Episode 33 — Moving Mountains To Create LakePoint

Episode #33
Original Air Date: 05.02.2017

34 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Brad Jacobs

Velociteach Alumni, Brad Jacobs, joins the cast of Manage This to discuss managing the massive effort of transforming 1300 acres at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains into the premier sports vacation destination known as LakePoint!

Brad Jacobs is the senior project manager with Gude Management Group. His current project is the LakePoint Sporting Community, on track to be one of the nation’s largest and most unique amateur sports destinations. His background is in owner representation, real estate development, construction management, as well as design and engineering.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"What I have been hired for by LakePoint as a consultant is to manage all of their construction.  So if they have the vision that could be on the back of a napkin, we actually bring it to reality.  So we are hired to work with the owners to develop their idea, hire the architects, hire the engineers, and then ultimately hire the contractors and build the project."

- Brad Jacobs

"That’s the cool thing about LakePoint.  We literally had to move mountains to create this project.  It’s in North Georgia.  I don’t think I even mentioned it’s in – the closest city’s in Cartersville.  It’s actually in Emerson, Georgia, which is the foothills of the mountains.  And so to get to where they are today, you would never believe it, but it was open territories, green space, and it used to be an old mining area."

- Brad Jacobs

"As the project manager, one of my underlying principles is to take charge of the project early, you know, to speak up early.  You have to build respect amongst all the people that are involved in the project.  And I find the best way to do that is to make yourself known early.  You know, don’t be afraid to speak your opinion, if you’ve got suggested changes.  If you just sit by idly, you know, it’s going to take a long time to get that respect back.  And so you are the project manager, and you have to understand that, and you have to take that."

- Brad Jacobs

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER ● BRAD JACOBS

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  This is our every-other-week time to meet up and talk about what matters to you in the diverse and energetic world of project management.  Whether you’re new to the field or a veteran PM, whether you have questions about becoming certified or want to just hear some real-life stories about other folks in your shoes, we’re here to help you along the way with ideas and principles that will hit home no matter where you are.

I’m your host, Nick Walker.  And with me are the brains of the outfit, Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  And Andy, we have a guest in the studio today who’s in charge of a project that no doubt will make a lot of people envious because he gets to surround himself with others who just want people to play.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, it’s going to be a fun episode today, Nick.  I’m looking forward to this.  And I always enjoy talking with people on infrastructure projects, too.  It requires a different orientation, a little bit of a different discipline than maybe some of the software projects I’ve been involved with and some of the other things that require fewer materials.

NICK WALKER:  I think it will be fun.  So let’s introduce him.  Brad Jacobs is the senior project manager with Gude Management Group.  His current project is the LakePoint Sporting Community, on track to be one of the nation’s largest and most unique amateur sports destinations.  His background is in owner representation, real estate development, construction management, as well as design and engineering.  Brad, welcome to Manage This.

BRAD JACOBS:  Thanks a lot for having me.

NICK WALKER:  So Brad, right off the bat – see what I did there?  Right off the bat?  Okay.  Tell us about LakePoint Sporting Community.  What is it?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, for those that don’t know, LakePoint is a sports-oriented development.  It’s actually a sports vacation destination.  It’s geared towards middle school and high school age athletes that come for tournaments.  It primarily started as baseball, but it’s expanded over into there’s soccer, and there’s flag football.  And now we have an indoor facility that does basketball and volleyball.

So when they have these tournaments, the goal is to have people come to stay.  Instead of just coming to a tournament for a short period, the goal is to get them to stay.  There’s entertainment facilities onsite, hotels, restaurants.  And so people come and stay for a three- or four-day tournament, rather than just showing up to a field for one single day.

NICK WALKER:  Obviously, this is a huge project.  How far along is it?

BRAD JACOBS:  The master plan of LakePoint is actually about 900 acres.  That’s the entire planned development.  Right now we’re in the initial phases.  The first rollout of the project is what we call the South Campus.  It’s about a hundred acres of property that we’ve developed so far.  It’s all – there’s baseball fields.  There’s about eight baseball fields right now.  There is a 180,000 square foot indoor facility.  We’ve done roads, infrastructure, some entertainment facilities.  And that’s just the first phase of this project.  The next phase is going to be about another 800 acres, which we’re about ready to undertake.

NICK WALKER:  So people can go there now?  Or is that…

BRAD JACOBS:  Yes.  LakePoint has actually been open for about three years.  This is their third season for baseball.  Every summer, actually right about now they’re gearing up to have the baseball tournaments.  And when the baseball tournaments start at LakePoint, it floods the entire area.  Thousands of people walk, I mean, I think they have around a million visitors per season.

NICK WALKER:  Wow.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  And we’re in the third season, so that’s about ready to gear up.

NICK WALKER:  Where do you fit in with all of this?  What’s your role?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, you said it when you first started.  I have multiple titles that are all kind of synonymous – project manager, development manager, owner representative, pretty much all of those things.  What I have been hired for by LakePoint as a consultant is to manage all of their construction.  So if they have the vision that could be on the back of a napkin, we actually bring it to reality.  So we are hired to work with the owners to develop their idea, hire the architects, hire the engineers, and then ultimately hire the contractors and build the project.

BILL YATES:  Brad, how long have you been working on this LakePoint project?

BRAD JACOBS:  I have been on the project for about two and a half years.  It was a couple months into the project when I got onboard.  The first thing that they had to do was build the infrastructure and the roads and the first set of baseball fields.  I joined when they were about a couple months into that.

BILL YATES:  And you mentioned their – so you’re really trying to create, bring reality to the vision that a couple of CEOs  have.  That’s a little bit different.  So you kind of have – so you have, not just one CEO, but two CEOs whose vision you have to implement.

BRAD JACOBS:  That’s right.  I mean, there’s two CEOs that manage LakePoint as an operation.  But there’s a whole ‘nother host of people.  There’s investors, and there’s partnerships that they have, that the owners have, that we need to adhere to, like Perfect Game Baseball is an example.  That’s an entity that hosts these tournaments.  And so they actually lease the property from LakePoint.  And so LakePoint was built with them in mind.  So there’s more than just the CEOs running the project.

BILL YATES:  So how do you know who to listen to?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, that’s a very complicated task that took me about a year to understand.  There’s multiple stakeholders involved.  And over time you just – you realize – ultimately you report to LakePoint.  They’re the ones who hired us; right?  So that’s who you ultimately report to.  And whenever you need to, you can just – you have to associate with the other groups.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, Brad, talking about this idea of multiple groups of stakeholders, I’ve never actually seen dual CEOs truly work.  And that doesn’t require any comment on anybody’s part here.  But it’s just an unusual, unusual setup.  What usually happens is people have the title of CEO with a role of something else, and they’re going to fall into a different way because it’s like having two project managers.  You really don’t want that.  It becomes counterproductive at some point.  This whole idea of multiple groups of stakeholders, how did you identify them?  Tell me about that process of figuring out who the stakeholders are, which ones weigh more than others, you know, in terms of their opinions and so forth.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, that’s a good point, having the co-CEOs.  It’s funny seeing all the contracts because there’s two signature lines on every single contract, which is pretty funny.  And the co-CEOs have different personalities.  And so they fill each other’s gaps.  And it works nicely in this regard because I think one of the CEOs is always the forward-thinking person, the one who’s dreaming about the projects in the far future, I’m talking five, 10 years into the future; and the other one is more based on where we are right now.  So they work well together.

But identifying the stakeholders, it just took time.  I mean, you know, with any project it takes a while to get the lay of the land and realize who has a voice at the table.  Again, you know who your direct reports are.  The CEOs and the investors of the project, that’s the ones who you report to.  Everybody else contributes to the overall project.

BILL YATES:  One of the things that I think about with that as you’re trying to manage these different stakeholders is this property is so big.  And as you were describing it, you said this is really a destination.  So families will come here, and one child will be playing in a tournament while the other ones have to be entertained and fed and have a place to sleep and all that.  So their hotels are there, their restaurants.  I remember driving the property and seeing these parcels that are set aside for different companies, hotel companies or restaurants, et cetera, that are going to be building.

So how do you, you know, sometimes I’ve heard you use the word “buffer” or “referee.”  If I think about, okay, of my interests, if I’m going to build a hotel there.  And then you have two CEOs that I know have your ear.  And then you have Perfect Game Baseball.  But I’m this hotel, and this is my property.  I want to make sure I have proper parking and those kind of things.  So how do you manage all these different interests?

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, I mean, so LakePoint is actually what’s considered to be the master developer in real estate projects.  There’s typically a master developer who then intentionally develops outparcels and things to sell off. And in this case LakePoint has master developed the overall property and then sells off the outparcels.  But then each outparcel user has to report to or adhere to certain guidelines.  “Master covenants” is what they’re actually called.  But they have to adhere to those guidelines.

And so LakePoint has the ultimate say on what kind of signs you put up, what kind of font you can use, so on and so forth.  And it’s a challenge because a hotel will come on and say, well, we like this font.  But LakePoint says no, you have to use this font.  And so these are the kind of things that you need to manage.  And that’s really what my role is as the project manager.

BILL YATES:  So you’re the guy having to say to Marriott, hey, I don’t like your font.

BRAD JACOBS:  I may not make the final ruling because I’m not the owner of the project.  I’m not the investor of the project.  But I’m the one who – I’m the soundboard.  I’m the one who brings all the information in and disseminates the information.

NICK WALKER:  If you would, kind of walk us through maybe one portion of the project, like a ball field or something.  How did we get from start to finish?  I’d be curious.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  That’s the cool thing about LakePoint.  We literally had to move mountains to create this project.  It’s in North Georgia.  I don’t think I even mentioned it’s in – the closest city’s in Cartersville.  It’s actually in Emerson, Georgia, which is the foothills of the mountains.  And so to get to where they are today, you would never believe it, but it was open territories, green space, and it used to be an old mining area.  And so to get to what you see today, they actually had to move around five million cubic yards of dirt.  And I did the math before this thing.  That equates to 375,000 dump trucks of dirt that they had to move.

And so that was just the mass grading operation.  And then we had to build roads and infrastructure to support all of this, you know, sewers and water, storm drainage.  All that is actually owned by the city.  So we built that on behalf of the city.  And then after we had the land cleared and the infrastructure put in, then we could actually build the baseball fields.  And so it’s been a step-by-step process.  But usually in the construction project you have the mass grading and the infrastructure and then the actual vertical construction.

So in this case it was baseball fields.  But they’re beautiful baseball fields.  If you haven’t been there, they rival pretty much any college, I wouldn’t say pro because the stadiums aren’t as big, but they’re beautiful, backdrop of the mountains in the background and wooded areas.  But, yeah, that’s what we’ve done.  We built the baseball fields, and now we’re moving on to – we also built a 180,000 square foot indoor facility.  And we have more to go on the North Campus.  Once we get there, there’ll be more of the same, more entertainment, more hotels, golf courses, things like that.  So a lot to go.

NICK WALKER:  You going to have to move any more mountains?

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, even more.  Even more.  The next thing we’re going to have to do on this particular project, the 800 acres on the North Campus is actually – there’s nothing up there.  And so we have to build a road again, and we have to build a bridge and another mile-and-a-half road, mile-and-a-half-long road to get the North Campus opened up for development.  And there’s more mountains, yes, unfortunately.

ANDY CROWE:  Brad, I’ve got a question for you.  I’ve heard you say before that the PM really functions kind of like the hub of a wheel.

BRAD JACOBS:  Mm-hmm.

ANDY CROWE:  Can you extend that metaphor out, maybe, for us a little bit, or tell us what you were thinking?

BRAD JACOBS:  Sure.  I like to ride bikes, so that kind of helps.  But, yeah.  So I call myself the “hub of the wheel,” which is the center of the wheel, and the spokes feed outward.  I used to be a structural engineer by education and by early career.  And I soon learned that I didn’t really want to be an expert at one particular thing.  I say all your SMEs and all your vendors are the different spokes of the wheel that comprise the whole project.  The hub’s the middle.  I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be an expert at one particular thing.  I was better overseeing a little bit of everything.  And so I call myself the “hub of the wheel.”  All the information comes in.  It needs to go out to get to the right people.  So that’s how I relate to a bicycle wheel.

ANDY CROWE:  This whole idea of coordinating things.  I went to Cirque de Soleil not long ago and got to see a juggler at work.  And I thought, yeah, it can definitely feel like that, as well, like you have 25 things going at once.  And it was pretty impressive.  So I like that idea that you’re the hub, and that all the spokes are kind of revolving around.  None of them are any use without the other.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  And, you know, like I said before, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be an expert in one particular area.  And I think people, to the listeners that are early on in their career, you can make that decision.  Am I going to be an expert and focus on one particular thing for the rest of my life?  Or am I better, well suited towards just knowing a little bit about a lot of different things?

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  But I would venture a guess that your background as a structural engineer has come in very helpful in this project.  Is that correct?

BRAD JACOBS:  Oh, absolutely.  I think that having the engineering background allows me to understand the plans.  I can open up a set of construction documents and understand the structural components, the mechanical components, the plumbing components.  And you really, as a project manager, you don’t need to know everything about everything.  But you need to have a pretty good understanding of basically everything in the set of documents.

ANDY CROWE:  I have found that the more domain expertise I have in a particular project, the more I know about what’s going on in general – not just in a general sense, but specifically – the better off I am.  I’ve found that’s gotten me out of trouble more than once, and into trouble one time in particular.

BILL YATES:  That’s true.  Brad, another – in a conversation we’ve had before, I remember you saying one of the values you think you bring as a project manager, as that hub, is determining when those spokes, when the SMEs bring in that information to you, you have to make that decision as to what’s important for other people to know.  And I see that over and over and again.  Early in the career of a project manager, it’s harder to know.  You don’t have the background or experience.  So you think, well, my job is to let everybody know everything.  And then you clog people’s email boxes.  You provide way too much information, and it bogs things down.  So I really like that idea of bringing value to the project by determining what data is important and for whom.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, and ultimately you report to the owners of the project.  And they certainly don’t have the time to get every single little detail.  It was just way – because they’ve got so many other things to think about.  They’ve got operations to think about.  And there are so many other departments.  There are so many things that make a construction project work like this and a real estate development work.

And so my role is a buffer.  It’s to, you know, the information that comes in is to disseminate to the owners what’s important and what’s not.  It never really results – ends up very well if the owners are directly communicating with their contractors or directly communicating with all the vendors.  We work closely with the city and the county, as well.  They’re stakeholders, as well.  And so you certainly don’t want the city and the owners of the project always talking to each other.  It’s easier to be the buffer in the middle and take on the task of the day-to-day communications and then report upward only the things that need to be reported upward.

BILL YATES:  That’s an important role, that buffer, that official referee type role.  How did you learn how to do that?

BRAD JACOBS:  It just – I think that’s one of the things that, when I made the transition from engineering into project management, it wasn’t immediate.  It just – I’m many years into my career now.  And I think that’s just a learned talent.  And it’s really – it’s very important as being a project manager.  I mean, it’s one of the critical roles of a project manager.

NICK WALKER:  If there’s one thing that I’ve learned through all these podcasts, it’s that no two project managers are alike.  There are no clones here.  And it sounds like you’ve been able to use a lot of the talents that you had before.  I’m curious, though.  Do you ever have to become an instant expert at something?  And how does your personality and background play into that?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, like I said earlier, the hub of the wheel.  You don’t really have to be an expert in one particular category, but you have to trust your SMEs, your Subject Matter Experts.  We’ve, over the course of my experience at LakePoint, been there two and a half years.  And you really get to know the people you work with – your vendors, my geotechnical engineer, my architect, my civil engineer, my contractors.  And so when questions are posed to you, there’s most of the time I don’t have the immediate answer for it.  I have to go get it because it’s a detailed specific question.  But I can go get it for you.

And that’s another thing, kind of a lessons learned for, you know, there is no such thing as a dumb question.  And so if I don’t know, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, I’m going to have to get back to you in a little bit,” go to your subject matter experts.  You really have to trust the people to supply those answers because, once you get that piece of information, you run with it.  And so it trickles down the line.  And if it’s incorrect information, it just – it steamrolls.

NICK WALKER:  “Lessons learned.”  You know, we use that term a lot around here.  What sort of lessons learned pop into your brain when you’re thinking about this project overall.

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, LakePoint doesn’t have a prior example.  And it’s easier to have a prior example; right?  To go off of – we’ve been here about two and a half years.  And so every single project that we’ve undertaken there’s just been a whole host of lessons learned.  You know, I represent the construction and development, but that’s probably true for the legal aspects of the project.  That’s true for the marketing aspects of the project, the finance aspects.  This is something that it’s like a startup company.  And so we’re always constantly learning from things that we did incorrectly the prior time.  So as we move on to this project, like I said, we’re, geez, it’s a quarter of the way done.  And so we’re going to take all those lessons and roll them into the next phases of the project.

ANDY CROWE:  You keep getting smarter.  You are the prior example for somebody out there.

NICK WALKER:  That’s right.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.  And that can be a little bit self-referencing when you’re your own prior example.  I’m curious about something, Brad.  Just as you go about this, you’re having to lead a lot of things.  You’re having to lead tasks.  You’re having to lead initiatives and projects.  You’re having to lead people.  Talk to me a little bit about your leadership style.  How would you describe your leadership style?

BRAD JACOBS:  I think that’s evolved over the course of my career, too.  As the project manager, one of my underlying principles is to take charge of the project early, you know, to speak up early.  You have to build respect amongst all the people that are involved in the project.  And I find the best way to do that is to make yourself known early.  You know, don’t be afraid to speak your opinion, if you’ve got suggested changes.  If you just sit by idly, you know, it’s going to take a long time to get that respect back.  And so you are the project manager, and you have to understand that, and you have to take that.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, a lot of people really struggle with this idea of taking up space, too.  They feel uncomfortable speaking up in a meeting.  They feel uncomfortable just being present and being visible.  And for a project manager, we have to work through that, if you have trouble.  That’s not something I’ve struggled with particularly.  But a lot of people do.  A lot of people come to us, and they have trouble exerting themselves and showing initiative and so forth.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  Yeah, absolutely.  Another thing about being a project manager is sometimes you feel like you’re the person that’s always nagging because you have to follow up all the time.

BILL YATES:  Is this your wife speaking to you, Brad?

BRAD JACOBS:  No, no, no.  Well…

ANDY CROWE:  My 17-year-old daughter would have something to say about that, too.

BRAD JACOBS:  So I find myself following up a lot of times with people, like every two days.  And I’m wondering to myself, should I really send this?  And I am being a nag.  But you know what, you’re the project manager.  Your responsibility is to oversee and monitor the things that people are doing to adhere to deadlines; right?  So I think it’s a fine line of being a friendly project manager, being loose with people, being yourself with people.  And that way, when you do nag them, and they do get annoyed…

BILL YATES:  They know it’s – yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  I’m seeing a new shirt, a T-shirt:  “I’m not a nag, I’m a PM.”

NICK WALKER:  That’s funny.  That’s good.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, right?  I think there’s a market for that.

ANDY CROWE:  “It’s my job to nag.  Get over it.”

BRAD JACOBS:  Right.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  So, yeah, I think that’s one good piece of advice is, you know, you said it perfectly.  You really need to establish your role early on in the project.

BILL YATES:  I think, when I think of – if I were reporting to you, you know, you’re the kind of guy who’s approachable.  You can make fun of yourself.  You can laugh easily.  So I would think those relationships that you build with, whether it’s the contractor or direct report, those probably work really well for you.  You’re a down-to-earth personable kind of a guy. Relationships are such a key to success.  How do you – if you, early on in a relationship, let’s say it’s with a contractor, if you detect something that you just know is not right, they’re giving you bad data, or they’re showing you a schedule that is not, you know, you do a reality check on it and go, okay, this doesn’t – no.  This is not going to fly.  How do you confront that behavior?  How do you establish that trust?

BRAD JACOBS:  You know, like I said, when you’re a project manager, you have to take control of the project.  If I should see something, if there’s smoke, there’s fire; right?  So you have to call it out.  You can just – you have to do so in a way that’s not going to erode the relationship.  You just have to – there’s been plenty of cases where I’ve seen a schedule that’s not going to make sense.  And you just – you have to give it back to them and say, “This isn’t going to work.  This is why.”

Again, that’s a reason why it’s good to know about your own project.  I mean, you have to know, basically, not the details of the project, but you have to know a little bit about everything so you can understand, and you can pick out when a schedule may not be right because a lot of times people will feed you a schedule, and you’ll say, “Well, it looks good to me.”  But if you know your project well enough, you’ll know that it’s not.

ANDY CROWE:  Brad, something you and I have in common is I’m not afraid anymore to ask questions.  And so I don’t mind just keeping asking and asking and asking.  And I’ve kind of developed a little bit of a brand of that is somebody will get up and present something complicated, and you know what, let’s just break it down until I understand it.  It may take a while, but we’ll get there.  And you do, you have to know a little about a lot of things.  But that kind of skill set just in general about being able to look at a schedule, look at something complicated and start breaking it down to constituent parts.  And you know what?  We’re smart enough to figure it out if you get it, you know, if you get it down to a certain level.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, I’ve worked on multiple different types of projects in my career.  It’s another kind of piece of advice for anybody that’s early in their career.  I went from retail projects to commercial office buildings to roads to way far right into tolling, you know, back to other different types of vertical projects.  Now I’m working on a sports-oriented development.  And a little while ago in my career I said, man, I’ve got a very varied background.  Is this good?  It may be better to work on one particular type of project.  But you know what, now I’m not afraid to work on any type of project that may come my way.  And so I think having that varied background can be a benefit later in your career.

NICK WALKER:  Probably a lot of listeners here are early in their career, like you mentioned.  Any general advice that you would give these folks?

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, I think one of the biggest things, talking about the different types of projects I’ve worked on, chase the projects that you really like, that you really enjoy, that you think are going to mean something to you.  You don’t always have that luxury.  Sometimes you’re forced to work on projects that you may not agree with or see the ultimate goal out of.  But if you can chase the projects that you really like to work on, it’ll bring out the best in your abilities.  And so I think that’s one piece of advice, again, you know, to be known early, make yourself known early on in the project.

BILL YATES:  Have you had a mentor or a coach, or maybe even a manager who’s made a difference in your career?

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.  There’s been some that aren’t so favorable, and there’s been others that are very favorable.

ANDY CROWE:  They’ve still made a difference; right.  They left a mark.

BRAD JACOBS:  Right, yes, very much.  Yeah.  Yeah, the one I’ve worked with right now at LakePoint for the past two and a half years has been an amazing role model for me.  She, you know, a lot more experience than I ever had.  And but she’s also allowed me to chart my own path, you know, if you will, given me the freedom to do that.  So it’s important, you know.  As a project manager you have to be willing to bite off things that you know it’s going to be a project that you may not understand, and you have to – you can’t be afraid to tackle those things that you may not fully understand.  And any mentor has to allow the people they’re working with to do that.  Otherwise they’ll never grow.

BILL YATES:  Right.  That’s good.  So you feel the stretch, but you also have the support of that manager or mentor.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, yeah, for sure.  There’s been times where I want to reach out and say, “Can you help me with this?”  But if I do, then I know sometimes they’ll take it on themselves.  And so it’s that fine line of actually doing it yourself.  Sometimes you have to tell people, kind of give the indication that you know what you’re talking about when you really don’t.

ANDY CROWE:  Brad, this is a different way of asking a question we’ve kind of already talked about.  But I’m curious how you’ve grown over the life of this project as a project manager.  How have you developed?  And really I want to ask it a specific way.  If you could go back and talk to the Brad Jacobs who is starting this project right at the beginning, what would you tell him?  What advice would you give him?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, I think when people first get into projects, they’re a little bit uptight.  You know, they’re still getting the lay of the land.  I think one thing that’s worked out well for me in this project is I’ve just been myself more than any other project in the past.  And in doing so, I’ve established better relationships with other vendors.

I mean, I don’t talk just about the project.  I end up talking to people about their lives or their kids, their families, what they’re doing, what they’ve been up to.  And some people consider that small talk, and it may be.  But it’s really helped me get better relationships with those people and look forward to working with them.  So I think if I would have done that earlier on in the project, it would have just been a benefit.

ANDY CROWE:  Those of us who are sort of task-oriented by default, and a lot of left-brain engineers come from that world, a lot of people who are task-oriented do view it that way.  And yet you learn over the course of your career that everything gets done through relationships.  So I really like that.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah.

NICK WALKER:  You said before to chase the projects that you love, that are really attractive to you.  Obviously you love this one.  Is this one that anybody would love?  I mean, from the outside to say, hey, sports.  This is great.  We’re going to have fun.  This is a wonderful thing.  Is that going to be the case for everybody?

BRAD JACOBS:  Definitely not.  Every single real estate project I had, I wanted to say this, that every single real estate development project has its issues.  And I’m sure every single project that everybody works on is going to have its hiccups.  And so from the surface, LakePoint, oh, it seems like such a great project.  But it’s had its road bumps; you know?  Again, this is the first time that anybody’s done anything like this.  And so in the middle of it it’s tough.  And once you get through those, and you look at the product on the back end, you realize how much your hard work has paid off.  But it’s going to be expected that you’re going to have some hiccups during the process.  And so you just, as a project manager, you have to understand that those are going to come.  LakePoint’s definitely a very cool project to have worked on.  Yeah, I hope to work on it for a long time.  But as with any real estate development project, it’s been a bumpy ride.

BILL YATES:  When you describe those bumps, what were some of those potential bumps or risks that kept you up at night, that you were most concerned about?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, many of the projects were very heavily schedule based.  Perfect Game, for example, I mentioned earlier in the show here that it’s a baseball tournament.  It’s a summer season tournament.  And so you have to be done on schedule.  And so I’ve said before, but when we were finishing those fields, we were literally walking off the back of the fields with brooms as the players were coming onto the fields.  And so that’s one of the biggest things.

You know, with any real estate development project there’s certain risks that are out of your control.  So you can only control the ones that you can.  But there are so many moving parts in these projects.  That’s another thing that keeps me up at night.  And back to the schedule, I wanted to mention that I certainly feel the pressure of the new Atlanta Falcons football stadium because that’s the same type of deal.  It’s very schedule based.  You’ve seen that they’ve announced a couple of delays.  Hopefully they’ll be able to pick back up.  But…

BILL YATES:  You can relate to that.

BRAD JACOBS:  Yeah, definitely.

NICK WALKER:  So what’s still to come now?  I mean, what other projects, and where do we go from here?

BRAD JACOBS:  Well, I work on other projects other than just LakePoint.  It’s been the one that I’ve been focused on for the past two and a half years.  So for me the future may or may not be LakePoint.  If I have the luxury of working on LakePoint to come, there’s another 800 acres on the north side, what we refer to as the North Campus.  And the next thing we’re going to undertake is a bridge over a railroad.  We’re going to build a 1.5 mile long road through the North Campus, move some more mountains, and then the North Campus has more baseball fields, baseball stadiums, track, potentially golf.  There’s going to be some residences for the athletes.  Much, much more of what you see right now.  So that could last for years to come.

NICK WALKER:  Enough to keep you busy for a while.

BRAD JACOBS:  For sure.

NICK WALKER:  Hey, let me jump in.  I want to let our listeners know that they can actually take a look at what goes into building this premier sports vacation destination, through a project manager’s eyes, in detail, online.  It’s a great way to raise your project management game, by following Brad’s experience with the project, play by play.  See what I did there again?  Go to Velociteach.com and click at the top on Online Courses.  Then select Project Stories:  LakePoint.  And you can get a complete view of this project.

Brad Jacobs, once again, we thank you for sharing your experience with us.  We have a gift for you, this little coffee mug sitting in front of you.  I confess we did not move mountains to provide this for you.  But I think you’ll enjoy it anyway.

BRAD JACOBS:  Thank you so much for having me on.  It was a pleasure.

NICK WALKER:  We often talk about what we’re reading on Manage This here.  And so I’m curious, Andy, you been reading anything good lately?

ANDY CROWE:  I have, Nick.  You know, what I’m reading right now, well, let me back up.  What I just finished, I reread the book “The Tao of Objects.”  That is such an amazing book.  It’s actually a book more for the software side of the brain, if there’s a side of the brain for that.  And it really has influenced how I manage and how I think about management.  So I’ll just leave that out there as a teaser.  It’s a fantastic book.  It’s probably 25 years old.  And I’m sure you can still get it.  I don’t think it’s in print anymore, but I think you can still get your hands on it.  But you know what I’m reading?  A book right now called “Papillon,” which you might remember the movie with Steve McQueen.

NICK WALKER:  Sure, yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  This book is absolutely phenomenal, and I can’t put it down.  So I’m having to – this is the first book in probably two decades that I’ve had to say, okay, I’m only going to let myself read 60 pages today so I don’t finish it, you know, it’s that good.  So how about that?

NICK WALKER:  All right.  That’s got to go on my list one of these days, too, then.

BRAD JACOBS:  Very convincing.

NICK WALKER:  Well, thanks again.  Andy, Brad, Bill, we appreciate your expertise.  And not only are the online courses a resource to earn those valuable Professional Development Units, you can earn them by listening to this podcast.  To claim your free PDUs, go to Velociteach.com and select Manage This Podcast from the top of the page.  Click the button that says Claim PDUs, and just click through the steps.

That’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on May 16th for our next podcast.  In the meantime, you can visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact us.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions about our podcasts or about project management certifications.  We always like hearing from you.  That’s all for this episode.  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

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