HOW AGILE ARE YOU? GET CHEETAH AGILE

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

Some of us are natural-born “planners.” We plan out every moment of our lives in detail, from what we will be doing on the weekend to how many children we want and what their names will be, to how our career will progress – in detail! Others of us are “doers” and are more spontaneous, nervous if too many plans are made for us; we would rather live our lives with flexibility and freedom to make plans as we go.  If you sit down and think about how last year’s activities evolved, you will probably be able to determine on which side of the spectrum you belong: a planner or a doer?

What’s great about project management is that it brings both sides of the spectrum together so that planners will eventually execute and do their project tasks and doers must first plan their project tasks before jumping right in. A relatively new way to do project management has made this merger of “planners” and “doers” even more seamless: Agile principles and practices.

What Exactly Is Agile?  Agile is a philosophy that focuses on people, collaboration and shared values to get projects done. The Agile philosophy can be best described by the Agile Manifesto, which was written back in 2001 by a group of software project managers. The Agile Manifesto describes Agile as valuing the following:

Individuals & Interactions   over           Process & Tools

Working Software    over          Comprehensive Documentation

Customer Collaboration   over          Contract Negotiation

Responding to Change             over         Following a Plan

From taking a look at these, it would seem like Agile falls more to the side of the “doers” than the “planners” – and this is partially true.  Agile practitioners pride themselves in doing what they say and saying what they do, as well as allowing for and embracing change in project requirements.

But not to worry, planners, there’s plenty of opportunity for you as well in the Agile realm.  In Agile, teams plan in “Sprints,” which is exactly how it sounds – planning in small, fast bursts. Before every sprint there is a “Sprint Planning” meeting where the team meets with the products owner and decides what needs to get done in the next sprint. After the sprint the team goes through a “Sprint Review” where the team will demonstrate the incremental value that was attained during the sprint.

Using this method, planning and doing go back and forth in rapid succession to create clear transparency in what everyone is doing and what the project team should be focusing on.

How Does Agile Relate to Traditional Project Management?  While the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition) does not specifically mention Agile methodologies, it does not contradict them, either. In fact, the PMBOK discusses iterative approaches to project management, which can be applied to projects managed using Agile principles and practices. Therefore it’s not an either or relationship, but rather that they complement each other. The use of Agile techniques is particularly useful in projects that require quick responses to change along with communication to customers.

Why Should You Care?  OK, let’s cut to the chase. Why are we talking so much about Agile when this isn’t even an article about yoga? In the project management field, Agile principles and practices are topics of growing interest and importance. PMI’s research shows that the use of Agile methodologies has tripled from December 2008 to May 2011. In fact, it’s predicted that by the end of 2012, Agile development will be used on 80% of all projects involving software development. But it’s not just about software anymore. Agile methods are being use more and more by industries other than software because of its proven ability to decrease product defects, improve team productivity, and increase the delivery of business value.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss the Agile boat!  And find out how to become Cheetah Agile at http://www.cheetahlearning.com/Dave/agile.

About the Author:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

Check out Cheetah PHAST – an exceptional new quarterly magazine 

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17

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BEEN SPOTTED? GET NOTICED – THE CHEETAH WAY

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Globally recognized credential earned through Cheetah Learning. [Insert your name here], Project Manager Earns Project Management Professional Certification.

 

Imagine your name on the front page of the paper. What are you famous for? Is it for your excellent fashion sense? Your weather forecasting abilities? Or, perhaps you’re being honored for your ability to change the world for the better with your savvy project management skills and finesse?

As a project manager, you hold a great deal of responsibility and power, which becomes the case even more so when you earn your PMP® certification. The biggest challenge for many project managers is in letting others know what you are capable of, and what you are worth. Let’s face it – it’s not always easy to toot your own horn. But when you tackle your PM fame as you would any project—in an objective, systematic, and measurable way—you are sure to succeed in showing your stuff to ensure that you are spotted and get noticed- the Cheetah way.

 

Consider a Press ReleasePress releases don’t have to be just for large corporations or for the rich and famous. You, too, can get a press release out about the fantastic accomplishments that you’ve made in your life. Nowadays, roughly 45% of employers are going online to research potential employees as part of the screening process. You can strengthen your brand with a press release proclaiming your accomplishments. If you’re a Cheetah PMP®, contact us (marketing@cheetahlearning.com) to find out how you can get a press release created specifically for you and distributed for free.

 

Get Out There. You can’t always plan for the next big thing. Sometimes it comes down to being at the right place at the right time, with just the right mix of opportunity and preparation. But if you don’t take a chance and put yourself out there, you have taken yourself out of the game altogether.

 

Now, I know these suggestions sound eerily like dating advice for singles. But these rules also apply for professionals looking to make meaningful business connections. The more proactive you are in getting involved in organizations (such as PMI chapters, or volunteering your PM skills where needed in your community) the more visibility you have within the project management industry, and the more successful you will be.

 

Create a “Brag Sheet”.  Many times when we finish a project, we can rush through the closing process and lessons learned so quickly in preparation to dive into the next project. At the end of each project, take some time to add to your “Brag Sheet”. What went well in the project? Where you under budget or ahead of schedule? How did the deliverables of the project benefit the key stakeholders? This is something that you need to document for yourself, as most likely no on else is keeping track of your successes. Collecting your achievements so that you are prepared to shine when the opportunity presents itself.

 

Got It? Flaunt It! If you have your Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential, congratulations! As a PMP, you will get noticed worldwide as someone who is fluent in the language of PM and who is reliable in consistently achieving project success. There is a very good reason why the federal government mandated the need for Certified Project Managers to manage federally funded projects – PMP’s are proven and trustworthy.

 

Make it your goal this summer to get spotted for all of your hard work. Be your own best friend and promote your accomplishments, just as you would if you were trying to help another succeed in their career.  Make sure your accomplishments are visible to others so that they can “Read All About It”!

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

 

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

 

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

 

Check out Cheetah PHAST – an exceptional new quarterly magazine

 

 

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17

 

 

 

 

 

REMOVING THE BARRIERS FOR SPEED

 

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM® , Co-Author

As we cruise through our career path, it can be tempting to fall into comfortable patterns and turn autopilot on as we coast from project to project. But as the world changes and projects become more complex, it is imperative to remain in the drivers seat to ensure that we are constantly removing road blocks that make our project teams falter and pause. Follow the below tips to ensure that you and your project team are moving along at Cheetah Speed.

Create Limits with Your Space and Time. Have you ever sat at your desk thinking about what you needed to do, but kept putting off the tasks at hand in favor of procrastinating? Sometimes when we are sitting in our work area we trick ourselves into thinking that we are being productive. This is because we are so close to actually being productive in our work space – we have the desk prepared, the computer is powered on, and the pen is readied. But we are fooling ourselves; productivity is not an area, it is an action.

To help rid yourself and your team of this habit, make sure that you set limits on your workspace and time. If you are sitting in your workspace and not working, it means you need to take an actual break, as you are not making yourself more productive by staring at the computer screen. Set a time limit to take a break to do whatever it is that is distracting you from work, whether that is getting lost in the world of Facebook status updates or scrolling through your Pinterest account. Then come back to your workspace with a goal in mind, and don’t take any breaks until your goal is completed. Most people find their groove when they are working towards a goal, so don’t be surprised if you don’t need a break after you have accomplished your task. By creating more boundaries for yourself within your work, you’re remove the barrier of distraction and are able to accomplish more.

Healthy Team Dynamics. While team members’ hard skills are an important aspect of any project team, it is important for the team to not lose sight of the soft skills that make working together possible. Conflict within a project team can be one of the biggest barriers to speed and can not only be frustrating but a waste of time and resources.

Growing up, we’ve all learned the Golden Rule: Treat others the way that you want to be treated. But to ensure that your project team is harmonious and successful, make sure that you are all following the Platinum Rule: Treat others how they want to be treated. The more you pay attention to how others prefer to communicate and the style of work that they prefer, the better you will be able to work in a way that maximizes their capabilities.

Take a “Funk-buster” Break. It’s three p.m. You are on your third cup of coffee and staring at your computer, but for some reason your brain won’t work, and you still have to finish your quarterly report! This condition is commonly referred to as a “funk” and happens when your body thinks it is sleeping because it hasn’t exerted any energy for a significant period of time. When you find yourself in a funk, instead of trying to push your way through it, take a break. Get up out of your chair and do some jumping jacks. Take a walk around the block. Have a small dance party for one. Stop the funk as soon as you can by getting some motion into your body to remind your brain that it needs to be on alert and ready for action.

Achieve Flow. You now have a productive project team that sets time and space boundaries, has great team dynamics, and is funk-proof. The next thing to do is to ensure that your team has the skills and motivation required to get the tasks done. For your project team to be the most efficient, each member of your team should be able to consistently achieve a state of flow while performing project tasks. Flow is a mental state where an individual is completely immersed and focused on the tasks at hand. Flow happens when there is a balance between ability level and challenge, and when there is a very clear goal.

The three biggest barriers to achieving flow are inadequate skills and/or preparation, confusion as to what the end goal is, and a lack of personal meaning in the task at hand. Make sure that your project team has the skill sets they require for their project deliverables, are able to keep their eye on the prize with clear goals, and has a personal vested interest in what it is they are doing.

Keep these tips in mind when you are safely steering your project team around barriers to speed and towards project success!

About MICHELLE LABROSSE

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton.

Check out Cheetah PHAST – a great new quarterly magazine

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17

ACCELERATED LEARNING: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM® , Co-Author

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words, “Accelerated Learning”? Perhaps you imagine a person zipping through a book at a rapid pace, soaking up every fact and concept at lightning speed. Or perhaps you think of a child genius that graduated from college at the ripe age of 12.

The fact is, the techniques of Accelerated Learning are not only for the rare few that are gifted with a special genius at birth. Accelerated Learning techniques are concepts that anyone can learn with some practice and dedication. The basic idea of Accelerated Learning is to gain the ability to make it faster, easier, and perhaps most importantly, more FUN, to learn and master new skills. There are four basic components to Accelerated Learning.

1. Awareness – Before you are aware that you don’t know something, you are unconsciously incompetent. When you gain awareness of this incompetence, you move up on the learning scale to conscious incompetence. Awareness is the first, and perhaps the most important step, to learning, because when awareness combines with purpose, the drive to learn is then established in your mind.

2. Knowledge – This is where people accumulate facts about a specific topic. Knowledge of a subject is exhibited by the ability to recall facts and to synthesize the information in the area well enough to answer test questions on the subject, and to communicate about the subject.

3. Skill – This is where people can use what they know to accomplish a specific task.

4. Mastery – This is where people can achieve consistent results with their skills. For example, think about the mastery you have achieved in driving a car. You most likely consistently produce successful results (getting to your destination) each time you drive. In his book, Outliers , Malcolm Gladwell describes the”10,000-Hour Rule” which states that the key to success and mastery in any field is to practice for approximately 10,000 hours.

While many people know that learning requires time and attention to the subject matter at hand, many people tend to forget that it is not just about how hard you study and how many terms you memorize. The key principle to Accelerated Learning is that it is a whole-mind, whole-body, and whole PERSON experience. Below are some important tips to remember to be a successful Accelerated Learner.

Feed Your Mind. It’s not always intuitive that what you put in your mouth will eventually affect your brain, but if you keep in mind the “whole-body” approach to learning, you will soon see how it is absurd to think that these two things wouldn’t be related.

The good guys in this whole body story are proteins and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates supply the brain with a steady flow of glucose, the energy that your brain needs to function optimally. Proteins digest more slowly than carbohydrates, and improve the entry of important amino acids into the brain, which are used to synthesize neurotransmitters that are critical for clear thinking.

Refined sugar and caffeine, on the other hand, are the antagonists in the whole-body story. Your brain needs an even supply of glucose to function optimally. Both of these items make your blood sugar balance go haywire, which can affect your ability to concentrate, and can ultimately affect your mood.

Stay Curious! While you’re feeding your mind, don’t forget to feed your curiosity! One of the worst things we can do as Project Managers is to call ourselves experts. As soon as we grant ourselves “expert” status, we immediately lose the spark that keeps us learning and keeps us looking for new ways to succeed. Make an effort to look at the world with beginner’s eyes.

Move to Groove. Numerous studies are showing that even mild depression can accelerate mental decline, while excessive stress over time can lead to depression. When you exercise at least 30 minutes everyday you can keep the blues at bay. If you find yourself getting down, get up and move. The more you move, the more you’ll be in your groove.

Take a Purple Break. Just as your muscles need time to recuperate after a strenuous workout, your brain also needs rest periodically to function optimally. I learned a technique called “purple breaks” from a woman whose dad started an accelerated reading company almost 50 years ago. A purple break is a 10 to 20 minute break that you take lying down with an eye mask covering your eyes. When your eyes are in total darkness, the optic nerve has a chance to relax, which in turn relaxes the whole body. During a purple break your main job is to let go of all of the worries and stress of the day and relax.

Now when you see the words, “Accelerated Learning” what comes to mind? Hopefully the image of a healthy diet, exercise, periods of pure relaxation, all interwoven within moments of intense focus on the learning objectives of the skill that you are working to master.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton.

Check out Cheetah FAST MAGAZINE a great new quarterly magazine

THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT OF PROSPERITY

 

 

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM® , Co-Author

How do you know when you are truly wealthy? Your perception of prosperity will most likely change throughout your life. At the age of 5, being prosperous is having your favorite toys within reach, being able to eat ice cream after dinner, and being allowed to stay up an extra hour later than usual. At 16, it’s the ability to drive your family’s old beat up car, by yourself! In your early 20s, you most likely felt wealthy if you could successfully pay off your student loan payments, while still having the reserves to keep a small apartment and money to hang out with friends. In your 30s, it usually means getting a nicer home for your changing needs, being able to afford a couple of nice vacations a year, and a nicer car. Your 40s is marked by how you can provide for your family’s education and your own retirement. In your 50s, it may become more about how much time you can take off and still live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. In your 60s, it’s about how far you can stretch your dollar and scale back on the need to work to support yourself while helping your children launch their own families. Prosperity viewpoints are age dependent.

As we become more established in life, the concept of wealth and prosperity morph into the next phase that we wish to achieve, so that we are ever chasing a more prosperous life. This mentality can serve us well if we take smart action to reach our next goals. Here at Cheetah we call this path to prosperity GROW – Goals, Run, Organize, and Wow.

Goals – If you are like most people, you made goals for yourself for the new year. Of these goals, how many are measurable? What is the date by which you wish to accomplish this goal? What is your specific plan to reach this goal? If you haven’t answered these questions, then your chances of accomplishing the goals you’ve set are slim. When setting goals, either new years resolutions or other, make them measurable, and make yourself accountable, in order to ensure success.

Run – Once you have made a goal, do not sit back and wait for the “perfect time” to begin your journey to that goal. The truth is, there will NEVER be a perfect time! Go ahead and dive in right away to begin making your goal a reality.

If the hesitation of running toward your goal comes from your perceived lack of skills, make getting those skills your first goal. You owe it to yourself to make sure you are equipped to tackle any goals you set.

Organize – One of the biggest reasons that people don’t reach their goals is because they lose sight of the goal due to the clutter in their lives. When you can’t clearly see the steps to take next to ultimately attain success, you can quickly get lost in the white noise of life and let your goal fall to the wayside.

Start small. Organize your office, your paperwork, your bills, and your calendar. Then go big and organize the milestones that have been accomplished to reach your goal, as well as the steps that you still need to take.

Wow – When is the last time you did something to impress no one else but yourself? Perhaps you made a very fancy meal for one, or ran a mile further than you’ve ever run before just so you knew you could do it.

Make sure the goals you are setting will be sure to WOW you. This means that you are reaching for something that is challenging for you and that by accomplishing it you are bettering yourself. If you set goals to WOW others, you may find that your stamina and dedication wane before you’ve reached your destination.

To get started on the right foot, take a look at last year, and ask yourself what accomplishments you made that really impressed you. What was the path you took to reach these goals? Once you’ve figured it out, give yourself a pat on the back, and develop a plan to enhance your goal-completing machine this coming year.

Lastly, remember that becoming prosperous is a project, just like any project you have ever undertaken. The path to prosperity requires commitment, competency, and a well-developed plan.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

 Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was

previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton.

 Check out Cheetah PHAST – a great new quarterly magazine

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17

 

REDUCE WORKPLACE “BAH HUMBUGS”

 

This year, ensure your holiday is peaceful in the workplace with these tips on reducing workplace conflict.

 

By Michelle LaBrosse PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

 The holiday season is like a magnifying glass that enlarges both the best and the worst in us. This time of year induces joy, caring, and generosity, but it can also magnify stress, anxiety, and heighten conflict at home and in the office.

 The holidays can be stressful. You’ve seen it others around you. Negative Nick is sitting alone under the mistletoe pouting at the office holiday party. Stressed out Susan is in the finance department worrying about pleasing her five kids who want the latest and greatest gadgets, but do not understand the word “recession.” Holiday stress is lurking in the workplace and can contribute to conflict this time of year.

 The good news is that holiday bliss is in your control. This year, ensure your holiday is peaceful in the workplace with these tips on reducing workplace conflict.

 Align Goals. Let’s say you’re decorating your house for the holiday. While you are going for fun and gaudy, your significant other is shooting for classy and elegant. As you begin the decoration process, you find that you keep butting heads on every front. What happened?

 When initiating any project, it is important for your entire project team to understand and agree on the end goal. Before kicking off a project, get your project team together to create a high-level project agreement to develop a general outline of who is going to do what, when, and what goal you are aiming to accomplish.

 Set Boundaries. You are throwing a holiday party and have invited only close friends and family. Your younger brother, who is still in college, invited all of his frat friends. The frat came to the party, ate all the food, drank all the alcohol, and stayed until two in the morning. Who’s at fault here?

 When planning a party, you need to set boundaries on what is expected of the guest (arrival and departure times), what is appropriate (bring one guest), and how each person can contribute (bring either an appetizer or a bottle of wine). The same goes for your project team at work. Define boundaries in your project team: when meetings should start and end, how you will conduct the meetings, and what everyone can contribute. When you set boundaries preemptively, you can avoid conflicts.

 Manage Expectations. During your holiday office party, you are playing a white elephant Christmas game where everyone contributes a present to the game. Some people brought gag gifts worth $5, while others spend a lot of money on really nice presents. The result? Angry stilted partygoers.

 The biggest reason for disappointment is due to expectations that fall short of reality. To reduce conflict at work, make sure you understand what other people expect from you and from the situation, and manage those expectations to result in a positive outcome.

 Get Buy-In! You’ve decided that this year, instead of getting presents for your kids, you are going to donate money to a charity in their name. Christmas morning arrives, your sleepy-eyed munchkins come bounding downstairs, sprinting towards the tree to tear apart . . . an envelope.

 People are generally not happy when changes are made without their input or buy-in. People only change when they have bought into why the change is worth it and understand why the change is a good thing. Before making drastic changes to a standardized process (like presents under the Christmas tree), focus on getting buy-in from key stakeholders.

 Make Faces. The reason that is so difficult to remain in a foul mood during the holidays is because of the looks on people’s faces. From sentimental holiday TV movies to family members excitement to be reunited with loved ones. Happiness is truly contagious.

 According to the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, your facial expressions precede your emotions. People also tend to mimic the facial expressions of others around them. Therefore, if you want to boost someone’s mood, try smiling at him or her and see what happens. Most likely they will return your grin, which will put a damper on their chagrin. At your place of work, focus on what facial expressions you’re making. It may have a bigger impact on the interactions you have with others than you think.

 So, bring it on, holiday season! Project managers are ready with open arms and smiling faces. Bah humbugs are not invited.

 ABOUT MICHELLE LABROSSE

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world. Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

 Check out Cheetah PHAST – a great new quarterly magazine:

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17

 

 

HERE’S TO YOUR (AND YOUR PROJECT’S) HEALTH

 

 

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, Co-Author, CAPM®

It is a basic concept, but it is something that many of us have forgotten how to achieve in our ever-busier lives. It is a frame of mind that can be all too quickly brushed aside in the name of efficiency, career advancement, or other obligations. What is this illusive concept that I am referring to? WELLNESS!

Wellness has been on the backburner for many professionals striving to make

careers for themselves in their chosen profession. These people may have been under the notion that in order to be the best they had to give up their personal needs. Things like rest, exercise, and time with family and friends were thrown by the wayside in order to reap the benefits of hard work in a career. Finally, there is a new wave of individuals who are challenging this way of life and are claiming their rights to wellness.

I recently received an email from Mike Lamitola, PMP®. Mike wrote to me in

appreciation of Cheetah’s article, published in the Cheetah PHAST Magazine

(www.cheetahphast.com), entitled “Wellness Buddies.” Here is part of what Mike had to say: “I went through the Cheetah Exam Prep course with Jeff Allen and was so impressed that Cheetah used nutrition and basic yoga/breathing exercises to help increase alertness and mental clarity. After 12 years working in the construction industry and living the business professional life I’ve had some eye opening experiences and have seen some serious struggles with fellow coworkers. I became such a huge advocate for health and wellness that I decided it was time to move in a new direction that was calling me.”

Mike’s new direction was to enter the wellness profession as a Health Coach/Nutrition Counselor through a company that he and his wife started called “Welcome to Wellness!” (welcometowellnessnow.com). In his website, Mike says: ”Life is a series of projects. Some big, some small and some all happening at the same time. We need to make time within these projects to focus on our well being.”

So, how do you make time to maintain your health to ensure that you are successful in all of your endeavors, including being the best project manager you can be? The good news is that a lot of the same ideals that are followed to maintain optimum health can be translated to project success. Follow the tips below to achieve ultimate health, for you and your projects.

Plan for Longevity. How many of you start a project, planning on failure? If you do that, you will be out of a job quicker than you can say “negative Nick.” Likewise, when you begin a wellness plan, you need to think about the future you, 10 years down the road, and have positive expectancy. What activities and habits can you form today that will benefit your wellbeing? What activities can you eliminate that will ultimately cause harm? In order to enhance the quality of your life, realize that every day counts toward your wellness goals, and set up your day-to-day actions with the mindset of achieving a lifetime of healthy living.

While projects are usually shorter than a lifetime, the same philosophy applies. While working on your project day-in and day-out, keep your end goal in mind. Don’t let daily hiccups deter you from your project’s end goal. When you plan for longevity you give yourself, and your projects, a life force that can pull you, and your projects, through hard times.

Live in the Moment. Being present with our surrounding and ourselves is easier said than done. When there is all that noise running through your mind, you may find yourself saying, “Excuse me, what did you say?” far too often. An important part of your wellness is to be present in each and every moment, because the past events and future possibilities are inconsequential compared to what is happening in the here and now.

This practice can be greatly beneficial to the projects you work on as well. Instead of getting lost in the anxiety that can comes with worrying about what might go wrong in the project tomorrow, or how stupid that mistake was that you made yesterday, focus on the task at hand and what needs to get done today. By being fully present in your project tasks, you are better able to perform them correctly with clarity and confidence.

Stakeholder Buy-In. As a project manager, you are the master of communicating with stakeholders and ensuring the project you are working on is meeting the needs of the various stakeholders in order to get their buy-in. Use these same skills in your wellness project, and treat yourself as the primary stakeholder. Analyze what your needs and wants are to maintain your wellness goal, and recognize other stakeholders that might be involved with you achieving wellness. For example, your stakeholder might be your significant other, and the buy-in might be to cook dinner every other night so that you can work out after you get home from work. When you get buy-in from all stakeholders, you have set up their expectations of you appropriately, and are more likely to achieve your wellness goals.

Celebrate Progressive Achievements. When you have achieved a wellness goalcelebrate! After all, you worked hard for it, and will be more motivated to achieve greater states of wellness if you take the time to acknowledge your efforts and awesomeness. This is also true for your project team. When your team members, either individually or as a group, accomplish a major project milestone, don’t let it go by unnoticed. Celebrating intermittent achievements fuels the fire for the entire project.

After you read this article, take a moment to evaluate your own wellness goals and how you are achieving them. If you are not where you want to be in terms of wellness, find out what the specific barriers are that are keeping you from getting there. You are, after all, a resourceful project manager that procures resources when needed, manages and communicates with important stakeholders, and brings a project from start to successful finish. Use your skills today for the biggest project of your life: your wellness project.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning

techniques. Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world. Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and Web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by more than 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton.

 

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