Episode 111 – Setting the Pace – Bringing Balance into Project Management

Episode #111
Original Air Date: 08.17.2020

33 Minutes

Listen Here
0:00
0:00

Our Guest This Episode: June Mustari

In times of uncertainty, project managers can be the pacesetters that keep organizations on the right path. June Mustari, a certified PMP & Scrum professional, discusses real-life issues in project management that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. June has experienced the magic that happens when project teams work well together, find the right balance of discipline and flexibility, and experience the satisfaction of a successful project delivery.

June serves as the Director of Operations at TruNorth Consulting, a telecom expense management firm founded in Chicago. We ask June about the impact of the pandemic on her work and her customers. She relates a project story about a recent Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) migration, and she shares key takeaways and challenges she faced while managing this project, paying close attention to security concerns.

Hear about the importance of prioritizing communication, asking probing questions, breaking the rules, and seeing things from the perspective of the stakeholder or customer. June also shares advice on staying connected with your team, leaning into emotional intelligence, and treating mistakes as lessons learned.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"It’s all about trust. And I think more than ever trust is our cornerstone in our business. And when you can show up in a way that makes people feel secure, it’s our purpose. "

- June Mustari

"...collect your mistakes as assets. ... You can be mortified at every turn, but when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “... What happened here?,” you can take that and learn from it once you’re over it. ... document them sometimes, like lessons learned"

- June Mustari

Share With Others

In times of uncertainty, project managers can be the pacesetters that keep organizations on the right path and bring balance into their projects. June Mustari discusses real-life issues in project management. Hear practical tips and advice to find the right balance of discipline and flexibility for successful project delivery.    

Table of Contents

01:05 … Meet June
02:36 … Telecom Career and TruNorth Consulting
05:47 … COVID-19 Impact and Bringing Balance
08:39 … Emotional Engagement
10:52 … Collaboration Tools
12:31 … Knowing the Technical Aspects of the Industry as a PM
14:20 … Past Project Story: Virtual Desktop Interface Migration
18:16 … Breakthrough Moments and Resistance on the Project
21:54 … Breaking the Rules
25:54 … Words of Advice and Encouragement
31:22 … Get in Touch with June
31:58 … Closing

JUNE MUSTARI:  It’s all about trust.  And I think more than ever trust is our cornerstone in our business.  And when you can show up in a way that makes people feel secure, it’s our purpose. 

WENDY GROUNDS:  You’re listening to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  I’m Wendy Grounds, and with me is Bill Yates.  This is the show where we sometimes like to delve into the project stories of project managers who are in the trenches.  In today’s episode, we get to sit down with June Mustari.  Why don’t you tell us how you met June, Bill.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, it was such a chance meeting.  June and I were sitting at the same round table at a breakout session, I think Steve Townsend was speaking, at PMI Global Conference 2019 in Philadelphia.  So I don’t know, there were just a handful of us sitting at a round table, and June had really good questions for Stephen.  And some of the things that June shared, I’m like, this is my kind of person.  So we talked during the session and just stayed connected after.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.

WENDY GROUNDS:  Well, June, thank you so much for being here today.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Oh, it’s my pleasure.  I’m very happy to be here.

Meet June

WENDY GROUNDS:  I want to find out a little bit about your career background.  How did you get into project management?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, when people ask me this, I like to say I didn’t get into project management; it got into me.  I really started my career just taking things on that took shape as projects – you know, the beginning, middle, and with an end goal, an outcome that was very clear.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was managing projects.  So then when I actually started to see that there were other people in my network who were formal project managers, I was like, oh, this is a thing, and I really like this thing.

And so I decided to get a little educated in it, and I said I was going to take the PMP exam 10 years before I actually took it.  So people say, “I’m going to take the PMP exam.”  And I said that for so long.  But you don’t actually take it until you schedule it.  Like, that’s when it’s real.  So I did eventually get the PMP, and I appreciated the discipline of that.  I’m a rule follower, so like that was a dream for me.  And I passed on my 37th birthday.  So it was like, I got into my car, and I was like, yes.  That’s a little side note about me being a PM and getting started with that.

So it just kind of took off from there.  Once I had that credential, I felt confidence.  I don’t think it’s about the credential.  I just think it’s about the confidence.  I took formal project management roles right after that, where it was like my title was Project Manager.

TruNorth Consulting and Telecom

BILL YATES:  And June, you’ve been in telecom for a long time; right?  Like I’ve done a lot of work with Verizon, and you were actually employed by Verizon for a long time, and you continue to kind of go down that industry path.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, my M.O. is parachuting into situations, trying to solve problems, and then getting out; right?  So I had like four different roles at Verizon.  When I started, I was a temp, and it just progressed from there.  So, yeah, I’ve spent most of my life in telecom.  I did a quick stint in the financial risk industry, and I learned a lot.  Like I felt like I got 10 years of experience from the leadership there and the projects I worked there.  So other than that, it’s all been telecom, yeah.

BILL YATES:  And tell us about your current position.  You work with TruNorth now.  And if I remember right, this is your second time with this company?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.  That’s actually where I started more formal project management back in 2013.  And I stayed there for a few years, really loved it.  And I left to do my own thing in the bigger project management world, larger enterprises.  So right now what I do at TruNorth Consulting, we’re veterans in telecom, so we understand all the lingo and how bills look, how records look and all of that.  And so we deliver visibility to millions of dollars in telecom spend in one pane of glass.  So we give CFOs confidence and control of the money that they’re spending in their telecom.  We also help onboard people to our enterprise platform so that they can manage their digital transformation from old copper telecom to fiber or other, VoIP, that kind of thing.  I am their Director of Operations.

BILL YATES: Just give everybody a sense for what’s a typical customer engagement like for TruNorth.  So you guys are going in and approaching a business and saying, hey, let us make sure that you’re getting the best deal that you can with your telecom solution.  Let us take a look at the service and the bill and make recommendations.  Is that kind of what you guys do?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.  Typically they actually approach us.

BILL YATES:  Okay.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Because they are so frustrated that they’re seeking to solve their problem, which is a headache around that very problematic industry.  So when we are going to take on a new client, we first evaluate their spend.  How much are you actually spending in telecom?  So we get a good view of that, and typically our clients are 10 million plus in annual spend.  And then we ask them for all of their information – accounts, copies of invoices, anything like that.  And then our engagement really starts when we start putting that stuff in our tool, our solution where you get full visibility to your inventory and spend.  So the project there is onboarding.  Then the end goal is ongoing telecom expense management after that, which is a monthly review of all of your services so you can control your costs.

COVID-19 Impact and Bringing Balance

WENDY GROUNDS:  June, one of the themes that we’re having with our podcasts at the moment is we’re asking our guests what their COVID-19 story is.  How has this impacted your work?  What have you been seeing?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, that’s a really good question.  And I feel like this is a really good way to get different perspectives, by asking these questions.  I ask these questions to people in my network.  For us, personally, True North is remote anyway.  We’re distributed all over the country.  So we’re constantly meeting on Zoom.  We live on the phone.  So we had really no adjustment internally, other than how it affected us on a personal level, each of us responding to this crisis new normal.  So that was the adjustment we had to go through, which was little in comparison to those who had to do both – maneuver going remote in their professional life and dealing with it personally.

BILL YATES:  What about your customers, June?  What have you seen with some of the adjustments that they’ve had to make?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Navigating change is never easy in any organization or enterprise.  So if you’re forced into it, that’s usually where you get the best results, because you have to actually take action; right?  So for them I think, because it is mostly multilocation businesses that have either gone through mergers and acquisitions, which is already problematic in itself, there are many locations.

So being able to get skeleton crews in those locations for broadcasting, for example, you still need to be on the air.  Getting skeleton crews in the studio, going virtual as much as you can, all of that brought light, I think, to our clients that they need better bandwidth, and disaster recovery plans, if they didn’t have them.  It put things into perspective, I think, for them more than anything else.  And so for us, our reaction to that was, hey, get on a meeting with us, we’re going to bring humanity and humor to this situation and make you feel like things are normal, at least for that hour.

BILL YATES:  Nice.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Because we were normal.  So it was actually really cool to be in that position at that time.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, telecom and ISP and connections are vital to business.  And to have someone who can approach it from a baseline of great experience, broad understanding of telecom, and also that humanity, you know, that humor and, okay, I know life has been turned upside down for you guys at work.  So let us help you figure out this piece.  That’s a trusted partner.

JUNE MUSTARI:  It’s all about trust.  And I think more than ever trust is our cornerstone in our business.  And when you can show up in a way that makes people feel secure, it’s our purpose.  It’s great.

Emotional Engagement

BILL YATES:  Nice.  So give us some practicals on that, what are some of the things that you’re doing, like on a daily or a weekly basis, with your either team members or with your customers, to help engage just their sense for where they’re at emotionally?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, so it’s just as simple as asking sincerely and with real concern, how are you doing, and letting them talk about it and listen.  That’s really all that’s required is listening, and, then you know, we do a lot, we are already, because we’re remote, doing silly things all the time as a team.  Like Emily will send out Bark Boxes to teams because most of us have dogs.

BILL YATES:  Describe what that is?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Oh, a Bark Box is a package that comes in the mail every month with treats and toys and cool stuff for your dog.

WENDY GROUNDS:  Oh, my goodness.

JUNE MUSTARI:  It’s, like, this is a brilliant business.  You know, I’m not plugging for them, but I love it, so, and you can do cats, too, yeah.  So surprises, pleasant surprises are really nice. Like I have a box right behind right now, it’s a big Amazon box, I don’t know what’s in it, because we’re not having a summit this year in person, we sent people all kinds of stuff in the mail, and then we’re going to do box opening on Zoom.

BILL YATES:  Nice.

JUNE MUSTARI:  So it’s all a matter of just keeping things light and fun, and, again, listening and responding to how people are feeling.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, when we were talking earlier, you even described something that, again, you may need to define it for us.  So you talked about a crib tour?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Ah, yes.

BILL YATES:  We talking baby cribs?

JUNE MUSTARI:  We had a happy hour where – it was so funny – a virtual happy hour where people kind of just picked up their machines, or if they were on their iPads or whatever, and walked around their house and just kind of showed them around, like this is where my office is, you know, this is where my crazy craft room is or whatever it is. So we got to see a little bit of your house.

BILL YATES:  That’s so cool.

JUNE MUSTARI:  That was a surprise, too.  So I can only imagine how some people must have felt, you know, it’s not let’s see your refrigerator.  That would be an even different story, but it’s pretty fun to do those kind of pop-up things.

Collaboration Tools

BILL YATES:  I like that. So what are some of the tools that you guys are using for collaboration?

JUNE MUSTARI:  So we have traditionally used Asana as a collaboration tool.  And Asana is – it’s a very feature-rich online tool that is essentially task management.  It does have some project management schedule features, and you can create custom fields for things where you want to manage budget or billable hours or whatever that is.  I don’t think it’s created for formal project management, but it does work, and it is collaborative. So it works in a thread-style communication so you can “@” people, and you can get notifications in your email, if you need them.  It’s a pretty cool tool.  Also in our tool, in our solution, we have a project management piece that has action items and different things where we can collaborate there for customer facing.

BILL YATES:  Got you, so that’s a homegrown piece that you’ve got there.

JUNE MUSTARI:  It is, it is.  And it’s really nice. So it’s a feature of our solution where the client can get institutional knowledge or tribal knowledge in something where somebody might have left the company after 25 years, they can see a little history of what went on with that thing.

BILL YATES:  Nice, yeah.  Are you guys using Zoom or Microsoft Teams?  Or what do you use for video?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yes, so we do use Teams, we abuse Teams, it’s awesome.  We’re starting to use channels.  It’s a great tool.  We use that, and then we do use Zoom with clients and internally, but Zoom is what we’re used to and what we like.  So we’re going to stick with it for right now.

Knowing the Technical Aspects of the Industry as a PM

BILL YATES:  When you think about technical aspects of the industry that you’re in, for many project managers they look at it and go, well, I can be a project manager anywhere.  I can work for NASA, or I can work for Keebler, so it really doesn’t matter, making cookies or making rockets, doesn’t matter. I’m a project manager, and so I get that.

I mean, yeah, so sure, there are steps that make you effective as a project manager.  But for me it’s always made a difference if I knew something of the industry, knew something of the technical elements, whether I’m coding or engineering or architectural design.  Whatever it is, if I had some kind of knowledge or experience with that, then it seemed to make my life easier as a project manager. So I know your career has been telecom, and, as you say, project management kind of picked you.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.

BILL YATES:  Has it helped you having that experience in telecom?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.  I actually never really understood how people could be so versatile between different industries.  We’ve worked with some professional services, either the large consulting or the smaller consulting, whatever, and they can just go into any industry and solve problems. I never really understood that, but it is possible because, if you can find a better way – there is always a better way, right? So if you can find a better way and implement that in a way that is disciplined, has a beginning, middle, and end, you’re a project manager.

However, I will say this.  If I am working on a telecom project, I know that I will gain the respect of people who are on that team a lot easier and a lot quicker because they’ll ask me questions, so I’ll know the answers that have nothing to do with the scope or schedule or risks or anything like that.  So it’s important for that to be successful, I think it just happens faster. If you know the business, it is smoother.

Past Project Story: Virtual Desktop Interface Migration

WENDY GROUNDS:  Let’s talk about some of your past projects.  So is there one that you consider one of your best, and can you tell us about it?  What made it a really successful, memorable project for you?

JUNE MUSTARI:  So I can speak to one that is actually pretty relevant today, and as we go virtual to handle the pandemic.  It was replacing a very outdated virtual machine environment, like think desktops.  So VDI, Virtual Desktop Interfaces, where you can use any computer and log into the same desktop, and you can use it at any time.  And when I was assigned to the project, I was told by the sponsor, this is really no big deal. We already have this desktop environment, we’re just upgrading it from an outdated system, so any improvement will be phenomenal, and I was like, great.  This is going to be an easy win.  Awesome.

Wrong.  That was where I learned that all assumptions are risks, and to always trust but verify.  So it wasn’t upgrading existing technology, it was completely replacing it, 100 percent.  I think only one rack in the datacenter may be being used from the previous environment, so it was definitely a surprise.  To make things even more difficult, it was mentioned in passing at the beginning that security would have to approve it.  And when I say “in passing,” they said it, and I think that my mistake was not paying attention enough to that, to know how to get started early and often in approaching security.  So “approve it” meant 26 things, two of which were showstoppers, and no approval for those two things because security rules the world in the financial risk environment, it meant $5 million in wasted investment.

So I would mediate meetings between security and IT engineers who were very – they really loved each other, that’s what I’m going to say.  You know, so I put developers in dark rooms to see if they can trick the systems, and brought Jimmy Johns and all kinds of stuff into that project.  We even had to get a CTO of a very big virtual machine company to find some guy in Ireland to write a PowerShell script to fix one of the things.  Like it was that crazy. So in the end, the lesson learned was anytime there is new technology, if you’re going to spend a bit of money in new technology, there is more risk, exponentially more risk, than spending a ton to change existing technology.  It’s a really important thing, I think, to think of when you’re working a technology or enterprise platform project.

BILL YATES:  I’ve got to say amen to paying attention to security.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.

BILL YATES:  Man, oh man, I can relate to that so well.  For years I worked with a software company, and our clients were companies like AT&T or Verizon or Southern Company or Con Ed, so these companies were very concerned about security.  And early on I don’t say I’d make fun of it, but I just – I didn’t think about how important it was, kind of the power that security had within that organization, that they really could, they could shut something down.

And so to your point of their 26 requirements that they have, they’ve not going to say, oh, you got 15 of them, that’s close enough, that’s a majority.  Go ahead.  Go forth and prosper.  No.  They’re going to shut it down.  So yeah, having to pay attention kind of gets back to stakeholder analysis and just knowing how vital those stakeholders are, and getting their buy-in is so important.  So I can relate to that.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.  It’s important, though. So I also realized how vital security is, and I respect it now more than ever, having gotten into the weeds on it.  I’m glad I learned that, and I’m glad I learned that lesson that, when you hear the word “security,” you go early and often to those stakeholders.

Breakthrough Moments and Resistance on the Project

BILL YATES:  So tell us more about the project, what were some of the breakthrough moments that you had?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah.  So the security issues that were resolved had to be very creative, right?  And we had to get a lot of heads together to figure it out, and so I’ll give you an example. Like one of the things that we had to resolve for is a virtual machine, when it’s turned off, it poofs, it’s gone, and when you turn it back on, you get a new machine. Well, so how is security supposed to see the history of that?  How are they supposed to track any malware?  How are they supposed to look at anything forensically?

So a breakthrough there is you have to really get the right people involved and ask everyone you possibly can, even if you’re annoying, about what they think about something.  And so you can get new perspectives you might not have if you only limited it to your team.  So that was really important for us is to just get as many people in the room as possible.

BILL YATES:  Did you have trouble getting the stakeholders to let go of their old technology?  So if you came to me and said, “Hey, Bill, I’ve got great news.  Your operating system that’s on your laptop today and everything that you connect to for Velociteach, we’re going to put it all up in the cloud, so you can log in anywhere, man.  You can use a Chromebook.  I don’t care where you are.  You can just log in and have access to everything.”  You think, you may get a little resistance from me, so I may have some stuff on my hard drive that I need to pull you aside and we just have a conversation about.  So did you get any resistance?

JUNE MUSTARI:  That’s a really good question because everybody uses a desktop.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

JUNE MUSTARI:  So every single person in the company is going to be a user that needs to test, QA, and release.  So let me take a step back.  We had to migrate all the applications to a new operating system, and so that in itself, a new operating system, is a project, right?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, that’s big, yeah.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Also the developers, and I don’t know the intricacies of it because I’m just the PM, but the developers needed to keep some of the technology persistent.  It could not go poof.  So not just security, but also developers.  My favorite thing about those kind of projects is you have the user who is going to complain about everything and then nitpick the commonsense items.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

JUNE MUSTARI:  And then you’re going to have the user who points out the big stuff that’s the showstopper.  It’s so much to coordinate, and the best thing, again, about this type of user community is how much diversity there is, and realizing the magnitude of it.  So yes, resistance did happen. Last I heard, because I was walking out as they were closing up the project, there were only 21 users left, white-knuckling their old desktops.  So, yeah, there are some people who are more vocal than others.

BILL YATES:  Remind us, too – so I think we talked about this offline.  What was the timing of this project as it relates to COVID-19?

JUNE MUSTARI:  When they finished this up, it was at the end of 2019 last year, early 2020, where most people were migrated.  So this new platform that was beefed up and new and working better  than a dying platform, came out right before all of this happened.  And everybody went remote, so I think it did two things:  stress test, which was pretty much impossible before this, and, number two, it helped in a situation where people needed their machine more than ever at home.  So good timing.

Breaking the Rules

BILL YATES:  June, one of the funny memories I have when I first met you, again, we’re sitting at a round table, and so the speaker, Stephen Townsend, was really opening up the conversation to those who were there.  So he was going off of this theme of “cook versus chef.”  And, you know, some project managers are great at following steps, but I really need to have those steps delineated. I need to have very clear steps, and then I’ll execute them, or I’ll have my team execute them, versus a chef who’s put in an environment that may be a little less defined and nuanced.  So that chef is going to look to maybe bring ingredients off the shelf that others wouldn’t anticipate.

So I cannot remember how Stephen brought this up, but I remember you making the point that, you know, “I’m kind of a rule breaker.  Sometimes I think that to be successful as a project manager you’ve got to break the rules.”  There was a lot of agreement in the room, there are times when you feel like you need to break the rules.  So what advice do you have for us?  How do you know when to break a rule and when to not break a rule?

JUNE MUSTARI:  As I told you before, I’m actually a rule follower; right?  So when I break rules, it’s in small doses, you know, it goes under the radar a lot.  And some examples of that are releasing noncritical features into production before anybody really should be releasing features because it’s not part of a formal release, although it’s going to help a few people, and it’s not going to really cause any big problems. So there is a risk in that, though, because when you think it’s a little feature change, it could be big.  So yeah, breaking a rule there is kind of, you know, it’s a toss-up.

And so I think the other rule, which is not necessarily a rule, it’s kind of a social contract, you have to remain professional, and you have to have some boundaries and lines you can’t cross with people.  And I am not afraid to cross those boundaries and those lines with some people, and so I am constantly appealing to the human aspect of my project team.  I’m the one who’s going to get to know them and know how many kids they have and know what their pets’ names are, and so there’s a personal aspect to that.

So I don’t think that’s breaking the rules, I think it’s just something that I’m not sure every PM does.  The PMs that I worked with as part of a project team, they didn’t really know me, and I don’t know if they knew people on their team, so like I said, it’s more of a social contract thing than it is a rule.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, so you’re making me think of a situation, too, June, which I like it when team members treat everybody equally, and there’s not this military desired tier or rank or something. If somebody says, hey, look, we’re not looking at this with the right perspective, so I want them to bring it up.  You know, whether it’s to the leader or the other team members.

Specifically, I love it when somebody challenges the team to look at something from the perspective of the user or of the customer or of the sponsor.  Something that maybe we’ve been so busy doing the work, and we’ve already gotten sign-off on the scope and the requirements, so we’re just banging it out, and we’re making these micro decisions.  And then somebody says, “Hey, wait a minute, guys.  Sure, the person paying the bills has agreed to this, but what if we did these extra things?  Don’t you think that’d make life better for the end user?” So I like it when people kind of challenge the status quo and break the rules that way.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, I so agree, and I think it’s just being able to see it from their perspective. So from frontline, midlevel, project team member to the executive even, you have to see it from their perspective. So what are they going to have to tell other people?  Nobody likes to be blindsided by things because they didn’t get it done, because nobody took that extra step to find out if they could make it easier for them.  There are a lot of things to say about that, but I totally agree, you have to really think about it from their perspective and be part of the team.

Words of Advice and Encouragement

WENDY GROUNDS:  June, so do you have some extra encouragement you can give to project managers that are maybe starting out in their career? So we have a lot of listeners who are still fairly new to project management, what could you tell them?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, so I think the first thing is get a mentor, or someone you can count on to give you that wisdom and advice.  Whether they know they’re a mentor or not, just seek that person out. So be willing to ask those questions and put yourself out there, you know, walk into their office and close the door and be like, “You got a minute?”  Or ask them to coffee, even if they don’t know it.  It could be formal or not.  Get a mentor and network.

So Trust your gut.  Take chances.  If there’s no documentation or a way to do it, invent it, and always stick to the basic disciplines.  You may not have to do every single little thing that you may have learned in your training, but you have to bring the discipline to a team that is not.  Getting started in PM is first of all realizing that you like PM, and then also be aware of how other people are impacted by your decisions because that will lead you to knowledge.

So The last thing I’ll say is collect your mistakes as assets, it’s a big thing.  You can be mortified at every turn, but when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “Why did I say that?  What happened here?,” you can take that and learn from it once you’re over it.  So it’s even good to document them sometimes, like lessons learned, it’s the same principle.

BILL YATES:  That’s so powerful, I grew up playing a lot of sports, and often when I think about that I think about the game tape.  What coaches typically do right after a game is they go watch the game tape, and then they break it down.  And then they can give specific advice to team members and go, “Okay, here’s – let’s watch what happened, and then talk me through it.”  It’s so powerful, we do this in other ways, in sports in particular.  So why not do it professionally so we can be better tomorrow, we can be better in the next project.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, so I was told by a very wise person in my last role about a concept of radical candor, which is a way to have compassionate criticism of people.  And he told the story of Sheryl Sandberg had a colleague who said “Um” a lot in her meetings, and so she just went to her and said, “Hey, you’re saying ‘um’ a lot in your meetings. And it makes you look stupid, and so I want you to know that I have a speech coach who can help you, and we’ll pay for it.”

The woman, I guess, was just like, a huff, you know, about it, but in the end the truth was she stopped saying “Um.”  You know, like that bit of advice was really important, and so there was nothing meant by it, just have to point things out in a compassionate way and relate it to yourself.  “I used to do that, so here’s how I got through it.”  I do bring that to my team and my company.

We do have a follow-up to meetings with clients that we go through that list.  What went right?  What went wrong? So what are some growth opportunities for you? And what didn’t you like, what you liked, so that kind of a thing, and it’s formal.

BILL YATES:  That’s a great practice.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, so that story I just told, it’s funny because somebody may hear it and be like, it didn’t go like that, but I hope I got the gist of it right.  Just look it up.  Radical Candor.

BILL YATES:  So June, I want to ask you this question, if you look back, what advice do you wish you had received earlier in your career?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Yeah, so professionally, I would say listen and learn, like sit down, shut up, just listen and learn, and have humility.  Because I would go in some cases just straight to a decision or a conclusion and bring it to the table without having actually studied the situation and listened. You know, get educated, like I said, so I waited to take that exam for 10 years, and I kept telling people, “I’m going to take it.”  Just do it.

Do what you say you’re going to do.  Say please and thank you, be on time, because these were all things that kind of just got lost at first, and I had to learn the value of that as I grew into my career.  And again, those mistakes that you make, June, put those in your pocket because they’re going to be good for you later, instead of just beating yourself up.

BILL YATES:  The very first one you shared kind of reminds me of the “Hamilton,” you know, “Talk less, smile more.”  That’s certainly something, so it’s like early in my career I felt like I had to prove myself.  So I would just blurt something out without really thinking it through, or thinking about how it’s going to land on other people’s ears in the room.

JUNE MUSTARI:  I so relate to that, Bill, I like how you said  how they hear it tapping on your ear because that’s what it is.  It’s in the moment that they hear it, it can be so powerful.

BILL YATES:  So June, thank you for letting us take a look inside you and how you tick.  We really appreciate it, and one of the things that we love to share with our listeners is a look inside at somebody who’s there in the trenches, performing project management work, and especially in light of the challenges that we have right now with COVID-19.  So thank you for your transparency and your willingness, yhank you for your time today, really appreciate it.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Oh, I’m so happy to be here, and I hope something I said helps somebody out there because it’s a wild world.

Get in Touch with June

WENDY GROUNDS:  One last thing, so where can our listeners get in touch with you if they want to talk to you a little bit more?

JUNE MUSTARI:  Oh, I welcome that, both ingoing and outgoing,  I want to hear other people’s perspectives on things, too.  So you can reach out to me via LinkedIn, I’m there, and it’s just June Mustari, search me out, and I will accept your request.

WENDY GROUNDS:  We want to say a really big thank you, so we’re going to send you a really nice big mug.  I know you listen to our podcast, so you’ve probably heard about the mug, and we would love to send you one, just to say thank you so much.

JUNE MUSTARI:  Oh, my god, I love it, thank you so much.

Closing

WENDY GROUNDS:  Thanks for joining us this week on Manage This.  Make sure to visit our website, Velociteach.com, where you can subscribe to the show so you’ll never miss an episode.  While you’re at it, if you found value in the show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes, a comment on our website, or, if you simply tell a friend about the show, that would help us out, too.

So you have also just earned some Professional Development Units by listening to this podcast, to claim your free PDUs, go to Velociteach.com, choose Manage This Podcast from the top of the page, click the button that says Claim PDUs and click through the steps.

That’s all for this episode.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

5 responses to “Episode 111 – Setting the Pace – Bringing Balance into Project Management”

  1. Avatar Sandy Peluso says:

    Enjoyed the conversation with June very much!

  2. Avatar Mariya Power says:

    Enjoyed the conversation with June. She’s great and I agree with many points. However, I thought that the example with Sheryl Sandberg was rather negative. I would not want anyone to communicate like this with me, nor would I allow myself to say “you sound stupid” to any of my colleagues. That’s just not acceptable.

    • Avatar Wendy Grounds says:

      Hi Mariya, thanks for your comment, I understand your point of view. I put a link to the actual story in the episode transcript. Here’s a copy of it https://firstround.com/review/radical-candor-the-surprising-secret-to-being-a-good-boss/ Sheryl Sandberg actually said “…it makes you sound stupid” which is perhaps not as harsh as “you sound stupid”
      Kim Scott (to whom Sheryl Sandberg spoke those words) was not insulted and actually grew from the honest criticism. In her words: Scott knows now that it was the kindest thing Sandberg could have done for her. “If she hadn’t said it just that way, I would’ve kept blowing her off. I wouldn’t have addressed the problem.” Perhaps Sheryl Sandberg’s choice of the word “stupid” would offend some (it’s not a nice word) but June’s point that we should not avoid honest criticism is worth considering.
      Thanks so much for listening.

  3. Avatar June Mustari says:

    Mariya you are absolutely right in the context of my extremely abbreviated version of that story. Wendy said it best here, and I highly encourage reading Kim Scott’s material because it is the real version of that story and so much more on the very meaningful topic of honesty that builds people up, not tear them down. I left a lot out, but the main thing is that before she said anything involving the word “stupid,” she communicated compassionate criticism by pointing out the facts first with sincere intent to help her grow. She was bringing something up, something a lot of people struggle with (ummm is something I struggled with until reading that book to be honest), that some others may have been hesitant to point out. I am still learning myself in how to practice radical candor with grace, and it is not easy! I’d actually like to hear other perspectives on this, so thank you for bringing this up.

  4. Avatar Karen Delaney says:

    Interesting topic. Can relate to many of the things in this discussion especially regarding projects and the more you know the industry, the more you can offer to your customer because you have both business acumen and PM skills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{"cart_token":"","hash":"","cart_data":""}