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Episode 300: Ask Me Anything (Free)

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300 Episodes of The Project Management Podcast


Episode 300! Who would have thought back in 2005 when I bought myself a cheap Logitech desk microphone to record the first episode that this little hobby of mine would take all of us to this point here. I certainly had no such expectations.

And for this 300th episode I decided to turn the tables. This is our very first “Ask Me Anything” episode. So I reached out to ten project managers who were guests previously here on the show, and I asked them to send me their question. The question could either be personal or project management related.

And because I contacted ten project managers and asked each of them to send me one question I did of course end up with 15 questions. Talk about scope creep!

Here are my guests and their questions:

  • Margaret Meloni
    • Do you use project management in your personal life?
  • Jack Ferraro -[Update: The web page is no longer available so we removed the link]
    • How has your customer/listener changed over the years?
  • Lindsay Scott -
    • How do you find your podcast guests?
    • How do you keep The PM Podcast relevant?
    • What disappoints you about project management today?
  • Frank Saladis -
    • What is it that makes you unique and draws people to you and the podcast?
  • Kevin Reilly
    • What do you consider to be the most important emerging trend that will have the biggest impact on the evolution of project management in the next 5 years.
  • Susanne Madsen -
    • What was the most memorable unforeseen event with The PM Podcast?
    • What whast your biggest "aha" moment in project management?
  • Mark Perry -
    • What are your recommendations for project managers who would like to start their own business like you have?
  • Elizabeth Harrin -
    • What is the most surprising question that a project management student has asked you?
    • What can a project manager do if their sponsor is never available?
  • Craig Wilson
    • How has Agile impacted the career of the project manager in teams and companies?
  • Todd Williams -
    • What are the disconnects between the PMP® exam and what your podcast listeners actually want to hear?

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #300. [Applause] Thank you, thank you. This is The Project Management Podcast at and I'm Cornelius Fichtner.

Yes, Episode #300. Who would have thought back in 2005 when I bought myself a cheap-o Logitech desk microphone to record the first episode that this little hobby of mine would take all of us to this point here. Well, I certainly had no such expectations.

And for this 300th episode, I decided to turn the tables. This is first "Ask Me Anything" episode. So I reached out to 10 project managers who were guests previously here on the show and I asked them to send me their questions. The questions could either be personal for me or about project management. And because I contacted 10 project managers and I asked each of them to send me one question, I did of course end up with 15 questions. Talk about scope creep here.

And so without further ado, here are Margaret Meloni, Jack Ferraro, Lindsay Scott, Frank Saladis, Kevin Reilly, Susan Madsen, Mark Perry, Elizabeth Harrin, Craig Wilson and Todd Williams, and of course my answers to their questions.

Questions and Answers

Margaret Meloni: Hi, Cornelius! It's Margaret Meloni, Community Leader at This is my question for you. Are you a project manager who uses project management in their personal lives or is it just at the office? The reason I asked that I seem to find that there are people who are excellent project managers and they use project management at work, for work and when they get home, they don’t have anything to do with it.

Then there are others also excellent project managers who use project management at work and they also use it a little bit in their home lives. Maybe it shows up when they plan a trip or the way in which they execute their errands around town or in other things. And so I'm just curious, which one are you? Are you the project manager who only wants to use project management during working hours or are you the project manager who uses project management at work and in your personal life?

Thank you and congratulations on your 300th episode!

Cornelius Fichtner:No, actually. I don’t. In fact I feel that my personal is often quite chaotic. Now compare that to Josh Nankivel, I know that Josh uses Agile project management approaches at home to assign chores and tasks to his family. I believe at least a year or a couple of years back, they had a Kanban board up on their fridge where you could see who was doing what, the work in progress, the chores in progress and you could see where things were and they had a work flow.

No, in my case, it is chaotic. I have post-it notes that are stuck all over the place. I have to-do lists and when I have to write a to-do list, I actually walk over to my recycle box where I keep the old papers. I take out an old envelope and I write my to-do list on the back of the envelopes. When I'm out and about, I remember something that I can't forget, can't forget. I will send a text message or an email myself to remind myself. And of course that then means, I often have 100 emails or so in my inbox. And there is constant procrastination and things just don’t get done. Even though my wife says: "You know these post-it notes, they actually work quite well for you because you get them done. You pick one up. You scratch it off. You throw it away and you get things done in that way."

So no, I don’t use project management in my life, in my personal life. It's rather chaotic. But even though it's chaotic, I have learned to prioritize. Even though I have all these post-its and notes all over the place of things I have to do, I've learned to prioritize and really do the things I need to do first.

I have also learned to be rather ruthless because I realize this post-it note has been stuck here on my monitor for 2 weeks and I'm taking no action on it, I'm going to throw this away because if the item that is on the post-it note is really important and it's needs to be taken care of at some point in the future, it will come back. So I do weed out these things. I do delete them. I make them go away. I delete them from my life so that I'm unburdened again. If it was important, it will come back in the future. It will inevitably come back to me.

And our next question comes from Jack Ferraro from[Update: The web page is no longer available so we removed the link].

Jack Ferraro: So my question to you Cornelius is over the years, you've been successful in providing great, high quality products to the project management community. I think my question to you would be, over the years, how have you seen your customers change? What was the nature of your customers when you started and what is the nature, what are the interests and what are the types of customers that you have now?

Cornelius Fichtner: Well from the very beginning when I started, 100% of my customers have been online. I have online PMP training. I have online PMI-ACP® training. I have online PDUs and of course and I offer this free online podcast.

When I look at the motto of the Olympics, the motto of the Olympics is "Faster, higher, stronger." And we translate that to my customer, I think my customer can be defined as 'faster, cheaper and mobile.'

Of course in the last few years, everything has gone to mobile. All my podcasts are really designed to be consumed on the go, as well as all the other PMP and other training products that we have. They are 100% focused on mobile. In the beginning, this was mostly IOS so that was for Apple iPods and iPhones. But in the mean time, android has really picked up a great market share there. So everything is now available but it doesn’t matter whether you're on Apple or on android.

Of course everybody wants their things much, much cheaper. This is actually quandary for me because many of my products are massively less expensive than what the competition offers. You can get my PMP® Exam training for less than $200 and I get angry emails from people when they miss a discount for $10. "I want that discount for your exam preparation or I'm going to leave a bad review." My God, by taking my product, you've just saved hundreds of dollars as compared to the competition yet you're angry you missed a discount. So that to me is a little bit of a quandary. Shall I even give discount? But you know, faster, cheaper, mobile. That's just the way things go.

And faster, here I mean that more and more people around the world have fast internet access. In the very beginning when I did the podcast here, I always had a very high bit rate so this is very close to CD quality what you hear. In the beginning I had complaints that these files are way too large. It takes forever to download them. You have to make the quality lower and so that the files get smaller and it doesn’t take this long to download. And in the meantime, I have a lot less complaints about this and people don’t complain that the sound is so great because nobody has the download difficulties anymore. So overtime, my customer has really gone faster, cheaper and mobile.

Lindsay Hendrix: Cornelius, happy birthday! Happy 300th episode! It's great to see the PM Podcast™ still going strong. This is Lindsay calling from London in the UK. I’m from Arras People so we're trusted in Programme and Project Management recruitment and careers. I've got some questions. I've got a question for you to help celebrate your Podcast's birthday.

You've obviously met a lot of people on the way, Cornelius. I'm really intrigued how you do that. How do you find the people, the great people that you've had for the Podcast? But also as a kind of a secondary question to that: You must be a great networker to be able to get some of these people. So I'd love to hear some of your tips for networking.

Cornelius Fichtner: Because the Project Management Podcast ™has been on air for almost 10 years, people come to me these days. I get at least 1 to 2 emails every month from potential guests who suggest a topic and would like to talk about something. Very often, book authors come to me from project management related books.

Or then again I see an article and I find the article of interest. So I contact the author and get the author to come and speak about that. I attend a lot of seminars and they often have multiple tracks of speakers and so I get to know all these great speakers in person then I invite them to come on. Or I'm actually also sometimes a bit sneaky. I go online and I go to conventions and conferences or Professional Development Days and I look at the speaker lineup. If I find something interesting, I invite those speakers.

A good example is the Conscious Software Development Summit that I recently participated in. There are about 3 or 4 speakers that I'd like to get in touch with and I would like to bring on the program. Then it's really just a question of asking people.

If you remember those of you who have been with the program for a while, back in Episode 100, I had a special guest on, Alan Parsons from The Alan Parsons Project. He's a musician. And I only brought him on Alan Parsons Project, The Project Management Podcast™ so there was a connection. I never expected him to say, yes. But I wrote to him and instantly, within an hour, I got a response back. "Yes, absolutely! I will do this." You really just have to go out there and ask people and they will say yes.

Also I found that people who have something to say, they want to be interviewed. They are more than happy to come on the program and talk about their topic because they are passionate about it. And when it comes to networking tips, frankly, I don’t do anything different than what they tell you in all the networking seminars. I always have my business cards with me. I write to people. I thank people. I try to be open. When I meet somebody new, learn about them first and see how I can help them out.

Alright, that was question one. What's your next question?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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