Step by Step

Step by step, day by day. Sharing my thoughts, frustrations, adventures, experience and bit of knowledges to become a great project manager.

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Recent Posts

Project Management para todos: Los Propósitos de Año Nuevo (Spanish Edition)

Once Upon a Time ... The Art of Storytelling

There are no bad experiences, there are opportunities to grow.

Be like Ana - Meeting Ground Rules

Attitudes Toward Accents

Project Management para todos: Los Propósitos de Año Nuevo (Spanish Edition)

No me puedo creer que hace casi un año, se me pasó por la cabeza la descabellada idea de partiendo de la idea de un post que escribí en este sitio web:

Empezar un nuevo proyecto en mi vida personal/profesional...Convertir un post en un libro! 

Muchas horas, días y meses después, ahí está..en Amazon! 

Puedes ojearlo o adquirirlo en Amazon USA, UK and ES.

Posted on: December 11, 2017 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Once Upon a Time ... The Art of Storytelling

Every day a new buzzword appears in the world of project management. One of the words that we are hearing lately is “storytelling”. 
Storytelling is not something new or innovative, it has been used for years in commercial and marketing departments. At the project management level we are finding that storytelling offers a new way to connect, engage and motivate our audience. 
Robert McKee, an award-winning writer and director, explained in a Harvard Business review “executives can engage listeners on a whole new level if they toss their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.” 
From my point of view, we are far from throwing away the most used tool in our meetings, but we can include the art of storytelling in our toolbox. 
Some of the key benefits to including the art of storytelling in our presentations are:

  • Building empathy with the audience
  • Engaging emotions
  • Making our ideas “cling like ivy”
  • Helping us to get the buy-in from our stakeholders
  • Our meeting attendees will remember a story more than data, or a “5 Why’s” slide 

However, while storytelling can spice things up, it doesn’t take the place of some of our other existing skills:

  • Storytelling will not necessarily make us better leaders
  • Stories are not anecdotes
  • Stories are not a counterfeit of reality
  • We don’t need to dramatize our story. 

Try to remember the last meeting or conference that you attended. Was it engaging? Were you motivated and inspired? Or were you just checking the e-mails on your computer?  
And what happens when you are the chairman or speaker? Are the attendees engaged? Are they listening? Do they remember the information that you presented?  
Reflect on your skill-set. Give it some thought. Maybe now is the moment to learn a new tool! 

Originally posted in the PMI-NUC Newsletter Q4 - November 2017
Posted on: November 15, 2017 09:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

There are no bad experiences, there are opportunities to grow.

From a "bad experience", I wrote an article on LinkedIn and here

It's curious because I saw my experience as a learning opportunity:

How is it works in the states? I won't work in this company and I won't apply again, and after few hours of research and interesting English reading that improved my vocabulary skills, I wrote about thousand words in English in less than two hours.

On the other hand, my network basically said, "so sorry", "this guy was a jerk", "welcome to Utah", comments face to face and in my Social Media that I didn't expect. Wasn't easy to explain to them that the important point wasn't the guy, or their attitude, the key point was the opportunity to learn!

Now, the article will become a presentation in one big local organization, about 100 project managers, will learn how to overcome accents when working on international projects. 

Lessons Learnt: There are no bad experiences, there are opportunities to grow.

Posted on: July 14, 2017 05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Be like Ana - Meeting Ground Rules

Leading multicultural and international projects, I realized that an image is much more powerful than a hundred words or "friendly reminders". That's why, taking the example of the viral "Be like Bill or Pepe" (for Spanish version), I decided that during some of my meetings was helpful to prepare a slide with Ana. 

Ana is smart and tries to catch the attendees attention for following basic ground rules for attendants to the meetings.

  • Show on time and prepared.
  • Stay present (mentally and physically - no cell phones, no computers or spaghetti with meat balls that will distract you).
  • Think before speaking. It's correct to disagree, but be respectful, chose correctly your words. Remember to stay in your point and on time. And most important, talk about the issue/problem don't attack the person who is defending the idea. 


Feel free to like/share and comment the article in LinkedIn 

Posted on: May 26, 2017 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Attitudes Toward Accents

One's intellectual ability is often judged on the basis of how well one speaks English. Foreign accents and accents related to variation in style and pronunciation of native English speech can be subject to negative evaluation and discrimination.

Utah with their promotion of Silicon Slopes becomes an increasingly multicultural state, it is to be hoped that we will become increasingly skilled in communicating with those who speak English with various accents as well as tolerant in our attitudes toward all accents.

During my last job interview, the hiring manager wasn’t available to manage properly our cultural differences o he didn’t have the will to do it. After a few minutes of conversation the hiring manager said: “In a non-offensively way, but you have a very hard accent and we don't need waste more time with this conversation, because we work with blue collars, and you know..., they will not understand you”. 

His comment blown my mind, I wasn’t available to say anything, and sincerely him or his company doesn’t need more of my time. But I was curious about EEOC information and if there is a “Standard English Definition”

Is there a Standard English? 

My basis of English were acquired in Europe, it means, my pronunciation of the letters “t” is more strong than in the States, but, I incorrectly assumed that at the end, all is English, and my mix between my Spanish and British accent never was a showstopper for communications, I studied that there are different pronunciations ...tomayto, tomehto, or that past verbs as learned/learnt are completely different spelt, but at the end, all my teachers or mentors always said communications is two ways, and the most important is your will to improve.

In the entry for "Standard English" in The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992), Tom McArthur observes that Standard English "is widely used term that resists easy definition but is used as if most educated people nonetheless know precisely what it refers to." Milroy and Milroy (1999) suggest that Standard English is "an idea in the mind rather than a reality, a set of abstract norms to which actual usage may conform to a greater or lesser extent" 

For people, Standard English (SE) is a synonym for good or correct English usage. Others use the term to refer to a specific geographical dialect of English or a dialect favored by the most powerful and prestigious social group. Some linguists argue that there really is no single standard of English.

Then, is there a World Standard English?

When I read newspapers or listen to the news, from different English speaker countries, I quickly realize that there is no World Standard English version. Each country where English is the first language is aware of their linguistic identity, and try to preserve it. 

And what happen with all the other countries? For those like me, that we have English as a secondary language, I think that we can be grouped into two categories depending on our geographical situation, we were trained to pronounce as American English or British English.

And what about accents? 

The Cambridge dictionary defines the accents as the way in which people in a particular area or country pronounce words.

Sometimes people told me that I talk funny or have a “cute” accent, this is due to features, including duration, rhythm, stress, pitch, intonation, and loudness. (being from Spain loudness is key) 

Lenneberg, E. H. (1967).in his book Biological foundations of language, noted that the degree to which a person can substitute one accent for another is severely dependent upon the age at which the second language is learned. 

Then, at my age or for all those like me, non-native speakers, it is unrealistic to expect sound just like a native English speaker, regardless our commitment, intelligence, and motivation.

Attitudes Towards Accents

In one study, Shiri Lev-Ari, a psycholinguist at the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, asked non-native speakers of Polish, Turkish, Austrian-German, Korean, and Italian to record banal statements like “Ants don’t sleep” in English. Native English speakers recorded the same ones. When native English speakers rated the recordings for their veracity, they rated the speakers with the heaviest accents as least true, while native speakers were rated most true.

From experiments like these, it can be tempting to conclude that the cognitive difficulties imposed by non-native speech inevitably lead to social discrimination.

But as Lev-Ari points out, the more we’re exposed to foreign accents, the more our brains train themselves to parse the speech more efficiently.

Remember, communication is a two-way process, both the speaker and the listener have a responsibility for the act of communication. 

  • Don’t pretend to understand
  • Slow down yourself if doubt ask
  • Resist the temptation to speak louder, don’t assume that is a cell coverage issue in the case of a phone call. 
  • Avoid being rude, and avoid comments like “hard accent, cute accent…”
  • As a hiring manager, recruiter or hr, remember that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and has settled several foreign-accent discrimination lawsuits since 2010
  • Train your brain! 


  • U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Richard Nordquist article updated April 08, 2016
  • Cambridge dictionary on-line
  • Patreese D. Ingram Associate Professor of Agricultural and Extension EducationThe Pennsylvania State University University Park, Pennsylvania Article published on Extension Journal February 2009

Article originally published on LinkedIn

Posted on: May 17, 2017 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

"It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else."

- Erma Bombeck