Archive for the ‘Cheetah Tip to Keep You Tops’ Category

Make My Brain Better Project – Create Amazing

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I’m taking a ten week long philosophy class about how our thoughts create our reality.  While I’ve lived by this premise for much of my life, it’s fascinating to do a directed study for ten weeks on this topic.   Almost 15 years ago I did something similar and it was an eye opening experience.   I wanted to stretch my mind and think about my current realities in more disciplined and organized ways.   What better way to do that then to take a course in a topic I only usually practice on my own.   One of the assignments the first week was to create a journal.   Since one purpose of the journal is to check in with yourself, I designed a create amazing check in radiator.

This is my Create Amazing weekly check in radiator.   If our thoughts create our reality why not create an AMAZING reality in all areas of life?

This is my Create Amazing weekly check in radiator. If our thoughts create our reality why not create an AMAZING reality in all areas of life?

8 minutes of yoga – who knew?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

8 minutes of yoga for cool cats

8 minutes of yoga for cool cats

A little over 12 years ago I came up with an idea that people could pass a very difficult exam for project management certification with only four days of prep, and not the standard six months most people were spending.   The issue is even with the six months of prep, 40% of them would still fail.   I thought, well hmmm – if I can really do this in four days, I can also guarantee they will pass.   And to guarantee they pass, I need to make sure they have their brains in peak performing condition.   I had been practicing yoga for almost ten years by this point.   I knew if I had them do an easy series of yoga stretches and breathing exercises every 90 minutes, I would be able to help them keep their brains in peak performing condition.  (this was combined with a high protein complex carb diet and no caffeine or sugar to keep their brains in a state of relaxed focus and adequately fueled).   We even got a mention in a Hindu newspaper on how we use yoga to help people pass a tough exam.

Fast forward to ten years later (two years ago).   One of Cheetah’s young Agile Certified Project Managers (Anne Lindsley, CAPM, PMI-ACP) wanted to become a certified yoga instructor.   Hmmm – I thought – yes it would be very good to have our own corporate yogini on staff.   A year later, I asked her to create an 8 minute yoga flow video we could use in our online courses.  While we were making this video, she said – you know this would be a great way to bring yoga to the masses.   Heck, 50,000 Cheetah students have already used this 8 minutes of yoga technique to pass the PMP exam – others could use it too to reduce their stress levels, improve their focus, be more productive, and be healthier.  This was where YogaAnne‘s 8 minute yoga idea was born.   We spent a year creating fifty different 8 minute yoga videos for use at the office or at home.   They are rolling out their mobile app in a few weeks.   They discovered a great way to stream the videos so people can do them along with their qualified instructors right off their phones – anywhere they are.   I’m psyched for this app – I need creative inspiration, I love the serene locations where they are shot, and I love that I’m reminded to take a short break to do yoga so I can keep energized and relaxed in a healthy way.

Pursuing Change

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

(an excerpt for Cheetah’s PMP Career Builder)


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “change”? For many of us, words like “anxious”, “overwhelmed”, or “unknown” pop into our head. Sometimes change feels like we are heading into a storm of unknown risks and consequences.

To thrive as a PM executive, we must learn to not only embrace change, but to pursue it and learn to capitalize on it. Here are the top five strategies that you can use to help you to let go of your fears and pursue change with abandon:

  1. Love UncertaintiesI am a risk-taker, and some even consider me to be a daredevil (while driving around on my Harley, I sometimes feel like one).   And while I love uncertainty, I make sure I’m prepared for the risks that I may encounter. Life is filled with uncertainties. Time and time again, I discover, much to my delight, that the riskier the situation, the more uncertainties there are, and the greater the rewards.
  2. Accept your Internal Strength to Weather Change. One of the biggest reasons why people fear change is because they think, “Maybe I can’t handle this new situation.”  The reality is that human beings are pretty darn adaptable.   If you’ve ever jumped into a pool of really cold water, you probably felt a terrible shock at first. Then, as you swam around, the temperature began to feel invigorating and it turned into a great experience – one that proved your internal strength. The pool water did not change – you became accustomed to the temperature. Instead of resisting these types of experiences, try to find every “cold pool” (figuratively speaking) within your reach, and dive in.
  3. Tackle Tiny Fears. If you have a strong change-fear connection, here is an easy way to start to reprogram your mind for a different response pattern:  Each day, do something small that frightens you just a bit. By tackling these small fears, you will realize that the thought of the action itself is more fearful and stressful than the actual action.
  4. Communicate Through Change. We tend to fear what we don’t understand. If you are the one initiating a change, make sure to communicate the purpose of the change to all stakeholders, and get their buy-in.
  5. Stay Positive. When considering whether or not to pursue change and the subsequent unknown outcome, we are faced with a risk that this outcome might be bad. What we often overlook is that the outcome may very well be an improved condition over the previous state from before the change. Being positive will not only help ease your fears, but will also help a positive outcome actually occur as it will free you from “fear paralysis” and will help you to pursue positive change.

Project Management Executives – pursue change in your life today! Whether it is in your personal or professional realm, you can make great waves when you are one of the few people that not only accepts change, but proactively pursues change to create better outcomes for everyone.  “Business as usual” has never produced greatness. Push the boundaries of what is possible, and discover true greatness when you actively pursue change.

Stay tuned next week when will talk about a Senior Project Executive Certificate Program that will distinguish you from your peers.

Adopting a Consciousness Approach to Your Attachments

Monday, September 16th, 2013

(this an article excerpt from Cheetah’s Career Builder)

The ability to learn is demonstrated by the ability to change and/or adopt more successful behaviors.    Becoming detached to your behaviors and the way you do things the way you do can significantly help learning.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 1.33.25 PMThe five levels of attachments and how they shape your ability to respond, how you behave, the strategies you use to achieve what you desire in life, and the way you will react to life events.

I recently took a course called  Conscious Living by the Hendricks, and learned some fascinating things about how I identify with these persona characters I take on as “me” and then live in what the Hendricks call the fear trance between victim, villain and hero. What I know from my studies of attachment is the more I attach to an idea, or a position, the harder it is for me to remain flexible and open (the harder it is for me to “learn”.)  Ruiz’s attachment model, has “identity” as the third level in a five level of attachment. So this adds more depth to that one level of attachment – what identities am I attached to as my “identity” and how strongly am I willing to hold that attachment? I continue to play with a more creative and conscious approach to life by recognizing and playing with my persona’s as they appear.   This enables a more in the now, authentic response to each moment without the veil of this “identity.”   One of the identities I recently discovered was what I call my sugar loving YOLO (you only live once) persona.   This kept me stuck in behaviors that were no longer serving me.    Based on how I was attached to this identity, by dropping the attachment whenever I’d like, I can  live in a healthier persona for who I want to be right now. This means I don’t have to be stuck in old behavior patterns just because my sugar YOLO identity has to be shelved like my high school yearbook.   And I’m more open to learning new ways of being that help me more successfully navigate my world.

So how can you use this to improve your own learning.   Think about a situation where you behavior created a result you didn’t really enjoy.    Say you had an unfortunate encounter with a co-worker or a friend.   Think about how you responded – were you flexible and open or were you rigid in how you thought the situation should have played out?   If you were more rigid, you are more attached to the something about it.   How did you react?   Did you find your reaction predictable or did you react in a manner that surprised even you?   If your reaction was predictable for that situation, you are more attached to something about that situation.   What were your strategies for the situation – could you let it unfold in new and creative ways or did you want to try to control the outcome?   If you tried to control the outcome – you had a higher level of attachment to some persona you were playing in the situation.   Last – look at your own behavior.   Where you able to accept whatever the other person was doing or were you judging them?   Did you find yourself saying – hmmm I wonder what is going on for them or saying “WTF” – how dare they?   If you said the latter – you are more attached to some idea of what you thought was supposed to go down.   Study the image associated with this article and contemplate how you can be less attached to your ideas of how things are supposed to happen, who you are supposed to be, and you will find a whole new world of learning opening up for you.

Stay tuned next week when I will share my latest finding in my brain research in my quests to improve brains everywhere!

The “Make Your Brain Better” Project

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

(an article from Cheetah’s Career Builder)

At Cheetah Learning, we think about brains a lot. This is because we specialize in Accelerated Learning, and for anyone to be any good at learning something in an accelerated fashion, they need to have their brain in peak condition. This means that both the brain and the body need to be working together to create an environment that is susceptible to learning and able to assimilate and process informationFAST.

While I typically focus on other people’s brains and helping them achieve their goals fast by developing a peak performing mind, recently I have been focusing on my own brain, and doing much research on how I can improve the way I receive, process, and disseminate information. In this section of Cheetah’s Career Builder I will focus on sharing what I have learned from my extensive research.

Today I wanted to share what I have learned through reading the Buddha Brain book. This mind map is a good refresher of how you can use your mind to make your brain better. The key message of this book was that you should practice unlimited acceptance and kindness towards yourself to increases your happiness and increase your brain activity.


Being an extreme over achiever most of my life, I am my own worst critic, perhaps you are the same. In the Buddha Brain book, one technique is called “being on your own side.”

I am declaring September as “Be On My Own Side Month.” Making a conscious shift away from self-criticism is as easy as stopping myself as soon as I find myself falling into this all too familiar trap, and immediately finding something about myself to sincerely appreciate in the moment. Join me in my “Be On My Own Side Month” by being on YOUR side every day of September. What do you have to lose?

Stay tuned next week when I will share my latest finding in my brain research in my quests to improve brains everywhere!

Setting the Standards for Success

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

(A featured article from Cheetah’s PMP Career Builder. Click Here to see entire Newsletter)

Many people make the mistake of thinking that success is out of reach for them, either because it’s based on some magic mojo, or because they just aren’t as lucky as successful people. As an executive, you know that success relies on defining and following through on your standards for success. Let me share with you what has worked for me and how I applied these standards of success to create more successful people and projects.

Levels of Learning: Move from awareness to mastery

Your time is invaluable. You want to spend it where it matters most. That’s why when you learn, you want to make sure you move beyond the basics and transform your skills to mastery. This has been the driving principle behind our course development and delivery at Cheetah Learning, and it has been my personal mantra when I look at my own development.

Where success happens

If your learning stays at the awareness and knowledge levels, your career and your opportunities for success are limited. To help create successful people and projects, you need to increase each person’s potential and desire to achieve mastery within the skills that are aligned with your organizations strategic objective, and within their own inherent strengths. Success happens at the top of the pyramid with skill – the application of knowledge and mastery – the ability to consistently get results with your skills.

Use your time wisely

Another standard for success is making the best use of your time. When you learn, you want to make sure every moment counts. Accelerated learning is a proven way to teach people new skills because it:

· Improves your retention and your ability to apply the new knowledge.

· Helps you quickly use what you’ve learned.

· Benefits every project you tackle – personally and professionally.

In a world that is moving full speed ahead, why leave any learning experience to chance? Experience accelerated learning in any of our Cheetah courses, and see why it is one of our standards of success at Cheetah Learning.

Stay tuned next week when we will teach you how to communicate the value proposition of PM to fellow executives who may need a refresher!

Selecting Projects to Achieve a Competitive Strategy

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

(A featured article for Cheetah’s PMP Career Builder. Click here to the entire newsletter)

Last week we explored how you can use Project Management as a key competitive strategy.  This week we are going to show you how you can create a decision making process to pick the projects that could best help you achieve your competitive strategy.   This is a process we call the “Opscan” process.   Cheetah students learn how to do this technique in the course we call Project Turnaround where they learn how to turn around a floundering career or organization.

Below is the list of competitive strategies discussed in last week’s newsletter with the ranking criteria you can use to evaluate possible projects.   With this criteria, you then rank how well each project fits the criteria.

Opportunity Quality Criteria


Threat of New Entrants – barriers to entry

Hard for others to enter, but easy for us – 5, easy for others to enter – 1

Bargaining Power of Customers

Customers have little choice – 5 to customers have lots of choice  – 1

Threat of Substitutes

Unique way of solving a problem that cannot easily be replicated  – 5 to problem can be solved a number of different ways –  1


Power of Suppliers

Many suppliers to supply goods or services to create the end product – 5, few suppliers to supply goods or services to create the end product -1

Power to Influence Suppliers

Large enough to get economies of scale from suppliers – 5 to no leverage because you’re a small time player – 1

Rivalry – Jockeying for Position

# Competitors

few – 5, lots – 1


high – 5 – low – 1

Differentiation (ability to make unique)

unique way of meeting customers needs –  5 to fairly standard – 1

Stability of product

high – 5 – low – 1

Capacity demand fulfillment

scalable – 5 – one off approaches – 1

Ability and/or interest in exiting

high interest – 5, low interest -1

Click here to see larger image

So lets say you have five possible projects that you can pursue to achieve your competitive strategy  – you would evaluate how well each of these projects meets the above criteria and rank them based on how you can answer the questions for each project.   The project with the highest score will give you the most competitive advantage.

Stay tuned next week where we look at how executives can inspire better project performance.

Cheetah’s Daily tips to keep you tops!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011


As a project team, it is important to develop the guidelines on how you are going to hold meetings. This greatly increases the productiveness of those meetings and reduces conflict.

Provisioning The Road Trip

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
We made it to San Francisco!!!!

We made it to San Francisco!!!!

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Initiation – For one reason or another, I find myself doing several thousand mile road trips a couple times a year.   Jumping into a car, van, truck and camper combo and driving for four days is just not something that new to me.   In September, I adopted two four week old kitties who had been abandoned.   So when I had to get to San Francisco to do the keynote presentation for International Project Management day November 4, 2010, it just made sense to pack the kitties and the puppy into the cheetah mini-van and head to San Fran from Connecticut.   It took about a week to customize the mini-van for the road trip.   Besides making it safe and comfortable for the baby animals, I also decided that unlike other road trips, I was going to survive on food that if I didn’t grow, at least I prepared from ingredients I knew the origins.

Planning – Provisioning this type of trip takes a bit more planning.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking on the road so I had to have food that would keep for at least four days.   And when I am driving, I want to drive.   I’m not much into stopping to eat a meal.   So whatever I prepared had to be easy and not messy to eat while driving.   Plus I wanted to eat food that would keep me awake and alert, without having to rely on drinking copious quantities of caffeine.   Also, it would have to be food that I was somewhat into as I did not want to be tempted to eat fast food.   I can only be so disciplined.

Execution –   To fit the above criteria, I made my homemade bread that is made from wheat I mill myself.   I learned at cooking school in France that this bread does really well if you slice it very thin using a meat slicer.   A small amount of peanut butter on one of these thin slices of bread with a little non-fat milk makes a great snack that kept me satiated for several hours.   This became one of my staples.   I also made a berry smoothie with non-fat greek yogurt and non-fat milk.   Without a lot of sugar, this shake gave me a power boost without the concurrent sugar spike then energy sag.   For snacking, I made beef jerky from rump roasts from my cattle.   It takes forever to chew and the protein kept my  energy level high.   I also learned how to make this vegetable soup called Pistou Soup at cooking school in France.   The soup is all vegetables with beans and left-over home made pasta (in CT most came out of my garden).  The soup can easily be heated up in microwaves at the quick mart gas stations or in hotel room microwaves.   This soup balances out all the beef jerky snacking while driving.  I did have to eat the soup while stopped – usually at night in the hotel after 15 hours of driving.  (I opted NOT to sleep in the van too).  The quick marts also let you have free hot water and I could make my own tea back at the mini-van.

Monitoring and Control – I used a cooler that could be plugged into the outlet of the mini-van.   This meant that I did not have to get ice. However, the cooler would not run unless the mini-van was running.  I could get away with this as it was late October during the road trip and it got below 40 at night on the route I was taking.   I had a kitchen set up in the back of the mini-van where the hatch acted as a rain tarp. In back of the mini-van kitchen, it was set up for easy access to the most used items – such as paper towels, peanut butter, tea.  I also brought 5 gallons of water – which I used a number of times for a variety of reasons throughout the trip.   It helped that I set up easy access to the water as well.

Closeout – I have more easy to eat foods for the road trip back.   In Portland I discovered this little pie maker and now have small little chicken pies to eat.   On the trip out, I had the soup in this vacuum packed sealer bag that I could microwave.  But it was kind of messy eating it this way.  So for the return trip, I am using glass bowls with the clip on lids – it will be easier to microwave and eat the soup all in one in those bowls.   The baby animal management system went fine – I have to make sure that I keep the access to the front seat area blocked as the kitties are very exploratory and have found their way recently to my feet – not cool.

Cheetah Tip to Keep You Tops, Feb. 15, 2010

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Cheetah Tip to Keep You Tops, Feb. 15, 2010. Today we experience the same amount of technological change every 18 months that our great grandparents experienced every 50 years. To succeed, you must complete your projects fast – especially ones that require some element of technology. At Cheetah, we combined accelerated learning concepts with Project Management to complete projects in three months.