Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Power of a POSITIVE NO

More and more often I hear that one can only earn respect and power only if one can use the NO word as needed.

NO is the most fearest word - it is said to close doors, to shut down opportunities, to bring sadness into one's heart, to make both parties suffer from the consequences of a NO.

BUT... it's also a differentiator, in a world where people are more and more discussing about leadership and how to manage expectations, and how to achieve more with less. NO means making the right choices, in the right moment.

I find it really difficult to use, and I've found one great resource to give me power to use it. I've learned that the NO can also be POSITIVE, and it's really surprising when you hear about this at first.

How can a NO be positive???

Yet, if you say it correctly, if your NO is for the specific situation, and not to a whole relation, if you deny only the possibility of that opportunity, but you stay true to your ideals, to what you value most, and know how to say it, then it is indeed a POSITIVE NO. It's not an easy task to deliver negative messages, but you always have to think about what you want to achieve by saying NO. And it then becomes a lot more simple to say it, and to keep the relationship with the person.

As there are many others that have written about the power of a positive NO, I will not elaborate more on this.

What I would like you to do, is to THINK about one situation where you had to say NO, and how you could have done it differently. If you need a new way to deliver it, please read this book, it's a great example and an inspiring one. It's not easy, but with some practice and with feedback, anyone can deliver a POSITIVE NO.

Getting PMP certified

I've got a lot of friends asking me about how to get certified. Each time, I had to remember how many hours of experience one had to have, and how many hours of learning, and then which where the links that were most useful for me, as well as all the books and software I have ever used.

In terms of specific requirements for getting certified, the best resource will always be, with a direct link to the requirements: PMI site - Obtaining the Credential. The site lists a credential overview, and then there (currently) 5 handbooks for the 5 available certifications. There is also a page with how to prepare for the exam, from an administrative point of view.

If you are new to project management, then you will have to go with the CAPM certification. Then, the rest of certifications are for more and more experienced PMs. I only know well about the PMP certification, as it's the one I've got.

First step is to ensure that you meet the elgibility requirements. At the time of the posting, they are:
  • for secondary degree:
  •    minimum five years / 60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing project tasks
  •    35 contact hours of formal education
  • four-year degree:
  •   minimum three years / 36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing project tasks
  •    35 contact hours of formal education
You will have to make all the calculations for this when filling in the application form, and you should be ready to prove what you declare - you might be selected to be verified!

If you know you want to go through the certification, I recommend you to apply for the certification first, and only afterwards to start studying - it takes some time and a lot of effort and determination, so if you are not sure, you'd rather not start it. But as you already paid for it, then you should go through the whole process.

For the study: start by browsing the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: (Pmbok Guide). You will have some time later on to read it in detail, and learn some parts by heart, but for now just browse through it, and make sure you understand the introductory chapters, where some terms and concepts are defined. Also memorize already the knowledge areas, and the processes in each, as these will be key for your understanding.

I then recommend using Rita's manual, as the best resource for the exam preparation: PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam. It has an excellent summary of the theory, and a lot of preparatory exercises, with explanations why that answer, although sometimes your logic or experience would say differently. You can go even in more practice mode with her PM Fastrack Exam Simulation Software for the PMP Exam: Version 6 with about 1400 questions.

Unfortunately, this only book will not be enough: you will still need to read from Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner, and... yes, there was another one, which I cannot remember now. It will come...

Then, read through tips&tricks on the best site I had found at that time for the PMP certification: . People post there memory cards that helped them, hints about the exam, how they prepared and what worked better for them, why not to panic :)

While reading Rita's book, and browsing the site, you can also start reading the PMBOK standard. It's important to notice the structure of each chapter, the processes&tools that repeat in the various knowledge area processes.

You can find here a free online course: - yes, I was surprised that they would make it available for no money, but well - why not advertise it, if it's free? :)

The bad news is that you will have to learn a lot by heart, and remember that during the exam. You will also have to go through exam simulations, and re-do them until you get the passing score - otherwise it's not worth going to the exam.

Once you are done with all these books, I suggest you do a full pass of PMBOK, then re-do an exam - just to be sure.

Or, I keep mentioning the exam: it's a 200-question exam, out of which only 175 questions count to the final passing score of 61% (or 106 questions that you have to get right). My advice is to read each question very carefully, and make sure you understand the question in the way it was put, and that you answer taking into account PMI's standard, not what you would do in real life (it might be different sometimes!).

During the 4-hour exam you can take your own breaks (no, the ticker does not stop), and I suggest that you reserve some time (an hour or so) to review all your answers. If uncertain, better not change the first answer ;)

Well, that's all story folks! Please come back after the exam and let me know if these tips helped, as well as what else did help you in passing the exam!

Good luck!

P.S.: If you want even more resources on project management and PMP certification, you can also browse this small site

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Women in Technology

Women in IT is one of the hottest topics - it's actually been for a while, and it continues to be. Working in the IT industry all my life, it's really interesting to see how the idea of Women in IT progressed.

Well, I never felt that people make a difference whether it's about a man or a woman who applied for the job. Yes, the hopes that the candidate is a good one are lower for a woman: but then in the recruitment interview you have to pay even more attention to what the candidates know, but can or cannot demonstrate on the spot. In the past, you had to search a little bit more in-depth with a woman, as they were more shy, more introvert, and less keen to show off.

But in the last few years, I have noticed that the women have made a great progress and started to impose themselves as important values in a company. In the interviews they are more bold, a lot more self-confident than some men even, and show not only a good level of knowledge, but also a stronger will to exceed expectations.

What's great about having more women in a technical environment is that it does bring up people morale :), and it also brings a lot more ideas, different points of view, different ways of doing things, different communication style. And yes, some frustration from time to time, as they are more delicate and you have to take care at the communication style. This holds true actually for men as well: not all of them would understand.

Talking about communication with men/women (in the IT environment, let's say), women are more oriented towards the past and the present, while the men tend to focus a lot on their needs and what can be done for the future. Strictly from this point of view, it's better to have men in the team.

Lately, as the focus has been so much on getting more women recognized for their contribution in the technology field, I have seen more women being given more and more responsibility, and getting the chance to prove their leadership in technology. It's amazing to see how the business has flourished under their command, as they have proven they can be strong willed to achieve, but in a more flexible manner and paying more attention to the environment.

I do recommend to those interested (men or women) to read the personal stories from nearly 50 women in the technology industry as they share what makes a good leader, their most difficult challenges, what advice they would give to aspiring women leaders, and the legacy they'd like to leave behind:

No One Path: Perspectives on Leadership from a Decade of Women in Technology Award Winners

What was your experience with women/men in Technology? How did it influence the way you work? What were the challenges of managing women, and/or being led by women?