Archive for August, 2016

High Performing Business – Influence – Trust and Transparency

Friday, August 26th, 2016

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

Referrals show the level of trust your company creates. 95% of Cheetah Learning's students come from someone who already took a Cheetah class.

Referrals show the level of trust your company creates. 95% of Cheetah Learning’s students learn about Cheetah  from someone who already took a Cheetah class.

I was watching a TED talk on block chain technology (the engine behind Bitcoin) and am fascinated how we create systems to increase our ability to trust those processes we need to conduct our lives.  It seems trust is in short supply these days from our political candidates, to our banking systems, to our food supply and just about everything in between.   The question I’ve posed to myself for years as a business owner is how well can I set up my business systems so my customers can trust me?  It’s all about process integrity – does the process deliver the same results for a wide cross section of people?   Is it easy for people to plug into the process and achieve the results they desire?   Does it work well enough so others can suggest it to their friends and family?

At Cheetah Learning, we’ve created an amazing system that does in fact create high trust as it creates consistently high results for the vast majority of people who take our courses.  It’s not an accident, it’s not luck – it’s about creating robust, trust worthy processes, inbedding self monitoring of those processes and being diligent with tracking any deviations in process performance, across all the processes in the business.  While we teach project management, we excel at process management.  We know to have a trust worthy business, it cannot be based on the charisma of our personalities, but the capabilities of our systems.

One of those systems is the process for doing projects  – we call it Cheetah Project Management.  And it works time after time after time – for not just us, but for the tens of thousands of our students who master it as well.   It’s a highly transparent process for doing projects – the value in it is actually the transparency as it guides people to all being on the same page quickly for who needs to do what, and when.  Where there is increased transparency there is increased trust.   People who become Cheetah Certified Project Managers master the Cheetah Project Management process today – it’s why they quickly go on to become leaders in their respective fields.   Become a go to person others know they can trust, become a Cheetah Certified Project Manager.

High Performing Business – Influence – Information Diet

Thursday, August 25th, 2016
How we choose the information we allow in, does influence our lives in profound ways.

How we choose the information we allow in, does influence our lives in profound ways.

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

In the news lately there has been much complaint how little attention main stream media gave to the floods in Louisiana. This has spurred much conversation with my peers about how many of us have become numb to the “news,”  just curating only the information we wish to receive.  I’m still assessing how I feel about this.  On the one hand, from sixth grade and on,  it was required we stay abreast of current affairs as delivered by the local news and newspapers.  We did not have 24 hour news coverage – we had the local newspaper, the local news, followed by a half hour of national news and the weekly news publications like US News and World Report.  We did not have the choices, with also the opinions and bias’ of the myriad news outlets that exist now. Being a conscientious global citizen, just what news source do we trust to provide relevant, unbiased, in depth journalism delievered succinctly without wasted fluff?

We  are far more informed about the slant or bias of not just the news, but also our institutions.  When my daughters were applying to college, they knew the political climate on every campus and could align their choices with their political preferences.   I don’t even recall that being on my radar screen when I applied to colleges in the late ’70’s – I was just looking for places that had my desired major – Aerospace Engineering.

All this information does significantly influence our day to day lives. Being an entrepreneur who lives and thrives by my creative abilities, I am very careful what type of information I consume.  Over two decades ago I got introduced to a concept by Stephen Covey about the circle of concern and the circle of influence.  The circle of concern are those things for which you are concerned but cannot directly influence (what the main stream media considers the “news”) falls into this category for me.   The circle of influence are those things that you can directly influence.  This is where I choose to put the majority of my time and attention.   What can I use that will better help me deliver value with Cheetah Learning and help people joyfully and skillfully pursue their dreams?  It most often is not what is considered news by the main stream media.  I’ve also found the “real news” – the information that is important for me to know about current events and world affairs – I find out about.  We live in a world bombarded with information – it’s hard not to know about what is going on.

I’ve also read much lately on this concept of managing the decision load for the day – many people migrate to wearing the same type of clothes, eat the same meals every day, etx  to reduce the time and effort to make those decisions.  For me, one of the decisions I make on a daily basis is where to focus my attention – with a very purposeful choice to avoid the main stream media. Like this morning, when I was waiting for my plane – I chose a seat that did not have a direct view of the TV that was blaring CNN with the disaster of the day they had on a recurring loop.  Instead, I opted to listen to my latest download on itunes and catch up on emails.

Consider the type of information influencing you.  Do you keep one media source on as “background noise, ” be it on your TV, radio, or computer?  How does this influence your day to day energy, thoughts, creativity and overall well being?   Does it distract you from paying attention to the information you need to focus on – like the performance of your projects?  Do you curate the information that comes into your day to day awareness or allow things to float in as they may?   From my perspective all of these options are valid – we each have the choice of how to experience our unique existence.  What is more important is recognizing it’s our choice alone the information diet we choose and how we decide to act on information that comes into our awareness.   By whom and how do you want to be influenced?

The more you know about how you absorb and process information, the more “informed” you are about how you are being influenced.   One of the first courses students take to become Cheetah Certified Project Managers is on how they best process and assimilate information – they become savvy information consumers based on what works best for them.    Become a Cheetah Certified Project Manager and take charge of how information influences your life.



High Performing Business – Influence – Building Bridges

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

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

My project with the Alaska Research Garden demonstrated how much more influential it is to build bridges rather than to burn bridges.

My project with the Alaska Research Garden demonstrated how much more influential it is to build bridges rather to burn bridges.

As I contemplate this topic of building bridges, I wonder if we are living in increasingly divisive, and polarized times or is that how I am perceiving the information coming at me from a variety of news sources?  The only reason you need to build a bridge is to cross a chasm, or some divide.  But if you do not perceive a gap, then why would you need to build a bridge in the first place?  And if there is a gap, and you do not know it’s there, do you risk falling into the great abyss?  But enough on this esoteric philosophical perspective…..

The whole idea of building bridges came about because of the idea of burning bridges.  I am working on a project in a small town in Alaska where the butt you are kicking today is likely the butt you have to kiss tomorrow in order to get something important accomplished – so there really is no value in kicking anyone’s butt to the curb.  Even less value in burning a bridge as every one does end up hearing about anything that goes down – it either shows up on one of the town’s FB pages or even worse in the well read police blotter.  Being consciousientious of how your actions impact others becomes increasingly important in this small town atmosphere.

On one of my bigger projects last week, I had a challenge partially of my own making.  Well okay – 100% of my own making.  I had ordered 700 cinder blocks that got delivered to my job site in a large shipping container.  But we had not finished the dirt work yet on the site so I had the shipping company place the container tucked off to the side so our heavy equipment could easily move about the site. The challenge came when we had to remove the cinder blocks as the container had sunk up to a foot at the front – all the cinder blocks were loaded more towards the front of the container (this makes sense as that much weight at the back end could have caused the front end of the truck to life up).  None of the heavy equipment we had on site could lift up the front of the shipping container to move it so we could get a fork lift in the back of the container.  So, I needed to recruit folks with the strength to schlep out 700 cinder blocks.

Luckily this small Alaskan town is very connected via facebook so I posted a request on one of the FB pages looking for help.   One guy slammed the shipping company saying it was their responsibility to remove the blocks and how bad it was I was stuck with this problem from the monopolistic business.  The guy who runs the shipping company, who I had been in contact with and knew of my challenge, did a rebuttal – but this divisiveness was not resolving my challenge.  Luckily before this all started on that post, I did have one volunteer.  Then the next day I got two more volunteers and we had the container emptied in under two hours.  Right as the guys were finishing, the man from the shipping company stopped by the job site (it was a Saturday and his day off) to check on how we were doing (what great customer service).  Since the container was now empty, he hustled it back to get a truck to get the container off our lot so we’d have more room to move around the job site.  I put up another post on that same FB page giving a shout out to the great customer service from the guy who runs the shipping company.  I was grateful for the extra mile he went and since there was such divisiveness expressed on my original post, I wanted to publically acknowledge this guy who really does go the extra mile to do a good job – even if he works for a company that has a monopoly on shipping up here.  I am very grateful we at least have one company handling the shipping up here – it’s not easy to get stuff to this town close to the end of the inside passage.

If influence is measured by the number of likes on a FB post – I’d say the bridge building post created some great influence – it’s at 77  likes at this stage of the game.  The first post with the bridge burning comment received zero likes.   Yes one data point, but sufficient proof for me that building bridges rather than burning bridges creates more influence – at least here in this small town.

Check out becoming a Cheetah Certified Project Manager to become more influential in your career (and your life).

High Performing Business – Influence – Good Cheer

Saturday, August 20th, 2016
Mr. Bear makes a visit to our project.

Mr. Bear makes a visit to our project.


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

Yesterday was cleaning service day out here at the Alaska Research Garden.  I had a couple cheetah staff visiting, so we went into town while the cleaning service was over.  I didn’t stick around to supervise (and really who wants to supervise the cleaning service anyhow?)

While we were gone, the cleaning service discovered my science project going on under the sink – it was an airtight container with the compost – totally sealed and not stinking at all.  I’ve been accumulating produce waste all summer to put into the keyhole compost bins once we get our hugel culture key hole garden beds complete (to watch this progress follow Alaska Research Garden on Facebook).   Needless to say it was more than disgusting.   Thinking it was garbage, they double bagged it and put it outside – right under the window that was open where we had the fan bringing “fresh” air back into the kitchen.  We get home to the most rancid stink in the kitchen – I soon found the source.  I couldn’t bring myself to return this putridness back indoors so I moved it over to the garden zone as we are going to be finished with the beds this weekend.

After dinner, Cheetah’s Digital Marketing director – Madison, comes in and says – “I think we need to get the dogs down to the ocean as they got into whatever stink was in that bag.”  Wow and what a stink that was – I went to clean up the mess.  Came back into the house and realized – OMG, I need in the shower like now and these clothes have to be sanitized.  Luckily it’s still summer and the out door showers are still open.  I realized coming back from the shower, the ocean would not do for the dogs.  So instead of getting dressed, I managed to get a bathing suit on my wet body (not easy).

Out back next to the outdoor showers is a utility tub – exactly for this type of grossness.  Granted it was 60 degrees out and the mosquitos were in full force, but there was no way I was going to co-exist with two make you vomit stinky puppies.  They both got fully doused and sudsed.  One of my house guests was getting concerned about me out back as I was gone for a long time.  And she did not want to run into me naked back there – who the heck wants to see their boss naked?   So she waited around the corner for me to walk around with the first washed puppy.  She was much surprised I was back there in my bathing suit at sunset when it was getting colder, but very relieved I was not naked.

We got the puppies dry, I got into more seasonally comfortable clothes, and we were sitting around the kitchen table amazed at just how gross this whole scene got and fast.  We have a mason working on the property doing a project for the Alaska Research Garden.  He walked in on this scene and says “my gosh is there something really disgusting smelling outside.  I just ran into a huge bear in the driveway on my way in here. But he ran away as soon as he saw the truck.”  We quickly filled him in on why we all found that so funny.

I’ve realized over the years, no matter what the job, or how disgusting, since I’m going to do it anyhow, I may as well do it with good cheer, and find the fun in whatever way I can.  Cleaning up this horrific mess – well if this is the grossest thing I have to handle – I am one lucky person.  Finding a way to be excited, engaged and enthusiastic about the task at hand influences people far more than being apathetic or even angry about necessary and required work.

To learn how to likewise inspire yourself and to take on the more challenging (and rewarding) projects of life, become a Cheetah Certified Project Manager.


High Performing Business – Influence – Stories

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

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

“Those who tell the stories, rule society,” Plato.

Cheetah students' success stories are the life blood of our business.

Cheetah students’ success stories are the life blood of our business.

One of the many things I love about running Cheetah Learning are the success  stories we hear from our students.  What I love even more is how we are simply the conduit for our students to find their own way to the success which is their due – it’s about what they bring to the table.  The courses we deliver at Cheetah Learning are like what a good chef can do with great raw ingredients.  Our Cheetah Learning students have the great raw material, we just help them put it together in ways that make them even more exceptional.  Every Cheetah student has their own unique story of how they have achieved some pretty outstanding things in their life after a Cheetah Learning course – many even share what they have learned about accelerating their learning (and success) with their children and other important people in their lives.  Cheetah  students’ success stories are the life blood of our business and they significantly influence others to register for Cheetah Learning courses – over 95% of our business is from word of mouth.

What stories do your customers tell about your business?  Are they consistent across a wide array of customers and sections of the business?  How do they share their stories with others in a way that inspires them to patronize your business?  Think about your own stories – what do they tell about you?

Create your expanding success story – become a Cheetah Certified Project Manager.

High Performing Business – Influence – Attention Intention

Monday, August 8th, 2016

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

Do you focus your attention on those things you can influence or those things that make you angry or concerned? To achieve any level of success requires aligning your attention with your intentions (goals).

Do you focus your attention on those things you can influence or those things that make you angry or concerned? To achieve any level of success requires aligning your attention with your intentions (goals).

About a decade ago, I kicked off a conference for a group of 5000 project managers at a large telecommunications company.  Before the conference, as a way to prepare for the presentation, I had the project managers participate in a short survey on how effective they felt in their project management positions.  The survey results were interesting –  the project managers who felt they had sufficient authority to do their jobs, also felt the most effective whereas the ones who did not feel like they had the authority they needed and people in authority over them did not value project management, did not feel as effective.  While this result is not all that surprising, I was able to surmise why this was so.  When people are able to influence what happens in their environment, they are able to effect the changes they would prefer to see. They feel effective and empowered because, well they are.

But what is the main difference between people who can influence their environment and those who cannot?  I noticed with the results, it is where they focus their attention.  Those who felt effective and had the authority to do their projects focused their attention on what it was they could in fact influence.  They set their intention – to be effective with their project, and they focused their attention on what it would take to make that happen.

What gets me thinking about this today is the level of frustration and anger exhibited by many people over this election for both candidates.  While this might make sense to some, focusing attention on what we cannot control, but what concerns, creates impotence.  For me, setting an intention to achieve the goals and projects that truly matter to me, and then focusing my attention in that direction, has significantly increased my influence;  far more than being angry and complaining about things for which I have very little control.  In the Cheetah Certified Project Manager program, Cheetah Learning students master using their intention to focus attention to achieve their goals at Cheetah speed.  It’s this level of mastery that propels Cheetah students up the ranks in the organizations they serve.