The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
Published here December 2012.

Introduction | Book Structure
What We Liked | Downside | Summary

What We Liked

This book contains valuable insights for both the newly minted project management practitioner as well as the seasoned professional. For the newly minted practitioner, with a definite introvert leaning, the first four chapters essentially provide advice on how to position yourself to adopt new attitudes, deploy your strengths and tackle new ground. For example, the reader is invited to jot down five labels that characterizes their strengths. Then, against each label, describe: (1) What Makes Your Strengths Different and/or Special; (2) What Inhibits Your Strengths? And (3) What Brings Out Your Strengths?[8]

Note that the original strengths that you list should not be limited just to your work environment. In fact they should be anything that you have really enjoyed doing at some time in the past and felt that you did well. This opens up a much larger range and may even bring to light memories that one day you may be able to put to good use -- perhaps sooner than you think if you are looking for a new source of employment!

Further along you will learn how to set about planning your future. But this should be second nature to anyone in, or venturing into, the project management field. It starts with a "To Do" list, and then you just add a date column titled "By When"!

For us, the more useful stuff started with chapter 5: "Your Network - Expanding Your Sphere of Influence". Here you will find wonderful encouragement. For example:[9]

"As an introvert, you'd probably rather listen than talk most of the time. You're adept at building deep and lasting relationships. You're trusted, accountable, and a core contributor. People look to you for expertise. However, you're not a schmoozer. You value your space and quiet time. Regardless, you have distinct advantages that enable you to create a strong network that can provide you with continuous support."

Subsequent pages describe how to position yourself as a valued expert, how to network in a spirit of sharing, and how to hone your skills in this area. Or, again, how you should prepare for a networking phone call, or for informational interviews, or how to draft an approach letter. If you are speaking, "Speak as if you own the room."[10] On the other hand, if you are writing, don't just rely on your spell checker, "have someone proof read your work because you will not see your own mistakes."[11] And, by the way, if that's not possible, re-read your work one or two days later when your brain has been cleared. You will be surprised by the number of mistakes you made, or the improvements you can make, to the text you wrote just two days earlier!

Chapter 6 is particularly useful as it provides guidance on "Public Speaking for Private People".[12] Much of the content is well established elsewhere, but it is useful to have the subject covered in the same book, especially since it is laced with tips for the naturally introverted. For example, where should you sit at a business meeting? Assuming the meeting table is not round, the suggestion is to sit close to the center where everyone will be able to see and hear you. OK, it takes some courage, but that's the whole point.

And, by the way, if it's a public meeting with a room full of chairs in rows, try for an outside seat somewhere where you can see the rest of the audience. This way, most people will be able to see you and, at the same time, you can command their attention and gauge their reactions.

Chapter 6 also includes advice on making a presentation including preparing visuals with flipcharts or the ubiquitous PowerPoint slides. Do make them concise and dynamic.[13] Actually, author Nancy Ancowitz somewhat decries PowerPoint for she says:[14]

"It's pet peeve time. While I am not completely anti-PowerPoint, I am against being numbed or overwhelmed by slide after slide of everything a speaker knows about a topic. On the other hand, I'm all for keeping a few cool nuggets that the speaker supports with visuals (PowerPoint or otherwise)."

That's a very good point, better yet if the "visuals" are presenting concepts and relationships in graphical form.

Chapter 7, Your Job Search, is another useful chapter for introverts if you are into that stage in your career. It describes how to make career choices consistent with your style, how to handle interviews including preparation, how to develop a forceful resume, how to dress for the occasion, how to perform with quiet confidence, and how to negotiate compensation. These all tend to be difficult topics for the introvert.

Book Structure  Book Structure

8. Ibid, p45
9. Ibid, p108
10. Ibid, p129
11. Ibid, p127
12. Ibid, p141
13. Ibid, p166
14. Ibid, p154
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