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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Attitudes Toward Accents

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 3/3

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 2/3

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 1/3

One Step Ahead – Blog creation

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 (12)

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 3/3

During the following week to the speech, I wanted to get some feedback.

I checked my chapter LinkedIn group, I not only posted a survey also, I sent more than 400 personal messages thru LinkedIn, and I get some amazing answers.

Today, more than one month after the presentation

  • Less than 10% of LinkedIn group members attended the presentation. Most comments were:
    • Can’t attend to an event during business hours
    • They weren’t aware of the session
    • And they ask if they can see a webinar
  • My LinkedIn network has grown in about 500 connections.
  • Attendants contact me, to get more information about social media. Also I helped some of them to improve their LinkedIn profile. 

Each one the experience is different but based on mine, if you want to make a presentation in your chapter take in mind.

- Know your chapter. You’ll feel more confident if you already meet the director boards, or maybe some members.

- Agree on all term and conditions. Usually, the chapter will send you an agreement, but they are quite standard. Maybe you’ll be interested in know before hand simply things like

                     - Can I upload the presentation in SlideShare?

                     - Can I propose the presentation content in

                     - Will be the presentation recorded? When and where will be updated?

                     - Will you send to the attendees a survey?

                     - Will you provide me feedback about the presentation?

                     - Will you be interested in my participation for other chapter sessions?

           - Could you write me a recommendation letter to send to other organizations?

Yes, easy questions that I completely forgot, and after the presentation was more difficult to get answers.

Don’t be shy, you can give back more than you imagine.

Do it! It’s an amazing and challenging experience.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed and learned something with my experience.

If you think that your chapter will be interested in this presentation, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The presentation is available to download in the following link.

Thank you for your comments! 

Posted on: March 31, 2017 12:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 2/3

One week before of the Big day, my chapter sent a promotional email, announcing the event. I couldn’t avoid sharing it with my personal Social Media. 

This is me:

And this was the other speaker, yes, you can google it, he is an actor, bishop, writer, and professional speaker. 

My thoughts at this moment “Oh my gosh! This will be more challenging that expected”

The big day arrived, as the session was scheduled in business time, I was expecting about 50-60 people, in a training environment.

When I arrived at the place, I saw that. 

I asked my only POC in the chapter about the number of attendees, about 130…at this first moment I wanted to disappear.

First TODO, test the computer…as always, issues with the connections, how that was possible, I tested hundred times at home, with different monitors, friends projectors…and as always. Murphy’s law.

After, I observed a camera; I asked if they are going to prepare as a webinar, or share in someplace, my POC explained that they were going to test it for the first time. Again, I wanted to disappear for the second time. I wasn’t aware of that.

The moment arrived; I did one step ahead and did my presentation in the stipulated time.

After the presentation, my tablemates congratulated me. 

We had an amazing lunch and networking time, and then a professional speaker started his speech. Wow huge a difference! Then, I’ve realized that I was lucky to start first; else, I really would have disappeared. 

Lesson Learned 3 - Don't assume anything

Lesson Learned 4 - Be prepared for technical issues.  

Lesson Learned 5 - Challenging opportunities make me grow. 


Posted on: March 24, 2017 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

One Step Ahead 2 – Chapter presentation – Part 1/3

There are two things that I love, speak and write. Translated that to my daily job, is documenting, training and coaching.

When I worked as SAP consultant, I had more opportunities to train my users, prepare documentation, present it in front of about 50 attendees, and you can not imagine how pickier, they can be with their unplanned questions.

Now as Project Manager, my training skills strength have been moved to a background, because, I use to schedule the training and verify it. But I’m not the protagonist; I’m not in front of the exigent audience trying to engage them to the amazing SAP world.

Moving to the USA, and after to a new state, was a challenge. During the last years I tried to contact my new chapter, finally, the opportunity arrived.

I realized that my new chapter members aren’t very actives in Social Media, neither the chapter. Then I proposed to talk about Using Social Media as Project Managers.

I had less than 3 weeks to prepare the presentation, that was very challenging because was my first educational/presentation in English (It’s not the same that led a SteerCo meeting, lol) and I didn’t know the attendees.

  • Number of attendees
  • Social Media skills
  • Industry Sector


Hence, I decided to prepare a basic presentation with the following content.

  • Introduction: Social Media – Definition, Usage data, Myths
  • Social Media –In our projects/organizations
  • Social Media – Platforms and usages
    • There are about 600 members of my chapter on this site, less than 5% have an updated profile. Then I explained the benefits to update and participate in this site.
    • LinkedIn. Account creation and tips
    • Facebook. Page creation, group creations. Benefits that I get using social media to know the team.
    • Twitter. Account creation, using # 
    • WhatsApp. What is it, how it works and how it helped me to reduce my project costs.
  • Planning for Social Media. Review few key questions
  • Conclusions

Lessons Learned 1 - Usually people at chapter are very busy, and take a lot of time and emails to got an answer. Be patient, but don't stop trying. 

Lessons Learned 2 - Try to understand know your audience in order to prepare properly the material. 

Posted on: March 17, 2017 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

One Step Ahead – Blog creation

It seems yesterday when I joined this community. I started asking some questions as Anonym, maybe I was shy or maybe I was overwhelming to see the quantity of great contributors and people with impressive resumes and career paths belongs to this community.

When started to prepare PMP certification, I found very useful the PM Challenge, and I used it to test my knowledge in different knowledge areas.

After get my PMP certification, I started to participate, more actively, on a daily basis, discussions, polls, comments in articles or blogs.

Articles or Blog? I never had a blog before. But I love to write and share my experiences.

I asked the community, why they recommended - participate in this community with a blog or maybe an article.

Then as we said in catalan “dit i fet” (said and done), I started the blog.

I thought about the benefits

  • Challenge myself and improve my English skills.

I’ve read that writing serves to memorize and create a foundation for the newly learned knowledge. Well, maybe writing on the computer is not the same as writing by hand. Whatever, in my case, write in English something different a technical documents or meeting notes and serves to continue learning.

  • Improve my network.

Although blogs are not the only or best way to meet new people, they are a means to start a relationship that can end in a new friend, contact or client. Being new in the United States, I know that I have to work and increase my network.

  • Share my knowledge.

The advantage of a blog is that it allows me to demonstrate my skills and knowledge, which may surprise more than one executive or hiring manager.

From my point of view, a blog demonstrates an entrepreneurial capacity that many hiring managers may be looking for.

  • Giving back to the community

As far as I remember, we can ask for PDU’s for this blog, in the category of giving back.  Today, I don’t request for those. But maybe my experience or my entries will entertain or help other members of this community.

Then I used my PM knowledge to start.

Initiating Process Group

Identify stakeholders

Project Management community, avoid writing about vacations or your how kind is your neighbor and his automatically snow removal…try to don’t talk only about IT.

Planning Process Group

Plan scope management - Content variable, from lessons learned to how frustrated I felt. (example previous entry VP of Buzzwords)

Define activities & Estimate activity duration

2 hour to write the post + grammar check.

30 min formatting and uploading in the site.

It means at least 5 hour month.

Plan schedule and develop  – 2 Post per month on Friday.

Plan Quality management – Check and ask for feedback

Plan Communication management – Review one a week the comments in your post.

Plan risk management & identify the risks

  • No ideas
  • No time
  • No engage

Risk responses

No ideas – read a book and comment here, review the last IT news,  check the discussions, check other social media.

No time – Review the agenda, update the frequency of publications.

No engage – Read about how to create an amazing post or blog

Executing + Monitoring and Controlling

Now I’m in this step, I’ve realized that when I started the blog the frequency of posting was easy to keep.

During January I’ve only posted one entry, I’ve checked the plan, the content and now I’m checking my agenda (Control Schedule), and daily schedule to continue on plan. Was a little deviation of January + February, but with the risk analysis responses planned, I should keep going (Control Risks)

Regarding the interacting with the stakeholders (Control stakeholder engagement), not all post are having the same rating or number of comments. I’ve realized that I should work on the title and the summary in order to engage more people to read it.

I’m answering and all the comments in my posts and give more information or feedback to those that participate (Control communication)


At this point from my point of view, I’m trying to do my best. And I should keep going.

Do you have a blog? Did you plan it before start? What are your risks? 

Posted on: March 10, 2017 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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