In This Episode:
In this episode, I interviewed David Alvarez, a commercial banker who discusses the importance of taking action in order to accomplish your goals.
action, habits, routines, podcast, morning, goals, creating, day, learning, accomplish, ipad, share, people, project manager, year, couple, cigar, life, measuring, morning routine
Walt Sparling, David Alvarez
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 Sparling.
Walt Sparling 00:35
Welcome to pm mastery, episode number five. And today I am interviewing David Alvarez. David Alvarez is a friend and a also a member of a mastermind group that I am in. And he is not a project manager., he's actually from the banking world. And I'll let you tell let you tell them a little bit about that, David, but David's here tonight to talk a little bit about personal development. So why don't we start out with the usual? Tell us who you are.
David Alvarez 01:08
Thanks. Walt, and thank you for having me on. I'm a father of three kids. As Walt said, I'm here in Tampa. I'm a husband, oldest of five siblings, fourth generation Tampanian. And I have spent 20 years in the banking industry.
Walt Sparling 01:25
Cool, so tell us a little bit about what you do in the banking industry.
David Alvarez 01:29
So currently, I am a commercial banker, I've had a couple different roles. Most recently, I was a regional manager, overseeing the West Florida region, had 142 employees transitioned into commercial banking. And so now I serve small business clients throughout the basically West Florida region.
Walt Sparling 01:49
And from what I know of you, it's a much less stressful job.
David Alvarez 01:54
Yes, not not having that many employees is definitely a little less stress.
Walt Sparling 01:59
Good deal. So as I said, this is this, tonight's interview is going to be a little bit different, because we're going to focus on development, personal development, but I wanted to cover a couple things that we do talk about, because we're all about learning and growing. So, for you, how do you I know you're not a project manager, but you do I know you you're a growth person, how do you do your additional learning?
David Alvarez 02:24
Yes, that's probably - I'm going to talk a little bit about that here in a little bit. But some of the key key things I do are podcasts. I use Audible, read articles anytime I can on some on and really anything that interests me, but especially as you'll probably talk about is personal development. And then there's also web based training, both at the bank through LinkedIn learning. So those are some of the main things that I utilize.
Walt Sparling 02:51
Cool. And even though you're constantly learning, and you're much less stressful these days and your new role, you I'm sure you still experienced challenges. Do you have a challenge or two you can share with us?
David Alvarez 03:04
Yeah, definitely. So I know, I've heard a couple of your guests have mentioned, I think one of the top ones was time management. So I'm right there along with them just trying to manage the day. And because I'm in a newer role, just trying to create systems routines to help me kind of get through and, and accomplish what I need to accomplish every given day. So those are some of the main challenges I have right now. Good deal.
Walt Sparling 03:31
Yeah. And I know that systems and processes are big and stuff that we talk about in our mastermind. So, tell us a little bit about tools. Do you have any favorite tools.
David Alvarez 03:43
So my iPad is my, is my everything. So I'll say the number one tool is iPad, because that also lets me take notes utilize the apps that are in their Outlook email and task I use. I think one of your other guests had mentioned having a zero inbox and says something I I strive to do and having an iPad and always having it here with me helps me do that. Besides those one note, of course on the desktop and iPad, and then the spreadsheets, I create a lot of spreadsheets to help me track the things that matter. And I use my iPad for all that.
Walt Sparling 04:20
Good deal. Yeah, the iPads awesome. I, I do a lot of work on a laptop, but I definitely use my iPhone and iPad as well. And those tools are on all of them. Good deal. So now let's jump into the meat of this thing. The reason that David is here is during a recent mastermind meeting, he brought up a topic that was there was a couple items that were in it but one of them was the concept of DD and it was action Deficit Disorder. We know what we'd got to do but for some reason we don't do it. And it was really A good presentation, there was a lot of aspects to it, but I wanted him to really focus on kind of the personal development aspect of it. And David, I'm just gonna let you take over and kind of go through your notes and educators.
David Alvarez 05:13
Great, thank you. Yeah, so this is, as Walt was saying, we have a mastermind that we usually will pick a topic and do a little bit of research. And from a couple recent books that I've listened to, as well as some podcasts, I started hearing this right, and I love to learn from those that are successful. And one of the overwhelming things that I kept hearing was just action, there's a big difference between what we do what we say, and then actually, you know, acting on something. So something I shared was, um, there's, there's really four types of action, one of them is no action. So even even choosing to do nothing is still an action. So the second one is retreat, or you need to know what you need to do, but you don't do it or do something else. You have kind of normal action, which is you do what is expected, and then you have massive action. So we're constantly in one of those. And at the end of the day, what I've seen and learned through through some of those that have been successful and have shared is that, like I said, action is the difference. You know, there's a saying that says, you can go to school and learn nothing, you can go to the gym and not get fit, you can attend the growth group and not grow, it's all about what you do with it. So we spent a lot of time in the learning piece of it, you know, we'd like to consume information. But unless we make a plan to actually act on it, that's, that's where a lot of us miss.
Walt Sparling 06:46
Yeah, and that is, as you said, that is something we talk about a lot in the mastermind, because it's all about growth, and you can't grow if you don't change.
David Alvarez 06:59
Yep. Now it without a doubt. And, you know, even even you and your podcast is a good example. I mean, there's probably hundreds, if not thousands of project managers that in the past, I'm sure have thought about, you know what this would be really good to have a podcast where I can, you know, have others share what they do. But because they didn't take that extra step didn't take that action, that continual action. They didn't do it, there's so many things that I see on TV that are advertised. And think to myself, I've know i've thought about that before, but I didn't take the action. So again, that to me is really, really important. I've got a saying that's posted up above my my computer. And it's it says success is never owned, it's rented, and the rent is due every day, which again, is for me is a reminder that, that I can't just do something one day, and then and then not Do you know, not follow up, you've got to build momentum. And the way you do that is by by again, creating that action. You know, we've talked a lot about habits in our group. And to me, that's probably one of the biggest things that have helped, and have impacted me is deciding what I need to do. And then once I decide to do it, figuring out how can I create a habit out of it, and then just kind of building on that. So I have a morning routine that I've been able to kind of do what's called habit stacking, which is where you take one habit that leads to another habit. But for me, these these are all actions that I had to take. I I've gone from, I used to weigh 20 pounds more than I do today. And and I decided one day, you know what, I got to do something. And so Istarted jogging and created a habit out of that added the podcasting to it, then added audible to that. And then all of a sudden, I've got a routine every morning that if I skip one of those things, it doesn't feel right. But at the end of the day, I had to take that first step I had to take that action. And that helped me build momentum to get to where I'm at today, which is healthier. I feel like I'm learning more every single day. But again, the key is, you know, you can think about it, you can analyze it, but until you take that step and take the action, it just won't happen.
Walt Sparling 09:10
True, all true. And I know we definitely have talked about habits and routines, routines being big, because through routines, you build habits. And then those are what's going to make you successful and those routines aren't always going to be the same for everyone. And those routines are going to adjust if you start adding a new a new step into your routine, and then that just doesn't flow right. And you start doing that and I thought about that, like I joined Noom to work on my way. Well, I like to go for walks in the morning and listen to podcasts. But I also need to do the Noom but I go on my walk I listen to the podcast, I get motivated to go do something. So I skipped the Noom stuff. And now I know I've got to get up, do the Noom stuff first. Then go on the walk in the podcast and then get them motivated and go from there. So you've got to play with it, you got to test it, and see how it works for you.
David Alvarez 10:05
Yeah, yeah, without a doubt. And like you said, the key thing is just not not giving up. Because a lot of times what ends up happening going back to those, those four types of actions is that we know what we need to do, but we don't do it. Right. And, and when we do, and we we hit an obstacle or roadblock A lot of times, the next thing that happens is, you know what, I'm going to do, no, I'm not going to do anything I tried, I'm done. And that's it. But, you know, part of that whole A.D.D. the Action Deficit Disorder, that's, that's honestly, what happens to a lot of us is that we, we either stop taking the action that's necessary, or choose not to, Mel Robbins wrote a book called The five second rule, where she talked about, you know, our brains, there's so much research that's been done now, and that with our brain the number one job is survival. And so if there's anything that our brain perceives to be fear, which, which there's a lot of things out there that that we can do, it tells us not to do it, subconsciously, it's like, maybe I shouldn't, and they can go from sitting in a meeting, and having an idea and going to vocalize it. But but because you're like, no survival, I want to fit in, you kind of stop and you don't do it. And she said, she found herself doing that a lot of times. And then all of a sudden, there's something that hit her she remember, she was falling asleep, saw this rocket launch, there was a countdown 5-4-3-2-1. And it happened. So the next morning, she went to go do something she decided not to. And she's like, wait a minute, 5-4-3-2-1 Just do it. And she found that she actually took the action. So that was, again, a really good book. And that's one of the things that I had picked up on that that even we sometimes self sabotage ourselves and don't take an action simply because we're fear or whatever it may be. We have to take that, you know, pause and realize, nope, this is something that I need to do or want to do. I'm going to push through. And we got to take that leap.
Walt Sparling 12:08
So another you talk about fear. So the Mel Robbins there was another one about 20 seconds of courage.
David Alvarez 12:16
Yeah, yeah. So there's a movie. I think it was Matt Damon Honey, I bought a zoo. Another great story where he had, he had taken his kids back to where he had met his wife who had passed away their mother. And he was recreating for them how they met. And what he had shared was that he was sitting in a in a, like a diner, looking out the window saw her walking by and, and he's you know, he just instantly fell in love and said, Man, this this woman is gonna be my wife. But and then he didn't do anything. He just sat there and he's watching a bi he said, You know what? All it takes someone had told him all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage. And so he got up, ran out there introduce themselves ask her she wanted to have a cup of coffee, she came back had a cup of coffee. And sure enough, they ended up getting married had children. And but but in that movie, it comes up a couple different times the 20 seconds of insane courage and, and sometimes that's all we need. You know, again, Life Life weighs us down. There's so many things that are coming at us, especially, you know, with work and life and everything else. And sometimes we lose that edge. We've got to keep the edge and and sometimes it's just you know, take counting down having 20 seconds of insane courage and go do with what's in your heart.
Walt Sparling 13:37
Yeah, that was a good one too. And I personally, I like the 5-4-3-2-1 because that is something I've actually used myself for. I just, I don't want to get off the couch or I don't want to get out of bed and I go Alright, I gotta do this. I can't I can't lay here. Yeah, 5-4-3-2-1 boom, launch, and you get going. Now there's some some things we talked a little bit about habits and morning routines and systems and processes. So maybe to explain for people that don't know, a lot of the details about that they've heard all these terms before, and it's like, okay, all these people are successful because they have a morning routine. But what is that? How is it successful? So do you want to maybe go through one of yours I go through mine, we talked a little bit about that and how someone might apply that to help them. And I know this blog, or blog podcast is focused on development for PMs. And to me, that's you know, being healthy so your mind is sharp, making sure you get enough sleep. Make sure you're you're eating healthy so that you're not lethargic, and you're you know you're on your game. Also staying up with education. So you need to be sharp enough to absorb new material. You need to know what's going on in the industry. So you know how you're going to learn that new stuff. Maybe you want to set a goal to reach a certain level in your position, or maybe you want to get a certification. So what are some of the habits that like that a morning routine could do that would help someone achieve some of these goals?
David Alvarez 15:16
Yeah, definitely so so along with what you were just saying, I agree 110%, you know, there's that, when you get an airplane, the first thing they tell you is that in case of emergency, you have to first fasten your own face mask before you help anyone else. And the reason for that is because you gotta invest in yourself. And the way you invest in yourself is doing some of these things continually growing, because that will help you be that much better at what you do every day. So your work life is directly impacted with your personal life. And again, this is something that I found the hard way, when super stressed at work overweight. It just I had to find something. And luckily, the one thing I found, I was able to build on it. So like you were mentioning about the morning routine. For me, I found that I needed to get going, I needed to do something. So I started jogging, I had never jogged the day in my life, I use an app called couch to five K. And when I started doing that, I said, Hey, I'm out here, I'm starting to get some energy. And you know, while I'm out here, I should listen to something. So I started listening to a podcast about personal growth and development, which inspired me to then start listening to books. So in the mornings, like my morning routine consists of getting up went for a quick jog, listening to a podcast, I get back, meditate for 10 minutes. And then I've got my I pick, what are the top three things I need to get done today? There's there's always I mean, we have task lists that are 100 to 100 things on, well, what are the top three things that no matter what I've got to get done, I journal those and then kind of get started with my day. And by doing that, you were getting, you know, again, go back to the brain science, we're giving ourselves a little shot to dopamine. So we feel so much better, because we've already accomplished so much, just by kind of going through through our morning routine. And knowing that we've got those things done, and we've set up our day for success.
Walt Sparling 17:14
Cool. And so to share mine isn't as detailed I don't do meditation, I've tried it, I just haven't been able to conquer that one. But I get up in the morning, my clothes are already laid out, which is part of my nightly routine. Get my, my sneakers and gym clothes on, I make sure that I have my bluetooth headset, I make sure it's connected because it's not always I look at what podcasts I have, I'll queue one up, and then I go out the door. And then I'm usually gone 30 to 45 minutes, come back. And at that point, I'm finishing up or maybe I've started another podcast when I was driving to work, I used to transition from coming home, showering dressing, getting in the vehicle pick up where I left off, because I had a half an hour drive to work. Now basically my commuting is just around the neighborhood. And I go from my restroom and my kitchen to my office. So it's completely different. But I have pretty much a sequence so that it a certain part of the morning. After I get back, I shower, I make breakfast, I make coffee, I walk to my desk, and then at night, try to shut down around the same time, have dinner, do whatever chores around, I have an alarm that goes off at 9:45 that means Okay, you got to start turning down. You got to be in bed by between 10 and 1030 if you're going to get enough sleep, and I go lay out my clothes for the next day, both my work and workout clothes. And then I go to bed and I read. I do use an iPad for that but I have the blue light setting on so it doesn't disrupt my sleep in this reading helps me kind of turn myself down so that I can go to sleep and then I'm up at 5:30 and started over
David Alvarez 19:14
David Alvarez 19:17
yeah, no, that's it but again, that's you're taking care of yourself which is helping you be successful in other areas of your life. And and you know, you've got your clothes laid out. So that means you're already ready to go. That's the first part of that whole habit thing. It's what they call a habit loop; que, routine, reward. Your que is your clothes already there waiting for you say it kind of watches you through the day. That's That's awesome.
Walt Sparling 19:42
Good deal. All right. So now, one of the other items, I believe was measuring or tracking, how do you make sure that you're, I mean, you can say you're doing well but do you have a system that you use to track your progress so you know how well you're doing?
David Alvarez 20:02
Yeah, so there's some, you know, there's no wrong way to do it, I think whatever works best for you, I have the phrase measure what matters. And I, again, going back to my iPad, I literally have an app for everything. So I actually ended up creating a spreadsheet for myself, where I've listed out my goals for the year, and I broke them down to daily, weekly, or monthly activities to help me get to those goals. And I use that. So it's actually an Excel document that I created and use that. But other things feed into it. So for example, when I go for a jog, I use runkeeper, tracks my mileage, there's a meditation app that I use for the meditation, I use OneNote to keep track of the the journaling and everything else. So again, it is so important to measure because you can see that progress going back to the whole add, when we start to see that we're checking boxes, and we're kind of moving forward and, and man, not realizing I've almost hit 100 miles this year and jogging, if I wasn't measuring that stuff, I wouldn't. During the downtime, when I'd much rather just sit down have a pint pint of ice cream, or a pint of beer, it reminds me Look at this, you know, look what I've been able to accomplish, I got to keep going. And so measuring it to me is so so important to help you stay motivated and help you take that next action of that next up.
Walt Sparling 21:32
And some people can do that through journaling, where they can get up in the morning, I've done little bits of that on and off. But I tend not to to be able to concentrate on that kind of recording. So what I do is I have a calendar. And one of the things that happened during the pandemic is it was so much easier to the end of the day, have a drink. And you have a couple drinks, and then you have a cigar. And then you realize, wow, this has become almost a daily habit. And so how do I? I need to back off on that, but I need to kind of need to see how often am I doing this? So I created a calendar. And I would put an X on it if I didn't do either. And if I did one, I would put a slash and then I would put you know, how many cocktails did I have? How many cigars did I have? Typically it wasn't more than one. But on some rough nights it might depend. And that is my visual when I get up in the morning and hangs right above my scale. So first thing in the morning, I weigh myself, I put that on the calendar. And then I say okay, yesterday, I didn't drink or smoke a cigar, boom, x all the way through. And that looks good. And every day you look at it, you go well, now I've got four x's in a row. And there was actually not too long ago, I had 27 x's in a row. That was like awesome. But I broke the chain. And now I'm rebuilding the x's again. But you can you can do it through journaling, you can do it through a spreadsheet where you check off what you've done. There's apps that you can do that with, or you can do it with with a calendar. Definitely, I think tracking is is worth it. Do you got anything else you want to add? Or maybe dive into a little deeper?
David Alvarez 23:15
No, I mean, just the main things like we've already touched, recovered, again, habits creating habits, we have to also kind of analyze ourself, there's something called the belief loop or where your beliefs form, your behaviors and your behaviors form your results. So talking about action, sometimes we don't take an action because of beliefs we have deep down so just kind of keeping an eye on that because the beliefs reinforce the behaviors, behaviors reinforce the results, and then it goes right back results reinforce the beliefs. So that's that's big. Like I said habits have honestly changed my life. Creating those systems and processes like the morning routines, measuring what matters, continual growth, I mean, just constantly looking at ways to grow personally, professionally. And just making sure that we have a balanced life to. You know, we have what we were what I say our seven life accounts, our physical, mental, spiritual, family, financial, career, and social. And so if any of those are out of whack, it will affect the others. So there's times in life where we can put more towards our career and maybe our personal suffers a little bit of the physical suffers a little bit. But But at the end of the day, we've got to analyze those those key categories and make sure that we keep feeding those. Um, another quote that I love, Abraham Lincoln shared it, and in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. And for me that again just speaks to, we've got to enjoy every day. We only have so many of them. So we've got to make sure that we make the most out of each one of them. And to do that we've got to keep ourselves fed motivated, and continually taking action. So those are the kind of the the meat of what I was sharing at the group during that presentation.
Walt Sparling 25:14
Alright, so the last thing I want to end on is anybody that that's out there that wants to grow? Can there's so many resources out there, you got to figure out are you a reader? Are you a audible listener? Are you a podcast listener? Are you a blog reader maybe instead of a book? There's tons of resources out there, you just gotta set the time aside. And I know for both of us, the mornings, and the podcasts and in the vehicle, are a great way because the rest of our lives tend to be filled with other things. But one of the things that we do, and I would encourage people to look into this, I'm not familiar with a project management mastermind, but maybe it's something I'll start. David and I both belong to a mastermind. In fact, we were some of the original founders, five years ago. And we meet every three weeks, the attendance varies anywhere from, say, five to 10, we've had a few bigger than that. But it's guys to get around, we do presentations about different topics. Sometimes they're very casual and off the wall, like we just did a scotch tasting, and educating on how scotch is made and different parts of Scotland, where it's, it's done, and the little individual idiosyncrasies of that. That was really cool. I think about a year and a half ago, someone did one on beer, very similar. But the rest of the time, it's talking about goals and systems and habits, and basically expanding your mind and then sharing with what you've learned that works for you, with the other members in the group. So that it hopefully will help them grow.
Walt Sparling 27:00
And coming up here, in what two weeks, we have our annual retreat, which is every year we pick a spot. And this is I think the third year, we've gone back to a cabin in North Florida. And we basically, I think we're gonna have nine guys this year. And we sit around a campfire almost the entire weekend. And we talk about how our last year went, what did we accomplish, what did we hope to but we didn't get to what are our thoughts on what the coming year is going to be. And the first night we sit around and have some whiskey and cigars, and we just have a kind of a download. And then the next day we get up, we have a nice breakfast, we get together as a group, we talk about planning for the coming year. And we have a little bit of exchange, and then everybody goes off with their papers and material that has been provided. And they start working through their plan what they want to accomplish, then we get back together later in the day. And people share where they want to go. And they exchange ideas, and someone maybe I've done that, and this is how I did it, etc. And then we have like a little social hour that night or many hours and dinner. And people that are interested in what someone's doing can go and spend time with them and go, "Hey, you know, let's talk about this a little deeper". And then in the morning, and our final day, we have breakfast again, and we have a little powwow and then everybody goes off and they record their definite goals there. These are the things that I am going to accomplish this year in my seven areas of life. And then they come back and they present that to the group. And something we started last year is, once you've presented your goals, you actually record that into your phone, so that you have a vocal record of it. And then all during the year, you can refer back to your paperwork or you could just pop up your phone and listen to yourself what you said you were going to accomplish this year as a reminder. And then during the year, we asked people Hey, you said at the retreat, you were gonna lose 10 pounds, it looks like you're on track or it doesn't look like you've made any progress. And it's not mean, it's like we know how important the goals are you want it to do this. So is there anything we can do to support you? etc. So that's kind of my take on on that it doesn't need to be a mastermind. But if you get some like minded people together that will help you grow and get you where you want to be. I think that's important. So I don't want to cut you off. Dave, what do you what do you have anything you want to talk about with that?
David Alvarez 29:39
No, I mean, you you hit it. Getting getting around a group of like minded people is so important. And it'll help you it'll help you stay accountable. And at the same time, it helps you learn and grow from others. I can't tell you how much the the five years of the mastermind that we're in has really impacted my life. Having a group of guys that You know, and trust that I have no problem calling your bluff and pushing you to do better and be better. Again, it's so important to have that. So I strongly recommend that as well.
Walt Sparling 30:12
Yeah, and one of the one of the founding premises in our charter was Jim Rohn's statement that you are the sum of the five people that you hang around, so sum to those words. And so basically, you got to choose who you hang with. So David said, like minded, I said, like minded that that's true. And hopefully that like minded means growth, or whatever it is, you're trying to, you know, healthy, they they're on track of being healthier. So that and if you're trying to be healthier, that's as good. If you're trying to increase your beer intake, you're gonna have to find someone like that, but but that may not help you grow. So you've got to have, you got to have a goal. And then you got to be careful, and there, there's been a lot of books and articles and podcasts that have talked about, sometimes you got to let some things go, and sometimes those things are people. All right. So that's all I David, I greatly appreciate you coming on here and talking about this. I am going to be doing some more stuff about personal development, I might get you back because I know I know how you are when it comes to the topic. And we'll see how much more we can get out there for everyone to listen to.
David Alvarez 31:35
Great. Yeah, thanks again for having me on. I really appreciate it.
Walt Sparling 31:38
All right. And in the show notes, I will put some of the books that were mentioned, some of the tools and tips, tricks, some of the quotes and links where I can find them that will get you to these items. So thank you, everyone, and we'll see you on the next episode of pm mastery.