In This Episode:
Introduction to the PM-Mastery Podcast with Amanda Sherman and Walt Sparling where they discuss how the podcast got its start.
project managers, podcast, learning, interviews, tools, walt, people, project management, senior project manager, share, amanda, excel, resources, pms, blog, perfectionist, outlook, information, head, peers
Walt Sparling, Amanda Sherman
Welcome to the PM-Mastery podcast. This podcast is all about helping you master your project management skills by sharing tips, tricks, tools and training to get you to the next level while sharing the stories of other project managers on their journey in project management. And now here's your host Walt Sparling.
Walt Sparling 00:35
Welcome to the PM-Mastery podcast, episode number one. So this is the first official podcast. And today I have a co-host, Amanda Sherman, who is actually going to be interviewing me. And we're gonna talk about the podcast and who am I and go from there. So Amanda, you want to take it over?
Amanda Sherman 00:59
Yep. Thanks. Well, thanks for having me on your show here. Well, first and foremost, let's get into it. Let's talk about the podcast and tell us a little bit about it and how you came to be here.
Walt Sparling 01:11
Okay. I had this brainstorm of wanting to share information about project management, I've always been kind of a coach and mentor of sorts and coming up with ideas to share. And I do that at work. But I see a lot of people that seem like, they could use more. And I'm like, there's got to be a lot of those out there. Is there a way that I could share with a larger audience, and well, I could do a blog, I've done a blog before? And then I'm like, but you know, blogs are cool. But talking to people would be even cooler, in interviewing other project managers would be, I think, super cool, because it gives those out there that are already project managers or those that are thinking about doing it, kind of an insight to what their peers are doing. And different industries, different titles, etc. So that's, that's kind of how I got the idea to get started.
Amanda Sherman 02:10
Excellent. And then I'll just follow up to say that you are an excellent teacher and a wealth of information, so I'm, I'm happy to be here and happy to see that you're launching this podcast.
Walt Sparling 02:22
We should probably provide a disclaimer that I paid you to say that. No, actually Amanda and I actually are peers, and we do work together. So that's how Amanda got here.
Yes. And we have a challenging job position if you will, and it does take a little bit to learn two different sides of the coin, and Walt was very instrumental in training all of us that have have joined recently. So yes, kudos to Walt. So in this I will, we'll see thing, probably no different. Very information, full of information and ideas and, and of all types. I'm looking forward to listening to the podcast, with different PMs from different industries and levels and, and whatnot, because you're always learning something. So what about you Walt? Who are you and what is some information that people don't know?
Walt Sparling 03:20
Okay, so, I am a married man, my wife, Kelly is an electrical engineer, I have two stepsons, and two beautiful grandkids. If I'm not learning something, which I tend to be a continual learner, I may be playing some online games, or doing home projects, I love doing stuff around the house building, tearing things down. That's how I kind of relax. By day. I am a Senior Project Manager for a very large real estate company, they actually do a lot of stuff. They're just in the real estate industry. They're worldwide and I am on a local team in Florida, which Amanda, you are on that same team. And we we function as project managers for construction, that could be anywhere from installing a card reader to building a ground up multimillion-dollar building. And we work as the owners Rep. So we are between them and the contractors that do the work. And it is and it can be challenging many fronts, but it keeps us hopping because we have our own company's processes. And then we have the customers processes. And we try to make those work together. And that is also part of it as in talking to other PMS about how they do things, they don't do it anything like we do. So it's like okay, so there's like 20 different ways of doing this.
Amanda Sherman 04:54
With all these challenges in your in within this job? So why is it that you do this Walt.
Walt Sparling 05:01
So, I like fixing things, I like making things better. I've been doing project management in the design world, or I did project management in the design world for many years. And I was very limited to what I could do, whether it was mechanical or electrical, or architectural, it was just that. And being a project manager, and in the roles that we have, I get to take all of my past experience. And I get to actually get stuff done on a much bigger scale, make a bigger impact. I feel like I've accomplished something every day. It drives me plus, I get to create new tools and teach other people how to do stuff. The most recent thing was, I was a lead trainer for our account on a new software rollout, which was four days for our trainings initially. And now we're going into the Bi-weekly trainings and everyday Open Office Hours. It's cool to spread that knowledge. And I just love doing it. And it pays well.
It pays well. And you make millions every year. So earlier on, you said that you're always constantly learning, you'd like to learn new things, and you know how to do things better. So, like, what or where do you go to do that? Or what is your What is your “go to”, for developing and learning?
Walt Sparling 06:32
I don't have any single source, but I do I listen to a ton of podcasts, I occasionally will read a book. But I'm more likely to nowadays listen to an audible book. And that can be anywhere from topics, maybe books about progress, or I'm sorry, project management, or risk. Or sometimes I'll just go on a kick and I'll listen to fiction for a couple of weeks. I watch YouTube videos, I read blogs, I listen to like I said podcasts, we have a training program at work. That's pretty extensive. And I just when I hear about something or see something, I want to know more about it. So, Google's my friend, I'll find resources. And that's how I keep up. I also do LinkedIn learning and Udemy, which is another great resource. And we're going to talk about some of that in future maybe posts or podcasts for users is what resources do they have to continue their education? I want to share a lot of the a lot of those resources.
Amanda Sherman 07:36
That's totally cool. I'm looking forward to seeing those. With your current roll as a Senior Project Manager, what are some of the challenges that you face and encounter?
Walt Sparling 07:46
Well, obviously working with you. Is a pleasure. I don't know, challenges come up all the time. And that's the one thing about being a project manager is being able to not let those challenges kick your butt and come up with a solution be levelheaded. I think the thing that I struggle with the most really is myself. I'm a recovering, perfectionist, and a crap, multitasker. Why did I struggle with that? I must have been multitasking. Those two things, if I struggle with getting things done, it's because of those. I'm getting better at that. I focus more on specific tasks, I schedule everything, always finding trying to find some new ways to keep me on track. And I am learning to let go of stuff. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be good. the saying of perfect is the enemy of good because of perfection ism. Anybody out there who is like that, they know that they will start something with grand visions. And then it's got to be just right. And therefore, it never gets finished. Because it's never going to be perfect. So in my younger years, I was famous for that I had great ideas, and I would start them but I couldn't make them perfect. And I would never finish them. And it took a lot of years for people to say stop being so perfect. Just do it. So that's been helpful. And focus on those two things, the ones things that have held me back or me so I'm my biggest challenge.
Amanda Sherman 09:34
Interesting. So I will speak to some of those things that you said and that one of my one of my favorite tools that you showed me when I first started was not our forecasting but our budget sheet - started off and I know you and I think alike but at this point, the two and a half years later it is phenomenal. It is the best thing since sliced bread. I appreciate your perfectionist qualities in developing that because it is awesome. With that, that's one of my more favorite tools to use is the Excel spreadsheet and how that's been developed. What what's yours with everything that you deal with?
Walt Sparling 10:19
Well, there is no one perfect tool, which is sad, because we have so many. But the two that I think, well, there's probably three that I use a lot. And they're all software. One is outlook. I'm not a huge fan of email. But Outlook is such a powerful tool. And you can do some really cool stuff with the calendar and calendaring, and rules and things like that. And then OneNote, which I only started using, probably a year and a half ago. And at first it was like, Oh, it's just something new to learn. I don't have time, it looks super powerful, which means it's going to be a huge learning curve. And we just started using it. And it was like, wow, there's so much power in there. So I love that I do a lot of stuff in OneNote. And Outlook and they also work together. And then Excel, Excel you can do checklists, you can do calculations, you can do forms. It's super powerful. I probably spend my day jumping between outlook OneNote Excel, and then my fourth one, which would be Snagit for doing graphics. Yep. So those are kind of my go twos when there's a lot of other tools that I use, but I'm I they're always up on my screens every day.
Amanda Sherman 11:38
Yep. I forgot about Snaggit, Snaggit or Snippet. That's a great one.
Walt Sparling 11:45
Amanda Sherman 11:46
So based on everything we've talked about, what is something that you can share with the listeners right now that may or may not know, something you're infamous for?
Walt Sparling 11:59
Well, I, I'm going to mention kind of where I think you're going with this. And that is did you know? Yeah, so something started with our team. Just it just on a fluke, I was doing a did you know slide, just ask the question and then give an answer. And I did it for a couple training sessions or not training sessions, but pm meetings. And then I stopped doing it. And I remember in that meeting, everybody's like, Hey, where's the Where's the did you know? Exactly. I don't have one. And they're like, Oh, no, we like that. And everybody's looking around. They're shaking her head. Yeah, we like that. And now I do it as a regular thing. And sometimes I have two-fers and three-fers. I'll have a bunch of stuff themed. And I decided that is a cool way for people to learn things. And some of them are funny that they didn't know. And so now I want to include it in the podcast. So at the end of the interviews and the shows, I am going to be asking people did you know? I have to come up with a Did you know for today? Hmm. I actually have two did you knows. One that is useful. And that's if you're browsing, and you accidentally close a tab. If you have Ctrl Shift T, it'll reopen that tab. Really? Yeah. Because that's been, I don't know how many times I've closed something go Oh, no, that was the wrong one. Yeah. Well, now there's Ctrl, Shift T and its on again. And then another more interesting one would be Did you know that if you put grapes in a microwave, they'll catch on fire?
Amanda Sherman 13:40
Walt Sparling 13:42
You don't want to have ice at home. But that's
Amanda Sherman 13:46
okay. We will try it a work instead. So, listeners you'll have to let Walt know if your grapes caught on fire.
Walt Sparling 14:00
I don't know if there's a difference if they're green or red. That I'm not I'm not sure. So the did you know thing. Just if any of you are out there, and you get called for an interview. Keep that in mind. So I appreciate you asking me all these questions. And being here. This is the first one. So it's kind of freeform. But I wanted to chat a little bit more before we go on what the expectations will be for both the blog and the podcast. So it's new, but the intent is to educate and hopefully provide some interesting information to other project managers and we're talking whether you're a project coordinator, an assistant project manager or project manager, a Senior Project Manager, head of a PMO, It doesn't matter. We're going to be interviewing people from all acts or walks of life and industries. I've already got a couple lined up From the education sector that do construction, I've got person as a software developer, we're going to talk about agile versus waterfall, got some peers that are interested in coming in at different levels. We're going to have some really cool interviews. And then we're going to talk a lot about how to do things. What are some of the tricks, you can do an Outlook or an Excel, have some cheat sheets on commonly used formulas, or common shortcut keys for all the Microsoft applications, little tricks like you know, you close in your browser, how to get that back. There'll be tips and tricks, and some tools. I create a lot of tools at work checklists, and like the budget tool that you mentioned earlier, that was a long time being built. And from what I understand, everyone, but one person on our team uses it now. So that's a pretty good recommendation there. There'll be a lot of cool stuff. There'll be a resource page for people to download some of these documents. And then I want to hear from listeners, whether you'd be a podcast listener or just a reader of the blog, you got an idea you'd like to learn more about, send me an email, and which is [email protected], and we'll see if we can get it into a podcast episode or in a blog post. And that's, that's pretty much it. That's what it's all about. I'm hoping, Amanda, that you will be back for future interviews. Most of them are going to be me, sadly. But I do want to get you back. I know you're a busy woman yourself. So hopefully, you'll free up some time and you can do some of the interviews with me.
Amanda Sherman 16:50
Sounds like a plan - absolutely.
Walt Sparling 16:51
All right. We'll enjoy. Thank you, everybody, and we'll see you on the next episode of PM-Mastery.
Amanda Sherman 16:58