Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Been a While...

2014 has turned into a very busy year. I will share more in a future blog post, but I wanted to let everyone know I am speaking tomorrow and Tuesday at the  Houston Project Management Institute's (PMI) Annual Conference. It's the 40th Anniversary of this chapter of PMI, and I'm excited to be contributing to the festivities. I'll share more details later this week, and hopefully start writing regularly again. I hope the rest of you are having a great start to the summer!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Procrastination

Since we discussed doing nothing on Monday, I thought I would find a video for procrastination. This seems perfect:

From AVbyte

And a musical no less?!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Anything You Do Can Get You In Trouble...

Anything you do can get you in trouble... including doing nothing!

Image courtesy of artur84 /
 Confused yet?

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Top Ten Trust Terminators

Earlier in the week, I talked about Trust But Verify, and on Wacky Wednesday, I had a demotivational poster about trust. Today I have a post from, by Julie Winkle Giulioni. She shared Ten Trust Terminators.

I won't repeat the entire list here, but I will provide some highlights:

Behave Inconsistently

Julie focuses more on the "Do as I say, not as I do" aspect of behaving inconsistently. Your words and actions need to be consistent, to show the team that you are the leader you say you are.

But there is another angle. If you are constantly changing your mind, changing the direction of action, or telling your people different things to focus on before they finish the last one, then you are behaving inconsistently. One of my major tenants is Consistency. In fact I call it the detonator to the C4 Leader for explosive results. If you behave inconsistently, your team won't know what to make of your directions, and will not trust that what you say is what really needs to be accomplished; or that you even know what needs to be accomplished.

Say "Just Trust Me"

Julie's focus is again on the terms, acknowledging that the term speaks volumes to a team. From her perspective, it is never meant to be said. I would argue that there are times where it is necessary. I will again point to a military example. If you are giving orders in a combat environment then you may not have time to explain yourself, or your orders. I cannot think of a business environment where the words would be acceptable, but hopefully you have Communicated with your team the intent from the beginning, and built the trust so that these words are never said.

In the end, trust is fragile, and shouldn't be taken lightly. Trust is hard earned, easily destroyed, and the most valuable commodity a leader has. Don't take it for granted.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Trust


Trust is earned, and can easily be tested to the limits. I've learned that a statement like "this is gonna work out just fine" is almost as bad as "check this s^*t out."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trust But Verify

 Trust is one of the most fragile assets a leader has. The team's trust in you, your trust in the team. I discussed this on a previous blog entry. But trust is earned, and blind trust can cause massive problems.

Trust But Verify. Believe it or not, this is a Russian proverb ""doveryai no proveryai"" taught to President Ronald Regan by a Russian Writer named Suzanne Massie. It eventually became a phrase associated with Ronald Regan's entire Presidency. The original intent is a form of advice, recommending that while a source of information might be considered reliable, one should perform additional research to verify that such information is accurate, or trustworthy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - The Expert

Sadly, I've sat in meetings like this and try hard to not be THAT Project Manager. I have friends (mostly engineers, but it happens to me as well) who are regularly called into meeting and leave with this experience.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Frack-up vs. Failure

I am going out on a limb here, but in honor of Battlestar Gallactica (which I started watching on Netflix again, and recently celebrating its 10 year anniversary), this week's lesson is the a difference between Frack-up versus Failure. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - God Grant...

There is an old phrase that I essentially try to live by:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I have a friend who is going through some hard times right now, and I found a version that might be more appropriate for her:

Primitive "Coffee and wine" serenity prayer wooden sign - your color choice
From Etsy

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Don't Know

I was sitting with an Engineering Manager last week, and he asked me a question that I've heard a lot from younger leaders (particularly new project managers in very technical industries):

You are in a meeting with a customer, and he asks a question, you don't know the answer. What do you do?

I responded: I tell the customer "I don't know, but..."

Image courtesy of ratch0013 /

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Brick Wall Are you building the brick wall that prevents other from accomplishment or are you demolishing the barriers to explosive results?  


Monday, March 31, 2014

Busy Weekend

My Faithful Readers:

The leadership lesson for this morning is to be straightforward with your team. I had a very productive weekend with the family. My oldest son played his first flag football game, then we went to a Cub Scout event. The side-effect of these events is that my allergies turned into a massive sinus cold / headache and I didn't get the blog post ready for the week like I normally do.

I will post a more in depth blog post tonight. Thank you and keep working toward your leadership goals!

- Matt

Friday, March 28, 2014


Since I talked about Tetris earlier in the week, I came across this article:

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut /
 Chris Brogan (the author) is Publisher and CEO of Owner Magazine, a business magazine helping you improve your worth by growing your capabilities and connections. In the article he talks about how your decisions can have compounding affects. You stay up late, so you have a harder time getting up to go to the gym, which may make you late for work, etc., etc., etc.  The question he asks in his write-up is: What decisions are you making without much thought?

It's a good question, and falls in line with the Tetris article. Mistakes stack, accomplishments disappear. Are your decisions, even the smallest ones, working towards accomplishments, or towards making mistakes?

If the answer is mistakes, then you need to start looking at the next falling block (Tetris or Domino), and plan ahead for it. Keep yourself from getting knocked over by the blocks. Adjust how they fall, even minutely, and you can change the course to something more beneficial to you. Enough little changes can net some big results.

The only one who can move the blocks is you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Tetris

Since I mentioned Tetris earlier in the week (here), I thought it would be fun to share a video that I often think of when the game starts getting tough.

The Tetris Gods

From CollegeHumor on YouTube

Monday, March 24, 2014

Accomplishments Disappear...

There once was a game called Tetris. It was an evil and vindictive game, where the player would stack blocks into empty spaces and on top of each other. The intent was to use the blocks to create rows, and once you completed a row, that row would disappear and any blocks above the lines that disappeared would fall to the next level. Today there are many variations built on this concept, but Tetris is what I see when I close my eyes. Even the original game is still available at for your phone.

C4, Emerging Leaders, First Time Managers, Leadership, Explosive Results
The problem with this game is that there would inevitably come a time where you needed a specific piece to appear, but it wouldn't, so you would fill the void with something and try to move on. Or you would make a mistake, causing a gap which you keep stacking on top of, while still tying to complete rows.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Conference Call

How often do you make conference calls during the week? Does this sum up your experience?

A little too real, don't you think?

Monday, March 17, 2014

If Everything Is Important...

There's this great scene in The Incredibles (link to clip):

Dash and his Mom are in the car after leaving the principals office. They are discussing why he keeps getting into trouble, and Dash starts talking about how "Dad says our powers make us special."

Mom's Response: "Everyone's special Dash."

Dash: "Which is another way of saying no one is."

The jist of it is Dash's comment: that if EVERYONE is special, than NOBODY is. It's a common theme in the movie. There's another scene where Syndrome is speaking to Mr. Incredible about his plan to become a new "hero," and then eventually sell his inventions to everyone; and so then, when everyone is super, no one will be. 

It almost feels like a commentary on the "participation trophy" phenonemon going on with kids today. We can't have the kids feel left out, we can't hurt their confidence, or provide a little hardship that might help them grow, so here's the trophy:

Image courtesy of digitalart / 

But what about the adult side of things? The leadership side? What happens in an organization when your team is told that:

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Palms...Never Again

For those of you unfamiliar with Las Vegas, the Palms is off the strip, near the Rio, and some consider it to be one of the better casinos in Vegas (our cab driver to the hotel actually said it is considered top three for customer service). I wish I could say our experience lived up to the reputation.

The Palms Casino Resort

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vegas Baby!

As many of you know, this past week I was in Las Vegas, enjoying the life of sun, shows, and ...

Caught you didn't I? 

Yes I went to Las Vegas, and yes it was a great vacation, but the start of this whole escapade was Lady and the Champs.

A Speakers conference held annually by Patricia Fripp (the Lady) and several Toastmasters International World Champion Speakers: Darren LaCroix, Ed Tate, and Craig Valentine. Each of these professionals are known for their speaking and coaching prowess, and I've enjoyed their educational materials in the past, so I wanted to experience some face-to-face time with them (and 350 other attendees).

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Great Weekend

I had a great weekend. I met a lot of new people, made some new friends and contacts, and spent time working on some leadership and communication skills. At the moment, I'm still processing the experience, and assessing the aftermath. Look for an update later this week to see some of what I learned, and some new actions items for myself.

In the meantime, I had some interesting conversations during the weekend, and thought I would reiterate something for anyone who found there way over to my blog. One of the hardest and most important things a Leader can do is COMMUNICATE. There are severeal reason why this doesn't tend to happen, but perhaps the largest is that people have a tendency to think that we all Communicate the same way. 

In reality, that is not the case. You've probably heard of the Meyers Briggs personality test (which I posted a little about here). That profile is interesting, but it is too cumbersome.  A leader should be able to read his or her people and adjust the communication style based on that. There is another personality profile: the DiSC profile. 

D: Dominance
i:   influence
S: Steadiness
C: Conscientiousness

This is easier to identify, and there is a book that helps identify the personality of the members of your team as well as yourself. It then tells you how to communicated with them. The book is People Styles At Work by Robert and Dorothy Bolton (Affiliate link below):

A bit of clarification: People Styles uses different terms (with DiSC profile types listed in parenthesis):

D: Dominant (D)
E: Extrovert (i)
An: Analytical (S)
Am: Amiable (C)

This is a book I give to friends, loan to co-workers, and encourage my mentees / coachees to read. Why? Because it not only helps you nail down your Communication style, but that of your team as well.

How important is that?

If you can't Communicate with your team in the manner they need, they will shut you out. You need to flex to the receiver of the Communication and ensure that the message transmitted is received.

Start with this book. Then build from there.

And more lessons from my weekend to come!

Friday, February 21, 2014

In One Step: How to Ensure Leadership Development Works - Forbes Magazine

Jack Zenger is a contributing author to Forbes magazine. Back in October he wrote an article titled:

In the article, Jack explains that he experienced two groups of leaders who received the same training. One group increased their leadership 360 scores, the other decreased. Why? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Leadership

One of my favorite shows is Band of Brothers, and perhaps I should do some write-ups about the leadership shown throughout the show. But for Wacky Wednesday, I share perhaps the worst example of leadership I've seen in the show:

Found here

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

First, I apologize, I will not post about Cub Scouts next week, but I just have to be the proud papa for a moment:

Maben is a Tiger Cub and he won the Pinewood Derby for not just for his Den, but had the fastest track time in the Pack.
Here he is with his trophy:
 His Car:

And us working on his car:

If you want more details about the cars the family made for the pinewood derby (everyone but I had a car), go to my wife's blog.

Before you think that this isn't a leadership lesson, I did teach my son something while working on the car:

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

We researched how to build a winning car (there are plenty of websites and books). Then we designed the car based on the research. We spent the time to layout where the weights would be, and how to make the axles smoother and the wheels encounter less friction. Then we executed the plan, taking the time to ensure each step was performed accurately. In the end, the car was one of the cleanest, smoothest cars in the race. People couldn't tell where the weight was, or how the wheels were tuned. It was a thing of beauty. 

This was a lesson I learned during my days in the Army. You did things Slow and methodical (according to the Conceived plan) so that you didn't make a mistake, hence Smooth. And because we were not making mistakes, we didn't have to fix anything, hence Smooth is Fast. Perhaps you've heard it's antithesis:

We don't have time to do it right, but we have time to redo it.

People today are so quick to "just get it done,"  that they do it with lots of mistakes. Then they spend a significant amount of time fixing the mistakes. In fact, they may spend significantly more time fixing the mistakes then if they did it right the first time.

Leaders have a tendency to jump right into the "actual work" and worry about planning as he or she goes along. That is a mistake. Goals and plans need to be Conceived (flushed out to the point of having a life of it's own). In some cases, plans can take almost as long to build / flush out as the actual activities that need to be done. 

After the plan is Conceived, you need to Communicate it (and that means ensuring that the plan is understood) to you team, them take Command (have metrics, and ensure progress is being made with minimal mistakes) and them Complete (ensure the steps are complete, compile lessons learned, and recognize major contributors).

When the stages are rushed, then the plan isn't fully flushed out. The team doesn't understand the requirements, the metrics, or the end goal. The work is performed, but not performed correctly. The end state often ends up looking very different from the perceived goals, and the goals are either abandoned or significant work / cost is invested to fix it. 

In the long run: Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast means better projects with less cost. The next time you are going to jump in, slow down. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Beginnings Part 2

Earlier in the year, I stated some goals in a post, and I have made some progress towards them. Not as much as I would like, but progress all the same. Some updates:

1. The Website: I have a friend building a new site for me. Here is a screenshot:

Hopefully, the initial version will be up and running in a week or two, and then we will progress adjust, and refine in the coming months as C4 grows.

2. The Facebook Page: I haven't quite made the 3 times per week I was hoping for. At the moment, it is more like once a week. But I think I found a tool that will help with this, so more to come. 

3. The YouTube Channel: I have a new banner on the page, and started getting into more of the features. I also bought better lighting and backdrop, so the videos will at least look professional (okay, a little more professional). Look for a welcome video in the next couple of weeks, as well as more videos on Leadership, and less on speeches for contests. I have some ideas to continue to grow this channel, but would love to get questions I can respond to on the channel.

4. The Twitter Feed: I've created a channel, and will start with leadership quotes during the weekdays, followed by articles and thoughts over the course of the day. Look for the first quote tomorrow!

5. Products: Just attended an NSA meeting in Houston, where the main topic was product creation. Got some really good ideas, and I can't wait to share them. Should have something on the site in the next couple of weeks / month. 

I hope you are as excited as I am for this. I think it will be a good way to get started, and I can't wait to hear what everybody thinks.