PM-Mastery

Interview with Derek Speer - Construction Sr. PM, Critical Facilities

February 09, 2021 Walt Sparling Season 1 Episode 10
PM-Mastery
Interview with Derek Speer - Construction Sr. PM, Critical Facilities
Chapters
PM-Mastery
Interview with Derek Speer - Construction Sr. PM, Critical Facilities
Feb 09, 2021 Season 1 Episode 10
Walt Sparling

In This Episode:

 In this episode, I interviewed Derek Speer, a construction project manager from Florida that works in the commercial construction sector. Derek's background is heavy in critical facilities. We talked about what it takes to be successful, by being prepared. Being prepared for meetings, site visits, and travel - some up-front thoughts go a long way.

I will be putting together a checklist of the items we discussed and post it on the website's resource page and will update these notes with a link once complete.

 Some of the following links are affiliate links which may earn me a commission if you click a link and go on to make a purchase; it does not cost you anything extra but helps me cover the cost of the blog and podcast. Thanks for your support! 

 Favorite Tool(s):

 Other Tools/Items Discussed:

Quotes:

  • “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
  • “Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability.... We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” - Thomas A. Edison

Links: 

Show Notes Transcript

In This Episode:

 In this episode, I interviewed Derek Speer, a construction project manager from Florida that works in the commercial construction sector. Derek's background is heavy in critical facilities. We talked about what it takes to be successful, by being prepared. Being prepared for meetings, site visits, and travel - some up-front thoughts go a long way.

I will be putting together a checklist of the items we discussed and post it on the website's resource page and will update these notes with a link once complete.

 Some of the following links are affiliate links which may earn me a commission if you click a link and go on to make a purchase; it does not cost you anything extra but helps me cover the cost of the blog and podcast. Thanks for your support! 

 Favorite Tool(s):

 Other Tools/Items Discussed:

Quotes:

  • “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
  • “Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability.... We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” - Thomas A. Edison

Links: 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

meeting, people, carry, site, check, photos, prepared, laptop, handy, projects, walk, OneNote, nice, pretty, Florida, plan, great, good, work, pulled

SPEAKERS

Walt Sparling, Derek Speer

 Intro  00:12

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. And now here's your host, Walt Sparling.

 Walt Sparling  00:35

Welcome, everyone to the current episode of PM-mastery. Today, I am interviewing Derek Speer, who is a construction project manager in the Tampa Bay area. Welcome to the show. Derek. 

 Derek Speer  00:49

Thanks, Walt, thanks for having me on. 

Walt Sparling  00:51

Glad to have you. I know we're gonna do our kind of a normal interview process. But then we're you and I had talked briefly previously. And we're gonna talk a little bit about being prepared like being a good boy scout. 

Derek Speer  01:04

Boy Scout. Yes. I have was actually a Boy Scout. As a child. Yes. So being prepared, that's the motto. 

Walt Sparling  01:13

All right. So let's start out by telling us a little bit about who you are.

Derek Speer  01:19

Well, other than being a dad first, I am a construction project manager for about the last 26 years. So I started off in engineering, and that didn't really do it for me, didn't get to see the fruits of my labor. So I moved into construction from that, so that I can actually have tangible results. So I've been doing that mostly in the Chicagoland area. And then in Florida for quite a while. And then I had several projects for a number of years traveling up in New York, California, kind of in the San Jose area, doing a lot of data centers. So that a big chunk of my work, which has been in the mission-critical data center type environment.

 Walt Sparling  02:00

Cool, exciting work in that area. 

 Derek Speer  02:02

It really is not typical projects, for sure.

 

Walt Sparling  02:07

So 26 years. That's cool. That's, that's a lot. Um, what about? So what is it that you do I know where you've worked, tell us a little about what you do, what your position may be your company. 

 Derek Speer  02:19

Sure, that as a Senior Project Manager, you know, as you kind of evolved throughout your career, you start doing less actual tasks and start getting more involved in the development of others. And then, you know, there's some business development involved in there too so if you have three different spheres of influence there, you got your tasks, you got your mentorship, and then you have your business development there. I'm at that stage now where I'm growing the business development and the mentorship part and trying to decrease the task portion. But with that, it's been quite a long time, a couple of different companies I have been with, but the latest one here is probably a top 10 contractor and ENR for the last several years, they're out for about 20 years. So it's been quite a while. And we just actually had our 30th anniversary here last year. And there are about 6000 employees, and they consistently get awarded in the best places to work, and about 30 different office locations throughout the country. So yeah, at this point too yet I'm settled down, not really traveling as much. I did spend a number of years doing a lot of traveling. As a matter of fact, that's how I got down here to Florida to begin with. I was working on a hurricane restoration project, which was in Chicago at the time, someone said, Hey, you want to go down to Florida for a year to two years to help rebuild a resort? And I said sure. Hurricane Charley wrecked it in 2003 and then we went down there to help start rebuilding the South Seas resort, which is down in the Sanibel Captiva Fort Myers area. So that's what brought me down to Florida. Most people spend most of their careers to retire to get down to Florida and I got to work in Florida in my prime, so I decided to stick around. 

 Walt Sparling  04:08

Good deal. Yeah, I'm sure the winters down here are just a little bit better than Chicago. 

 Derek Speer  04:12

Oh, God. Yeah, it's awful.

 Walt Sparling  04:15

All right. So 26 years, a good-sized company moved around a lot. What drives you? Why do you do it?

Derek Speer  04:24

You know, I, I like the problem-solving aspect of what I do. That's probably the part that drives me the most, you know, crisis management. You start getting into, you know, like, anyone can do a 100,000 square foot warehouse, shell warehouse, something like that. But when you start getting into the data centers, or occupied facilities, or highly secure mission-critical facilities, man, there was a lot more, a lot more hairy, big hairy things to be able to deal with there. So I do like that portion trying to crack a nut, but also, you know, when you start having issues that's kind of where I think I have a lot of value is I will help jump in, I keep my calm my composure there, a lot of times you need to have somebody that has a nice, calm, steady demeanor when things are kinda falling pieces around you so. But like that's it, you know, creating something better for others is a big part of it too, you can work on a project for a year, year and a half, two years, blood sweat and tears, and then when you get down to the end, and the owner moves into their space, there's nothing better than being able to see the new employees get into their new desk spaces and walk around, check out the new cafes or whatever they got, you know, even at bathrooms for God's sakes, it's just it's fun to see people get lit up like a kid at Christmas. So that's, that's the biggest part.

 Walt Sparling  05:50

Clean and fresh environment. 

 Derek Speer  05:52

It is it's great. And I like that I like providing that for people. Sometimes it's tough when you have you know, you're on a project for two years, takes a long time to see the fruits of your labor. Sometimes the little short, you know, one hitter's going through and banging something out in a month or two is kind of nice. But, but you don't usually get the bigger more grandiose projects with those. But the other part of it too is, is mentoring, I really enjoy that as well. I find that I do get some questions or some people needing advice here and there. I don't always have the best answer. But I feel like I talk through the solution well enough where others either agree or disagree, you know, maybe they don't like my answer. And that helps them push them to their answer. So that sometimes that is it, you know, and it's like, you know, they ask you What should I do here and be like, I don't know, what do you think you should do? And then you just, you know, talk to them like a shrink. Would you be talking to a shrink to say what are my problems is you figure it out on your own when you're talking to them? 

Walt Sparling  06:54

Good deal. So 26 years, critical facilities, then doing a lot of traveling. But even though with all that time, you probably still got to keep up, the industry is always changing, how do you do that? 

Derek Speer  07:06

You bet you really do. So there's a lot of learning. I mean, the company I work for now has great interior resources to be able to continue education. They have their own programs that they have things set up, you can kind of pick and choose some of the things you have to do on an annual or biannual basis, like cybersecurity training and things like that. But there's a lot of opportunities there. There are also things too, I mean, if I do some things on my own, want to get caught up to speed on some stuff. I might go search for things on YouTube, or there's this really great podcast, it's called PM Mastery. I don't know if you heard of it, but it's, it's excellent. So I'll chime in, pick up something new, they're too. 

Walt Sparling  07:45

Good deal, I appreciate the plug. Yeah. What's about what about challenges? Now, you've already mentioned a few, you know, mission-critical. You've got stuff that when it goes wrong, it's a huge impact. But in general, do you have anything that specifically you think is like a day-to-day or a regular challenge? 

Derek Speer  08:06

You know, I mean, honestly, for me, my biggest challenge is just having enough time, for everything. You know, when you have a family, it's different when you have a family because they got to come first. It's good to be with a company that knows that and feels that way also, you know, when you're in your 20s and stuff running around the country and traveling, you know, just trying to do everything you can. But when you have a family that time gets pretty compressed. So you got to make sure that you're efficient when you're at work. And that's probably the hardest part is trying to get everything done within the hours you have during the day.

Walt Sparling  08:43

 Okay, that's a pretty common answer. 

Derek Speer  08:46

Yeah. And I mean, to be honest with you, too, I mean, as much as you plan, right, and this, this episode's about planning, but as much as you plan ahead, the project manager, it's always just so volatile, man, it's just the best-laid plans can just vaporize instantly, just you come in the morning, you have everything laid out the way you want to do it for the day, you know, I got my list of five things I want to accomplish for the day. Right? And it's like some I had a boss one time that said, You know, I got a list of five things I want to do for the day each day. And if I can get one of those five things done, I consider my day a success. And so things can happen you come in and then next thing you know your whole day is completely rearranged and your plans just vaporized because someone did something or someone did something they weren't supposed to do or you encountered an existing condition and you got to roll with the punches and find some answers pretty quickly on an RFI. Those are the types of things that eat up the time in your day and everything you want to do today gets pushed to tomorrow, maybe.

Walt Sparling  09:44

Yeah, hear, hear. Alright, so challenges. Now to do all this and get this stuff accomplished. You got to have some favorite tools that you use. It could be hardware software, technology, what do you got?

Derek Speer  10:03

You know, I'm, I'm pretty old school and loving Excel. I use Excel for absolutely everything, I make spreadsheets to, to write up what spreadsheets I'm going to create. I mean, I just, I literally I do all my financial stuff, I do personal things, Christmas lists, you know, you name it, I put everything in Excel. And I like that, too. I mean, it for me, it also helps me double-check numbers sometimes, too. I mean, when you work with some project management software that we use, whether it's where I work now or other places I've worked, most major construction companies will have certain software they use, you know, it could be Timberline, or Prologue or CMIC, Expedition, there's a lot out there. And I have had things in Timberline even not show up properly in reporting. And these things all feed from a database. And you never know when things get funky. And I will have a spreadsheet of some of my major costs. And it's just like a double-check. And if I see something wonky in either space, it'll make me kind of dig in and check it a little bit. So Excel number one for me, I use it for everything. Other than that, though, I find what I use a lot and some of the new generations, a lot more technologically advanced with some of the new tools out there. But we use Blue Beam a lot. Blue Beam is like you know, it's PDF software. So instead of using Acrobat use Blue Beam, just because it seems to be quicker and easier and has all the functions that I'm used to it, we use that.  OneNote I use quite a bit. Lots of functionality there in OneNote as well, you can use it across multiple applications. So while I'm going between my laptop, and my iPad, my phone, you know, it's all in the same spot. So that's really handy. 

Walt Sparling  11:48

Yeah, well, Blue Beam, we've heard from a couple of folks and OneNote is pretty much I think there's only one person that came on and said they weren't, they didn't use it all the time, but they were in the process of learning it. So it's definitely one of the most popular apps out there, I'm really looking forward to doing more of a dedicated podcast and tie it to a blog post with some more detail and some of the cool things you can do with OneNote. 

Derek Speer  12:16

Yeah, I think there's some functionality there too. Like, I think I've only scratched the surface. I mean, I'm maybe at five or 10% of what that thing can actually do. But I worked with this one woman one time she was involved with furniture for a particular client around the country and what she would do is, she would go through her emails, and anytime that she had an email that there was a task assigned to it, you know, like a certain company and a certain thing she had to do, or someone on our team had to do, she had a way that she would pull that into OneNote, almost like a to-do list kind of thing. And she was going with this zero inbox theory for her emails, and then tried to push anything that needed an action into her OneNote and then track it there and then go through her activity list and check them off. So that her inbox was always clear. I've tried that, and I get 100 to 150 emails a day so I can't even keep up with that. But this person probably got maybe 50. So she could do it. But it has that functionality too.

Walt Sparling  13:14

Yeah, Outlook is one of my favorite tools for some of the stuff that you can do with it but I use different tools for different things. OneNote is something that's heavy. I actually type up my meeting minutes in OneNote, and then copy and paste them into a response email to the guests, so that I have all of those organized within OneNote. And then you can export that notebook with that project when you archive it.

Derek Speer  13:43

That's great. Do you know what else that helps with too? How many times have you been writing an email, and something's happened and that email gets pushed to the back or something happens, you have an update on your computer, and maybe that email you're writing goes away. But that OneNote, since it just automatically saves, you don't have to hit save, everything's there for you. So that avoids those little hiccups where you lose an email. It's a good idea.

Walt Sparling  14:07

True that. What I want to do now we're gonna break our normal format, because part of this podcast episode is about being prepared. And you know, you and I have had multiple conversations about this and compared notes. One of the things that I think makes a project manager successful is beyond you know, your basics, you got to be organized, you got to be a good communicator. You got to be able to build or maintain a team during the process and you got to keep your head about you. But a lot of that is accomplished by being organized and prepared. And to be prepared. I mean, that could be for a meeting. It could be for a field visit. Or you know, like a site visit. It could be for an interview which I just went through recently and it's all about you succeed based on how well you are prepared. So I wanted to talk a little bit about that, because you and I've had like I said, multiple conversations about this and there are a couple of quotes that I think are fitting. And one of the ones that I've heard so many times is by Benjamin Franklin, and it's by failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail. So that pretty much says it all. You're not prepared. You're not gonna succeed. 

Derek Speer  15:26

I totally agree with that. And it's even the little things too. I mean, obviously, with work, it's one thing but that kind of attitude helps, even at home. I mean, last night, I mean, we had to get up at seven in the morning at breakfast today and get out by eight so that he could be at his lacrosse matches by nine this morning. Okay. So last night, I made sure I had everything laid out for the morning ahead, his outfit made sure that the car was already prepped with all his lacrosse gear, you know, had all the socks, the shoes, everything was laid out already last night, everything was ready to go and the way things happen in the morning, you know, you got little bumps in the morning, maybe things don't go quite right. Maybe the breakfast doesn't go as smooth as it should sometimes. But we didn't have any problems like that, because I was already prepared the night before and it gave, the biggest thing I find about planning is it gives you confidence in what you're doing when it comes time for the actual meeting or showtime. Right? That confidence and having everything pulled together and prepared is invaluable. 

Walt Sparling  16:26

Yeah, and you're not you're not second-guessing. Like one of the big things when I first started with this company was alright, now I had a laptop, I used to work at a desk all the time now mobile, so I had to have a laptop. And then I got to go to these different conference rooms in different buildings across the state. And some of them have the cables and adapters that you need and some of them don't. And some of them have outlets where you can plugin and some of them don't. So it's okay. Over time, I started building stuff to put in my briefcase, or not a briefcase, but a laptop bag that I will take with me. So I would be prepared. And it got to the point where we go to meetings and other people come up say Hey, can I borrow your adapter? 

Derek Speer  17:06

Yes. They know you got it.

Walt Sparling  17:09

Yeah. Do you have one for this? Yeah, of course, I do, here you go, alright, thanks.

Derek Speer  17:13

Yeah, isn't that great, too. And you could just say it with calmness like, Yeah, I got it, of course. 

Walt Sparling  17:17

So I ended up starting to get extras because sometimes those things wouldn't come back and I would forget who I loaned it to. And so I wanted to one of the things I want to do, I was going through my, my laptop bag after you and I talked and I was thinking about some stuff, and you told me some things you carry. So I wanted to kind of go through some of the preparation things for meetings that I do, and stuff that I carry in my laptop bag.  So let's see I have Well, first of all, let's talk about the meeting itself for the meeting. I send out an agenda ahead of time. 








Derek Speer  17:54



Absolutely. 


 

Walt Sparling  17:55

The agenda says, Hey, we're going to talk about this. This is the call in number or the team's link, or the whatever and here's the support number. If you can't get in contact here, or here's my cell number, if you if you're having issues, get ahold of me.

 

Derek Speer  18:12

How invaluable is that team's link too by the way? I mean, it's like, even even a couple years ago, if you had a conference line, and you put the conference line in there, you need to get the line copied in there, put it in there. But the team's link you just click that in Outlook and it populates everything for you. It's so handy. 

 

Walt Sparling  18:29

Yeah. And there's, there's actually a couple apps like Zoom and Teams in the corporate environment is a little more automatic. But if you're maybe not in a corporate world in small business, you may have to add that functionality to Outlook. So there's there's tricks to doing it.

 

Derek Speer  18:45

Like an add on. 

 

Walt Sparling  18:46

Yeah, same thing with Zoom, Zoom's like that you can set it to do Zoom as well as WebEx. So now this year, with the way it's been, I've used like four different virtual meeting software. And that's the other thing is making sure that that link works that you you created, and that you've tested it. 

 

Derek Speer  19:08

And yes, test the link, for God's sakes.

 

Walt Sparling  19:11

Get on the meeting ahead of time if you can. And that's one of the things that I do is, I do like last or before the pandemic meetings would be, you know, one to two, two to three, three to four. And you're like, Okay, at what point do I get a drink of water? What time do I go to the bathroom, what time to write, you know, whatever. And I know everybody on the call is the same way. So I started doing five minutes before and after the hour, and it threw people off in the beginning. But now more and more people are getting used to it. And it's like okay, the meetings at 2:05 and if it's a half hour, it ends at 2:25 and if it's an hour and into 2:55. So it's round about that gives everybody kind of a chance to go do their thing and sit down. So that's just something I do to try to make it less stressful than when your three minutes or four minutes into the meeting and got people dropping in. It's like, I'm sorry, I had to go to the bathroom.

 

Derek Speer  20:03

Every single meeting. And you're so right on with that kind of whole philosophy and attitude there. And I'll do something similar. I usually start my meetings at about, about about three after I'll do the roll call the actual meeting, I started about five after. And I'm telling you, it's every single meeting, there's always people chiming in right around the 0 two, or 0 three or 0 four mark. So it just stops the disruption, if you just wait until them to actually start. 

 

Walt Sparling  20:28

It's funny, I found a kind of two situations, I find people that they see 2:05, but they show up at 2:00.  They are, like thrown off by that. And I've had a couple people ask me, why do you do that? But then I have some people that say, Oh, it's 2:05. So they show up at 2:06? It's like, you can't help some of these folks.

 

Derek Speer  20:46

Just don't want an inch, they'll take a mile. 

 

Walt Sparling  20:47

Yep. And then of course, you know, put in your hey, to me, it's like, put it in bold, and all caps, mute when you join the call. And one of the things I do to try not to be that guy is I go I make sure that my software Zoom Teams and WebEx that the default setting is set to camera off and microphone off. Absolutely. I'll turn them on once I get in. Because that is so frustrating. And now some of the some of the corporate environments they have the global mute because people can't seem to get a handle of it. And then you can tell they're not listening, because they're having conversations, and then someone's going Hello, mute your mic, and they're just still talking and then you gotta mute them. Oh, there's so many memes for that. 

 

Derek Speer  21:36

But the other thing, too, is when you're in a physical meeting right before COVID. But even even now, people will still have their phones on in a meeting. And so one of the things I like to say, when we get started is make sure everyone's got your phone's off. It's just, you know, it's just common sense and courtesy to do that. 

 

Walt Sparling  21:52

Yeah, when we were in the live world, which we don't do a lot of those anymore. But one of my pet peeves when I had meetings was phones and laptops. And if I have a director in my meeting, it's going to be tough for me to tell him Hey, close your laptop. But, and I did have one senior guy that came from another region, and he would come in and he flat out told me up front, he goes, listen, I do all my notes on my laptop, I'm not Facebooking I'm not Zooming, you know? And I'm like, okay, cool, I trust you. But I've had meetings where it's the team, and I will sit there, and everybody will just kind of smile, they know what's going on, and then they'll all look at the other person. And then they'll suddenly sense that there's an awful lot of quiet and they'll look up. And everybody's staring at him. And then I call and they get frustrated. they close their laptop that went on for a couple months. And now it's like, well, now it's virtual, they have to have it up. But they finally got it. And I'm like, I'm gonna start the meeting until you're here. You know, this is why we're here. If you don't want to be here, don't show up. 

 

Derek Speer  22:52

Yeah, absolutely agree with that. And it's a it's a shocking thing to when it gets real quiet and you look up and you see somebody looking at you, because you're the one talk and you're the one not paying attention. Or maybe you even asked that person, hey, what do you think? And they're on their phone, they're looking at something, and then they look up like huh? Could you repeat that? I mean, that's pretty irritating. I've had it before where I've had it had an owner's rep that would just pay no attention at all to the entire meeting was on the phone the whole time. And then, towards the end of the meeting, they'd asked a question that we covered 30 minutes ago. And it just used to frustrate me, I couldn't say anything about it, because they were, you know, they were our liaison way ahead of us. And I didn't feel like I could really say something at that point because he was irritating, but eventually finish up, those meetings are done. Or you may even come up with a different way to be able to get his attention so that you don't catch him off guard.

 

Walt Sparling  23:45

Yeah, you just kind of mentioned him in passing.  So now we've talked about all that, let's actually get down to the stuff that's in the laptop bag. So for me, I have extra pens, because your pen is going to run dry at some point, highlighters, notebook paper, I have a little project notebook that took me a few years to figure out what my favorite one was, and I can't tell you right now the model because I don't have it around me, but it's it's not the 8 1/2 by 11, it's a smaller version, which is easy to carry. And I make sure I always have that with me. I check ahead of time is there going to be Wi Fi there? Or am I going to need data although it doesn't matter because I do have a six foot I carry a six foot data cable with me just in case. So I have the patch cord. I have a six foot HDMI cable and then I have HDMI converters for VGA to HDMI, which is running in older offices you'll still see that, in the newer ones, it's now more of the non HDMI it's

 

Derek Speer  24:50

I'll see that both I mean I still carry a VGA with me too. I have an HDMI and VGA with me. I do have an adapter for DBI also HDMI to DBI Yep, 

 

Walt Sparling  25:01

display ports, the one that I've seen a lot of companies go into. So, so a couple of video converters. I have a PowerPoint clicker and a laser pointer. Now in a virtual meeting, that's useless. But you could use it for the PowerPoint if you want. 

 

Derek Speer  25:17

That's pretty handy. So it's PowerPoint clicker and laser pointer at the same time?

 

Walt Sparling  25:21

Yep, it's got a little Bluetooth connection, you just pop it out of the end of the pointer, throw it in your laptop, and it connects. And then you can walk around the room if you want and do your laser pointing and, and go through your jack, if you're if you're doing PowerPoint.

 

Derek Speer  25:35

That's outstanding, that would be a great Christmas gift 

 

Walt Sparling  25:37

and Whiteboard. It actually was one of the PMs in our team gave everyone one for Christmas, I think the year before last. 

 

Derek Speer  25:46

That's pretty thoughtful. 

 

Walt Sparling  25:47

Yeah, I have a mobile. So I have a dock at home with a power supply, I carry an extra power supply with me. 

 

Derek Speer  25:56

That's key too. That's so important. I'll keep one in my bag. I'll keep one in the trunk. And I'll have another one at home. So I have three different power supplies besides the one that I plugged into everyday at my desk. 

 

Walt Sparling  26:07

Yep. Extra, I carry a small extra wireless mouse. I'm not I am not good with a little touchpad. I can do it. But it's just I'm old school. I'm an old guy. So I like a mouse. I don't care how big it is. But I like a mouse. So if I have to do my touchpad, which maybe if I'm in an airport, and I'm sitting there doing work on my own, but if I have a flat surface, I'm pulling out the mouse. So I carry an extra one with batteries. Let's see charging block for the phone. If Well, if you have you USB and your laptop, you can always plug in but you got to have the cable at a minimum for your phone. 

 

Derek Speer  26:42

Good to have those cables. I mean that that's something like you mentioned having a prepared bag. I have a pouch as well. And I have like a lightning cable in there. I've got the mini USB, HDMI VGA as well. And then you know what a lot of people forget is to have some charge blocks in there too because you need to plug that USB into something and probably got to plug in the wall possibly. 

 

Walt Sparling  27:01

Yeah. And if you're already connected to you got your mouse USB connector on there and your, your PowerPoint, one, a lot of the newer laptops, I'm surprised they don't have more USB ports. But that is another thing I carry is a little block that has three additional ports in it. 

 

Derek Speer  27:18

That's great. 

 

Walt Sparling  27:18

It's very rare that I would need it but once in a while I'm using everything. Let's see lightning, okay, the lightning phone to audio jack. You know, if you carry headphones, like when I converted to the newer phone, all my old headphones didn't work. 

 

Derek Speer  27:32

Gotta hate that, don't you? I mean, really having to choose between having to plug in my phone or having my headphones plugged in my phone I hate that

 

Walt Sparling  27:43

I used to carry because I was always worried about batteries and charging. So I used to carry a wired mouse in wired headphones, I still carry wired headphones with the converter. So I can either plug it into my laptop or into my phone. But I got rid of the wired mouse and just carry an extra cordless one. 

 

Derek Speer  28:03

You know that that's when you think of it though. It's a pretty old school thing, because I'm trying to think of my, my daughters who hadn't really, really grown up with the cable so much, right? Everything's wireless with them, you know, and they're, they're, they're in their early 20s now, but everything's wireless for them. And I've heard the excuse multiple times, Oh, I'm sorry, you know, my, my, my earbuds weren't charged, or something like that or that died or my phone died and stuff like that.  That excuse to me just doesn't hold water in the business world. You know, if you got a meeting or something coming up, boy, you better make sure you got your your earbuds, your computer, your laptop, your phone charged. 

 

Walt Sparling  28:46

Yep

 

Derek Speer  28:46

That this this is that's a terrible excuse. And that's not planning that's not planning ahead.

 

Walt Sparling  28:52

And which is what this is all about. A lot of this stuff is stuff you just stick in your laptop bag once and it's there. You don't need to plan before every meeting because as you run into it, you go oh boy, it would have been nice if I had this. Well, you know what? Get on Amazon, go to your local Target or Walmart. Buy it, stick it in your bag. 

 

Derek Speer  29:11

Yep.

 

Walt Sparling  29:12

What else do we have? So I carry a tape measure. That's usually for like if I'm on a site and maybe we're looking at furniture stuff, things like that. 

 

Derek Speer  29:20

Yeah sitewalks. That's pretty important too, though, like, like you mentioned, you talked about an agenda prior to a meeting. I think it's pretty important when you have a sitewalk. If you got an agenda, print something out if you can and take it with you. Because it's just handy to be able to have something you can reference while you're about ready to start your sitewalk.

 

Walt Sparling  29:38

Yep, agreed. I also carry a six inch level it sticks right in the laptop bag. It's a little orange level. 

 

Derek Speer  29:46

You got a magnet on that too? 

 

Walt Sparling  29:47

This one I do not.  I don't believe it does. I know I have one that has one. I don't think this one does. I may have to upgrade it.

 

Derek Speer  29:50

That's just pretty handy.  Here we go. This is this is my favorite thing on my sitewalk kit. I actually keep it on my safety vest with me at all times to on the jobsite but having a flashlight slash laser combo, so it'll be a pretty intense LED flashlight. But it's also got a laser pointer on the end of it too. 

 

Walt Sparling  30:17

That's nice. 

 

Derek Speer  30:17

I can't tell you how often I use both of those. 

 

Walt Sparling  30:20

I actually carry in my safety vest for field visits, I have a separate tape measure and flashlight and a outlet tester in there, especially when you're doing furniture walks, you want to make sure that the outlets are working. So I'll have that when this one does both regular and GFIs. But I keep when I go in the morning, I got my boots on, I put in my small LED mini flashlight. And I have a pocket knife that has it's basically for opening stuff or maybe getting behind something and peeling it. It's it's not a universal. I do have a multi tool that I keep in the truck. I just don't carry it with me. I make sure that I always have hex both SAE and metric in the truck for opening things if necessary. 

 

Derek Speer  31:11

Good idea is that is it in the pocket knife in that little Swiss Army Knife thing?

 

Walt Sparling  31:15

No, I have actually separate I have a little tub, small tub in the back seat. 

 

Derek Speer  31:20

Okay, that's handy.  That handles that stuff.  You got the full kit? 

 

Walt Sparling  31:22

Yeah

 

Derek Speer  31:23

That's good. Well, you know, like a pocket knife will work really good too. I mean, so not everyone probably that listened. This isn't construction. But in construction, when you get on your punchlist walks, I can't tell you how many times you see something like maybe you got a a wall plate or something like that, that isn't quite straight, or maybe there's some blue painters tape on it. And it's handy to have that knife to either be able to maybe unscrew that, or use the knife a little bit to be able to get that piece of blue tape off. And then instead of having an item on your punchlist that goes away because you took care of it right then. 

 

Walt Sparling  31:56

Yeah, one of the things that you'd mentioned in a conversation we had, which I want to do, one of the most common colors for outlets now is white. And the thing that drives me crazy is when you do the punchwalk and they haven't finished, maybe maybe there's a future outlet or a data jack or an audio jack and now it's a hole in the wall. So it becomes an item.

 

Derek Speer  32:19

Or you on your walkthrough inspection with the Inspector? Right? And then somehow the electrician left off a blank or someone left a blank off? Yeah, if you have a couple blanks in your pocket, plus your little Swiss Army Knife screwdriver thing, you can fix that problem right there. 

 

Walt Sparling  32:35

Yep. True. True. I love that one, that one is definitely going to go into to my kit. 

 

Derek Speer  32:41

I've had many laughs too when I've whipped one of those outta my pocket. Like, why are you carrying that with you? I'm like, hey, it's telling you over 26 years, I can't tell you how many times I've had to do it.

 

Walt Sparling  32:53

So okay, so that's kind of your laptop bag, which is great for meetings and we talked about some stuff that you can take in the field and then another one, that's big for me, I know, I cover the state of Florida. So when I go to a project, it could be 15 minutes away, or it could be four hours away. I don't go way up in the panhandle. But we do have PMs that do. And the one thing is are you going to meet people there? The types of facilities I work on are secure. So we have to have access into the facility. So you need to check that before you go in case you don't have access.  If you have people coming to the site that are going to meet you there, do they have access? Because some of our contractors are badged some are not, but if they're not, you got to get there early enough to get them in.

 

Derek Speer  33:40

Well, and some places might require you to do a check on somebody too. So like let's say, for instance, you go down to Macdill Air Force Base or something like that. You just can't walk on with somebody. I mean, you have to get prior approval, you have to have their name and whoever is going to be there and they have to run that check to be able to even give you approval to bring that person. 

 

Walt Sparling  33:56

Yeah. Last thing you got to do is meet someone on site that just drove an hour to get there and go, Oh, I didn't know we had to do that. 

 

Derek Speer  34:02

Yeah, yeah, it makes you look the fool.

 

Walt Sparling  34:04

Not prepared.

 

Derek Speer  34:05

Not prepared. 

 

Walt Sparling  34:06

So in the invites, the other thing I do is I'll put the address line in the subject or the location, which one time I did that and I actually was off by a digit and I was getting phone calls, hey, I'm here, but I don't see any buildings. And it was it was the wrong number. But I mean, it's the right one, it works great, because then they can pop it into their GPS or pull it up on their phone and get to the site. I'll usually include a site map. So it'll be a Google shot of the site and some of our sites are pretty big, they might have multiple buildings, so you'll tell them where the main gate is where they have to check in, and then you say meet me over here. And it's like, here's the directions that you drive, this is where we'll all meet, because otherwise they get in the sight and they're flike, but where the heck do I go? 

 

Derek Speer  34:52

Yeah, if you're meeting multiple people too you can't take three or four phone calls of people saying hey, I'm trying to, where are you at, I don't see you. You got to be pretty specific in your notes about where to meet. If you're at a parking lot, you know, where in the parking lot are you meeting, you meeting outside the building or in the building in the lobby. It's It's nice to be very, very clear, not just what the address there, that map is beautiful. But also, you know where on that location you're going to gather. 

 

Walt Sparling  35:17

Yep. And I've learned that over time, too, because you get a few questions and you go, Wow, I could have probably covered that better. So now I do the site maps. And then in the lower left, I put my, my name my phone number. And I'm like, if you're going to be late, call this number. 

 

Derek Speer  35:31

Yes. 

 

Walt Sparling  35:32

Because this is how we'll know because we're sitting around waiting for you don't want them running around the site trying to find and then people like, Who are you? What are you doing over here?

 

Derek Speer  35:42

You can tell about people being prepared, like I mentioned earlier about being calm, okay. And I mean, part of our job is to be, you know, we're professional organizers and communicators, right? If you want to see somebody come unglued. You you look at somebody that didn't make good preparations on their meeting, inviter and gathering a bunch of people together somewhere, okay, and then watch them not have their stuff together, when everyone starts showing up late or not in the same spot, and you watch them scramble, right? It's like if if you could have spent 5 to 10 minutes, planning and preparing ahead of time to make sure everyone's going to get there, you're going to look like you're professional, and everyone's going to go nice and smooth. Rather than spending the first 10 minutes of your walkthrough, scrambling around, freaking out trying to get everything pulled together. Because if you're somebody that's your customer or client, and you see the guy that pulled us all together, scrambling around like that, you don't want that guy working for you.

 

Walt Sparling  36:40

Yeah, what's the next thing he or she is not gonna miss? 

 

Derek Speer  36:42

Exactly.

 

Walt Sparling  36:44

So one of the things and there's a lot of other items here, and we're gonna go through, but one of the plans that I have is I want to take these and I have like my own project checklist. But a lot of these may have just become ingrained. So I don't actually look at a checklist because it's just standard operating procedure. It's like I've formed a habit. But I'm going to put an Excel spreadsheet out on the resource page and put maybe a tab for meetings and a tab for site visits and say, Hey, think about these things. And if they if they don't apply to you, when you download it, delete that line. And then just a few times, maybe for a month or two, pull this list out and go through it. Did I do that or did I do this and then once once it's ingrained in you pass the checklist on to someone else that's struggling.

 

Derek Speer  37:32

It's a great idea it might be in your head. But there's some people that are just getting started out trying to figure out how to grow, how to make themselves better and if you were to provide that checklist for people like that, it'd be a great headstart. 

 

Walt Sparling  37:43

So that is definitely on my list. In my OneNote list of things to do site access, we talked a little bit about security and all that there's also nowadays COVID forums, you know this, 

 

Derek Speer  37:55

yep if you're walking, that's really, really handy too 

 

Walt Sparling  37:55

in your projects, they do it different ways. Sometimes it's a paper form, sometimes it's electronic, you have to do ahead of time, or you have to scan a barcode, to verify, you got to do temperature checks all of that. If people have to go through that it's good to let them know upfront, hey, when you get there, you need to report to this location, you need to go through their check in process, you need to answer some questions. And if there's a form you fill out, the form is attached to this invite, please print it and fill it out.  Clipboard, I carry an 11 by 17, clipboard in the truck. And that way I can do at least a reduced size set of plans that I can put on it and carry around. Also, if I just need a place to write something, even if I don't have plans, Yes. And then the phone obviously to take photos, there are some tricks with photos. 

 

Derek Speer  38:46

Well, here's something too ahead of time on the photos, make sure that you have approval with whoever you're going to walk through it to be able to take those photos because a lot of people are coming there maybe don't even have a notepad with them. Because if they're just going to document everything with photos, they could say, hey, by the way, we're not allowed to take photos in this facility. Well, that changes their whole plan of what they're going to do how they're going to take notes. 

 

Walt Sparling  39:06

Yep. And it might be something where you can say okay, I can take photos, because I know what is allowed to be taken photos of and I'll take them and send them to you. But you got to ask before and you know this from working in the critical facilities, and on some of the sites I've worked on. It's it is that is a very good very good point. So what else we have so photos, but when it comes to taking photos, one of the things, especially a lot of those photos you're going to use for yourself, but you're also going to share them with other people. And you saw something you're walking down the hall or you're walking up to something outside and you see it, you go up to it, you take the picture, you're six inches away, you grab it, you go on to the next thing and then you download all the photos and the next teammate comes in and he goes this is great. I have no idea where this is or what the context of the surroundings are. 

 

Derek Speer  39:56

Right.  But you know, what a great point and I can tell with that, that you've been through this before, like, you may have taken a picture and later on, you go back and share it, you're like, where was this. So I've done things before where I've taken a picture, you know, like a distance picture, and then kind of zoomed in the area. So when I have those two pictures, I can relate to one another. 

 

Walt Sparling  40:16

Yeah, I used to work in electrical. So we used to do a lot of electrical room as building before, you know, we just see what kind of breakers what size, how many circuits are in the panel, etc. So you'd start out from the back of the room, you take a whole picture. And sometimes you might have to just turn and do a three point, you know, take a picture of this side, this wall, this wall, then you start walking through. And the first thing you do is you take a picture of the panel name. And then you take a picture of the circuit breakers and you go to the next one, we did some energy review projects, we were based out of Clearwater, and the projects that we were working on, were in Miami, and we had to go from site to site and document everything, then we'd spent a week there, go back to Clearwater, and then start doing all the plans. Well, you're not going to be able to drive back to Miami, and get that shot or remember where that was. So you better have some good procedural photo taking methods in place before you go. And I learned that early on.  So that that is something when you're taking photos, think about your audience. And some people will do a video and then do the photos. Because then you can always pan and say, oh, okay, I didn't know I had to take a photo of that. But I do have it in the video. 

 

Derek Speer  41:29

Great idea, Hey, I got two tricks on photos for you. Okay. One of them is. So we use boxx.com for a lot of our files sharing, or whatever the projects that I work on, one of the things they have is an app called capture. And what we'll do is if you take a photo with the capture tool instead of just the regular photo app on your phone, it will store them right in whatever folder you ask it to put it. So if you're on a site walk through for XYZ, you set up a folder ahead of time, you know, site walkthrough XYZ, January, and you set up that folder, whenever you take a photo, it'll go right to it.   That was one item. Another item I thought was kind of handy sometimes is my daughter's use that stupid Snapchat app all the time. And I just think it's ridiculous. Because they just take pictures of themselves back and forth reacting to whatever. But I've, I had to download it because they would want to send me snapshots. And then I started using it. Because I went on a walkthrough one time, and I was taking some mock up photos. And I ended up using Snapchat to take a photo and then I would use the app itself to be able to write a note. So it'd be South elevation of this mock up, right. And that would go around, take another photo, and then put right in the text. So in the photo itself, it had text already with it that explained what it was. Oh, yeah, really handy on like a like a walkthrough or like maybe even a punchwalk or something. Something minor. 

 

Walt Sparling  43:01

Yeah, it's very rare. Now that I take, I will take a notebook with me when I do punchwalks. But I tend to use photos as my triggers. And then just soon as I get out, because you're walking around, you're carrying stuff, you're in gear, and it's easier. I'll do the walk, then I'll go back. I'll send the photos to myself. And then I'll do my notes. And then put together the punchlist and then I use the photos as my trigger. But it is nice if you can actually note it in there. 

 

Derek Speer  43:28

Yeah, absolutely. 

 

Walt Sparling  43:29

I have tons of stuff with photos. I mean, different apps that I use, how I converted them to different sizes, because they get crazy size on phones. But we'll save that for another time. The other thing is that the other two items that I think are big is planning the trip and planning for the environment when you get there. We're in Florida. And you have Yeah, we don't get really cold weather but we do it you know, we get it. And if you're out there walking a site and you're wearing a short sleeve shirt, you're gonna freeze to death. You got to have backup for a long sleeve shirt or maybe a light sweater. Is it gonna rain? 

 

Derek Speer  44:06

Right?

 

Walt Sparling  44:07

Do you have an umbrella? Do you have a raincoat? Did you check that before you went? Because maybe you should have really canceled the meeting because it's an outside sidewalk and it's gonna be raining and you can't do it. 

 

Derek Speer  44:16

You have to check the weather, especially in Florida. Absolutely. 

 

Walt Sparling  44:19

You guys I know check it on a regular basis because you have to plan your work around it. So there's the weather from both a hot or cold like me, I sweat and it's not pretty, but I make sure I have a spare shirt in the truck all the time. And if I'm working on an  outdoor site, and I'm walking around for an hour looking at stuff, I'm done, I'm soaking and I get in the truck. I have a little towel and I put on a clean shirt. I don't want to show up at the next meeting and smell like you know, whatever. 

 

Derek Speer  44:51

I keep a spare polo shirt in the trunk also, at least once maybe twice a year. I will have a need for it for something.  Maybe I'm doing something different for the day, maybe I'm going to be outside more than I thought. And instead of using, you know, a collared long sleeve shirt, I'm maybe if I'm going to be out in the field all day, I will just go switch that out for the nice, you know, moisture wicking Polo that I have in the back. So it's pretty handy to just keep that with you. 

 

Walt Sparling  45:17

It's amazing over time, how you start changing your attire to address what you've been through. So I use wicking shirts now all the time. If I can't find one, like I have a couple neon yellow shirts, because you go to a site, if it's not a roadway shirt, you don't need the reflective, but you can get away with yellow. So I will do yellow Polos, the bright yellow Polos, so they don't have to wear the heavy vest. And I can walk around the site still be seen. And I don't have to deal with the vest. 

 

Derek Speer  45:52

Yeah, high viz shirt doesn't have to be a vest, high viz shirt will work. 

 

Walt Sparling  45:56

My first set of boots, I remember in the field where this very expensive leather, steel toe steel bottoms, I can't even think insulating for electrical shocks. Oh my God, I wore those for a few months and was like, this is insane. 

 

Derek Speer  46:16

It was like walk around with concrete on your feet. Right? 

 

Walt Sparling  46:18

exactly, and I finally ended up getting a set of they look like combat boots. But they're actually made by Nike, lightweight composite toes. And they are once you lace them up, they have a zipper side with a little Velcro latch to lock the zipper in place. So once you get it once you have the the strings where you want it and it's the right fit, you then zip them up, pop over the little Velcro that holds the zipper. And then when you get home, you undo the Velcro on zip and take them off. I think I I've tied my boots this last year, maybe once and it's because I accidentally got in the came home and pulled the string and undid them. Otherwise it's like oh, I don't even have to do that. So they're super convenient, super lightweight. And they meet all the safety requirements. So I'm good with it. And they come in different colors. If you don't like the beige, you can get a dark brown. And I think they even have a black version. 

 

Derek Speer  47:17

Nice. 

 

Walt Sparling  47:17

Which talking about boots and safety vests. The other thing that's important is just PPE in general. And as you know, you deal with all kinds of PPE beyond just going out to a site visit and having a vest and a hardhat and boots. It depends on what kind of work you're doing to what kind of PPE you need.  But it's important to know, you know, we, hey, what's your cuz I've been on some of your company sites. And their requirements are not the same as others. Like, 

 

Derek Speer  47:49

yeah, those are a little more stringent, yep.

 

Walt Sparling  47:52

Yeah, they had one site where they required everyone to wear gloves no matter what. 

 

Derek Speer  47:56

Yep, that's our standard 

 

Walt Sparling  47:57

and like I, I carry a pair of gloves in the car, but I don't take them unless I'm going to be doing something and there, you had to have no matter what. So knowing these things up front, so that you don't get not get access to a site, or you can't go into an area. And I have fortunately I have the power on on my projects. And if I walk onto a site and I don't have the gear, I can tell people to stop working because I'm in charge. But do I really want to be the guy that stops the job?

 

Derek Speer  48:27

Right? 

 

Walt Sparling  48:28

So better to be prepared. 

 

Derek Speer  48:30

Yeah, and you know, I mean, there's, there's so many places to that depending on what kind of gear you have or don't have, you know, there's probably certain areas you can't get into. So it's, it's really key to be able to understand those things ahead of time. You know, eye protection is another big one to some people don't think that it's as important. But, you know, even if I'm not planning on doing anything myself, it doesn't mean that there isn't somebody above you around you, that doesn't drop something as simple as a screw, or maybe a bit coming out of a drill that can just hit and bounce off a rung on the ladder and bounce up in your eye. So safety glasses is pretty key too. 

 

Walt Sparling  49:08

Yeah, I actually hate those big clunky ones. You can go on site and they go are those safety and I go well I have polycarbonate lenses, but I don't have the side shields. And they go, well, you're gonna have to wear these so I got a set of you know, 

 

Derek Speer  49:21

around the glasses. 

 

Walt Sparling  49:22

Yeah. And then I'm like, this is crap. So the next time I went got glasses, I got my normal glasses. And then I got a nice set of safety glasses that were prescription including the the auto change, I can't think what it's called but they darken and lighten with the sun because sometimes you're inside the building sometimes you're out

 

Derek Speer  49:43

right

 

Walt Sparling  49:44

The first time I did them I got a single lens single vision. But then I found out I couldn't fill out forms because I'm like I said I'm older. So I have to have that bifocal so the next is a few glasses I got I got with the bifocal so you'll learn as you go. 

 

Derek Speer  50:01

Yeah

 

Walt Sparling  50:02

but you got to know if they need safety glasses. Do they need a pretty much everyone needs boots and hardhat, gloves or so so safety glasses are very common. Vests can be a regular bright yellow or bright orange depends on the standard of the site. But if you're working near roadway, you got to have the reflective reflective stripes on it.

 

Derek Speer  50:22

Yes.  So yeah, it's good to have some if you got some visitors with you, too. I know I keep some at the job site. But if I'm going to have guests visiting me, I will have extra safety gear with me just in case they either don't have any or they forgot. So I'll take some with me. 

 

Walt Sparling  50:38

That's a good point. And I do in my truck, I carry one extra safety vest as a pair of safety goggles and a hardhat. And because sure enough, someone shows up and they go like, oh, I didn't know that we needed that. So yeah, you do and it's going to be useless if you don't go. So here.  And that's just one of those things you pick up. So that's being prepared.  Multi tools good for when you're doing site stuff. What else do we got here? Planning. We talked a little bit about the driving with for the weather, but there's also the trip. So a lot of people will they they'll kind of prepare. So the night before they'll go, Okay, I'm going to Orlando and I'm going to this address. How long is it going to take me to get there and they google it? And it says, Okay, one and a half hours? Okay, fine. So I leave leave one and a half hours early. But you checked in at eight o'clock at night. 

 

Derek Speer  51:33

Right.

 

Walt Sparling  51:33

Google says yeah, there's nothing going on right now. Then you get up in the morning, and you're 45 minutes late. So well, Google said an hour and a half. Well, 

 

Derek Speer  51:43

they didn't plan on rush hour. 

 

Walt Sparling  51:45

Right. So you got to think about that rush hour, whether it be morning, lunchtime, or evening, and depending on the city too like Orlando is a nightmare to get out of if you get anywhere near Disney or downtown. 

 

Derek Speer  51:58

Oh, yeah. 

 

Walt Sparling  51:59

And then weather if it, is it raining?  Did you see any when you're doing the Google? Did you see any construction signs on the Google map? it can totally change your speed if reduced.

 

Derek Speer  52:10

You know, it really depends on where you live too. Like even here in Florida. I mean, when it rains, sometimes it rains like it's a monsoon practically. And that will really slow the traffic down. But like if you're in the Midwest, where I, I spent a lot of time there, and even New York area. Sometimes you get those snows or sleet, and you add a lot more time on your commute. It is not a good excuse, if you're late, or if anyone else is late because they didn't plan for the weather. 

 

Walt Sparling  52:11

No. 

 

Derek Speer  52:12

It's just just you have to be better than that. And that is not a good excuse. 

 

Walt Sparling  52:42

And I mean, there's there's more stuff on this list that we haven't even talked about. But it's going to be very similar in nature. And a lot of people might go oh my God, you've already thrown out so much stuff. That's a lot of stuff. It's like, but I made this list from memory. I do not have a checklist for this. Because I just did it to experience and I've gotten burned. And it's like, you know, I'll let it happen once, maybe twice. But that's about it. And I'm gonna learn from that. And you after you do that, you know, what am I doing tomorrow I got a field visit, what time do I have to be there seven. Okay, that's about a two hour drive. From what I know, Google says it's an hour and a half, I'm gonna throw myself in a half an hour. Plus, I know I gotta get coffee. And or it's gonna be raining. And or my bladder is going to be full when I get halfway there. So I gotta go to a rest area or a Wawa or something. You gotta plan that into your trip. Cuz you don't want to be the last person to show up for your meeting. 

 

Derek Speer  53:47

Hey, and if it takes 30 minutes to get somewhere, it doesn't mean you leave 30 minutes before to get there. I mean, what's wrong with leaving an hour beforehand? If it's only gonna take 30 minutes, save yourself all the pressure and stress. Maybe once you get there, you didn't know how to get there before anyway. So show up early, and then go get your coffee once you know where it's at. 

 

Walt Sparling  54:08

Yeah, 

 

Derek Speer  54:08

Take it easy. 

 

Walt Sparling  54:09

Good point. And the thing is, it's never going to be perfect. You can plan and something's going to happen. There's going to be an accident.  I actually had I was headed to a site and there was a car accident, and everybody drove right by it. And I'm like, what the hell I pulled over, ran up to the guy. He bashed into the guardrail. He was in shock, called 911 waited till they got there. So I was late. But I had a really good reason. 

 

Derek Speer  54:35

Yeah, 

 

Walt Sparling  54:35

but things can happen. And the thing is, you just don't want to be the guy that's always late or 50% of the time you're late.  Like we're going to dinner with a friend tonight. And my wife was like, oh, they'll be like, don't worry about it. They know and you get that label as a professional. That's not a label you want. 

 

Derek Speer  54:56

No especially as project manager 

 

Walt Sparling  54:58

because that is being organized and planning, you're the planner. 

 

Derek Speer  55:02

Mm hmm. 

 

Walt Sparling  55:03

So I will put together a checklist and I'll get it out on the resource page. And people can download that and see if it's something they can use to build some good habits. And you want to add anything else. I know, we covered a lot of stuff. But you got any good ideas to add to that? 

 

Derek Speer  55:21

Well, I mean, you know, some of this was getting planned and prepared before you go somewhere, like if it's a meeting or a site visit. But the other thing is, too is you got to take the time afterwards to be able to document anything you saw, or whatever you did, right. I mean, you can't wait to the next day, just like meeting minutes sometimes get to the meeting minutes and do and while it's fresh in your heads that awaiting the next week or a couple of days. Just do it right away. And so if you document your trip, document the action items, and who's responsible for what and when it's very handy, even before you, you know, disperse, and everyone leaves to say okay, so let's recap a little bit. You're getting me this, and then you're going to call me about that you're going to get a hold of this guy. So just do a recap before everyone leaves. 

 

Walt Sparling  56:08

Yeah, one of the things I've started doing, not for entire minutes, but I'll try to write down but I will use my phone to do voice memos. Because right now that stuff is fresh. So I'll either voice text it in like an app like Keep, or I will in an email, or I'll just do a voice message. And then when I get back to wherever I need to be, I can listen to that voice message and go oh, yeah, don't forget to do this and call Bob. You know, whatever.

 

Derek Speer  56:37

Yeah, mental note or captain's log or something like that. Right? 

 

Walt Sparling  56:40

Exactly.  Perfect.  Use your tools, and maximize. So that that's good. This is the longest episode we've ever had. 

 

Derek Speer  56:50

It doesn't seem like it's been that long to be honest with you. 

 

Walt Sparling  56:52

I know it doesn't. But we're coming up on an hour here. 

 

Derek Speer  56:56

I've only had three beers this whole time. It doesn't seem like it's it's gone this fast.

 

Walt Sparling  57:01

I'm drinking water, man. 

 

Derek Speer  57:03

Oh, what? 

 

Walt Sparling  57:04

So the final thing is we're now we're going to kind of wrap up from the normal interview. And one of the things that I've done at work is do this little episode thing called did you know and it's something I do in meetings and the PM team likes it because it's something new, it's a little different,  breaks up the monotony. I always asked the guests, do you have something that you think other people might not know about that would fit in the did you know that you could share? 

 

Derek Speer  57:36

Well, that's that's a that's a tough one. Because I've heard some of yours before the grape one in the microwave is particularly good. I did not know that. And I have not experimented with it yet. But I will probably one day. And since I'm an adult, I could supervise myself. But, you know, this one's kind of goofy, and everyone probably knows it already. But you know, those ketchup cups, that you go to your go to Portillo's, you go to somewhere that you can now now at the COVID, you really can't go get your ketchup in a little pump thing. But yeah, the little white ketchup cups, they got the little grooves around the side, right? Do you know that you can kind of pull apart those grooves, you go around the rim, and just kind of give a little tug, and you open it up each one. And you can practically double the size of your cup. And instead of it just being this little round, tiny cup that's about you know, half inch deep. Now you can open up the diameter of it quite a bit bigger. And now you got a mound of ketchup. Instead of just this little tiny cup you're trying to fit. You know, three french fries in.

 

Walt Sparling  58:36

Yeah, I don't think I've ever tried that or thought about that. That is 

 

Derek Speer  58:39

Yeah, I will give credit to my daughter. And this is before there was a bunch of YouTube stuff out there on it. I don't know where she heard it. And it was years and years ago. But I've been using it ever since.

 

Walt Sparling  58:52

Alright, so something to try when we go back to the old ketchup pumping. 

 

Derek Speer  58:56

Yeah.

 

Walt Sparling  58:57

If we ever do. All right, Derek, this has been fun.  It's a lot of information out there. It gives me some more homework to do on the checklist. I definitely appreciate you coming on. And when we come up with another topic that we need to dive into, I may give you a call back. 

 

Derek Speer  59:18

Absolutely anytime. This is a lot of fun to be able to talk about this stuff. So anything I can do to either learn something myself from you or other people to get myself better, or if there's anything that I've learned that can help anybody else I am more than willing and happy to be able to share and be a part of it. 

 

Walt Sparling  59:34

Awesome. Well, I appreciate your time, sir. You enjoy your evening. And for everyone else. We'll see you on the next episode of PM Mastery. 

 

Intro  59:43

Thanks for listening to the PM Mastery podcast at www.pm-mastery.com be sure to subscribe in your podcast player. Until next time, keep working on your craft.