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Slow is Fast, Even in the Job Search #ScaryConcept

October 31st, 2019

By the time I went to Bamboo last February (almost two years ago!) I had spent the last 12 years as an entrepreneur. Two ways I describe being an entrepreneur:

You eat what you kill.

This means that if you don’t make a sale, you don’t eat. Very, very different than drawing a paycheck. The “eat what you kill” mentally creates a sense of urgency that you don’t usually see walking down corporate hallways where people have salaries, insurance, benefits, and some semblance of security.

JibberJobber Eat What You Kill

Unemployed.

My friend Marc says that every day he wakes up unemployed, and has to go find work. He’s been an entrepreneur forever. I think this is a really healthy way of looking at it (he’s in the services business). Again, sense of urgency mindset.

JibberJobber Sense of Urgency

I then went into a bureaucratic organization. Not to bash on Bamboo… every organization has bureaucracy. But I went from hurry hurry hurry to slow down, slow down, it will be okay.

I remember watching the sales floor HUSTLE, always busy, and see their stats posted (and rising) on monitors throughout the day. I could just sit there and watch for hours (although I never did). I thought that a lot of the “slow down” mentality was funded by those hustlers on the floor. And in the ecosystem of a healthy company, that makes a lot of sense. Have people who are bringing in new business while you have strategists steering the ship and people carrying out plans in the background. Two seemingly disjointed operations happening at the same time, both of which have a profound impact on the other.

It was beautiful, really.

But to the point of this post. I went from entrepreneur mindset to hearing almost daily “slow is fast, fast is slow.” This, they said, came from Special Forces, and it meant to slow down, do things right, and you wouldn’t have to spend time cleaning up messes later. You could make better progress over time by going slow and purposeful than if you just throw a bunch of spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.

But from my previous 12 years it was really frustrating to “go slow.”

When I created the Job Search Program I chose six weeks as the length of the self-guided coaching “course.” I’m still not sure what to call it (maybe that’s why I said “program”)… but six weeks feels awful slow to me (as a job seeker). Who wants to sit around for six weeks until stuff happens?

Granted, if you are doing the program you should start to see results in week one or two. Traction, conversations, introductions, referrals, etc. You are likely not going to notice that YOU are getting BETTER at these conversations… but that will happen, too.

Slowly.

I would argue that spending time doing your job search strategically, and doing the right things at the right times, is better than spending two to ten hours on job boards frantically applying for whatever you think might work for you.

Here’s the message I want you to walk away with: the results you might see (or not see) probably feel excruciatingly painful. Too slow. But trust the process, trust the system (as long as they are principled) and work the system. Results should come.

My job search was slow but my system was completely flawed. Get the right system, work it, and you should see results.

Need a system? Check out the Job Search Program. It uses informational interviews + accountability + follow-up to help you have the right conversations with the right people.

Job Search Program Effective Job Search

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STOP Handing Out Resumes In Informational Interviews

October 30th, 2019

JibberJobber Informational Interview Nervous

As part of the Job Search Program I talk a lot about the rights and wrongs of informational interviews. A major mistake people make is giving out a resume at the end (or at any time) of an informational interview.

Why is this a mistake? Aren’t you open to getting hired?

Yes, of course! But in my version of an informational interview you are having a peer-to-peer, colleague-to-colleague conversation with the other person. The minute you become a job seeker you change the dynamics of the relationship. They are in a position to help, you are in a position of hurt.

I’m not saying it’s bad or shameful to be a job seeker. Nor am I saying you need to hide it.

But for this 20 or 30 minutes I want you to remember who you are… a professional project manager, or analyst, or whatever you are. NOT just an unemployed person.

Even though you are not currently working you can still talk with expertise and authority about your field. You have expertise and experience and can have a great conversation. Don’t forget that.

Have a great conversation and then immediately hand them a resume and you go from expert and passionate to needy and desperate.

JibberJobber Informational Interview Resume

Maybe you are needy and desperate… but you don’t need to wear that on your sleeve.

So what do you do? Here’s how you have your cake and eat it too:

If they ask for your resume simply say “oh yeah, I’ll shoot that to you when I get back to my computer.”

This shows them that indeed you are there to have a really good conversation with them, not to use them and their position to try to get your resume in front of HR.

If they don’t ask for your resume, follow-up in an email about your meeting. I would NOT send a resume then… but continue the conversation, following-up on referrals, and maybe send a link to an article relevant to our conversation.

Can you talk about your job search? Sure. Can you ask about openings they know about? Sure. But don’t push a resume to them right away. There will be a perfect time for that, and it’s not at the very beginning of your conversation.

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Pluralsight Course #34: Understanding Your Audience

October 21st, 2019

My Pluralsight journey, which started in 2012, has been quite a ride. It’s been crazy. And it’s been awesome. I was recently talking to someone who said that with all of the work I’ve put into my courses I could have gotten a Ph.D.! I dont’ know about that… and no, you don’t need to call me Dr. Alba… but I have spent thousands of hours since 2012 thinking deeply, studying, researching, and then teaching soft skills and professional development topics.

Last week my 34th course was launched: Understanding Your Audience.

Pluralsight Understanding Your Audience Jason Alba

I was excited to work on this course because, as I told my contact at Pluralsight, everything I’ve done has centered around understanding my audience. I take you on a bit of a journey as I’ve had to understand my audiences for my books, for JibberJobber, for marketing partnerships… If you aren’t understanding your audience how are you creating any content? Are you creating content for you, or simply based on assumptions?

This course invites you to dig deeper… to try to understand who they are more than just demographic data. I want you to understand who they are, why they do things, the root of their thinking, and how you can best connect with your audience.

Whether your audience is on the other end of an email or phone call, in front of you while you present, or across the table from you in a one-on-one, you can understand your audience to a point where your communication becomes more effective.

If you love it, rate it. And leave a comment.

If you want a 30 day Pluralsight pass please reach out to me. I think I can find one or two laying around :p

And now, I begin scripting my 35th course! Wahoo!

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Career Change: From Cashier to Software Engineer #HomeDepot

October 18th, 2019

When I was at the Pluralsight Live conference in August they showed this video… it was so freaking inspiring! Take three minutes and watch this:

The “OrangeMethod,” Home Depot’s “in-house skill development program.” Wow.

I’ve heard that The Home Depot is a great place to have a career. This video showed the awesome story of Jennifer, who started out as a cashier, and had the opportunity to grow into a software engineer role.

Talk about a career change!

Many of the people I talk with through JibberJobber, The Job Search Program, and through my speaking opportunities are ready for a change. These changes can be big or small… but they are in a point in their life where they need to make decisions about their careers moving forward.

A question everyone should ask is “should I stay on this path I’ve been on? Why?”

You should also ask “What if…?”

What if you could learn to do something more rewarding?

What if you could make more of an impact in the world (even if you make less)?

What if you could, like Jennifer, make A LOT more money than what you have?

What if you could retool yourself, add new skills, and do something that only “smart” people could do?

What if, what if, what if…

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think that any of my courses were on Jennifer’s radar. My soft skills courses don’t teach you how to be a developer… but there are around 6,000 other courses in Pluralsight that do. And I’m proud to be associated with an organization that is passionate about helping others find and develop skills that can improve their lives as well as the lives of those around them.

I’m not saying you have to be a software developer. I am only asking, inviting, you to think about “what if?”

Why not me?

Why not now?

Career transition is a real thing, and maybe, just maybe it’s the right thing for you.

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The Job Search Program Focuses on Networking

October 16th, 2019

When I talk about the Job Search Program to career professionals (resume writers and career and job search coaches) I say that it is designed to help the job seeker have “the right conversations with the right people.”

Networking is a funny, misunderstood beast. The joke is that it is, for job seekers, a four-letter word. Not many people like to do it. It feels fake, and many people can’t wait to land a job so they don’t have to network anymore.

In my job search I remember finally dragging myself to network meetings and making up goals like “I will get 10 business cards today,” or something just as lame. I wasn’t focusing on having right conversations and didn’t even understand who the right people could be. I was just going for a number because, sometimes, the job search really is a numbers game. So I thought.

Job Search is Not a Numbers Game

Enter the Job Search Program. This is a six week self-guided kind of coaching program where every single day I give you three tasks to do. And then you work on them. They are not fake tasks… they are intentionally designed to get you closer to having the right conversation with the right person. Every day builds on previous days. You start out kind of slow, setting up a good foundation, and then as you learn and practice and gain confidence and practice more, you find yourself having conversations with people in your target industries, then target companies, then target departments within your target industries, and next thing you know you are talking to decision-makers about opportunities just for you.

This program is unlike anything I’ve seen. It might seem very simple but the premise is that you are doing the right things and getting real traction, instead of hoping that in the numbers game model you are getting closer to the right number. I played that game and it sucked.

Here’s part of an email I got from Noah, who is in week one:

I am really enjoying the process so far! The messaging and advice is very clear and the overarching theme of self-empowerment through provided prompts/benchmarks seems well crafted. I especially appreciate the built-in daily accountability, which is critical for anyone who is serious about putting in the effort to achieve the goal they want.

Ready to stop doing stuff that isn’t getting you anywhere? Check out the Job Search Program here. The normal price is $497 but right now we have an introductory price of $197.

JibberJobber Job Search Program

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The Difference Between Branded and Nobody #personalBranding

September 24th, 2019

Almost two years ago I hung my shingle out and looked for a full-time job. I had JibberJobber at a point where it didn’t need (or want) my full attention, Pluralsight wasn’t ready for anymore of my courses… and I had time. I also needed a change of scenery. And heck, if I had time, why not look for something where I could get paid, and create one more income stream?

So I did what I had been talking about others doing for years and I became a job seeker. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds, but it was definitely more fun than years early, in 2006, when I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Long story short, I got a job, and here’s how it started: I found a posting on LinkedIn that was just plain weird. It fit me perfectly and I couldn’t imagine it would fit anyone else. I applied, thinking it would go nowhere, but I got this reply from the hiring manager, a VP (I blurred out his name but then thought he wouldn’t really care :p):

Jason Alba Rusty Lindquist

Up to that point the only response I got to any applications was a canned automated email or crickets. And now I get this flattering response from the VP. When I told my wife about his response she thought for a minute and then said “he probably says that to everyone who has applied.” I was pretty stoked, but she brought me down to earth :p

Long story short, I got hired, months later Rusty left, and a few months later they pulled the plug on my whole program. So I got nine months in corporate, refreshed my ability to “politic,” and had a fun time working my tail off on something that was just destined to die (well, as long as Rusty was there it wasn’t. That’s another thread, though).

The point of this post is not about my last job, or its demise. It’s that I impressed the hiring manager enough that he would respond to me in such a way as he did. Yesterday I was thinking about this and realized that it wasn’t necessarily my background… sure, I’ve done some really cool things, and everything I have done was perfect for this role… but I know tons of people who have done amazingly cool things. Would Rusty have given them the same kind of response?

I’ve heard sayings like “if you aren’t on LinkedIn you don’t exist” and “if I can’t find you on Google you don’t exist.” Not true. There are plenty of people who have no online presence who exist and are very successful. But, as I was thinking about why Rusty would respond to me that way I thought it had to do with how I presented myself and my experiences on my LinkedIn profile.

I’m not going to say that you “don’t exist.” But, I can tell you that as a hiring manager, if I’m down to the last five or ten profiles, and they are all pretty lame (I call them skeleton profiles), but one stands out because not only does that person have the experience I want, but they explain and dig into their careers in a way that they are memorable and prove they have what I’m looking for, I’m inclined to be more interested in them than you.

Skeleton profiles on LinkedIn don’t help you. Not looking? Congratulations… but you might be looking soon :p

Let me suggest one of the most important courses I’ve ever done for Pluralsight… I just tweeted this yesterday:

The concepts in that course are timeless principles. In the olden days we called it reputation and reputation management. Now we call it personal branding. Who knows what it will be called next. Whether you use LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever, there are principles. And that’s what I go into. The course is 2 hours… if you want a 30 day pass to the entire Pluralsight library let me know.

Pluralsight a Developing Killer Personal Brand

Since I started out with talking about LinkedIn, let me also recommend my LinkedIn courses… the first is on optimizing your LinkedIn profile and the second is on developing a proactive strategy on LinkedIn.

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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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