Have you found a network for your project management?
Brett Harned is the Director of Education at TeamGantt and the creator of the Digital PM Summit, an annual conference for digital project managers to share their knowledge and speak passionately about what they do.
In 2012, two dozen studio owners gathered together to share experiences, ideas, and challenges. With that meeting, the Bureau of Digital was formed. This community has grown to include digital leaders, in house teams, product shops, and many of the world’s largest digital companies.
With the Bureau community, you will find support networks that encourage shared passions and goals. Agency owners, business developers, operations directors, and more finally have a place to connect and create.
Bureau of Digital members are made up of all types of digital professionals. They are a diverse group with a common ground. This private community has the support of a network of like-minded experts. The bureau has always prioritized bringing people in the digital industry together.
Brett Harned has nearly 20 years of experience under his belt in communications and project management. He uses his passion for teaching and community building at TeamGant, where he offers classes on project management to help better communities.
Learn more about how Bureau of Digital can help you express your ideas on project management by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to the thoughtful entrepreneur show, I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of up my influence.com, where we turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. So we believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world, even you stick around to the end of this show, where I'll share info on how you could be our next guest, three times a week, five to 15 minutes each learn from successful business owners and professionals. It's time to get inspired. Let's go.
And Brett Harned, you are the Director of Education for Team Gantt. And you're the founder of the Digital PM Summit, which and this is where we're going to talk about, PM standing for not the Prime Minister, but project management. Brett, thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks for having me.
So tell me why. First off, how did you get into project management? I suspect that you're working with a company and they just said, Hey, Brett, we're going to put you in charge here. And that's kind of sink or swim. That's how you got started? Or maybe Did you have more of a formal education in project management?
Now, you nailed it. Definitely.
Definitely, a self-taught PM, I don't even know that project management was taught way back when I was in college. So I started in creative. My first job was with a startup company. I was an editor, my background is in writing and editing. So I was a writer. And then I just got tasked with, Hey, can you create this web page? Can you create this experience? Can you design this thing? And that kind of made me a jack of all trades in digital. And as I kind of progressed, in my career, I always worked in creative. But then I realized my struggle suit was like strategizing and organizing people. And that led me to a job in a digital agency, where I was officially named a pm. And it's funny in that interview, I had to ask a few times, like what is a project manager? That led me to a couple of other moves in my career that just kind of solidified like, this is really what I'm good at. This is what I like doing day to day. And here I am now.
Wow. So how have you seen project management evolve? And obviously, I think a lot of this is based on available tools and technology, communication, you know, our ability to communicate virtually the fact that more teams are virtual than ever before. But I think if you look back at the past 10 years, what have been some of the biggest evolutions that you've seen?
Yeah, I think they've been huge. But they're not noticeable because project management isn't really noticeable, right? If it's done,
it's done, right. It's just, it's just a seamless.
If it's a mess, then it's a pain in the button. Nobody likes it. But when it's done well, people love it. So I think for me personally, the biggest evolution that I've seen has actually been the adoption of Project Manager. So when I first started my career, I was managing projects, but there was no one on staff who was even a project manager. And you know, fast forward, like 1015 years into my career, I realized, like, as someone working in digital, you know, working on website redesigns, and app builds and things like that. I was managing the people in the projects and the budgets, but there was no community for me, right? Like there was no one for me to go to and say how do you do this thing? or Why is my team doing this thing? How can I fix this? What kind of processes do you use? There's the Project Management Institute, but they're really kind of formal, and not in a bad way, but just not in a way that really drives with helpful tech moves. So I started this community on my own, you know, just through meetups in my city in Philadelphia, and then that led to creating a conference and doing workshops and talks at all different types of conferences. So for me, the term digital PR kind of came out of that movement, which has been really exciting for me. And I think, you know, aside from Digital, I think organizations are starting to embrace project management more because they see the value in having someone leading people to deliver things on time and on budget.
So you went to now kind of, I guess, maybe just started with meetups and, you know, kind of creating an online community. And eventually, you created your own summit this year. You're doing that in Orlando, yeah, my hometown. In late October. How does- how does someone start an in-person summit? That means it just kind of like, you know, if you've got the audience, then hey, go for it and see if there's interest and put it out there. And- and then I guess, go through all of the, when you have to manage your project on an event, I suspect that it's no problem for you.
At this point now, early on, maybe- maybe a little bit. I think for me, it was it actually happened pretty quickly. So yeah, I was in a company that was really supportive. It's a company called Happy cog, it's a digital boutique digital agency. So that company really valued to employees putting themselves out there and speaking about their work in presenting at conferences. So I was in a space where I didn't feel like anyone was really talking about digital project management. So I thought, you know what, I'm gonna try this, I applied for a talk at South by Southwest, it was accepted, there was a line of people out of the room, and I thought, okay, there's something here like people are, need to know more about managing projects and digital. So that led I think, I think around the same time, I started a meetup in Philadelphia. And the way that I did that was just reaching out to my friends in the creative community and saying, Hey, can we do an event where you know, your, all of your designers bring their project manager to an event, so I could just meet them and see if they're interested in doing something, you know, that led to doing monthly events for like, you know, 20 3040 people here in there. And that's still going on today. We actually have an event this week. It's called BPM, Philly. And, and at the same time, you know, working for the company that I worked for, they were kind of starting to get into hosting some events. And I went to my boss and said, Hey, I really think there's an audience here. Like, I think that there are people leading projects at agencies and big corporations and nonprofits around the world who don't necessarily have an event. He was like, let's try it. So we we did our research we set up, we basically did some announcements through the agency's Twitter handle. And we ended up collecting like 700 email addresses within I think, the first month. And then when tickets on sale, the event sold out, we decided we did it really small, it was 450 people, I knew that I wanted to have presentations, but also some breakout discussions and conversations so people could interact. And we sold that event out 150 people within 30 days. So at that point, like, wow, we're actually onto something and we're now doing it seven years later, and we get about 300 people every year, come to a different city, and you know, kind of the same thing. But speakers from all different corners of digital industry, who are just sharing their ideas and willing to sit down and just talk about, like, these are the challenges, and this is how I get through them. And I finally people get so inspired by this event, because once they find it, they realize like, Wow, there actually is an organization that supports what I do. And that's not something that really has existed before this.
So if somebody let's say that someone is just a freelancer, you know, maybe there have a couple of VA now. And they have, let's say they've got a project and that project is to build out a sales funnel or something like that. What would be a really accessible platform for someone who's really never done this, but but they're realizing that there's a few moving parts, you know, up till now, maybe they've just made lists on, you know, on a text document, or, you know, in a Google Doc, or something like that, or maybe it's just, you know, pen and paper, which I'll be honest, you know, for me, you know, it's a list of things for me to do myself. A pen and paper man is a man, I know, that's not really project management. But what – what is it? Trello? I mean, what do you like? What platforms do you like for that use case?
Yeah. So I'm with you on pen and paper, if it's just for me, and it's stuff that I'm doing, I go back and forth between apps, and using a notebook and pen and paper. But pen and paper is always good for your personal to do list. I think in terms of planning, you know, when you're- when you're working with several team members, and there are different tasks, and dependencies, and you've got to meet deadlines, I use team Ghana, team, Ghana is obviously the company that I work for, prior to working for them, I use the product, it's really great for scheduling tasks, assign tasks, setting up estimates, making sure that you can check in on people to make sure that things are happening on time. So you can communicate and collaborate. Use the tool as, as a freelancer myself, working with groups of freelancers who are delivering really big projects to important organizations, you know, really high profile clients. Yeah. And it always did the job of communicating not only between the team but also between the team and the client as well. interesting for me, for me, that's it, I think a lot of people are using tools like Trello, it just depends on the process that you're using. team can also has a power up with Trello. So you can use kind of that con bond board along with like a Gantt chart or a standard plan. Which, which is helpful, too. So yeah, that's my go to.
Yeah. So you're the Director of Education for Team Ghana. So someone who's not familiar with that platform. So you can go there at team Ghana calm? And that's gantt.com. And so just how would you describe the platform? Now there is I should say there is a free level two, so maybe you can get in? And I guess get familiar with basic functionality?
Yeah, absolutely. So how would I describe the platform, it's basically planning and managing projects in a really simple way. So it's got drag and drop functionality, you can enter in your tasks, drag a bar, and again, chart or enter a date and a list view. And you're going to see kind of your- your kind of all the steps that you'll need to get through your project, including any like major milestones, and deliverables. And you're able to assign people to those things as well. So it's a really good workflow management, it's really good for strategic planning, you know, you've got to meet a specific deadline. And you know, you've got 20 tasks to get their team against going to help you to do that and schedule it out in a way that actually makes sense to everyone.
And so I understand, you're also a podcaster. And since someone's listening to a podcast right now, it's probably pretty easy to check yours out. What podcast What is the name of the podcast,
the podcast is called time limit.
And you can find it at team dot com slash podcasts. It's basically I released an episode every two weeks, or every other week, sorry. And it's essentially an interview format, where we're digging deep on topics within productivity, leadership and project management, you know, talk to a lot of authors talk to people who are experiencing, you know, or managing projects real time just to dig in and talk about, you know, essentially, how can you offer some advice or guidance to someone who's listening? Who has limited time, right? Like, we're all doing a lot of work in our jobs. And the idea behind time limit is, when you're managing projects, you're managing people that time is really valuable. So what are the things that you can do to kind of ease the load and make your life a little bit easier at work, but still deliver quality work at the same time? So that's kind of where every conversation resolves. But we're really digging into topics that are relevant and meaningful to people who are managing projects.
And bread is so you wrote a book you'd mentioned? And what's the title of the book and- and who would want to read it?
Yeah. So the book is called Project Management for humans. And I'll say it's a- it's kind of a one on one book, the idea. And the idea behind the book really was so that I could write it for designers and developers and people who are educated in a craft, and maybe you want to start their own business or start a freelance career, but they have no idea how to manage projects or somebody who's new to pm, and just needs to get an understanding of what good project management looks like. So it covers everything from estimating projects, to planning to good communications and everything in between. terrific,
terrific. Awesome. Well, Brett Harned, you're the Director of Education at Team Gantt. And you're the founder of the digital project manager summit, the digital PM summit. And by the way, the website for that, I guess I'm looking at so it's at bureau of digital dot com. Is that right? Find it.
Yeah, or just digital pm summit dot com redirects to that page.
Perfect. Awesome. Brett, thank you so much for joining us.
Thanks for having me.
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