PM-Mastery

From Trello to AI Unlocking the Next Level in Project Management Effectiveness

January 17, 2024 Season 1 Episode 48
PM-Mastery
From Trello to AI Unlocking the Next Level in Project Management Effectiveness
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the full potential of your project management career with the wisdom of Elaine Jackson, a luminary in the field with a history at Digital Compact HP. In our conversation, Elaine takes us through her pivot from pre-med to project management and champions the necessity of continual learning in an AI-driven world. She demonstrates how upgrading your skill set is more than career insurance; it's a gateway to financial elevation. With her, we traverse the landscape of modern project management education, where technology summits and mastermind groups become the arenas for sharpening one's expertise.

Discover the cutting-edge tool revolutionizing the way we approach project management training: the PM simulator. Elaine discusses its features, designed to provide hands-on experience without the stakes, charting your decision-making process and spotlighting areas for improvement. We also navigate the updates to the PMP exam, emphasizing the importance of situational understanding over rote memorization. Our dialogue veers into the rich tapestry of project management tools – from the visual organization of Trello to the seamless integration of MindView – showcasing how these resources can streamline efficiency and bolster productivity in any project.

As we wrap up our episode, the conversation shifts to the role of AI in project management's future, not as a looming threat but as a partner in progress. We stress the vitality of learning AI to remain indispensable in tomorrow's job market. Lastly, for those facing the rigors of certification exams, we share proven test-taking strategies that can turn anxiety into triumph. With Elaine's insights and our shared anecdotes, this episode is a treasure trove of knowledge, ready to propel you to the next level of your project management journey. Join us and arm yourself with the strategies that will redefine your career trajectory.


Favorite Tool(s):

Trello - https://trello.com/

MindView - https://www.matchware.com/mind-mapping-software

 

Links:

https://calendly.com/elainejackson999hpmc/30min

Additional Resources: 

PMI Talent Triangle: Technical /Ways of Working - Leadership/Power Skills - Strategy/Business Acumen (Learn More

Intro/Outro:

Welcome to the PM Mastery podcast. This podcast is all about helping you master your project management skills by sharing tips, tricks, tools and training to get you to the next level, while sharing the stories of other project managers on their journey in project management. Now here's your host, Walt Sparling.

Walt Sparling:

Welcome everybody to the current edition of PM Mastery. Today I have with me Elaine Jackson. Welcome, Elaine.

Elaine Jackson:

Thank you so much for having me, Walt.

Walt Sparling:

Glad to have you on. We're going to go through some standard questions and learn a little bit about you and what you do and we'll branch off into some future things that you might be involved in and opportunities to network some more. So first of all, let's get a little information on who you are as an individual.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, well, I live in Massachusetts. I am a project manager, started out with digital compact HP for those of you, for those who are listening to this that are old school, they might remember digital. And towards the end of my time working for HP, I realized I had to get that certification because I was helping so many other project managers pass their PMP. I was like the internal coach to help in the senior project managers that needed to hold on to their jobs. So I said you know what? Let me use this as a learning opportunity also to see where they have problems. Why are they not studying? And I started using some of those project managers almost like test subjects and I started to realize there's an opportunity here to help people really advance their career. Prior to me getting into project management, I was supposed to go to medical school. I didn't do that, and recently I ran into some challenges and I'm like you know what? I think I'm going to go back to medical school. But then I changed my mind on that too. So what I do is help companies achieve best in class results in terms of project management, helping individuals be the best that they can at their work, getting the project done on time, understanding how to use project management properly to save the projects, to be able to do a great job, to increase their income. It's said that project managers are making $20,000 or $30,000 more per year, and it's important that people realize that if you want to make that money, you're going to have to up your skills. You can't just stay doing the same old thing.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, and that's the importance of continuing education, even once you get your PMP. Of course, if you want to keep it up, you need the P to use, so you have to continue your education. But just in general, technologies change. Ais become real big as years go on. We deal with resource Like lately it's been resource issues. Risk is becoming a lot more popular topic, so there's a variety of things that as you continue to grow, you need to keep up on how the industry changes.

Elaine Jackson:

Correct.

Walt Sparling:

So I noticed on your website you have a variety of services that you offer and you kind of summarized here helping other PMs, helping them pass the exam. Do you do any kind of? I believe you do some speaking engagements as well.

Elaine Jackson:

I do, I do. Last year I ran a project management technology summit. I'm one of those people. If you say, can you jump from here to there, I'm like I'm going to try, I'm going to give it that good old college try and I'm going to make it happen. Well, I delivered the summit, had about 33 speakers in one day, two tracks. At the end I always say my face was leaking. I was actually. The tears are rolling down. I was like burnt out. But the thing is I gave it all I had and it really turned out well, but I had never pushed my. It was so important that I hit the mark with that summit and that's what I've been doing is trying to be different than other project managers. I don't want to just keep talking about stakeholders and collaboration and talking about risk, your response strategies. I want to take it to a different level where people say, wow, that's different. Wow, I didn't think about it that way. Because when you get on a project, things come at you from all different angles and for you to hit a situation that you hadn't thought about before and you're just sitting there being beat up by the project or not being able to engage, and your team is looking at you like man, kick it in, what are you going to do? I like to make sure that I'm on the cutting edge of doing something that's different than what other people do. So I not only do summits, I also have a mastermind in project management tools. When I ran that last year, so many people came on with all these tools they were talking about and, oh, I wouldn't do that one that one's getting ready to go down and this tool is better than that. So they started comparing either agile tools, tools, why you use in project management on the senior level, enterprise level I was just like blown away and I really should check for that recording because that was really one great presentation, and so, as a project manager, I like to make sure that when people see me, they know that they're getting something different, that they're getting the cutting edge, they're getting something that they'll learn something and be able to take it back to work and use it immediately. Some of the other programs that I'm running right now is I am the Epic Achievers series for the Houston PMI chapter, where they have a whole lot of speakers that they're bringing on, and so I'm kicking off their season in two weeks, and I'm talking about this project management simulator is called introduction to project management. I should have given it a more powerful name, but introduction meaning somebody may be returning from work, you know, to taking a leave of absence. Maybe they had to take care of their parents and now the parents have moved on, transitioned and now they're coming back into the workplace. Or maybe somebody is, you know, moving up in terms of getting a promotion and they need to know what to do on a project, just basic self. Some people have forgotten or some people are just winging it. And I think it's important that people, when you get in a project, you should be able to join in the conversation, not sit back and then someone has to say to you hey, walt, what do you think when you should be saying hey, you know, raising your hand, you know I have something to say, I have something to add. So I encourage my clientele, I encourage people that engage with me, to speak and to be heard. I am a professional speaker. I teach people how to be expressive in how they share their information, how to give funny presentations, how to add comedy into the presentation. I mean, I will say things like. I will say like no one's ever. When I'm interviewing a new client, they're like you know, I'm really nervous about taking this training class. I'm like you know what? No one has ever died taking the PMP exam. You can look it up. No one's ever died, so you're in good hands.

Walt Sparling:

They're like oh, okay, so I go for a lot of things, so one of your interviews where you were talking about the use of humor and you told your story about the. What was it? What is the speaking group that God and I'm thinking about joining it too the Toastmasters.

Elaine Jackson:

Toastmasters yeah, I've been with them a long time.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, you had a story, your first one, I think was not appropriate for the room, but it ended up being a good experience.

Elaine Jackson:

Well, you know, you need to be able to speak extemporaneously. You know, even on a project, something happens. Well, you don't want to speak inappropriately, that's for darn sure, but you want to be able to pull your thoughts together and come up with something that's a winning statement or a winning solution. And to say nothing makes it worse, because then people think well, you didn't engage, so no engagement means you don't get a vote, you don't get to say what you think needs to happen. But yeah, it's important to, not, it's important to know who's in the room. Yeah, I did a presentation in Boston at a company called Everbridge. They do emergency management, and in the room was the CEO, but nobody told me and I just engaged with everyone and I included him and I'm like what do you think? And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They were like he said well, I'm the CEO of this company and you know, this was so good, I'm going to have lunch for everybody. I was like no one told me that, didn't pass a note or check your phone or anything. They just let me sit there. I could have bombed, but and I think that comes back to treating everybody like they matter yeah, treat everybody, then you don't mess up.

Walt Sparling:

Well, and you shouldn't be in a situation. I hate when companies are like that, where they you know, if this person is at this level, you have to treat them different and you have to walk on eggshells and, oh, you can't talk to that person. We have to have Bob talk to that person. They're too high level up. It's like they're just people.

Elaine Jackson:

Yeah. But you know, I had a government contract and they were like don't call the governor's office, don't talk to the governor. We're like, why would I talk to the governor? Don't talk to those people? They're very busy, like, oh my God, it's like. Oh man, my dad always said you should get a government job. I'm like I don't want a government job, dad. I just thought maybe that's the way it is, but that's not really how all government jobs are. Some managers are very nervous about what are you going to say to them and will they? Will it come back on me?

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, and I think that's the scare. I've just I've seen a lot of that in the corporate world and a lot of times you just you end up talking to that person that everyone is scared of and it's like, wow, you know, they're just normal and they got a sense of humor and they completely understand.

Elaine Jackson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Walt Sparling:

So all right. So humor, uh, coaching, public speaking, corporate speaking. You have a tool the mastermind that you're going to be talking about soon in Houston. Oh, no, not the mastermind, the tool for.

Elaine Jackson:

Yeah, double masters, it's the project management simulator.

Walt Sparling:

There you go.

Elaine Jackson:

And so the simulator. What's wonderful about this simulator is it gives you an opportunity to test out what you can't test out in real life. Because now, this is a simulator and you can test out, maybe talking to certain people I don't think I want to talk to him or her See how that affects the algorithm. The simulator is set to record everything that you do how long you stay on certain pages, where did you go, which button did you push next? It gives you options, but you can't go backwards. So in a project you can't go back and undo what you did yesterday. So they lock it so that you can't go back and redo. You know, sometimes you can do the back key and go back and back. If you do the back key, it seizes up. You're not supposed to go back, but you only go forward from in time and the simulator allows you to understand resources, understand communications. I learned a little bit about myself. I'm like, hey, I don't have problems with people. And in the simulator there was somebody speaking that I could not understand and I found myself getting frustrated. And then I felt embarrassed that I was frustrated and I'm like this is how it happens on a project. There's somebody's talking. They're like, oh my God, man, speak up, speak English. You know it's like, wow, I didn't go that far, but it was like I was irritated that I couldn't understand the person. And then I became upset with myself for thinking that it's all this in my head stuff. And then I said calm down, take it slow. And in a project, that's what you need to do is say, hey, I'm not, I didn't hear you properly. I think I had water in my ear. I went swimming or something, make up something and say can you speak a little slower? Or can you say that again? Or I make sure I put the caption on for the Zoom meetings so, as people are talking, if I don't catch something, I look and see what is the word, the AI that I can do.

Walt Sparling:

So the simulator when you're interacting, is it using some form of AI?

Elaine Jackson:

I don't know the algorithm behind it. This simulator was created a few years ago, so it was before all the big hype of AI, so it's not intuitive like the AI that we're looking at now. But there's a lot of technology behind it which I'm not at that level. I'm at the level of Leah, let's get this thing going, click open. Here we go. I'm not privy to the knowledge behind it, but I definitely could introduce you to the person and the developers that put that together. It costs a lot of money to put that simulator together. One of the best things about the simulator it produces a scorecard report. So after you finish that eight hour project, you don't have to do it in eight hours. You can do two hours here, three hours there, one hour here, so sort of break it up and give yourself time to think and marinate the information. But in the end it gives you a scorecard report that breaks down everything that happened in those eight hours and tells you best practices, what you should do, what you should read, what you can do to do better and to get better results.

Walt Sparling:

So it basically helps to correct the behavior and I see this Well, that's, if you're going to make mistakes, that's the place to make it and learn from it.

Elaine Jackson:

Definitely. It's certainly not on your own project, with your own money, that's for darn sure. But one of the good things about that simulator and the scorecard is that someone could use that to show their manager. I took a simulator, I worked on it on my own time on the weekend, and this is what the report is, and this is why I need training and risk management. This is why I need training and schedule management. Or I'd like to take this PMP course, or I'd like to take a BMO course, or I'd like to take the program management portfolio management. You know, you sort of look and say how can I 10X this, how can I take this to the next level and get my manager to pay for it? Or say, can we go 50, 50 on it? Something like that.

Walt Sparling:

Well, I can see one thing there. You say it's an eight hour course, so that's automatically eight PDUs. And then, if it has, you say, hey, you need to go read this or watch this video to learn more about improving yourself PDUs. So, as a PMP, you're also knocking your PDUs out.

Elaine Jackson:

That's true, and something someone I think said on your call last two weeks ago was something about they don't pay for PDUs or something like that. But if you notice, the PDUs you get for free are the same stakeholder risk management. It's the same mundane thing. It doesn't take you to the extra edge. I did see a couple of years ago someone did something on the Monte Carlo simulator. I was like totally keyed in for that. But you know, I think a lot of the training has to go to the edge. You got to take people to that next level. But it could be that maybe the masses of the people are not at that level. They're behind the fence at the lower level and they just want basic stuff. They don't want to go to a PMO level, or they don't want to go and take Pro-C, which is change management, or they don't want to go to portfolio management, or maybe people just want enough to get by and I think that's sad for a project.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I question their investment in it. I mean, did they get in it because it's a good-paying job and they got the PMP because they thought it was going to get paid more. But now what's the minimum I can do to get my PDUs?

Elaine Jackson:

Well, I don't know and I'm not really. I'm planning to do some training and learning on millennials and the Gen-X's and all of that, but to understand why there is a resistance to picking up a book, get a cup of coffee, sit on your sofa with a blanket and do some deep reading. It's like there's a resistance. I have students that come to me. They're like I can't do the reading. I said you must do the reading, you must. Well, let's go through chapter one, page four, five, six. Is there any highlights in your book? There's no highlights. Okay, Are there any tabs in your book? No tabs. You've got to digest that book and pull it out, put it in another resource, put it on flashcards, make your own PowerPoint flashcards. You've got to digest the book or else you will not be able to pass that exam.

Walt Sparling:

I've moved to mostly audio books and I struggle with If it's something I'm trying to learn from making notes, because a lot of times I'll listen while I'm driving or while I'm out on my morning walk and it's like sometimes I'll stop and I'll pause it and I'll pull up my keep app and I'll make some notes as a reminder of something that really stood out. But it's hard to really take notes on audio books. But for someone who wants to get in some learning and they don't like to read audio books are good for that. You just have to make sure you listen well and take stuff from them. I use that for a lot of my PDUs. I think some people get concerned that it has to be a training course on risk or stakeholder management, and it doesn't. It has to be something that can benefit you in your job. It could be in relationship management, how to have difficult conversations, how to negotiate. These are all PM skills, so you can read a book or listen to an audio on that. And the reason I like audio is if it's a five hour audio book. I know that's five PDUs. It's pretty simple and I did last year or not last year the last time I recorded mine. I did audio books, I did YouTube videos, I did some professional PDU courses that I paid for, and then everything I do on this podcast, every interview, I do every LinkedIn live that's all PDUs and I put them down. I have not had a single PDU rejected ever.

Elaine Jackson:

I've never had it rejected, although I document everything, because PMI does have the right to come back. I don't think they've ever challenged anybody. But the best thing is, what's the purpose of putting on the recording and then going off and playing tennis or something? Or put on the webinar and everybody's on there. They see that people are engaging and you just get on there and you're not engaging. You need to engage, hey, so and so, and put your LinkedIn profile there. Hey, connect with me. And you got to engage. You never know who's on those calls. There's some time, over a thousand people and you just don't know that. One person says, hey, I'm looking for I saw you post and I'm looking for somebody to come and do training for my company. We have a hundred people. Well, you don't know. There are PMI representatives on the calls, pmi representatives sitting on LinkedIn and when you post things, if you post something that's not right, they get it pulled off. You don't even know who they are, but they have the power to go and get things pulled down that people put up there.

Walt Sparling:

Thank God, nothing's been pulled down yet, for me Not for you.

Elaine Jackson:

No, you would never violate. You know, there was a young woman that got her PMP about four years ago and right after she got her PMP she got on LinkedIn and started talking about everything she saw within. Her certification was gone Within an hour. They took it from her and she was crying oh my God, I didn't mean to do it. I'm like everybody was like they warn you. It's like when dad comes home, dad's home, dad's home, I don't she probably was so excited. Like I do interviews of my clients after they pass and sometimes they get so excited they start I'm like let's not go there, don't ask him that, don't ask her that, don't share that. They're like, oh no, I didn't want to say oh, they get so excited about that they passed and that is something that it's a, as you well know, it's a long journey and I look at it. I tell people it's like a rebirthing experience. You have to go through all the phases and eventually, at the end, you know you do it, if you're doing it right.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I'm. When I studied and took the first exam, it was in the fifth edition and back then formulas were big, a lot of memorization. And, oh my God, the first time I took it I just missed. I mean just so close, but wasn't, wasn't good enough. So I had to take it again. But I had waited so long because I studied and studied and studied and studied and said, all right, I'm going to nail this thing. And I didn't pass. So they said the next exam you're going to have to take is on six. I'm like, oh, I haven't opened a six book. So I got the book and then I started reading and looking online what are the differences? And I was like, oh, they're going away from all the formula stuff. They're starting to talk more about situational. So I took a boot camp, said let me find out what is the transition from five to six, did that? And then I went and took the exam and I swear I wasn't going to pass it but I nailed it on that one. So, but it's, it's stressful.

Elaine Jackson:

But you know, even though people are saying, oh, there's wasn't any math, that you can learn project management from math. I have the PMP mathematics book and my students love that. They're like, oh, let's do more problems because I get into the math and then talk about the formulas and talk about the project situation, that that would have happened and how to determine what information to share with management and stuff like that. So I think it's important that people who say, oh, I don't like math, some project, they're going to ask you to show us some analytical. You may have somebody that's very analytical and they like that. You've got to be able to pull that and show that.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I'm not a math person. That's why I got really good with Excel, so I can recreate the formulas in Excel and then plug the numbers into I don't even see how people do that.

Elaine Jackson:

I'm a math person. I'm like I get that pencil, I'm ready.

Walt Sparling:

No, I actually was offered a position as the lead on for capital planning and I'm like why me? And they're like wow, you're some whiz with Excel. And I said yeah, I'm a whiz with Excel because I hate numbers and with Excel I can, I can work it out, you know. So, no, not taking that job.

Elaine Jackson:

That's amazing. But you know, I wanted to comment on something that some people from the previous meeting had said. They were like oh, you know, I have a full time job, so they wanted to establish I have a full time job, but I do do coaching on the side and I help where I can. But don't students deserve to have somebody who's dedicated more like full time, like I do? I'm dedicated in my training full time, so my students I'm giving I do all the training I do. I was bored the other week and I was reading some area of the pinball. I'm like, oh, my life is really boring. But the point that I'm making is that in order for you to give to a client, you can't just do it part time. You can't say, oh, I can't see you this week, I'll see you next week. Oh, I can see you for two hours, when the person may be taking their tests on Monday and they need you for four hours on Sunday. You know, I think you're studying for an exam like that. You need somebody that's going to be there. When you're getting ready to back out, you're like, oh, I got to get out of this. Someone has to be there to hold you to the fire.

Walt Sparling:

Well, I'm not going to, I'm not going to agree with that. I think I think there's a place for it. I think as a full-time professional, you have a lot more, I would say, day-to-day experience. You have a lot more time to offer. I mean, I do this podcast on the side and I interview people. They have to work within my availability, or sometimes I'll actually take a day off. If I'm dealing with someone in the UK on a Friday, I'll do something the afternoon, but I'm doing what I can with the time I have. Now I don't make any money at this, at least not yet, but I think I provide something and I do it part-time. I think some of these people that are doing some of this consulting and mentoring they're everyday project managers and they have stuff to bring to the table. They have experience. Not every mentor and coach is going to be good for every PM and I think there's going to be some that aren't going to work out. It's going to be like you know, that just didn't work for me. I try to cut things off when people reach out to me and ask me to help them with how should I study for the PMP, and I'm like you're asking the wrong person. I said I got my PMP years ago. It's changed. Here's the name of three people Go talk to them and let them guide you. So I don't want to ever oversell myself, but if I feel confident in something and I can provide value to someone, yeah, I don't discredit that and I definitely don't discredit someone who does it full time. I mean, that's what you do. You're a dedicated professional at that.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, yeah, and you're right, and I think that's important to acknowledge too. Not everybody is for everybody. Not every person that comes to me can I say yeah, I can coach you. I had a student one time told me she could only study one hour at a time and I'm like I don't know how to help you. The exam is four hours. I said you need to go to PMI and let them know that you have get a doctor to write your note and let them know you have some learning challenges and see what kind of an exam situation they can give you. And I think some people are ashamed to approach PMI and say I need this special needs help. Some of them don't want to do it.

Walt Sparling:

Never heard of that. That's interesting. Did you ever, did she get a solution to it?

Elaine Jackson:

She just backed away from the training. She just one hour after one hour, she would get a headache. You know things like that and I tried to work around that. But the thing is that some of this training and I've been doing this for over 20 years there is something that happens when you've been training and training you get a breakthrough. There's a breakthrough that when you're studying you're like oh my God, I can't take it anymore. And then you study a little bit more and all of a sudden lights go off. You're getting all the questions right. All of a sudden you know everything. You're going through the book. You're just you're sitting eight hours studying on the weekend and when you sat down it was bright daylight. When you look up, it's nighttime. You're like what happened? You were just. You become. You get this out of body experience where you're just into your studying and your head is you're hearing the thoughts about the studying and the materials going through your head. You're just so into it that you forget where you are and that's what happens.

Walt Sparling:

I can't imagine eight hours of studying. I know when I did mine I would do large chunks, but I would do like a four hour. I would actually get up, take a cup of coffee, tell my wife go to the library and go to the library and take my index cards and my book and my notepad and I'd read through a chapter, make notes, make index cards, then go back and I would do that through a couple of chapters and I'd go home and then I'm like, all right, I'd go through the, maybe sit down for half an hour in the morning or whatever with my coffee or ever, go through the index cards, try to quiz myself and then at night I would say, all right, here here's my cards, hand them to my wife, shuffle them up and start asking me questions. And I did the same thing when I would interview for a job. There's certain questions that are typically asked for a behavioral style, and I would give her a list of these questions and say, here, ask these questions while we're taking a walk, and then see how my answer is.

Elaine Jackson:

Awesome, awesome, and you know that's important to come up with different ways of studying. Some people do the flashcards, some people say I don't want to do flashcards, I want to do audio. I want to make an audio recording of you know, read them. Okay, he used to have this audio flashcards which was awesome, and you said, well, you're driving, you know taking a drive, a long distance drive on the weekend. You can be listening to the, to the different terminology or what's the formula, and she just go through the whole thing and people need to figure out well, what works for me, what is the best? Have your coach or have someone sit down and say what is the best approach to studying. When I talk about eight hours, I'm talking about it takes about the first time you take a test. It takes about four hours or a little bit over. Then maybe you take a break and get, come back and review those answers. That might take about two and a half hours. Then you say, okay, let me review what I got wrong. So it's a long process and people have to be willing to put in the time.

Walt Sparling:

Well, yeah you're talking about with like exam simulators where you take yeah, I took a few of those when I did mine. Mine was a lot about memorization because of the formulas and the processes. I remember when they went from five to six they moved some processes which was really frustrating. The situational stuff for me, based on experience, would be a lot easier to deal with, although even on there it was best answer and two of the answers you could pretty much throw away right out of the scooter. And then the other two were like ooh, they're both kind of good and sometimes I'd have to mark it I'm not sure which is the best answer and just go on to the next one and then come back and go through all the marked ones. And sometimes one of the things I would tell people is if you don't know, don't waste. You don't have a lot of time per question. So if you're hung up, if you know it, tick it. If you don't tag it, go to the next one, tag it, go to the next one, and then at some point you're going to hit another one and that question is going to drive the answer in your head Because, like you said, when you study for a long time. You can get burned out, and what I had been told and I learned is Study the day before, but don't kill yourself, take a break, because if you just study, study, study all the way right up until you take the exam, my experience is you're not gonna do well. You need that little break. It's like you have that aha.

Elaine Jackson:

You do, but there's a point when you start to go faster and more accuracy. So, you know, I do something called a PMP exam skills. We have an exam skills workshop where we actually have people take a test and then we measure what are they doing throughout the whole test. So I'm actually on the same call. So almost like when PMI sits there and they monitor the test and I can tell people based on where they are at every point of the test I can say how come you got 20 questions wrong here? Oh, you know, I was thinking about going to the bathroom but I didn't go because I didn't wanna lose any time. Like no, you must go. You have to take a bio break. You take your breaks, you take a break. If you have to take a break, you know, don't drink a whole lot of coffee, don't try crazy stuff. You know, and I believe that when you look at the simulator, the simulator gives you a chance to test out your behaviors too. You're just testing out what would you do? You know, maybe you wanna try something crazy on the project. You know what if I tried this? Well, you don't wanna try it on the project, so try it on the simulator.

Walt Sparling:

Simulator yeah, make sense. Try it on the simulator. It's a lot safer. So let's see talked about what you do. One of the things we always ask is on tools. Do you have like a maybe a list of your favorite tools that you utilize or recommend to PMs?

Elaine Jackson:

I like using Trello. I really do enjoy using Trello because I'm one of those people that the brain just goes and it goes and it goes and I've gotta capture it or else the idea will come and then it'll go and I'm like, oh man, what was that idea I had? Or what connecting? When I put it in Trello, I can see massive amounts of information all at once, whereas if I try to keep it in a file, I've gotta click through, or if I try to keep it in my head, that's not gonna work. Another tool I want to share there was a product that came out a few years ago and then they did an upgrade. It was Brainware. I believe it was called MindView by Brainware.

Walt Sparling:

MindView. That's a good photo.

Elaine Jackson:

And that product actually allowed you to work in Microsoft Word, excel, powerpoint, but then two clicks and it turned it into Microsoft Project. So if you were a person that, like I, don't have time to learn Microsoft Project, I don't do it. Well, you create your information in one of these other Microsoft products and then what you do? Two or three clicks and immediately it has the WBS schedule. And so when you give it to someone, they don't know the difference because it has the. What is that extension? Is it MPP or MPB or something?

Walt Sparling:

like that, microsoft Project is, I believe, mpp.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, and so the extension is there. So, when no one knows the difference, and then if they say, well, could you make some edits to this? What do you need? They give it back to you. You take it, two more clicks, you take it and bring it back into the more familiar Microsoft product, make the changes and then click it and send it back at the Microsoft. I do believe there are a lot of people using these kinds of tools that help you to get more things done. Now, where can this tool work? Very well, you have a manager always gives you work last minute and they say, hey, I need you to get this done. You're like oh man, I was planning to go to the baseball game and everything. You go home click, click, click, boom, boom, boom get it done. Then you go into work the next day like, oh my God, I'm so tired. It was up all night working on that thing. For you, it's like, oh yeah, really. Yeah, look how good it looks. Like, wow, you really must have stayed up late. Yeah, there are people using these transition tools all the time and you think that they're really like giving it all they got. They're working smart, not hard, and I think it's important that we look at some of these tools, just like this AI. At first I was thinking it would allow people who are lazy to just click, click, click. But the thing is, those are the people that when they get into a meeting you say can you explain this graph to me? They're like well, you can see what it is. You know what it's about.

Walt Sparling:

The red stuff is good and the green stuff you know.

Elaine Jackson:

Yeah, they can't take it to that next level. They can't get up there and take a little ruler and show you know they can't do it. And so I realized, okay, I'm still in the running because I love to write my own reports, I love to create my own slides and stuff. But someone told me that they had a link where you could write a book in five minutes. I'm like my brain goes crazy when I see AI do that. You know, you write a little description and then it starts going. It doesn't even take time to think and pause and maybe go back and edit a word. It's like got it as it's going.

Walt Sparling:

And.

Elaine Jackson:

I'm just like, my brain can't do it like that.

Walt Sparling:

I think there's definitely some good uses for AI. I just had this conversation with Andy Kaufman recently and he did a great AI. He created an AI persona and then put a voice to it, and it was an awesome interview. But I used it for help with social media, where I can come up with ideas. I want to write a course All right, I want to write a course on X. I need a outline, and AI creates the outline. Okay, those are the things I would have done, so now I can go in and build on that because I've already got my outline. So it just saved me time from having to create it myself.

Elaine Jackson:

It's amazing. It's amazing. I mean, I get a little nervous about it because it's like I don't want to be outsourced by a machine, I don't want the machine to have to.

Walt Sparling:

I think what I've heard and I hope this is true is that the people that learn AI will still have jobs. The people that refuse to learn it and use it won't, because AI will become a tool that is side by side with us and will use it to make the you know help with the project management. To me, it's going to be a long time before an AI is going to be able to replace a PM. You have that personal soft skills. Ai doesn't have soft skills, even though it's software. I think it's going to take a long time for it to get to that point.

Elaine Jackson:

Well, I don't know. You say it doesn't have soft skills, but I saw there was a female robot that they had and she had facial expressions Like they asked her something and she squinched up her nose and her forehead became wrinkled like she was thinking and like she actually told a joke and her eyes got wide like whoa, like I'm like, like what else you know?

Walt Sparling:

Well, it's, but I think it's. That's more on the programming side. I mean, I think at some point they're going to become I don't want to say self-aware, but they're going to be smart enough to figure out. But it's all going to be based on the data, that's input that they can read from and then determine. Oh, that is sad, so I need to make sad expressions. That's a happy note, so I'm I need to show that I'm happy. But it's still like programmatic, Our brain is nothing more than a supercomputer, So-.

Elaine Jackson:

Tony Robbins was interviewing one of the AI's right and he says show me your angry face. And she looked like a monster. She was like she tried to make it like angry but it was so funny because she couldn't. She couldn't get the face really right but she knew the expression had to be like a monster, like angry it was. It was entertaining. But yeah, it's something to think about. Coming down the road, what we're going to see moving oh yeah, I think next year is going to be.

Walt Sparling:

I mean, I just recently started getting into it. I have a friend of mine who's a developer and he was showing me all the stuff they're doing with AI and I'm like, all right, I gotta, I gotta jump on this. So 24 is going to be my year and I started playing around with it, I think over the Christmas holiday. My wife was out of town and I just got up in the morning, started watching a couple of YouTube videos, did some research online, got my coffee, installed a couple of apps and just started playing around. It's like, oh okay, this stuff's pretty cool.

Elaine Jackson:

So you know I wanted to mention something also, walt. Some of the things that I mentioned I talk about is project managers being efficient in their jobs. I have had project managers that have been placed in PMO roles and they did not have their PMP. I'm not saying the PMP is the differentiator for anything, okay, but when? If I had a million dollar corporation, I don't think I would want to take a risk of putting somebody in a major role such as leading the PMO that they didn't have the basic knowledge and project management as to what comes first, what comes second, what comes after, what should I not do? What are some of the risks that have happened in this field with other people, lessons learned from others and how can we make sure not running into doing the same problems? I just I just find it is a risk and I don't know, do you see that as a risk or I'm just not sure how to.

Walt Sparling:

I think it. I think it's situational. If you have someone who's been in an industry and they've been doing project management in that industry for 30 years, they may be able to move up into the PMO because they know how they deal with the risks, they know how they deal with scheduling and financing and they can help or they would be responsible for creating standards and training material and all that. But for someone who does not have and it's only going to work for them in that industry or that company, that it's going to be very limited. I wouldn't want to have them go run a PMO if they're working for a manufacturing company and then be run the PMO for a technology firm. You know that's not going to be a good fit. The beauty of getting your PMP certification or CAPM is it's structured and I've worked with multiple companies and they all have some kind of procedures, processes, phases, but they're not the same and they don't align completely with PMI. They're similar like five phases, but and I got chastised for that they're not phases, they're called something else. But they have five process groups that you go through and they're not the same as PMIs. But PMI has five and then this other firm or a customer also has five, but they're called something different. You know they all start with initiating, they all end with close, but everything in the middle, you know the other three are called something different. What they do in those phases is, or those groups, is different. The PMI at least gives you a foundation of this is how we see it initiating, monitoring and controlling, closing, planning, each one of those. They have a lot of steps and processes that you go through and not every company needs all of those steps. But the person who goes through that formal training has a lot more flexibility because they've seen how detailed it can get. If you've never been exposed to doing EMV calculations or doing a risk register and then someone says, hey, we need you to fill out a risk register, you go huh what?

Elaine Jackson:

is that, yeah, yeah On the job, experience counts for quite a bit.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I mean, and like I think you said that PMP is not the end all. Like I work in a firm and I've said this many times where we have like 30 pms and I think five or six of those are PMPs and I think we got one CPM. All the rest of them do a pretty darn good job and they're not certified, so you don't have to be. Now. They might leave this firm and go work somewhere else. Maybe they'll go on a technology account and we work in construction. Yeah, it's not going to be so easy for them there.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, okay.

Walt Sparling:

Good, so I do think it's situational.

Elaine Jackson:

Good point, Good point, Good point. So the summit not the summit, but the PMI Houston event. We do have some links. I don't know if I had shared those links with you and I'm assuming that those links will put in the once you post the information in the write up, you'll put the links.

Walt Sparling:

I'll send you on the show notes page. I'll have all the links. You've sent me a link to your website, a link to your LinkedIn profile. I'll double check for the Houston. It's a, it's a monthly event, isn't it that you're going to be speaking at?

Elaine Jackson:

Yes.

Walt Sparling:

The Houston event Right so if I don't see it in there, I'll reach out to you and let you know that I don't have it.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, so we have. We're looking at upping our registrations. We have about five more seats left. I did offer to let some of the board because they work so hard and this is their 50th year. This is the oldest chapter. This must be like the first chapter to for PMI, and so they're celebrating this year their 50th anniversary. So I want to just make sure I do right by trying to make the first event really successful.

Walt Sparling:

Now is this do they offer virtual attendance or is it all live?

Elaine Jackson:

It is virtual.

Walt Sparling:

Okay, but they're limiting the seats. Is it bandwidth or?

Elaine Jackson:

Well, the seats is normally what PMI stuff they? They try to get like a thousand but they haven't been marketing it to everything, they've been marketing it just to the membership or just to certain circles. I'm not sure how they distributed that, so what I've done is take the link and I've been promoting it because, I want to get the numbers up. So I'm looking to get like five to six more people into the, into the class of more comes. I think the bottom line is there's too many people when we do the breakout, it's going to be really challenging. Oh yeah, we'll go and breakout rooms and then everybody wants to talk and everybody wants to share. So I want to try to keep it at a number that's manageable.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I'm going back to my first live local chapter event the 18th of this month. It's either, it's always comes up on. I've even signed up for them to do them virtually. When they, when they used to be all virtual, then they went kind of a mix. I'd sign up and then something would come up. Now, now I can't pay to go to the event, I couldn't go, and this year I said not, whatever it is, I'm going to sign up early and if something else comes up and check the calendar and say no, can't do it.

Elaine Jackson:

Where are you again? You're in California. No, I'm in Tampa Florida oh yeah, you don't have to worry about snow.

Walt Sparling:

No, no, it's more of well, we don't have to worry about rain or hurricanes. But no, here it's usually just schedule issues conflict, conflicting, okay okay, but yeah, I'm anxious to go back in person because I used to love going there and they have a. They do it at a school, so they have a room where there's a lot of stadium seating and everybody goes in. They bring in the presenter, they do their thing, you get to hang out and they have food so you can hang out with other members and get to know them. So I'm looking forward to get back into that.

Elaine Jackson:

I missed that. It really is a great opportunity to meet some new and even more seasoned project managers when you go to those live events.

Walt Sparling:

Yes, smile, smile, okay. So we'll make sure we get all those links in. And then, did you know, do you have an interesting, did you know for us?

Elaine Jackson:

I do, I do, I do, and it has to do with individuals who are studying for the PMP. So, walt, did you know that you can skip some material and still pass the exam?

Walt Sparling:

I believe it.

Elaine Jackson:

And I think that some people like, oh my God, I have to learn everything, oh, I can't do it, it's so much information. And I've had students that like network diagramming, I can't get it. Earn value, I can't remember the formulas, I'm like okay. So I became like the parent that says that's fine, just don't do it. Just by telling my clients don't do it, they're like no, I must do it. And so I've had people as experienced as like police officers, state troopers, I have people that have worked in clinical trials and medical device, and there are some individuals and it's not specific to any one area that they just have some quirkiness about some problems. So the thing is, when you look at the number of questions you have to answer, if you can get enough questions correct, you can say, okay, network diagramming or earn value, maybe six, eight questions, I'm not going to worry about it. And I think not worrying takes the edge off that you can now give your full self to the exam. But if you go to the exam and you're worried, oh my God, network diagram or quality management, oh, there might be a procurement problem If it's a procurement calculation and they don't know all the different procurement contracts. If you go into an exam with all this worry, worry, worry. It takes up the energy from you being able to be fully engaged in the test. So I believe there are some things that if you you have to practice it out at home, try it out. Every time you get a network diagram question, you're not going to answer it.

Walt Sparling:

Not going to answer it, I'm going to throw it in If you, if you market, just go to your, go to the other stuff, get all the stuff you know, and then you can go back and take a stab at it.

Elaine Jackson:

You know I had some students that did really, really well. And what they did, they all took the same test as a practice test and they said well, I'm going to give all the answers B and I'm going to give all the answers C. This is one that was all multiple choice and they all failed. So you can't go into the test and say I'm just going to give it all the whole one letter and just give it all I got. You know it's not going to work that way, but when I have to actually take in tests, I've actually seen that at the at the end, if you get the last five minutes and you have 10 questions, you can look at the panel and say, look, looks like C I'm take, take one letter and just throw it on all of them and give it and just hope for the best.

Walt Sparling:

Or, like I said earlier, I mean if you you may not know the best answer, but you know that you can narrow down to. So you say there's four ABCD A is no way, c is no way. That leaves B and D and this is one of those that you check to go back to later and you're like I don't know. You got a 50, 50 chance of getting it right. You do so if you know enough to at least get it down to those two. Yeah you, you might just get some freebies in there and say I don't know this stuff, but you just can't do the whole test like that.

Elaine Jackson:

No, no, no. And the people have tried. People have tried. And you know, the important thing is to practice at home. Get your practice down at home so that when you get into the test it's just in your brain, it's just another day of practice. Your brain disconnects and you just do it.

Walt Sparling:

Well, I greatly appreciate you coming on today and this has been a great conversation. I can see it's real easy to talk with you and just keep going. We could probably go down a lot of rabbit holes. I will edit the recording, get it out. I know I'm going to send you a copy of the video because you want to post that and I will get the show notes page up and try to send you a couple screenshots and if you see something that's missing in there, a link or something will get it added in.

Elaine Jackson:

Okay, I'll just well, once we finish, I'll send you a link of the things that are coming up, just like four links, and then you can choose which ones you want to put in there.

Walt Sparling:

All right, so you are my first episode for the new year, so, thank you, I will, if all goes well and it's. I'm not too exhausted this week and I'll try to get it out next week, but it'll likely be some timing in the next two weeks and I'll send you a heads up when it's coming out so you can promote it as well.

Elaine Jackson:

I was on LinkedIn live last night, so, and that took almost a full day to produce. I'm not sure what happened, oh really. Yeah, I was looking forward to it. It just showed up just before our call today. It was really nice. We talked about this simulator workshop and everything.

Walt Sparling:

What do you use for your LinkedIn live? Do you use StreamYard or do you use?

Elaine Jackson:

StreamYard. Streamyard I heard the other one Restream is less expensive, but I don't know. I found StreamYard. I'm like it works. I did a training on it. Let's go with it.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, I use StreamYard. I use the free version, which limits me to six. Since I only do typically quarterly events, it doesn't really limit me in any other way, but I already pay so many subscriptions for editing software and Zoom, it's like I got to have some tools that are free.

Elaine Jackson:

But it's so much in the passwords. And then you know, after a while you're like, oh my god, which credit card did I give them? Oh my god, were they going to charge? They all going to charge at the same time.

Walt Sparling:

Well, I learned early when I spent three months building up this podcast before I ever did my first episode, and I created a plan, I created interview questions, I created a document folder structure, I created a table in one note with all of the software I'm going to use, where I got it, what my login, what my password was, whether it was paid or not, and I'm one of those planners. So, for the fact that I've gone, I'm about to hit 50th episode here soon, and in the earlier days I was a planner and not a very good doer, so I'm kind of proud of myself that I've lasted this. But I went in just crazy details and it's helped me because when you go back later and all of a sudden you got to log in and recite and you go I haven't used this site in three months. Oh, I can go back to my table. There it is, boom.

Elaine Jackson:

Yeah, and I like your microphone. That's awesome, I can see. Yeah, I like this.

Walt Sparling:

You are my first interview for 2024. The next one is with Andy Kaufman. He's going to be my 50th episode. I just finished this space. This used to be an old barn shed and I've been working on it for a year. I just started using it last week and I'm still tweaking and doing cable management and a few other things. I've got a that still has picture frame behind that's still got the generic graphic in it. I haven't put a certain there yet.

Elaine Jackson:

That's like getting a picture and saying these are my kids, my wife and kids.

Walt Sparling:

Yeah, so I didn't have anything super creative over there, but I got to fill that, so I've got some work to do. But yeah, it's, I'm now. This is my studio, oh awesome.

Elaine Jackson:

I'm going to send you some names of some people. There's a guy that does. He does project management, but he also studies how the human brain thinks and how project managers make certain decisions based on brain, brain waves and stuff like that. His name is Jorge Rodriguez. He's a PhD. I'll introduce you to him. Really nice guy You'd like.

Walt Sparling:

Great, I want to work on my 2024 list. I've already started reaching out to a lot of folks on LinkedIn and some of the PM communities. I've got a few that have agreed, but I definitely want to get another 26 or so episodes in this year and I'm not trying to give you more work, but I know oh no, no, I need that. The more referrals I get, the better. It's good for the audience because it provides another value that you know I wouldn't have known of otherwise Correct. So I appreciate it, greatly appreciate it.

Elaine Jackson:

You're welcome. It's such a pleasure to know you to. I just met you, but you were just so warm and I think you must have turned the bass on the microphone or something. It was like your voice came in. It was like, oh my God, it's not like Barry White or something. It's going on here. But it was really nice. Your group was so nice and I said you know, this is, this is must have been meant to happen, and so I'm.

Walt Sparling:

I was yeah, and it came together quick. Sometimes I'll chase people for months. I've gone back and doing a follow up. Hey, I know we talked about you coming on the show, you know, like in July or August, and they're like oh yeah, I was really busy and like, and then a couple of days later, you're okay, I'm ready to do it. Okay, it's only been six months, I think you and I talked. It's all happened in less than two weeks.

Elaine Jackson:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Well, I will not give you people that'll make you run around. They'll be serious people that are.

Walt Sparling:

I appreciate it All right. Thank you everyone for listening to the current episode and, elaine, we look forward to chatting again. I certainly hope so, and we'll see everyone else on the next edition of PM Mastery.

Intro/Outro:

Thank you Bye. Thanks for listening to the PM Mastery podcast at wwwpm-masterycom. Be sure to subscribe in your podcast play and until next time, keep working on your product.

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