Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - I am so SMART, SMRT

Every time I talk about SMART Goals, I find this clip running through my mind. remember it's 

Thankfully, I haven't done this infront of an audience...


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How SMART Are You? What About Your Goals?

A leader's job is to specify goals and set paths. The clearer the goals and paths, the easier time a team will have. The difficulty is that a leader will often set vague goals, hoping to gain clarification as the team progresses. While this can be expected as part of the life cycle, it is not an excuse to avoid providing detailed goals for the team. But how does a leader do this?

The answer is SMART goals. First published in 1981 issue of Management Review, by George T. Doran, and popularized by Peter Drucker's management by objectives concept,  the SMART formula has adapted over time, but is still relevant to Leaders today. SMART stands for:

 What does that mean? Let's take the formula one letter at a time.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Leadership Quote of the Week - George Washington

This picture was taken by my lovely wife this summer at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. 

 My wife provided me with this meme, after sorting through my library of quotes, and I find it interesting that it should land now. I am in the middle of the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, and coupled with the Eisenhower Decision Matrix post last week, I find myself evaluating how I am using my time. Do I have misspent time? Yes. Am I working to fix that? Absolutely!

Too often we do things that keep us busy, but don't actually provide progress toward our goals. I am guilty of this, as is anyone. As an example, I've spent hours recently moving thousands of gigabytes of data from old hard drives to a new terabyte hard drive. The data in many cases is repetative, and I am trying to clean it up so that I can have one (okay two with a mirrored cloud storage drive, but I digress) source of this information. What drove this? Honestly, I was sick of jumping from drive to drive looking for old files. Does it have an immediate impact on what I am trying to achieve today, tomorrow, or even this month. Not directly. This activity is being done because I ran across a stack of old hard drives and decided to do something with them, rather than just put them in a box and forget them.

Now, I could argue that this is a Quadrant 2 activity (and I believe it is), but there are more pertinent items I could be spending my time on. When did I realize it? When I read this quote and said "Dang!"

So where are you spending your time? Is it the best use of your time, or are you spinning your wheels? Make the decision to work toward your goals, and then focus on the activities that move the ball. Otherwise, you are only spinning your wheels killing time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Don't Tempt Fate...

As many of my readers know, I have a list called Morey's Laws typically of Project Management, however I've been asked why they don't apply to Leadership in general. I couldn't provide an answer. So today, we meet the item at the end of the list: Don't Tempt Fate... It Can Always Get Worse. 

This is one of those laws that is meant to be a catch-all. Like in a bad (or sometimes really good) movie, a leader should know better than to say "It can't possibly get any worse" or some derivative thereof. It is almost always an invitation for fate to prove you wrong.

A couple of real life examples:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Leadership Quote of the Week - Dwight Eisenhower

In Preparing For Battle I Have Always Found That Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable
- Dwight Eisenhower

Since we are discussing the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, it's appropriate to share one of his most famous quotes. The irony here is that in the blog post earlier I am telling you that you need to spend more time in Quadrant 2 (Planning), yet now I am posting a quote that says the plan is useless, what gives? 

Well what gives is that the action of planning is where the real pay-dirt is. To paraphrase another military general (Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke): "No Plan Survives First Contact." This statement is true, because no matter how well planned, situations change and things will not always go according to plan. As such, a leader needs to understand that plans cannot be final. While planning, (s)he should consider contingencies and "what if" scenarios during planning. Having these contingencies ready when the plan changes will make the team successful, and why planning is indispensable. 

When working in project management we call it Risk Mitigation. A significant portion of planning is the detailing of Risk into a matrix which shows the impacts of an event happening, and then details out how the risks will be addressed if the event occurs. I may share the techniques in a future blog post, as it's important to know how to do this during planning of complex projects which could have serious and (sometimes) dramatic consequences if something goes wrong. 

As a note, what you are seeing here is a picture I took from the back of a M113 in Kuwait as soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division are about to be briefed on the plan to cross into Iraq and convoy to Baqu'bah in 2003. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Where Do You Spend Your Time?

The one thing in the universe we cannot buy back is time. We are here for a limited time and then we are gone, which means we should try to make the absolute most of our time. But our time is under a constant barrage of constraints, requirements and requests; to the point where we often feel overwhelmed and not sure where our time went.

Dwight Eisenhower wasn't only the 34th President of the United States. During World War II he was the Supreme Allied Commander, responsible for the actions of the United States, British, French, and (arguably) the Russian military organizations. Can you imagine the amount of requests on his time? Military strategies, political maneuvers, and anything that he wanted to do. General Eisenhower had to build a model in order to determine how to address the requests on his time. What he developed was the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which has found its way into the management lexicon. In fact, Steven Covey included it in one of the most popular self-help books of all time Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. 

As I built my C4 concept, I realized that an understanding of the Decision Matrix is critical for Conceive, mostly because Leaders don't know where they are spending their time and need to be aware of where they get the most bang for their buck. In fact, this is more of a preamble to Conceive, as Conceive is largely a Quadrant 2 activities (but I get ahead of myself). As I researched the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, I tried to find a graphical representation which would properly illustrate the concept, but what I found was a lot of quadrant diagrams with a lot of words, require too much explanation. So instead, I worked with my graphic designer (who happens to be my wife, so lucky!) to build a graphical representation of the Decision Matrix that should allow understanding without a lot of explanation (but I probably will over-explain the images during this blog). I now present the C4 Leader version of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Leadership Quote of the Week

Another picture with a personal connection to my past. My other set of grandparents lived in Vermont, and my parents retired to Vermont. Near the house of my parents is an old covered bridge that I loved to walk down, made me feel like I was in a Robert Frost poem.

The quote comes from Charles Lauer is a keynote speaker who has a background in healthcare and is a public speaker and author. "Leaders don't force people to follow, they invite them on a journey." Hopefully, if you are doing your job right, you have set a vision and laid out a path that people would want to travel. Just like the old adage "You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" we are well past the time where you can force followers to travel your path. Instead, invite them to participate. A strong leader will find himself or herself with a strong group of other leaders, and the accomplishments will amaze!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - Coworkers

One of my more popular posts in previous years was about the different type of coworkers you interact with. College Humor has a great video for some more coworkers you will interact with (or may be guilty of becoming)!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Leader's Most Common Mistake?

I see it over and over again. A person moves into a Leadership role because he / she was a superstar when working alone, knows the technicals, gets work done and might even show strong communication skills. But once they are in the role, they flounder. Even experienced Leaders can suffer from this as they are given more responsibility and bigger roles.  What’s the problem?

Honestly, identifying the answer is easy; fixing it not so much. Most Leaders have proven themselves to be self-reliant, self-starters to begin with. Before becoming a Leader, they’ve learned how to get things done and are completely comfortable taking care of work themselves. They know how to plan and execute their work. They are already Superman or Wonder Woman in their own minds.

Photo by Jeroen van Oostrom,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Leadership Quote of the Week

This is one of my favorite pictures, because it harkens back to my childhood. My Grandparent's house was in a small town named Chatham in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where every weekend a local band would play music from the gazebo while people relaxed on the green grass. It was called "Band Time in Chatham," and always included a trip to a candy store with homemade fudge or maybe an ice cream cone, glow sticks, balloons, dancing, and games of tag with other local children. My wife and I visited Chatham a couple of years ago, and I absolutely LOVE this picture.

To the quote of the week. Stakeholders, regulators, noisy neighbors, weather, whatever can all cause distractions for yourself and the team. As a leader, your primary responsibility is to the team (even if there are others that will enjoy the result). This means that you need to focus on what the team is doing, not what the stakeholders are doing. The exception to this is if the stakeholders are detracting from your team, but the first indicators of that will come from your team! Avoid the distraction, and focus on the team to get the best results.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - Communication

The last two weeks we've discussed Communication. As Monty Python proves, sometimes no matter how clear you are, other people may not have the capacity to understand. In these cases, find someone who can!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Communication: How Hard Can It Be? - Part 2

What we’ve got here is… Failure to Communicate.
– The Captain (Prison Warden)  Cool Hand Luke, 1967

There are a lot of factors that contribute to a “Failure to Communicate.” As we identified last week, one of the primary reasons is that people don’t finish the Communication Cycle. You might remember this image:

Included in that image is a graphic of a couple of wavy lines:

Those wavy lines don’t just represent the noise or static in the environment when communicating. It also represents the internal noise or static of the Communicator and the Receiver. A message has to pass through all of those items before it can be processed and understood. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Leadership Quote of the Week

As I continue to adapt and adjust my business, as we prepare for the reboot, I find myself drawn to this quote. So often we are unsure what lies beyond the horizon, so we are afraid of making the step. The truth is that each step educates us, however, meaning we can grow more and see more. Sometimes we just need to get to the success we can see, in order to see the success we deserve.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - Hump Day

Even though it's a short week in the United States sometimes it's the short weeks that are the hardest:

From Buzzfeed

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Communication: How Hard Can It Be? (Part 1)

We talk, text, email, call, and converse nearly every day of our lives, and yet Communication is hard. In fact, I would say that Communication is the most often misunderstood job of a leader. How often have you misread an email, or added context to a text message? Listened to a voicemail that makes no sense? Or been part of a conversation that apparently had no point?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

C4Leader Quote of the Week - Steve Maraboli

Thank you to Erin Morey for this image
This is the first Image Quote of the Week. There are many other people who've said similar items from Antoine de Saint-Exupery to the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (their quotes may appear later in the Quote of the Day shared with my Social Media groups). In the end the result is the same. It's great to have a vision, but you need to be able to define in detail the end state, so that you know what you are working toward. and how you know you've arrived. This is why SMART Goals or KPIs can be so important. The trick is to make sure that the definition is actually something that will meet what you need.

This is why my first C in the C4 Leader concept is Conceive, because if you are going to lead a team (or yourself) then it is critical that you not only define the "Exactly Where" but also the path to get there.

So WHERE are you Going today?

Click here for more information on Steve Maraboli

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

HD vs. Black & White


A significant portion of the United States populous owns an HDTV. I would ask you to take that item and imagine a more immersive experience. Imagine being completely enveloped in HDTV, with supporting sound and effects. Can you conceive what Avatar would be like? Or Gravity? Life of Pi? Inception? Imagine being immersed in a world with that level of crispness and awareness for a year. How awesome would that be?


Now take that away, head down to your grandparent's basement and find the old black and white cabinet TV and turn on I Love Lucy. Would you yearn for the HD experience? Could you tolerate the black and white? Could you learn to love the black and white? Now imagine trying to explain the HD experience to people who've only experienced the black and white cabinet TV. What words would you use? Could you even make the attempt?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cha Cha Cha Changes!

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
- Laozi (More Commonly Called - Lao Tzu)

The last few weeks have been pretty quite for the site, but that's because we've been prepping a lot behind the scenes. There will be changes coming to the site, and to how I interact with people in the very near future.

A website reboot is coming. As with so many things, there have been delays and even a model rework that will revamp a lot of the pages (as well as adding several new pages to better distribute the information, names to be determined, but look forward to more announcements).

While we wait for the website reboot, my Presentation page has been updated to reflect my current suite of presentations and trainings, as well as to better reflect my speaker one-sheet. If you are interested in my topics, or booking me to speak at your event, please start with that page.

Social Media
YouTube: My Current Channel is C4ELT on YouTube. That channel name was confusing and the channel itself was not well updated. A new channel will be created soon, called C4Leader. I will be posting informational videos on leadership and project management there, as well as my Morey's Laws and other items. It should get entertaining!

Twitter: Again, my old twitter handle was C4ELT. I've created a new twitter handle (can you guess what it is?): C4Leader. I created it a couple of weeks ago, and there is some traffic, but look for it to ramp up in the coming days / weeks.

Periscope: This is a great new item, allowing video instantly from your cellphone, and instant interaction. It can be linked to a twitter account (C4Leader), so go to your stores and download the Periscope app and follow me, because I'm going to be on (almost) daily sharing quotes of the day and other thoughts. If you wanted to get in touch with me, this may be the easiest route with the quickest response!

More to come!

Publication Schedule:
In the past (when I was consistent) I posted on:
Monday - My Own Material
Wednesday - Wacky Wednesday, material I thought entertaining from around the net.
Friday (occasionally) - My thoughts on an article, blog post, whatever from a different site.

this will change (starting next week) to:
Tuesday - My material
Wednesday - The Wackiness Continues!
Thursday - Quote of the Week - A leadership quote with an image that's both memorable and sharable. 
Friday - My thoughts on popular media, articles and blog posts by others, or perhaps a book / movie review. 

I am freeing up Monday for a couple of video series that I am hoping will keep you entertained.

On the horizon:
Who Knows!?

 As you can see, I have a lot planned for the near future. I hope you find this interesting, and that you are willing to come along with me for the ride!

 If you have questions, please be sure to comment below, as I'd like to start working with you to solve your problems. I look forward to interacting with you, and can't wait to start this journey with you. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

NSA Conference


I am really excited this week about attending the NSA (no, not that NSA, this one is the National Speaker Association) conference in Washington, DC. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, connecting with other professionals and learning new skills. Next week, we will continue our regularly scheduled program.

Monday, July 6, 2015

If Everyone Is Responsible...

Photo by xedos4 from
Nearly two years ago I shared a story about a thirty (30) ton lift where more than 15 people were present, with the overall less being that the Leader Takes the Blame. After reviewing the story, there was another lesson to share from that adventure: 

 If Everyone Is Responsible, No One Is

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Deal By Handshake...

... Lasts As Long As The Handshake

Image by ratch0013 at

Too often I've found myself the victim of this cliché, more often than not because of people outside the original handshake. I have a tendency to trust people's intentions, and am willing to work with people in good faith until that trust is broken. 

When dealing with an individual, and not a business, this can be an appropriate relationship. However, when dealing with business this will often get you in trouble (not only because of the legal considerations). The reason is that very rarely are deals handled by only two individuals. Without something in writing, you are guaranteeing pain and wasted time which could have been avoided if the deal was written down in the first place.

I'll illustrate a recent example: 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - Job Interview

I'm working with some veterans regarding Project Management Roles. Sadly, some interviews really do feel like this.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Does Complaining Ever Help?

I don't gripe to *you*, Reiben. I'm a captain. There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you. You should know that as a Ranger.

Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) Saving Private Ryan

This is perhaps the best way to word how gripes (complaining) work when you are in a leadership role. Complaints shouldn't be voiced in front of your team; as the impacts at best show that either you don't want to be doing the job, or at worst, tells the team it is okay to slack off (or do a poor job) because you don't care about what they are doing. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

PMI Houston 2015 Conference!

 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

  - Theodore Roosevelt

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who made the 2015 PMI Houston Conference as great as it turned out to be. Energizing speakers with interesting topics, solid networking opportunities, old friends, and lots of lessons learned.

During the conference I presented on two topics. First, was Round 3 of 5 of Morey's Laws of Project Management, first thing Monday morning. The attendees were actually energetic for the morning session, and there was a lot of discussion regarding one of the Project Manager's greatest assets: the People on your Project team.

On Tuesday, after lunch, I presented Without Change Management It All Comes Tumbling Down for the second year in a row. This is one of my more popular presentations, with lots of interaction and solid actionable steps for attendees to implement. The presentation and content were complemented several times as the most useful presentation at the conference.

The show was also the introduction of my new products:
  • Without Change Management (Package): Included:
    • PDF of Slides
    • Audio recording of presentation
    • Change Management Plan workbook with description of templates
    • Templates for
      • Possible Change Notification Form (Word)
      • Change Order Form (Word)
      • Change Register (Excel)
  • Scope Creep: The Project Killer
    • PDF of Slides
    • Audio recording of presentation
And, of course, the Morey's Laws poster produced many chuckles. If any of these products interest you, please email me at A complete revamp of the website (with store page) is coming this summer, so this should only be temporary. 

I look forward to this conference every year, and am already thinking about which programs to present next year. In the meantime, if you attended the conference, remember that people tend to let their normal lives take over when they get back. If you want to implement something you learned, it's action that will bring about the change, not knowledge or intention (or to Paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, be the man in the arena). 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

I'm Back!!!!

It's been nearly a year since my last blog entry, and a lot has happened. As you may or may not know, I started a new Project Management job last year, which required an extensive amount of my time, and sacrifices needed to be made. Unfortunately, my blog and public speaking were the first to take the hit. But, as we all know, leadership is about making choices.

In the coming months you will see some changes / updates. I don't want to share too many details (as not all are confirmed) but what I can tell you is that there will be a website update, audio and pdf products, programs for Leaders, Project Managers, and Military Veterans; and of course, more speaking dates.

Speaking of speaking dates:
PMI Military Transition Program - POG to PM - 9May2015 (Closed)
PMI College Station, Texas - Without Change Management It All Comes Tumbling Down.  - 11 May 2015 (Open)
PMI Houston Downtown - Project Recovery (Title TBD) - 28May2015 (Open)
PMI Houston Conference - Topics TBD - 8-10June2015 Open

Stand-by for more details, and looking forward to starting this process up again. Thank you all!