Important Lessons Learned from a Training Project

Monday through Friday, I trained a group of twenty-three professionals, how to pass the difficult Project Management Professional certification exam. Kathy traveled with me. While I trained, she worked on various craft projects.

Sunday: Traveling to Fort Mill

Our trip on Sunday from Portland to Fort Mill, South Carolina was uneventful...until the last step. We flew from Portland to Chicago O’Hare airport. We changed planes and flew on to Charlotte, North Carolina, where we rented a car.

I put the address of the Hampton Inn in Fort Mill into Google Maps on my phone. It gave us turn-by-turn directions, by voice. Everything was working fine. We navigated two freeways, crossed into South Carolina, and continued to Fort Mill.

The very last direction didn’t seem to work. We found ourselves on a two-lane road with a Lowe’s hardware store on the left side, and a line of restaurants on the right.

But there was no Hampton Inn.

On my phone, I looked up the Hampton Inn Fort Mill, and called the number that was listed. I said, “I’m in front of Lowe’s. Where are you?”  The Hampton Inn representative replied, “What is your reservation number?” I didn’t have it. I repeated, “I just need directions.” She replied, “What is  your reservation number, please?” That’s when I realized I was talking with a lady in a call center in India. She was doing precisely what she had been trained to do. Finally, she connected me with Caleb in the lobby of the Fort Mill Hampton Inn. Caleb said, “Keep driving down that road. There’s no sign, but when you get to the end of the road, veer left. We’re kind of behind Lowe’s, on the right.”

We arrived within a minute. We sampled the chocolate chip cookies, and we even received a Hilton Honors Club Member goodie bag.

The rest of the week ran smoothly. The Hampton Inn staff was great. The Hampton Inn’s breakfast buffet got my motor running each day. I made a new friend there.

Friday: Traveling Home, Part 1 - The Great Credit Card Adventure

I took special pains to avoid losing my laptop computer, like I did last year when I left my Microsoft Surface Pro laptop in the rental car. Kathy and I even pointed to my new laptop and said, “Got it.”

At the ticket counter, I reached into my wallet for my driver’s license and my Chase Visa Business Card. I found my driver’s license, but my Visa was missing. The last time I used it was in the drive-up line at Chick-fil-a. I placed it in the visor of the rental car. I forgot to retrieve it.

I knew I had to cancel my card immediately. After checking our bags, I sat on the floor of the terminal. I opened my laptop and logged into my Chase account, looking for the Chase customer service phone number. I called the 800 number. A recorded voice said, “To continue, please enter your card number.” I loudly answered, “I don’t know the number. I lost the card.” That didn’t seem to make the automated call direction system happy. Next, it asked, “Enter your security code from the back of the card.” I responded, “I don’t have it. I lost the card. What’s wrong with you?” After several attempts, the automated system finally gave up and said, “I’m connecting you with an agent.” I thought my problems were over. The next automated voice asked me if I wanted to talk about my debit card or my credit card. I said, “Credit card.”

The automated system connected me with the Chase debit card department instead. When the live debit card agent realized I wanted to report a lost credit card, she said, “That’s not my department. Please hold while I transfer you.”

The next thing I heard was a recording saying, “Please enter your card number.” I started pressing the zero button and slowly saying, “Cust-o-mer-Ser-vice.”

After several minutes of this torture, I reached a Chase credit card customer service agent who canceled my credit card and ordered a new one within one minute.

But That’s Not All

As I was sitting on the floor, putting everything into my wallet, I couldn’t find my driver’s license. I would need it to get through the TSA security line. Kathy and I scoured my wallet, my laptop case, her travel case and her purse. My license was nowhere to be found. I began considering alternate ways to get home, such as Amtrak or a rental car. Then, Kathy picked up her travel bag. There it was! My driver’s license was on the floor, beneath her bag. Another problem solved.

Traveling Home, Part 2 – The Long Way Home

Our trip home was supposed to be from Charlotte to Dallas, and from Dallas to Portland. When it was almost time to board, the agent picked up the public address microphone. He announced that he was very sorry, but Hurricane Dorian had caused severe winds and rain over the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The airport was closed. Therefore, our flight is cancelled. The gate agent directed us to the American Airlines customer service desk, which was several hundred feet down the concourse.

I grabbed Kathy’s hand and said, “Let’s go!” I’ve never seen her walk/run that fast. Imagine a mob of 189 passengers rushing down the concourse. It looked like the annual Black Friday sale at the mall.

When we arrived at the customer service counter, we were ninth and tenth in line. Behind us were 179 not-so-happy travelers. There were only three agents, working feverishly.

When it was our turn, a nice agent named Phyllis helped us. I asked if we could get onto the 8 PM direct flight to Portland. I had chosen an earlier flight home, the one that connected through Dallas. Phyllis said, “You can try, but it’s full, with a very long standby list.” She routed us through Phoenix, and on to Portland. Then she said, “Everyone seems to be booking the flight to Phoenix. It is now oversold.”

Phyllis said our best option was stay overnight in Charlotte, and fly our original route home tomorrow, when the weather in Dallas would be better. I replied that we need to get home tonight. I asked if she could get us to Seattle. She said American Airlines didn’t have a connecting flight to Portland that late. I said it was OK. Another airline has several flights each day from Seattle to Portland. If necessary, we would use one of their flights or a rental car to get to Portland.

Phyllis canceled our original flights through Dallas, and booked us to Seattle. As far as American Airlines was concerned, Seattle was our final destination.

We received our new boarding passes. We had an uneventful flight to Seattle.

The American Airlines app on my phone went crazy. Over the next few hours, it sent the following text messages and app updates:

·         Your flight to Portland has been canceled.

·         You are scheduled to fly to Phoenix and on to Portland.

·         You are scheduled to fly to Dallas and on to Portland, tomorrow.

·         You are scheduled to fly to Seattle, tonight.

·         Zero out of two bags made it to Portland.

·         Zero out of two bags made it to Seattle.

·         Your bags are on their way to Seattle. Click here to arrange delivery within four hours of their arrival.

Traveling Home, Part 3 - Seattle

Clearing TSA. Again.

When we arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, we got tickets for the last flight of the day to Portland. We had to clear TSA once again. For some reason, “TSA PreCheck” was not printed on our boarding passes. That meant we had to remove shoes, belts, keys, etc. and put them on the conveyor.

After we cleared TSA, we put our shoes back on and headed for the gate. We heard a voice behind us. A young lady was addressing Kathy. “Excuse me, but I think you’re wearing my shoes.” In the chaos at the far end of the TSA conveyor belt, there were two almost-identical pairs of black Nike shoes. Kathy had grabbed the wrong pair. We walked back to TSA, made the exchange, and made the world right once again. As we walked away, Kathy said, “I thought those laces seemed different.”

Time to Go Home

We began boarding the flight for Portland at 11:45 PM. By the time we were all seated and buckled in, it was 12:15 AM. The captain came on the plane’s public-address system. “I’m sorry, folks but we can’t take this plane to Portland. There was a minor maintenance issue that was entered into the aircraft log on Friday. It would have allowed us to fly…on Friday. Now it’s Saturday. On the second day after a write-up of this type is entered, the plane must be repaired and the issue must be cleared from the aircraft log before this plane can fly again. Please de-plane, and take your carry-on bags with you. We’ll announce your new departure gate soon.”

We reached Portland around 2:00 AM. Since we had no bags, all we had to do was walk out to the car and drive home.

A little before 3 AM, Kathy and I thought we would sit in our recliners and watch a little TV before we went up to bed.

We woke up in the recliners around 7 AM, wearing clothes we put on the previous morning in South Carolina.

 

Re-uniting with our Luggage

I called the 800 number for the American Airlines baggage department. I thought I would be arranging shipment of our bags from Seattle to Portland. Instead, the agent said, “Oh, yes. Your bags are in Portland. They arrived at 11:15 last night.”

Our bags beat us to Portland by almost three hours. Go figure.

I drove to the Portland airport. I showed the baggage agent some of my many emails and texts. He was cheerful and extremely accommodating. (I wish I had gotten his name, so I could write a commendation letter about him to American Airlines headquarters.) He punched a few keys, smiled and said, “Let’s go get your bags.”

Lessons Learned

1.       Always travel with your medication. Never leave it in a checked suitcase.

2.       Use direct flights, when possible.

3.       Keep records of everything during the flight.

4.       Don’t get stressed when things don’t go right.

5.       After you clear TSA, put on your shoes, not someone else’s.

6.       Look for the gems, like Phyllis in Charlotte and the baggage agent in Portland.

 

Politics, Religion and Project Methodologies: 3 Ways to Have an Argument

Methodologies Compared

Everyone has their favorite project management methodology. Some people are so impressed by their methodology that they are offended when another methodology is discussed. It’s a lot like discussing politics or religion.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

All project management methodologies are supposed to lead to the same outcome: the right product or service, at the right price, in the right time frame.

There are many project management methodologies. Some are very popular. Many are not. They all fall into a flavor of one of these methodologies:

Behind Door #1: Sequential, Top-Down, Waterfall Project Management

It reminds me of the Book of Genesis, describing how God created the heaven and the earth in six days, one step at a time. That’s sequential. That’s top-down. That’s waterfall.

When you build a step-by-step plan, and you follow those steps, you are practicing top-down, waterfall project management.

The original top-down projects left no room for surprises. Life is full of surprises. Project managers began looking for ways to manage those surprises.

Behind Door #2: Agile

Here’s the secret about Agile Project Management. its primary purpose is to manage the unknowns of a traditional project. Agile means that you’ll jump out of a traditional sequence to manage an error before it derails your project.

Agile uses Progressive Elaboration to help manage unknowns. Think of driving your car down the road into a fog bank. As you first enter the fog bank, you know very little about the road conditions at the far end of the fog bank. Your decision-making is hampered by the fog. As you drive further into the fog bank, you can begin to see the end of the road more clearly. By the time you reach the end, you can see everything clearly.

Contrary to popular myths, there can be no 100% Agile project. Agile attempts to manage the unknowns in your project. That can only happen if your project began from a Project Charter that described the Deliverable, its Due Date and its Accountable Person: you as the project manager. The Charter is a top-down project management tool.

Beware of the Agile practitioner who says, “I’ll deliver what I want, when I want, for whatever it costs.” That’s not Agile project management; that’s chaos.

Agile processes start out by following a sequence of steps towards a checkpoint, a milestone. If the planned conditions are met, the Agile project acts like a top-down project as it continues sequentially to the next checkpoint. Doesn’t that sound like top-down to you?

If something is incorrect at any checkpoint, Agile jumps backwards to fix the problem and work its way back up to that milestone. It’s “two steps forward, and one step back.” If everything is OK the second time around, then the Agile project continues sequentially to the next checkpoint.

Agile is a good tool to manage unknowns, but

Behind Door #3: Scrum

Like Agile, Scrum has a single focus: how to resolve newly-discovered problems, so the project can stay on track.

Scrum is a rugby term. It is a method of re-starting play where members of both teams huddle with their heads down, and try to push towards their respective goals.

A scrum meeting is a brief, stand-up meeting that occurs each morning. One at a time, each team member reports on three topics:

  1. What they did yesterday

  2. What they plan to accomplish today

  3. What roadblocks are in their way

The scrum master focuses only on the third point: overcoming roadblocks so all team members can continue at full speed.

Scrum isn’t a complete project management methodology. It is an effective roadblock-remover that can be a tool in Traditional or Agile projects.

When You Combine the Best of Each, You Get Door #4: Hybrid Project Management

When you take the best tools from each project management methodology, your combination is called Hybrid Project Management. Hybrid is the new kid on the block. It’s the best, because it combines the best features from each project management methodologies.

There’s something for everyone with hybrid project management. As far as the proponents of each methodology are concerned, nobody gets everything, but everybody gets something. More importantly, the customer gets what they want, on time, within budget. Isn’t that what we all desire?

New PMP® Boot Camps Announced

A new class schedule has been posted at my PMPforYOU website. 

Are you looking for a project management position? 80% of the project management positions around the world, now require the PMP (Project Management Professional) credential. 

Don't settle for Ferris Bueller's teacher, a talking head who will read the slides to you in a monotone. Step up to a dynamic, easy-to-learn program:

  • Online lessons; your location, your time
  • Printed student kits
  • Live, dynamic classroom presentations, discussions and exercises

Earn your PMP, with the help of my PMP boot camp.

A Veterans Day Message About Hope

One of my bucket-list goals is to sing the National Anthem at a Portland Trailblazers game. That probably won't happen. Everyone I know can sing better than me. In the mean time, I will continue to work on it.

I'm proud of the four years I spent in the U.S. Air Force, including a tour at Udorn, Thailand at the height of the Vietnam War. 

When I sing the National Anthem, I treat it as a love song to America. When you hear our National Anthem at an event, look around at the faces of those who are standing. Watch their expressions as it sinks in. This is America. This is us. Our Canadian neighbors feel the same way when they hear and sing the Canadian National Anthem.

We are America's hope for the future. Let us always be worthy of the gift we have been given, by keeping the American Dream alive. 

Happy Veterans Day.

Mike

Cyber Monday Sale

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Two Things Humans Like

Here are two facts of how humans operate:

  1. Everyone sells, regardless of your occupation.
  2. Everyone loves a good story. 

If you're the salesperson with the best story, you have the greatest chance of closing the sale. My new mobile course shows you the way.

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How to Take Home a Bigger Paycheck

Everyone sells.

Everyone loves a good story.

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When you tell the right story, you can attract the attention of more buyers. You can motivate more of them to take action...to buy from you. 

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How to Become a Better Sales Manager

The better you manage your sales team, the more money everyone makes. Their success is your success.

Problem

You know you can do better. You aren't sure how increase your performance, so you can help your sales team members increase their performance. 

Solution

If you had a better structure to your sales management activities, you could be a better leader. You need the structure of Sales Project Management. Here are some of the ways your performance will improve immediately:

  • A common frame of reference: you and your sales reps are following the structure of your sales project.
  • More effective coaching, referencing the structure of goals, milestones and activities.
  • More opportunities for servant leadership, where you help each team member draw deep into their soul, to deliver the best work of their career.

Learn the basics of Sales Projects in my free intro course.

Project Management Training for Sales Reps - How to Make More Money

Problem

As a sales professional, you have three objectives:

  • Close more sales
  • Earn more money
  • Spend more free time with family, friends, sports and hobbies

You are always looking for an edge, a way to achieve more of the three objectives shown above.

The answer is the structure and discipline of project management. When you apply it, it's a liberating experience!

Solution

You need the proper training to apply the structure of project management to the sales profession. Your trainer must have these credentials:

  • Experienced sales rep and sales manager
  • Internationally-certified Project Management Professional
  • Successful trainer 

For a sample, try my free sales projects intro course.

How to Close Your Sales Project and Save Your Best Ideas for the Future

Closing is the natural evolution of your sales project. 

  1. Initiating: you received your sales project's Charter, giving you the basic information you needed, plus written permission, to begin your project.
  2. Planning: you spent the time necessary to create a workable sales project plan. Your plan included the Scope of work, the Time required for all activities, and the Cost of your project.
  3. Executing: you followed the roadmap of your sales project plan.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: you performing auditing and adjusting, to keep your sales project on track.
  5. Closing: formally end your sales project.

Sign up for my free Sales Projects intro course. Learn the basics of the system that will add more money, opportunities and free time to your career.

How to Keep Your Sales Project on Track, for Greater Sales

Even with the best plan and flawless execution, your sales project may slip off course. When that happens, you must do three things:

  1. Detect the problem.
  2. Make course corrections immediately.
  3. Check to see that your corrections worked.

That's what sales project monitoring and controlling is about. Think of it as "auditing and adjusting," to help ensure your success. 

Free Sales Projects Course

Learn the basics of sales projects in my free mobile course. Sign up at the bottom the "Sales Project Management" Page.

How to Execute Your Sales Project, for Greater Sales and a Bigger Paycheck

You started with a clear charter for sales project. You made a great plan for your project. Now it's time to execute. 

How to Achieve Your Corporate Goals without a Project Manager on Staff

Problem

Kirk had a major infrastructure project to plan, execute and complete. None of his employees are project managers. He has no intention of hiring a project manager as a W-2 employee. Yet, the project must be completed on time and within budget.

Solution

Kirk hired me for a short-term engagement. I completed the project to his satisfaction. I performed my work according to the principles of project management. 

What About You?

Do you have an short-term initiative which requires a project manager? If so, perhaps I can help.

How to Plan Your Sales Project, to Make More Money and Go Home Earlier

If you do not plan, you let other people and "things" interrupt you enough that you don't accomplish much each day. 

Sales Project Management gives you the freedom to achieve! Here's how to plan your sales project:

If this vlog post helped you, don't forget to Like it.

How to Initiate a Sales Project, and Why It Matters

Every project needs a starting point. Your sales project is no exception. Here's how to start yours.

Learn more. Sign up for my free introduction to Sales Projects. You'll find the sign up form at the bottom of the Sales Projects Page:

Sales Productivity Matters - How to Take Yours Up a Notch

"Sales productivity" is defined as all the things you can do to close more sales, sooner:

  • Better prospecting
  • Better qualifying
  • Better need-finding
  • Better presentations
  • Better ways to address objections
  • Better closing/higher closing rate
  • Reducing the time to close

When you operate in chaos, each of these elements is harder.

When you operate with a structure, every element is easier, faster and more fun.

When you operate with a structure, your paycheck is bigger.

When you operate with a structure, you have more time for you, your friends and your family.

Sign up for my free sales projects course. Learn the fundamentals of the system that will set  you free!