Interview with Jeff Furman

This is a very special interview where I have the honor to interview Jeff Furman PMP who has a dual background as an IT Project Manager and Corporate Trainer, and is the author of “The Project Management Answer Book” (©2011, Management Concepts). 

As a PM he has led many successful IT projects for Fortune 500 companies in the NYC area, specializing in: new product evaluation and implementation, development tool support, and managing a mission-critical IT change management system used by more than 1,000 application developers 24x7. He currently teaches several project management classes for NYU in Manhattan, as well as PMP Prep for NetCom Learning and on-base for the US Army.

You can contact Jeff directly at @PMAnswerBook or at

How did you become a project manager? Did u plan for it?

Not exactly! My journey was what is referred to nowadays as an “Accidental PM!”              

For several years, I had been the primary in-house IT technical trainer for a large brokerage in New York City.  In this role, I was creating and teaching quick-start courses on the development tools the IT coders were using to create the apps that ran the business.

What happened is I started getting called-upon more and more to provide technical support for the tools I was teaching the developers.

Eventually the need emerged for a full-time Technical PM to handle various new projects that were popping up, most importantly the roll-out of an IT Change Management System for the Developers.   And so I was asked to manage the project of customizing the IT Change Management system, getting the department to use it, and then supporting the system.

I hadn't planned for it, but I had become very hands-on with the many software products that made up the company’s unique environment. And so I was tapped for this role, partly for my technical knowledge, partly for my communication and influencing skills, and also because I had already developed such a strong rapport with hundreds of the developers as their trainer.

I read that you are working with the U.S. army and training them in project management- how is that going? How different is it from training corporate professionals?

Teaching PMP for the Army has been one of the best successes I’ve ever had, and one of the most gratifying projects.  So far, I’ve taught 12 weeks on-site at Army bases, traveling to Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.  It’s been very satisfying, because they are such motivated students.

One big difference between training Army vs. Corporate is that the senior leaders in the Army fully commit to take part in the training along with their people, no matter how busy they are.  This sets a great leadership example for their people, because they attend every session, participate and share their knowledge freely, and especially because the senior leaders are usually the first to take their PMP tests after the training!

This motivates the PMs they are leading to push themselves hard and to pass their exams also.

Many people don’t realize that PMs in the Army manage a lot of the same kind of projects as PMs in private industry, especially IT projects.

But imagine doing your projects in a war-zone, literally!  (compared to us here in NYC holding status meetings in our air-conditioned “war rooms”)

And the soldiers tell me about all kinds of unusual constraints they need to deal with. One Army PM told me about a project he led where he was required to gain approval on all key decisions from a rep in every single country that is part of NATO – talk about politics!

And an extra plus about teaching for the Army is the feeling of “giving back.”  I very much like knowing that my classes have helped make many of the soldiers more productive on their projects, and also more promotable.  When they get their CAPM or PMP, it helps them advance within the Army (I just got a thank-you note from one of my students who got his PMP and was promoted soon after, both in rank and responsibility).

And I enjoy knowing that the certifications will also make the soldiers and officers more marketable when they return to civilian life. Several of my Army students have let me know that their PMP cert attained from my class helped them land PM jobs later in private industry, after they retired from the service.

What's the secret of your success?

In my PM work, I have always tried to stand up for what I believed was right. I’ve had to take unpopular positions at times. But I very often prevailed, partly because I am good at making a case, but mainly because I was trying to do what I believed was truly in the best interest of BOTH my customers and my company (something I go into in detail in the Ethics chapter in my book, part of what I call the “Triple Constraint for Ethics.”)  So even when I’ve gone up against senior managers, they could see I was trying to go for the best long-term solution, which made them willing to listen.

Also, my strong communication skills (writing, speaking, and teaching) have helped me as a manager in many ways.  When my teams would work with new software products, I would occasionally write an article about our findings and it would be published in one of the IT industry magazines.  This helped bring good exposure, and helped all our careers. And a couple of times I involved my team-members in co-writing the articles, which they liked a lot, and which helped in team-building.

My experience as a trainer helped me learn to work well with people of many different titles, levels, and backgrounds.  Corporate training gave me experience in a lot of PM skill areas: Requirements gathering,Influencing skills, Consensus-building, Goal-setting, Team-building, CustSat, Quality management, Scope management & Time-management.

Another part of my success was again the word “accidental” - The training company where I first applied to teach PMP likes to put their potential trainers through a rigorous Train-the-Trainer / Presentation Skills class. The class improves the potential trainer’s skills, but it’s also an opportunity for the company to evaluate each candidate’s training abilities.  I took advantage of this course as an opportunity, and earned a certification from it: CompTIA’s CTT+ (Certified Technical Trainer).

This enabled me to start teaching the Train-the-Trainer class as well as PMP for this company.  And I've been able to apply many of the skills covered in the Presentation Skills class toward making my PMP classes as engaging and interactive as possible (not just blasting through a lot of PowerPoint slides).

Today's generation has so much help that they get over the web, how do you think they should prepare in trying to become a project manager?

As valuable as the many web resources are, and I use them a great deal myself, I think it’s important for certain topics to tap into the “deep dive” that a) classes, b) hands-on experience, and c) books can provide.

For example, before you would lend someone your car, you wouldn't want them to learn to drive by an online simulation only!  And in training departments in the business world, activity-based training methods such as “Action Learning” are very popular nowadays.

For complex ideas, I think a book is still often best.  For example, in “The Goal,” by Eliyahu Goldratt, he presented original and powerful ideas about project management in an entertaining and very accessible novel. He used metaphor and a dramatic story-line to introduce his PM theories (Critical Chain Theory and Theory of Constraints.  This made the book fun to read, and easy to absorb and remember.

And many people still prefer live classes over online, partly for the classroom experience and the networking opportunities they provide.

That said, here are two recommended web resources I think your followers might benefit greatly from:

1) PMI offers an online “New Practitioners” CoP (Community of Practice)
    which is free for members and is in a similar spirit as “Stepping Into PM”
2) And there are several CAPM related LinkedIn groups where a lot of
    good information-sharing and networking take place.  They are easy to
    find: just go into LinkedIn  Select “Groups,” and then key in “CAPM”        
    in the search box, and join whichever groups catch your eye.

Three qualities any newbie venturing into project management should have.

  • Long Term Results-Oriented- Project success is tied to profit, but long-term profit is what counts. You want successes that your clients will want to share with their colleagues, and ideally bring your company repeat business, new business and referrals (versus “here today, gone tomorrow”)

  • Strong Ethics- People like to work with managers who make ethical decisions and  perform with professionalism. If a stakeholder perceives someone on  a project as “ethically-challenged” (even if they are otherwise good)  it is almost impossible to change their mind or ever win them back. 

  • Life-Long Learner  – There are so many new methods and tools emerging all the time that it’s key to be willing to keep learning and embracing change. Today’s most successful PMs keep up with blogs and podcasts, attend PM seminars, read books in their field, participate and network in social media groups, attain new certifications, and share their knowledge with their teams. 

Tell us something about your project management book and where can we find it?

Many readers tell me that my book, “The Project Management Answer Book,” made the PMBOK very easy and accessible for them, and helped them a great deal with their PMP and CAPM exams because of its short and clear Q&A format.  It contains all the best test tips and study aids
from the thousands of hours I taught PMP before I wrote it.

And it’s a double book, because it’s a PMP book but also a “hands-on” practitioner’s guide, with many templates of key PM documents and best practices, plus Top 10 Lists to help PMs in many areas.

And Soma, since your blog is very international, my book is popular with international readers - my Facebook fan page has “Likes” from PMs in 12 different countries so far! It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle at or PMI members can use their membership discount to buy it from PMI Marketplace.

Thank you so much Jeff!

(Pic Courtesy: Jeff Furman)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World). To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

10 steps to become a Project Management Blogger

Have you been thinking of starting your own blog? Have you been looking for avenues to jazz up your profile, create your own brand and start developing your network?

Blogging is a great way to enhance your skills, get access for  product reviews, latest books and new software's plus grow your network globally.

Learn all about blogging, the secrets that get you the attention, how to start writing and keep up with the schedule PLUS a free hand book with additional resources to keep you motivated and going.

Hands on training to start your blog during the webinar in a blogger platform (free) and get done with your first post.

Day 1 (duration: 1 hours)

  • Step 1- why should you blog?
  • Step 2- what should you blog about? (remember project management is a huge domain)
  • Step 3- who are your competitors?
  • Step 4: What should your blog include?
  • Step 5- How to decide on your target audience?
Day 2 (duration: 1 hour)
  • Step 6- start your own blog
  • Step 7- write your first post
  • Step 8- accessorize your blog
  • Step 9- maintain and keep writing
  • Step 10- monetize it.

To signup for the class, please click on the link here to pay only $19.99 and get blogging immediately.

Day 5: Flush out the toxins

How is your resolve going so far? Do you feel close to your goal?

Are you holding up to your side of the bargain? Have you been derailed and been back a couple of times? Has it been tough for you?

If you are still there, hang in buddy. Anything tough is sure to win you results. 

Today make sure to flush out the toxins from your life. To keep the good in your life, you need to get rid of the bad. And to do so, you need to identify them.

Get rid of the non believers- Don’t surround yourself with friends and family, who don’t believe in your goals and dreams. You would rather be by yourself till you make new friends than be with people who will not support you when you need the most. 
You don’t need a bad lifestyle- Your discipline and resolve will get you going at this stage. Most successful people have a lifestyle that allows them to be creative’s and strategists. You will never ever find people who follow erratic lifestyle to be great project managers. 
Get off the bus- Be very clear about where you are going; get off the bus to take the road less traveled  There’s no point in following millions of others just because you have to. There’s no reason you should always listen to everyone just because that’s the right thing to do. The point is to make sure that you carve a path for yourself, know your interests and talents and then find out what works out for you. 
Stop saying No- being negative can hamper your chances of reaching your goal. While it may have taken you some practice to start saying NO, don’t start using it when it comes down to your goals. Say yes you can every time u think you have doubts. 
Get ready to flush- anything that doesn't go with your goals, flush them out. 

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Day 4: Dream big

Nov 13, 2012 | | 0 comments |
It’s Diwali here in India and while the city is decked up in beautiful lights, so is my house.

With the lights everywhere, I wish all of you can hold on to your dream and your goal. I hope you have been following through your goal that you decided on Day 1. Just in case you are off the track, just get back to it from today. Don’t use it as an excuse to start again from next month. It never comes.

So, today Dream BIG.

  • Dreaming big changes you- When you dream big, you know you are ready for it. Ready to take on the new challenge, ready to explore opportunities. You tend to become more disciplined.
  • Dreaming big changes your focus- When you have already zeroed in on the dream, you now know that you have to focus. Getting the right focus means training your mind and getting ready to win big time.
  • Dreaming big means thinking positive- Dreams are always good, they may be grander, larger than life but they are always positive. You have to find a way to keep the positive thoughts going on. Use visuals, try to stay happy by getting involved with positive work, meet awesome people who are making differences everyday, find a voice for yourself, do something that you have meaning to do for long and have never tried. Sounds good but you never have time, meet people (the one whom you admire) online through blogs, twitter and other social avenues. Chances of achieving your dreams are always higher when you can stay positive for a longer haul.
  • Dreaming big allows you to be a better thinker- when you really want something, you will find a way to get it.  Staring at the wall and thinking about your big idea isn't all, usually with big thinking and an upbeat positive attitude, you will start thinking about strategies. Strategies can be from meeting up and talking to people asking for advise, it can be finding out ways you haven’t thought of before, reading up for more ideas and then implement it.
  • Dreaming big enables positive reinforcement- When you dream big and keep on thinking about it, you associate yourself with something positive. Staying positive will also keep you in a much happier place than constantly thinking about negatives in your life. So, no matter what your current status of mind is you will be looking forward to your big dream and that’s always good.

Read more on keeping up here:

Day 1 : Stop Complaining
Day 2: Stop making plans unless you are ready to follow them through
Day 3: Being scared is ok

Keep working!

(Pic Courtesy:

To know how you can get into project management and all about it, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World) and avail the special offer this month. . To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community

November: Thanksgiving Special Bundle Offer

Hey, so have you been reading the blog?

You already know that today’s the DAY- the Thanksgiving special bundle offer goes LIVE. In fact it already has.

So, whether you are celebrating Diwali or Thanksgiving this month- be nice to someone, help someone out, give somebody a chance.

And that’s precisely why I have kept the price the same for the book and this month instead of just the book, you get a bunch of cool stuff all for the same money! Check out the entire details on the cool stuff by clicking here.

If you are new to project management: this bundle offer is a perfect setting for you to know and learn not only about project management but also at the same time meet the project managers from UK, US, India, Netherlands etc. Learn about how they made it, what’s their schedule, how do they focus, what are the 3 things you need to have to be successful and their failures and fears. Get access to awesome webinar by the industry experts and listen in with your own login.

If you already are into project management, take time this weekend to go through the webinars and get the PDU’s and forward the book/s to your mentee.

Like what you read and would like to contribute to the #PMOT community- send me an email and let’s set up a time for an interview. Be an inspiration this holiday season.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

Day 3: Being scared is ok

Nov 8, 2012 | | 3 comments |

You have always wanted the job, dreamed of buying your first house, felt like telling your boss what you really had in mind, want to quit your job, take the certification and you are scared.

Scared of failure, scared of losing your job, scared of taking such a big responsibility, scared of dreaming big and feeling horrible when it doesn't happen?

So, today you can be scared. Yes, be scared and know it’s all right.  It’s better  being scared and face it than be in denial and keep postponing your goal. Accept that the goal you chose is a bug one, will take guts to fulfill it, takes effort to get up in the morning and get it done and after all the effort you do still might have chances of not making it.

Seriously, hats the point hiding in the fear. That’s what has kept you inside all these years. Today, walk out through that door and accept that you are scared. You want the goal so much, that you will out in the initiative, you will risk getting off your tower and you will stop avoiding it for the rest of your life.

What are the odds here? You might not make it, you say. Well you haven’t anyways all these years! So, you might as well get out there and give it a try. Create a support group, prep yourself emotionally for taking the big step and know that it’s OK.

Here are 7 steps to make your dream come true , so today stop worrying and good luck!

Plan your journey well, here's day 1 and day 2.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

Why I don’t advertise?

Nov 7, 2012 | 0 comments |

Khan academy is redefining education. The organization relies on the power of internet to reach out to millions with one single idea that can bring in the real “change”.

When I started this blog, I was trying to write something down once a week to help myself learn. I didn't expect anyone else to read me. I didn't think anyone would actually Google me. And it never occurred to me that the blog would be my source of invitation to international seminars. It was just an honest effort on my part without a single clue to how I wanted this blog to be.

Couple of years later when I started the SIPM Community, there was the concrete idea on what I want and how to get it done. I wanted to bring back and contribute something to the project management community especially the new project manages and graduate students who are thinking of career options, hence the website was launched.

I never made money out if it. It was always meant to be free. A way of education that could benefit everyone globally by meeting project management experts, following them for a day and finding internships.

I haven’t come across similar websites that do the same thing, so I know this is one of a kind. And I don’t advertise about it because advertising costs money.

The advertising that I put in my blog or for that matter the community site are all friends and I don’t charge. I have occasionally received an advertising fee ($ 20/month) for putting out the link in my blog. That’s as far as it goes.

This month is Thanksgiving and we have already celebrated the International Project Management Day. So, as a “Thank You” from me to you, you will get bundled free gifts when you buy my book Stepping Into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World) for $2.99 .

Along with the book, you get my additional e-books at zero cost: “A Peek into the Life of Project Managers” and “Project Managers and their Interviews(downloadable). Plus you get privileged access to a collection of 16 project management webinars with 16 category C PDU’s. These webinars were recorded at the latest edition of the Project Management Telesummit. You will get the webinar recording, audio only recording, and full transcripts. All you have to do is email Samad Aidane, founder of the PM Telesumit, the receipt or the PayPal transaction id for the e-book to this email address: You will be granted access to the full list of the PM Telesumit webinars. This offer is available from November 9. 

In other internal news: the community site will have a donation link integrated with it by the end of November, if you wish to, please feel free to contribute to keep the SIPM community site running. The amount of donation is at your discretion. You will get a personalized "Thank you" note from me, no matter what the amount is.  If you would like to sponsor the site for a month, or sponsor designers or developers for keeping it growing with additional features that benefits everyone, you can contribute as well. In such cases please email me directly at steppingintopm(at) with the subject line "sponsor for SIPM Community site" and you have got my cent percent attention.

For December, there will be a “Project Management Blogging Course” for $19.99 only and will run on weekends. Details and signing up link coming up next week.

Be safe, stay warm and enjoy being a Project Manager!

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

 To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

All About Image Consulting: An Interview

Today we interview Prachi Mishra, the Founder of Prachi Mishra Image Consulting who is a post graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology on why image consulting is important and how she is observing first hand the changes that are happening in India.

 In the year 2002 she embarked her path as a professional in the fashion industry where she was over and again appreciated and recognized for her innovative approach towards work. In the years spent she has worked with renowned brands like Benetton, Zara, Carrefour, Dillards, Nordstrom and Ecko to name a few.

In the year 2007 she kick started a new career and moved her domain to Training and Development.In the past six years she has trained several professionals and students and has created a niche for herself as a corporate trainer. Her assignments include several Educational institutes, Leading Air Hostess Academy, IT and ITES organizations. An inspiring speaker she believes that people understand and learn more through doing. Consequently her seminars and workshops are highly participation and action-oriented.

You run an image consulting business in India, why do you think having the right image is so important?
In today’s world we assume and judge people based on little Information. It takes approximately 3 to 7 seconds to form a first impression. Appearance strongly influences other people’s perception of our personality, values, financial success, authority, trustworthiness and intelligence to name a few.

Hence it is essential to “Create a Powerful and Desired First Impression” in every new situation for success in personal, professional and social life. In order to come at par with contemporaries and rise in life it has become imperative to maintain the right image.

As also Brian Tracy has mentioned in her book “The Psychology of Achievement” – “Many capable men and women are disqualified from job opportunities because they do not look the part”

Can you give us 3 tips, on how a professional can change their image from a nervous newbie to a confident professional?
Dress appropriately for the occasion.

  • Mind your body language, especially your hand gestures. They can convey a lot. Be aware of others body language as well.
  • Think before you speak. Don't be in a rush to prove yourself

How do you run these sessions? How much is the charge and who can enroll?
I conduct these sessions under two models - Personalized one on one coaching and Group seminars/ workshops. Anybody who would like to enhance their appearance and communication skills can enroll for my sessions. So far I have worked with people from various walks of life such as – homemaker, college goer, corporate executives, people in leadership roles, politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, aspiring models and actors.

The sessions are conducted on hourly basis and each session is approximately of 2 hours duration. The commercials for a 2 hour sessions is Rs 6,000.

3 things every professional woman should have in their hand bag?
Other than mobile phone and money – three things essential in the handbag are:

  • A small mirror
  • Kajal
  • Lip gloss

What is your background and why did you decide to move into image consulting training?
I am a postgraduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology. Having worked with leading export agencies in India, I had the opportunity to experience the taste of international fashion and also meet and interact with people from different corners of the globe. I always felt that we were a misfit for many reasons in the global arena. At times it was lack of finer soft skills and other times our perception about the western counterparts. I realized in order to stay fit and compete in the global market one needs to learn the art of projecting a great first impression.

I started my second career as a trainer with corporates and colleges and soon got myself certified as an Image consultant. I have now been in this business for 6 years. I work with colleges, corporates and individuals to help them enhance their image.

How do you see professionals in India being more conscious about their image? What do you think is the reason for the change?
I definitely feel that the professionals in India are much more aware of their Image than they used to be. People are willing to spend money and take professional help for things which were considered meaningless.

The reasons are umpteen- with every passing day, the World is becoming a smaller place. Thanks to globalization and economic transition, trade between countries have increased – which includes technical tie-ups, increased human interactions, exposure to multi cultures and customs. There is heavier and intense international and domestic competition. Customers are emerging stronger.

Today we have better technology, better people  and a need to create better First Impressions.

To connect with her directly, you can find her at @prachimishra (twitter handle)

(Pic Courtesy:Prachi Mishra Image Consulting)

Talking to successful people

So, now that you are working out the challenge series and have started the change for a much better and productive life, this video will provide you with that extra edge when you decide to talk (and network) with others and perhaps even find a job.

Remember to listen carefully to this 4.18 minute video and you can ace what to ask when you meet a prospective mentor!

What do you think? Is that how you do? What strategies have you used?

Day 2: Stop making plans unless you are ready to follow them through

Nov 4, 2012 | | 0 comments |

Promises are meant to be broken.

For how many years do you think you want to keep on writing resolutions and keep failing them? So, if you have made a plan and finalized your goal, let’s make sure you can follow it through.

Years ago when I was in University; one of the professors asked us to write down the 5 goals in an index card and keep it in our car. She said, when you start your car in the morning go through the card.
On one side were the goals in bullet points, the other side had a picture glued to it- a picture that would inspire you to attain your goal.

It did help and following through didn't seem that difficult.
  • Keep a visual record of your plan- more you see it, easier to follow through. Make a practice of it.
  • Set up a relaxed routine that leads you to follow through- If you think too much about doing your task, chances of procrastination are more. The way to deal with it is to stop thinking and create a routine; every morning have a cup of tea when you wake up and then get to your goal area whatever that might be (gym/study/outdoors) and be there for the next 30 minutes. 
  • Keep your failures close- moving on is good, however that doesn't mean you have to forget your failures. Keeping them close reminds you of the mistakes and keeps the focus on. Better, you know what it feels to fail. I bet you don’t want to repeat that.
  • No shortcuts- Stop taking the easy way out; instead focus on long term benefits and the right way of doing things. Instead of preparing for your certification for the entire day today and then forget about it for the next 10 days, take small steps. Sit for 1 hour everyday at the same time and the same place. Yes, same place, don’t keep on moving throughout the house, find a comfortable place and study there throughout the preparation.
  • When off the track, get back to it the next day- we all do it. The problem gets worse when we think, we’ll start from Monday or next months, now that I am already off the track I’ll take this weekend off as well. Wrong. Get back to it the very next day. You don’t want to fail this time.
  • Rest Days- Keep a day off. Rest your goals, evaluate them and forget about it. Enjoy the day without stressing. Next day, get back to your routine.

(Pic Courtesy: Pinterest)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World). To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

Day 1: Stop Complaining

Ever wonder why 45 percent of Americans write up new resolutions and only 8 percent successful in keeping theirs?

Have you thought why you have goals and haven’t reached them ? Is it because you haven’t worked towards it, didn’t think it was possible or didn't have courage to take the risk or have the desperation in you to get it done.

This November twice a week we will focus on what we need to get rid off to get to our goals.

Day 1: Stop Complaining 

Achiever are not whiners and any resolution will stick when you have the will power.

Easily said than done, keeping up with the willpower over an extended period of time is tough.

  • So, today write down one goal. 
  • Any goal. 
  • A goal that you really want to achieve. 
  • Even if you have failed before. 
  • Write it down in a paper and keep it where you can see it. I mean it. If you are too embarrassed to keep it in public (may be because you have failed before and don’t want others to make fun of you) keep the paper in your wallet/purse, type it in your phone. 
  • Make a plan, think about it today.
  • Tomorrow morning, review your goal. Is it the same goal you want to achieve?
  • Make changes and keep one goal. Now make plans. The one you can really keep. Don’t say you will wake up at 4am and go for a run.
  • Share it with one person if you prefer Or keep it to yourself if that makes you more determined.
If you can afford to hire someone to slap you every time you are off track, go for it.

Good, now you are done with part 1 of your task.

Now for the more complex part- you have to stop complaining for the next 15 days. Seriously.

If you are in the mood, go read this forum about what people say about whiners .

Whenever you want to complaint, stop.

Stop complaining about your family, about the cold food the cafeteria serves, the backstabbing co- worker, the vicious boss, horrible weather- STOP.

Try to relax and be happy. Be conscious and see the positive side of our life, count your blessings. Look at your pay check, the fact you still have a job, thank your partner when he/she brings you coffee, take your team/co-worker out to lunch. Try to get off  from the constant whining and complains.

Set a routine for yourself every day, end of the day or early morning. Give yourself some space, some time when you are not stressing. Have a cup of tea/coffee, water your plants, breathe, just sit there and listen to some music, read a magazine, watch your favourite show. Be present.

This can’t be easy and it won’t. Repeat your routine. It gets better.

Along with this change, start putting in small efforts (15 minutes a day) to follow your goal. Don’t overdo it and then give it up. Do it every day.

If you are still reading this, go ahead and get started. And let me tell you, you are not doing it alone. I am doing it with you.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World). To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

Wrapping up October

Oct 29, 2012 | 0 comments |

Today is the last post for this month.

November will be a completely different ballgame as I want to come up with a plan for writing the blog. I did it once before and it went well.

So, I open an excel file and plan up the posts for my entire month and try to follow it.

And what it does is:
  • Helps me to sleep at night- And not worry about the next topic for the post.
  • Bad days are welcome- If I am down (sick or otherwise), I usually don’t feel like writing. The positive thing about committing to blogging is that you will tend to still write but in some cases the quality suffers. Better the blogger, lesser the emotional interference found in their blogging. Now, with my plan, I am ok if I have bad days because I will write my posts as planned and sometimes way ahead of time. Even when I don’t; I have the pointers done, so writing will be less of a chore.
  • More readers- Hopefully. People like routines, especially if you are a reader. At least that’s how I read the blogs I follow. I pretty much know when they post and how many times they do. Sometimes I will read them every week (very few). Some I will read on the weekend (the entire posts for the month). Others I will just skimp through (once in a while). Now that readers will find not only a routine but a story line running through November, I think it will be fun to come back to the blog.
  • Compartmentalize time - I am trying to experiment; how I respond to certain things and how I can do away with procrastination and where I am spending more time. Planning will help me just do that. I will stop thinking about the next post throughout the day and do it at the given time. Does it make me less creative at not being able to be impulsive with my ideas and write a post at mid night stressed over the deadline? Not sure, will find out.
  • Busy month- November will be super busy for me and I am hoping scheduling will help me focus better. Only tools I am going to use is excel, pomodoro app (downloaded in my desktop and phone) and my will power (ha!)
  • Stories- People like to relate to stories and that’s what I am hoping to bring in more in the blog. And yes you get timelines (not the same as Facebook!), same stories on Monday.
  • And travelling- I will be travelling for almost 10 days this month, that pretty much messes the schedule. Unless, it’s all planned.
  • That time of the year- Plans for new changes and I do have a list (2 months ahead of time), so instead of trying to follow them I am hoping to work more in bursts and less throughout the day.

What are you doing this November?

j   (Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World).

 To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

How I passed my CAPM in a month.

Oct 25, 2012 | | 1 comments |
Abhirup Bhattacharya prepares for a month and passes his CAPM exam. He talks about his routine, his preparation and how he juggled his MBA classes to prepare for the exam. He also blogs at Ideas Make Market and you can find him here @abhirupbh on twitter.

Why did you decide to take the CAPM? what is your background?
I am presently in my second year of MBA in finance from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Prior to this, I graduated in Apparel Production from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and worked as a merchandiser in Egypt. I am also a Level II candidate for 2013 CFA Programme from CFA Institute USA.

Project management is an integral part of any process in any company. In fact, in my belief it is even more important for a finance manager to be a good project manager as one can directly impact and control costs in any project by managing it well. This was my main motivation for taking CAPM.

How long did you take to prepare for the exam?
I prepared for the exam for a total of around 1 month and on an average 3-4 hours a day. Sometimes I was unable to study for couple of days due to assignments and exams related to my MBA studies.

Did you follow a routine/schedule on how to study for the exam?
Yes, I had divided this period of 1 month into three distinct phases: For the first 2 weeks I completed the entire curriculum to have idea about the entire syllabus. In the third week, I focused on areas in which I had difficulty in understanding. The final week I kept exclusively for solving questions.

What books/guides/classes did you take?
I referred PMBOK and PMP Study Guide by Joseph Philips for my preparation. In addition to this I had the CAPM preparation slides for reference.

Would you like to share 3 most important things to be taken into consideration when preparing for the CAPM exam?
I think the three most important things to consider are : Time management- make sure you plan your strategy well , Practice: This will ensure you get confusing questions correct  and most importantly Clarity: This will imply your fundamental understanding of the topics is clear.

While taking the exam, were you nervous or did your preparation match with the exam pattern?
I must admit I was a bit nervous on the day of the exam. However the fact that I had solved enough problems, helped me remain calm and maintain my confidence level during the exam.

Post-implementation reviews are not the only way to measure success

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Harrin.
Most projects have a post-implementation review (PIR), also known as a project post-mortem or post-project review. This is often the only opportunity to assess success on a project, especially if your organization doesn't have a more robust method of benefits tracking over the long term.
Often the stakeholders are involved in a PIR. You may or may not choose to involve suppliers as well. Normally the whole project team will be asked to contribute, either in a big workshop-style meeting or in a series of smaller sessions.
PIRs mainly cover process things, like how we managed schedule changes as a team, or whether our monthly reporting schedule gave everyone the information they needed. Aside from the process topics during a PIR, it is also an opportunity to discuss statistics and metrics related to the project. These are normally backward-looking. What was the percentage of effort spent on testing? How many days did it take the quality team to audit the deliverables? These metrics and calculations can then be incorporated into future projects so that initiatives going forward have the benefit of experience and hindsight.
This is great, but this type of PIR doesn't help the project stakeholders. After all, for them, the project is over.
So why do we do post-implementation reviews?
Traditionally, a post-implementation review is the only way that project managers have to determine whether or not their project has been a success. You set success criteria at the beginning of the project and then at the end you pull them out of the drawer and have a meeting to decide if you hit them or not.
We do PIRs because it’s a way to assess performance and to gather data, and typically we look at retrospective measures.
We do them because we’re in the habit of doing them, and because our methodologies and standards say that we should.
What are the limitations of PIRs?
For me, there are two issues with PIRs: they only happen at the end of projects and they mainly focus on the project management principles and methods used. They don’t make the distinction between the success of the project and the success of the project management effort, and they mainly focus on the latter.
Sometimes customers will be asked to feed into the project evaluation process, but at that point it is too late to do anything practical about their comments. If they complain that they weren’t kept up to date, you cannot go back in time and provide more information on a regular basis. It is a case of, ‘How can I help you now it is too late?’ In fact, research from South Africa shows that project sponsors prefer a proactive approach to feedback over the post-implementation review process. They chose to work collaboratively with the project manager during the project to ensure that their expectations were met.
Of course, PIR discussions are immensely valuable for continuous process improvement, and I am not suggesting that you stop using this technique. Focusing on project management principles and methods used is essential to improve organizational project management processes. Could we have done better risk management? What scheduling lessons were learned? A good PIR meeting should discuss what went well and what did not go so well with this project, and this is great information for project managers and teams. If you don’t cover this stuff, you won’t learn how to do things better next time.
So, while PIRs have their limitations, don’t stop doing them! I suggest you start doing something else as well.
Continuous reviews are the future
I would advocate continuous reviews. Review project success on a monthly basis with the main stakeholder or key stakeholders. There’s a lot of talk about ‘engagement’ but not a lot of practical advice about how to actually do it – sitting down with your stakeholders and talking to them regularly is an easy (and cheap) way to build engagement.
It’s just about talking to people, so it doesn’t take up much time, but continuous structured reviews do give you data in the same way that PIRs do. On top of that, talking to them also gives you data you can actually act on, so you avoid this ‘how can I help you now it’s too late’ problem.
You can ask people to score how you are managing their projects on a scale from 1 to 10. You can ask them the same set of questions month-on-month so that you can see if you are doing better. You can monitor their feedback over the long term, tweaking your project management approach and the project deliverable themselves, so that at the end of the project the stakeholders actually get what they want, in the way that they want it.
That’s got to be better than saving all the feedback until the end, don’t you think?

Elizabeth Harrin is the co-author of Customer-Centric Project Management (Gower, 2012). She writes the award-winning blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management ( and is Director of project communications company The Otobos Group.

(Pic Courtesy: E. Harrin)

The Art of being Focused

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”      – Obama 

Lesson learnt. Turns out we can all learn a lesson or two trying to find ways to focus more and get things done.

Everyone has their own way of being focused  however we can always learn and try out ways that others follow. Getting laser sharp focus is attainable .

You can choose to train your brain, to get more focused or continue with your life. Another way to focus, is to ensure your work area or environment.

To increase your focus remembers to:
Prioritize- This will allow you to focus on the work that needs to get done first. You can also use the Pomodoro technique to get it done.
Get it done- Focus on what need to get done and get on with it . Get off the internet, emails, phone calls and chit-chat and get working.
Keep your goal handy- Don’t get complacent while working on the list, keep a written list of your goal in a visible area and browse through it often. Are you among the 84% that don’t have goals? Figure out a way to be among the 3% 
•Take pride in your work- Be responsible, take ownership and be proud of what goes out with your signature in it. And you will focus automatically.
Be available for criticism- Being present for a positive or otherwise feedback will help you focus more on areas that need improvement. It can definitely turn you into a more focused professional and deal with your shortcomings better.

Focus is the ultimate art to reach your goals.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World)

 To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

Is on sick leave

Oct 3, 2012 | 0 comments |
Is sick and I should be back with regular posts from October 12.

There is some good news as well- The book Stepping into Project Management is now available globally through Amazon as well. Or you can buy it directly from here.

The second book draft is on and I will be letting you know more about it as I try to finish off the chapters.

I have been spending my time, more on the new tablet playing games and listening to some great music  as it's been kinda tough sitting with the laptop for a stretch.

Till then, stay happy and healthy!!!

How to find your mentor?

To help you guide you through finding your mentor and pointers for your sessions, download the excel file here

How great leaders inspire action

Feeling like a leader recently?

Do you walk the talk? Do yo know where you are heading? Are you sure you know your followers?

Listen to Simon Sinek talk about for 18.35 minutes how leaders actually inspire action and  you will think differently.

Do you have what it takes to be a Project Manager?

Aug 24, 2012 | | 0 comments |

Most people looking for a change in their job profile aren't sure, if the role of a Project Manager is something for them.

It is a demanding job and to be successful at it you will need to develop a set of required skills. So how do you know this role is for you? Is there an assessment that allows you to find out if you have the required traits?

Yes. It turns out there are some good tools out there.

Dr. Harrison of Harrison Assessments says “For most jobs, suitability factors are about 50% of the job success factors. Therefore, effectively measuring suitability is an essential part of assessment”. Unlike most behavioral research which examines the norms or average traits for people in the job, the Harrison research focuses on the traits that differentiate the high performers from the low performers.

So, can everyone be a Project Manager? Can you?

There are no rights and wrongs here. There is no way I’ll tell you that if you have set your mind and heart to it- you cannot do it. Project Management is such a vast domain, enough for anyone who puts their mind into it. From the very creative to the methodical you are all welcome.

If you are willing to spend $75 (USD) and take the test, you can email directly at to request for an assessment.

Another way of knowing more about your compatibility with the profession is by taking the Myers-Brigs test by clicking here .

Based on the study Project Teamwork, Personality Profiles and the Population at Large: Do we have enough of the right kind of people? ; an observation has been made and conclusion drawn based on your MBTI category (see figure)

According to this study there are certain groups of people who are considered more suitable for the role of a Project Managers job based on their personality type. Once you know your personality type by taking the MBTI assessment, you can find yourself in the figure above.

As displayed by the colors, the personality types marked in “green” are the ones best suited for the job like the INTJ, ISTJ, ESTJ and ENTJ.

Don’t be disheartened, if you are not in the right group as there are always exceptions to rules and you can always develop the skill or traits you need to be successful Project Manager. Also, trust me when I say this, there are very few Project Manager’s who will take this test and give up on their careers if they don’t fall into the right category.

The third route is to find a mentor, someone who is ready to guide you and take you under their wing. It is essential to look for someone who has enough experience in the field, understands what you expect from your profession, makes you comfortable to discuss failures and is equally happy to rejoice in your successes. Having a mentor makes all the difference in the world.

This is an excerpt from the book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT Circle). To buy click here

Available E-book Stepping into Project Management

The E-book Stepping into Project Management (welcome to the #PMOT circle) is available now.

The 35 page book which covers all areas of getting into the profession has expert opinions from Project Managers all over the world and a foreword written by Samad Aidane from

You can buy the book by clicking here which takes you the payment page via PayPal. You don’t need to have a PayPal account to buy the book, you can simply use your card. Once the payment is confirmed you can download the book in pdf format.

Priced very nominally at $2.99, almost equivalent to a cup of coffee and probably less the book is for college graduates, professionals interested in the project management and newbie’s. Click here to see the Table of Contents.

You should be able to buy the book from any part of the world with your local credit or debit card. 

Don’t hesitate to email me in case you need any help or have any issues downloading the book.

Burned Out?

This morning when he called for the 100th time I decided to pick up the call. I have pretty much ignored it for the entire last week and a half.

I just didn’t want to talk.

The moment I picked up the call, things were like it used to be. I had to ask him why he was calling me and he said it- it was the burn out that was killing him. He wasn’t as inspired as he used to feel.

He had pulled all nighters and rolled himself out to be walked over with expectations and more work and he pretty much volunteered for it all.

I knew how it felt; I had been there and done that. I worked twice the regular hours, worked in 2 time zones, constantly checked my blackberry even in the middle of sleep, slept for less than 6 hours a day, ate lunch at desk and felt very important doing it all. I loved my life, my work life!

Till I pretty much felt like a Zombie; that’s when I decided it was time to reconnect with myself. So, I quit.

Listening to the same story over the call, made me just think how much employees go through and don’t know when to stop.

Some just can’t face the fact that they are going through a problem and there’s no way to love your job as dearly as you did. Few, go through it with their hatred for the job soaring.

Studies estimate that stress costs US businesses up to $300 billion dollars in lost productivity each year. In a Business Week article, Marissa Mayer talks about finding the rhythm, to avoid the burnout. It boils down to one activity that you think is the anchor of your sanity. Like meeting your friends for a Friday night dinner or attending parent teacher meets for working parents.

Turns out there are 4 stages of burn out and it’s a common scenario for all kind of jobs.

Katy Cowan, in her article in The Guardian talks about the physical, emotional, behavorial signs to take as cue before you have the actual breakdown. New hobbies, putting technology way once in a while and learning to switch off and take breaks are the few ways to get back to your regular self.

Taking a creative sabbatical surely is one way and some people are more serious about it than others. Designer Stefan Sagmeister is one of them and he takes it regularly closing his New York based design studio.

Stress might be the predecessor to a burn out, so make sure you know how to identify one.

So, here are 5 ways to combat it:

  • Stop ignoring the symptoms- You will always know when you are leaning towards it, just make sure, you don’t ignore the signs and think it will all go away. It won’t until you take some actions for it.
  • Talk it out aloud- Call a friend and talk about what you are going through. Unburdening yourself helps and smaller suggestions when reinforced over time will help you convince yourself to take the break.
  • Find time to do what you like the best- It’s probably the rhythm, make time to travel, paint, call your best friend or whatever it is you like doing. Just find the time to do it and don’t underestimate the influence of a positive work environment. 
  • Me time- Every single day, find time or a routine just for yourself. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, still stick to it. Go for a walk after dinner by yourself or watch your favourite show.
  • Get back when you are ready- Some will admit it, some wont; this is a common phase unless you know how to handle it. Break your routine and induce some freshness. Sooner than later, you will be back on your feet and happy to live in the Now.
Pic Courtesy: Google Images


The new E-book- A Guide: Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World) is ready for giveaway.

And there are 2 of them.
 To get your copy free (will be emailed to you), you can:
  • Tweet about your project management plans for the future and why you want to become one with the Hashtag #SIPM, so I can find you.
  • Or you can simply send a pic (via twitter) about your project management initiatives that you are taking. This can mean pictures about workshops attended, study groups to clear off certifications, prep books being delivered –pretty much anything that related to your interest in project management. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #SIPM, so I can find your post.

This is open till August 15 and 2 winners will be announced in the blog and twitter.

Don’t have a twitter account, get one. You will be surprised how much it can help you learn by following PM related hashtags, chats and other project managers.

For the rest of you, the book will be announced in the blog and twitter soon.

By the way, don't forget to sign up for the Free Google Hangout session on Sept 2 (Sunday) and the SIPM Newsletter. 

SIPM Monthly Newsletter

The SIPM monthly newsletter is on it’s way and to subscribe all you have to do is sign in (see to your right).

I used to maintain the Feedburner delivery of my posts and after a lot of contemplation if I should still keep it running, I decided to let it be.

If you are one of the subscribers, feel free to let me know if you would still like the service to continue or add yourself to the monthly newsletter list. You can email me directly or find me in twitter.

I’ll leave it to you.

The monthly newsletter is a way to connect to you and give out more on insider information on getting closer to your goal of becoming a Project Manager. The newsletter is the additional information that doesn’t find it’s way into the blogposts. It will answer your queries that I often get, insider knowledge of what’s coming up on SIPM next and true to it’s audience a way to tell the realities of being in the profession.

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

The #PMOT E-book

A Guide: Stepping into Project Management (welcome to the #PMOT circle), the upcoming e-book is almost ready, getting it’s finishing touches.

I always knew it would mean a lot of work to get it done; however I might have underestimated the hours it would take me to get there. So, the date is August.

I still have the cover page pending, last minute touches and editing is in full flow. I have deleted more while editing than writing and turns out it does take a while to get the hang of it.

So, what should you expect in the coming months?
  • E-book Publication-A step by step guide to get into your dream role of a Project Manager.
  • English isn't your first language-Like the blog, this E-book is in simple  working English, no jargon's, straight communication that allows newbies and fresh graduates from all over the world to understand what is required to get into Project Management.
  • Expert Comments- Project Managers, Coaches and Trainers share their secrets in getting into the industry.
  • Price-Keeping the newbies in mind, the e-book can be downloaded at a very reasonable $2.99 (Download will be available in pdf format). Payments through Paypal. All you have to do is click a button and you don’t need to have a Paypal account to buy the book.
  • Free Google Hangout 30 minute session- On September 2 (Sunday): How to find your #PMOT mentor. The time will be announced later in the blog and via twitter. This interactive session is open to 8 people only based on first come, first serve basis. Please email me at to reserve your seat with the subject line: Reserve me for “How to find your #PMOT mentor. This is open to all, irrespective of the fact whether you have bought my book or not. The reservations start today.
  • Next Session- This will be announced in August, after the book publication. This session is only for people who have bought the book. Your full name and email id will be required to make your reservation for the session. Details of the session will be announced in the blog and in the e-book. Stay tuned.
  • New Hashtag Introduced- Called #SIPM, this hashtag has been introduced to enable you to follow all updates from the book, sessions and posts in the blog.
  • Giveaway- Two E-Books will be given away in August (for free) through the blog. Stay tuned for announcements.
  • Reviews- If you have a Project Management blog and would like to review the book, please ask me for a free copy. Email me with your blog URL with the subject line: SIPM Book review

 Have questions, want to advertise in the book or just want to say hello- email me or find me at twitter  at @Soma_b

Learn Free

I have been reading Scott H Young  for a while now.

I love what he has done with his blog and his latest challenge is finishing a 4 year MIT computer science course in 1 year without attending classes. Go Figure.

So, I thought this lecture of his from TED about the education system was worth listening to.

Education costs a lot, but what a lot of us are trying to do is to get as much as possible free resources available to all of you.

For your project management understanding, try the following:
  • PMChat  -Held at every Friday 12 pm EST; Robert Kelly and Rob Prinzo bring out hundreds of project management professionals where topics are discussed and debated on. All you need is to follow #pmchat over twitter. Try it today.
  • Friday Sessions with Samad Aidane- Samad Aidane from Guerrilla Project Management is doing Friday sessions about various topics on project management. It’s an informal way of talking about a specific subject and then continuing with FAQ sessions. It’s a great tool for everyone looking forward to learn the ropes of the profession faster. And it’s free. Today’s webinar details are here .
  • SIPM Community - A global platform to get your mentor, internship opportunities or follow a project manager for a day. New experts and newbies register every day. A free resource to get you going.

·       If you are not free on Friday’s and can’t attend these live, ask for recordings or just follow the hashtag to read it up later. It’s rather simple really and I think it’s time all of us started taking advantage of the free resources and help we have.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

Fear- Is your friend

Jul 26, 2012 | 0 comments |

Fear is your greatest companion.
A little fear does no harm.

In fact it’s good to be a little scared of getting on to your next challenge. Most people are scared of doing things first time like bungee jumping, going to your first job interview, emailing your hero, trying to do something extraordinary.

You can either be scared by not doing what you have been planning or just be scared and still do it scarily and be thrilled later on achieving your goal.

“Many of us let fear get in the way of long-term goals, and that's not good. But it's a mistake to think the solution is to overcome fear in general. You can't (at least, not without a temporal lobectomy)”.  
                           - Lifehacker

What do you want to do?

Here are 5 ways to face the fear, accept you are scared and still go ahead:

  • Accept that you can’t change it- Waiting it out for weeks or months, won’t let the fear go away. Faster you accept it, better it is for you. If you still need to get it done, just go with the fear and still do it.
  • Believe in yourself- Write down why you need to get this done. Once your thoughts are clear, chances are you will be able to do it even though you are scared. Too scared, keep the thought written in your purse, glance it once in a while and try the positive reinforcement.
  • It’s ok to fail- Everybody has bad days and it’s all right to fail. Just go for your next certification or job interview or make some drastic changes in life and even if you fail, now you know the idea won’t work out. You will need that closure to move on in life.
  • Finding an alternative- if you can find an alternative which might sound a little more scary, gives you more confidence or is within your comfort zone, go for it. Confidence in getting something done will allow you to take on complex challenges.
  • Talk to someone- Find someone who has done similar tasks or taken up challenges that were scary. Talk to your mentor or read up other people in your profession; listening or reading about them and their failures will make it easier for you. No matter how successful you are, there has to be failures on the way.

Once you know that being scared is ok and normal most of the times, research and plan your work well, remove any obstacles that you possibly can and then go for it. 

(Pic courtesy: Google Images)