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Pluralsight for Project Managers and Business Analysts (Interview with Casey Ayers)

September 13th, 2019

I met Casey Ayers years ago at a Pluralsight conference. He is super smart. He also has just finished his 48th(!!!) course on Pluralsight. You can see his course list here.

Once upon a time I wanted to be a project manager. I also applied for business analyst jobs. And so I thought it would be fun to hear from the expert on both career paths… I asked Casey some questions and he graciously shared his expertise. I hope this inspires you. Please share this with others who are interested in project management or business analysis, which are great fields for people who want to be in tech but don’t want to be developers.

Down below Casey talks about his PMP exam prep courses. This is a full suite of courses to prepare you to pass the PMP exam… I did a quick search online and found that you can get in-person classroom training to pass the exam for around $2,000 to $3,000. I found other classes for $1,000 and on-demand course for $348… the prices are all over the place. Let me know that you get all of Casey’s courses, including the PMP exam prep courses, with your Pluralsight subscription. Full retail price is $299. That is a super deal if all you want is PMP exam test prep…. and you get a whole year to do it at your own pace. The bonus is you get the other 6,500ish (give or take a few hundred) courses for that price.

But wait, it gets better! Click the pink image on the right and you can get all of that, including Casey’s PMP exam prep courses, for only $199. Seriously, why isn’t every future PMP doing this killer deal? It’s like buy one exam prep series and get a year of access to the thousands and thousands of other courses. This deal ends next Friday.

Tell us a little about your career… why are you the authority on project management and business analysis (which are two different career paths)?

In a variety of roles, including Development Director for a mobile app studio and Chief Operating Officer for a startup healthcare company, I’ve had to define missions and lead teams to accomplish objectives successfully. I find the intersection between business analysis and project management to be fascinating, where designing the solutions to challenges shifts to making those plans a reality. The relationship between these two professions is as unique as the roles analysts and project managers play in their organizations: serving as arbiters of change and creation in environments often more focused on simply maintaining or expanding on what exists today.

I’ve learned enough to know that no analyst or project manager is so complete in their individual knowledge and experience as to be unable to benefit from standards and practices developed from the collective knowledge of a global array of experts in these fields. That’s why my courses tend to focus on industry-recognized certifications and frameworks. Knowing how much the experience of each viewer may vary from others, and certainly from my own, this focus on making best practices as accessible and applicable as possible helps me to connect and offer value to PMs and analysts from a variety of industries and different backgrounds.

Casey Ayers Pluralsight AuthorWhat are things that project managers do? What might a typical day (or month) look like?

The specific tasks project managers (PMs) might be faced with on a daily basis will vary drastically based on an organization’s structure and norms, the scope of the project in question, whether a more agile or prescriptive methodology to accomplishing project objectives is being followed, the size of the team, and a limitless array of other factors. PMs working on a standardized sprint basis to deliver incremental value to stakeholders follow a different rhythm from PMs working toward milestones or phases in long-term projects, where most value is delivered at one or a few points in time.

What doesn’t change is this: the need to balance limited resources, ensure a clear and continuous connection between work in process and underlying objectives, and a mandate to work with a wide array of stakeholders who may bring conflicting viewpoints and priorities to the project.

If I want to go into software project management, what are some recommendations you’d give me?

Working as a member of a project team can provide valuable insight into how the work of the project is accomplished and help in better assessing the complexity and worth of potential initiatives. However, the actual work of coordinating resources and managing the project can often seem subtle to even members of the project team when it is done effectively.

Taking on increasing responsibilities for administration and coordination within project teams can assist in making the transition into project management, as can studying the frameworks, methodologies, and best practices that effective project managers rely on to ensure they’re providing adequate attention to each dimension of project work.

What are some key characteristics or attributes successful project managers have?

Project managers must be effective communicators, first and most critically. Without expressing objectives and priorities clearly to others, without receiving and leveraging information from others, and without fostering support and a shared vision between stakeholders, the project will inevitably run into challenges or failure.

Secondarily, effective project managers must develop the ability to balance limited resources while best serving their organizations’ needs. Changes to either project scope, schedule, cost, quality, or resources will always impact all other factors in a variety of expected and unexpected ways. Determining what mix of these priorities best serves the organization’s underlying goals empowers effective PMs to deliver solutions.

If I want to become a business analyst, what are some recommendations you’d give me?

Successful business analysts come from a variety of backgrounds. Some may initially serve as financial or quality control analysts, while others may come from a sales background or have spent time delivering solutions as a member of a project team.

New business analysts are typically well-served by selecting positions that place a particular emphasis on their previous background. For organizations where ensuring solutions can be delivered on time is a top priority, prior experience in project environments can prove helpful. For those where defining underlying needs and objectives are most critical, communication skills and a sales background can help the analyst to gain insight from stakeholders.

Begin by building on what you know best, and never hesitate to clarify information with subject matter experts or conduct additional research if you’re not certain where the organization stands today, or what direction it should take tomorrow.

What are some key characteristics or attributes successful business analysts have?

A sense of curiosity can serve business analysts well, coaxing them to chase down leads, clarify information, and allow conversations to yield unexpected revelations. The ability to communicate with others effectively is perhaps even more critical than in project management, if that’s possible.

Maintaining a willingness to question assumptions and biases – especially those the analyst themselves brings to the table – and vigilantly ensuring that recommended actions remain aligned with underlying needs, especially when scope creep or environmental changes might lead the analyst astray, can help to ensure successful outcomes.

If I wanted to become a project manager, which of your courses should I take, and in what order, and why?

Those without much prior experience managing projects or even working with project teams would be well-served by my CompTIA Project+ (PK0-004) learning path, which starts with Beginner’s Guide to Project Management – this is a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of project management and to earn a well-respected certification not requiring formal experience or training.

If you’ve been leading project teams or been managing components of projects for some time now, the PMP® learning path  beginning with “Introduction to Project Management & the PMP Exam” will help you learn and apply time-tested frameworks to your project-based work. This series will prepare you to earn the gold standard in project management, the PMP® certification, and equip you with formal tools and methods that will greatly enhance your work as a project manager.

If I wanted to become a business analyst, which of your courses should I take, and in what order, and why?

The PMI-PBA learning path culminates in a certification that is particularly valuable to business analysts working in project environments, but can be useful for business analysts serving in any capacity. Introduction to Business Analysis & Needs Assessment  is my most popular Pluralsight course, and provides a great overview of the value business analysts offer organizations on a day to day basis.

I’m presently creating courses for Pluralsight’s ECBA, CCBA, and CBAP certification series, each of which will prepare viewers to earn industry-leading business analysis certifications offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis. Some of these courses are available now, with more on the horizon. Stay tuned for the official learning paths to be launched later this year.

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Pluralsight for Job Seekers? #Yep

September 12th, 2019

This post is part of a series of posts through next Friday, to promote (push!) the $100 off at Pluralsight. Instead of paying $299/year you can pay $199 a year and have access to their rich library of over 6,000 courses. Most of them are technical, and most of them are for technologists. But back in 2012, when they invited me to do my first course, they showed that they value soft skills and professional development. There are now around 200 soft skills or professional development courses in the library, and more on their way. Here’s a list of six of my courses I suggest for people in a job search:

Developing a Killer Personal Brand

No matter what you think about personal branding, it’s important. Neglect your brand if you want, but you’ll still have one. I say: you be the author of what your brand is, and create the narrative the way you want it to be. Otherwise, others will create it for you, and you might not like that.

Informational Interviews

I believe there are no silver bullets in the job search. But I have said, across the country, that if I were in a job search I would spend about 95% of my time on informational interviews. Seriously, 95%. Haven’t heard of them? Or, they aren’t working for you? Watch this course and learn how to do them well, and get your job search MOVING! Speaking of 95%… my new Job Search Program holds your hand as you put this into practice.

Working and Communicating with Different Personalities

In your job search you need to understand how to influence others, and why others act and speak the way they do. Working with others can be baffling… but the more you understand human nature, personalities, and why people are the way they are, the better you can work with, communicate, and persuade others. You might even learn something about yourself!

Becoming a Better Listener

Listening is about the most important aspect of communication… and I think we all have some room for improvement. Listening better will help you in your networking, your interviewing… in every aspect of your job search! This course has the most ratings and comments of any of my courses. Come on over and listen!

LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile

This is where most people (should) spend their time… making their LinkedIn profile better. This course is a how-to on every bit of your profile.

LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies

And then, this is Part II for your LinkedIn strategy. “LinkedIn doesn’t work for me!” Neither does that hammer behind your workbench. The tool works when you use it! In this course I teach you how to network on LinkedIn instead of assuming having an okay profile will get you your next job.

There are more courses that are appropriate for job seekers. But let’s do the math… if you only watch those 6, and pay the $199 for the year, you are paying about $33/course. But, for the $199 you get 12 months of unlimited access (think Netflix) to the entire library! That includes the full PMP certification courses… you could pay thousands for that elsewhere. Not to mention all of the other stuff you could get… even the introduction to programming, design, databases, etc. courses. More on that over the next few days!  Click the banner above to get your one year pass for $100 off… it’s only $199 for the next few days!

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Pluralsight: Building and Managing Your Career Plan Testimonial

September 11th, 2019

Over the weekend I got a really cool testimonial on one of my 31 live Pluralsight courses. First I’ll share the testimonial, and then I’ll comment on why this was special. Maurie wrote:

“I just completed Jason Alba’s course “Building and Managing Your Career Plan“. It is excellent. The content is EXACTLY on point. The presentation is very professional–no endless stream of bullet points that Jason just reads, Relevant icons that reinforce the message. Sparkling examples delivered as a multitude of very short real-life situations, and a call to action for each module. I am an instructional designer by profession, Jason has hit the target dead center in all the things that make this kind of presentation useful, memorable, informative and fun from the perspective of effective and efficient instructional design. This course is at least 7 or 8 stars in the five-point scale.”

Wow, that was cool! Thank you Maurie, for a well-written testimonial! Here’s what I love:

“I am an instructional designer by profession,” says Maurie. Well, I am not. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I spent significant time with a professional designer. But for a professional instructional designer to give that compliment to anyone is really cool.

When I create my courses, I feel like my job is to not think about any future courses, but to do the very best I can on each course. Leave it all on the field, as they say. I give everything I have to the current course, with design, language, etc. Thank you, Maurie, for recognizing that.

Maurie Coleman (Illinois)“The content is EXACTLY on point.” Thank you, again. This course is based on principles of career management. The first module is about defining and visualizing where you want to be (what’s your ideal title/role?). The second module is a methodological approach to working yourself towards that title/role. The third module talks about career satisfaction. This course is foundational to career management and enjoying the journey you are on. I was super excited to create this course because I’ve learned that YOU need to manage your career, and this is a course to get you focusing on bettering your career.

“This course is at least 7 or 8 stars in the five-point scale.”  Flattering. The current course rating is somewhere around 4.5 (I don’t know if that is rounded up or down), but thank you, Maurie. I’ll take a 7 or 8 :)

Want access to this, my other 30 courses, and the other 6,500 (give or take a few hundred) courses for only $299? You are in luck… the sale is on through next Friday. But don’t wait, click the banner above and buy your one year pass for $100 off!

 

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 7: Project Update) #favoriteFriday

September 6th, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayIn this favoriteFriday post I say “The results of this step is, really, career management.” And you know how much I love career management! This is the last of this series of favoriteFriday posts where I talk about Hannah Morgan’s 6 Steps to Job Search Success. This is a critical step… the first step we did an assessment, this is like a debrief, and a post assessment. Don’t skip this step!

Check out my post about it here: Job Search Strategy: Project Update (6)

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 6: Interview Strategies) #favoriteFriday

August 30th, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayIn this fifth part of Hannah Morgan’s 6 Steps to Job Search Success system, we talk about interview strategies. You can’t excel at job search tactics and then bomb every interview you walk into. Be purposeful and serious about winning interviews so you can get offers.

Read the post here: Job Search Strategy: Interview Strategies (5)

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 5: Project Management) #favoriteFriday

August 23rd, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayOf course I love the fourth point in Hannah Morgan’s job search success program because it has a lot to do with JibberJobber! How else are you going to manage this massive project called the job search? Please don’t tell me you’ll do it with Excel and a spiral notebook!

Check out the project management part of Hannah’s program here: Job Search Strategy: Project Management (4)

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 4: Presenting Yourself) #favoriteFriday

August 16th, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayThe next in Hannah Morgan’s Job Search Success program is on presenting yourself. This is such a critical part of your job search and career management, and I don’t want you to mess it up!

I talk about presenting yourself in written and verbal forms, and having a marketing plan.

Read the post here: Job Search Strategy: Presenting Yourself (3)

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 2: Assessment) #favoriteFriday

August 2nd, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayThis is the second favoriteFriday on Hannah Morgan’s awesome job search strategy system. This one focuses on Assessment, which is the first step where you kind of pause from sending out resumes and really think about you, and what you are after, and a few other things.

Check out the post here: Job Search Strategy: Assessment (1) 

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How To Get JibberJobber Premium For Free

July 31st, 2019

jibberjobber-logoWhen you first sign in to JibberJobber you get a full seven day trial. The number 1 thing to do is to set up and play with Email2Log. It is the BEST JibberJobber feature because it allows you to populate your CRM tracking tool simply by sending emails.

After the seven day trial, you should want to continue using the premium features, as well as have more than 25 Contacts and 25 Companies. The easiest way to get free upgrades is by watching any Jason Alba course on Pluralsight. If you don’t have a Pluralsight subscription, get a 30 day pass (in JibberJobber mouse over Videos, click Pluralsight Videos, and get your 30 day code).

Watch any Jason Alba course and then go back to that Pluralsight Videos page in JibberJobber to get to the Tracker where you can self-report and earn additional JibberJobber premium days. Even if you watch the same course multiple times, report back and add more JibberJobber days. Here are six of my Pluralsight courses I recommend for job seekers. Note that you have access to all of Pluralsight during that 30 day period and there are excellent courses on almost everything related to a technical career, including project management, business analysis, and plenty of coding, design, and database courses.

As an example, let’s say you watch one of those courses every day for six days. You would go into the Tracker in JibberJobber and self-report… you’d earn 3 days * 6 courses = 18 free days of JibberJobber premium. Just for learning. Sounds good, right? If you wanted to watch each of them again, you could earn another 18 days. I currently have 32 courses in Pluralsight, so there’s plenty to watch in your 30 day trial.

If you run out, you can easily upgrade for $60 for the year.

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Job Search Program: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like (Part 1) #favoriteFriday

July 26th, 2019

jibberjobber-favorite-fridayOver the years I’ve had the opportunity to learn from people who are as passionate about I am about the job search, and helping people. Hannah Morgan is one of those people. Hannah hails from the beautiful city of Rochester, NY, and let me share her 6 steps to Job Search success.

In this favoriteFriday post, I introduce her job search program, and what a job search strategy looks like. This has definitely helped me conceptualize what job seekers should do, systematically, in their job search.

Check out today’s favoriteFriday here: What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like

You can also see links to the other 6 posts, which I’ll share over the next six Fridays.

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