altMBA Project 1 "Set Goals": I will teach you to be a better and happier Project Manager

In January 2016, I signed up for Seth Godin's altMBA (session #8, to be exact). This was Project #1 on Setting Goals.

Context / Background ("Why I care to do this") 

I founded my own company called Feisworld LLC in January 2016 after working as a Project Manager (also Digital Producer) for 10 years. Throughout my career I've collaborated with senior executives and other project managers (PMs) on training and methodologies.  In particular, I find it fulfilling and enjoyable to mentor others who are also willing to share, learn and create better career paths and environment for PMs. Nearly everything has been documented by me (via Google Drive, DropBox) but very little is shared with the public - in a friendly, easy-to-consume format. Furthermore, I noticed that the resources out on the world wide web is still limited, and there is no program in school/college to teach students how project management works in general.

Goal Definition 

Create the first series of online courses for project managers in digital marketing (i.e. any project related to the internet of things)

Purpose of the series isn't only focusing on GTD (Get Things Done) efficiently and effective but also becoming a happier project manager, who enjoys what s/he does, laughs a little (or a lot) along the way, builds better relationships with clients, colleagues, enables others' potentials. Deep Nishar once said: "A great producer has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat."

What's in it for me

  • Aggregate and share project management knowledge from the past ten years
  • Connect with people in the industry, collect feedback and continue to improve upon the series (possibly generate second, third series of the course)
  • Monetize the course appropriately in formats such as eBooks, Webinars, self-guided courses

List of Obstacles 

  • Scope of the project
    • I need to focus on a well defined set of project management challenges, tools and resources. I have the tendency to do too much, too quickly. Without a clear scope, first series will not launch by the deadline.
    • Benefits for others
      • I need to get clear on specific pain points this first series will remedy or solve. As entrepreneurs / creators, we want to solve many problems at once. This isn't wise from past experience so I want to discipline myself and seek clarity upfront.
      • Credibility / Differentiate where I innovate
        • There are other project and product management courses out there, with much bigger teams and resources. What's my credibility and advantage? This is more of a marketing concern. For well-versed project managers, will they immediately shy away from what I have to offer? How can I catch their attention and engage them at a high level?
        • Evolvement / Future.
          • If the first series is an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) to test out the idea, how should I go about explaining to people where the courses are going? Why should they stay with the program?

List of Knowledge and Skills Required 

  • Compiling and prioritizing content from the Project Management Knowledge-base I have been building...
  • Content organization (by problems, by client, by industry, etc.)
  • Product launch and on-going marketing effort (digital, traditional)
  • Email marketing (Mailchimp)
  • Facebook ads (AdEspresso), Google ads, Landing pages (Instapage)
  • Online training course platform (i.e. Teachable, Udemy)
  • SEO

People and Groups

  • Early Adopters (clients, colleagues in Project Management, and my altMBA classmates, anyone? Email me at feisworld@gmail.com)
  • Early Majority (Marketers, Creative, Technologists in creative agencies, about 50/50 split between new vs existing relationships)
  • Experiential Audience: Students (College Seniors) / young millennials who are interested in Project Management (and/or Digital Production)
  • Late Majority People who are interested in working in consulting and marketing agencies

Plan of Action

  • 80/20: Break the ice, email at least 10 people (I know personally) about launching such program. Ask if they are interested in staying involved (if not, do they know anyone who could be interested).
  • Micro-habits: 15 mins a day (reading, researching, sharing, connecting on project management related conversations and resources) via LinkedIn, Twitter.
  • Recalibration
    • Set aside 2 hours every week (minimum) to engage in activities specific to this project.
    • Build and grow an email list
    • Create a monthly Project Calendar with clear deadlines, expectations for each month (re-evaluate every two weeks if on/off track)
    • Who: friends and colleagues in project management (or are interested in learning more)
    • Short term: first series of the PM course
    • Long term: future series (new editions) of the PM course

Deadline

  • First series will launch by June 30th, 2017
  • Second series will launch by January 31st, 2018

Reflection Script (RS):

Thanks for all the comments - I'd like to take this opportunity and dive into the Questions (in bold) posted by my reviewers. Truly, these are the really HARD questions to answer, but also the critical thinking required to push this project forward.

Why Now?

With about 11 years of PM experience under my belt, I feel ready because I AM ready. I've been thinking about this course for just about a year at this point.

Your goal is all about developing a program that will help change the game for project managers. How will creating this program stretch your limits? And what does success look like for you?

People say that by teaching a course, you learn the material better. This will absolutely stretch my limit - instead of figuring things out on my own, I need to take others' situation into consideration. I bet it's a lot more complex than I'd imagine. At the same time, there are more universal guidelines, principles surrounding PM that could apply. Distilling that info takes knowledge and maturity.

Of the skills and requirements you list, which do you already know/have? Which will you need to develop? And how can you do that?

What a great question! Truth is - I know how to do a lot of them, but I CAN'T be doing all of them. I need to clearly define strategic tasks I must focus on, while giving those repeated, easier-to-outsource tasks to others. I learned this by working with a talented producer for my podcast. Not only did he save me time, but also became a strategic partner to make the brand better and stronger.

You've laid out a strong plan of action here. But, if it were just a matter of following the steps, it would be easy. What are the hard parts? What are the hard questions you have to ask yourself to get this done?

The answer above addresses the core of this question as well.

I'm curious whether you set yourself deadlines for those steps within your Plan of Action, to make sure that you're on track? (Similarly from another comment, For example, in Recalibration, what benchmarks can you add, like "Grow my email list by 25 new contacts every week." And how will you know if you're off track? What will you use to measure this? )

Measuring success, to me, is the one of the hardest part. I'm not sure if I have this figured out but it's CRITICAL. I also think this is the very reason why people give up easily, if they don't know how to measure.  I think an easy three part indicator I can think of now are - a) Enough interest from people, 100 active participants via email / private group and b) Continuous growth in the community, people answering questions for one another, cues of positive feedback via comments, as well as downloads of tools and resources c) Final step (short-term), first few paying customer

I'm also curious to what extent you dig into your obstacles and the knowledge you have about what you're facing to pre-emptively plan for those obstacles? The threads of precision, simplicity and building a focused MVP come through very strongly, so I wonder whether you have techniques to make sure you remind yourself of that frequently? 

I use Google calendar to block out my time and focus on different projects. Good point though, as some projects always get pushed. It's a shame isn't it. I need to discipline myself, and allow other participants, contributors to be accountable. This altMBA study hall setup is quite brilliant. Nobody can bail. :)

Your Purpose was clear and very thoughtful, to give people instruction is one thing. To give them the tools to be happy is magical. You are on your way.

Wow, like this a lot. Now I just need to figure out how to define happiness in the context of working as a PM.

1) What exact areas of Digital Marketing and the IoT are you going to focus on? And in what order? Are there areas that are lacking in the field that you could be a leader in? (see #2 below).

Production, project management in digital marketing seems to be a sweet spot for me so far. While I worked at large companies, I really enjoy working with smaller companies, about 25 people (in size), give or take. I've been hired as strategic partners, consultant on multiple occasions. Great point, I should dig up my knowledge, tools and resources, including details of how I was discovered could be helpful.

You did a great jog of explaining how some of these very questions are obstacles, but I think they deserve some digging into also. Where can you make the biggest impact? What would have blown you away, or been a Godsend, when you were new to Project Management? 2) Potential "whats in it for me": Being/becoming the expert. As you mentioned there are not a lot of courses (esp. online) teaching how project management works, and few places with organized resources. This project could lead you into being 'the expert' here. And being an expert opens up worlds of possibility. :-) 

Good mentorship. Can't emphasize this enough. Young PMs are always thrown into the deep end. Some people I know were even let go of their jobs as a result, or simply gave up too soon. What is good mentorship? I can't wait to define this - including those not-so-obvious attributes. I think mentoring/coaching (high school, college, young professional), promoting a positive, positive environment, building knowledge/creating toolkits everyone can leverage are my expertise.

3) In your recalibration bullet, are there pieces of that calendar that you could lay out now? How long would certain steps take to create?

Are there any risks? Not much at the moment, I'm self funded. :)