Project Management for Business Success Using Evernote and Other Tools
Every business needs to manage their projects to keep forging ahead and be successful. This post is taken from an interview with Charles Byrd in which he discusses project management for business success using Evernote and other tools, as well as how he developed his productivity practices, managed various products, and built wonderful relationships.
Talk About Your Background in Project Management and Industry
My project management history runs deep. Right out of college, I utilized my BBA in information technology on a help desk giving 2nd and 3rd level support for Cadence, a Silicon Valley software company. Soon after, I managed tech projects while earning my Master of Science in Information Technology degree.
I was later promoted to project manager. While in that position, I founded our company’s Project Management Office, led a team of 12 to become PMP certified and personally managed the most significant projects in our portfolio, which included many projects with budgets over $5 million.
Soon afterward, I became the founder and director of our Social Media and Collaboration department where I could use my strengths in project management. I created such tools as our company’s technology roadmap, which I implemented globally and managed with the international teams.
To try new things and help more people, I founded my company Byrd Word, LLC in 2015. Byrd Word, LLC specializes in productivity training, marketing, and technology. I participate in speaking engagements, provide coaching and have an Evernote productivity training product.
Do You Have a Favorite Project That You Led? Tell Us What it Was and Why it’s Your Choice
To streamline modern communication across our 6,000 employees, I led a project that rolled out MS Lync, WebEx, and Salesforce Chatter. For me, the WebEx project was my favorite. The team was fantastic to work with and we were able to accomplish the project using Asana, which streamlined everything.
As for the employees, Lync was a favorite and quickly became the most utilized tool across the organization. I knew immediately that the marketing campaigns and the education strategies would be the key to its success, so I created IT TV, a series of CNET style videos that were both entertaining and informative.
The IT TV platform became a huge success and a fantastic place to communicate opportunities company-wide. It even won our company’s prestigious IT Innovation Award. It was used by executive management, as well as, the HR and Marketing Departments.
If You Could Travel Back in Time and Talk to a Younger Charles, What Would you Say About Running Successful Projects?
First, I would tell younger Charles that running successful projects is all about: relationships, communication and going with the flow. Every project will have some sort of hiccup, challenge or take an unexpected turn.
One way to build relationships for a project is to identify the primary stakeholders, then take time to listen to their goals closely. When you do this, it makes it much easier to deliver on those goals and expectations.
When you build strong relationships, you will find that you will have the support you need to get through the challenges that inevitably come about.
As for communication, creating a streamlined structure and task management system will help ensure that it gets used and you can keep the project rolling.
Second, I would tell younger Charles to “remember that you don’t know what you don’t know until you roll up your sleeves and get busy”.
Don’t be overly optimistic about timelines. If you are, you will quickly learn that you may have several expectated resets along the way.
As you dig into a project, things have a way of expanding your understanding of what needs to be accomplished. When that happens, it helps to use an Agile Approach because it is inherently flexible and focused on delivery. Also, keep in mind the Pareto Principle (i.e., the 80/20 principle) and Parkinson’s Law (i.e., that work will expand to fill the time available). You will run into both concepts and you must learn to balance them both.
Tell Us About Some of Your Favorite Project Management Tools
When it comes to project management tools, I love to combine systems and technology that work well together and can be used in the real world. If you think about it, methods that are cumbersome will not get used. Using email alone can be frustrating.
I love using Asana since it puts the conversations about a project in the context of the project. As the team receives updates in real time, it lessens the need for additional meetings and status updates, thereby, freeing up time to actually work on the project.
It’s No Secret You Love Evernote. What Role Does it Play in Your Own Project Management Processes?
I do love Evernote. It plays a huge role in my projects and my daily life. I have over 17,000 notes in Evernote to prove it. Frankly, I would be lost without it.
Many people have heard of Evernote and many have tried it, but few understand the power behind utilizing all of its capabilities. For them, what is missing is how to apply Evernote to their projects and life in a way that makes everything MUCH more manageable.
That’s why I created a course on Evernote called Zero-to-60. In the course, you can not only learn the basics but also how to create custom workflows, templates, use cases, and best practices. You can quickly and easily hit the ground running.
Personally, I use Evernote as a repository and working area for critical information that can come from a variety of sources, such as email, the web, paper documents, PDFs, and digital files. Additionally, I use it for meeting notes and daily priority planning.
When I’m having a work session, I use it to capture all the ideas, plans, and thoughts that are brought up. As I organize those projects in whatever tool I’m using, maybe Asana, I link back to the Evernote note with the additional details. Evernote’s tag and search functions alone make it a worthwhile tool. But there’s more – like its mobile simplicity, web page clipper tool, PDF annotation just to name a few.
Did you know? When you take a snapshot of text, you can search for any word in that photo? Now that is cool!
Do You Use Mind Mapping Tools? What do You Recommend?
Yes, I use mind mapping for planning and quick reference. For me, it’s easy to meld mind mapping with Evernote to create a relationship-based structure. When it comes to small planning mind maps, I like to use iThoughts on the Mac. Another mind mapping tool I like to use is called The Brain. It can handle a lot of connections but remain easy to view and navigate through.
Stepping Outside of the Corporate World for a Moment and Tell Us About the Different Types of Collaborative Tools and Techniques You Like to Use in Your Own Business.
I use a wide variety of tools, but here are just a few:
- Slack – for instant messaging
- Asana – for team task managing
- Evernote – for having everything stored and quickly accessible
- Skype – for video calls and chats
- us – for video conferences with groups
- Gmail and Google Apps
Since You Started Your Business, Your Network Has Grown Tremendously. How Did You Get Started Networking and What Was Your Original Networking Goal?
My dad ingrained in me the importance of networking, so it has always been something I’ve worked on. I have to admit that networking comes pretty natural to me because I am a people person, but I also believe it is a skill that can be learned.
It’s easy to think that you never have the time to network when you are trying to start and grow a business; I believed it too, but when I started my company in 2015, I made sure that networking was at the top of my list. The hard work has paid off as I’ve had many opportunities come my way that may have never had happened if I didn’t focus on networking.
When I started my business, my goal was to make one or two connections each week.
This is how I got started:
- I joined online groups that included those people I wanted to learn from and get to know.
- I attended conferences and mastermind retreats. Each time I made at least one friend in the process.
- I emailed or sent messages to specific people requesting a chat, either virtually or physically, to get to know them better.
One thing to remember is that when you listen with the intent to really understand another’s goals the relationship can continue to grow and gives you a platform to provide them with more value. That value can come in the form of strategy advice, system recommendations, coaching or just introductions to other people in your network.
Whenever I joined a Facebook group, I’d make a note of those people who were interesting and who contributed a lot to the group. Then I’d reach out to them and set up a chat via Skype. Getting together one-on-one, even if it was over Skype, proved extremely beneficial.
Another way to get to know people is by adding them to your LinkedIn or Facebook connections. It gives you a jumping off point to get to know each other a little better and see how you can continually provide value.
Patience is important. I’ve sent out emails and had to wait weeks for replies, but it’s worth it. That’s how I landed several bestselling authors on my video blog or arranged for joint venture partnerships.
A networking tip: The fortune is in following-up!
When Someone Asks You Where or How to Get Started With Networking, What Advice Do You Give?
Determine who you would like to learn from and emulate them. Read what they are reading. Read what they write. Find out where they hang out and join them. Introduce yourself. But remember to bring value to the relationship – it helps build the rapport.
My approach to networking with two ideas in mind:
- I will show up, be present, and give value.
- It’s not about me. It’s all about them.
You Mention Giving Value to Those You Network With. How Do You Provide Value to Them?
The first thing I do is listen and discover what they are trying to achieve. Then I consider ways they can further that goal – either with a tool, technique, or a process. I’ll even think about possible introductions that can help them.
Here is an example – A while back, I spent two consecutive weekends with Ryan Levesque (marketing guru and bestselling author). He was working on a second book as well as some webinars for his audience. After meeting him and participating in a mastermind group with him, I offered to provide him with some personal training on Scrivener, a writing tool, and gave him some strategies on how he could improve his audio and video presentations. I took the time to understand his ambitions and goals first, then I provided value by way of assistance second. The result was talks with Ryan on my company building his flagship course and additional introductions to other high-power people.
Here’s another example. By providing Adi Gorel, public speaker and real estate company CEO, several Evernote and marketing strategy sessions to help him simplify his workflow and solidify his message, I was able to speak at his real estate conference, which created the opportunity to work with brand new clients and find pilot students for my Evernote course. I should also mention that these connections led to additional speaking engagements including speaking at the national conference called Ignite in front of several hundred people at the Anaheim convention center.
Networking made all of this possible.
You’ve Mentioned Your Course – What Services and Products Do you Offer and Where Can People Find Out More About You?
My Evernote course called Zero-to-60. As a side note, because of networking, I was able to reach over 100,000 people through joint venture partnerships. If you need help with productivity, system, or marketing, consulting is available on a limited basis.
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"Don't just do what you did yesterday. take one step - to do something new that will change your life." - Charles Byrd