Posts Tagged ‘Project Management’

From Pigtails to Poised

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I rounded the corner into the driveway at the end of my usual 4.5 mile run. The three cars were parked in their prescribed positions. The two cats perched in their ordinary look out spots awaiting my return and their evening meal. But one thing was very different. The gate of the Toyota was open and its contents announced the achievement of an important milestone.

Inside the trunk of the car were well organized and neatly stacked plastic containers filled with the essentials an eighteen year old needed to start a new phase of their life. Clothes, books, personal care items, small fridge and athletic equipment, you know the basics. It was the pair of boldly displayed bright blue Nikes that triggered the flashback and a moment to remember.

It was 1997 and a hot July 4th morning. Her big brown eyes were adorned with long lashes and always smiling. Two pig tails swept her blonde streaked hair to the top of her head and bopped with each step she took. Sporting shorts to just below her knees and a white imprinted t-shirt almost as long, she ran her first official road race. The race distance was about 100 yards, perfect length for a four year old. She gave it her all and walked away a winner.

It was also the day of my first official road race. Mine was longer though, two miles. I was able to complete the entire distance, mostly walking. Needless to say, I didn’t place in my age group, but I too walked away a winner because in the weeks that preceded this milestone, I had taken action to begin to improve my health and focus on becoming a positive role model for my daughter. It would be the first of many road races for both of us during the next 14 years.

Although I suspected my role modeling of healthy actions and choices would impact both of my girls, it wasn’t until several years later when they began to make their own sports and activity choices, the significance of the role modeling became evident. Healthy snacks preferred to junk food, after school clubs, involvement in sports and community activities chosen over hours of endless TV.

When I jogged around the corner on Tuesday and saw the car in the driveway packed with all her gear ready for the 750 mile road trip that would begin her college adventure, her imminent departure became a reality. But even as the lump in my throat grew and I swallowed hard to fight back the tears, I knew she was well prepared for the journey and ready to face new challenges. 

About the Author: Jill Hart, Project Management Professional (PMP) and owner of Brain Logic, LLC helps companies integrate the voice of the customer into their design products, technology and processes.  When she’s not focused on her business or family, she enjoys running, biking, blogging, teaching and cooking.

Happy Ground Hog’s Day

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

by Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Just because my birthday fell on Ground Hogs day, how did that mean I was destined to look like one?

Just because my birthday fell on Ground Hog's day, am I destined to look like one? This gal is a bit cute though and she does look quite healthy, for a ground hog.

Ground Hog’s day is a holiday near and dear to my heart as it is also my birthday.   I have been celebrating Ground Hog’s day now for 47 years.   Yes this means that I am a prime number this year.   And I am happy to report that no, I have not yet seen my shadow so spring is still just around the corner.   (I discovered long ago on Ground Hog’s day that it really paid to get up while it was still dark outside).   What else I am very happy to report on is that 47 is the new 29 and I feel and look quite a bit younger than my actual chronological age.   I still get mistaken for my oldest daughter’s sister rather than her Mom (that might be because she looks and acts a lot more mature for her age though rather than that I look so much younger).    

So, where did this whole thing of celebrating a small rodent emerging from hibernation come about?   It’s an ancient tradition that marks the emerging spring.   As small rodents start to emerge from hibernation it means that spring is just around the corner.   This happens about mid-way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.   The Germans brought this celebration to the United States when they emigrated and the Ground Hog was their animal of choice.   The Christian’s holiday of Candelmas (a celebration of light representing the purification of Mary 40 days after Jesus’ birth) was on February 2nd and they chose that day to celebrate Ground Hog’s day as well.   

I celebrate this day as the emerging opportunities coming forth in another year of life for me.   And to help everyone celebrate emerging opportunities with me, we are doing a special buzz day at Cheetah Learning.   There are some great things in store for people this year who are prepared to go after opportunities.  If you are one to listen to (and believe) the media, on this day, it might seem like a better idea to just pull the covers up over your head and go back to sleep – to be scared like the ground hog and go back into your burrow to nestle in for six more weeks of winter.   But I believe that those who are prepared will be the lucky ones as luck is when preparation meets opportunity.   

To be one of the lucky ones, look at the dynamic duo – that is diversify and differences.   What this means that to create more luck in your life – diversify how you can use your differences.  How can you make yourself different and stand out from the crowd?   Lets look at some stats:

Here I am in reverant observance of Ground Hog's Day wearing my Birthday Tiara.  The sun is shining  - so it's six more weeks of winter.  BUT I get to fly out of here instead of taking the late night ferry - YEAH.

Here I am in reverant observance of Ground Hog's Day wearing my Birthday Tiara. The sun is shining - so it's six more weeks of winter. BUT I get to fly out of here instead of taking the late night ferry - YEAH.

  • There are about 15 million people worldwide who call themselves Project Managers.
  • There are a little over 300,000 people who are Project Management Professional (PMP) certified.
  • The US Government is looking at creating stimulus packages to fix it’s ailing infrastructure issues.
  • To manage those projects, they do require people to be Project Management Professional certified.

You can better position yourself to go after that emerging opportunity if you can diversify your skill set so you’re qualified to manage those project types, AND if you are PMP certified.  

So here is what we’re doing at Cheetah Learning to help you learn how to diversify and leverage your differences to go after emerging opportunities:

1. We have an online course called Project Portfolio Management – in this course you can learn how to select a diverse group of projects that can help you create a stable base of business to pursue.   By diversifying, you create more opportunities.  

2. We love differences – as it is our differences that create the most value for each other.    We have two online courses where you can learn how to leverage your differences to create more value with and for others.   The first course is called Project Management Strength Builder and in this course, you learn how your differences lead to your strength as a project manager.  The second course, Cheetah Negotiations, you learn how to leverage yours and other people’s differences to create more value for all.   

All three of these courses – Project Portfolio Management, PM Strength Builder, and Cheetah Negotiations, for today, we are offering 50% off to celebrate Ground Hog’s Day – use the promotion code groundhog09 when you register.

Haven't see a ground hog yet today (too sunny) - but Mama moose and her baby were out and about.   First moose I've seen all winter.

Haven't see a ground hog yet today (too sunny) - but Mama moose and her baby were out and about. First moose I've seen all winter.

3. If you are not PMP certified, get the credential.   Cheetah Learning has a free download that tells you everything you need to know to earn the PMP certification and an award winning accelerated PMP exam prep class we have been doing for the past 8 years to get people to pass  the PMP exam, FAST (it’s really hard).  Because I’m celebrating my birthday, we set up a promotion code so you could get 20% off our the PMP course this week. Contact rita.soto@cheetahlearning to get more info..   

I did a podcast as well to talk about the emerging opportunities and how to go after them with my cohort – Bryne Edwards.    You can listen to it by visiting the Cheetah Learning podcast page.

And for those of you inclined to eat small rodents as they emerge from hibernation I have one question to ask?  Is it really worth it – they only weigh about 7 pounds and most of that is fur.

Grizzly Eats 150 Pounds of Fish Out of Family’s Freezer

Sunday, November 9th, 2008
Grizzly's Have Families to Feed Too

Grizzly's Have Families to Feed Too

Yes, this is a true story and it happened last week in Haines. The project behind this headline though is what is fascinating. Lets look at what I will call “Project Fish.” In Alaska, any state resident can get a “subsistence” fishing permit. This allows them to drift net fish for sockeye salmon. You can only drift net fish for sockeye (the most desireable of the salmon) with either a subsistence or a commercial permit. The goal is to catch enough fish to feed your family for a year (i.e. the reason for the term “subsistence.”). So the ultimate end game of “Project Fish” is to procure sufficient fish to feed your family throughout the year.

There are a number of ways to reach your end objective with “Project Fish.” Lets just look at three:

1. Get a subsistence permit and get the fish yourself. To capture enough fish to feed a family of four for the year, lets assume the family consumes 2 pounds of fish per day, if they ate fish every day of the year, they would need about 730 pounds of fish. (This is a LOT of fish). If each fish weighs fifteen pounds and they get ten pounds of usable meat per fish, this means they need to get 73 fish. If we assume they can catch approximately 7 fish per outing (some outings they will get none, and some they may hit the mother lode). This means they go out fishing ten times. Each fishing trip takes approximately six hours, and uses at least 5 gallons of gas. When they get home with the fish, it takes about a half hour to process each fish – this is another 3.5 hours. For easier math, lets just round this up to 10 hours for two people to catch and process 7 fish, that generates 70 pounds of usable protein. They then have to store the fish in a freezer so it can be consumed throughout the year. The freezer costs about $100 per year to run. The gas per trip is approximately $20. For ten trips that is $200 and for the year there are about $300 in maintenance costs to the boat. Lets assume they make a modest living and their time is each worth $20 per hour. This means it costs $4000 of their time to catch and process the fish (this is an “opportunity” cost as they are forsaking pursuing other opportunities where they could make $4000 – the opportunity costs are probably actually much higher for this specific family as they are able to bill out their time at far higher than $20 per hour). So, to feed their family of four fish every day for a year, it costs them $4600 (or $6.30 per pound of fish). Now lets toss in the expected monetary value of some large predator breaking into their freezer and eating about a quarter of their stash. The probability of this happening in alaska is yes, fairly high, especially if you clean the fish in your yard near where you are storing your fish. There are other risks as well – the freezer stops working and you lose all your fish (this happened to another family I know). Lets put the bear risk at 50% and the risk of the freezer not working at 25%. The bear risk tacks on another $450 to the price of the fish and the freezer not working risk tosses another $1075. This increases the price per pound of the usable fish protein for the family to $8.52.

2. Purchase the fish from a commercial fisherman during the sockeye season. The fisherman charges you $15 per fish (such a deal – you are afterall purchasing 73 fish, they do give you quantity discounts). It still takes two people a half hour each to process each fish. You still have your freezer costs. For comparison sake, lets still assume you are getting the 73 fish for the family of four. So it still takes a considerable amount of time to process the fish – 36.5 hours. You still have the freezer risk and depending on where you clean the fish, you may still have the bear risk. The total cost per pound of fish (including the same risks) with this scenario is $5.72. That is $2.80 less per pound of fish and you get the added benefit of you are supporting the commercial fishermen in the town. Good will in the community – priceless (see my post below on the value of social capital).

3. Purchase the fish as you want it from the local fish store (sometimes you can get deals – but it’s between $10 and $15 per pound depending on the time of year). In business terms this is called “Just in Time” – it has been a very hot manufacturing concept for the past decade. Assuming you eat fish three times a week as recommended by the AMA, this is 156 times per year. Your fish costs will be $3650 per year. You lose the need to have a freezer, you lose the risk of attracting very dangerous predators to your home. You save yourself at least a week’s worth of work (how much is your time worth) from scenario 1 and 2. AND you don’t subject your family to eating salmon every day of the year. You can mix it up a bit. Protein at even $5.72 per pound is a bit steep when you look at the cost of chicken, beef, pork, and the protein you get by mixing complex carbohydrates. Yes, salmon is good for you, but it does get a bit old every day of the year. I know, I often hear about it from my neighbors when they are over eating my grass fed, organic, belgium blue beef (my cows – a whole other story).

So the moral of this story – work on your career, support your local fisherman and your local fish dealer. Keep your family safe from the bears and be a part of the larger community by doing what it is you do best and supporting other people with what they do best.

P.S. It appears a homeowner in the neighborhood where the bear was grazing on unsecured food sources and garbage shot the bear. What really galls me about this – the folks who horded the salmon as “subsistence” fishing that prompted the bear to raid their freezer consider themselves “environmentalists.” What total hypocrisy. The folks I know who truly need to subsistence fish and do so with some prudence, also make sure they secure the sources of food from bears so they don’t have to needlessly kill dangerous wildlife near their homes. A lack of project management leads to a dead bear.

Intentional Chocolate – Like Project Management?

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon Intentional Chocolate – the concept is entirely fascinating.    And just how does this apply to Project Management?   Doing project management in a way that is fast, easy, and fun, can have you hit the same pleasure centers in your brain as “intentional chocolate.”   First – you do projects in the pursuit of some goal.   Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Flow, shows that people attain the highest levels of happiness when in aggressive pursuit of a goal.   Second, just like intentional chocolate, when you have a fast and easy way to do projects (i.e. achieve your goals), your life is in fact a lot more fun and less stressful.    When you follow a simple way to pursue your projects, you are more calm in the pursuit of your goals, and you tend to stay more focused.   Third, when you efficiently pursue the projects in your life, you actually have more energy to do more of what you love.   A good chocolate and a well run project – does life get any better?

Interview with Kristen L. on Becoming a CAPM

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Interview with Kristen L. CAPM

Kristen, you recently passed Project Management Institute’s CAPM exam (Certified Associate in Project Management). You did this after using Cheetah Learning’s four week online CAPM exam prep course.

Why did you take the course?

Kristen – I took the course to pass the CAPM and to demonstrate I knew the basics of project management.

What did you learn preparing for the exam “cheetah style?”

Kristen – While my friends are still in classes “gettting ready” for preparing for the CAPM.. I blew by them and whap- I have the credential already. The four weeks were a bit intense as I had to juggle work, house hunting, two business trips, and dating a new great guy, but I pulled it off.

What are you going to do now that you are a CAPM?

Kristen – This is going to help me work with others on my team when working on projects. I got a promotion at work because of the CAPM (and a pay increase). And now I’m in line to become a PMP and take on even more challenging projects. THANK YOU CHEETAH LEARNING.

Kristen can be reached on twitter at kristencapm and via email at

Kristen Studying for the CAPM

Kristen Studying for the CAPM

Tuning Your Ear to the Direction of the Buffalo

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Over the past 20 years, I have sold off my entire stock portfolio three times – all times this was within six weeks of a major “correction” in the stock market.   Each time, it was to invest in some real estate transaction.   Every time, whoever was my financial adviser at the time winced as I did this.  And every time, I more than doubled my money in less than three years on the real estate transaction.  This last time, was in early August as I was positioning myself to pursue some great real estate values because of the housing market tanking.

Watching what has been going on in the entire investment community I wonder – why would i ever want to invest in someone else’s business again?   Why are these folks on the stock exchange in the first place?   I run a very successful business and have never relied on OPM (other people’s money).  Why give up control?    I used to think that maybe I was missing something, maybe I wasn’t as smart as these other folks who were taking their company’s public.    Then I participated in this great program at Harvard that helps second stage entrepreneurs grow into mature business owners.   Strangely enough that is called “OPM” as well –   (I am an OPM 35 graduate).    Not one, but several professors there stressed – STAY PRIVATE.    If you’re running a successful company, there is no reason to take it public.

Good advice, but why would I want to invest in someone else’s business that had gone public?   I’ve been joking with my pals lately that it seems that I have learned how to hear the direction of the buffalo running with respect to the stock market.   But really it’s just watching subtle signs and listening to the inner workings of my own gut.

My gut right now is telling me to stay the course with my real estate investing strategy.  I just got another seller today to agree to sell me their house for 50k less than their original asking price.  It’s less than a mile from where my daughter goes to college and the roomates cover the mortgage.   She learned more life skills in the four weeks of house hunting than she has so far in college.   She still laments that spring break in sixth grade where I made her listen to Rich Dad Poor Dad book on tape on the drive to Florida – I think it sank in.

A few years back I wanted to develop better negotiation skills on day to day negotiations so I developed a course and wrote a book called “Cheetah Negotiations” – for the more basic type of negotiations we all do day to day.   I’d say I’ve made my money’s worth with what I learned doing that – many times over.   And just recently, I wanted to figure out just how do I do this “tuning my ear to the direction of the buffalo”  so in the course I just created  called Project Prosperity – I reflected on just how did I learn how to calibrate my gut and tested out and developed a number of activities to do just that.   I create these courses that later turn into books for my own learning first.   If they help other people, great.  But they have helped me tremendously.

After watching the fiasco on Wall Street and the fear being promulgated by our government, I am investing my money in my own way, beating to my own drummer, and tuning into the direction of the buffalo.    At least so far this has kept me from being run over by the stampede.

Top Ten Ways to Use Project Management to Power Your Career

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

At Cheetah Learning, we’ve put over 30,000 people through our Project Management programs.   We keep in touch with many of our past students and have noticed that most are weathering this economic down turn exceptionally well.   What are these folks doing to not just survive, but thrive – turning difficulties into opportunities?  

1.       SHOW RESULTS.  Project Management is the art and science of getting things done.  When you improve your Project Management skills, you know how to get things done quickly, and even more important, you learn how to document the results.  In our careers, we are often as good as our last hit.  You can’t be a one-hit wonder.  Instead, you want to keep charting, year after year, with success after success.


2.       BE EFFICIENT.  When you apply Project Management principles to your work or your home life, you stop reinventing the wheel.  Project Management teaches you how to make the most efficient use of resources to generate the best results in the least amount of time.  At the end of every project, you capture best practices and lessons learned, creating an invaluable documentation of hits and misses.  Sound too good to be true?  Good project managers do this on every project, and you can, too.


3.       CREATE AN ONGOING DIALOGUE.  One mistake I see a lot in Project Management and on teams is the assumption that there’s one meeting and everyone goes away, and then the communication ends, and somehow everything is still going to magically get done.  Your communication skills are not about your vocabulary.  They are about how you manage your communication.  Are you communicating frequently enough and with clarity?  Are you communicating what is relevant?  Are you communicating your successes?


4.       PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS.  People hear the word teamwork, and they groan or they say that they are, of course, a team player.  That’s why I like to bring it back to the kindergarten place in our mind:  Back to the sandbox.  Do you play well with others?  Do other people want to be on your project team?  Are you respected?  Do you listen actively to what others have to say?  Good project managers know when to lead and when to get out of the way.  When someone is interviewing you, you know what that person is thinking:  Can I work with him?  Will my team work well with her?


5.       LET YOUR CONFIDENCE SHINE.  When someone shows confidence, everyone in the room feels it, too.  One thing I consistently hear from our students is that the biggest payoff from their Project Management training or PMP® certification is the confidence that they gained.  They went back to their job with a solid Project Management foundation that made them feel more competent and able to project more confidence to their team and their boss.


6.       KEEP YOUR COMMITMENTS.   Missed deadlines and projects that slip through the cracks are career killers.  Project Management skills focus on timelines and results that build your reputation and give team members a reason to trust you.  “I know that I can always count on her to get the job done.”  That quote can – and should – be about you.


7.       GET A GRIP.  Good project managers don’t have to freak out.  They can remain calm and in control because they have a Project Agreement which has all the critical information about the project in it.  They know when all the deadlines are, who is responsible for what and when, and they’ve also documented changes.  Everyone wants to have someone on the team who can stay calm when a project gets rocky and bring stability to chaos.


8.       ADAPT TO CHANGE.  Don’t ignore change.  Companies change.  Deadlines change.  People come and go.  Good project managers know they often have to adapt their plans and document what has changed and how that impacts the entire project.


9.       KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  What skills do you need to move from the status quo to the next level?  Once you have a solid foundation of Project Management skills, keep building on that foundation.  Don’t stagnate.  Continuous learning and a thirst for knowledge are always attractive to employers and team members.


10.   LEAD WITH PURPOSE AND PASSION. People will follow those who know what they are doing and who can generate results.  Project Management is a powerful leadership tool because it not only shows us how to keep our eye on the prize and the purpose, but it’s also about the passion to achieve and succeed.  Nothing feels better than accomplishment. 

Sarah Palin and Project Management

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I’m heading back to Alaska where my youngest daughter is finishing up high school.   I was thinking about the current governor and her latest foray into the national scene.  This woman is a damn good project manager.    Whether you like Sarah Palin or not,  she knows how to get things done (which is after all the job of a project manager).    Here are the five reasons why Sarah Palin has a future in project management, regardless of what happens in her political career: 


  1. When hunting, Sarah uses the most efficient means possible to achieve her goals.
  2. She knows how to make friends with the right people to create incredible opportunities for her career.
  3. She manages a multifaceted job while juggling her 7+ member family.
  4. She has long range vision (Russia is a long way from Wasilla).
  5. Sarah knows how to squeeze money from her state’s sponsors to keep her constituents happy (and warm).

A big hooray for Sarah.  And Sarah – you were great on Saturday Night Live but stay away from the other media – those folks just aren’t as nice to you.  I don’t think they quite grasp the Alaskan way of life or our sensibilities.   SNL seems to have a much better handle on life up north.