WBS Webinars

The first set of PMI webinars I watched were related to creating a work breakdown structure (WBS). As I am spinning up a new project I thought this would be an excellent place to start.

Tips for Creating the WBS and Gathering Better Estimates 

  • Vincent McGevna, PMP
  • Rated: 5.13/7
  • Duration: 70:35

This presentation was a good starting point. McGevna explained that a WBS needs to be deliverable oriented, hierarchical, and define 100% of the work to be delivered. He detailed how to start with a product breakdown structure and expand it into a work breakdown structure. I also liked that he reviewed different tools that could help you accomplish this task like WBS Chart Pro that integrates with Microsoft Project.

Industrial Strength Work Breakdown Structures 

  • Dale Boeckman
  • Rated: 4.29/7
  • Duration: 61:39

The second webinar I watch was not nearly as good as the first. Boeckman’s slides we’re overloaded with information and did not sync up with his talking points. It also appeared that he was reading directly from a page in some areas and had long pauses not caused by technical issues.

I wished he had gone into more detail around the WBS dictionary, because I thought his list of required and optional definition was very helpful.

The quality of these webinars is not very good. The audio cuts out in certain places, and they don’t really seem to have any standardization on the slides. I will try a couple more sessions based on rating instead of by topic and see if those are any better.

Do you have any suggestions for project management webinars? Please share your recommendations in the comments.

TED Talks for Foodies

TED has curated a playlist called Talks for foodies. There are 8 talks with almost 2 hours of content. My favorite talks not only introduced me to new ingredients but also discussed ideas of sustainability.

“How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself?”

How I fell in love with a fish – Dan Barber

Dan Barber has two talks on this playlist. Both presentations spotlight farmers who produce top quality food ethically. Barber has a very engaging speaking style and I really enjoyed his videos.

“It’s a mind ripper.”

Cooking as alchemy – Ben Roche & Homaro Cantu

Roche and Cantu were the founders of Moto Restaurant and specialized in molecular gastronomy. The food experiments they discussed in the presentation looked creative and tasty. I was hoping to try it out the next time we were in Chicago, but the restaurant has since closed after Cantu’s death.

“We are all part of a solution.”

How can we eat our landscapes – Pam Warhurst

Warhurst isn’t a chef, but a volunteer who is clearly passionate about the Incredible Edible cause. After watching her lively speech I am excited to learn more about bringing shareable food into community spaces and implementing some of those ideas in Red Wing!

On top of all the excellent food knowledge I gained by watching these videos I also discovered the word unctuous. Try saying it out loud, it’s wonderful.

What is your favorite video from the list? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Crash Course on PMI-MN

Tonight I attended my first Project Management Institute – Minneapolis Chapter event. Their February dinner included a number of short presentations prior to the main event. Want to know what you can get out of a 4 hour PMI-MN event?

Career Networking

The first hour was a networking presentation provided by a recruiter who gave us some great tips on growing your network through references from existing contacts. The best advice he gave was to try and make yourself useful to the people you want to connect with. That might sound counter-intuitive, but you are trying to build a communication path, and it has to be a 2-way street.

Practitioner Communities (PrCs)

There were different options for next 45 minutes and I choose to attend the PrCs presentation called “Can SCRUM Flip a House?” It was a great talk about how to apply SCRUM principles outside of IT. I’m excited to apply the agile principles to a non-work project.

New Member Orientation

Next they offered a 30 minute new member orientation. There was a short overview of what PMI-MN provides its members but most of the time was spent with the n00bz discussing their goals. It was a great lead into the dinner.

How to be a Chameleon: A Key to Enterprise Project Success

source: http://www.sideshowtoy.com/mas_assets/jpg/901290_press01-001.jpg
source: http://www.sideshowtoy.com

The main presentation was 50 minutes, and focused on the soft skills of project management. By this point I was getting pretty tired, and it wasn’t the most riveting presentation. I did take away a tip on making sure that not only do you identify all your key stakeholders, but know everyone that will have an impact on your project. Never forget the admins! I also loved that he described himself as a gun-slinging chameleon (he used a different picture).

That was $32 well spent. I made two networking connections and got some great practical tips on pursuing my PMP certification. The dinner was pretty good too, and fit my 8WW diet! I look forward to attending future events.

How do you make the most of these professional events? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Recipe Roundup – 8WW

I am finally getting back into the swing of things after being sick all week, so please forgive the delay in this recipe roundup. Better late than never. The recipes we have tried from the 8WW Program Manual are listed below in order of preference.

12093386_1552101478417533_82519975_n(1)Classic Fired Egg & Toast

  • 2 fried eggs
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast
  • 1/2 tbl Smart Balance Buttery Spread Lite

I love fried eggs, so we’ve eaten this breakfast many times while building this habit. I’ve also adapted it by using one egg and adding a slice of Canadian bacon or using sourdough toast instead. It’s tasty, quick, and filling.

12523790_1508604729435439_306716952_nQuick & Easy Finger Food Lunch

  • 1 mozzarella cheese stick
  • 3 pieces thinly sliced, low-fat lunch meat
  • 1 small apple

Another quick and easy meal that has helped us stay on track even on the busiest week night. Also surprisingly filling.


12479369_445752062287040_1527690902_nHealthy Chili

  • 1 lb ground turkey meat
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 28 oz can low sodium tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 4 tsps low sodium beef bouillon
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 15.5 oz can kidney beans (drained)
  • Brown ground turkey in a large pot, drain
  • Add garlic, onion, and pepper and cook over low heat until vegetables are soft
  • Add remaining ingredients, cover, and cook over low heat for 45 mins until lentils and beans are soft
  • Makes 6 servings

This wasn’t a successful recipe in my opinion, which is unfortunate because it requires a lot of ingredients. Clayton didn’t really like it either, so it wasn’t just my finicky palette.

Overall the manual gives you a lot of great recipes to start you on the 8WW path. I’m sure we’ll try more recipes while we build this habit.

Inspiration & Implementation: Project Management

Last week we were on vacation so it took a little longer than normal to get my inspiration board in place. These are the top resources I have pinned so far.


  1. PMI website

The PMI website is full of excellent resources. As a member I have access to the PMBOK, webinars, and tools and templates. Professional organizations are always a great starting point when trying to grow your knowledge base and skill set.

2. Mountain Goat Software blog

Mike Cohn is a major contributor of the Scrum methodology. His blog is one of the few that I always read thoroughly. I find his thoughts on agile inspire me to keep striving for improvement with my team.

3. 15 Project Management Quotes to Live By

This infographic is wonderful. My favorite quote is “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

4. One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers

NASA is a proponent of modern project management, and I’ve pinned a couple of resources from their site. This list is a wealth of information. My favorite quote, “Rule 76: Know the resources of your center and, if possible, other centers. Other centers, if they have the resources, are normally happy to help. It is always surprising how much good help one can get by just asking.”

5. The lazy project manager

Clayton bought me this book when I first took on the PM role, and it is a terrific read. There are a number of great tips. I even printed out the “even quicker tips for the really lazy” and posted them at my desk! I would highly recommend this book.

Please share your best project management resource with me in the comments!

Food Friday – The Middle

Today is day 34 of our 66 day challenge to eat at least one 8WW approved meal per day. We’ll start with the stats!

Action Plan Progress:

  • 0/2 recipes from SparksRecipes attempted
  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from the 8WW workbook attempted
  • BONUS – 3 recipes from Mayo Clinic attempted
  • Keep a photo journal on Instagram
  • Down 5.6 pounds in 34 days
  • 5/10 weekly progress updates about developing better eating habits posted

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: I have to be content with slow and steady weight loss, as we are trying to build a habit not crash diet. To that end, I am pleased with the progress Clayton and I have made. He has also lost 5 pounds. We’re half way to our goal of losing 10 pounds at the half way point! We even maintained our weight on a trip to California, which surprised me.

Incremental changes are working! Building on my 10,000 steps a day and smoothie habits are contributing to the success of this change in one meal a day. Reflecting on the impact of these small changes keeps me motivated in cultivating better habits.

Please share any advice or inspiration for the second half of this habit in the comments!

Recipe Roundup – Mayo Clinic

We have tried a number of new recipes as we build this healthy eating habit. This roundup will focus on the healthy recipes we have tried from the Mayo Clinic site (listed in order of preference).

SteakQuesadillaChicken Quesadilla (adapted)

  • 2 oz chicken
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • spoonful of cheddar cheese
  • onion
  • green peppers

Slice chicken breasts, onions, and green peppers and saute of medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Spread chicken and cheese over half of the tortilla. Fold tortilla in half and heat on a skillet over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. Cut and serve.

I LOVE flour tortillas! Seriously, it’s a problem. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the whole wheat tortillas we bought. I have made this recipe twice already.

Beef Fajitas (adapted)BeefFajitas

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 ounces beef sirloin, select grade, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 whole-wheat tortillas, about 8 inches in diameter, warmed in the microwave
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa

In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dredge the sirloin pieces in the seasonings, coating completely. We grilled the steak and veggies and then sliced them prior to serving.

I served this by putting the individual components on a plate like normal fajitas. We had cheese, guacamole, and salsa on the side. It was excellent.

SpinachChickenCalzoneChicken and Spinach Calzones 

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (grilled and cubed)
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg whites, divided
  • Frozen whole-wheat bread rolls (16 ounces), thawed, not risen (separated into 6 equal pieces)

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese and 1 of the egg whites. Mix until well blended. Set aside.

In another bowl, use a wire whisk or fork to lightly beat the remaining egg white.

On a floured surface, press each piece into a circle. Using a rolling pin, roll each dough piece into ovals 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Brush the edges of the dough ovals with the lightly beaten egg white. Place 1/6 of the chicken cubes in the center of each oval. Add 1/6 of the spinach mixture to each. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges together. Crimp with a fork and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until browned and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

This recipe is very tasty, but not perfect. If I make it again I will season the cheese mixture with salt and pepper. I would also flip the calzones halfway through baking because it seemed like the bottom got soggy.

There are a number of fantastic recipes on the Mayo Clinic site. I am excited to attempt more recipes as we continue to build on this habit.

Are you convinced? Please share share the Mayo Clinic recipe you plan on trying in the comments!

Project Management Monday – The Start

I have been wearing dual hats over the last 3 years as a business analyst and project manager. Recently I committed to the project management career path, and want to grow my knowledge base in this area. My next habit will focus on reading A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK(R) Guide. It’s a daunting tasks, but I am hoping that making it a daily habit will help me break it into manageable chunks.

Habit: Read 8 pages in the PMBOK everyday for 66 days

Start Date: Sunday, 01/31/2016

Projected End Date: Wednesday, 04/06/2016

Action Plan:

  • Read the PMBOK!
  • Start a study group at work with others interested in getting their PMP
  • Watch 6 PMI webinars
  • Attend a PMI-Minnesota Chapter meeting
  • Post weekly on Mondays about my progress in improving my PM skills

Incentive: Attend the Agile PMP seminar!

Lofty Goal: Finding my passion!

I would like to get the most out of the Agile PMP seminar and I think reading the PMBOK will be excellent prep work. I am also hoping I can build on this habit to get my Project Management Professional certification in the near future.

What types of personal development do you do for your career? Please share your strategies in the comments!