Podcast Episodes

Episode 3: Form Your Project Team (w/ Patrice Embry)

January 18, 2022 | 37:12 | Patrice Embry

Corey and Deane talk about the roles missing from most new project teams — namely, the idea of a user and product advocate — while also discussing why early discovery and web strategy work is often handled with very little project management.

Then, Patrice Embry joins the podcast to talk about forming a project team. We discuss how to make sure the right people are involved from the start, how to recognize when certain skill sets are missing, and how to ensure inclusivity and representation. And, of course, we talk about sports metaphors.

The Web Project Guide is sponsored by Blend Interactive, a web strategy, design, and development firm dedicated to making great things for the web.

Show Notes and Further Discussion:


Corey: (00:00)
Hello, this is The Web Project Guide podcast, and this is episode three, form your project team. I'm Corey Vilhauer, director of strategy at Blend Interactive. I'm the content guy. Later on, we'll talk to Patrice Embry, an independent digital project manager on her experience in putting together a project team, both as a member of an internal team, and as well as within her role as an independent consultant. First I'm joined by the development guy, Deane Barker, senior director of Content Management Research at Optimizly Hey, Deane. It sounds like you've got a brand new 4k camera, you want to tell us about it?

Deane: (00:47)
Do I have a 4k camera? What's interesting is right now it's kind of blurry because I don't have all the lights turned on in my office, but it like zooms and pans. What's really neat about it, here. You can alter the field of view and it's on 65%. The reason why it is, is because my office as a mass. Here I'll go to 90 degrees, so you can see all the crap in my office

Corey: (01:07)
That's really cool. This is thrilling for a podcast.

Deane: (01:10)

Corey: (01:11)
See, great things. We're going to talk today about project teams. I have a question for you because you actually have run, or helped run an agency and I have not. In your experience in working with internal teams, so somebody's going to hire a place like Blend to do some kind of development or whatever. What are the roles that you see that are most often missing?

Deane: (01:34)
Yeah. When you look at why people would come to Blend, I mean Blend was fundamentally a very, very skilled development firm and they would come largely looking for technical support around particular software platforms. What I found that they were missing is operational representation.

Corey: (01:50)

Deane: (01:51)
Like the people who are going to have to manage the process post launch. You have a project manager, but I've often maintained that organizations need to start thinking about their web presence as less of a project and more of a product. Like on day two, when it transitions to a product, who's going to manage it then? We would always seek to have a single point of contact. I mean, you really had to figure out who was the player at the organization that was going to be in charge of the decisions. I have a question for you.

Corey: (02:20)

Deane: (02:21)
You're a content strategist. Why is it that in many cases, the content strategist has to double as a project manager?

Corey: (02:29)
That's a really good question, Deane. I think it's interesting that when it comes to content strategy, I think so often the type of work that is being done is really around organizing people and organizing thoughts and organizing concepts and organizing potential requirements, and figuring out how all of these different things coalesce. It ends up lending itself to be a project management project. It's just that the project isn't the full project. The project is like just the concepts and the people and the ultimate needs of whatever that site is. It sort of makes sense. It's hard because we have done projects where it's very discovery forward, the project manager doesn't have a lot to do because it's sort of a one or two person job and you're just talking to people and you're are taking notes and you are just sketching out potential ideas.

Corey: (03:24)
I think the other part of it is that there's a weird fluidness to project teams in that the project manager maybe... If you don't bring a project manager in at the start, obviously you're going to be in trouble because there's no consistency throughout, but also your content strategist may or may not have a lot of work to do once their role is done at the start, but they still need to be present. They still need to be available. That's really hard to do if you're allocating resources and you need them to work on something else and now there's no content strategist for the second half of the project because they are off working on a new project.

Deane: (04:00)
Let's go back in time, like five or six years, to when we won a very large project with a hospital in Colorado and they were using a CMS consultant and we were really down to the selection on this. We were looking like we were going to win it. They really liked us, but the consultant came back to us and said, "They're concerned that Blend is a little too development-centric and they want to make sure that they have an advocate at Blend." So we went back and if you remember, we positioned you as kind of the customer advocate, you would be the one that would advocate for the customer's needs to make sure that... they were concerned that their editors and their marketers were going to be shunted off to the side in favor of their developers. Do you think that's a valid role?

Corey: (04:52)
I think so. In fact, at Blend specifically we're working at making that a part of kind of what the QA process is, in that you have somebody who serves as both a client and a product advocate. Somebody who gets to own that and gets to not only say, "Okay, the editors need this specifically so make sure you don't develop it in a weird way," but also to own that and kind of be the person who's tied to meetings from the very start, who can track changes that get lost from call to call and save us a lot of that time in which we have kind of gotten into our own heads and are circling through a bunch of sprints and we've forgotten what the initial user request was.

Corey: (05:39)
I think also that it's one of those things where if you have a person who is in that role, it subtly says to other people, they don't need to worry about it. I think it's probably better if you have everybody just as a part of what they do, understand that they're advocating for user, CMS editor, marketing goals throughout the entire process.

Deane: (06:00)
I mean, when you think about the role that you placed in in that situation, and that is what I would call an oppositional role, I mean, it's your job... in CIA intelligence circles, they call this a red team.

Corey: (06:11)

Deane: (06:11)
[inaudible 00:06:11] with a plan, you bring up a red team that tries to poke holes in the plan. Do you think there's a place on a project team for a red team, for an oppositional person that will try to poke holes in the plan to make sure that the customer's needs are taken care of?

Corey: (06:25)
Yeah. That's why you want to keep your content strategist or your research team involved at the start. That's what QA is. I mean, QA essentially is a red team and they are there to find mistakes and to advocate for whoever they need to advocate for. I think it's already there, it's just not explicitly set out as this. "Here they are. Here's the red team. They're going to come in here and they're going to mess with y'all."

Deane: (06:50)
You keep bring up QA and I think that's great, but sometimes I think that QA is shuttled off to the tail end of a project and it shouldn't be, because there are multiple levels of QA. There's multiple levels of problems. There's something that is fundamentally broken, but there's something that's just kind of crappy and could be better. In fact, a colleague of mine, Jeff, here at Optimizly has called that FLAB. F-L-A-B, which stands for, feels like a bug. There's something that it may not be a bug, but it sort of feels like a bug. I wonder how a project team could bring QA forward to identify FLAB. To identify things that, this technically works, but the customer's going to think this is kind of crappy.

Corey: (07:34)
Yeah. I mean, it's definitely tied to having that QA person following through on the promises that we made at the start of the project. The promises we made in technical planning. The promises that we've made to the customers when we said we're going to build a site for them.

Deane: (07:47)
Which I think brings us full circle back to customer advocates. To go all the way back to the beginning of this conversation, you said, what role are people missing? Customer advocate. That's what I believe.

Corey: (07:55)

Deane: (07:56)
I think customer advocacy get is really an extension and a bringing forward of QA. In a long roundabout way, I answered the question.

Corey: (08:03)
Deane that's really good. Thanks, Deane. I don't know how, but you did it.

Deane: (08:07)
I don't know how I did it either.

Corey: (08:08)
All right. We got to move into the interview. Patrice Embry is an independent digital project manager and project management consultant. She's worked on projects for some pretty big names from Merck to Hewlett Packard. She's worked with a host of nonprofit and education clients. The ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, Stanford, Rutgers, a lot of cool stuff.

Corey: (08:30)
First, this episode of the Web Project Guide podcast is brought to you by Blend Interactive, a web strategy, design and development firm dedicated to creating and maintaining custom management projects. Blend's been building big content focused websites for 16 years, almost 17, I think by the time this episode goes out. We're always looking for our next big project. Visit us at BlendInteractive.com.

Corey: (09:00)
All right, let's welcome our guest, Patrice Embry. Hey Patrice.

Patrice: (09:04)
Hey, how are you?

Corey: (09:05)
I'm great. I'm great. Patrice, you have a pretty diverse background in the world of project management. You've worked with some big corporations. You've worked with some scrappy nonprofits. You've worked with LeBron James. Well, LeBron James' organization. Did you actually meet LeBron James?

Patrice: (09:22)
No, I didn't, but I did get a chance to work with his personal photographer, so that was fun.

Corey: (09:29)
Oh, okay.

Patrice: (09:30)
Yeah. Yeah.

Corey: (09:30)
Well that's very cool.

Deane: (09:31)
I feel like there's an analogy here to project teams. Like how do you avoid the LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers syndrome or something? I don't know anything about basketball, but I know for a while he was carrying that whole scene.

Corey: (09:43)
I'll work a metaphor in later Deane, if that works.

Deane: (09:46)
All right, good job.

Corey: (09:47)
With this in mind, sort of thinking of this from the mind of somebody who's, say, just been tasked with a big web project and they need to determine who's going to be present from their own internal team and who's going to need to be brought in from the outside... How do you ensure that the right people are involved from the start? How do you know who those people even are in the first place?

Patrice: (10:12)
Well, you need to get to know everyone first and that takes time and effort. A lot of times, folks are interested in hitting the ground running right away. It does make sense to take just a little bit of a pause to make sure that you've gotten to know everyone. You know everyone's style and it's going to mesh together, or that everyone understands what everyone else's style is and knows how to adapt. If you can say, this person likes to work in this way, but this person works in this other way. Everyone kind of understands that the outset, the differences and the similarities between everybody on the team... I think that's pretty key. I like to make sure that on a project teams there's at least one person who can provide something... like I don't want put the same people together over and over again. It's nice to have at least one person who can bring some other perspective to the team. That's always nice.

Corey: (11:11)
I guess what I'm curious about is, especially with the idea of having people who already sort of know each other, there's already sort of a personal connection between people. What are the dynamics you look for? How often do you, as a project manager, even really have control over dynamics?

Patrice: (11:27)
I don't often have control. Most of the time, what I need to do is just get to know everyone and figure out how to make it work. It's always nice when you get to pick the people you want to work with. I was able to do that with Super Friendly. You really get a chance to say, these are the people that I want to work with because I really want to learn something from this person and then I think I can teach this person something. But most of the time as a project manager, you're just kind of thrown into the mix and you have to find commonalities with everyone, find common ground. I use a lot of humor and a lot of current event type stuff. I get to know people and say like, "Hey, how's your kid doing in that basketball game? Your kid, LeBron James in that basketball game."

Patrice: (12:14)
That sort of helps people gel. It's always nice when people have worked together before, but the risk that you run there is that they're so used to doing things a certain way, that they may not... If there's someone new on the team, or if I'm new to the team, they might just be used to going off and doing things on their own. That kind of leaves me out in the cold, or leaves someone else out in the cold. You do kind of have to be careful when you've got teams that have worked together for a long time, that they're willing to look at things in a new way for a new project.

Deane: (12:47)
How do you avoid, oh, I want to say like developer centrism? How do you avoid a team thinking that the development, the technical part of it is the main event? Because I've found really successful projects are the projects that take into account everything around development to the same extent that they take in development. How do you make sure that certain parts of the team don't get marginalized, because there are people on a team who are going to think that they're the main event and everybody is there just to serve them. How do those dynamics play out?

Patrice: (13:19)
Well, I really think that one of the things that you need to do is kind of make sure that if someone's not speaking up that you specifically ask them questions on meetings. You're specifically asking for their input, and you can lead the witness a little bit and sort of say like,' Oh, Corey, I know that you often do things this way and I want to make sure that with our development team that it makes sense with what you're doing. Can you talk a little bit about..." whatever the case may be.

Patrice: (13:45)
It's really up to me as the project manager to make sure that no one is marginalized, but with developers you often do want to stroke the ego just a little bit, just because you seem to get the best work out of those folks when you do that. Is that awful? You want to be even handed, not heavy handed in one spot or another. It's my job to make sure that everybody has a say in what's going on and feels invested and feels listened to.

Deane: (14:14)
Often the dirty secret of this industry is that when we come in to clients, we end up being a corporate therapist to our clients, right? We end up coming in and it's obvious this is the first time all of the players that our client have sat down and talked and you've got to kind of help them work through issues. To what extent do you find yourself doing that for project teams? I mean like organizational therapy for teams?

Patrice: (14:39)
That's all the time. I am a freelance project manager now, and that's a huge part of my job now. That's one of the benefits that you get from a freelancer, is that they've been lots of places. They've seen lots of things and they can bring a lot of things to the table. People will ask me all the time, "Well, how does everybody else do it?" In a freelance capacity, I think that that's part of the job. When you are an employee and you're just kind of listening to folks, hearing them out and just making sure that they feel heard... We're big on validation, so you can validate those issues, validate the folks that are asking you questions that sometimes aren't actual questions, they're just statements that they want validation with. "That's right, right?" I really think that there's a lot of... I have to do a lot of things, and being a counselor is definitely one of them.

Deane: (15:34)
Yeah. I mean, to go heavy on the sports metaphor, professional athletes, they might love playing for a certain coach because they felt like that coach brought out the best in them. I just watched last weekend, the Kurt Warner story, American underdog.

Patrice: (15:48)
Oh, how nice! That's on my list.

Deane: (15:50)
It was a very schamltzy sports movie, but part of the dynamic was how Dick Vermeil, the coach of the St. Louis Rams, really brought out the best in Kurt Warner. Kurt Warner still just loves Dick Vermeil for what he did for him. I wonder to what extent that metaphor carries over, like are you the coach that... Do you exercise sneaky little psychological tricks to bring the entire team up and to get people to perform at their best?

Patrice: (16:18)
I try to. Absolutely. You're not going to be that for every single... There's not a whole bunch of Kurt Warners waiting for someone to lead the way. It's not going to happen every time, that magic isn't going to happen every single time, but I try to get myself as close as possible to something like that. I like to bring out the best in people. It does require a lot of listening and paying attention and talking about things that aren't project related so you can get a sense for someone's personality and the things they care about. Understand their communication style. What's their cadence? How do they like to be talked to, would they rather be typed to? How am I going to get the best from them? Do they need some validation? Do they need some help in saying like, "That's a really great idea," or do they just need to be left to their own devices? It's a lot of me understanding who everybody is and sort of playing to their strengths so that they seem like they're giving me the best. I'm kind of pulling the best out of them, which is a little bit of looking at the same thing from a different lens.

Deane: (17:21)
When do you think that... I'm going to assume that every project you were in has gone perfectly and been wildly successful.

Patrice: (17:28)
Oh yeah, totally.

Deane: (17:30)
Let's hypothetically fantasize about a project you were in that might failed wildly. What is the thing that you might do to cause a project to run off the rails?

Patrice: (17:41)
What is the thing that I might do? Oh, it's never me.

Deane: (17:43)
Let's just pretend for a moment in an alternate universe, that it was.

Patrice: (17:47)
Pretending. Yeah. If I'm not paying enough attention, if I'm not doing enough to listen to what's going on, if I'm not involved enough, if I'm giving people too much latitude without checking in, if I'm not the one putting in tickets... I need to be pretty close to the work in order for me to feel like I'm doing the best job.

Patrice: (18:04)
A lot of times people are like, "Oh, I'll write the tickets for this." I kind of want to do that myself. Or like, "I'll set up the budget sheet." I kind of want to do that myself, because I want to be close to it because once I stop looking, once I stop watching the ball... we'll just keep going with the sports theme... Once I stop watching the ball, that's when things are going to start to go off the rails, because my job is to make sure that everybody else is on there. Maybe they will do fine even if I'm not doing a good job, but most of the time, if I'm not doing a good job, the project isn't going to go well. I really, really have to be on my game.

Corey: (18:43)
The bases are loaded and you hit a three pointer from the end zone.

Patrice: (18:47)
Yes. Yes, all the sports things. Yes.

Corey: (18:49)
Good job, Deane. That was really nice. I think that idea of staying really close to things feels... I feel like from the outside, especially if you're not a part of maybe the project management world, or really understand the discipline, it can look like sort of micromanagement. It can look very overbearing, but it feels like it's incredibly important just to sort of keep your eyes on all the metaphorical balls.

Corey: (19:19)
One question that I have is around, when you're that close you probably begin to see first before anyone else, whether or not there are certain skill sets that are either under-performing or completely missing. How do you address that? Especially if the team has already been kind of already formed and you realize you need somebody who can maybe pick up an area that they're either not familiar with, or you need to go find somebody who can fill that hole.

Patrice: (19:45)
Oh, that's so tricky. If there isn't someone already on the team that can do something, how do you bring someone in? That's a lot of conversation with management. We have a gap and it's my job to find all those things. If there's a gap, I have to say something. If I notice that somebody has a skillset that's a little bit different, like sure they can do all development stuff, but you know what, they're actually pretty good at architecture, I might say like, "You know what, we have a little bit of a need for this kind of thing. Is that something you'd be interested in, because you seem like you're really good at this, this and this." I have to prove to them that they're good at it in order for them to say, "Yes, I'd like to take a stab at it."

Patrice: (20:34)
Generally, if you needed to add something to the team that's not already there, that can be super tricky. Especially if the team doesn't feel like they need something additional. I might, on a call or something, a meeting with a team, I might say, "It feels like this needs to happen. Who's the best person to do that?" If they come to the conclusion that there's no one on the team that can do that, that makes things infinitely easier. A lot of the times, again with leading the witness, I'm sort of asking the question that's not really a question. I'm making a statement, and allowing them to get to the conclusion on their own so it feels like they did it themselves. It's very manipulative. That's what I have to do as project manager.

Deane: (21:15)
Somebody once told me the secret to sales is to put an idea in somebody's head and make them think they thought of it first.

Patrice: (21:21)
Hundred percent.

Corey: (21:22)
Patrice, along that same line I'm thinking about, you know, we're talking about skill sets, but what about... especially along the idea of wanting to make sure that our teams are not just diverse in terms of the skills are bringing to the table, but in terms of the actual people who are on a project, making sure that there's representation, not just even from a social standpoint, but from an accessibility standpoint. How do you ensure that diverse representation or inclusivity with a group? How is that different if you're trying to come at it from an internal project where you have the team that you have and you need to sort of supplement it?

Patrice: (22:05)
Yeah. That is really hard. That's actually something that I've been working on for a long time. I don't really have the answer. You know, the first thing you have to do is get comfortable with the fact that you're going to be looking at people's race and gender and all the different facets of a person that makes them up. One thing I've learned is that you can't just say like, "Oh, there's one person from this group, check the box off." That person needs to feel supported and needs to... if you are the token whatever on a team, because I've been the token woman on a team, and when I realized that I was the token woman, I was so taken aback. It really was a blow. I was on a pitch team once and it was a woman-owned company and I was with a bunch of dudes that are in an agency and... especially a new business development is usually a bunch of dudes in an agency.

Patrice: (23:03)
They asked me to be a part of the pitch team and I was like, I'd never done that as a project manager. I'd never really done that before. I was super excited and I had all these ideas and things I wanted to add to everything. When I realized that they didn't really want my ideas, they wanted my female body at the table while they were making a pitch to a female-owned company, that hurt. I don't ever want anyone else to be in that position where they look around and they're like, wait a minute. The only reason why I'm here is because I'm Asian, or the only reason why I'm here is because I'm Black. I don't want anyone to ever feel that way. It's a fine art.

Patrice: (23:38)
First of all, you have to have enough people that you know, that you can find to do some of these things... really get to know their skills and find places to plug them in. If I'm trying to build a team from an infinite pool of people around me, that's one thing. But when you do have limited people, one of the things you kind of have to think is like long term. All right, I can't do anything about that now. I have who I have, but let's talk about who we're going to hire next for some of these things. Where can we find people that are different than the people that we see around the table right now? Where can we source some of these folks? Who can do this stuff that doesn't even realize that that's their title?

Patrice: (24:18)
I'm doing that right now with project managers. Who's a project manager that doesn't have the title project manager. That needs to be brought up and understand that they're a project manager and get that title and get into a whole different side of the business, get into a whole different career track. How do I do that? Where do I find them? It's not easy and I don't have all the answers. As a white CIS woman, I can't put myself in people's shoes. I can't assume that I know what they're thinking and how they feel about things.

Patrice: (24:49)
The only things I can do is make sure that they feel like they're on the team for a purpose, not just to check off a box, that their ideas are valid, that they feel supported, that nobody is making them feel uncomfortable, and to do the best that I can. We all just try to do the best that we can. It's tough too, when there's a project and it needs to start right away. You don't often have the resources to kind of stop and say, "I want to bring this other person in." Yeah. It's not easy at all.

Deane: (25:20)
To what extent do you feel that it's your role as a project manager to protect your team from unrealistic expectations? Like as a project manager, your job is to report and be the liaison between the stakeholders and the team. Are you ever in situations where you think the stakeholders are ridiculously unreasonable and your team is under too much stress and they're doing damage to your team, and to what point do you step in that gap and say, "No."

Patrice: (25:48)
Yeah, that happens often. I feel like that's one of the biggest part of my job, is to make sure that I am protecting the team. Now, I've been doing this job for about 400 years now. I'm like 82 years old. I've been doing things long enough to be able to feel really comfortable going to leadership and saying, "There's problems here. This is what's happening, and this is what's going to happen if we don't put things in check. Here's the way things are going to run down." I've seen it before, or I can see it coming. I'm concerned about it. I like the team to know that I'm looking out for them. I might say, "All of this feels like it's a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, and I recognize that. I'm going to do what I can to try to get us some breathing room on some of these things. Understand that I'm going to go to bat for you."

Patrice: (26:36)
Then I actually literally go to bat for them. I'll say it's unrealistic. It's unreasonable to ask people to do this in this amount of time, or to ask them to do things when they have limited skill sets to be able to do that. It's unreasonable. I'm always asking, is this reasonable? If I'm asking you to do something, this thing in this timeframe, is that reasonable? Is giving you four hours reasonable? That's a thing I will say all the time, and if it's not reasonable, I will go to the people who need to make sure that it is reasonable. I go to bat for my team often. I feel like that's one of the bigger parts of my job as a project manager.

Deane: (27:14)
Don't you think though, that one of the unfair parts about project teams and project management is that oftentimes you are evaluated on your ability to pull off the impossible? Management says a good project manager is someone who delivers the project, not somebody who takes care of the team.

Patrice: (27:33)
Yeah. You know, it's a really good point because people are kind of looking at the bottom line and trying to understand a project and if it's done well. I'd experienced this before, but it crystallized a little bit for me when I was working with Dan Mall on a few things where he said it doesn't matter if the thing was done on time, it doesn't matter if we delivered something that the client wanted. It matters what the team felt, how the team felt. Did they feel important? Did they learn something? Were they able to accomplish something? Do they feel like they were heard? Even if the thing doesn't ultimately get launched, even if the thing is wildly over budget, even if we don't meet every single expectation of the client... As a project manager, I can't always do that or I'm going to get fired, but-

Deane: (28:21)
I feel like that's a very minority attitude. I that's wonderful.

Patrice: (28:24)
It is.

Deane: (28:24)
Wouldn't it'd be great if that was the case across the board, but given my experience in services, that doesn't seem typical.

Patrice: (28:30)
Yes. It is not easy to do. It's something to strive for. It's one of those things where if it's going to fail anyway, let's pick out the parts that people can feel good about and talk about that. Some projects are going to fail. How do we not make people feel like failure is when the project fails? Can we make them feel like what they did was still something to be celebrated, something to feel good about? Is there a part of it that they can feel good about, is there a part of it that they can feel good about even understanding what to do differently the next time, that they can take from something that's not going to go well? But yes, when it comes to dealing with clients, when it comes to dealing with the person who's signing your paycheck, you are expected to do certain things and pull certain things off.

Patrice: (29:14)
Again, I'm lucky to be in the position where I can say, "I can't continue like this," or, "I'm not going to take on a project if it's not supported in these ways." I can see something happening right now, and if it continues, I'm telling you right now that this is what's going to happen. When it does, this is the consequences, including me not wanting to take on a phase two, or I won't work under these circumstances or whatever. Yeah, it is a lot of a balancing act and that's why I get paid the medium bucks.

Deane: (29:46)
I feel like being a great project manager is an extension of... like if you were going to go get an undergrad degree that would apply to project management, you can get a psychology or a sociology degree would be like the degree to get, because understanding human nature and being able to effectively communicate priorities and feedback is probably some of the key skills for a project manager.

Patrice: (30:08)
Absolutely. I will say this out loud to anyone who asks, because I am trying to find people who aren't like the normal people who are sitting around the table to manage projects... I didn't go to college. I started a family really early right out of high school and it hasn't affected me at all because most of the things that I'm doing now didn't exist when I would've been in college. It hasn't hindered me at all. I do happen to think that a lot of things, you can actually learn on the fly.

Corey: (30:41)
The last, I think, question specifically around this is, I'm just wondering if you were to give any piece of advice to somebody who might be trying to either hire for or build a team internally or put together a group of people who can help them out with a big daunting web project... What's the biggest piece of advice you could give them?

Patrice: (31:04)
Hmm. Ask a lot of questions and actually listen to the answers. Don't just ask a lot of questions and say, how is that going to mold into what I already think is supposed to happen? Some of the things that you're going to hear are things that might challenge you and you have to accept that challenge. Ask the questions, ask the tough questions. Anticipate the things that you think might go wrong, or that this is going to need... like, you already know that the client is going to be a rough client? Well, that's one of the things that you need to think about as you put together a project team or decide whether or not to go forward with a project. Ask the questions, listen to the answers and do what you say you're going to do.

Corey: (31:46)
Sorry. One last question. What would you say your favorite sports metaphor is?

Patrice: (31:51)
My husband is always talking in sports metaphors and I just heard him earlier say, we need someone to really knock the cover off the ball. I feel like that's a good one because it's like, you hit the ball so hard, the ball-

Corey: (32:03)
It's very violent!

Patrice: (32:04)
Oh yeah, but it's so good. You know? I feel that, right now, that's my favorite.

Deane: (32:09)
That's a basketball metaphor, right?

Corey: (32:11)
Yeah. Yeah, Deane.

Patrice: (32:11)

Deane: (32:12)
Okay. Awesome. Awesome.

Corey: (32:15)
Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being on Patrice. What are you working on now? What can we [inaudible 00:32:21] for you?

Patrice: (32:22)
Well, you know what, I am just starting off trying to get a database of project managers together because I have so many people asking me if I know anyone who can do this, that or the other. I have a lot of project managers that are saying, "I need a new gig or I need a new thing." The pieces are there to put something together. It makes sense. I'm at the point right now where I'm trying to figure out how I can make all of that work into something that's sustainable, and I can help people out at the same time but be able to put food on the table. I'm at the very beginning of something. I don't know what it is, but I'm at very beginning of something. I'm excited to be able to come back to you in like a couple of weeks and say this is what I'm doing now.

Corey: (33:08)
Sure. Any way for people to contact you, if they have a bunch of ideas they want to throw at you?

Patrice: (33:12)
Absolutely Patrice@Patrice-Embry.com. I talk to everyone. I read every piece of mail. I've had people say like, "Can I grab 15 minutes with you to talk about whatever," and I am always making time to do that. I really encourage people to get in contact with me and do ask me questions about that thing, anything, and I'm happy to help.

Corey: (33:36)
Awesome. Thanks for being on the program and we'll talk to you soon.

Patrice: (33:39)
Yeah. Sounds fun.

Corey: (33:40)
All right, bye.

Corey: (33:47)
Hey Deane. Great interview.

Deane: (33:48)
Yeah, that was awesome. She was great. Love the idea, the articulation of project managers as a therapist and as a protector of their team. She clearly has just epic eons of experience. She was on camera for that interview and she was not 82 years old, but I don't dispute the fact that she's been doing this for 400 years, but wonderful interview. She clearly has been around the block more than once, not her first rodeo, so I really enjoyed that.

Corey: (34:18)
As somebody who has been on the other end of that, who really appreciates when project managers end up sort of shielding the rest of the team from... whether it's mislaid expectations or it's anger over something that wasn't clearly defined in the scope, I appreciate that insight, and also don't understand, and you're probably the same way, I don't understand why anybody would choose to be a project manager. They're a very special group of people.

Deane: (34:50)
Yeah, no, that's true. I mean, a project manager's fundamental job is you have to deliver bad news.

Corey: (34:55)

Deane: (34:55)
You have to have awkward conversations. I agree with you. I never, in a million years, would I want to be a project manager. My hat's off to those of you who perform as project managers. I am glad that you exist, and I am equally glad that I am not one of you.

Corey: (35:12)
Okay. That's our show. Thanks to our guest, Patrice, Embry, an independent digital project manager and project management consultant. She's working on, like she said, putting together a big database and collective of project managers. We will link to her information in the show notes. The Web Project Guide is a product of Blend Interactive. We are a web strategy design and development firm that's dedicated to making great things for the web. This is one of those things.

Corey: (35:38)
Before the podcast, the Web Project Guide was a book, and it still is a book. You can order the book at webproject.guide, or you can order it internationally on Amazon. It looks great. I was going to say the designer, Sam Otis, he just celebrated his 15th anniversary at Blend, which is...

Deane: (35:59)
He was like employee number...

Corey: (36:01)
Two, wasn't he?

Deane: (36:02)
Two? Yeah, something like that. We did the three partners, three co-founders founded the company and then I want to say he was our second hire.

Corey: (36:10)
This is episode three of the Web Project Guide, which also corresponds with chapter three of the book, form your project team. You can visit webproject.guide/team and catch even more resources on this topic. If you like this topic, we also suggest subscribing and catching next month's interview with Brett Harnett on creating a project plan. We especially would love if you subscribe to our podcast in whatever podcaster you use and go give us five star reviews because that's the currency of podcasts.

Deane: (36:39)
Isn't it like, smash that like button and subscribe?

Corey: (36:42)
Also ring that bell, I think, ring bells.

Deane: (36:46)
Yes. I don't think any of that applies here, but do the [inaudible 00:36:48] in whatever platform you use.

Corey: (36:51)
Do all of these things. Okay. With that, we'll be back next month to talk more project management. That's all from us until then. Go do amazing things.

Deane: (36:57)
Good luck.