Friday, May 29, 2009

Working Outline of an Introduction to Twitter

I'm working on an introduction to Twitter. I'm not skilled enough to be a guru yet.

Here's an outline. Give me your comments on what else I should cover.

What is Twitter?
  • How does it work?
  • What does it do?
  • What are the benefits?
Suggestions for how to learn about using Twitter
  • View an Overview
  • Setup an account (details below)
  • Follow what's going on for a while
  • Observe RT, @, #FollowFridays
  • Find out about Hashtags - maybe make one of your own
  • Then, Dive in and start posting messages
Setting up a Twitter Account
  • Web
  • Phone
Suggestions for newbies
  • Follow first before being followed
Following
  • What it means to have followers
  • How to follow someone
  • Examples
How to find people and topics

How to use Twitter to send messages (Tweet)
  • Short URLs (links)
  • Twitter commands
  • Special Twitter text (#, RT, @ replies, DM, etc.)
  • Twitter hashtags (#FollowFriday, hashtag.org,etc)
Getting followers
  • How to get followers
  • Good practice when someone follows you
Great uses of Twitter

References:
  • http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o&feature=player_embedded
  • http://www.usetrackthis.com (track packages via twitter)

Being grounded here or in the kingdom

This past Sunday, the preacher spoke on 1 Corinthians 6.

Read it, it's great!
It speaks about today being the day of salvation, not putting a stumbling block in someone's path, and not being unequally yoked.

Pastor Dick was going over each of those points. I liked how he explained that we can't be perfect, but we can try to not put a stumbling block in someone's path to prevent them from knowing Christ.

Yet, while reading it, one verse hit me. It was an epiphany!

Verse 10 says, paraphrased, we don't own anything, but yet own everything.

I got to thinking (yes, Pastor Dick, my mind went off on another rabbit trail while you were speaking), sometimes I buy things and then become a slave to them. Why, just this week I was telling my wife we need to pray that things stop breaking down. The engine light has been coming on for both of our cars lately. The last time I had ours fixed, it was a few thousand dollars. Our friends have it happening too. Nancy told us the other day that her dryer broke down and now the oven. They're only 10 year old appliances. But, she was able to use her mom's 30 year old oven that still works!

Well, I got to thinking about how we start to acquire these "things" and they make us feel comfortable. They make us feel well grounded and stable here on earth. But, they fail.

Jesus asked in Matthew 16:26 that what will it be profit to us if we gain the whole world, but forfeit our soul? In Romans 12:2 the Bible tells us to no longer conform to this world. The Bible reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:7 that we brought nothing into this world and we can't take anything from it when we leave.

And, in Matthew 6: 18-21 (one of my favorite passages), Jesus encourages us to seek first his kingdom and we'll have what we need. We will have riches in the kingdom where moth and rust don't destroy!

So, I'm going to be seeking his kingdom. It's greater than this one. Now, that's encouragement!

Parenting Tip... waiting up for the children to come home

Last night I was reminded of a tip we learned a few years back when we had more of our children in the teen years. I thought I'd share it for those of you with teens.

We'd set a time when they had to be home by (depending on their age and the amount of trust they earned). Let's just say 11:30pm for this story. Well, we'd be tired and didn't want to wait until then. We wanted a bit of shut-eye.

So, we'd just turn the light on in their room and then we'd fall asleep. Sometimes we'd set the alarm for 11:30pm, but after a while you tend to get used to waking up and checking anyway. When they came home, they'd get ready for bed and turn the light out. When we woke up at 11:30pm, we'd check their light. If it was off, we were assured they were home. If it was still on, it was time to get the phone out and start making calls.

Two other points:
  • Set the alarm for 11:15pm, then you can get some shut-eye and be awake when they come home. Many times they like to talk when they get home, so this is a good opportunity for a parent to get to be a part of their lives.
  • Cell phones are ubiquitous now (more so than when our children were that age) so it makes it easy to contact them. But, what if their cell runs out of battery? What if they're in a cell phone dead-zone? Or what if it's too loud where they are and they don't hear you calling? The point is: make sure you have the numbers of some of their friends and even their friends parents, so you'll always have a fall-back plan if you can't get in touch with them.
Hope it helps!

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Dog helped me realize...

My dog helped me realize why I enjoyed this weekend so much.

Sometimes you just don't get to see your favorite family members and friends as much as you like. You look forward to the next time, but you don't know when it will be.

I was so happy to see so many of my family and friends this past weekend!
I was trying to think of a way to express how much I enjoyed seeing everyone.

Then, I arrived home after not being there since Friday night. Our dog, Toby, was so excited to see Ruth and me. Then, within 5 minutes, our daughter K- showed up with her Fiance B- and within a minute more, Grandpop showed up too. Toby was just so happy he just couldn't stop wagging his tail and jumping all around.

Then it dawned on me. Seeing so many of my family and friends this weekend was just like that. I had enjoyed finally seeing them all and it was just so great!

Friday, May 22, 2009

PM Controversy: Ratio of Developers to BAs

Let me first set up the background to this controversial question and then I'd like to have your comments here.

Just as Sacha Chua said when we talked two weeks ago, it's great to keep in touch with friends and colleagues through social networking tools like linkedin and facebook, but it's even better to meet face-to-face!

Yesterday, David (a coworker who just passed his PMP last week-YEAH David!) invited me to a great lunch with Betty (a PMP who I used to volunteer with several years ago in the local PMI chapter) and her husband, Jonathan, who's worked in roles as a Developer, BA, and PM. David had worked with Betty years ago and this was a chance for us all to catch up.

We were having a great discussion and then Jonathan dropped the "controversial" question:
What do you think is a good ratio of developers to Business Analysts (BAs)?

I sensed an awkward pause of quietness in the conversation...

Well, I guess I inherited this from my dad, he often says and asks things that are bordering on the absurd to illicit a response from people. So, to break the "ice" my response was: "One to one. That's worked for us on some difficult projects in the past where we're redesigning a system from scratch (i.e. Business Process Reeengineering: BPR)."

Well, it did what I hoped, it opened things up for a great discussion.

Jonathan added that it depends on whether or not the BAs are also testers too. And, it depends on the type of project. We also discussed that it depends on the knowledge of the domain by the BAs and the type, competency level, and experience level of the BAs.

It's the classic PM response to any question: "It Depends!"

I was wondering what your answer would be to the question of what a good ratio of Developers to BAs is. What's worked for you? Please comment!

I'm planning to post responses in a few weeks over at PMlessonsLearned.com!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Use the GROW coaching model to increase performance

Many coaching organizations use the G.R.O.W. model to coach people to better performance.

The model is simple to remember:

G = Goal: what is the goal you are trying to obtain?
R = Reality: Where are you now?
O = Options/Opportunities: What are the options available?
W = Will: What will you do? What option do you select and how will you do it?

I've heard from several sources that this model was created by Sir John Witmore.

I find this particularly helpful in my own life when:
  • Considering a decision (at home or work)
  • Approaching my manager/boss with an issue (I walk him through my answers to each step in this method)
  • Coaching someone else (It helps them to think through the issue, possible options, and action step)
I hope this helps you in your life as much as it has me!

Studying for the PMP Exam

I have a lot of requests from people asking me how to study for the PMP Exam.

By far, my biggest suggestions are:

If you have any further questions, please contact me using the contact link

Public Speaker: Henry Will IV

Henry Will is available to do the following presentations:


Publications:

Bio:

Henry Will, PMP is currently a Project Manager responsible for a PMO at IBM. He is working to obtain audit readiness for the Lender Services organization.

Henry founded and leads a group of hundreds of project managers from around the globe in a group he began in May 2006 called PMLessonsLearned.com. The group holds several conference calls a month for and by Project Managers. Calls rotate each month through sharing lessons learned, PMP Exam Preparation and a PM Job Shop call. Henry is the host of the monthly PM Best Practices calls.

Henry’s project management experience began with his involvement in the early 1980’s in Military Avionics projects, continued through years of industrial and consumer product design (including video games and a Veterinarian Blood Chemistry Analyzer for which he is named on the patents), and in recent years with business applications (Banking, Financial investments, Pharmaceutical, Industrial, Manufacturing and publishing).

Mr. Will has worked on small to medium size projects (lasting 7 weeks to 4 years) in product development and software development in both local and global environments.

Please use the "contact" link to contact Henry to schedule a speaking engagement

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guitar, Music Theory, and a Capo

A good friend of mine was telling me about his piano lessons. He takes lessons with another good friend of mine: Steve Mugglin, one of many of my friends who are helping me to learn the guitar.

The piano learner went into what he was learning: the whole idea of music theory: notes and chords and their relation to each other. He showed me a circle of chords and how they are related and which ones go together. Then he told me about a website that Steve has called http://mugglinworks.com/chordmaps/index.htm - wow, I spent lots of time reading through that and got lost in a few places. I'll have to ask for directions to get back home again after reading it, but I know I learned a lot and want to get that all to sink in!

This past weekend, I saw Steve. I wanted to ask him about capos. I have one for my guitar that my wife gave me as a gift, but I don't know how to use it. He say to just put it on and play. He told me how it would just bring the guitar up a half-step for each fret. I should have realized that. So, I got home and tried it the next day. It's so great. The scales all work. The chords all work. Now, I just need to figure out how it effects the music I play if I'm playing with someone!

The more I learn, the more I realize there's more to learn. Isn't life great!

My latest battle: Time

Did you ever stop and listen how much people talk about time?
I started listening last week to how much that word is used.

My dad went away for a Tres Dias "retreat" weekend. He told me the time flew.
I heard other people talking about how fast time flies.

Time is something I battle with a lot.
Those of you who know me, know that one of my sayings is that "I'm going to be late for my own funeral." I hope that means I will live a long full life, but it also means I'm late for lots of stuff. I am always trying to squeeze out one more millisecond and get one more thing done. (like taking the time to post this real quick before bedtime) .

I was battling time this weekend. After a wonderful Saturday (going to work at OG, being with my wife and friends, then a wonderful coffee house), I was in such a great mood. It spilled over to worship on Sunday. I was even thinking about how great it was to be in a good mood - I am usually too busy, stressed, frustrated to have them. I hoped it would last all day Sunday.

I thought: I got lots done yesterday, I'll do lots today too! Then, time started working against me. I quickly ran out. The sand slipped through the hourglass. The clock ticked away.

Do you battle with time? I remember the story of the rocks being put into the jar. One pastor actually did this during his sermon: put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, then the water - you'll fit more that way. We try to run such efficient lives, try to pack it all in so tightly.

We need to take time for the good things, because the good things take time.

And, it is true, we need to "put the big rocks in first" - we need to do the highest priority things first.

I remember a pastor preaching about the different types of time: Chronos (Human time) and Chiros (God's time). With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8).

Do you know how much the word "time" is mentioned in the Bible? Go to Biblegateway.com and do a search. You'll get lots of results on the word "time." There's the time chapter: Ecclesiastes 3. The best verse in there from my perspective is Vs. 11: that God makes everything beautiful in His time.

Are you battling time? Set your priorities! God is on your side as you follow him. Put him first. Matthew 6:33 - Be encouraged!

Networking Workshop

I have led a Networking Workshop before that I designed.
It's a topic I can present on to any group, large or small.

It's pretty staightforward, and let's attendees get a chance to actually practice and learn networking as we go, rather than just hearing about it. That's why I call it a "workshop."
Everyone that comes is asked to bring business cards and a pen.

This information was learned from others along the way with strong influences from Rod Colon (leader of the etpnetwork.com - which is free to join and highly recommended) and Keith Ferazzi (keithferrazzi.com) author of "Never Eat Alone," another book that is highly recommended by me.

Here's the general outline:
1. I ask people to spend 5 minutes to go meet someone. I will give a warning, then ring a bell when time is up. Then I ask questions:
  • Did you both get a chance to talk?
  • Did you learn much about each other?
  • Is this someone you would want to keep as a friend?
  • How can you remember them? (ask for their business card, turn it over, write the date, where you met and and what you discussed.
A few observations then occur:
  • It's best to listen and talk
  • You can talk about F.O.R.M. (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Money) to get deeper into a relationship
  • In "How to Win Friends and Influence People" ( a gem of a book from 1936) author Dale Carnegie mentions how important it is to listen and lavish praise and interest on someone's interests. This will win you friends.
  • Some people may not be a direct help to your career, but they are still valuable people to know for other reasons. What might they be? (they may connect to someone else, they might be someone that can help someone you know, they might be someone you might have common interests with, but not find you a job)
2. Now everyone is asked to pick someone else and talk again for 5 minutes
Questions:
  • Did you both get a chance to talk? Does it feel better that way?
  • What if they don't have a business card? (you take one of yours and ask them to write their contact info on it)
  • You need to follow up with people within 48 hours, or you will forget. Remind them what you talked about. Send them a related article or wait a few weeks and send them a link.
  • How deep of a relationship did you establish? Ask for some examples. Was it that deep that you'd remain friends?
  • You can learn so much more about people if you ask them what their passion is. Get deep in the relationship quickly
3. Try it again with another person: 5 minutes
  • What did you find out about the other person? What types of passions?
  • Do you feel that you'll have a deeper relationship? Will you both keep in touch now? Will you remember what to talk to him about the next time?
  • It's good to enter the information in a spreadsheet (or in linkedin.com notes about the person) so you can remember how to follow up. If you put it in a spreadsheet, put a followup date so you remember when to speak again.
4. Try the networking again with another person: 5 minutes
  • Did you find anything out that you might introduce this person to someone else you spoke with this evening? That is a major part of networking: not just finding people to help you, but to help others.
  • Explain the law of reciprocity: the golden rule
  • You need to go to people offering something, not always being needy
  • When you go to a networking event, don't be looking for the next person to talk to. Try to make a few deep connections rather than many shallow ones.
  • What can you do to excuse yourself from a conversation so you can move on to someone else? (ask them if they want some punch? Tell them you want to introduce them to someone else? Other ideas?)
5. Try networking with two to three people this time. I'll give 10 to 15 minutes. You have to try to break away on your own. See if you can do it gracefully.
  • What worked? What didn't
  • Are you meeting people that you're connecting well with?
  • Did you find anyone that might help you? Your network of friends? Stories?
This process is repeated over and over for the lenght of the meeting. The cycle is to learn a bit, then practice a bit: learn, practice, and learn from practice. All of life is made up of learning.

I hope you'll learn from some of these pointers and try these concepts out!

Internalizing the Music

I was talking with a friend the other day about worship music. He was helping me with learning how to play drums better. He mentioned that I needed to do a few things:
1. Get to know the music well enough to "play" it in my head - internalize it. I've done this with guitar, but not drums yet. I started working on it since last week and have already started to be able to do it with a song.
2. Listen to the intro, it will reveal the beat of the song. I've got to work on this a bit more.
3. There are basic foundational beats. They come from either straight rock or a syncopated beat. I need to learn them better to stay on tempo.

I'm still working on it!

Your Voice could use some exercise

I was talking to a friend the other day who sings at her church and uses her voice a lot in her teaching job. She mentioned about how her doctor had prescribed medicine because she had acid reflux and it helped, but not 100%. She was loosing her voice a lot. They did a scope and found polyps on her vocal chords. The doctor sent her to a speech therapist to get training to exercise her voice. They said this may solve it.

Now, I've heard people talk about this before, but for some reason this time it hit me. This might help me!

My voice sometimes sounds like gravel and gets rough. Maybe I need to get some training in how to exercise it so I can talk better at work, speak better on the PMlessonsLearned.com conference calls, sing better when I play the guitar, and sing better in church (not in the choir, just in the congregation). I used to sing in a choir once a year. We sang the Messiah for Christmas and had many practices, but haven't done that in years.

Checking out my voice has made my list of things to do - of course, that's a long list, but this will be somewhere near the top (along with a few hundred other things)

Weekly Report

Goals for this week:
  • God: Pray more (spend time talking to God)
  • Family: Set aside time for them
  • Encouragement: Find one story to share and blog it
  • Work Tasks: Complete population of pointers to information in case of an audit request
  • Career Development: Work toward next meeting for internal PM Certification, update candidate package
  • Social Networking: Blog about my "Networking Workshop"
  • Music: Internalize a few songs, blog on recent learning, practice
  • House: Finish more work on Interior doors
  • Garden: Move some ornamental grass
  • Finances: work toward a mortgage refinance
  • PMlessonsLearned.com : Work with volunteer to send out announcement for call and then host call on Thursday
  • Family Reunion: Make sure announcement gets sent out by volunteers
  • Self: prepare to remember those who serve and enjoy memorial day weekend

Friday, May 15, 2009

What can man do to me?

This is the first of my "Encouragement for the Battle" posts.
I've always thought about doing these since a pastor of ours talked about how "no matter how good people might say they are doing or look like they're doing, everyone is fighting a battle."
I first thought of doing a podcast, but now I'm thinking God wants it to be a blog. Who knows, maybe a podcast later.

So, for my first post, I'll tell you this story:

Several years ago, working as a Project Manager, I was overwhelmed by pressures on a project that was in dire straights. Management was putting pressure to perform, but things were in a bad state of affairs and there wasn't a graceful way out. At one point, I was just so overwhelmed with stress that I actually went out and laid down on the floor in the common area outside my office. I laid face up on the floor. I didn't even have the energy to sit anymore!

I was so focused on performing well and didn't see a way that this could turn out good. I'm not good at underperforming; I don't take it well. I was super-stressed out. I cried out to the Lord.

It was just the next day that God brought me to Psalm 118:6 which paraphrased says "Don't be afraid. What can man do to you?" In other words, if God is for us, who can be against us? Read it, it will help you in the day of battle!

It was a weight lifted off of me! I was free! How could I have lost sight of God's care for me? But I had, and now this verse reminded me, put my feet on solid ground and I was off and running again!

Be encouraged, God is with you!