Podcasts
14
Project Management Education with Rachel Gertz

“Even though we definitely need to understand and do a lot of education for our professional development, we can't get lost in just the theory and the reading.”

Whether you’re a seasoned PMP or a brand new project leader with no formal training, you’ve likely thought about ways to level up your skillset to make you a better PM and your career. But where do you go to learn? Sure, TeamGantt is a great starting point for classes, resources, and templates, but there’s more. In this episode, Brett talked to PM trainer Rachel Gertz about PM education, and a few related topics:

  • Focusing on the right things as a PM, not just your plans or process
  • How to continue to learn and grow as an experienced PM
  • The value of certifications
  • Where project management is headed
  • Managing risk, and not trying to control everything
  • The advantages of being in command of facts, which allows you to be relaxed

The conversation went in a few different directions, but always came back to the value of being open and ready to learn. Resources mentioned in this interview include:


About our guest

Guest

Rachel Gertz
Co-founder and Digital PM Trainer, Louder Than Ten

Rachel Gertz is Co-founder and Dig­i­tal PM Train­er at Loud­er Than Ten. She trains appren­tices to be fearless in dig­i­tal project man­age­ment and to connect PM to the gaps between business development and operations. Rachel loves to sup­port the dig­i­tal PM com­mu­ni­ty and speak at events around the world that ele­vate the tech­nol­o­gy indus­try. She’s the cur­rent direc­tor of the Van­cou­ver Dig­i­tal Project Man­agers group

Episode Transcript

Transcript

Brett:              Hello, and welcome to Time Limit. Today, I've enlisted Rachel Gertz, from the digital PM focused apprenticeship program called Louder Than Ten. Rachel is here to talk to me all about project management education. But this conversation isn't just your run of the mill chat about getting the PMP. It's much bigger than that. So Rachel and I started to talk about education, then it ended up that we started to talk about the future of PM, and where we see the profile of the project manager going. But there are tons of resources and tactics to also pick up in the interview as well. So check it out. Hey, Rachel, thanks so much for joining me on Time Limit today.

Rachel Gertz:       Hey, how's it going Brett?

Brett:              It's going well. I'm so excited to have this conversation for you. I feel like there are tons of resources for people who are looking to get into project management, and I think over the past few years, those resources seem to have grown. So I'm really excited to dig into this and share a bunch of ideas and resources with our listeners. So let's kind of start at the top, and it's going to be a little bit about you. I personally feel like I'd classify myself as a self taught PM. I've done a bunch of trainings and a couple of certifications in my career as a project manager, but I pretty much jumped into PM without any formal education, and really with kind of a background in creative, which don't really match up well.

Brett:              I got there through some education, through myself, through other organizations, and I'm just curious, how did you get into PM? And what got you to the point you're at today?

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, I think we kind of have a similar story. I graduated as a trained teacher with a five year program. I think when I got out, I just had a lot of disenchantment teaching in brick buildings, in like an old school system, right? I just wasn't into telling kids what to think and stuff. So basically, then I did odd jobs. I did clerk, and I was content strategy focused and I was self taught. And then really, it ended up being about managing projects as a freelancer. We sold our things, and we ended up in an RV. I think we talked about that a little while back, but just traveling around and managing remotely.

Rachel Gertz:       So kind of carrying the hat of a PM, I guess, I should say, wearing the hat of a PM and then also wearing the role of a business owner. It was just noticing there's a huge gap between what those groups think the other groups do. So that's where I think I fell into it. It was just wanting to soak up all that knowledge, and trying to support people.

Brett:              That makes sense. It sounds like a lot of, you becoming a PM was a matter of fact that you were getting things done, and you had to be the person to manage those things.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, for sure, right? When you say, having to get those things done, it's like, where does a PM's role start and stop? That's the biggest question, right? It's so confusing if you don't have any sort of support or training. The community is there to answer questions, but a lot of them don't even know. So yeah, it's really interesting.

Brett:              That's a really good point. I think that's probably why I think that all project managers, or maybe not even all project managers, all people in business, should have some understanding of project management, because those skills help you to be good at what you're doing, no matter what that thing is.

Rachel Gertz:       Heck yes. I would completely support that, no matter what job title you have. I think that this is going to be one of those skill sets that just serves you a lifetime, and it makes you better at any kind of job.

Brett:              Totally agree. All right, so let's talk about work a little bit more. So I recently asked this question on Twitter and got some really interesting responses, and I'm interested to hear your thought on this. What are the things you wish someone had told you about project management before taking on your first project or even feeling like, "Okay, I'm a project manager now."?

Rachel Gertz:       I'm going to start dark then go light. I think the first thing that I would have loved to know is how lonely it could be, and how most of the time you'll feel like an imposter. Because again, you're always trying to figure out if there's information that's just outside of your grasp, it's like, "How do I get that?" Or, "How do I make sure I know what I need to know?" Because again, I don't know if you know, we both had similar path where it's like, we're not PMP trained, right? So that whole conversation around like, well, what should we be doing in this really weird online environment? It was really lonely.

Rachel Gertz:       So that was the dark part, but just, I think in terms of not focusing so much on, did you do the right process? Did you get the right tasks? Did you ask the important ... Well, important questions are valuable, but in terms of looking at what you're doing, like the big picture, is really about solving problems together, creatively, right? Using your creativity, getting that alignment that you need, and just making sure that you're going to clear the path for your team, instead of just being like, "Hey, did you do the thing?"

Brett:              Yeah, so it sounds like what you're saying is, there's really no right or wrong answer. Sure, you can go read the book, and you can do it that way, but there are a lot of different ways that you can manage a project or manage a team.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, and I think personality-wise, there's always this thing of like, the personality of a PM and what that needs to be. And honestly, you can have a range of communication styles, but it's just understanding, "Okay, if I communicate like this, and my teammate communicates like that, where's the middle point? And how do I actually reframe this conversation or reframe the work that needs to get done here?" So yeah, I don't like boxes, man.

Brett:              I totally agree with you. Don't stick me in a box because I'm going to break out of it no matter what.

Rachel Gertz:       That's right. Don't box me in.

Brett:              Maybe that's why we're a little bit different as PM, but I think that's okay.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, me too. I like it.

Brett:              I mean, I like pushing people in the direction to think for themselves and come up with processes and tools that makes sense for them, so I'm all for it.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah.

Brett:              So there's kind of this thing in project management, there's a conversation about what is a junior PM versus a mid level PM versus a more experienced PM. I'm interested in the types of things that the more experienced project managers should be doing, because I feel like at some point, you could feel like you've mastered PM right? But then a new project will come up with a whole new set of challenges and then you end up feeling like you'll never master it. So I'm curious, what are the things that you think senior PMs should be doing to continuously learn and get better in their job?

Rachel Gertz:       One of the things I started kind of keeping an eye on was noticing when our apprentices were asking questions that helped bring in better projects, so better as in, they were healthier, they were more aligned, they actually help drive the business in the right direction. So I really think having some knowledge of either business development or business analysis is actually really, really valuable. I know that sort of puts them into more of like a producer or a BA role, like a crossover role, but I do see this actually popping up more and more in terms of job descriptions and just general needs for how you need to function as a producer or a project manager. I don't know if you're noticing that one, too.

Brett:              Yeah, I mean, I feel like we're totally in agreement here, and that's not surprising at all. I do think that what I personally have been pushing from the digital project management community side is being more strategic, having more of a part in defining goals, like a business analyst might do. But then also using those goals and acting on those goals to form a process, to make decisions, to lead conversations in the right direction. I feel like that's really critical for any PM in any industry, just to have knowledge of the business, like you said, but then also to have the confidence to act on that knowledge and use that knowledge in ways that will push a project forward.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. And actually, when you say it like that, when you think about companies who would prefer to have a tactical PM over a strategic PM, you got to start wondering how those organizations are communicating about their mission and goals, right? Because you want someone who's going to be able to look ahead, not just look in the rear view mirror and be like, "Oh, that happened." So I do think that that's super valuable. I don't know too, I think another thing that comes to mind is just getting better gathering requirements, and actually knowing how to talk about those, like, how do you ask your devs what you need to build, and then put it into language that actually works, not just for them, for you, but also for any other stakeholders on your project.

Brett:              Yeah, I totally agree. That fluency on how things work, how people work, and basically how you can drive to getting a project done, to me, that's indicative of a more senior person. They're not relying on a task list or a checklist of things to get through and just checking in on those things. They're being more active about the project work.

Rachel Gertz:       Exactly. I think too, that flows right into what I'd say would be related to being able to deliver that information. I think public speaking or having just a lot of practice for delivery, in terms of how you present that information, like making sure you don't just have a flat tone as a project manager. It just gets so ... You're basically presenting the face of your organization, right? Whenever you're doing these presentations and conversation. So I think it ties right back to that, that piece that you just mentioned.

Brett:              I totally agree. So another big question that comes up from PMs of all experiences is about certification, right? Like you already mentioned the PMP certification. But generally, I think people want to know if the certification whether it's for PMP or within agile, whether it's worth their time, worth their money. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that. I have my beliefs, but I'm curious to see if we're aligned here.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. I remember reading that with a PMP certification, for example, you might get like a 15% pay pump, and that's great, right? But I think interestingly too, depending on the type of organization you're in, sometimes having something that's standardized learning like a PMP can actually put a black mark on your resume or on your hiring process. So not too long ago, we were in a meetup, and the panelists at the meetup were talking about, "Would you actually hire someone who's PMP trained?" There were some marketing companies and product companies, and then quite a few agencies, and they were all like, "No, we wouldn't." 80% of them were like, "We wouldn't."

Brett:              Really?

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. It all came back to adaptability, and like, "Are you just going to follow a process? Or are you actually going to think about what problem you need to solve?" And so I think what can happen, and this is just totally like, I'm not knocking PMP or anything.

Brett:              Of course not.

Rachel Gertz:       It's just looking at it in terms of like, flexibility and again, that strategic thinking, like, are you going to get locked into a process? Or are you going to look at what's available to you and think on your feet?

Brett:              Right. Yeah. I think, I've heard that in the past too about digital folks, and I get it. The PMP isn't a necessary thing, and I understand why it might give someone pause before hiring someone. To me, the way that I look at certifications is that you have to think about that person and what they've been certified in and how they're using it. I think the idea of just learning and getting a certification to help you to advance in your career is amazing. I think people should use every opportunity to continue learning within their career, whether they're paying for it, their company is paying for it. If they've got the time to do it, to me, it's a good thing.

Brett:              Now, I think when you get deeper into an interview process, if the person looks good and you bring them in, then you ask them, "So what are the processes that you use? How often do you use the PMBOK?" That kind of thing. I guess what I've found is everyone's kind of looking to learn, and if I'm looking to learn one specific thing, and I want to put it on my resume, and you think that it might be something that holds me back, I'd rather have a conversation about it.

Rachel Gertz:       Oh, I like that angle. Yeah, for sure. That makes a lot of sense, right? Because you don't want to be, again, boxed in by just one designation, or one way of thinking. So yeah, that's really smart. I appreciate that. And I mean, that said too, I support getting like an agile certification, or a Scrum or product owner. Anything that helps you advance in your careers is awesome. I think it's just more like, unless that's your goal, don't focus too much on the fancy titles or the initials, right? Is it going to help you? Are you going to continue to learn? I don't think any of us have a choice. I think in this world we live in now, technology is outpacing us, we have to be continuous learners.

Brett:              Right. And like you said, I think some industries will require a certification, and having a certification will get you to a certain pay grade. So it makes sense in some industries to have that, because it is an indicator of your expertise within that industry. I think you and I coming from digital, we have no real certification, so we kind of pick from one thing or another, and that's not a bad thing. I think seeing that someone has a PMP, as well as a CSM, like a Certified Scrum Master, that shows me that there's range in the way that they work. And there's maybe some curiosity and interest on their part, which to me is a really good thing.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. And actually too, there's this whole other kind of angle on this, right? When we think about medicine, or we think about if you were going to be working with a lawyer, any other fields, you'd want people to have some level of understanding of how those processes work, right? So it's like, instead of just like, "I want the piece of paper or the notoriety," it's like, "I want to continue to learn and I want this to evolve with us, this learning." So I think project management is probably going to be going through some interesting changes, almost like that post adolescent change now where it's starting to ...

Rachel Gertz:       It's so important in our industry, right? Increasingly, there's more jobs available for it, and I think that there are higher demands on running these types of projects, because we're not just running like, "Okay, here's a marketing site." We're creating interfaces that might work with robots doing brain surgery, right?

Brett:              Right.

Rachel Gertz:       This stuff is getting serious.

Brett:              Yeah, and I think you're right. I think we've mentioned a couple of things that I think we're kind of pushing for in terms of project management as a practice in general, and that's adaptability or flexibility. And that comes through the previous conversation that we had about things that you wish that you knew, and strategy and thinking more big picture than on the task level. But then I also think in terms of education, it's adaptability and flexibility in the things that you know and the things that you can employ to get a project done. And to me, that's super cool.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. Have you been seeing sort of this T shaped skill set focus too, where it's like, if you want to become a technical lead, learn what you need to do to help with your development team and projects. And like, if you're going to be focused on content, get that under your belt. I really support that deep, deep learning, and especially in one area, because I find anyone who's focused on too many offerings, especially if you are agency side, it tends to get like, you can't really do anything super great. You just do a lot of things pretty well.

Brett:              Yeah, you don't have an expertise in one area. I guess, I'm seeing a little bit of that. I guess I'm used to more of the generalist PM who might have a little bit of knowledge about everything, and that's fine, and then pulling in the people with the expertise to answer question or provide solutions for things that they don't know about. I think that's okay, too. But I guess, kind of where you're going with it, I agree. It's kind of like, if you can go down a path where there is something that interests you, or you're gaining more experience in an area, use that. Use that power to better yourself in that area and be an expert within your organization. I think that's a good idea.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, I think it would actually help to sort of nudge companies and the projects within those companies into a different direction, because it does have a lot to do with defining your boundaries and taking up the space that you should be as a PM. And I think as a strategic PM, we can make a lot of profound, pretty big, important decisions for the company and the direction of those projects. So for example, if you're going to focus on like AR, if that was something that you're really passionate about, you would see opportunities to build out in areas where those things could actually benefit, not just you, but your organization as well.

Brett:              Yeah, absolutely. All right, so I want to kind of bring it back to training a little bit. So for those folks who are listening and don't know, you run a digital PM apprenticeship called Louder Than Ten. Your company is called Louder Than Ten. Can you just tell us a little bit about the program that you're running? Maybe like the people that are about the program and the outcomes.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, for sure. So basically, Louder Than Ten is there to kind of bridge the gap between the project management portion, and then that operations and business development portion. So we started with a one year apprenticeship, and we're kind of focused on folks who, they could either be juniors, they could be mid levels, and these could be, "I've been doing PM for a couple years," or, "I've never done PM. I'm very, very new to it." And just helping them work through whatever their background is, and connecting that back to the project management and strategic role. So for example, we have folks who did technical writing, some were in finance, some are more operations focused, and it's just kind of taking those strengths and then buttoning them into this, what does a strategic project lead look like?

Rachel Gertz:       So we are focusing on kind of supporting conversations around, how would you build, internally, like a monthly recurring revenue model? PMs are often told, "You get this much time, this much budget, this much scope," or you have to define it, and that's that, right? So instead, how do we actually start having better conversations about prioritization and getting future phases built so that you're not just having to do everything all at once? That smooths out cash flow for companies, which is a huge, huge expense, right? Especially when they might not have physical overhead anymore. It's just like, "Okay, pay for your office, and pay for your people." Right?

Rachel Gertz:       We are supporting conversations around building onboarding guides. So whether that's for your own employees, or it's actually for just working with your stakeholders. How can you make them feel welcome on a project and kind of warm them up? Some of our apprentices are doing some neat things around like defining and refining their QA handover processes, so they're building out just like, better documentation and like asking, again, devs and designers like, "What's missing in our process?" So I'm just really excited because we're kind of focused on building emotionally intelligent project leads, and they're there to try and close the gray areas between the pieces in their project lifecycle.

Brett:              Yeah, I love that. It's not all about process and tools. It's kind of the areas between those where a lot of the programs don't necessarily teach, so it feels like you're giving people real world valuable experience and guidance to help them handle the trickier parts of situations or projects.

Rachel Gertz:       Totally. You nailed it. So most of the programs out there that I see, it's kind of like, "Okay, so do this step and then follow this step, and then after that ..." And it's like, yeah, but nothing goes according to plan, right? So how are we going to deal with all of the the other things that just fall on us like waves, and our job is to basically dig ourselves out of those holes every single day, right? So then looking at like, if you're a middle, which is basically you're a PM, you're responsible for the executives and all those inputs that they're getting, and then you're responsible for everyone working at the implementation level, how do you get yourself out of the middle and actually get those groups talking better to each other? Right?

Brett:              Yeah.

Rachel Gertz:       So that you're not stuck there trying to mediate as well.

Brett:              Yeah. It's like you've got this global view. You have an understanding of, like you mentioned earlier, the operations level that impacts the project level, that impacts the people and the processes that you use. It sounds really awesome. I know that you're a trainer, which is probably a lot of fun for you, and also probably very gratifying because you're getting to teach people and see real world results. I'm sure that your students love you, because you obviously can relate to their experiences, because you've been in that position, and you are currently managing projects.

Brett:              So you have a unique point of view, and I know you, as a person, you've got a fun style of teaching and just communicating with people, so I'm wondering, what are the topics within project management that get you personally excited to talk about or teach?

Rachel Gertz:       Thanks, Brett. I do love it. I love training. So I think one of the things that I come back to over and over and over is we can do anything. We don't often stop to ask ourselves if we should do something, right? Do you remember that Jurassic Park line, I just forgot his name, but the researcher, he's like, "We were so busy thinking about whether we could, we never stopped to ask if we should." Malcolm. Anyway-

Brett:              I'm the worst with movie references, but I get you.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. So I think a lot of it comes back to looking at how tech is getting so weird. Every day, you'll read something like, oh yeah, deepfakes in video production. So we can't tell if a real human is actually speaking, or if someone's just making them speak like a puppet. So we have a responsibility, I think, in order to guide and support better decision making around, "Yeah, we can, but should we?" And then I think too, that translates into taking risks. A lot of organizations, they shy away from the conversations around risk, but as soon as you realize, risk can be positive and negative.

Rachel Gertz:       So if you focus on, "Well, how do we do more of the positive stuff?" Then suddenly, you can change a conversation, and people are more willing to take risks, because they see like, "Oh, if we put our energy here, we can actually get closer to our goals anyways, and it's worth it." So those are a couple of the ones that I really love.

Brett:              Yeah, those are both really interesting. The risk one is an important one too, right? I mean, they're both important. When it comes to risk, it's kind of like this unknown thing, and there's no real perfect way of teaching how to look out for a risk and how to handle a risk before it becomes an issue. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts or tips on that topic that might kind of transform the way that people behave or think about communicating risk as a PM.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah, for sure. I think when we look at splitting conversations around risk into categories, what we say is, are you observing things happening? If you're observing things happening, and that is going to indicate that risks are probably going to happen, right? They're probably going to impact your project. They're probably going to have a pretty severe impact. So when you're looking at those things, you're trying to almost simplify your next actions, right? So it's like, do I have the responsibility to respond? Or is this actually just a question that I need to ask to get more information? And really, the tips are just bringing the right people in at the right times, and then not feeling like you have to control the outputs on every part of your project.

Rachel Gertz:       Things are going to get wily and weird, and it's almost like, just have a good conversation with stakeholders, like, "Hey, risks are normal. They're going to happen. Here's what we want to do, and here's how you can support that." If it doesn't work out, "What do you think is the most important thing to you? Here's what's most important to us?"

Brett:              Yeah. What I love about that is one, you said, you can't control all risks. You can identify them, but you can't control them. So it's almost like leading into a conversation with a stakeholder like you said, and identifying them. I feel like in that situation, when you bring up a risk, and it's well in advance of it actually becoming a big issue, you get to have an open dialogue about that thing before it becomes an issue. It most likely doesn't become a big issue, because you're engaging other people outside of your PM brain to actually fix things. I feel like so many PMs get caught up in this place where they feel like they have to control things, and they'll look bad if they ask for help. But that feels like a very easy way of asking for help without actually saying help.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. It's like we're creating safety around the fact that real life happens, right? It's not like this, "Oh-oh, I need to report that things are going wrong, therefore, I've failed as a PM." It's like, this is normal. This is natural. And it's basically like, the thing you can expect is weirdness and change and things to go off the rails. So it's like, how do we want to just have a better conversation about this?

Brett:              Yep. It's so funny. I feel like a lot of what you're doing in your program is basically telling people, be yourself, right?

Rachel Gertz:       I'm going to take that.

Brett:              But it's true, isn't it? Right? As a PM, we get so worried about things because there are details and problems and angry personalities every once in a while, and so you start to clam up. But if you just take a relaxed approach and explain your thinking, and ask questions, and generally just be yourself and be genuine, then you'll get the input of your team and your stakeholders. It'll lower your stress levels, and things will work a little bit easier. So it's not about the books and all of those things, right? It's about picking up on cues, and I guess acting on them.

Rachel Gertz:       I love it. Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's amazing when you see a relaxed PM, and you see their posture, and you see how they talk and their cadence, you feel, as a stakeholder, supported, and you know that they're not hiding anything from you. They're being completely transparent and supporting you in where you need to go. And I mean, I agree with you. I think if more PMs were able to just say, "Who do I want to be around these people on my project? How do I want to relax into that?" We would have so much less fear built into the conversation around project management.

Brett:              Yep, and you don't have to have that fear, because part of being relaxed, or the reason you can be relaxed is because you're in command of the facts and the data and the issues. So you've got an eye out for things all the time. Awesome. I think we are kind of talking more about what we think the perfect PM would be, versus education, but I think they're kind of the same thing, which is cool.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. I completely agree.

Brett:              They're intertwined, right?

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah.

Brett:              Okay, so thinking about your students, and even your own experience as a project manager, things that you hear from the community, I wonder if there any kind of resources that you go to, like classes, books, events, meetups. Anything that you feel has helped you in your past and things that you might even recommend to students or apprentices for the future.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. So because PM is such a lonely career path at times, I definitely recommend connecting with other people. There's lots and lots of local meetups that are popping up. And not just meetups for PM, but anything in the tech vertical, you're going to learn a ton, right? They have ones for business analysis, or they have ones for product development. So definitely check those out. I'd say, in terms of conferences, obviously go to the Digital Project Management Summit. It's one of the best PM events. And if you're in the UK, I think they still have the Delivery Confs, so that's another really great one.

Rachel Gertz:       I'm hoping Canada is going to pick up and have a few more conferences in the near future. But then, I think in terms of reading, some of the books that I found really valuable, and even just cross checking my own knowledge and things that I recommend to our apprentices all the time, I'd say that, Interactive Project Management book by Nancy Lyons, it's fantastic. I think it's Pixels, People, and Process, I think, I could be missing that. Then Kotter's change management books were really valuable. So like, Our Iceberg is Melting talks about, how do you role change out in your organization, when it's really, really difficult. And then like a quick bite sized read, The Checklist, Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, is so great.

Rachel Gertz:       It really helps you understand what the value of knowing the names of the people on your team are. In a surgical environment, how does that impact the process? But for you as well. And then of course, you got to read Brett's book, Project Management for Humans is definitely an amazing read, and it works for people who are newer to PM or actually they've been doing it for a while. Brett didn't even pay me to say that.

Brett:              And you're part of the book too, you wrote an excerpt in the book. So it's a glowing, glowing recommendation from you. Thanks.

Rachel Gertz:       It's a terrific book, Brett. I love it.

Brett:              All right. So those are awesome resources. Thank you for that. You brought up something about events and meetups that I want to kind of bring up in the context of our last question. So in the last question of the podcast, we always try to keep with the theme, time limit. And I want to talk about continuing education when you're strapped for time. So personally, as a meetup organizer, I have seen this. I'm sure that you've seen it as well, but people will RSVP to your meetup events, and then they'll back out at the last minute because they've just got too much work on their plate, too much to do. So they end up missing the event, which is an opportunity for them to basically continue to learn and to network with like minded people, kind of like what we talked about before.

Brett:              I've just seen it so many times, and I feel like it's such a bummer, not only as the organizer because less people show up at your event, but because you know people are missing out on golden opportunities that are free learning, right? But I kind of feel like it's a reality of the role, right? Project managers are always busy, and work always comes first. So long preamble there just to kind of ask you if you've got any tips for people who are looking for ways to learn, but they've got less time on their hands, like they can't go to events, what are ways that they can continue to learn?

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. So first and foremost, there's this sort of counter intuitive knowledge around like, maybe read a little less right now and focus a little bit more on asking what's working and making you feel bad in your current situation, just so that you can identify like, what kind of support is most helpful. Because PMs are so hard on themselves, and they really are required to be. I mean, a lot of times I'm on call more than other teammates, right? So if you can kind of figure out what, I guess, that little tiny voice inside of you is asking for. Then sometimes just go to the people, the peers that you trust. Get to know as many PMs as you can, but some fantastic PMs that you can just ask and message in the Slack channel.

Rachel Gertz:       You'll get like eight or 10 responses that are all varied, and they all build on one another. So if you can't keep all those 10 or 20 Slack channels open, just know that your voice is not in an echo chamber. There are people there that, they're going through what you're going through, and they're going to be there to support you. Sometimes they'll send you the helpful article. So it's very timely and it's relevant, and it's not just like, "I have to go through this RSS feed of 1000 articles." I think really, what it comes down to is just knowing that self care is actually self discipline, right? It's not like a self indulgence thing.

Rachel Gertz:       Even though we definitely need to understand and do a lot of education for our professional development, we can't get lost in just the theory and the reading. And I think when you can put yourself first, it's really a necessity. So that you're not going to burn out, and then all that reading that you did is only going to just go down the drain because you're so tired, and you have no room to actually apply it. So I'd say be more thoughtful about how you are getting that information, and asking your peers for support and be like, "I don't need this. I just need this. Can you help?"

Brett:              I love it. I love the idea that self care is self discipline, because I think a lot of PMs forget about that. So being disciplined about your learning or the time off that you need to take is important, and you shouldn't forget that.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah. Sometimes we just need to shut it off. We don't allow ourselves that very often.

Brett:              Very true. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for joining me on Time Limit. This has been awesome.

Rachel Gertz:       Thanks, Brett. I always have fun when we talk.

Brett:              Me too. Hopefully I get to talk to you soon.

Rachel Gertz:       Yeah.

Brett:              Bye. All right, well that's a wrap on that conversation. As you have probably picked up, Rachel and I are really good friends with a ton in common, particularly when it comes to PM education. I think you should check out Louder Than Ten for their program, but also for all the amazing content that they create, and the links to valuable PM resources that they've taken the time to round up and share. I should also note that the resources mentioned in this episode are listed in the show notes on the Time Limit website. So definitely check that out. So that's it for this episode. If you liked what you heard, we'd really appreciate a positive review in iTunes or where you get Time Limit. Thanks again.

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