[00:00:01.450] - Announcer
Do you wonder if others are dealing with the same project management challenges as you? Not sure where to turn for guidance and leadership? Office hours are in session as we discuss Project Management and PMOs with global leaders hearing their story and learning their secrets to success.
[00:00:17.770] - Announcer
Our goal is to empower you and help you elevate your PMO and Project management career to new heights. Welcome back to Project Management Office Hours with your host, PMO Joe.
[00:00:30.010] - Joe
Welcome everyone to Project Management Office Hours. We're the number one live project management radio show in the US, broadcasting to you from the Phoenix Business RadioX Studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe, and for the next hour we'll be talking project management with our special guest.
[00:00:49.210] - Joe
Before we jump into the show, as everybody knows, I'd like to do some announcements up front and just wanted to share, a couple of weeks ago, on September 30, I attended the Playbook conference presented by Trainual, and it was an amazing event with intimate discussions with leaders from some household named brands telling their story as leaders for attendees to be able to interact with them, ask questions.
[00:01:17.230] - Joe
There were some big names there. Shaquille O'Neal, the basketball player, in his post career is now an entrepreneur, and he shared some of his important lessons. Now he's a business owner. Gary Vee was there as well, sharing some of his insights, but also leaders from Zenefits, Animals, Boba Guys, Strava, Loom, Bombas and more.
[00:01:39.850] - Joe
And hearing leaders tell their story and take questions is so important to be able to understand what they went through to achieve success. So often we think of leaders just they're leaders, but we don't know the journey or appreciate the journey that they went on to get there.
[00:01:58.690] - Joe
And if you have a chance to be able to go out to look at that Trainual, Train-ual with T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L. And we'll be having the CEO of the company, Chris Ronzio on as a guest in December to get his perspective on that event.
[00:02:16.510] - Joe
It looked like he and his brother when they were interviewing Shaq, were giddy fans in the groupies talking to a basketball player that they've looked up to their whole career. So interesting to get what they think about that.
[00:02:29.470] - Joe
Of course, also, I want to thank our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. You can go out to their respective sites and learn more about what they have to offer.
[00:02:38.890] - Joe
And of course, everyone, please go out and visit the Project Management Office Hours website to be able to check out all of our past episodes and what we have planned coming up.
[00:02:48.730] - Joe
All right, so today very excited to have with us one of the big names in our industry, Ricardo Vargas. Welcome, Ricardo.
[00:02:57.370] - Ricardo Vargas
Hello, Joe. Hello, everyone. Very glad to be here talking with you.
[00:03:02.050] - Joe
And you, I believe, you are joining us from Brazil by way of original-
[00:03:06.250] - Ricardo Vargas
No, I'm in Portugal today.
[00:03:08.410] - Joe
Oh, you are in Portugal today?
[00:03:08.410] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah, I'm living currently in Portugal, but of course, I'm Brazilian, and my heart is in Brazil, too.
[00:03:15.310] - Joe
Well, we had talked with Marissa Silva a few weeks back. I think she's still in Portugal, but of course, she's now most of her times over in England. So it's great to be able to represent Portugal with multiple guests within a one month period.
[00:03:31.150] - Ricardo Vargas
[00:03:31.750] - Joe
If you could, Ricardo, just take a moment to say hello to the listeners, introduce yourself to them, let them know a little bit about yourself.
[00:03:39.670] - Ricardo Vargas
Okay. Wonderful. So my name is Ricardo, as Joe said. And my whole career is all about project management. So the early start of my career was, I would say, into the software area.
[00:03:59.570] - Ricardo Vargas
So I was working with Microsoft. So I was one of the representatives of Microsoft in Brazil. And of course, at that time, the key things of Microsoft were Microsoft Office, Excel, Windows, Windows 95, and this kind of product. When Microsoft was releasing a tool for project planning, and this was the seed of what became Microsoft Project.
[00:04:26.750] - Ricardo Vargas
And at that time I was a student of engineering. Then Microsoft was, of course, not as big as it today. And they invited me to say, do you want to study this to help us to promote and explain this to our clients because you are an engineer, you know a little bit of technology? And this is how I get into the project.
[00:04:45.590] - Ricardo Vargas
And then it's something like you learn Excel, and then you start trying to understand what's the mathematics behind. So this is how I gave my first steps.
[00:04:55.310] - Ricardo Vargas
And my whole life is about project management. So from my entrepreneurial life in Brazil, where I built one of the largest project management consulting and outsourcing companies in Brazil, consulting in, I would say more than 80 countries, 215 books, two my Masters and my PhD, also with topics, sustainability in project management and PhD. The master's in [inaudible 00:05:23] Valley Project Management, two being volunteer of PMI to become chairman of PMI in 2009.
[00:05:29.270] - Ricardo Vargas
So my whole life is all about project management. So it's very interesting to have the opportunity to be in this show because I think it's very interesting for people to understand the different histories, the different paths that people took during their lives using the same, I would say, the same foundation that is the concept of project management.
[00:05:53.990] - Joe
Yeah, I love it. And as I was getting prepared for the show, I was like, man, where do I state the Brightline Initiative, The 5 Minute Podcast, chairman of PMI, United Nations Office of Services, the Project Economy and MIT certificate ,volunteering in a PMI chapter ,consulting firm. How do you have time?
[00:06:18.890] - Joe
How do you prioritize because we, as project managers, understand the importance of priority. But with so many things involved in your career, how do you prioritize what you work on?
[00:06:30.950] - Ricardo Vargas
Oh, that's a fantastic question. And this is a question that I received a lot. The first thing it is, you need to walk the talk. So if you are telling people that you need to connect ideas to reality, because for me, if we go to the [inaudible 00:06:49] of what project management is about, it's any technique, any matter, anything you do that help you to bridge this gap between what you have in your mind and your aspirations as a corporation, as a government, as a person, to the results.
[00:07:09.950] - Ricardo Vargas
And I always had in my life and my career the desire to drive my career as a combination of projects like a portfolio of different experiences. So just to give you an example. At Brightline, I knew that was for a limited time, that one was a project that PMI assigned me, entrusted me to deliver to them. So I did that.
[00:07:39.770] - Ricardo Vargas
The UN was the same. So I had an expectation to this day, I would say, from 2-3 years, I stayed at five. And this is wide because in a career, and for me, what is very critical if you want to succeed in your career as a project manager, as a project leader, is that you need to look for different experiences because only the experience will allow you to see and to recognize and to create patterns that are not necessarily in books.
[00:08:17.990] - Ricardo Vargas
And this is what I decided. And just to be absolutely honest, I am extremely well organized. I'm extremely... So everything on my agenda is very organized. So I plan my activities. I plan what I need to do. And this is why I would say I can do different things at the same time.
[00:08:40.310] - Ricardo Vargas
And of course, there is another point that for me, I think it's that, if you go deeper, into my perspective for work, you will see that maybe by listening to my voice or the way I speak, you see the passion.
[00:08:58.430] - Ricardo Vargas
And many people think, this passion is because you are Brazilians and this lacking bloody. No, it's not. Of course, there is a trend. But I feel so fortunate because I love what I do and I make my living out of that.
[00:09:14.990] - Ricardo Vargas
So it's just the perfect. I was listening to you talking about Shaquille O'Neal, and I'm pretty sure in their business, it's the same. I'm pretty sure that a very big component of Shaquille O'Neal success story was his passion for playing basketball. And this is like for me.
[00:09:35.690] - Ricardo Vargas
So for example, being with you today, talking about this is a pleasure. And this is why many times, Joe, I don't talk about, and I'm not very comfortable about talking this concept of work life balance.
[00:09:48.710] - Ricardo Vargas
And why this? It's not because I'm a workaholic. No, it's because when you think that there is a work life balance, you are in some way saying that when you work, you don't live. So you need to stop working to start living. And for me, at the end, there is only life. So this is just to give you some highlights on why I can do so many things. This passion component.
[00:10:14.810] - Joe
Yeah. It's interesting you mentioned the work life balance. Within the PMO Squad, as we work with our clients and our employees, we say the world hasn't reversed. It's supposed to be a life work balance, not a work life balance. And we always should put life first and work as part of it.
[00:10:34.850] - Joe
And therefore, the balance just happens because you're prioritizing what comes first. And I have a similar mind as you. I found my purpose. My purpose like you is project management and everything related to it. So I don't have to do anything else because project management is so rich, there are so many opportunities for us that we can come in and run a podcast, we can run projects, we can start an organization, we can build a global community. And there's enough bandwidth there for all of us to go do that.
[00:11:07.910] - Ricardo Vargas
Yes, absolutely. And for me, one of the key things, if you see the steps of my career, for example, as an entrepreneur in Brazil and then as an international civil servant at the UN, these are two quite different experiences. But this brought to me, I would say, a different perspective about how you handle projects.
[00:11:30.290] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, at the UN, the projects are driven by a very strong sense of how you can improve people's lives through rebuilding cities after disaster or war-torn countries. And on the other side, on the for profit environment is how you can help your client to save money, to be faster.
[00:11:53.270] - Ricardo Vargas
But at the end, both have the same intention is how we can do more and more efficient things we want to do. And this is the sense.
[00:12:05.630] - Joe
I'm with you. And all of that wraps into the project economy. We had Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez on a couple of months back, and we talked about this as well. It's understanding that the world we live in is driven by projects. Everywhere we look, you can look to your left, you can look to your right, up, down, no matter where you look, there's a project there. Everything is a project.
[00:12:29.930] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah, absolutely. And Antonio put this perfectly. Antonio is a great friend. What is important today is that the concept of routine, it's now machine related work.
[00:12:48.950] - Ricardo Vargas
All of us, we are paid to think, we are paying to have critical thinking, to solve problems, to innovate. And these are all project related. So corporate operations are now a set of projects.
[00:13:08.030] - Ricardo Vargas
I don't care too much if you call them projects initiatives or whatever, because I know, for example, that some groups on the more agile spectrum, they don't like the word project.
[00:13:20.870] - Ricardo Vargas
I don't care how you call it. For me, everything that connects ideas to reality, I call them projects. But you, you can call whatever you want. But this is the reality. And Scrum, the PMR prints, whatever you use are just tools to help you to get there.
[00:13:40.250] - Joe
Yeah, it's all delivery. I think in Brightline, they've got the 10 guiding principles. Acknowledge that strategy to delivery is just as important as strategy to design. It doesn't mention project in there, but there's an idea that has to get delivered. And whatever you want to label that, who cares?
[00:13:58.610] - Ricardo Vargas
Yes, absolutely. And we did that with an intention. Why we removed the word project? And we did this intentional because many times when you go, and this is what I'm sharing with you, it's sad. It's that many senior executives, many sea levels execs, and this was the root of Brightline, they don't think project management is strategic. They think that generating ideas is strategic that envision the future. But they don't think about their ability to execute.
[00:14:36.530] - Ricardo Vargas
They think about, okay, let's think about cars that fly. Okay, someone needs to create that car that will fly. It's not a drawing. It's not a slideback. It's not a good pitch. Between that idea and the reality, there is a massive gap.
[00:14:53.990] - Ricardo Vargas
And this is why, for example, so many startups fail. Why they fail? Do they fail? Most of them that they receive, I would say, seed funds and they have excellent ideas. The problem is your ability to execute them. This is where I would say the pain resides. And if you don't care about that, you don't transform anything into reality.
[00:15:21.470] - Ricardo Vargas
And this is why we face so many dramatic challenges today in corporations, governments, because it's hard to get things done.
[00:15:30.890] - Joe
Yeah, I'm with you. The conversation Antonio and I had I think it's going to mirror a lot of this conversation because we're so like minded. And it's so obvious once you understand it. But there is a giant leap right from, I'm just a project manager delivering a project to this project is part of something bigger and we're trying to accomplish something bigger.
[00:15:56.630] - Joe
When you speak with project managers, how do you help them understand that they're not just doing a project, that it's a bigger thing?
[00:16:05.750] - Ricardo Vargas
No, this is... First. Now it's becoming easier for me. Okay, in the past, it was a little bit tough. If I go back to the time I was preparing for my PMD exam. This was 1998, 23 years ago, quite a while.
[00:16:25.490] - Ricardo Vargas
And at that time, what was a successful project was the project you deliver on time, on budget, respecting the scope. This was success. People didn't care, okay, is it useful? Does it deliver? No, it was on time. It's an irrelevant thing I'm doing, but I'm doing it on time, on budget, managing the risk.
[00:16:55.010] - Ricardo Vargas
So what happened? It starts happening in the 2000, 2005. And now it's pointless for you to deliver on time, on budget, something that is irrelevant. And this is why, for example, I am so happy, and I'm one of the biggest advocates of what happened with the PMBOK Seventh Edition.
[00:17:19.890] - Ricardo Vargas
And the PMBOK Seventh Edition, that principles, that set of 12 principles, they are for me like gold, because it's something obvious that people don't do. And the fourth one is focus on value. So now for me, it's very easy because I say, every single minute you are doing a project, you need to keep your mind all the time: am I delivering value? Is it still something?
[00:17:45.750] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, I'm developing a new feature of a software, does this deliver value to the customers that they will be willing, I would say, to subscribe or to pay more or to improve advertisement?
[00:17:59.250] - Ricardo Vargas
At the UN, my biggest challenge, it's a challenge to put bricks and build a hospital. It's a challenge in a war or in a very complex environment. However, the building itself, that was, I would say, our role is just a piece of a far bigger.
[00:18:24.090] - Ricardo Vargas
If I build a hospital and there is no doctor, there is no road to access to the hospital, ambulances cannot get in. So I'm building a hospital, but what is the values? The value is when people go there and they have medical assistance, this is the focus on value.
[00:18:43.770] - Ricardo Vargas
So you need to all the time think. For example, during my five years at the UN, we did this a lot. So every time, for example, we received a request from other UN entities or governments to build something for them, we always work together with them and say, who will operate this store or this clinic? Who will operate? Who will give maintenance? How it will work? How it will operate? Is there energy? And it's not just a simple construction, because we did a lot of construction. And this is the concept of focus on value.
[00:19:19.350] - Ricardo Vargas
And this is something that is changing dramatically. And this, Joe, is a fantastic change for good, because now it's a great opportunity for you, for me and for everyone that is listening to really leverage our profession.
[00:19:37.890] - Ricardo Vargas
We are living the basement of something like people put a paper and you deliver something to be part of the true value chain. People are increasing subscription on my website because that feature that we developed during that sprint delivered the value to the customer that create that. So now it's a little bit easier for us to, I would say, to explain, despite of the world becoming far more complex today.
[00:20:08.550] - Joe
Yeah. And this message for everybody listening, I hope this is so clear. I think it was three years ago, I had Dr. Kerzner on the show and I asked him, how do you measure project success? And he said, it's simple. Did it provide value to the business? Why do we have to over complicate this?
[00:20:27.810] - Joe
We had Antonio, how do you measure project success? Did it provide value to the business? Your answer, value to the business. Fatima [inaudible 00:20:37], who's an agileist out of Australia. Fatima, how do you know if the Agile Management Office is providing value? Well, did it provide value to the business?
[00:20:46.710] - Joe
Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, the answer now is, are we providing value? And the question for you related to that is, how do we now overcome 50 years of the iron triangle and the mindset that executives have of is it on time and is it on budget, and getting them to understand it doesn't have to be anymore.
[00:21:10.290] - Joe
It's what you just described. It's all about value. But we have to overcome as an industry, right? As a profession, we've had this barrier that we've been fighting against. And I guess maybe that's why the Brightline Initiative came about. But what's your thoughts on, how do we overcome that?
[00:21:26.070] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah, absolutely. First, this is not easy because it's very easy to talk about something, but not very easy to really do something. What I think are the key players on this. First, the institutions are key players on this.
[00:21:44.010] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, PMI is doing a massive effort on that with Brightline and everything. Several other organizations on the agile spectrum are doing dramatically effort that.
[00:21:56.190] - Ricardo Vargas
I think that new generations are coming in with a different mindset. Of course, it takes time. But now what I see mainly in the past five years and even more with this COVID time is that it's now a matter of survival. It's survival.
[00:22:19.170] - Ricardo Vargas
Let's stop controlling things that are just irrelevant and let's focus, okay, what can we do to really deliver that? If you don't deliver, for example, why, for example, we see a massive challenge in the retail today? Why the retail is suffering so much?
[00:22:39.210] - Ricardo Vargas
The problem is that they are becoming unable. That model is becoming unable to deliver value to the current customer. That is different from the customer of 25 years ago. And COVID, just by putting everybody at home, COVID just help this to happen?
[00:23:01.950] - Ricardo Vargas
So it's a natural progress. Maybe what the retail will see, maybe 10 years down the road will be far different from today. So professions are changing.
[00:23:16.110] - Ricardo Vargas
Joe, probably you had the same challenge I have. Even today, my mum does not know exactly what I do for a living. She knows Ricardo is an engineer. Ricardo is quite successful. He's able to pay his bills and this. But if I ask her mom, can you explain what do I do? She does not know because this is something that is new.
[00:23:45.150] - Ricardo Vargas
If I told her, mom, I'm a doctor, she will get it immediately. Or I'm a lawyer or I'm an engineer, it's very easy. But now what is happening, young generations are becoming more and more aware that project management as a profession... And I need to give you another aspect. I'm writing, just for you to know, I'm writing. My next book will be written with Professor Kezar. [crosstalk 00:24:16] book that will be released. No, it's ready, but it's now with Wiley. So it will be released early next year.
[00:24:25.030] - Ricardo Vargas
And this aims to younger generations on that for people to use project management as a life skill, because project management is a life skill, you don't need... I'm not many at times, and this is why PMI now is talking about these change makers. This is exactly. We are not now, Joe, talking about, you need to work with project management, have this. No, you can be a lawyer and apply principles of project management-
[00:24:53.050] - Joe
[00:24:54.250] - Ricardo Vargas
-to improve. And if this happens, then we'll have really the project going to be bumping and growing dramatically.
[00:25:03.670] - Joe
Yeah. I have the conversation, probably every year around Christmas time with my parents about asking me to help them fix their electronics. It's, hey, the computer is having a problem, can you come over and fix it? It's like, I'm not a computer person, I'm a project manager. I have been for 20 years plus. You're right, they don't understand that generation can't make that leap, they can't connect the dots as to what we're doing.
[00:25:29.470] - Joe
And I love what you said about COVID, too. I think it hit fast forward on the economy about a decade to make us have to do business a different way. And what we found out as people in this life work balance is that the thing that's most popular or most important to us rather, is our time.
[00:25:49.990] - Joe
So retail has to change because I want that package delivered to my house, so I don't have to go to the store, therefore, I have better use of my time. I'm going to work at home rather than driving into the office because I can still get all my work done and be more efficient with my time.
[00:26:05.290] - Joe
And it has changed the way that the economy is evolving, and delivery actually becomes more important because we're not as connected. So it's harder to actually be able to deliver in that disconnected world, and they need those skill sets to do it.
[00:26:19.510] - Joe
So I think we just hit fast forward, it's like going back to the future. We went into a time machine and got sent forward at least10 years.
[00:26:29.710] - Ricardo Vargas
I agree 110 percent. I think that I would say we warp at the time. The time just changes. So for example, what we expected to happen in three, four years in retail, happening three weeks. Nobody was thinking about buying vegetables or groceries online, and I do it now.
[00:26:55.150] - Ricardo Vargas
And now, for example, in Portugal, everything is open now, so it's almost normal. But my habit changes forever. I buy pretty much everything online, unless if I want really to have an experience or to talk to someone. But why I would do that if I can just go online and buy in three seconds?
[00:27:17.380] - Ricardo Vargas
And this also is changing, Joe. I'm using the retail because it's an obvious example, but this is changing. Education, how we deliver education. I'm saying from all levels, how do we evaluate work?
[00:27:35.050] - Ricardo Vargas
I said this last year, and I want to say to you that what we are facing and looking for is a completely shift on the working relationship where you get paid by month, by week, by day, by time. And I think that there is a big trend that you'll be paid by deliverable. If you're working Saturday, Sunday, or whatever, it will be different.
[00:28:02.770] - Ricardo Vargas
And also the concept of geographical discretion is different. For example, most of the projects I do today, Joe, they engage people from everywhere. In one day, I'm capable of walking around the world.
[00:28:19.150] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, last week, I was very early in the morning talking to Petronas in Malaysia. Then I spoke in Brazil. Then I spoke in Seattle. This is the same day. Then I spoke in Frankfurt. And this is one day. So different people from different... And this is the new way we do business.
[00:28:47.110] - Ricardo Vargas
It's different. And this is happening to everyone in every type. And this is far more dynamic. And project management is, I would say, the underlying foundation for you to be able to execute work. Under this, I would say, unstable environment with very clear deadlines and very clear targets and objectives.
[00:29:12.550] - Joe
Yeah. I'm with you on that. And obviously, we have a lot in common in our belief systems here. But we also are very different. Of course, we have different paths, we're all on different paths, different geographies, different countries, but we also have another thing in common is we both have executive certification from MIT.
[00:29:33.670] - Joe
I found out I was there in 2009. You were there in 2010. So we just missed each other by a year. That would have been nice coincidence. But there was Arnoldo Hax as one of the instructors there, and has the Delta model. And I talk about this often with people.
[00:29:52.510] - Joe
I don't use the Delta model term because sometimes people get lost in terminology. But I talk complementers versus competitors. And the difference in Coke and Pepsi, everyone thinks competitors, and I'm like, no, they're actually complimentary. They both have to be successful for the other to succeed now.
[00:30:09.730] - Joe
But what did you take away from continuing your education? It didn't stop just with an undergraduate degree. You've continued to move forward and continue to go.
[00:30:20.230] - Joe
And for our listeners out there, I talk all the time about continuous education and training and not stopping just because you're in a role, you have to be prepared and continue to grow for what's next.
[00:30:32.470] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah. Joe, I think every single one of us, we have different stories. But for me, I come from, I would say a quite simple family in Brazil. And I wanted to succeed.
[00:30:50.590] - Ricardo Vargas
And the only thing I have it's because my both parents, they were teachers at the middle school. And I don't know exactly how it is in the US, but in Brazil, when you are a teacher, usually your kids don't need to pay the fee, the tuition for the school. So you get, I would say, at least three topics so they can go to a private school.
[00:31:16.750] - Ricardo Vargas
And this was, I would say, the main competitive advantage I had in life and say, I cannot miss the opportunity that I have to study. So everything I have today I owe to education. So I have a very good education in the back.
[00:31:36.730] - Ricardo Vargas
And then this became something like, for me, knowledge is your biggest asset, because the knowledge and what you know, you will never lose unless you have a disease that makes you unable to, I would say, to think properly, it's yours. Nobody will tax it. Nobody will say, oh, I'm taxing people, no, because you're smart, then I tax you. Nobody will put at customs if you move.
[00:32:02.650] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, I move it from Brazil to Denmark, and then to... They will not say, let me put you on an X-ray. Okay, no, it's too much knowledge, I need to tax it. And this is your ability, I would say your portable.
[00:32:15.430] - Ricardo Vargas
So what I do, I have two things in my life. The first one, you need to be humble to know that your past success is not an indication of your future success.
[00:32:35.650] - Ricardo Vargas
So I wake up every morning. And, Joe, I need to tell you, I am very successful in what I did. So I built a company from scratch in Brazil. I sold it with 1,600 employees. This company now has 25,000 employees in Brazil. I built it with two partners.
[00:32:53.950] - Ricardo Vargas
So I went to the UN, so I would say, immaterial aspects and excellent life. But I wake up every single morning feeling that I'm facing starvation, that I need to certify. I need to study. I need to learn this and I need to learn that.
[00:33:12.790] - Ricardo Vargas
And I spent, and this goes the second, around 10 percent of my time studying and learning. And I spend 10 percent of my income studying and learning. So I spend money and time learning.
[00:33:30.850] - Ricardo Vargas
So I have a roadmap of what certification works. And this year I did, this was a very big challenge. I did IPMA level eight. That is the top level in Europe for IPMA. I'm doing now a disciplined agile. I attended five or six conferences because we never know the future, so you need to be equipped.
[00:33:54.950] - Ricardo Vargas
This is why, for example, MIT, I did in 2010. You should never, ever feel that you are good enough, that you don't need to learn. And this, just my final, is the biggest mistake that many CEOs have because they reached out the top but they don't think that they are God. They truly believe that they are gods and that they don't need to do anything. They have something like a magic way of... And they fail because they don't see the changing environment. So you need to be exposed to that.
[00:34:33.990] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah. I love that 10 percent of your time and 10 percent of your money on education. I think that's a great benchmark for all of us to find our number. Maybe it's not 10, maybe it's five.
[00:34:46.590] - Ricardo Vargas
This is about a month, a year, and I do that. If people count, I do because I'm very well organized. So I really have a road map of things I want to learn every year.
[00:35:02.370] - Joe
And this is great for me, because I put every one of these shows into my learning category. I sit down with you. I sit down with Marissa Silva. I sit down with Antonio Nieto. I sit down with Fatima.
[00:35:11.130] - Ricardo Vargas
[00:35:12.270] - Joe
All these are learning, right? Yeah. So here's another change in direction for you. So as you talked about, you're the first Latin American chairman for PMI. PMI is in the midst of some change right now. Of course, they came out with a new PMBOK, but the President, he stepped down end of the year. So where's PMI headed? Not that you have any inside information on this, but where do you think they should head? What's the next direction?
[00:35:45.630] - Ricardo Vargas
Of course, what I'm saying to you it's what I'm thinking because, of course, I don't have inside information. First, my relation with PMI is in some ways different because PMI played such a key role in my life that I will never forget.
[00:36:08.130] - Ricardo Vargas
So I have a really love for PMI and love for the professional, and I want the best. And I truly believe that if we look at PMI strategy, and I'm looking deep, okay? I'm not looking on one specific offering [crosstalk 00:36:24], I'm looking deep, that PMI need, and it is working hard to improve that pond.
[00:36:32.550] - Ricardo Vargas
Imagine, PMI community is a pond. And the pond has tissues inside, but when you start fixing, you're attention only to that pond, you miss the opportunity to see other ponds that are maybe creating over time. So it's the time.
[00:36:50.790] - Ricardo Vargas
Brightline was that. Brightline is that. It's how you grow your circle of influence, how you grow and connect to other ponds. So the fishes that are the members, the PMPs, the credential, they can move to other ponds, and they can deliver far bigger value. And this is the concept that PMI brought with the change makers and all these challenges.
[00:37:18.330] - Ricardo Vargas
For me now, of course, that the biggest expectation that I have as a volunteer, as a member is now the situation. Okay, I bought it, change makers. Let's improve the pie. Let's work with more people. Let's embrace agile. But now let's execute and let's get real towards that. And this is where the challenge is. And I'm sure the board of directors will do, I would say, the best and the best. I know them, and they are great people. They will do the best to make sure that this strategy will be properly executed.
[00:37:56.910] - Ricardo Vargas
So I think PMI has a massive community. So it's a massive circle of influence.
[00:38:04.090] - Ricardo Vargas
So when you think about 14,000 volunteers. So it's a massive influence that we can play in this industry.
[00:38:12.250] - Ricardo Vargas
Yes. Speaking of the different ponds, one of them is the Citizen Developer pond that they're working to build now. We've got our next show, actually has got Sam Sibley and Matt Hubbard on, and they're going to talk about Citizen Developer. I'm skeptical if that's a pond they should be moving into, but it's one we should have a discussion about and make sure that people out there aware of.
[00:38:33.670] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah. Honestly, it's on my bucket. So if we recorded this show, I would say a couple of months in August, I would be more able to talk about Citizen Developer because I'm planning to do it this year.
[00:38:51.790] - Ricardo Vargas
And why I'm planning because I don't feel comfortable about talking about something that I don't know. But I believe that Citizen Developer is a kind of application of the project management to one specific arena that is technology, software development. It's how people can utilize their skills into development.
[00:39:17.350] - Ricardo Vargas
Like, for example, if we go back in the past where PMBOK has an extension for oil and gas, an extension for construction. So I see Citizen Developer, as I would say, this extension force technology that is a big trend. But I am not the best person to say all this.
[00:39:41.410] - Ricardo Vargas
If you want to talk about Brightline, I can talk forever with you. But Citizen Developer is something that I need to explore more to give you a strong opinion on that.
[00:39:53.650] - Joe
All right, so let's switch gears again and go back towards education and early in your career. So we get a lot of input from people who are early in their career and they listen to the show because they want to hear how other people travel their journey, and maybe that gives them the courage or the confidence to travel their journey and build their future.
[00:40:17.710] - Joe
Education was very important, as you mentioned. But I'm assuming you didn't start out your career as a project manager, right? How did you get to be a project manager? What was that path for you?
[00:40:29.830] - Ricardo Vargas
Okay. So I was studying chemical engineering, and one of the disciplines was operational research, and I was a very good student. And at that time we were talking about critical path. How do you find the best path? But not talking about projects, but about the math. You go backwards forward, you find the free float, total float, and you do this in a quite complex environment, trying to identify the options. And this is at the same time what I said at the beginning, combining because I had, during my, I would say, the 10 first years of my career, a strong presence of Microsoft.
[00:41:18.290] - Ricardo Vargas
Okay, I started my career, the first job I had in life I was 17 years old and I was an instructor of Windows, Word and Excel. At that time where people were training to know what Word is about. So I was at that time, this was I would say, 1989, 1990, at that time, because I know for the young people, they say, how can someone make a living in teaching Word? This is a very easy job. But at that time, it was different.
[00:41:56.910] - Ricardo Vargas
So with that and Microsoft releasing, this was, I would say, a trigger. And a trigger with my engineering skills to leverage this with the construction companies in Brazil.
[00:42:09.690] - Ricardo Vargas
So this was the spark. And I was at that time founding my company, the company I just told you with two partners. So at that time, that company was a software reseller. Two partners, they built a software reseller. The time that software was sold in boxes.
[00:42:31.650] - Ricardo Vargas
Then they invited me and say, we want a partner to work with education. And I know that you teach because I used to teach for another company, the first job. And then I came to join forces with them. And then we started all the services.
[00:42:48.810] - Ricardo Vargas
In one of the services, I said, why we don't take Microsoft that is really putting a lot of effort on Microsoft project, and we try to, I would say, in some ways, dominate that market with the knowledge because I'm a chemical engineer, I'm finishing my course. And this is when PMI appears in this.
[00:43:10.530] - Ricardo Vargas
And then we start taking that as a path. And then, of course, I started my career also combining two things, my work and volunteer. And one of the best benefits of, for example, becoming a volunteer of PMI is, of course, do the good for others.
[00:43:33.690] - Ricardo Vargas
This is fantastic. But also by doing that, you are doing an extremely good for you because I know so many people, you improve your network, you know people, you know the trends, everything. And then at that time in Brazil, I was able to apply that and bring, I would say, Brazil forward and bring in the opportunity. So this is where everything started. This was, I would say, 1995, 1996.
[00:43:59.680] - Ricardo Vargas
And then I joined it. I found the PMI chapter in Brazil in 1998. Then I became mentoring in 2001 or '02, board member, 2006, and chairman in 2009. So this was, I would say, the journey.
[00:44:21.030] - Joe
The deeper thing I hear there is you recognized opportunity and didn't run away from it. And I think a lot of people in their career, right that, hey, do you want to take on this project, or do you want to move to this organization, or can you move to a different department? And there's comfort in staying where you are, but understanding the opportunity and the risk, you can have great rewards if you just take that chance, right?
[00:44:47.850] - Ricardo Vargas
Joe? What you said, it sounds like magic for me because this is exactly one of my favorite books, it's called Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson. And this book is a 2015 book. But this book is so close to what I believe about career.
[00:45:07.290] - Ricardo Vargas
It's something like, imagine an [inaudible 00:45:09]. You start your career where you are not able to be, I would say, productive professional, but you are learning. So you don't produce too much. And it takes a little bit of time for you to learn, to learn how to work, to learn how an organization operates.
[00:45:28.650] - Ricardo Vargas
Then you have this very strong inclination. When you do a lot of things, you learn a lot of things, is when your career, I would say, move. Back to here is all normal. I would say normal, I would say career wise. But then there is a point where the inclination start to decrease and you reach a plateau. And this is what Whitney calls mastery.
[00:45:56.730] - Ricardo Vargas
And the problem we face today is that when you reach this mastery, you start to be in the comfort zone. And most of the people reach that master, and they go with that master forever.
[00:46:09.630] - Ricardo Vargas
This brings two risks. The first one is that you don't move. You don't learn more. But brings today a massive second risk is that in the past, you would be able to survive by just keeping the flow and stay there until you retire. Today, someone will just break your life and suddenly you have nowhere to go.
[00:46:38.550] - Ricardo Vargas
So what does she say, is that when you feel that you are on this master, it's the time for you to be brave enough to jump, to remove your support and jump to something different that will allow you to do another cycle and grow and then another cycle and grow. And this is what she calls disrupt yourself. I did this many times. Joe, do you have an idea?
[00:47:06.870] - Joe
[00:47:07.710] - Ricardo Vargas
Just to give you one example. I learned English at the age of 22. I have a good education, but because we didn't have money, I learned only this poor English at this school. Okay, very basic.
[00:47:20.790] - Ricardo Vargas
So it was extremely hard for me to learn English, extremely. It was very painful. And imagine for me, with this Brazilian living in a traditional state in Brazil, take my wife and my two daughters and move to Denmark to work for the United Nations, making 10 percent of what I was making, reducing my salary for 90 percent because I wanted to do things that I believe and to learn different things.
[00:47:52.290] - Ricardo Vargas
And suddenly, you go to north of Europe in a completely different weather, environment, culture. And this is scary. But at some point, you need to jump. And this was the best and the worst experience I had in my life.
[00:48:08.850] - Ricardo Vargas
The best because the life experience, the opportunity to help people. And the worst was because all the projects I did was all surrounded by suffering, by violence, by war, by people dying. And this is a very hard psychological to take. And this was one of the reasons why I left because at some point you just lose your faith on everything because you see so much suffering.
[00:48:39.510] - Ricardo Vargas
Sometimes you need to jump. And people are fearful and they try to hold on their current life. And they are not aware that this current life will collapse at some point because technology becomes everything.
[00:48:55.650] - Ricardo Vargas
And this, Joe, is related to one study we did in 2018 at Brightline that originated the People Manifesto. The People Manifesto that Brightline published was exactly that one of the biggest obstacles for transformative initiatives. It's people. Why? Because people act on their own best interest.
[00:49:19.050] - Ricardo Vargas
So most of the time you don't move or you don't promote disruptive change, not because of lack of money, not because of lack of technology, but because of lack of people's interests.
[00:49:31.050] - Ricardo Vargas
For example, I am the manager of one physical store, and you are doing that transformation that will reduce stores. I'm afraid of losing my job. So what I will do, I will do whatever I can, but this does not happen. And this is just one example of the hundreds and hundreds that we can use.
[00:49:50.610] - Joe
I love disruptive change. I'm thinking back to all the different guests we've had on the show, and certainly nothing is an absolute. But almost no one started out their career in project management, but they've all ended there in some capacity. They all were willing to take a risk. Somewhere on their journey, they stepped outside their comfort zone and they ended up in a better place. It may not have been smooth, it may not have been easy, but they got rewarded, and I'm not talking rewards in dollars and cents, there are many ways you can be rewarded, for taking that change.
[00:50:29.430] - Joe
And I just hope all of our listeners just know that. Man, I didn't start out thinking I'm going to host a podcast. Here I am four years later, and I'm talking to these great people around the world, building relationships that are going to last a lifetime like you've talked about with the UN and PMI and others.
[00:50:46.890] - Joe
This was because I was willing to see an opportunity, take a chance and go after it. And this is what I ask everyone when they ask me for some mentoring advice.
[00:50:56.190] - Joe
I'm like the first thing, know who you are, know your own journey, but then also be willing to identify an opportunity and take the risk to make it happen.
[00:51:03.990] - Joe
Another thing that you mentioned that I picked up on is you started your career teaching, you value education, and you have a tremendous commitment to that. But you also still teach, right? And it may not be in the sense of in a classroom, but you're doing these all of your podcast. They're teaching. You've never stopped trying to help educate others. How has that been important to you? And why have you continued to do that?
[00:51:34.470] - Ricardo Vargas
Yeah. I want just to expand this teaching to a concept that for me, it's very important and it's becoming more and more and more important. It's very hard for you to succeed alone. It's very hard for you to say, I am successful if everybody around you, your society is just collapsing.
[00:51:57.870] - Ricardo Vargas
So of course, I cannot save the planet. And I don't have this expectation, but at least I can share what I know the failures, the success and whatever I have to younger generations so they can learn and they can do things with that that could help them.
[00:52:21.450] - Ricardo Vargas
This was the idea that generates the podcast. When I started in 2007, nobody was talking that podcast exists. Every single week since then, I recorded a five-minute talk. Why five? Because it's the size of a song. And I record in a very simple way. It's just thoughts that I have that week and share.
[00:52:46.050] - Ricardo Vargas
And what I tell people that, if you like, you'll listen. If you don't like, just delete it. I don't care. If you like, you like it. If it's not useful for you, just delete and move on.
[00:52:58.950] - Ricardo Vargas
And with that, it's like some pills of reflection that over time, after 500 something and millions of views, this became helpful for younger people, the videos and this. So I love doing that. And I'm now ultra concern in my life about legacy. For me today is more important.
[00:53:24.150] - Ricardo Vargas
I think I did a lot in my life. I'm not saying that I'm old, but now I think it's my time to see how I can multiply my desire, my love for getting things done to many people that can carry this over to future generations and improve.
[00:53:42.870] - Ricardo Vargas
This is why, for example, I record... I do a lot of things, a lot of things for free. I have videos on YouTube and this and that. And I do because I believe it's the right.
[00:53:54.270] - Ricardo Vargas
So the podcast is one example. I did a series, we are talking about career, Joe. And one of the things that was most rewarding for me in my life was last year. In the middle of COVID, my oldest daughter that is now 22, she was 21 at that time, and she was finishing her college, close to finish. She studied mechanical engineer at the Imperial College in London, and she was here with us during the COVID.
[00:54:23.490] - Ricardo Vargas
And she came to me, crying and said, Dad, I'm in trouble because all offers for summer jobs, they were shut down because of COVID. And it's traditional that you take the summer job on the third year to get the job in the fourth year. It's like an experience. So if I don't have that, I will not have a job.
[00:54:45.810] - Ricardo Vargas
And then I start talking about my life. When I was young, all the challenges. And then suddenly I said, I should not talk to you about that because you are so privileged for being with us, having the law. But I need to talk to more people about that. And this is why I decided to create a series. And a series, it's on YouTube called What Matters. It's a series of four episodes about career.
[00:55:14.850] - Ricardo Vargas
And it's not that I changed my career. I'm not a career coach, nothing. But I said, I need to do that. Several people ask to a sponsor and I didn't accept. I put the money from my pocket and I put on YouTube for free for anyone to watch. And I said this, I did for my daughters and for their friends and for other people because we need to change this mindset. And this is why, for example, I do this podcast with you.
[00:55:42.330] - Ricardo Vargas
I don't do this with an expectation of someone listening to this to contact me to do business. I'm very happy with the business I have today. I'm not looking for more, but I'm looking to sensibilize one of your thousands and thousands of listeners that maybe can listen to this and spark something and do something good, then I'll be realized with that.
[00:56:06.390] - Joe
Yeah. That's why I do the show. It's why I continue to do the show. I've said it many times, for me, they're a personal mentoring session that I know everybody else is getting the same value out of because-
[00:56:19.110] - Ricardo Vargas
[00:56:19.830] - Joe
-people who are successful and willing to share their story have no idea the impact that they make in the world, because all you need to do is change one life.
[00:56:36.730] - Ricardo Vargas
Absolutely. Yes, that's perfect.
[00:56:37.030] - Joe
Again, every time I say this, I think on every show, but boy, time goes by fast. We're at our hour. We've hit our mark here. And Ricardo, we've covered a lot of ground. I want to thank you, of course, for coming on.
[00:56:46.930] - Joe
Is there anything that you wanted to touch on that we didn't get to yet today? And then also, how can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about you?
[00:56:56.710] - Ricardo Vargas
Yes, absolutely. First, I just want to thank you for allowing me the platform to talk and to share my ideas. People can follow me on LinkedIn on Twitter. So I'm very easy, rvvargas. You can find me on social media. I'm very easy.
[00:57:12.730] - Ricardo Vargas
I try to publish as much as I can on podcast. And if there's everything I find interesting, I put there really with the intention to help. But my final thought is that we really need to change the mindset. The word is... All these changes with COVID, they came to stay.
[00:57:31.030] - Ricardo Vargas
It's not something that is a thunderstorm that it will change tomorrow. We need to live and learn how to live in this different environment. In this different environment is [inaudible 00:57:43] environment. Like or not, you will need these skills no matter what you do, no matter what your job is. And for us as project management, this is the biggest opportunity ever for all of us. And this is what I want to finish with.
[00:57:58.870] - Joe
That's fantastic, Ricardo. Thank you so much. Of course, thank you to all of our listeners. Without listeners, we're not a show. So it's great that people keep coming back.
[00:58:07.990] - Joe
Be sure to visit projectmanagementofficehours.com to check out all of our past shows and guests. For upcoming shows, I mentioned the next show in November we'll have Sam Sibley from PMI and Matt Hubbard from TrackVia. They're going to be talking about the Citizen Development program.
[00:58:24.610] - Joe
In December, we're going to have Chris Ronzio, who is the CEO of Trainual, to talk about the power and impact of playbooks and how important that can be for your business and your project.
[00:58:34.510] - Joe
Also a reminder, these shows while they're live, they're also recorded. And be sure to subscribe to Project Management Office Hours podcast on Apple Podcast, at Radio Spotify, Spreaker, whatever your platform of choice is. And thank you, of course, to our sponsors, the PMO Squad, Premier, PMO consulting firm in the US and the PMO Leader, which is the global community for project management leaders to come together and gain knowledge, wisdom, information services and learning, all related to PMOs.
[00:59:07.630] - Joe
That's it for now. Office hours are closed until next time. I'm PMO Joe, and you've been listening to Project Management Office Hours.
[00:59:17.890] - Announcer
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