SEVEN STRATEGIES TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER WITH PROJECT MANAGEMENT / “THE CHEETAH KNOW HOW” SERIES

Guest Writers:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning,

and Kristen Medina, CAPM®, Co-Author

© ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI,  CRACKS, LACER/ACTIONS PROJECT

© ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI, CRACKS, LACER/ACTIONS PROJECT

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MANAGE YOUR STAKEHOLDERS, MANAGE YOUR LIFE / THE “CHEETAH KNOW HOW” SERIES

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

Everyone reading this is a capable, smart, and skilled project manager, who is proud of managing the key stakeholder in each project with professionalism and finesse.  Do you bring this same care to managing the stakeholder in your personal life? Can you imagine how much smoother things would be if you did? Who are the important stakeholders in the project called “life”? Take a moment to think about that, as this is an important question.

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI - LACER/ACTIONS - IMAGES OF TORN AND DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTERS - 2010

As the holidays approach, we can become more hypersensitive to how miscommunication and familial strife can affect our day-to-day life. And when we boil it down, it’s all about stakeholder mismanagement. Below are some of the most common pitfalls we have when managing stakeholders, in either our personal or professional lives.

Incorrectly identifying who your stakeholders are. You are planning a dinner with friends to celebrate over the holiday. You have a good idea of what your friends like and what they don’t, and have catered the menu with consideration for even your most allergy-ridden acquaintance. Your friends show up with their children, and the festivities begin—but no one told you that 6-year-old Pesky Pete was the world’s pickiest eater ever. As his temper tantrum begins to take over the room, your embarrassed friends politely excuse themselves and leave the party.

I like to call this a hidden stakeholder. This is someone who has genuine power, but is hidden behind another stakeholder who has less practical power. When you are managing a project, at work or at home, don’t stop at the surface when identifying key stakeholders who can make or break your project. There are Pesky Petes everywhere.

Communicating in a method other than what they prefer. You are organizing a holiday party, and have sent everyone a Facebook invite with instructions on what to bring, when to come, and the dress code. The problem is that a third of your prospective attendees are not on Facebook.

Before you spend a ton of energy on preparing information in an attempt to communicate to your key stakeholder, take a step back. Do you know the medium of communication that they prefer? How often do they prefer communication: daily, weekly, monthly? Do they prefer visual representations of the information, or essay format?  When you utilize the medium and style of communication that your stakeholders prefer, you will not squander efficiency through a loss of communication.

Not communicating expectations properly.  You and your loved one are exchanging presents for the holiday. You have put a lot of time and thought into your gift—an engraved golf club set that cost you a fortune. They, the thoughtful ingrates they are, gave you cleaning supplies. In their defense, “Didn’t you need a new mop?”

Unmet expectations are the culprit of many disastrous events. And we only have ourselves to blame.  To set yourself, and your stakeholders, up for success, you need to clearly communicate your expectations, and make sure you have a clear understanding of theirs.

Not getting buy-in from key stakeholders.  It has come to the day of your holiday party, and you are running around like crazy getting ready. Your kids are hiding, but you know they are underfoot as you keep finding their messes. Your spouse is out running personal errands because they forgot about the party. And you are going CRAZY.

When you are working on a project, you need to rally members of your support group and get their buy-in to help you succeed. You can do this by making these stakeholders part of the decision-making process—would they like to invite friends to the party? What do they want to contribute to the menu? When you engage the stakeholders who are there to support you, you will be less stressed and more successful.

This holiday season, remember to treat the people who are most important to you as key stakeholders in the “Project of Life.”  Happy planning, and Happy Holidays!

***

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 50,000 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.

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. 

REINVIGORATE YOUR LIFE / THE “CHEETAH KNOW HOW” SERIES

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI LACER/ACTIONS ART – LITHOGRAPH, 50X70, FRAMED, 2008

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

The definition of reinvigorate is: To put vitality and vigor back into someone or something.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Where exactly do you find this extra vitality and vigor? How do you determine that someone or something is lacking said vitality and vigor? And what is the process to insert vitality and vigor into that someone or something?

If that something is your life and the projects that make up your life, Cheetah Learning is here to help.

Reevaluate. Do you have a project in your life that has more parts lackluster than vigor? The first step is, don’t beat yourself up about it. There might be a reason that you have lost your motivation around this particular endeavor. Find out the “why” of doing the project and ascertain if you still have the same motivations and passions to complete it. If you don’t, then allow yourself to toss the project and do something that better fits who you are today. 

Re-tool. How do you feel when you don’t have the tools you need to accomplish a task? Perhaps the complete opposite of invigorated? That is how your project team will feel if they have a clearly defined task and deliverables, but don’t have the tools to reach their objective.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find out if there is a capability problem on your project team, as your team members with the issue may not even know that they have a problem. The solution may be advanced technology, further education on the domain subject, or training on systems and procedures. Once the person has the tools they need, they will have a clear path to their objective and be reinvigorated about their part in the project.

Regroup. Have you every felt like you or your project team was losing momentum on a project, and it was hard to pinpoint why? Come back to the project agreement that you created at the beginning, and remember the overarching goal that dictates your day-to-day activities.  It’s also important to acknowledge how your project goals fit in with the strategic direction of your organization. When your project team knows the purpose behind their actions, they will be able to have passion and conviction about the project as a whole.

Reapply the basics. As we get into the depths of a project, sometimes we can forget to do basic project management practices. What is interesting is that it is often the most experienced project managers that fall to in the trap of slacking on basic project management techniques. As you gain more experience, it can be easy to think that you are “too good” for the basics. The fact is that as projects get bigger and more complex, it is imperative that we stick to basic good project management practices, such as getting stakeholder buy-in and documenting lessons learned, in order to keep the project on track and on task. Reinvigorate your project when you get back to the basics that made you a great PM in the first place.

Repeat. Henry Adams once said, “Chaos breeds life, while order breeds habit.”  It is natural for a project to become unorganized and for team members to lose their motivation. It requires the influx of energy to create order out of chaos, and to create an invigorated project team. Make a point to shake up your project team periodically with the tips mentioned above to provide an influx of vigor and vitality into the projects in your life.

Have a fantastic and invigorating day!

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 50,000 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.

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. 

“THE FASTEST WAY TO SUCCEED IS HELPING OTHER SUCCEED”: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE LABROSSE, FOUNDER OF CHEETAH LEARNING

Interview by Roberto Alborghetti

 

Every month I’m very glad and proud to post Michelle LaBrosse articles. They always rise interest and attention (and a lot of readers!) Michelle LaBrosse 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 ( Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world).

She’s an indefatigable woman who brings us passion, enthusiasm, motivations and a deep knowledge of human behaviours and relationships. I have been moved by the idea to ask ker for an interview… Said and done. This is my interview with Michelle LaBrosse. It’s really a great honour for me. I thank so much Cheetah Learning’s Founder for her kind and generous collaboration.

* * *       

  • – Michelle, your articles that I post at my blogs always receive lot of consents and warm attention. According to you, why your writings raise such a well deserved interest?

That is a great question, and thank you for that compliment! When writing articles, I write them for the everyday professional who is interesting in learning how to reach their goals fast. My background, and that Cheetah Learning, is in Project Management and Accelerated Learning. In the articles I write I want to make it very clear that you don’t have to be a “Project Manager” to do good projects, but that everyone can benefit from learning basic project management skills.  The truth is, the better we are at managing project, the better we can be in every area of our life. I don’t exclude anyone when considering the audience that I am writing to, and I think that is why people pay attention to these articles. 

You have created and founded a great experience – and a great human, professional and educational reality – through Cheetah Learning and Project Management. When and how have you felt the first intuitions and inspiration to plan them ? Have you moved by personal and particular reasons or aims? 

I have always had a passion for learning. When I was an engineer at Boeing, part of my job was to teach people how to win government contracts. I was so bored with the regular form of teaching (which was really just a practice in keeping your eyes open) that I developed a new fun approach of training that actually worked. This love for teaching and learning tranlated into everything I did. I became interested in Project Management because I saw how it was so important for organization to have professional managed projects to ensure that projects were completed on time and within budget. When I combined both passions, Accelerated Learning and Project Management, out popped Cheetah Learning.

Which are your main inspiration fonts when you create a text, a new activity or new educational tools? Daylife? All what is surrounding you? The human behaviours?

I think it is a combination of all those things you mentioned. I think its important to listen to your customers and people who are in the industry to get a beat on what it is that people want to learn about. I also use my own life as a sandbox to test out different ideas I have, and I like to share those results with others to perhaps save theme time or learn from my success stories as well as my mistakes.

According to you, and your experience in accelerated learning, what human beings need more to improve their life?    

I think one of the biggest barriers that people have to achieving their dreams is often their own belief system. If you think that you can’t accomplish something, you will prove yourself right again and again. When you become good at project management, and at consistenly achieving your goals, your belief system with envitiably change to that of one that speaks to success and competency. 

From your point of view, which is the most important problem that today is altering human relationships?   

I think that many people today have a backward view of the path to success. If you are going about your professional career with only yourself in mind, you will fail. The fastest way to succeed is in helping other succeed. So to answer you question, one of the biggest problems today that is altering human relationships is the “every man for himself” mentality. We are all connected and we need to help eachother succeed if we want to succeed.

Michelle, are you working on new activities? Are you planning further steps for the development of your Company and Institute?        

Yes – always! The newest project that we are working on is our Agile Exam Prep Course (called Cheetah’s Exam Prep for the PMI-ACPsm Exam). This has been an exciting time to launch this course as Agile is becoming more and more important in the Project Management Industry, and is a methodology and practice that I really believe in as it focuses on people over processes, collaboration over contracts, and responding to changes over following a plan. I see Agile as a very practical application for PMs, so it is exciting to be apart of this movement.

I operate in art… I wonder if in the future Michelle is going to point out some reflexion, or planning some programs, about art and how to support art expression and education…

I am a big believer that art is highly integrated with Accelerated Learning. If you’ve every seen a memory map, it looks like a piece of art, with supporting ideas branching off main ideas. Now Art and accelerated learning are similar in that it is the act of creation, not consumption. You create art, and you create learning moments.

–  Michelle, I’m sure that you have dreams… Which is the first one you’d like to make true?   

Great question! One of my biggest dreams is to help the entire world realize their potential when it comes to taking control of their life and reaching their goals. The whole world you ask? YES! This is my dream and you didn’t say it had to be practical. If everyone in the world changed their belief system to one that was positive and geared towards success, the world would truly be a better place. And project management is the path to get us there. Thank you Roberto for your time, it was a pleasure!

* * *

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 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. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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