November 2017 - Tips and Discussions

Posted by amc on 11/08/2017 6:32 pm  /   Toastmasters

Project Management Toastmasters Clubs - Tips and Discussions

Quote:"Those who tell the stories rule the world” – Natïve American Proverb

-  Toastmaster International's "90 Tips From 90 Years" 

20. Embrace your unique style. Don’t copy the style or gestures of other speakers, as your audience will sense a lack of authenticity. Be yourself; no one does that better than you can. 

Do you have all the tools you need to succeed? 

Philosopher Thomas Carlyle famously said: “Man is a tool-building animal.  Without tools, he is nothing, with tools he is all.” 

Life is a do it yourself project, and a toolbox, well stocked with skills, can make it much easier.  As you go through life you can acquire the specialized tools you will need for success if you listen to others, study rigorously, and practice using the tools you have already acquired. 

  •         Toastmasters is a place where you can pick up new skills to add to your toolbox.
  •         No one can build the future you envision except you.  So select the best tools and build a better you.

A book worth reading, “TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” by Chris Anderson (Head of TED). 

Chris states, “I wish to persuade you of something: That however much public speaking skills matter today, they’re going to matter even more in the future.”  

Chris says that a Talk Renaissance is going on today.  Ted talks, that today are viewed 100 million times per month are a demonstration of this trend.  New knowledge and ideas are spreading at a pace never seen before in human history.

Chris also says, that today in the connected era, we should resurrect the noble art of rhetoric and make it education’s fourth R: reading, ’riting, ’rithmetic … and rhetoric.

The revolution in public speaking is something everyone can be a part of. If we can find a way to truly listen to one another, and learn from each other, the future glitters with promise.

What makes TED work is not really just the synergy between technology, entertainment, and design. It is actually the connectedness of all knowledge.  Your number-one mission as a speaker is take something that matters deeply to you and to rebuild it inside the minds of others.  TED’s uniqueness lays in being a place where people from every discipline can come together and understand each other.

-Excerpted from Toastmaster magazine, October 2017 authored by Balraj Arunasalam, International Toastmasters President, DTM

-Excerpts from Rashid Kapadia’s review of “Ted Talks, The Official Guide to Public Speaking”

-Excerpts from Chris Anderson’s “TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” 

You can learn more about telling your stories at a Project Management Toastmasters Club! 

Project Management Toastmasters clubs are open to all, but members are predominately professional project managers. Houston Area Project Management Toastmasters Clubs are sponsored by PMI Houston and aligned with the goals of PMI International.   Certified PMPs receive Professional Development Units (PDUs) for participation.    

From the President

Posted by amc on 11/30/2017 1:07 pm  /   Presidents Letter

My leadership term is drawing to the end. 

Thank you to our members for entrusting me to lead this organization.

It’s been an amazing opportunity to serve you and work with some fantastic volunteers.  Three years have passed since my election to SVP Internal, the first step in the procession to chapter president.  After finishing my tenure as president, I will serve as an advisor to the board.

I look back on our accomplishments of the last 3 years with pride.

We partnered with the Points of Light foundation to provide pro bono project management help, and introduced networking events in addition to our chapter meetings. As SVP External I managed our annual “Power of You” conference. PMIH supported the HISD back to school senior event by teaching basic project management life skills.

This year we’ve improved our website, and continued to promote regional networking opportunities. We’ve updated chapter meeting locations. The annual conference was successfully delivered in June. The Board has worked to balance our budget by reducing costs, to ensure that our PMIH remains solvent. Finally, open board roles going into 2018 have been filled, and we are fully staffed for the first time!

Thank you to our volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Volunteers provide the initiative to support our membership and grow our profession.

These individuals have a vision and love for PMIH, evident in their contributions of time and energy. Again, thank you so much for your support!

PMI Houston’s future depends on development of leadership!

As I hand the reins of the presidency over to Terry Minhaus, I encourage him to work with the organization to recruit volunteer leadership among individuals with a love for our profession who want to support and grow PMIH.

There are opportunities to serve.

Lead or Director Roles - Leading a group of volunteers provides an opportunity to grow leadership skills. The Get Involved tab on the PMIH website ( is a great place to start.

Running for a PMIH board role is an opportunity to give back to our profession. Assume a leadership role to enrich one of our 6 committees and define direction and services for our membership.

If you can, I encourage you to run for office in 2018 for the term starting in 2019. Roles that will be available include VP Finance, VP Marketing, VP E Business, and VP Membership. These positions provide great opportunities to contribute through mentorship and service. You can learn more about these roles on our website (“About > Organizational Documents” tab).

I am leaving you in good hands with our 2018 Board of Directors. Please support our board by volunteering, participating and providing feedback. This is your chapter! Support it, grow it and define its future.

See you around Houston, home of the World Champion Houston Astros!


You, Robot! by Thomas Goebel

Posted by amc on 11/30/2017 1:07 pm  /   Professional Interest

Isaac is an alien robot on The Orville, a new comedy series from Fox.  He comes from a planet inhabited entirely by non-biological beings who feel they’re superior to humans, accepting the post as a way to study that inferior lifeform.  Predictably befuddled when introduced to the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of human life, Isaac proves a quick study and is soon with the program, carrying out practical jokes and using slang.

Is this going to happen?  We read daily of new applications for robotics.  Some, like a recently introduced faux dog, are innocuous.  Others raise questions about ethics and the survival of our species.  Designers are getting better and better at creating robots that mimic human actions and speech.  But how close are they to thinking like people, solving problems, or maintaining complex relationships with others?

Academia and the private sector are hard at work trying to answer this question.  While the former concentrates primarily on the larger questions (human-like thought processing, motion, mimicry), the latter is dedicated to creating robots that solve industrial and domestic problems (cleaning, dangerous occupations).  Ethical questions, when they come up, are typically brushed off with a kind of myopic optimism.  This peculiarity is also evident when the subject is worker displacement.

Enter Project Management.  It is tempting to invoke expert systems when trying to discern the effect of robotics on the future of our industry.  An expert system takes a systematic approach to problem-solving through a tree-type algorithm that explores decision branches and settles on the best possible outcome.  It’s simple enough to plug such an algorithm into the “brain” of an android that’s also been programmed to drink coffee and talk about football.  This formula, on second thought, is fraught with stumbling blocks precisely due to the unpredictability of humans and happenstance.  Humans can invent problems where none have ever existed, and happenstance will conspire with Murphy’s Law to ensure that the impossible occurs at the worst time.  Voila!  Our “expert system” has just become an “update system”.

You techies out there are now itching to ask about machine-learning.  Much more advanced than expert systems, machine-learning algorithms actually learn from experience and apply these lessons as they keep working.  Used heavily in the financial industry and increasingly in the medical sector for activities like microsurgery, machine-learning technology is growing by leaps and bounds.

But you, Project Manager, have a secret shield.  Your job not only involves making multiple decisions, taxing for the most advanced algorithm, you are also regularly required to arrive at these decisions simultaneously.  This means that the outcomes of any or all of the decisions affect both inputs into, and outcomes from, the rest.  Sound like something a machine can do easily?  Additionally, a significant part of your job is a little something called stakeholder management.  The “management” part of this often has far less to do with the mechanics of solving problems than with soothing ruffled feathers and offering reassurance.  In other words, the emotional component of project management remains high, and it will be some time before the AI industry is prepared to jump into that pool.

So, while the auto industry and agriculture are snapping up robots for assembly and planting, it would appear that project management, for the time being, is safe.  R2D2’s not coming for your job.  He can’t even hold his own in a conversation at the water cooler.