PM Tips: Brand Your Project

Is your project going to last a while? Is your project important? Do you want your project team to connect with the project? Of course!

Brand your project to help keep engage your team.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of branding. The original brand was a mark stamped onto the hide of livestock to mark it as your property. But this concept has grown to apply well beyond the livestock world. In today’s marketing world a brand can be defined as follows – borrowed from BusinessDictionary.com.

Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. 

In your project a brand will usually consist of a memorable name for your project, it might include a project logo and maybe even a tagline. The goal is to give your project an identity that resonates with people and isn’t boring.

There are several benefits to branding your project:

  • Make it easier to remember. Giving your project a brand helps it stick in people’s minds and can help connect it back to its broader purpose. Just think how some of the most popular brands in the world resonate in your brain just from a slogan, a tagline or a logo. Three small words “just do it” immediately make you think of one of your favorite shoe (and more) companies.
  • Make it fun. My apologies if this hits too close to home but most of our project names are boring and make me want to run the other way! Project names such as “time and attendance management phase 3” don’t really resonate or inspire. Branding your project gives it a name that sticks and doesn’t make you want to fall asleep. And when the work is more fun people enjoy it more.
  • Give the team a sense of belonging. Finally a brand establishes a broader purpose for your project. This broader purpose is something that you team members can connect to and gives them a feeling of belonging. When a project becomes more than just a set of task list items it is way more engaging. This is one of the keys to establishing and maintaining team engagement.

The next time you are starting a project that needs an engaged and passionate team to get it across the finish line consider giving it a brand. At a minimum giving your project a meaningful name and a logo will help make it something bigger than just a list of to-dos.

Why am I sharing?

Did you know that good Project Management can make dreams come true?

I have used project management to literally change my life. Now I am sharing some of the tips, tricks and best practices I have learned in my project manager life in hopes to help us all manage projects better. My goal: to create a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness!

Want to learn more? Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year in eBook or paperback. Visit OperationMelt.com/book/ for details.

Week 100: Staying Focused

Goals are powerful!

When I started my fitness journey I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stick with it and be successful. That is why I approached it with project management and data. I knew that would help improve my odds of success because it is how my brain works. This was an important goal to me and I wanted to be successful with it. I didn’t want to let myself get in my own way.

You know how the story ends and this week marked 100 weeks of staying committed to my fitness goals.

My life has changed so much through just 100 short weeks. As I have said again and again, this journey hasn’t just been about what I lost. It is even more about what I found. I found my voice, I found my confidence, I found a calling and I found me. I can’t wait to see what the next 100 weeks bring!

On a related note this morning marked 701 days of logging everything I put in my body. This was one of the most important contributors to my ultimate success because I gave me data. It helped me measure my daily performance. For you long-time followers you know the importance of measurement in my life. I am a believer that things that you can measure are things that you can manage. By measuring my daily food intake and my exercise I know that I am staying focused and staying on track.

After 700 days of being intentional about my health and fitness I can comfortably say that trusting it to autopilot is done. It isn’t hard to get fit and stay fit but it does require a commitment and discipline which means it has to be a priority. Clearly I have made my commitment to my fitness goals a priority in my life.

Anybody can make their dreams come true through five simple steps:

  • Commit to a S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goal and decide to be successful.
  • Build a plan that works for you – work with your natural tendencies and don’t try to follow somebody else’s plan.
  • Measure progress every day. Literally every day and literally measure.
  • Be prepared for things to change and go wrong and learn from those experiences.
  • Don’t go it alone! Take partners who will help you and try to help others

That’s it. That’s how to be successful at making your dreams come true. You just have to commit to your goal and follow those steps every day.

Here are a couple of additional highlights from my week.

Saturday 5k with a twist

One of my goals this year was to run one race per month including two half marathons. So far I have done pretty well with that goal. But I hadn’t scheduled a race for May yet. That’s when I learned about a creative new blog and concept called the Just Me 5k.

Essentially the Just Me 5k embraces the fun of running, of setting goals and of participating in 5k races without any of the race day inconveniences. Things like getting up at 6a, waiting around in a crowd of people and such aren’t there. It is just you, your bib, your race and your victory complete with your medal.

This weekend I completed my race with the help of my very own Just Me 5k goodie bag including a custom bib. I ran my 5k at Indian Lake through the small town of Russell’s Point.

I am not going to tell my whole Just Me 5k story here today. But make sure to follow the Just Me 5k blog for an upcoming guest post with my story.

Operation Melt 5k

It’s official… the second annual Operation Melt Informal 5k is just a month away. We will be running on 6/15 at the Scioto Audubon park in the brewery district. See full details at OperationMelt.com/5k/.

The Operation Melt 5k started as the Operation Melt First Time 5k last year. I had decided that I wanted to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my fitness journey by running my first 5k. But I also decided that choosing a random 5k to sign up for just wasn’t consistent with how I was approaching my journey.

So I did it my way!

I hosted my own informal 5k at the Audubon park. A handful of my friends and supporters joined me and we all ran together. We didn’t have shirts, bibs, medals, security or anything, it was just a group of friends running together to celebrate fitness and goals. We also all made a donation to Central Community House and raised over $600 to support them.

I am definitely looking forward to doing it again this year and hope you will join me.

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Last week’s stats (5/6-5/12): 

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 199.9 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12.5 miles
Total walk/run miles: 39.9 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: January, March, April, May races complete. June & July planned.
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,524 calories under budget

Fit to Lead: You Have to Commit

Fit to Lead is a weekly series that connects two of my biggest passions to explore the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my new book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. After a lifetime of obesity I made a decision to change my life and went from 325 pounds to finishing a half marathon in just 16 months. I accomplished this simply by turning to my years of project management, data analytics, technology and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal. 

But my transformation wasn’t just about what I lost, it was about what I gained too. I gained a new confidence, a new perspective on and a calling. That calling is to help inspire and empower people to accomplish their biggest goals using strategies based in project management and continuous improvement.

That is where Fit to Lead fits in.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also many lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

These Fit to Lead articles are another step I am taking to help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

You Have to Commit

One thing that helped me be successful in my fitness journey was that I started with a commitment to my goal. I committed to being successful, I made it my priority and was all-in. Anybody I talked to or who knew me knew that I was all-in. There was no mistaking my commitment!

The power of committing to a goal doesn’t just apply to a fitness journey, it is an important part of great leadership too. In my experience the best leaders are the ones who personally commit to and are all-in on achieving their goal. Those are the leaders who get things done!

As I reflect on why committing to a goal is so important for leaders I think there really are three big factors.

Boost your odds. 

I was all-in for my fitness goal instead of being half in and half out. This meant that my probability of success increased significantly. Committing means that you are prioritizing this goal over all of the other important stuff you could be doing. Your priorities get your attention. Your priorities get your time. Your priorities get your energy. In short, your priorities get the best you have to offer and that gives them peak opportunity to succeed.

Walk the talk. 

One thing I have learned the in leadership is that people see right through you when you are saying one thing but living something different. For example, leaders who make a big deal about punctuality but are themselves late all of the time aren’t walking the talk. No matter how subtlety a leader isn’t walking the talk the people around them can tell.

Think about what a noncommittal leader means to a big goal. A leader that is half hearted about their commitment to anything will inspire others to be noncommittal too. It is called the shadow of a leader. When you have a whole team of people that aren’t all-in on the biggest goals how likely do you think it is that those goals will ever be accomplished?

Inspire others.

I just talked about how people can see through half-hearted commitments and don’t want to follow those leaders. Now let’s consider the flips side of that.

When a leader is passionately committed to a goal he or she inspires those around them to be all-in too. I want to follow a leader who believes in their mission. These leaders have clarity of purpose, they can explain their passion and are very influential. In short they are great leaders.

Imagine what your team can accomplish if you are fully committed to a goal and influence others to be just as committed. Nothing can stop a team who is all-in together on the same goal!

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness. Plus, because goals are dreams with a deadline, maybe we can work together to make dreams come true!

PM Tips: Don’t Skip The Charter

The first step in most project management processes is to create the project charter. A project charter is the document issued by the sponsor/initiator of the project that formally authorizes the existence of the project and provides the Project Manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to Project Activities. (Source: PMBOK v5)

Unfortunately many project management offices have eliminated the creation of a project charter from their standard process. Skipping the charter means that your project is bypassing three critical outcomes that the charter provides that  establish the foundation for project success.

  • Acknowledges commitment to the goal. The charter is a visible sign that you have committed to a goal and it removes any doubt whether or not the goal is important to the organization. Without a charter there is potentially not clear commitment.
  • Defines the “why” behind the project. The charter also includes the business case for the project that summarizes the value the project will be delivering. This information is a critical reminder about why the problem exists and is a motivator for the team as it connects their hard work to a broader goal. Without this information the tasks that each team member is assigned may just be another thing on their to-do list without any broader importance.
  • Keeps team focused on the vision. The charter is the basis for keeping everybody on the team focused on a common vision. It helps funnel the energy in a single direction making everybody more efficient and effective. Without this common vision you run the risk of team members going in different directions and that introduces waste and makes everybody’s job harder.

The next time you start a project make sure to start with a charter (see an example of a basic project charter on ProjectManagement.com). It may be the difference between success and failure to achieve your big goal.

Why am I sharing?

Did you know that good Project Management can make dreams come true?

I have used project management to literally change my life. Now I am sharing some of the tips, tricks and best practices I have learned in my project manager life in hopes to help us all manage projects better. My goal: to create a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness!

Want to learn more? Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year in eBook or paperback. Visit OperationMelt.com/book/ for details.

Week 99: Telling My Story

Last week I talked about my post marathon stomach flu – well that is over. I am past being sick, my muscles are recovered from my marathon and the weather is good and I am back! I am back to gym workouts at least once a week and trying for 10+ miles per week of running. I am back to leading by example in my fitness life!

Saturday Quarter Marathon

I proved that I was fully recovered from all of my post-marathon madness by spontaneously running a quarter marathon on Saturday.

Saturday morning was a beautiful and sunny, though a bit chilly, morning and I knew that I wanted to go for a long run. So I headed out to Schiller Park in German Village and thought that I would just run a few laps. Then I decided to run down to the Scioto Trail and then I was off to the races. I ran the Scioto Trail from the Brewery District to the Arena District and back through downtown.

My total run was almost 7 miles and felt great! I abandoned my run/walk strategy and ran pretty much the whole time. Once I hit 3.8 miles I slowed to a walk for a short time and then peppered in a few other short walks later in the run. But I did not include any significant walking other than my warmup and cool down.

It felt great!

Telling My Story: Clarity on Fire

Beyond getting back to killing it in my fitness life this was also another good week of telling my story.

In last week’s blog I talked about how one of my favorite podcasts, Clarity on Fire, interviewed me about my journey. On Friday of this week the podcast went live. Some of the topics we discussed during this interview included:

  • What was the catalyst that made you want to make this huge lifestyle change?What were your biggest fears when you were just getting started?
  • A lot of people start making changes like this, but they don’t see them through. What made you stick with it?
  • How did you handle disappointments and challenges along the way?
  • When you were losing the weight, you had a clear goal in mind. Now that you’re in maintenance mode, how do you continue to keep yourself motivated?
  • What are the biggest things you learned about yourself through this whole experience?
  • What advice do you have for anyone considering making a big lifestyle change, whether it’s weight loss or something else?

You can listen to this interview on your favorite podcast app or online at http://clarityonfire.com/losing-100-pounds-tony-weaver/.

The interview was fun and I really enjoyed doing it. One of the biggest things I learned from this experience was that telling my story is a huge motivator. After telling somebody what I did and why I did it I remind myself of what I accomplished and that I can do anything. It motivates me to work even harder to keep going because I am definitely not done.

Bigger than reminding and motivating me to keep going, telling my story also reiterates my belief that anybody can do the same thing I did. Anybody can set a big goal and make it come to life and feel great at the end. You just have to decide to do it, make a commitment and build a plan that works for you.

I really believe that part of my calling is to help in three ways:

  1. Inspire people to start their own journeys toward their goals by helping give them the confidence that they can be successful and it doesn’t have to suck.
  2. Motivate people to keep going and not quit in the middle.
  3. Provide the tools, techniques and support that people need to empower them to be successful.

If I keep focused on this calling I know that I will be able to help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Last week’s stats (4/29-5/5):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 200 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 4 miles
Total walk/run miles: 20.7 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 0 workouts
One race per month: January, March and April races complete. May TBD.
Continue to track & manage calories: 4,382 calories under budget