My Three-Year Blogiversary–A Project Management Odyssey

On April 9, 2012 I embarked on a quest to produce an article or “blog post” every day for an entire year.    For the first two years after that, I kept up with this production schedule.    However, I’ve allowed my increased responsibilities after July 2014 to deter me from my previous devotion to blogging, and I realized today that I missed my three-year blogiversary on April 9th.   It really made sit back and look at what I’ve accomplished so far, and what plans I have for the blog in the future.

When I celebrated by one-year blogiversary, I had about 30,000 or so views from people in over 120 countries around the world.   Now I have over 400,000 views from people in 180+ countries around the world (practically every country that exists!).   So I have gone through tremendous growth, but I need to take stock of where I am so I can move to the next level, which is to get a million view.    I know I’ll probably reach 500,000 by next summer, but if I could increase the growth of my blog to one million views by April 2016, that would be fantastic.    And it’s not just how many people, but who the people are that’s important.    From the beginning, my focus has been primarily on professional development, and secondarily on my personal interests including foreign language learning, global affairs, and science fiction.   I’ve always written about what I’m interested in, and see no change in the future regarding that!

1.  My blog at the start

I had an idea of my blog being a public journal.   I have kept a private journal for almost as long as I was in college, and it has served as my dream journal, planning journal, and in general my attempt to mine words for inspiration and then to record the inspiration when it comes.    I don’t use the blog for planning, but I do use it to explore topics and to create notes for personal use with the aim of using some of them as the basis for teaching certain subjects like project management.

In fact, that’s how my blog started.    A friend of mine when I was living in California named Greg Johnson, had a career development business called “Above the Rim”, and I engaged him for advice on how to build my brand as I was changing careers to become a project manager.    He suggested using social media, but specifically he recommended becoming a “Subject Matter Expert” by creating a blog and writing articles about project management.    Hey, I was skeptical at first–not about blogs, because I could see he was doing a good job creating his own brand with one.   But I was just entering the field of project management.    How could I put myself forward as an SME, rather than as an SMB (“Subject Matter Beginner”).

I put a blog together but was really posting only sporadically, until I took a course from the Project Management Institute in Orange County to prepare myself to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam.    I helped organize a study group for about a half-dozen or so people who were taking the course along with me.    We met every Thursday at a member’s house who generously donated the use of her living room for our study group sessions.  However, sometimes people couldn’t make it to the session, so I volunteered to put up on my blog my notes for whatever chapter we were studying that week out of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

This allowed any member to review the notes online if they happened to miss a week of our study group.   And then, the magic of the Internet took over as people who were searching for various topics within project management started being directed to my blog.    I remember the excitement I felt at getting 10 views in a single day.    (Now I’m excited when I get 1000!)

As a result of putting my notes online, it helped cement the material in my own mind and this helped me pass the certification test in October of 2012, about six months after I started my blog.   I discussed with the VP Education of PMI Orange County, Dan Healey, ways to improve the PMP/CAPM exam prep course, and he then asked me to help run the course and organize the study groups.

2.  My blog at present

I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2013 in order to assist my father who was convalescing from a minor stroke.   I immediately volunteered at the Chicagoland chapter of PMI as a project manager for their Professional Development Day (or PDDay for short), and through my contacts got to know the VP Education for the Chicagoland chapter, Andrew Soswa.    Because I had always been concerned about process improvement and learning from the challenges our project faced, he asked me to be the Program Manager for the PDDay project in 2014.    Since the event itself was in October, the preparation work really started to ramp in the summer of 2014.

But I was soon faced with a double challenge, because I was asked by the new VP Education, Ravi Avasarala, to be the new Director of Certification, based on all the work I had done in Orange County.    I used my blog to rewrite the entire series of notes on the PMBOK Guide, based on the new 5th Edition that had come out in the fall of 2012, and my blog was instrumental in my interview with the president of PMI Chicagoland, Jim Karthan, in demonstrating that I was the right person for the position, which I started on July 1st, 2014.

However, that double challenge of starting my duties as Director of Certification AND being the Program Manager for the Professional Development Day project took a toll on me, because I no longer could find the one hour a day I used to have to write in my blog.    Oh, and top it off, in July 2014, besides being the President of my home club Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters Club, and VP Education for my project management-themed Toastmasters Club, PMI Chicagoland Toastmasters, I took on the duties of being an Area Governor, which meant I was responsible for five separate Toastmasters clubs in my area.

So I stopped writing in my blog for the first time since I had started it in April 2012.    This really weighed on my mind, and I was determined once the Professional Development Day project ended to return to blogging.

Then in January, I got the idea of starting up an online version of the study group I used to run back in Orange County, for those PMI Chicagoland members who had completed their PMP/CAPM Exam course.    From July through December, the #1 question I got as Director of Certification was “is there a study group for the PMP/CAPM exam course”, and I decided since there wasn’t one, that I would create one, and run it myself.

In fact, the first cycle of the study session ends this week, and I am proud to say that it has grown from a half-dozen to about 15 members, and the first member of our study session to take the exam passed it on the first try!

I have been busy from January through April creating all of the course materials (review materials based on my blog posts, review questions, detailed answer keys, and special handouts on subjects like Earned Value Management), but with the new cycle of the study group starting next week, I realize that I don’t have to create any new materials!    So that alone will give me an additional hour a day, which I can start spending again on …. BLOGGING!

3.  My blog in the future

To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, “The Blog is a Harsh Mistress.”   Having the will to sit and compose an entire blog post every single day is a tremendous discipline that I have sought after and have succeeded in accomplishing for over two years.   But the fact that I missed my three-year blogiversary on April 8th was a real eye-opener.    Fortunately, there is a new project that I am passionate about that will fuel me in my return to my former productivity, namely, Agile Project Management.    The keynote speaker I arranged for last year’s PDDay 2014 event was Bill Fournet from the Persimmons Group in Tulsa, OK.   His topic was “PM:  The Next Generation”, and he reviewed several trends that will shape the project management profession over the next 15 years.    I got a lot of feedback from PMI Chicagoland members who enjoyed the talk, but I was personally inspired by it as well.    In his talk, he said that by 2030, most projects will not be done using traditional (sometimes termed “Waterfall”) project management methodology, NOR will they be done in the new Agile project management methodology predominantly used in the IT field, but will rather be HYBRID projects using some elements of BOTH methodologies.   I realized right then and there listening to Bill Fournet on that stage that, as the Director of Certification, I needed to offer an Agile Certified Practitioner (“ACP”) course in addition to our PMP/CAPM course.   But on a personal level, I needed to start blogging about Agile methodology in the same way that I did about traditional PM methodology over a two-year period from 2012-2013.

What do I know about Agile methodology?    Frankly, nothing at all.   But then I took myself from not knowing about project management methodology to having a blog that has over 400,000 views, and becoming the Director of Certification in a little over two years.    How did I do it?    The methodical, systematic practice that I got by doing a daily blog.   I realize now that the journey to also becoming an Agile Subject Matter Expert is a long one, but it’s not like I haven’t done it before.    I know the way is long, but at least I know there IS a way.

Besides that main project of taking the Agile Certified Practitioner and Certified Scrum Professional material and putting in online on my blog, I also want to put the BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) online as well.    By putting the PMBOK material online, I became a member of the project management profession, but by putting these additional bodies of knowledge online, I will become a LEADING member of the profession.

That’s a dream worth sacrificing an hour per day for!


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