The Tech Project Manager- who is she?

This is not an article to make women feel better about anything.  The title says SHE not HE only because I am a woman. But this IS going to be your standard LinkedIn P.M. drivel, with a standard Millenial twist, because we’re also a hot topic.

Project Mangers come in two hybrids- Big Corporate Style and Startup Style.

Big corporate style PM’s have origins in the early 1990’s, when downsizing trends created flatter organizations.  Middle management was traded in for ’empowered’ employees (including a layer of PM’s).   As a result, today’s big corporate PM’s have ’em’power.  No, it’s not heady Donald Trump hair POWER, but all limitations are relative.  We are mostly all somebody’s bitch, somehow.  PM’s report to VP’s.  VP’s are 10 years older and report to CEO’s (+15).  CEO’s are hired and fired by Boards of borderline elderly white men who telecommute from Tahoe and can barely figure out how to use email attachments.   BOD’s report to shareholders, customers, and their 28 y.0. dominatrix mistresses.  The mistresses report to social media, aka a web of Millenianls, who complete the circle of empower by reporting back to PM’s- at this time 5-7 years older than they are.

The Startup Style project manager came about in late 90’s/early 2000’s, during the internet and tech explosions.  Seed money was given to anybody who pretended to program computers.  Partially because of this, those PM’s had (and continue today to have) more varied responsibility and challenges than their Corporate cousins. Here is a graph showing that the demand for startup style PM’s is likely trending up, at least based on the number of new startups being formed.

startups

So that introduced the history of PM’s, now for the training.

Project Management is not a major in college, but there are some related options.  Management Information Systems (MIS) is a typical choice for CS Freshmen and Sophomores who realize they’re too dumb to hack it in Hackathons.  Management Science is for the football players at any tech school, and students everywhere who couldn’t do engineering math or figure out how to otherwise work the system and graduate.  The above types will likely end up as Big Corporate Style PM’s, with PM their actual job title, and that last italicized point is important.  These PM’s are not the cream of the crop, they’re not people who can figure out how to get difficult things done.

Meanwhile, Startup Style (and also many Corporate) PM’s come from a normal technical education, and start careers as programmers, scientists, engineers, etc.  They’re probably pretty good at technical work, but their higher social skills gradually move them towards organizing and communicating, which leads to leading, and a new job title is born. It may or may not be Project Manager, but this is what they are. Before long (another 2-3 years), they’re no longer on the cutting edge of tech.  Their lives are full of PowerPoint and conference calls with words like scope and buffer.

Since there is no college degree to validate a PM, an organization formed to fill what was once this void.  Project Management Institute.  PMI is (sadly?) destined for failure for the following reasons:

  • Despite what their homepage states, today’s employers do not demand certification.  PMP is like GPA- you could write it on your resume, if you want to look like a douche bag.  Good PM’s these days are promoted from other positions within the company, or externally recruited based on experience, just like any other job.  As a PM, just use white font to write PMP at the bottom of your resume, for the bots, and you can skip certification.
  • At a time when a full MIT CS education is basically free, PMI classes start at $199.
  • The knowledge base being maintained and tested is = common sense + math + arcane definitions.  Example:sample qeustionThese definitions can be learned as needed.  Hey Siri.
  • “Networking” is no longer a valid benefit of any organization other than LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.

So PMI is out for certification, but their 1 week in-person seminars might still be ok.  Personally, if I wanted to brush up on my skills, I’d find the best local university with a similar offering, and know that the curriculum would be less restricted.  And I’d do it for a 1 week paid vacation/change of scenery more than with expectations to learn something remarkable.

FAQ

Q: What is the biggest challenge faced by you, Project Manager ?

A: (I asked this question to a room of 50 and will repeat the most common answer:)   The biggest challenge I face is coordinating work across multiple sites and/or divisions in multiple countries.  The difficulty is not only the time zones/ language differences, but also differing priorities (aka my project is not getting attention it needs at other sites).

Q:  As a Startup Style PM, I also do engineering, recruiting, sales, etc.  How do I know how much time to use for Project Management vs. others stuff?

A:proect plannin

(Also, in the plan you’re maintaining, make sure no high risk task is unspecified, no supplier is missing, milestones are all included, and you can provide a clear answer to what any given employee is doing right now.)

Q:  Should a MS Project Plan required for all projects?

A: No, see above.

Q:  What should I watch out for when estimating?

A:  Experts tend to be aggressive because they imagine themselves doing the work.  Estimating databases tend to be conservative.  Relying on past data can create paradigms and ignore new technology or other changes. Humans are optimistic creatures; it’s a prerequisite for our survival.  There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.  In other words, it’s all BS, and the nice thing is that everyone knows it.

DAY TO DAY WORK

 

In order for a PM to be successful, he/she needs to encourage adoption of his/her project and keep team members engaged.  Important skills to these ends include organization, communication (acting as a filter up to executives and down to team members), trust, experience, persistence, multitasking, global perspective, sense of humor/charisma, and speaking multiple languages.

Speaking of speaking, a PM should (for historical reasons) be aware that arbitrary, questionable, impossible to verify studies once showed that communication was broken down as follows:

communiations.PNG

But, Millenials are changing this.  In the future, short typed messages will dominate the communication market and there will be no need for 100+ versions of this pie chart in Google Images.  That or something with virtual reality, outside our scope.  For now, ignore the advice.  I have had plenty of successful supplier and contractor relations with people I’ve never seen, sometimes even with people I’ve only communicated with through .PDF documents.

PM’s are risk managers.  The important thing to know about risk is that while society generally sees risk seekers as successful (Donald Trump), studies show that the risk averse have better results (Bill Gates).  No source for this one, but I have a vague memory of researchers who were able to make a computer act very human by programming just one principle- that the robot should minimize future risk.  It’s an interesting idea when you think about Evolution.

A Project Manager earns not a salary but an ’em’salary .  It’s ok.  It’s in line with what the average engineer makes, with the same 7 ish years of experience.  From Salary.com:

pm3

And the most common career paths (Indeed.com analysis of resumes) has not been glorious:

pm flowcharet

But all is not lost

unite.PNG

 

If Project Management was a stock, I’d buy and hold, and here’s why.

We live in a time when there are ~14,000 people on earth with an IQ above 160, and the vast majority of them are not working in your group, your company, your county.  This genius help, as we figure out how to find, educate, and manage it, is ridiculously cost effective (reasons why to be discussed in future article).  In other words, outsourcing, bla bla bla, freelancing, bla bla bla, open source movement, bla bla bla, etc.

What are today’s challenges associated with these trends?

  • Loss of control
  • Increase risk
  • Loss of transparency
  • Communication disconnect
  • More time required on detailed documentation
  • More need to train
  • IP or trade secret exposure
  • Quality control
  • Legal related
  • Cultural differences

Of every job title I can think of, Project Managers have the best background to meet all these challenges (at least, for the money), and they are increasingly figuring out how to do so.  Their “consolidation and communication” function becomes increasingly important as the world becomes flatter and information becomes more and more available.

 

health app data, Employed vs. Unemployed

*I’m using a 4 year old Iphone 5, purchased in 2012.  It’s the best phone I’ve ever used, and the only to last more than 1 year. While there isn’t a clear line dividing “Steve Jobs worked on” from “phone was after he died”, the 5 is the pinnacle of Apple design in my head.  The following ones were plastic, then stupidly sized, battery killing, expensive, and thanks to Apple’s software updates, there are still minimal advantages to buying something newer.  This phone has aged beautifully and (insert pic later) The only features I regret are the full “Steps” implementation in the Health App (to be discussed later), and Apple Pay.  I haven’t researched alternatives to Apple Pay, but recent surveys say only about 1 in 5 people with the technology have tried it, and a lot of cashiers don’t know how it works.  However, with the stupid Chip credit cards, this might become a feature I want someday.

On to the Health App.  I love it and can see future versions with cheap lab grade bluetooth sensors, better interfaces, connectivity to global databases, servers monitoring our every breath, etc.  The Health App will unquestionably revolutionize healthcare (and other industries), put most doctors out of business, and increase life expectancy.  But right now it sucks, I can’t even export data vs. time into an excel file.  So as usual, I transcribed this data manually with the goal of showing what happens to health when transitioning from a high-stress management job at a failing startup company to 100% stress free unemployment.  The nice thing about moving data manually is that you get a chance to look at it, which is too rarely done these days.

Background info:  I have weighted 200 pounds +/- 1% for the last 8 years, since I graduated college.  My exercise habits have varied, generally with 30-40 mins of intense cardio done a couple times a week, with an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.  About 6 months ago I started lifting weights (recreationally), and reduced the amount of sugar and processed anything that I eat.  Those changes produced minimal variations in weight or feeling of well being.

bweight

So, despite normally gaining 5 pounds during the holidays (my memory of previous years), this year, when I quit working, I immediately lost about 8 pounds, without losing any lifting strength.  I did start running 3X a week instead of 1x, but I stopped my usual 2×40 minute high intensity bike rides (daily work commute).  I conclude that running is much better than biking for maintaining a lower body weight, and the removal of job stress likely has an impact, unfortunately can’t be separated.  Food didn’t change.  Sleep increased, I started waking up at noon instead of 8:30 AM, but also stayed up later and had a less consistent schedule.  My mother told me my face looks thinner.

Blood pressure- this is a known issue in my family.  I’ve never had a doctor measure it, but I bought a Walgreens home kit that seems as accurate as what the average nurse uses, possibly better by avoiding white coat syndrome.  Blood pressure measurements are notoriously unrepeatable, as shown by 3 back to back readings I took yesterday.  I always see the same downward trend.

bp repeats

This study and others (of mine) show at least a +/- 10 point change in the upper number depending on…. I have no idea what.  The problem with all my data is, sometimes I took and recorded multiple measurements, sometimes I took a few and averaged them, sometimes I chose just one, etc.  The upper (peak) BP number (the one reportedly more correlated to cardiovascular diseases in people over 50) is almost unusably inconsistent, but here is all the data, edited as best I can to present averages.

bp dataall.PNG

As much as I’d like to hypothesize about why the data is the way it is, it would just be stupid.  We need a better sensor which averages a repeatable daily activity and accounts for whatever confounding variables.  Or maybe I just need to sit at the table longer before I start measuring.  I’ll try.

Lastly for now, on the topic of the Health App, here are some interesting screenshots from someone’s sleep app, which are based on watch data (microphone, accelerometer, heart rate?).  Like the blood pressure, there is a question about the utility of the data.

Coming soon, a direct comparison of these cheapo sleep Apps to a medical grade sleep analysis.  If reddit finds one.

IMG_73931IMG_73941

 

 

Future Blog Topics

The concept of Open Innovation

what is this whole transsexual thing.  Racism vs. freedom of speech.

The romantic joys of spotty Wifi

Future Improvements to Yelp- filter reviews, use paid pro’s (celebrities) David Foster Wallace style

online learing, especially tech subjects, staying motivated

Bluetooth dating

Reddit to decide court cases

A problem of the future- how to motivate talented people to actually do work instead of just living off of what we have achieved already.  Parallels to drug addicts

Why is stuff cheaper in China

The patent system, the future patent battles between Google, Amazon, Apple.  The future of government as controlled by tech companies, and why we can’t all just get along? Making Business as War a thing of the past.  Too big to fail, laws required for Capitalism to ensure that monsters are not created.  Tech companies have the nuclear weapons.  Who wins WW3, google or the USA.

Smartphones allowing more efficient markets

  • cars don’t sit still
  • homes don’t sit empty
  • clothes don’t sit in drawers
  • dynamic content on clothes, cars, anywhere else
  • less risk, less up front investment for individuals, lower insurance, pay as you go
  • fewer cars needed and more sharing = nicer cars
  • but privacy is still a premium- owning a private jet is better than renting.  Owning a porsche and knowing the seats are full of your DNA vs. someone else’s
  • but commune living in NYC, commune working at shared offices, already popular.
  • Preference for personalized service vs. robots vs. humans we don’t know when being served coffee or lunch
  • How to assign “value” to experiences, grocery store examples, yelp metrics

 

spending breakdown, credit cards , rent, etc

stereotypes and engineering culture differences, working with Japan, China, Russia, India

psychology of Travel

psychology of 1st message to 1st date online dating

psychology of 1st date to 3rd date

Johnny Manzeil  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogergroves/2016/04/21/what-an-agent-worth-his-salt-can-do-for-johnny-manziel/#7029628617a1   http://www.forbes.com/sites/russprince/2012/12/04/how-life-coaches-become-very-wealthy-part-2-building-a-high-end-clientele/#67ca8bf34f6f

enlightenment/love

STD’s

Germany, Japan, England, Trinidad

Machine Shops

Resumes Interviews Job Application Process

my diet

three principles and religion

The authors I like and why, John Updike, DFW, Chekhov, HST, FDostoyevsky

 

Personal Finances to date and early retirement study

My Age Now 30
My Age when money would force me to get a job 61
In Checking Account, 4/20/2016 $ 71,104
In Stock Market, 4/20/2016 $ 118,539
Loaned to Whiskey Business $ 10,000
Car/Other Possessions, Fair Market Value $ 10,000
Total Net Worth, 4/20/2016 $ 209,643
Cost of Food per week, based on 3 month study $ 130
Cost of Food per year $ 6,216
Cost of Food per Meal $ 5
Insurance per year $ 0*
Clothing per year $ 500**
Rent per year $ 0***

*Insurance is free because I ride a bicycle and/or drive with an uninsured, unregistered vehicle.  Maine declined to cover me under ObamaCare, so I have a special waver # to put on my tax return and will avoid the fine for not having health insurance.

**Estimated, to look reasonable in public

***I live with my dad and trade occasional labor for rent.  This is possible for anyone with house-sitting arrangements

Side note- There is no reason to pay for Microsoft Office.  I have been using an expired version of Office for months now, with no loss of functionality.

My career path from graduating school in Spring 2008 to Christmas 2015 was Engineer-> Sr. Engineer-> Director of Engineering.  I started at a large company and ended at a startup.  Through some luck and some not having an outside life, I averaged a 10% raise each year.

salary.PNG

If I really were to do nothing for the next 31 years, a big regret would be that I could not continue the below graph, which is one of my long term goals.  Sometimes it’s the most significant one.

cd

Here are some cumulative numbers over an 8 year career, and they reference total earned, not total “after tax”

Total Cumulative Income since I graduated $ 693,489
% Given to States via Tax % 6.04
% Given to Federal via Tax % 15.45
% Given to Charity % 8.74
% Saved available in Checking % 10.25
% Invested in Stock Market, available % 17.09
% Invested in Whiskey business % 1.44
% Spent on living % 59.02

One more graph, adding taxes to the last one:

tabale

I love reddit and hate facebook?

I love reddit and hate facebook?

In this blog are a couple links that 20something women on okcupid thought were worth sharing with virtual suitors.  I came across them manually, but in the future I’d automate the process and publish statistics like those people who mapped the blogsphere in 2007 (see default image).


1)

~”The evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility suggests sexism is a kind of Neanderthal defense mechanism for low-status, non-dominant men trying to maintain a shaky grip on their particular cave’s supply of women.” here

The article suggests the use of gaming to study social behavior.  There will be many developments of this in the virtual reality future, many business opportunities. Since dating is such a frustration for so many people, we should all be investing in IAC.

gender raatio

A case of cause or effect? I love reddit and hate facebook.

I also like some things about LinkedIn, but they need to find an unintrusive way to branch out beyond professional networking.  Take advantage of the balanced ratio of (presumably successful) men and women.  People on there are going to be more accountable for what they say, so why not open it up for dating, or blogging on a bigger variety of topics?


2. Next up: cringe  I was hoping to have some interesting commentary but every article on this site is the same.  “How to be a better Oral recipient” for women pretty much sums it up.

Dogs, pets are for coping

Dogs, pets are for coping

In Dating

  • 66 percent of men and women would not date someone who didn’t like pets.
  • 70 percent of singles think their dates’ reaction to their pet is important.
  • 35 percent of single women have been more attracted to someone because of their pet.
  • 72 percent of single women say that a dog is the “hottest pet a guy could own.”
  • (I think data is from match.com)

On Earth

  • There are ~one billion dogs on earth.  Only a quarter of them are pets, the rest are strays.
  • Dog breeds are mostly a result of human work done during the 1800s, but some are at least 3-4K years old.
  • Anthropologists believe that early dogs and early humans were symbiotic, helping each other with food, protection, warmth.

In America

  • 40% of households own at least one dog.
  • There are more cats than dogs.
  • Pets outnumber children 4 to 1.
  • 3-4 million cats and dogs are put to sleep each year, about 50% of the ones that end up in shelters.
  • In the 1950’s, many dogs were kept outside, for protection/walking companions.  In the 80’s, humans began to rely more emotionally on dogs.
  • Cats and dogs cost about $10K over a lifetime

“The most common reasons for not owning a pet are lack of time, lack of suitable housing, and lack of ability to care for the pet when traveling.[22][23]

My reasons are different.  They are both practical and intellectual.

Practical- The natural behavior of dogs includes barking, digging, rolling in and eating feces, fighting, urine marking.  They slobber everywhere, smell bad, shed hair, stain carpets, damage furniture and shoes.  Since my ideal living space is quiet, clean, and designed for minimal maintenance, a dog (or any pet) would be an inconvenience.

Intellectual objections are many.  To go along with the “In Dating” section, a couple more quotes:

“a study of conversations in dog–human families showed how family members use the dog as a resource, talking to the dog, or talking through the dog, to mediate their interactions with each other.”

Dogs “offer physical contact with another living creature, something that is often missing in an elder’s life”

 

This is all discomforting.  The evidence suggests

  • We gravitate towards pets because they are guaranteed to feed our egos.  The buying of a pet is highly similar to prostitution, buying of a friend, or even a slave.  Human friendship is also something I have intellectual issues with, but at least human-human dynamics are more obscured by complexity.  I rarely think about them.
  • A dog is a woman’s best friend too, because through contrast to a dog, a woman feels more prim, beautiful, clean, refined.  This is why women want to date dog owners (if he loves his dog, he can love me), and why women pay attention to how a dog reacts to a man.  But it’s illogical, people of different races smell different, some dogs just hate bicycles, etc.  They’re not smart enough to judge “character” in a way that a human should find meaningful.
  •  If we can assume that many women are driven by evolution to desire children, then a pet is possibly the best substitute.
  • Dogs are stupid, so they make us feel smart.  A dog is loyal.  A dog is safe because it has no choice, it depends on us even more-so than a child.
  • There are men (and women too?) who buy dogs primarily for social purposes, a way to meet people in the park, or a way to take better okcupid or instagram pictures.  Pets are similar to travel (the subject of a future blog) in this way.
  • Couples use pets as a way to have something in common, and to facilitate conversations when they can’t otherwise confront their emotions directly.
  • There are many objections to breeding humans, mentioned in yesterday’s blog, but purpose breeding dogs is ok?  For me it’s the opposite.  If anything I’m less hesitant about messing with my own kind than with other species.  For the same reasons as I have more sympathy for women than for men, and for children > adults.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of NEEDING anything, including “physical contact with other living creatures” or “to reproduce” or “to love”.  Subjects for the future.

What’s logically next in this sequence- rights for minorities, rights for women, rights for the handicapped, rights for homosexuals—- is— rights for pets.  I would not be opposed to outlawing “ownership” all-together.  It might lead to less cruelty and suffering, but that’s not the main goal- the main goal is to motivate productive behavior as opposed to coping mechanisms.

 

 

 

The Ocean is waving at me

The Ocean is waving at me

This link describes the differences between children with an IQ of 150 vs. 200. http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10152.aspx

Some highlights:

“Louis (1993, p. 8) described Ryan, age 27 months, who at his first view of the ocean made a pun: “The ocean is waving at me.””

“Lydia, at age 11, described herself being an “optimistic pessimist.””

“Feldman (1986) described a child, who from age 2 to 4, learned 11 different languages to find out whether there had been a parent language.”

“Silverman (1993a) described a 4-year-old boy who never hit or hurt anyone but was extremely loving in his relationships, even purposely helping peers to make the best moves in games and losing at times while telling them how good they were. Such empathy is rare even among the exceptionally gifted.”

These are the top 0.1% of people, of whom there are ~14,000 alive today.IQw

Where are they?

The MacArthur Foundation gives out 20-25 “genius grants” of $625,000 (over five year periods) to individuals in support of “a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.”  The recipients are free to do whatever they want with the money.

Future topics of research- what professions are rewarded?  What kind of pressures do the recipients face?  Has the program been successful?  Is it morally different than this ?

Opinions:

  1. Newton’s famous reference to standing on the shoulders of giants is an axiom at this point.  Humanity progresses at a faster rate when we can condense knowledge for future generations.  From an engineering point of view, reading a report is faster than doing an experiment.  Computer scientists mostly prefer to program in higher level languages.
  2. During WW2, a higher than usual percentage of our country’s best minds focused on building better internal combustion engines, and there was a noticeable bump in productivity.  This shows that focusing a group of smart people on one problem will lead to a faster solution (in opposition to the idea of “genius needs to be free”).
  3. Human learning seems limited by intelligence, age, and time.  It’s possible that we eventually reach the point where our reservoir of prior knowledge is so large that most human beings can’t reach the point of adding anything new before they die.  This will limit progress and morale will suffer.  At least mine would.
  4. To get ahead of this problem (or less controversially, just in the name of experimentation), we should focus on developing methods of learning faster, remembering more, living longer, etc.  Reverse engineering the human brain seems like the right thing to do if the goal is maximum “progress”.  Subjects of study should be prioritized based on some TBD principle- for example, computer science, chemistry, philosophy are useful, marketing is not useful, art is not useful.  Or maybe it is, if it helps the geniuses.
  5. Humans have a natural inclination to explore, push boundaries, etc.
  6. The internet should make it easier to gather the right people together, or just everyone, to start a project on the scale of all of humanity.  Universities, reddit, the United Nations, Bilderberg Group etc are good starting points.  There is a huge business opportunity if someone figures out the logistics.
  7. We should gather the geniuses together, and encourage them to identify and solve the most exploratory problems, the things that can move us forward intellectually.
  8. An organization (and marketing) is needed to begin such a movement.