – it takes a more concentrated effort to learn and adapt to new technologies.  Yet is is possible and can even be fun  – but it depends on how you learn to manage all the technology changes.

Changing technology is just a fact of life these days.  Unlike my grandmother who learned how to use the phone in her hall once and then used it for the next 30 years, just yesterday I updated another new operating system on my Iphone 6s – it was the second upgrade this year. I was a late adopter of the Iphone 6 as I was happy with my Iphone 5 until I dropped it in the water on vacation.  But learning how to use new technology is something I have done almost every single day since I got my first computer in the late ’80’s .  I’m very good at technology change because it’s a learned skill to make these technical changes.  But I still have to monitor and adjust my attitude to change from time to time.

I’ve found for me there are two paths in the technology change process – one path I call the “bitter” path and the other path I call the “better” path. Both of these path’s start out in the same place.  First I realize I am required to make a change – whether it be to upgrade a technology that is no longer being supported or to adopt a new technology as a way to in some way continue to function in today’s society (like going from a flip phone to a smart phone).   The first step is denying I even need to make the change.   Sometimes  I go through this denial phase quicker then others.   Next comes the anger, frustration or sadness phase – this is where I get upset in varying ways and degrees I am required to make the change.   Then this is where the path’s separate.  On the bitter path, it’s one of initial resignation -“well I guess I have to.”  Then I land in the resentment zone – “I really wish I could have continued to use Window’s 95 – why do they have to keep changing that?”   On the better path, I learn to accept the change – “I guess this will be okay.”  Then I move into delight (this was the topic of yesterday’s blog) – where I learn all the ways this new technology is in fact making my life better.

I do sometimes find myself moving back and forth from the bitter to the better path – especially when I make a conscious choice to be on the better not the bitter path.   My abilities to change fast with technology has translated into other areas of my life.  I change physical locations fast as well – two months ago I put the Portland Cheetah Office building on the market for sale during a huge seller’s market.  Today I’m back in a office in Nevada that I was trying to sell for three years.  It was empty.  Two weeks ago we moved from the Portland Office to the Northern Nevada Office.  And after just two weeks of moving back in here, it looks like we’ve been here for years.   At Cheetah, we also launch new products fast too – we also decided two months ago to offer  a virtual live version of our top selling Cheetah Exam Prep for the PMP.  Today we are on day two of the initial launch – having created the whole technology approach to do so in under two months (and while we werein the process of moving our office from Oregon to Nevada).   These two changes made so much sense and were relatively easy (if not a lot of manual labor).  So it’s been effortless to stay on the better path of the change process.

I’ve found to stay on the better path of the change process, it very much helps being able to learn fast.  This is why I got into the business of accelerated learning two decades ago.  I found the faster I can learn, the quicker I can adopt new skills (not just technologies) that can in fact make my life better, quicker.  For me, the upside of all this technological change and being able to adapt to it is an enhanced ability to better handle all changes of life.  As  I’ve aged and experienced some of the standarad changes in life I was not all that happy with at the time (mother passing away, relationships ending, kids growing up and moving out, health challenges, losing friends & jobs, etc), my skills at staying on the better path when making technological changes has helped me stay off the bitter path of resignation and resentment for these other life changes as well.

If you want to learn how to stay on the better path too, learn how to learn faster and be happier – take Cheetah’s new 30 hour online Happiness Project Class.

High Performing Business – Technology – Delight

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

We’ve all seen (and maybe even had) those very ugly reactions to challenges with technology – where even the dog goes running for cover.  But I prefer to take responsibility for my reactions, so how I react to any type of technology challenge is 100% within my control.  Is it possible for me to be delighted with the technology in my world?   More often then not though, I have what feels like the all too standard reaction of absolute frustration whenever I introduce a new technongizmo into my world.  I’ve been contemplating why this is so.  Maybe it is because I go into using a new technology solution with an expectation that I will be delighted by it – which rarely seems to happen.  Often I have such high hopes for new techno gadgets to just have my dreams squashed and feel mislead once again by the marketing hype.  I realized though this was all a situation of my own doing.  I could in fact choose a much different experience .  When I take the time to consider how I feel about various technologies used to in some way “enhance” my life, I find much to appreciate.  The new experience is of open minded curiousity exploring how this lovely technology creation achieves it’s mission, for me.  Real people with real talent (and real feelings) created this bit of technology.   Don’t they deserve my loving thoughts and appreciative feelings as much as I want acknowledgement for my creations?

This Big Easy Smoker helped me learn how to shift my perspective on technology from being frustrated to being delighted. Thank you Dado labs.

This Big Easy Smoker helped me learn how to shift my perspective on technology from being frustrated to being delighted. Thank you Dado labs.

A few months back my daughter gave me a smoker called the Big Easy (it’s a radiant heat barbeque grill made by Charbroil).  It has a control panel on it that manages the grill through a smart phone app. (She is on the team that created the smart phone app for this grill).   She set it all up for me, and it worked great on her iphone.  Actually she could see that I was using it wherever she was and would text me something like, “Mom what are you making on your Big Easy?”   I never bothered to set it up on my iphone as it worked well enough for my purposes just by pusing the button on the front.  I discovered it made the most incredible chicken wings on the planet and it became the only item I cooked in the grill.   I am absolutely delighted with this innovative piece of technology.   I recently got a second one for another location and even figured out how to use the Iphone app myself – because I was so delighted with it.

Why not approach all technology this way?  Find out what it is about the technology that could and would absolutely delight me if I took the time to work my way through figuring out the best way for me to use it?  What if I talked with the technical support people as the special souls they are for helping me find my way to being delighted by their technology solution?   I’ve tried it on and it’s been an amazing experience.   I had to call tech support on a web conferencing system the other day.  I greeted the tech support guy by name – “Jonathon, how is it today in your wonderful world of tech support?”  He laughed and our call was off to a great start.  Jonathon is someone’s beloved child as well so why not interact with him as the special being he is?  I mentioned to him the polling feature I found so much fun about the web conferencing service.  I then asked him if he could look into something for me about my bill.   He became my advocate within the company (I was being double charged).  We quickly and very amicably resolved my billing issue.

I’m now approaching more things with this perspective of “how can I be delighted about this?”  When I worked in a large corporation there were posters around the facility encouraging us to be tolerant of each others differences.   But, do I want to be simply tolerated by others or would I prefer to be enjoyed by others?   Of course I would rather be enjoyed!  It’s the same thing with frustration vs. acceptance vs. delight with technology.   I’ve had my share of frustrations with technology.   I can usually figure out how to come to a level of accepting the challenges of the technology, over time.  But what if I shifted my perspective and found out how to be delighted with some element of the technology?  There are real people with real feelings creating these technical solutions – they are someone’s beloved child and they are doing the best they can.  And I do in fact appreciate and am quite delighted by many elements of the technology systems in my life.  I feel lighter, more energized and enthusiastic since adopting this new perspective with finding and focusing on what delights me with the technology tools in my life.


High Performing Business – Technology – Letting Go

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Every technical challenge I’ve faced in the past   40+ years of me being a techno wonk has been resolved within short order the quicker I let go of even needing to resolve it.   There is a host of alphabet soup after my name at the beginning of every post on my blog – but the one that may help  solve most of my technical issues is the last one – being a registered yoga teacher.  “Let’s do ten cat cows matching our inhale to cow and exhale to cat” is how I would start every call into tech support if I ran a call center.

The other day while packing up a kitchen to move out of a home I flipped, I had to run out for a quick errand.  I left the food processor out on the counter with a tempting cord dangling off the edge and the six month old puppy barricaded in the kitchen while I was gone.   Yes I came home to the end of the cord chewed to bits.

I had way too many other moving festivities to tend to so I let it go.  The next day I realized a simple fix would be to just cut off the damaged cord and replace the end plug.  After a quick trip to the hardware store where I picked up a replacement plug and put the three wires on the new plug,  Voila – plugged it in, nada.   So next I tuned into the growing font of DIY wisdom – YOU TUBE and learned how to put the right wires in the right places on the plug (duh).   Fixed it right, plugged it in, still did not work.  Tried a couple other outlets still did not work. Bummer.  Did a few yoga stretches, let it go.

Next day – my laptop was running out of power so I went to plug it in.  No power from the outlet. Hmmmm.  Checked the circuit breakers, all good.  Then I noticed the GFI plug by the garbage can – yup was tripped.  My first attempt to fix the cord may have  tripped the GFI circuit (and thank god for that).  With power restored to the outlets, I tried my now correctly repaired food processor plug – eureka- it worked.

When I was caring for me mother in the later stages of her brain cancer, the book “Patience,  A Little Book of Inner Strength”  gave me much wisdom to handle the daily challenges and heart break.  One line in there stays with me to this day – “any goal is possible when you have patience.”  Letting go is now the main go to in my technical problem solving toolkit.  The solution will appear in due time – it always does.


High Performing Business – Technology – Infrastructure

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Leveraging existing infrastructure in unique ways can help you soar in your life, your career and your business. Learn more....

Leveraging existing infrastructure in unique ways can help you soar in your life, your career and your business. Learn more….

Infrastructure capital – we all have it as individuals, companies, and as a society.  It’s what helps us conduct the affairs of our lives.  As individuals, it’s our computers, smart phones, vehicles, homes, tools of our trade.  As companies it’s our buildings, our technology hubs, our machines, our processes – those things we use to create value for our customers.  As a community it’s our transportation choices, the roads, the airlines, the public transit, shipping, it’s our communication backbone (cell towers, land lines, fiber optics), it’s our banking system, it’s our regulatory system, it’s the laws that govern how we interact with each other, it’s our libraries.   When I contemplate all the technology that goes into creating our modern day infrastructure for conducting our lives, I live in absolute awe to what we have collectively created as a human race.

As an Aerospace Engineer – I’m into “old technology.”    Yes, at this time, airplanes and space travel are nothing all that new (but well still exciting to me).   What gets the geee whiz factor going for me these days is the plane though that has wi fi on it so I can continue to run my business while flying at 30,000 feet.  This is where the power of our societal infrastructure comes into clear focus on just how easy it is these days to transact commerce from anywhere.

I learned at Harvard Business School in societies with well developed infrastructures, it is much easier for people to  start and run businesses of all types.  It isn’t just the technology though that make up the infrastructure  – it is also how we regulate businesses.  Comparitively speaking the US is still a mecca for entreprenurial minded people from across the globe.  (some countries just don’t get that making it easy to start a business in multiple realms helps everyone).  But even in the US,  some states get this better then others with the way they form the regulatory environment for business start up, and for those states, entrepreneurs flock.  Take for example Vermont – it has a very favorable regulatory environment for forming private insurance companies.  The state makes over twenty five million per year with these insurance industries and if you want to set up some type of special insurance company for your industry, this is the place to do it.

What does all this have to do with running a high performing business?   The better you can leverage your infrastructure capital, the more effectively you can pursue new opportunities.  This is where being good a project management helps.  In several of Cheetah Learning’s courses – students master how to use project management skills to better leverage infrastruture capital in the pursuit of their goals.   One course we’ve had thousands of students take since it’s inception in 2008 is called Project Turnaround.  In this course, students learn how to turn around their situation by leveraging all their sources of capital to pursue the best opportunities for them.   And one we recently released is called Project Return on Invesment that helps people develop better results from their efforts by more effectively using all their sources of capital.   We also use these courses to help people in dire situations create a new life.  If this is you – drop us an email ( and we can get you registered.

High Performing Business – Technology – Distraction Attraction

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
There are even more ways now to become addicted to technology. Staying constantly connected creates major problems with how your brain functions. Learn how you can counter this brain drain and become happier.

There are even more ways now to become addicted to technology. Staying constantly connected creates major problems with how your brain functions.  Excessive technology connectivity is a root cause of increasing lonliness and depression.  But you don’t need to throw your smart phone in the river to resolve this problem. Learn how you can keep your smart phone, counter this brain drain and become happier.

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Like anything, technology can help or hurt you.  Lately,  the attraction to stay in constant connection with others – via email, facebook, texting, snapchat, instagram, twitter, linked in, etc – while causing perpetual distractions, also becomes addictive.   (And it’s estimated to cost US businesses alone over $9 billion in lost worker productivity a year).  Whenever you instantly connect with others you care about, your limbic brain gets a hit of the feel good chemical dopamine.  Over time, for you to feel good, you come to rely on this steady dopamine drip from constant connection.  The issue is this strengthens your reactionary neural networks at the expense of stimulating your higher order executive processing pre-frontal cortex.  It creates attention deficit issues and hampers impulse control.   While you might think this ability to stay connected to loved ones helps your relationships,  the skills to create healthy relationships require a well functioning pre-frontal cortex for establishing effective boundaries and reigning in impulses like jealousy and criticism that can destroy relationships.  Furthermore, extensive research shows the more time people spend connecting with others electronically, the greater their feelings of loneliness and the increased chances they have for becoming depressed.  All of this sounds quite dire.

But there is a solution – besides tossing your cell phone in the river, smashing your computer to bits, and living off the grid.

In Cheetah Learning’s 30 hour online Happiness Project course, students learn how to reengage their pre-frontal cortex.  They do this with innovative applications of project management to develop ways to become more disciplined with how they use their time.   They also learn a simple yoga practice they can do several times a day that calms the mind and increases their ability to enjoy their world without the need for constant connection.  They master cutting edge tactics to develop the neural networks for a healthy executive functioning pre-frontal cortex.  And lastely, they learn how to create delicious dietary practices that has the body help the brain stay in a state of optimal enjoyment without the need for perpetual distractions to feel good.  Over 60,000 Cheetah students have mastered these techniques to achieve significant goals in their lives.

You do not have to be a slave to your technology addictions – you can create a life that is happy and serves you rather than you serving a life you may not enjoy all that much.  Sign up and complete the 30 hour online Happiness Project course, then throw your phone and computer off that bridge.   (just kidding – you will be able to happily co-exist with both your phone and computer after this course).  Use the promotion code “Bhappy” and get this course for $300.

High Performing Business – Technology – The Right Frustrations

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

While frustrations that can be overcome as part of the learning experience are a required part of sklll mastery, what is not useful is being frustrated with the learning technology. At Cheetah Learning we create effective learning environments in all realms – classroom, virtual live environments, and asyncronous online courses.

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

We use a virtual live classroom to teach Cheetah Learning’s accelerated four day PMP class so people can take it wherever they are – real time.   To set this up, we researched ways to easily capture a wide angle view of the physical classroom space.  People remember in pictures and locations.  And they absorb 2000 times more information then they are aware of.  So what is on the walls in our classroom is important.

I was chatting with a very helpful online meeting service tech support gentleman with a heavy accent.  In hushed tones, he shared with me how to capture my physical classroom with just a dedicated laptop and a wide angle camera.  I had been looking at more formal business virtual meeting solutions his company offered that cost over $10,000.  But his solution actually gave us more options and was far less expensive.  The laptop was $139,  the wide angle camera was $79 and the noise cancelling headset $129.  We used an extra tripod we had on hand. The whole set up was less than $350.  Considering the online meeting system can stream off smart phones, it makes participating for the students simple as well.

I’ve been teaching online since 1995 and have experimented over the years with virtual live classrooms.  I have preferred  creating asynchronous online learning experiences – it provides for more freedom for both the student and the teacher. Plus it allows the student more time to practice new skills in their own environment.  But this situation is a bit different.  We have run a very successful in person test prep coaching business since 2001.  We have also offered a four week online asynchronous version of the test prep program since 2004 as well.  But we have had requests to replicate our 4 day classroom version in a virtual live format.   While we do have extensive experience and success teaching online, we had not been all that enamored with virtual live classsrooms.  The technology was just too frustrating for everyone to use.   But within the past year or so, streaming technology has improved dramatically making this a viable option for both us and our students.  We are able to easily replicate our in persom classroom for a small class size in a virtual live classroom.  Now people who can’t make it to the classroom can participate real time in Cheetah’s four day full time dedicated accelerated learning sprint to pass the very difficult project management professional (PMP) exam.

I have found time and time again the best technology solution to provide a great student experience is the one that costs the least and requires the least amount of technical skill to use – especially when the student is using the technology as a way to access the material, connect with the instructor and collaborate with other students.  Being on the bleeding edge with technical possibilities hampers rather than enhances learning environments.  While some frustration is good for learning, it needs to be with the content related to the learning and not with the technology for accessing the learning environment.

To learn more about Cheetah Learning’s virtual live classroom course to prepare for the PMP certification exam, visit or call us at 888-659-2013.