Road Trip Project Manager Style

First – I want to wish you a Happy Belated Project Management Day in Denver. It was on April 29th. That’s okay. I didn’t get you anything either.

I spent our special day at the Denver Convention Center (home of the Big Blue Bear) attending the 18th Annual Rocky Mountain Project Management Symposium along with 1500 + of my fellow Project Managers. Big Kudos and a Thank You to PMI Mile Hi Chapter for doing a phenomenal job putting this symposium together!

A special note to my fellow authors and other creative folks who are wondering what possible benefit they could glean from this post. Substitute the term “Team” or “Team Mate” with “Reader”, “Film Enthusiast”, “Patron of the Arts” or “Customer.”

Each time I attend a conference or symposium, I discover a common theme(s) I’m supposed to take away from the event. I’d like to share two of these themes or lessons with you, because I believe they impact all of us.

Theme the First: Observing my reactions to interactions with team mates and preparing for the next generation entering the workforce

Our morning keynote speaker, the very funny Connie Podesta, kicked things off with an enlightening session about personality types. She was spot on in my case. I’m one of those “heads down” and “get it done” type folks who absolutely hates small talk. Thinking about the interactions I’ve had with my own team, I realize we have each personality type she defined. It is my responsibility, as the Lead Project Manager on our program, to build a cohesive team structure. Sometimes you just have to look up from your work and interact with people (groan). Note: For more information about Connie Podesta, check out her website.

Building and maintaining team relationships can be difficult. One of the key challenges for a Project Manager is communicating effectively with a multi-generational team. Baby Boomers think differently than Gen Xers (my generation). Gen Yers or Millennials come from a different digital world. Now Gen Zers are about to enter the workforce. In her workshop “Gen Z and Beyond: The Trends that Will Shape the Workforce of Tomorrow”, Aileen Ellis from AME Group Inc. explains this generation is made up of the first true Digital Natives. Communicating and engaging them in our mission goals will require a different approach. Don’t worry. You can do it! Start by having a conversation with your new Gen Zer team mate.

Theme the Second: Seeing Myself as a Service Product

Imagine the anthem “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf booms out of the conference room speakers. The unmistakable roar of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle thunders against the walls as the door flies open. Riding on a beautiful motorcycle is our keynote speaker, Clyde Fessler. Recognize the name? If you’re a Harley fan you do. He is one of the marketing gurus behind the dramatic turnaround of Harley Davidson. It was fascinating to listen how his creative thinking helped this beloved brand not only survive, but thrive. NOTE: Check out Clyde Fessler’s website and drool over the Harleys a bit.

Considering the ways Mr. Fessler made the Harley brand an endearing and enduring part of American culture, I began to realize the importance of branding my product: Project Management and Leadership. What do I stand for? Quality. Professional Ethics. Strong Leadership. Creative Thinking.

What about you? What is your professional brand?