Podcasts
23
PM Community with Christine Holcombe and Tracy Hennessy

“PMs have a tendency of being lone wolves and I think going out into the community to understand what other challenges people are facing is a really great way to level set about where you are in the context of the field itself.”

It’s true: project management isn’t an easy job. And, depending on where you work, you can end up feeling like you’re on an island. So where do you turn when you need to vent, learn different perspectives, and grow your professional network? In this episode of Time Limit, Brett talks about project management community with the organizers of an Austin, TX-based digital project management meetup. In the conversation, they discuss:

  • The value of community for project managers
  • Events and topics that resonate for project managers
  • Meetups and larger events that PMs find useful
  • Advice for starting your own meetup in your city
  • How to make time for community, and yourself

Resources discussed in this episode:

About our guest

Guest

Christine Holcombe
Producer, Human-Centered Design Education Team, USAA

After teaching high school English with Teach For America, Christine Holcombe became a client-facing UX researcher at a growing Austin company. She inevitably transitioned into the role of project manager and has spent the past ten years in digital marketing and design operations. She currently blends her passion for education and project management as Producer on the Human-Centered Design Education Team at USAA. Christine co-founded Austin’s Kickass PM meetup in 2013 after attending the inaugural DPM Summit in Philly. She has a new-found passion for ultracycling, but she still finds time to play lead tambourine in the Holcombe Family Band.

Tracy Hennessy
Director of Delivery, Handsome

Tracy Hennessy has over a decade of experience managing projects, capacity planning, and overseeing strategic staffing of projects. She has broad ranging experience driving execution for clients ranging from startups to category leading Fortune 100 companies. As the Director of Delivery at Handsome she heads up the Project Management team and is responsible for ensuring excellence in the creation of digital experiences across Handsome’s entire client portfolio. When Tracy isn’t running a 1,400+ member digital PM meetup in Austin, she can typically be found at the park with her dog Maddie or seeking out that perfect Mai Tai in Austin.

Episode Transcript

Transcript

Brett Harned:       Hey, welcome to Time Limit. I'm your host, Brett Harned and today's topic is one that's really close to me and it's all about PM community. I spent a good amount of my career speaking about digital project management and also building a community around it. In 2010, I started a meetup for digital PMs in the Philadelphia area and I produced the first and largest conference for the digital project management community that's called the Digital PM Summit.

So I've been lucky enough to foster the DPM community and really watch it grow. It's been a ton of work, but it's also been really gratifying. So today I'm happy to welcome two folks to the show who are going to share their own perspective on building community in project management. Christine Holcomb is a producer on the human centered design education team at USAA and Tracy Hennessey is the project management director at a digital agency called Handsome.

Both of these ladies are a part of the greater digital PM community and they organize meetups for DPMs in Austin, Texas. If you're interested in hearing more about the value of community and events or maybe you're interested in just starting your own meetup. Keep listening. Welcome Christine and Tracy, how are you both doing today?

Christine H.:       Good.

Tracy H.:           Great.

Brett Harned:       Awesome. Thank you so much for being here on Time Limit. We're going to talk all about PM community and I personally feel like this is a really important topic because community can help people to feel supported in their careers just by making connections with other people in similar roles. It's definitely something that I've seen with the Digital PM Summit and of course that kind of thing then leads to really like furthering knowledge and career growth and a lot more benefits. So I really love this topic and I'm really happy to have you here.

Brett Harned:       So the two of you actually run the Kickass PM Meetup in Austin, Texas and I know that TeamGantt has been a sponsor. I've been to some of your events and it's a really great group. So I'd really love to kind of dig into the background on your meetup. Maybe before we talk about some other things surrounding community and the value of community. So Christine, if I could start with you. So you co founded the Kickass PM Meetup and I'm curious like when did you realize that you wanted to build a community of your own and really take that step to start with Kickass PM?

Christine H.:       So I started out about six years ago, six or seven years ago when I attended the first Digital Project Management Summit that you all hosted in Philadelphia. And at the time I was working as a loan project manager for a really small company. And so I just didn't really know that many other project managers. I knew the PMs of our clients. But that's a different relationship than someone who is your peer or who is in the same industry as you. So when I went to the DPM Summit, I was inspired by the sense of community I felt because that was so foreign to me. Being the lone wolf PM at my company.

Christine H.:       So after the summit, when I came back to Austin, I reached out to Dina Fitzpatrick who was another Austin PM at the conference and we had met actually at the summit even though we were both from Austin. So I reached out to her and said, "Hey, you want to start a meetup?" And she said, "Sure." And then we registered on meetup.com and have been running ever since.

Brett Harned:       Amazing. And how many members do you have now? It's a crazy number from what I remember.

Christine H.:       I checked last night and I think we have just over 1600 members on meetup.com

Brett Harned:       That is amazing. Meetup is a great tool for meetup organizers for sure.

Christine H.:       It is. It definitely is.

Brett Harned:       Are there any other meetups like Kickass PM in your area in Austin?

Christine H.:       So there are a lot, there are so many meetups in Austin. It's got a really, really flourishing meetup scene. So there are a lot for designers and developers. There's our content strategists meetups, there are like API developer meetups and there was just a dearth of meetups for people who are in operations or project management. I feel like we have the benefit of taking advantage of this really large meetup scene and then being able to carve out a niche for project managers specifically.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, absolutely. So it sounds like you went to the Digital PM Summit, you realized you wanted maybe a little bit more of that in your life with a meeting with some local PMs, finding some good connections. Do I assume that's how you and Tracy met? Tracy, how did you kind of get into the fold?

Tracy H.:           Yeah, good question. So the very first meetup I went to and instantly knew that this was something that I wanted to be a part of. So originally I came on right away to help with marketing and other sort of more behind the scenes support and then afterwards joined in helping schedule and host meetups. And then when Dina moved away, I stepped in to take over the main organizing with Christine.

Brett Harned:       Cool. So I'm curious because you know I started the DPM Philly meetup in Philadelphia when I lived in Center City and that kind of happened before the Digital PM Summit. And the idea behind kind of the meetup was to, to meet my people, to meet people who shared similar struggles, who could relate to the work that I was doing. Provide some advice, et cetera, et cetera. But finding those people was tough. So I'm curious, what was your tactic, and this applies to anybody out there who's really trying to start a meetup of their own no matter kind of like what the community would be. How do you get new member members? How do you find those people?

Tracy H.:           In the beginning, one of the things that we did that was effective was to go to other meetups. So to go to the designer and development meetups and connect with other project managers or pitch our meetup to people who were influential in that design space or the engineering space and then have them refer their project managers to us or vice versa.

Tracy H.:           So because at the time my network was really small, when I started at Kickass PM, I had to build that network from the ground up. So a lot of it was done word of mouth. And then meetup.com also though I feel like, since we do put on a monthly event more or less and we've put on a monthly event for almost six full years. Then we have a pretty solid reputation at this point. So it started out being very high touch, like I was personally going out and meeting people. And then I think that doing that leg work and having the consistency of a monthly meetup has led us to this point now where we're able to attract members just through Meetup and word of mouth.

Christine H.:       Yeah. Also, what helps for our meetup is, so we try as a benefit to the people that are attending to change up the location pretty often. So each month we try to handle a different digital office downtown. And so when you do that, you get a new insight of people in that organization that might not have heard of your group before that attend and then they tell their friends. And so that variety of location and variety of host space has also helped a lot in bringing new people to the fold that realize that it's an awesome group and stick around.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. I think, what you're explaining, like it's a lot of work, right? Like you put a lot of work-

Christine H.:       Yes.

Tracy H.:           It is.

Christine H.:       It is.

Brett Harned:       Like outside of your jobs this not something that you're getting paid for. Like you're basically a volunteer starting a community. How do you manage that with the work that you've got going on? Not only working in the office but also at home.

Christine H.:       So this is something that we tell anyone that asks us about starting in a meetup or building community is that you need a partner.

Tracy H.:           Yeah, absolutely.

Christine H.:       And so I started out doing this with Dina as I mentioned, and then she moved to L.A., and the timing worked out that when she moved, Tracy was interested in helping me organize this. But if Tracy had not stepped into that role, I don't know how I would've managed it on my own. Because it's something that takes a partnership or a whole team of people to do and then that makes it more manageable.

Tracy H.:           Yeah. Cause I mean we all have lives and stuff comes up and you know, generally we both go to all of our events but occasionally, one of us can't make it for one reason or another. And so the worst thing ever would be to cancel something last minute when people are planning on it and the host has all their content ready to go. And so it also is a little bit of a risk management tactic to have the two of us working together so that we can split things up when we need to.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, that makes sense. Can you guys talk a little bit about the types of events you do? I'm interested to know like what kind of events or meetup events really resonate for a project management audience?

Tracy H.:           Yeah, that's a good question. So our events that we do, we try to have a blend of hard skills and soft skills, education components. So the goal with Kickass PM and building community is that we want to give people an opportunity to network with each other and so we always start with some type of networking, loose unstructured time for people to just get to know each other over drinks and snacks. And then we try to have a nice blend of hard skills. So if we're going through a particular type of tool or we're showing people how to work on risk management or a certain very tactical component of the job.

Tracy H.:           Sometimes we also though we'll do things that are softer, that are more around how to manage up or how to work on dealing with difficult team members. A lot of those soft skills that are hard to deal with as you especially move up into more senior level roles. Having a mix of both of those I think helps everybody become more well rounded project managers and the soft skill events also attract people that aren't very tactically a project manager in their current role. They might be someone who works really closely with project managers or wants to get into that type of role and needs to know more than just the brass tacks of being a project manager about how to do the job well.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I love that. I think, I love the idea of not just PMs coming to the meetup and I know in Philly we've had that. We've had engineers and photographers and event planners and I love that because I think PM really does apply to everyone in some way. Like even if you're not specifically a PM in your day to day job, there are things that you're managing in your role. So I think that's really cool. And along those lines, I'm curious, since you've been around for like what six or seven years, like have you noticed that people have kind of graduated out of the meetup? Like is there a career path that kind of gets people out of digital project management and into something else? I'm just curious if you've made any observations in that area.

Christine H.:       Yeah. I feel like there are a lot of people who, especially in Austin, in a town that has such a strong technology industry. A lot of people see their coworkers or friends or spouses in this really rapidly growing area and see the parallels between what they're doing, whether it's in the education or event planning or what have you. And just kind of leveraging that culture that Austin has. That's now, kind of become ingrained in the people that live here. That I feel like is different than perhaps in other cities that might not have as strong of a technology center, if that makes sense.

Tracy H.:           Yeah. I also think it's less role-specific as much as it is about the stage that people are at in their career journey. So we have members who have been floating in and out of the group for the entire six years. And you'll see people come a few months in a row because they're either feeling like they're struggling on a particular thing at work and they want to try to get some PM therapy out of it with other PMs. Or they're considering what else is out there as far as options for me in my career or they're in a lull at work and they have to have sort of mental space to try to take on learning new things.

Tracy H.:           And so it's really less driven I think by, am I specifically a junior PM or a senior PM and once I hit this title and I'm out and more about what's the mindset that you're in at various times throughout the year? And that's usually, I think, a big factor.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I think that totally makes sense. And that's like a perfect segue into kind of talking about the value of community. So I think that the three of us clearly see the value. I'm wondering if, you've had to have conversations with people about ... For instance, let me kind of back up. When I was at another company at an agency managing a team of PMs, I would organize a meetup and maybe one of my like team of five or six PMs would come and I would think, why aren't these people seeing that there's value in them coming? And I would always not be offended by them not coming, but just kind of in the back of my head wonder like, is it something about the programming or what is it like why aren't people making time for this? And I'm curious, what do you all see as kind of the value of the community and what it can bring to people?

Tracy H.:           Yeah, so I think Christine talked about the PM tendency of being lone wolves and I think going out into the community to understand what other challenges people are facing is a really great way to just, I think level set about where you are and the challenges you face in the context of the field itself. So we joke about it being PM therapy, but it's really just about, I think that sense of knowing that there's other people that are in the same boat as you and you can pick up some like small tips and tricks that come. I think from getting outside of your own bubble.

Tracy H.:           I run a team of PMs here that actually a couple I've met through Kickass PM, which has been super, super awesome. But when you're only interacting with people within your own company, you don't really get that sense to ask, not literally, but is this normal? Or like is this actually how things work elsewhere? That context you really only get when you talk to people that are outside of your own org.

Tracy H.:           So I think like getting outside of the office and being out at an event in the evening or in a different time of day can help you with a different type of comfort and openness. Talking to other PMs that it's a little bit hard to quantify the value in that, but I think it helps you grow. And just gut check where you are immensely.

Brett Harned:       Yeah.

Christine H.:       I also feel-

Brett Harned:       Go ahead. Sorry. Go ahead.

Christine H.:       Oh, I was just going to say, I also feel like the project managers are often somewhat of the unsung heroes of the teams. There's that whole concept of ... I can't remember who said this at a DPM Summit in the past, but the project management is like air quality. If you can see it, then you're not doing a good job or something to that effect. And so there's this you know, historically been this concept of project managers being behind the scenes and filling the gaps, moving the team forward, working to get things done, but then maybe not always being recognized for that because there isn't a specific part of the project or a specific deliverable that the public or the end user sees that belongs to us.

Christine H.:       So I feel like in the same sense, because that is the nature of so many people who work in this field. Then I feel like we all might sometimes easily take for granted the value or the impact that we have on our teams. And so it's help building that community has also been helpful. Just us in reminding one another like, no, you are important and your contributions are valid. And even if you feel like what you do isn't seen, it does matter and it does make a significant impact.

Christine H.:       And there was one of the speakers at the DPM Summit also mentioned that that like rather than thinking of us as taking a back seat, we should be bold and this is something that as a profession we should be better advocates for ourselves.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I completely agree with you and I'm so glad that you bring that up because I do think that, that is a huge benefit of being a part of a community or even just attending a meetup is just gaining some perspective. Whether you're in a role that you're kind of like, man, I'm not so sure that this is so great for me. Or how are people doing this at other companies? Are there other avenues I should explore? Like there's a lot of perspective to be gained and I love that you're kind of putting out there that yeah, you are more than behind the scenes and even if your company does keep you behind the scenes, that's okay. Like as long as you're embracing your role and you're doing what you feel is good and right and it's making you feel good about what you're doing, then go for it. Right.

Brett Harned:       I'm wondering kind of along those lines, if maybe you have any success stories you want to share. It sounded like Tracy, you've met people who you've hired through the meetup, but I think it's just kind of builds on the idea that going to events like this can be really, really valuable for your career. So are there any stories or things you want to share?

Tracy H.:           I think in general, one thing that we've been doing pretty regularly at our meetup is giving people an opportunity that might be hiring or that might be looking to call that out. So a lot of the times that people come to meetups, it's because they're at that career point where they're trying to think about what else is available to them or they're in the active job market. We've had a lot of people that have met someone through our meetup, come to a later meetup and been like, "Oh my gosh, so-and-so that talked about that role. They hired me for it." And that's super awesome to know that we're helping everybody get connected in becoming better PMs or finding those opportunities that best fit what they're looking for.

Tracy H.:           Yes, I have two team members that came through the meetup and that was super awesome and I feel really lucky. That's not the goal with not just trying to poach people, but the other thing that I find really successful about the group is when you see the very tactical application of the things that we're trying to teach others about. In a day to day. So I've seen multiple events where someone's taught something like a format for how to run a retrospective or a way to prioritize and think about the way to do our work. Where we try to teach those bite size activities that are specific enough that they achieve a specific goal but are general enough that you don't have to just be a project manager that works with this size team and this type of org. To have it be useful.

Tracy H.:           And we get a lot of people that reach out to us that are like, "Oh man that retro forum was really, really helpful. Like I've been using it every month ever since then." And years later have people come back that have referenced things that we've taught. And that to me is super validating because it shows that people are actually getting something out of it.

Christine H.:       Yeah. And to build on that, there's like the tactical lessons that might be down to like ... We had a meetup once on how to send an executive email and like that was one of our highest rated events that we've had because it was so specific to our members and the people who attend our group. But also hearing from people about how the group has changed their career trajectory or they met someone at the meetup who introduced them to someone who introduced them to someone who hired them as a project coordinator. Or as an entry level junior PM.

Christine H.:       So we don't always hear that feedback right as it happens. It's something that has happened, like a year after someone got hired. I bumped into them at a different event and they were like, "Oh Hey, you run Kickass PM right. I met someone at your event and they ended up giving me an introduction that got me hired as a project manager." So something that you know, I'll be at the Y with my kids and someone will approach me and be like, "Oh Hey, by the way, this community like has had a significant impact on my life." So that is a great reason to continue to do this after six years. Is having seeing and hearing about that kind of impact to someone's career.

Brett Harned:       Yeah. That's really cool. I love that. Thanks for sharing those stories. I think, at the heart of this, like it's about connecting humans with humans, right? Like finding something in common that you can talk about and then something that you can take back to work. And I actually really love the idea of an event around how to write an executive email. Like part of me feels like the reason that digital PM does well is because we're not scared to approach topics that might seem silly to other people. That's a really important thing to know how to do. And the other part of me feels like we do those kinds of like more tactical topics because there's no real training for digital PM. Of course there's PMI and Scrum Alliance and organizations that provide certifications, but we're kind of providing a different level of education than those organizations.

Christine H.:       Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Brett Harned:       Do either of you have any experience with PMI or Scrum Alliance or lines or any other kind of like project management organization like that.

Tracy H.:           Yeah, so I got my PMP about four or five years ago, I think at this point.

Brett Harned:       Cool.

Tracy H.:           And going through that process is really great. Like I think in general, although you might not have as much practical application of all the things you learn in your immediate day to day, it's a good thing to understand. I think like the overall skill set and mindset of what is important in traditional project management. Like learning the by the book, here's exactly how the rules are supposed to be followed and exactly how these types of ceremonies are supposed to be run. So I think there's definitely some value in that. I think that what we do a little bit differently at Kickass PM outside of like the PMI meetups and events that happen here in town is that I think our events tend to rely more on some of those softer or more organic day to day interactions that you might have. Like there's not a lesson on exactly ...

Tracy H.:           Like we did an improv for project managers, event that was super popular. You're never going to see something like that in a PMI type of meetup, but the ability to think on your feet and to jump into a scenario and to be able to react and feel comfortable in that environment is a super critical part of a project manager's job. So we try to inject some fun and excitement and soft skills around that in our group.

Brett Harned:       That's great. Christine, do you think that there are any other, or have you seen any other like bigger differences between the more formalized organizations like PMI versus the meetup or even what we've done with the Digital PM Summit?

Christine H.:       So I feel like there is a ... It's the two different sides of the coin really. To Tracy's point, Kickass PM is intended to be much more informal and to present different ideas and challenges of project managers than would normally be presented in like the PMI meetup or a part of the Scrum certification training. So I feel like that is ... But you also can't have one without the other. So there is absolutely a need for organizations like PMI and like a Scrum Alliance to have that standard. Those standard operating procedures or like standard way of working but it's almost like that is where you acquire the theory of how to run projects. Or how to implement process with your team. And then our meetup focuses a little bit more on the implementation or the practice of some of those principles and values and ideas.

Christine H.:       So I feel like you shouldn't have one without the other. We couldn't just be like a shoot from the hip Kickass PM, unless we were drawing on some body of knowledge to inform what are best practices and what is the best way of working.

Tracy H.:           Yeah. Like I think if it is like going to get some of those certifications or participating in PMI groups is like learning about all of the tools in your toolbox and Kickass PM is a little bit about understanding, which tools do you choose to use on what projects. And if you decide to use one of the tools in a non traditional way that, that's an okay way to operate.

Brett Harned:       Love it. I love the way that you're kind of explaining that. And Christine, like the idea that we kind of wouldn't be around without PMI, right? Like, there is education that they provide, whether it's direct or indirect. And I guess my personal experience, not that you guys are asking for it, but I actually started the DPM Philly meetup because I had gone to a couple of local chapter meetings and they were just not really applicable to what I was doing in digital at the time. And I was talking to PMs from a lot of different backgrounds and just for me at the time it didn't feel like it made sense for me to spend my time going to an event where I'm talking to a project manager from the construction industry, let's say. So that was kind of part of why I wanted to start my own group.

Brett Harned:       But then I guess, fast forward around seven, eight years, I went to the PMI Global Congress with the team from TeamGantt a few weeks ago in Philadelphia and I got a ton of value out of it because I think I'm in a different place in my career where I recognize that, hey, like there's actually a lot to be learned from those people. Like we might not have direct one-to-one experiences, but again, like the perspective that they can provide on a topic that I wouldn't have considered otherwise. It's just like really interesting to me.

Brett Harned:       So I'm not going to say I'm all on board, but I'm really interested in like the crossover and I'm hoping that's kind of where some of these meetups go in the future because really the community is for everybody. And like Tracy already proved like a lot of digital PMs have a PMP or a CSM or whatever it might be.

Tracy H.:           Right.

Brett Harned:       So it's cool. I don't know, I just wanted to say like, I think it's interesting to see where our little digital community, how far we've come. Because honestly being at that global conference people are like, "What's digital PM? What are you doing?" Because people would ask me my background and I would tell them and they'd be like, "Who are you? What? You have a book?" Like that kind of stuff. So I don't know, I just think if we could all continue to kind of encourage more of like a 1:00 PM community kind of thing. Like it doesn't have to be all about PMP and the way we learn, but like drawing from each other's experiences I think is pretty interesting.

Tracy H.:           Yeah, I think that's totally true. I mean we're even doing an event coming up in a couple of weeks here in Austin that's like a mega meetup where it uses PM acronyms in like a more broad sense. So there's a lot of product meetups and product managers, program managers, people that span all the Ps and all the Ms in the context of digital getting together.

Brett Harned:       I like it.

Tracy H.:           And this one's very unstructured. It's basically a party. But again, it like also opens your eyes to what else is out there. So like we focus on project and program management and we'll dip our toes into what product versus project management means so that you can think about what else is out there. But we like to do these events every once in a while too. That just gives you the opportunity to meet new people in a slightly related but unique field.

Brett Harned:       Excellent. So we're coming to a time and I have one last question for you and I've kind of been doing this at the end of every episode. Kind of drawing on the fact that the theme of the podcast is, you know, the name of the podcast is Time Limit, kind of giving a nod to the fact that we're all working with limited time and resources that work. And we've talked about how much time you all spend just organizing. I think on that note, as someone who has run a meetup and does currently run a meetup, I've seen that so many PMs will RSVP for the meetup and say that they're coming and then cancel at the last minute because you'll hear that work took over their day or there things that they need to get to. And it's such a bummer as an organizer because you're also a community member, but you're putting all this time into like making opportunities for people. Which sounds a lot loftier than, than what it really is. It's organizing an event and hoping people show up, but you kind of sit back and think, oh, people are missing out on these opportunities to further their careers and to learn and get to know other local people.

Brett Harned:       So all of that's to kind of ask a question of, what's your advice to those folks who feel like they can't ever seem to make it to an event? Like are there things that you say to like try to get people to come out and be a part of the community?

Christine H.:       Something that we hear a lot is an apology for someone who hasn't been to an event and like a year. And what we always say is like, "Don't apologize. We understand that things come up. It's great that you came back." So you don't have to attend every single month. You don't have to be running the meetup with us. I would say like any amount of time that you can give to your own professional growth and development is worthwhile. So whether it is one hour or you know five months that you're able to come to our and meetup, at least you did that and then it's more likely that folks will come back after that too.

Tracy H.:           Yeah. I think in related there's sort of two things there. So for the organizers, I mean in reality with a lot of meetups and events, especially ones that are free. Like you just happen to get that like 50% RSVP to attendance rate is like just not always an exact science, but you should just set your expectation and don't take it personally. It's just that a lot of people, myself included see meetups and other events and you're like, "Man that sounds really awesome. Yes, I'm going." And then in reality when the week comes up, I might be traveling or just life gets in the way.

Tracy H.:           So I think like to organizers, you have to just not get discouraged. If you don't get the headcount, like plan appropriately in the same way that email marketers understand that not every single person is going to open and click on their email. Like you have to have the right expectation about who's going to be there. But again, like Christine said, there's no shame in not being there all of the time. Like definitely the apologies are completely unnecessary because anything you do is really great. And then, if you can't come to a meetup in person, like for us, very tactically like a meetup is meant to meet up in person. So it's hard to digest all of the content that you might learn without being there in person. But there's lots of other ways that you can just try to become a better project manager and educate yourself outside of meetup events.

Tracy H.:           I mean, this is kind of a shameless plug for this, but personally I love podcasts. Like I listen to them when I'm in my car or when I'm walking the dog. Like they are flexible and work around my schedule. So I think there's also a lot of ways that if you decide I have too many life commitments to really be able to make an evening meetup during the week. Just look for alternative ways to try to connect with people and find other ways to get that content that you're looking for.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I think that's great. And I totally agree. I think for me too, one of the things that I have to think about working from home sometimes, not really wanting to leave after being at home all day to go out to an event. Like when I'm planning, I'm not going to just sit down and say, "Yep, I'm going to that event that's a month out." If, unless it is a topic that I know is really going to relate to my job and my role and something that like I really want to learn more about.

Brett Harned:       So to me, that's a big thing at this point. Is like what are the things that I find really interesting and I'm going to gain value from? And then I think obviously the people are a part of it every time. And I think it just depends on the type of person that you are. Not all PMs want to go out and socialize. So making sure that like you know what you want to get out of it. I think that at least for me helps me to have that drive or determined if I'm going to actually make it out on a meetup night.

Tracy H.:           Right.

Christine H.:       Right. And incidentally, when we have strictly social events that are just a happy hour and there's no planned presentation, our attendance rate is about half of what it is when we have a structured presentation with fully developed content. So it is somewhat clear. The project managers, they want to get the highest value of the time that they have invested in this.

Tracy H.:           Very, tactically. What am I getting out of this?

Brett Harned:       It's so true. We experienced the same thing in Philly. So yeah, no happy hours, just learning. Round tables, presentations, workshops, all that stuff works really well. Well thank you so much for joining me today. Thanks for talking about the meetup. Congratulations on making it like what, almost seven years now. Like that's pretty amazing. And Christine, like kudos to you first starting this thing and sticking with it and really doing a great job. You both do an amazing job with the meetups and thank you for that.

Tracy H.:           Oh, thanks so much for having us.

Christine H.:       Thank you.

Brett Harned:       Yeah. All right. Thanks guys. Have a good rest of your day.

Christine H.:       Thanks, you too.

Tracy H.:           You too.

Brett Harned:       All right. That's all for today. I have to say, I have so much respect for the job that Christine and Tracy are doing with their meetup group in Austin. They produce great events for a lot of hungry project managers. So if you're an Austin, check out their meetup, which is linked in our show notes. Oh, and if you're liking this show, please rate us where you listen to your podcast and come back for the next episode, which is going to be all about avoiding burnout, which seems to happen to a lot of project managers. And hopefully you can make it until then. Yes, you can. Thanks.

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