Category Archives: Project Management

Lemme Guess. My Future’s In That Folder.

Last Thursday, I wrote a post on the fly while waiting to find out if I still had a [project management] job. Literally.

After three and a half hours of focused work and productivity, I finally got the alert that someone in senior management was ready for me. I steeled myself and entered her office.

“I don’t envy your job today!” I said as brightly as I could. I was relieved no one from Human Resources was present; it was just the two of us. Apparently, they trusted us not to staple anyone’s face or set ergonomically correct chairs on fire.

She gave a kind hello, but didn’t beat around the bush.

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Even though, yes, this was the career equivalent of, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” or “It’s not you, it’s me,” I’d have time to blog, to bake, to blog about baking…

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Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything.

…to stop and smell the roses, to follow signs from the heavens…

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And I knew someone who’d be particularly happy to have me home every day.

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Another silver lining to all of this? The outpouring of support and encouragement from colleagues, friends, family and you. Some of you have even contacted me offline about job opportunities, and the ridiculously thoughtful Misty of Misty’s Laws just sent this care package:

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Misty warned me not to try to spend the gold coins.

My last day is the 18th, and after that? Well, if you thought my blog contests were epic before, hoo boy.

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Have you ever made or considered a major career change?

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My Life is Hanging in the Balance!

Hiya, Chipmunks.

I know it’s been a little over a week since I’ve regaled you with talking animals and my ceaseless wit, so I thought I’d pop in just to let you know my life is in utter turmoil.

I kid, I kid.

Although.

Right now I’m sitting in a spare office waiting to see if I still have a job [in project management]. They’re laying off 20% of my division’s workforce this month, and today everyone in my department is getting called down to the principal’s office to find out their Fate.

You might think this is an odd time to blog. Especially since I might have a lot of time to blog in the very near future (ba-da-BUM!), but what else am I gonna do? Work?

Nah. I’d rather reminisce about last weekend in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where I did a little of this…

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…and a little of that…

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…and a whole lotta this:

Troegenator might -seriously- be the best beer I've ever had.

Troegenator might -seriously- be the best beer I’ve ever had.

You know, with some time off, I could do a lot of traveling. And video blogging. And pumpkin carving.

Especially once we sell the house.

Oh hang on. I think my phone is ringing.

Have you ever gone through company lay-offs? How did they/you handle it?

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I Would Do Anything For Blog Love (But I Won’t Do That)

Yesterday, Chipmunks, I could have struck bloggy gold.

My department held another all-day staff meeting. This meant not one, not two, but three “ice-breakers.”

The “Minute to Win It” team-building exercise back in May was such a smash hit, they put a Part 2 on the books.

For those of you not still losing sleep over the story, let me refresh your memory:

COME ON, JULES. Get the penne on the spaghetti or WE ALL LOSE.

COME ON, JULES. Get the penne on the spaghetti or WE ALL LOSE.

So, you see, I had to ask myself a very important question: Would attending the meeting be worth the follow-up post potential?

It didn’t take long to answer that question.

I Would Do Anything For BLog Love (But I Won’t Do That)

  1. Engage in any sort of therapy-inducing torture, including, but not limited to: team-building exercises, Bikram a.k.a. hot yoga (sorry, JM), Magic Mike Citizen Kane viewings, and sober anything.
  2. Accept guest posts from advertisers. I will, however, continue to hope that the makers of Pipe Palz, glass smoking pipes with mustaches, follow through on their offer.
  3. Review reading glasses for a free sample. (Contact me again in another two years when my eyesight is completely shot from checking my blog Stats page every seven seconds.)
  4. Remember to pass along the blogging awards that readers so kindly bestow upon me. I am genuinely thankful. Will you please accept my apology and this picture of Uncle Jesse as a token of my affection?Uncle-Jesse-pillowcases
  5. Plug the living shiz out of my own contest. Just kidding. I will totally do that. COME ON, GUYS! It’s the best thing I’VE EVER DONE. And it’s for a good cause you might get to make-out with The Byronic Man.

Bloggers: Where do you draw the line? Blog Readers / All: What really turns you off about a blog?

So I Work at a Strip Club Now

Yesterday was an interesting day at work.

Let’s just say my job makes me die a little inside.

Which is not something I usually get to say. Trust me. I work as a project manager for a pharmaceutical company.

Still dying over here.

Monday traffic and meeting madness aside, things were looking pretty perky by 9am. Because by 9am, I was staring at someone’s boobs.

Let me back that thing up.

I was meeting a brand spanking (ahem) new colleague to explain how great the department was, what kinds of things she could work on, and the dress code what to expect in the coming months.

The woman was in her 30s, attractive and friendly. The conversation started in the usual way: “How long were you without power [because of Hurricane Sandy]?”

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something unusual. Something not quite right. No, no, it can’t be, I thought to myself. I let my eyes dart down.

Yup. Yup. Oh my god. Black. Lace. Push-up bra. Cleavage many would pay to see. I felt my ears turn as crimson as her blouse. Of all the buttons to pop when she sat down…

I’m sorry. This is the best I could do. This is a family blog.

I had known this woman for five minutes. How could I tell her we’d already taken things to the next level? But could I make it through the rest of the meeting without saying something, and then hope she’d use the restroom? No, that was just cruel.

“I’m sorry I’d want someone to say something if it was me,” I blurted in one breath, “I think one of your buttons came undone.”

“Oh no, it’s just this shirt,” she said, swinging the droopy silk collar that dangled over her va-va-voom.

I said nothing and waited for her to look down.

“Oh jeez,” she cringed once she realized what I talking about, and quickly fastened the rogue button. She thanked me for telling her and carried on with her earlier point.

Just like that. I had to give her credit. A little while later, she bid goodbye,

“I’m off to meet with [Mr. Big Boss] now.”

“Great – it was wonderful meeting you!” I replied smoothly, wondering how disappointed the Big Boss would have been if he’d known what he missed out on.

Later that morning, I had time to giggle reflect. I gasped, remembering: This wasn’t the first time I’d seen someone’s bra at work!

My very first year on the job, a middle-aged woman I’d only just met grabbed me and pulled me into the ladies room.

“I need help! My bra!” she whispered, eyes wild.

I watched, stunned, as she freed one arm from her forest green turtleneck. I tried to figure out what was going on. Everything seemed normal. Except for all the parts that were totally fudged up.

I soon realized what she needed me to do. I reached down her shirt, grazing her moist, freckled back, fished out the dangling shoulder strap and re-hooked it to the front of her bra.

I left the bathroom in a daze. Twitter didn’t exist yet, so I saved the story for my sister-in-law-slash-coworker, who still fondly recalls Bra Lady.

You probably think this is the end of it. Oh-ho no. Peppermeister (Husband #1) read this draft post and reminded me of the crème de la crème.

A couple years ago, a coworker in her mid-30s returned from vacation in the Bahamas, eager to show me pictures from her trip. Call me crazy, but I’ve always been fond of vacation photos. Anything to escape the drab, gray cubicle walls.

I walked over to her desk and she pulled out a manila envelope.

“I hired someone to take these pictures while we were there,” she said, shy yet excited. “He said I could be a model.”

Each 8 x 10 photo featured her bikini-clad bod on the beach.

“You look amazing!” I gushed, admiring her toned figure.

She looked up and down the hall and then whispered, “I have to be careful about some of these.”

She flipped to the next few photographs.

And there she was.

Topless.

It’s been two years, and I still don’t have the words.

Anyway. Today I’m bringing a wallet full of singles to work. Just in case.

Crap. Now I’ve gotta stop at the bank. This is New Jersey. I can’t even get gas.

Have you ever felt like a boob at work? Any good wardrobe malfunction stories?

***Hurricane Sandy Update: We finally got power back on Sunday night! My mood’s as boosted my coworkers’ chests! Thank you again for all of your well wishes! …Annnnd just kidding. Power went out again at 5am today (Tuesday).***

Slap Bracelet Pictures: June 6th Deadline!

Oh, god…

Oh no, please no…

…here she comes…

I. Just. Can’t. Stop her!

Project Manager Jules is HERE.

CERTIFIED Project Manager, bee-atch.

She says you have until next Wednesday, June 6th, to send in your precious, priceless Go Guilty Pleasures slap bracelet pictures!

I know. A deadline. What a cow.

But she claims she has her reasons. And she might even tell you what they are. (Seriously. Who does she think she is?) So I guess in the meantime, get snappin’ and sending’ to Julie.Davidoski@yahoo.com. I’d hate to see what she’ll do to you if you’re late.

 

It’s All in My Noodle, Right?

No no. This isn’t an Italian recipe post. It’s a post about a humiliating team-building exercise involving pasta. Obviously.

As some of you know, I spend my days working as a certified Project Management Professional in the pharmaceutical industry. Because what else would a gal with a Creative Writing degree and an aversion to doctors do? Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good job for many reasons, and I’m grateful to have it. The people I work with aren’t even nincompoops.

But there’s one thing I hate.

And that’s Team-Building Exercises.

No matter how well we know each other, or how team-y we’ve become, they won’t give it a rest. On Thursday, we had yet another staff meeting, featuring yet another mysterious team-building exercise. After seeing the draft agenda, I immediately tried to devise ways to get out early, before the game show questions or trust falls could begin. I still had 20 of those heroin cough suppressants; maybe I would O.D.

In the end, because I have a tendency to think one false move will get me canned, I went along with it. Again. This time the team-building exercise was a spin on the show Minute to Win It. They divided us into 4 teams, and we played 10 rounds. In each round, a single team member from the 4 teams had to complete a task in 60 seconds or less. Every time you did, you earned a point for your team. The winning team members all got $10 iTunes gift cards.

Not bad. And you know what? It was -I can’t believe I’m about to say this- fun.

Watching coworkers try to unravel rolls of streamers by flapping their arms like deranged flamingos (or in one man’s case, a flag squad champion), and others try to get a cookie from their forehead to their mouth without touching it, was breathtaking. In the good way.

Oh yes. I yucked it up.

Until my turn.

But my task didn’t look too hard.

I had to put an uncooked piece of spaghetti in my mouth, and try to ‘string’ 5 small pieces of penne on it – without using my hands. I put the spaghetti strand in my mouth and knelt on the ground in front of the table holding the penne, trying to ignore the fact that multiple people had their cameras out.

The timer started and the pasta wobbled between my teeth like Lindsay Lohan on the set of Glee. The circumference of the penne now looked like a pinhole. I somehow managed to get the first piece of penne on the spaghetti, then almost dropped it. “Aw, she’s shaking,” one team member called out, while another added, “You can do it! Don’t worry! Don’t look at the clock!” With 10 seconds left, and nearly a dozen people hovering over me, I had only gotten two of the five pieces of penne on the spaghetti. I was a pasta-stringing failure. How had I made it this far in life?

My teammates graciously applauded me, and I, red-faced and sweaty, tried to shrink into the background. I was 30 years old, for the love of all that’s vodka, and this was just a silly game. So why did it take a half an hour before I stopped wanting to cry?

Does this happen to you? Do you get freaked out in ‘public’ situations like this? How do you feel about team-building exercises?

P.S. – In case you were wondering, we came in second place.

P.P.S. – Screw you, team-building exercises. I never liked you.

***SUPER IMPORTANT ALERT THAT YOUR HAPPINESS PROBABLY DEPENDS ON: I’m wrapping up the Go Guilty Pleasures slap bracelet extravaganza, so if you have any unseen slap bracelet pictures, I hope you’ll send them to me at Julie.Davidoski@yahoo.com. Oh and I think you’re swell. Even if you don’t have a slap bracelet.***

It’s Official. I Rule.

Okay, there’s a lot of things I’m not.

Like cool.

But guess what I AM?

A Project Management Professional (PMP)-certified project manager! Yes siree Bob. Today I passed the dreaded 200-question, 4-hour Project Management Institute (PMI) exam and join the ~400,000 PMP holders worldwide.

Yeah. I'll manage the CRAP out of your projects.

I’ve never been so happy to be called “moderately proficient” in all my life. And this also means…I finally get to add some credentials after my name!

Are you taking me more seriously now?

You should, because I’m going to be far too busy and important to post things like that anymore. Or this:

Or this:

P.S. – It’s also my wonderful husband’s 30th birthday. He’s the greatest, but I’ll always be younger. Wow. Maybe I am a lot of things.

Change Mismanagement

Change management, much like project management, is big these days. With companies going under or being bought by other companies, a lot of people feel like they’re up a creek without a paddle. Or, they’re not sure if they’re even in a creek, but they have a paddle and they’re using it to hit themselves over the head.

To see if you work in a place of constant churn, ask yourself if you’ve heard any of these things in the last week (also I encourage you to play B.S. Bingo at your next meeting):

“It’s like the blind leading the blind.”

“Well I can tell you how we USED to do things.”

“I don’t think we’ve met. I’m your new boss.”

“Hold off on that until we know more.”

That’s what I thought. Well, I’m here to help you. I’m here to share what I learned recently in change management training (by the way, there’s good money to be made in this field, if you don’t mind tears, hysteria and people being escorted from buildings by security).

Change Management training tells you the following:

People Are Like Sponges.

Everyone Has A Maximum Saturation Point.

Some People Reject Change Passively, Others Let You Know How They Feel About It.

Some People Simply Cannot Accept Change.

If you’re dealing with the last issue, there seems to be only one solution. And that solution is something I learned a long time ago from despair.com, so we might have all just wasted our time here. I’m sorry. I’ll let us both get back to Googling “how to find Darren Criss‘s cell phone number” now.

What NOT to Say if Someone Asks if You Want to Attend a Week-Long Project Management Boot Camp

"What happens in boot camp, stays in boot camp."

 

If you don’t know what this post is going to be about, please go back and read the title. In fact, please make a point of always reading my titles. I have really good titles. Most times, I won’t repeat them in the post itself, so you should go back and read the title again after you’ve read the post, so you can truly appreciate how clever I am.

Now, where were we? Ah yes, Project Management Boot Camp. Did you know there was such a thing? I didn’t either, until I decided to look for a new position at my company and then they actually hired me. During the interview process, I was told that there was this incredible opportunity to attend a Project Management Boot Camp in Pennsylvania. Not wanting to spoil the interview, I grinned and nodded enthusiastically.

“That sounds perfect!” I said.

If everything worked out, I would attend the Boot Camp during my first week on the job.

“The timing couldn’t be better!” I said.

When I got the job, I asked,

“Who do I talk to to get signed up for this Boot Camp?”

I then found out that they weren’t calling it Boot Camp to be funny. You had to leave on a Sunday night and wouldn’t return until the following Friday night. “Evening activities should conclude by 10pm” the sample agenda read.

“It will be fine!” I told myself and registered.

On Sunday, March 6th, I drove the 45 miles southwest, trying to keep an open mind about both the Boot Camp and Pennsylvania. Now that I had bought my first home in rural New Jersey (yes, such a place DOES exist), I really needed to be more welcoming of my neighbors to the west, whose country music stations were starting to invade my radio frequency.

It was pouring rain and the two-lane highway kept abruptly turning left and right. This should have been my first clue. But no.

“I’m going to learn so much!” I thought.

I checked into my nice, but not as nice as my own bedroom, hotel room and hung up all of my outfits for the week, looking to see where the iron was, just in case. “I am a professional, wrinkle-free businesswoman now,” I said to myself.

If I hadn’t eaten before I’d left, I could have had complimentary room service.

“This is going to be like an all-expenses-paid vacation,” I mused.

At 7:30am the next morning, I filled my ice bucket so that I could tuck my vodka to bed for the day, like any good vodka sitter-slash-drinker. When I went to re-enter my room, a strange man opened the door.

“Oh, sorry, wrong room!” I said, realizing I was two doors away from my own room. I briefly recalled the time I went to the wrong house for a Christmas Eve party and stayed for 20 minutes before anyone realized it. Finally they pointed me next door. Snapping back to present day, I noticed this man had a notebook and added, “Although I think we’re headed to the same place!”

He gave me a strange look, but it didn’t dawn on me until much later that someone with a bucket of ice and someone with a notebook should NOT be going to the same place.

I recovered from the momentary embarrassment and reported downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. All five days were to start promptly at 8am. A few people were milling about, grabbing bagels and coffee, including the man I had just bumped into. “Maybe now he won’t think I’m crazy,” I thought, but watched as he took a seat at the opposite end of the restaurant.

Twenty minutes later, we gathered in the large, freezing conference room that was to be our home for the next five days. I had a panicky moment where I couldn’t find my name card, but there it was, in the far left corner, next to wrong-hotel-room guy.

“Whew! Imagine if they didn’t have me registered!”

I introduced myself and looked at all of the neat trinkets in front of me.

“I am going to get the royal treatment!” I thought, amused by the blue camouflage bandana and dog tags at my work station.

There were only 17 other people in the boot camp and I didn’t recognize anyone, even though they were all from my company. We were broken into two teams, blue and green, based on the color of our bandanas, and told that we had to wear our dog tags at all times or we’d have to buy the intructors a drink.

“What fun! My team is going to win everything!” I thought, glad I didn’t trade for a green bandana as soon as I sat down, like I had wanted to.

The two instructors both had Southern accents, which seemed to enhance the Boot Camp theme. I wondered if either one would snap during the week and tell us we were worthless little maggots. I kind of hoped they would.

“What happens in boot camp stays in boot camp,” they told us, and the first sense of foreboding came over me. I wondered how many more times people would say that stupid line before I died of boredom.

As they went over a disconcertingly vague verbal agenda for the week (they wanted some things to be a “surprise”), I quickly realized that the reason for such late nights was because we would be in lectures all day and in our teams all night, working on projects. If I thought I was going to get to watch Vampire Diaries and Glee, or ever see the light of day that week, I was sorely mistaken.

By Day 3, shortly after our team had to perform a dance number, to a song of the green team’s choosing (I would tell you more, but I’m afraid the instructors know where I live. I KNOW they know where I work), I hit a low place. A very low place. The kind of place where you think of the American Idol contestants during group week, or the poor bastards on The Real World, and for the first time ever, feel a genuine kinship. If someone brought me into a confession room just then, pointing a camera in my face, I’m not sure what I would have looked like, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. You would have been sitting at home, with your sweet dog and loving husband, judging me for binge drinking and sobbing during dinner “breaks.”

Project Management Boot Camp broke me, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to look anyone in the eye when I returned to work. (I still can’t look at the CD of photos and video clips they sent us home with.) Luckily, I’m almost as good at (BIG, FAT) white lies as I am at blog titles.

“It was a fantastic learning experience!” I said to my new manager the following Monday, staring at the cracked leather on my left boot.

“I would definitely recommend it!” I wrote, when the training department sent around a survey two days later.

Written by Julie Davidoski, Certified Project Manager (CPM)