PMC2021 – “Reimagined” – TransNH

TransNH 2021 – Brattleboro, VT to Hampton, NH

All the planning was done, the anxiousness had risen and settled in along my many training days in contemplating this year’s challenge and the psyching-up was happening…

This is my usual lead-up to my PMC weekend and this year was no different, but what was different was the challenge I was going to take on. For 2021, I would accept the “Reimagined” option provided by PMC and thus I created a “TransNH” ride; go from Brattleboro, VT to Hampton, NH (Approximately 120 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation riding!). From my keyboard to your eyes, here is my post-ride report.

On Thursday, August 5th, I traveled to Brattleboro, VT with David and Pat. Along with the conversation about tomorrow’s ride and driving over the Temple Mountain and the Pack Monadnock areas in a car my excitement (and anxious thoughts) of the challenge of climbing grew. Yes, I knew this was a ride and not a race, but I am who I am and the physical challenge both excited me and was a zen/karma thing about participating in my 23rd Pan Mass Challenge.

We checked into a “well-worn” franchise motel, where it was obvious they rented by the day, for a lifetime or by the hour. We were only going to be there for less than 10 hours so I went with the cheap option for this logistical detail.

After getting unpacked into our rooms, we went over tomorrow’s details again. I am such a planner, guess it goes with my project management experience.

There is always something; either you forget something or something changes, etc. For David it was that his Garmin unit was out of battery life. He thought he had charged it but turned out – no. These days we so strongly rely on the information coming from our cyclometers. So, on our way to the restaurant, we would stop for him to secure a charging cable.

Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza, Brattleboro, VT

Another planning detail, pre-ride sustenance. I wanted to eat local to fuel up on carbs and to enjoy a couple of local brewery beers. I found and selected Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza for the variety of their menu. Their offering was not to be compared to the amazing food and beverage provided by the PMC host hotel, the Sturbridge Inn, but looked promising and it was!

Our other riders for tomorrow’s ride, Mark and Mark (let me help with differentiating between the Marks by now referring to them as “TLA” and “Mad Dog”) would arrive later. They were transported by Bob (another PMC brotha, who unfortunately would not be riding) joined us later as the TLA needed to complete a full workday. Bob graciously supported this effort by transporting the two of them to Brattleboro. He returned to Manchester afterward.

After consuming a good amount of calories (food and a couple of beers) we were back at our temporary lodging and again reviewed logistics and details. The best-laid plans do lead to success.

Wheels rolls at 6am. Outside our rooms we took an obligatory “start” photo in the parking lot, however, the real start would be at the VT/NH state line; an easy 4-mile ride from where we were.

The “Starts”

The climbing begins right away.

For me the day would be successful by the following 3 goals; #1. Be Safe, #2. Be Healthy and #3. Ride Solidly. Safe meant no mechanicals, or injuries, Healthy meant arriving in Hampton not feeling crushed and being able to socialize with friends (riders, supporters, and their significant others), and Ride Solidly meant staying within myself, no matter how slow I go, stay aerobic, control my ride and push if I can. Read on for the outcome.

The day started slightly overcast with temps in the low 60’s and projected to get into the mid-80s, another reason to be controlled and hydrate. It will be a long day. I repeated that to myself several times and to our team.

From the state line, right away, 0-10 miles goes from 259’ to 1,087’ with grades between 5-8% and most of the climbing for the day will be within the first 38-40 miles; three times we will approach 1,300-1,500 elevations coming from significant declines.

Climb, climb, climb…

When you look at the elevation map, it is easy to see the first big climb within the first miles, what is not as evident are the 2nd and 3rd climbs, most noticeably up Temple Mountain coming out of Peterborough.

“Coach” Pat tending to his team.

Success of any kind is not an individual activity; it takes a team. We had our team of riders TLA, Mad Dog, David and myself, and we were supported by “Coach” Pat. We could not have done what we accomplished without his support. He gave up his day to be our sag wagon and meet us at predetermined (and some not) stops to provide snacks and fluids. By the way, you might ask, is Pat a coach? That is another story for another time, for me, he exemplifies what a coach is and does, he brings out the best in the people he encounters.

Leading up to this TransNH challenge it was amazing for me to think that both Marks longest rides may have been a couple rides of 50-60 miles, while David and I trained throughout the summer with rides over 60 and several in the 70s range. Mad Dog was only planning to ride to Bedford and we were to pick up the “Commander” at David’s car dealership in Milford. The Commander is our riding group’s leader in a number of ways (another story). TLA convinced “Mad Dog” otherwise; amazing accomplishment given his training level to this date. Impressive that both TLA and Mad Dog would both go the distance given their similar training base.

I hope they did not wait too long.

Speaking of the Commander, he was terribly inconvenienced by “mechanicals” and did not make the ride (bike locked on top of car, changing of pedals, and a flat). He would later meet us out at the beach to enjoy the post-ride activities.

As stated, the first approximately 40 miles would have the challenging climbs. I was very focused and anxious about managing these. This first “climbing” section, I maintained my focus and my goal to be healthy. Keeping this focus and a few selected mantras/reminders, and having conducive weather enabled me to land at David’s dealership, Contemporary Chrysler, ready for lunch and the second half of the day.

A few of my mantras for the day included; “Stay Aerobic”, “Stay Within”, “It will be a long day” and “Tyler!”. Let me bring a tear to your eye and tell you about Tyler. For my many years participating in the PMC, I have been blessed to be a recipient of many life experiences expressed by friends and family who have dealt with the challenges of either going through cancer or caring for the loved ones. This year, I received a donation from Melissa. Almost always I know who they are, or how they came to be one of my PMC supporters. With Melissa, it was not immediately known to me, but I found out. Great, I think another supporter. Then, a couple of weeks later I sent another fundraising email to my list and now that Melissa was in my database, she too received this email. I get a response from Melissa in response to that email saying thank you very much for all I was doing and the difference being made. This is typical for some of the content I get in supporter’s emails, and I am extremely thankful for their words. However! Here is what fired up my passion for this year’s ride and brought tears to my eyes and got my heart thumping.

“Tyler!” is my mantra
Passed by a house!

Have you ever had a house pass you? You have driven or ridden past houses, but I suspect not have a house pass you on the road. Happened to us. Coming out and down out of Wilton, the road narrows, less shoulder to work with, and became winding. Then, one of those lead cars with flashing lights and the sign saying “Oversized Load” passed us. I knew what was next and definitely had some concerns as I know it was either a trailer with a large earth-moving piece of construction equipment or a house. It’s a house! If I could have identified the car and truck driver afterwards I would have contacted them or their company and complimented them on the very noticeable adjustment they made to keep us safe. The car moved into the middle of the road, which meant blocking oncoming traffic and the tractor trailer pulling the house did the same. We had plenty of room as the swoosh of wind contributed to our downhill ride.

Lunch Time!

Lunchtime! A big welcome by the Contemporary Chrysler team of employees waving signs and shouts as we entered the road to the dealership. Additionally, members of the Milford Rotary came out to extend their support. This was uplifting and reminded me of riding into break spots along PMC routes.

David’s wife, Audrey, did an amazing job of providing us with a smorgasbord of sustenance; pasta salads, lunch meats, fruit, desserts and more – recharging was easy, and I think I might have needed it. At the dealership, Pat asked me for the second time in the day, “How are you feeling?” I felt okay, however, I asked him, “Why?” He said I looked pale. If so, definitely a result of the work done so far. The recharge will bring me back I thought.

The sun is out, we are recharged and back onto the road.

Shortly after leaving Milford, our first mechanical was experienced; the inner spring loaded ring on David’s Speedplay broke. He could clip towards the front of the pedal but not the entire pedal. We talked about options and there were none. He faced the challenge and we rode on. I knew that was going to be a challenge for him.

We easily followed the course I had set in Strava and made it to Merrimack, across the Merrimack River, circled the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and then we were onto the Londonderry Rail Trail for some shade. The route would take us north of Derry, Londonderry and into Hampstead, Danville, Kingston, and into Exeter. Once into Kingston, I felt like I was in my backyard given that I ride a lot from the seacoast.

At lunch we recalibrated on the number of stops and where we would meet Pat. The next stop would be the Red Arrow Diner in Londonderry, it looked like that would be close to when we came off the Londonderry Rail Trail and would be convenient. But, when we came off the trail I realized it would be difficult to communicate to Pat to where we were. We connected with him via phone and said we would stop at a next store for fluids and he could meet us in downtown Exeter for last stop before the coast.

The course north of Derry and Londonderry was a first time for me in this area and I thought (despite narrow roads) it was very nice; some rollers, not excessive traffic, suburban with a few developments and farms.

We found a convenience store in the Derry/Hampstead area, loaded up on water and Gatorade. The heat was now at the height of the day, but again, I felt like I was going to be entering my backyard, so I had a confidence circling within me.

My energy level was solid, however even though I knew there were no major climbs I still wanted to control my output. No need to beat myself up now.

Superheroes! Aren’t we all?

Superheroes. We were in Kingston or Kensington at the time when we came across a large van that was painted with DC Superheroes all over it. Being a comic book fan, I said, “Very cool! We need to stop for photos.” Phone batteries were very low or gone on most of our phones (my phone was with Pat charging in the vehicle) but we stopped to take pictures anyway. Then, we rode on.

My riding continued to get stronger as I could sense the final 30 or so miles. At this point, I could tell that David and Mad Dog’s strength might be starting to wain, or I was truly getting stronger. TLA continued to be the lead dog and I was sitting on his wheel instead of pulling up the rear.

Just outside of Exeter, the TLA had to stop for a nature break. I rode on knowing he would catch up, however, I also knew there were a couple of town lines that were coming, mine, mine, mine! That felt good and added to my confidence.

I set a steady pace as we headed into Exeter. For those who enjoy two-wheels (bicycles, that is), you know when you are in the groove, everything clicking, head is into the speed, legs pumping, breathing is controlled, etc. This was my 3rd goal coming true. We arrived in the downtown area and stopped at the gazebo wondering where Pat was. He said he was on 10 Water Street, but we did not see him. We opted to head west out a little way to try and find him. Not finding him we turned around only to find him right in front of Town Hall, we had missed him when we rode by. We were ready for the last section.

Exeter, NH – Level of seriousness going from Mad Dog to me, to David, to the TLA

We headed out of Exeter and my solid riding continued. I was loving it! Taking a left on route 111, I knew there were town lines ahead, I wondered if TLA knew. He did, and nabbed both of them. That’s why he is the TLA (Town Line Assassin).

Crossing route 1, we were less than 5 miles away! This was going to be a great day, but believe it or not I did not want to let up until the very end.

Coming onto route 1A and heading south, I knew there was the final town line of the day shortly after the Beach Plum. I figured if the traffic in front of the Beach Plum would be in its typical state of craziness and there would be a need to slow down, then I could accelerate right after. I jumped and only peered over my shoulder as I neared the line. TLA was closing the gap but I had this one. “Yes!!” I shouted.

Less than a mile and time for well-deserved rest, relaxation and good food and beer.

Riding onto Beach Plum Way towards our destination was a relaxing and rewarding experience. We were greeted by our brides and our other supporters.

Thanks to my bride, Kathy, she coordinated and decorated the outdoor patio for this special moment of our day; almost like the P-Town Inn, except for not having thousands of riders and volunteers, or army shower tents, or loud music.

Me and my bride, Kathy

The day was a challenge. It was long. It got hot. But, it was successful on all levels (remember my 3 goals)!

Another PMC and my soul was cleansed once again.

We make a difference!

The TransNH Team:
“Mad Dog”, Me, “Coach”, David, and the TLA
Making A Difference:
L-to-R: TLA, Me, Bob, Commander, Mad Dog, Coach, David

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The Helmet – I ride for many!

Larry's "Motivation to Ride"

During my years participating in the PMC, I have recognized many individuals who have suffered (or lost their battles) with cancer by listing their names on my bike’s handlebar stem, then listing them on the top tube… and now these individuals will get a better view from atop my helmet.

Reasons to Ride
Reasons to Ride

The list you see below are those who have dealt with or are dealing with cancer. 

This list is “my motivation!”

Marcel GagnonDoris GagnonHank Swiadas
Ron “Bumpa” BrownElizabeth Ann MillusHarry Martins
Joseph J. & Helen E. RendaCraig BambergerTom Chew
Randy & Kathy MithoeferJim HopkinsAdy Lavallee
Lou & Vi HopkinsJoe SherlockJeanne Spillane
Sue SpillaneJoyce MillerKatie Spillane
Corey StollerBarbara PattersonDick Havens
Maribeth PooleChristine RuppelJack Dougherty
Delores PalmerMeg HausmanDorothy M. Gilday
Linda FrederickDonald HarringtonKirk Dabolt
Madeline SevichEd MijalRosemarie Havens
John DelangieRoger Larochelle Sr.Virginia Harrington
Bill SchenkRandy BenthienDavid Gagnon
Yolanda ThibeaultAnnette SpragueTim Poole
Allen DavisHenry KuligowskiRick Walsh
Helen KuligowskiDavid TullgrenReggie Pedego
Collin HallPeter MorrisetteRoger Miville
Tom HowardKelly MyersEdward Pickford
Claire OliverRita DionneCarl Flower
Jean O’BrienDonna PrattRoger Gamache
Colette LaVertueStanley LegencJeanne Lobalzo
David S. MacLeanPeg LindwallHolly Wadsworth
Jacqueline GagliniJoan CampbellBob Brooks
Madeline SevichGeorge SevichMark Pegoraro
Joan CavanaughJohn CavanaughLouis Rantus
Juanita WoodwardDonna MandriotaJake Anderson
Tony SnowIrene SzadoJoan Simonds
Laura RifkinLouis RantusDee Massa
Louis GagliniJoanne ButtieGloria Genovese
Ronald GuillemetteTina JensenLorri Fluet
Nick HarringtonFrances ProvencherMaya Sharma
Anna LockwoodDennis FerrillHoward Kassler
Ray LanzilottiPeter PerichNicole Tilton
Bob SzacikStan SzacikSteve Gulick
Jack WashwellSharon WashwellLindy Lewandowski
Michael PatanellaSylvia MarshallPeggy Wegman
Donnie JoyalWilliam MillerMadeleine Moher
Ann HartJim ChessiePeter Wallach
Lynn EvansLisa Huber

I have more helmet space to add names. I would be very proud to ride in honor and memory of your family or friends. Send me their names

Please sponsor my Pan Mass Challenge Ride to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Click on the link to contribute – http://www.pmc.org/egifts/LG0036

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What do I do?

How do I help companies succeed? Here is a list of services and example projects.

VALUE-ADD SERVICEDESCRIPTIONSUCCESSFUL PROJECTS
Strategic Planning and Roadmap DevelopmentLeads and facilitates organizational, functional and technical strategic planning and roadmap development by engaging with key stakeholders.Finance: Facilitated planning sessions with Vice Chancellor of Financial Affairs and Treasurer. Performed review of work portfolios across Directors subject areas, including Financial Affairs, Capital Planning and Development, Audit, Institutional Research and Procurement. Established process for prioritization and reporting.  

Human Resources: Consulted on the review of HR’s portfolio of projects; provided a prioritization approach and templates.  

Cybersecurity Solutions Company: Created a 2-year strategic convergence plan and CRM solution for the integration of applications and websites resulting in the elimination of 20 redundant business applications, data cleansing of customer databases (120,000+ records reduced to 17,000) and the standardization of business processes (order management and customer service) across several key functional areas.  
Project and Program ManagementEducates and guides organizations in the disciplines to managing projects, oversight of third-party PMs, following best practices, Charters, Project Plans, Issue Risk logs etc…   Additionally, and of importance is understanding the difference between projects and programs. Larry provides clear recommendations on the processes and resourcing allocations to support these two management areas.  Human Resources and Procurement: Guided Procurement and HR functions on understanding the difference of projects and programs in their management of their projects portfolio resulting in tactical and strategic roadmaps and more aligned resources.  
Project Intake and Prioritization SelectionEstablishes the structure for the submission and prioritization of project proposals/requests. The structure (templates and timing) engages organizational functions and stakeholders across the enterprise. Prioritization starts with aligning proposals with strategic and organizational objectives, then examining business value/benefit, business complexity (e.g. workflows and cross-functional requirements) and technical complexity (cross-systems, cross-databases, data manipulation, security, etc.)Information Technology: Employed multiple organizational functions; Finance, HR, Procurement and IT in the review of existing processes and development of go-forward processes. Of note was development of a Long Range Technology Plan for IT across the enterprise.  
PMO (Project Management Office) DevelopmentEstablishes the strategic and tactical project management guidelines, policies, processes, best practices along with standards for documentation. Includes the role of the PMO in the organization and the identification of required resources.Federal Government Sub-contractor: Worked closely with the IT department within a military branch to architect and facilitated the implementation of a PMO (Project Management Office) while the organization achieved CMMI certification. Additionally, applied Six Sigma and Lean disciplines to this newly created PMO.  
Business Process, Workflow, Operations Analysis and OptimizationClearly understands and guides the review, analysis and optimization of business processes and workflows. Facilitates sessions based on Lean principles to achieve value-add, optimization results.Semi-conductor Manufacturing: Delivered an ERP solution (Siebel 7) for an international, ISO 9001:2000 semi-conductor company resulting in the retirement of 4 legacy applications and millions of data records migrated. The project involved all functional areas (Sales, Legal, Product Mgmt., Manufacturing, Finances) to address quote-to-cash sales and product development lifecycle.  

IT Solutions Provider: Led a key strategic initiative to deliver a B2B web-based custom pricing architecture to enterprise-level corporate clients using JD Edwards for a recognized e-commerce leader of computer hardware and software solutions. The solution helped company reach $100 million revenues  

Online Education Company: Developed from scratch a department and processes to deliver on the complete customer experiencer: Pre-sales to Post-sales Support and Account Management.  

Higher Ed Processes: IAM (Integrated Advising Model), HR Onboarding Process, LRTP (Long Range Technology Planning) Intake Process, IT Project Intake Process for several campuses, USNH OEC (Online Enrollment Center) Workflow Processes, Cross-campus purchasing  
Vendor/Partner ManagementEngages in the management of vendor/partner relationships to achieve organizational project and program objectives. Engaged in all aspects of the relationship including: RFP Development, Selection Criteria, Contract Award, Project Management and Accountability (reporting and communications). Managed vendor engagements through procurement lifecycle. EPM (Oracle PBCS), ERP (SAP, Ellucian),Time Management (Kronos)eProcurement (Jaggaer), CRM (Salesforce and Siebel),Business Process Review and Roadmaps, Master Services Agreement  
Technology Assessments and Impact AwarenessWorking with clients to assess the health and status of key business applications. Determine how existing technology has been integrated, identify redundant and orphaned systems. Ensures that all business processes and functions are efficiently delivering on strategic and operational objectives Guides the review of existing technology ecosystems and provides an assessment of current state (versioning, licensing, etc.) and develops roadmaps to optimize systems and business processes.Cybersecurity Solutions Company: Conducted a complete inventory of organization’s business applications portfolio. Following the inventory created a matrix of key profiling elements: business owner, platform, users, funding, etc. Notable project achievement; reduced 23 apps to 3.  
Cloud ReadinessThe movement and adoption of cloud-based solutions continues at an accelerated rate; however, many organizations still struggle with the decision to move their on-premise infrastructure and applications into the cloud. Larry has provided organizations with an approach to confidently make this decision. Combining an education of cloud services, addressing misconceptions and leading stakeholders through risk/benefit analysis.Managed Services Company: Conducted numerous assessments of customers’ operational and organizational readiness to move applications to cloud (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace) Provided technology reviews to help right size solutions.
Data Analysis and ManagementWorks with data managers and stakeholders to evaluate, analyze and develop data requirements to fulfill project and operational objectives. Provides guidance to management and technical teams on the appropriate strategies to build-out strategic and tactical data management and reporting plans.Completed an analysis and provided an approach with recommendations on the cleanup of Ellucian Banner to support an eProcurement project.Established the criteria and processes for the onboarding of vendors to Jaggaer application.
Leadership and ManagementEstablishes a “trusted advisor” and “senior leader” persona when working with clients. Working internally and externally (customers and business partners) represents organizational strategic objectives and drives key transformational and growth initiatives without disrupting existing structures.  Cybersecurity Solutions Company: Represented SVP of Sales in global development and deployment of CRM project and program.  

Online Education Company: Partnered with Senior Executives in presenting company’s value add products and services with focus on post-sales support and account management relationship.

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What they say about Larry Gagnon?

I am blessed to be able to help others achieve their dreams, goals and aspirations. I guess I do have an impact as here are comments from people I have worked with.

 “It’s a privilege to work with someone as gifted and talented as Larry. He is the consummate professional and a manager who always “has your back.” No question is too trivial, no matter too complex, and no customer situation too challenging for him. I continue to learn from him each day, both by his words and by his example. He has great clarity of vision; when I am in the midst of problemsolving, he can play back a situation to help me see a different angle and offer a solution that I may not have considered. In addition, Larry truly appreciates his team and takes every opportunity to convey that to us. He is someone who takes a group and makes it a TEAM.”
~ Mary R. (Customer Support)

“As an experienced and deeply talented manager and leader, Larry consistently exceeds expectations and metrics with the performance of his group. Larry effortlessly handles difficult customer personalities and scales a very complex product rollout process across a large population of strategically important organizations. He is a valuable part of my team.”
~ Amelia N. (Chief Content Officer)

“Larry’s dedication, passion, honesty and directness has been a refreshing pleasure to work with both as a colleague and as my manager. He has been a great mentor and inspiration to me in project management, facilitation and communication where his positive attitude, experience and leadership helped foster communication at all levels within the organization providing a value add. Larry would be an asset to any organization.”
~Beth R. (Project Manager)

“Larry utilizes his functional, technical, and project management skills in extremely impactful and thoughtful ways. He is one of the best Project Managers I have ever worked with, leading to an on-time and on-budget implementation at USNH. He’s also a heck of a nice guy, and a pleasure to work with!”
~ Jonathan E. (Customer Success Director)

“I have had the pleasure of, knowing, managing, and working with Larry throughout his tenure at USNH. Larry has a diverse set of skills and talents, far and beyond being a PMP and Lean Practitioner. Larry has an extremely positive and energizing personality, augmented by an analytical mind which he uses to assess and balance project risk and develop appropriate courses of action. His ability to lead and inspire teams in achieving their project goals is facilitated through his communication, EQ skills, and ability to quickly read a room, curate appropriate messaging and help teams focus on the vision and work through project Issues and risks. Larry is an accomplished speaker, educator and presenter. He is comfortable in communicating with senior leadership, working one on one with teams or addressing a room of hundreds. He leverages these skills during project status reviews, leading seminars, and facilitating process improvement sessions. Larry would be a strong addition to any team.”
~ Paul D. (Chief of Staff)

“Larry and I have worked together for over 6 years and he is without a doubt both a leader and a manager. During this time Larry managed organization changing projects meeting requirements of many constitutions across a college system such as implementation for an e-procurement solution, a time and leave reporting system, EPM, and the HR ERP. I was amazed to watch him dissect the complex, highly charged issues and use his skills and experiences to solve problems by looking at the big picture, assessing all relevant details, and providing clear and viable solutions or options. I have also observed how his teams recognize that he is there for them. He provides clarity of vision on projects and work in general and embraces mentoring junior team members. His inclusive leadership creates teams with a motivated focus. I am deeply grateful for the years I have worked with Larry and can say confidently he absolutely is and will be a valuable and positive team member for any endeavor or organization he is involved with.
~ Steve P. (Vice President Finance)

“I had the privilege of working with Larry at Digital Equipment Corp and later hired him to run my ECommerce initiative at RSA Security. Larry is a tremendous team player that drives projects to completion in a collaborative manner. He is an outstanding leader with a can-do attitude and any organization would benefit greatly from his leadership.”
~ Mike H. (Vice President Operations)

“I had the pleasure of reporting into Larry at APS. During my time with the company I learned many key aspects of Project Management not covered during my PM certification, through Larry’s experience and wisdom. Larry is a true champion of service excellence and a motivating force. He is highly respected by all and people gravitate to Larry as a mentor. Never have I seen such grace under fire during key milestones and events of a project/program. Larry has my highest recommendation!”
~ Deb J. (Project Manager)

 “I worked closely with Larry for over a year. I can emphatically state that Larry is an individual who cares greatly about doing right by the customer. He cares passionately for the people he manages. And he is entirely dedicated to whichever role he is performing. Larry’s project management skills would make him an asset for any company. I recommend Larry without reservation.”
~ Bob S. (Vice President of Development)

“Larry is a committed and capable leader of people who knows how to positively motivate those around him. I have found Larry to be an excellent sounding board for “messages” (to internal and external recipients) as he brings clear insight to the most complicated situations. He truly understands the balance around working to a compromise that suits multiple sides and goals of a project.”
~ Tomas O. (Product Manager)

“Larry is a detailed, wellorganized individual with a positive attitude and an excellent team player that does not hesitate to tackle new or complex tasks. I found him to be very professional with Perot Systems associates, managers, and clients. He is enthusiastic about his work, and always willing to learn new things. I worked with Larry on some projects, and found him to be a great support.”
~ Jeff G. (Senior IT Manager)

“Larry is a consummate professional. In his role at APS, he led his team in navigating complex client deployments involving thousands of users. He embodied professionalism and integrity in every interaction. I have every confidence he would be an asset to the leadership team of any organization.”
~ Leo N. (Software Development Manager)

 “Larry is an incredible asset to APS. He is able to communicate effectively with all departments in the organization and customers at every level. His door is always open and able to offer insight and support to issues that may arise. That is refreshing for a subordinate to have in working through challenges. He is a problem solver, leads by example, organized, articulate, humble and wants those working under him to be successful. I truly believe you could pick up any book with examples of strong leadership/management styles and it would be describing Larry.”
~ John K. (Account Manager & Professional Services)

 “As Director of Services at Scribe Larry was a motivator across his and all departments. He is a pleasure to work with and has excellent communication skills. I know through working with his direct reports that they also found him to be a fair, effective and enabling leader of their team. Larry is a solid, team oriented addition to any organization.”
~ Mike B. (QA Engineer and Developer)

“Larry is an outstanding professional who leads by example, and his managerial style is both supportive and constructive. While reporting to Larry, he provided a balanced approach to each issue I brought to him, helping me to achieve the most effective results possible often within challenging constraints. It a pleasure to work with, and for, Larry.”
~ Melissa K. (Technical Writer and Training Developer)

“I had the opportunity to work with Larry while implementing a CRM solution for RSA Security. Larry provided the type of positive leadership that is needed to make a crossfunctional project a success. He is very detail orientated, displays great communication skills when managing the needs of different user groups and always brings a contagious positive attitude to all of the projects he works on. Larry is hard working, dedicated and a pleasure to know and work with. I highly recommend him.”
~ Denny P. (Business Analyst and Developer)

 “Larry is a professional who excelled at managing the Ecommerce process, support staff and tool. He and his team were key in providing and managing the interface between the technical IS and Business organizations and their requirements.”
~ Mark S. (Director of Customer Operations)

“Having recruited Larry into my organization as Program Manager over vendor relationships, I was extremely impressed by his drive to succeed. Highly intelligent and equally personable, Larry developed and executed marketing strategies for selling into the Digital channel, working with almost every major manufacturer in the computer industry. With seasoned experience, he enjoys a unique ability to absorb technology and recognize the benefits it can provide. I count it an honor to know Larry and highly recommend him to any company.”
~ Randall C. (Senior Marketing Director)

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Yield or Stop

Hey fellow cyclists, do you come to complete stops at intersections with stop signs? I am going to guess that most of you do not, and that this is the predominant road behavior.

On October 1, 2020, the state of Washington passed a “safety stop” law that allows cyclist to roll through an intersection basically making it a yield sign. Can this work in your state? Here are my thoughts and questions on this topic.

  • Allowing for this acceptable road riding behavior would appear to make bike riding less safe, which is contrary to many regional and national associations; and safety should be a primary priority for any changes.
  • Makes complete sense for rural geographies.
  • Cyclists have much more visibility of the roadway thus they can manage a ‘yield’.
  • This will absolutely further “disturb” some motorists.
  • Would there be some intersections that such a law would not apply? If so, what are those details? The geography or traffic layout conditions of our urban, suburban and rural roads might make it difficult to clearly differentiate.
  • The article addressed one of my questions, “What constitutes an acceptable yield?” “Cyclists must slow down to a speed that would let them stop if necessary, but the law also lets them keep momentum if the intersection is clear.”
  • A “safety stop” law would need to include eBikes.
  • We often see or hear about stories on encounters between bikes and cars, what about bikes and pedestrians? The article states, “…if the intersection is clear…”, what happens when there is a pedestrian? A law would need to protect the pedestrian first and thus, by definition the intersection is not clear and the cyclist must stop.
  • What about turns? The law would need to address whether yield includes left turns and straight through. Given some road layouts, such as a ‘T’ section; two lanes entering, one for left, one for right. If intersection is clear, can the cyclist occupy the left lane and roll through with a left turn?

To make this legislation many questions, would have to be addressed (we all know about our political process). All points and questions aside, if other states are doing it and it is being done informally anyway, why not go ahead and make it law?  Begin by leveraging other states’ language as a template to see how concerns and issues such as those raised above could be addressed. 

Let’s not yield or stop and continue to advocate for cycling and pedestrianism in all states.

Ride and walk on!

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Cooking is hard. What is a tablespoon?

Cholula

Cooking is hard, especially if you live with a foodie, part-time master chef.

Where to start? Yes, I can boil water; at least, I think I can. I don’t follow a recipe, but I have heard the rumbling from the tea kettle and witnessed turbulent waters in the pot before I killed lobstahs.

I also do a fine job of throwing dead animal carcasses onto a searing grill. I very rarely create leather out of the slabs of redness. I have learned that meat continues to cook even after taking off the grill.

Oh yea, I can do a nice omelette. I enjoy mixing in a variety of flavors and contents when creating a breakfast start me up. Some of favorites; pesto sauce, salsa, cheeses, spices with a kick, Cholula sauce, vegetables and other culinary treats.

I can do pancakes.

And to conclude with my culinary resume, when I first got married I would make apple pies each fall, making my crust from scratch.

If this sounds like I can manage around the kitchen, I am not sure about that. I have closely observed my wife and other talented individuals in the kitchen and I quickly think, “How do they do that?” I feel like an extreme amateur. Let me emphasize the point with these analogies. I am the neighborhood walker compared to a Mt. Everest climber, I am the high school student struggling writer compared to an accomplished novelist. I am a Cub Scout to a Navy Seal. Get the point on how I feel?

sweet-potato-bowl

Another example of the difference between a foodie and me. Recently, I learned from my daughter how to make a sweet potato bowl (Basically, a creamy, delicious, smoothy like recipe. I love it!). The first step was to bake the sweet potatoes. When my daughter showed me, we used a casserole dish. For the unaware this pottery has sides and was good at keeping the cut-in-half tubers facing up. I was able to go-solo and have made the dish twice – yea for me. However, during a recent time to make another batch I lamented out loud that I would have to use two dishes because I had more sweet potatoes.

My foodie wife said, “Why not use a baking tray?”

“Because they would roll over” I replied.

Without skipping a beat and delivering her response like she was saying the sky is blue, she said “Then, why don’t you slice off a small piece on the other side of them so they lay flat?”

Why didn’t I think of that? I have so much more to learn.

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Beyond Scope, Time and Budget

three-pillars

As a project manager you are laser focused on scope, time and budget. You wake up each day and follow your plan. You recognize that managing these three pillars will lead to successfully managing and delivering the project, and consume all of your time and efforts along the way – right

Well, there is a 4th leg to ensuring your success and that is managing the “boss”. The “boss” can be any, or most of the following, the Executive Sponsor(s), other key project stakeholders, and let’s not forget the project manager’s organizational boss who may, or not be, part of the project.

Any of the following resonate?

  • At the kick-off meeting, everyone, with enthusiasm says, “We need to be focused on delivering the scope, being on time and stay within budget.” Right
  • What happens when these bosses become focused on the methodology, be it Waterfall or Agile, the document formats (Word, Excel, PDF, online, paper, etc.) and other (tangentially) related details instead of, or in addition to scope, time and budget?
  • Or, what about when the boss questions why the project is looking at and/or including an analysis of processes? You’ve heard this, “Can’t we just..?”  

Are you frustrated by attending to these boss idiosyncrasies? If so, you are feeling stressed and challenged. You want to be focused on scope, time, budget and get the project done.  Right?

EPSON scanner image
Above cartoon is credited to Tom Fishburne’s great work.

There are many, many well-written approaches on “managing up”, ways to be a good employee, how to please your boss and making your boss look good. From that large volume, here is a short list (4 areas) to focus on and managing (the boss) beyond scope, time and budget.

  • Experience. Put your experience to work. You know your boss, and/or you are aware of the personalities and styles of other bosses who might need a little more “support”. Leverage this knowledge and plan for it – actually build time into your schedule to rewind, review and consider what they are asking for. Need a primer on leadership styles, start with this overview.
  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Right in the beginning of the project, or as soon as “beyond scope, time, budget” behaviors, or situations arise, schedule time with the boss and ask the following questions, “What do you expect from me and the project team? What will be success for the project?” They will say scope, time, budget, so you will need to press and drill into these responses to truly know. Write these responses down and send to them confirming your understanding. And, once you have had the initial meeting and any subsequent meetings, you go back to the beginning of this paragraph and you start again.
  • Focus. At the end of the day (project), the care-and-feeding of bosses is secondary to delivering on the project’s scope, time and budget. Keeping a value-based, high-quality focus on these pillars will help on those days when you hear about the margins of a report requiring modification. These pillars are the true priorities.
  • Look in the mirror. Be your own critic before someone else does. It is easier to look in the mirror and give yourself a “get it right” talk instead of being called to an office for an unexpected “meeting”.

Finally, here is a good reference from Project Times.

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Win-Win Relationships with Consultants (and everyone else)

In my career I have had many experiences working with consulting firms and individuals and I have repeatedly witnessed some in my organization treating these relationships with a “they are only consultants” as is if they are slave labor, thus giving little or no respect. When pondering this type of behavior, my thoughts created many questions regarding the client-consultant relationship. Explore your relationships by reading on.

  • Why is it that people and organizations feel that they can “beat up” on the consultants? What kind of archaic and arcane thinking is that? What is it? It does not work and I propose requires more effort to work from this view. and delivers less than desirable results.
  • Are relationships with our vendors and partners one-sided? Is there give-and-take? Is there active listening going on? Do you agree that successful (productive) relationships are based on trust and a shared vision of the future? If so, these relationships take time and need to be developed just like any other.
  • If the first two bullets resonate, where to begin. What about the contractual agreement? Doesn’t this solidify details and expectations? If not, ask your consultant any flavor of the following:
    • “What is the definition of success? What would be the best, most ideal outcome for the project, or agreement, or contract?” After the agreement is signed and you begin the work, ask the question again, I guarantee you will get a more relaxed and beneficial answer. This is where the trust truly begins.
    • “How are you (the individual, not the company) measured for success? How will your boss, your company view success?”
    • “What has worked in the past? Tell me about the best customer you have worked with?”
  • Of equal importance and value and to make this a two-way conversation, the other side of asking your consultants all these questions, is for the consultant to clearly understand your responses to the same questions and clearly understand the goals.
  • Help them be the best they can be. Prior to engaging, the consultants presented a host of services/solutions to help you achieve your stated objectives; makes sense to put them in the best position to deliver – right?
  • Remove obstacles. Make it “easy” for them to deliver on their expertise. If they need another power cord, go get it, they need a database update, get it done, they need a decision, make it happen.
  • At the end of the day, the project or the agreement, if you have answered, and/or addressed the questions above, you will have developed a relationship that enables your consultant to succeed, and there success is your success!
  • In projects, while some elements are possibly subjective, items like time and budget should be well defined so there is no question and strict accountability can be put in place.
  • First impressions are real. Upon engaging in a new relationship with a consultant you are establishing the foundation for the future. Not only do first impressions represent a relationship between individuals, but also between individuals and organizations, or between organizations.
    • What kind of impact can a first impression have? I recall a particular experience in which I entered a corporate office of a prospective client and while awaiting for my appointment with a senior manager I observed and listened as the front-desk administrator had several in-person and over the phone engagements with co-workers where I heard at least twice some utterance similar to, “…they are only a consultant…”. That spoke volumes to me. I knew that this short-sighted perspective (BTW – this was reinforced when I met my contact) was not going to lead to a positive long-lasting relationship, and I was right as the work went away not too far into the future.
  • Getting to know each other. Remember when you moved in with your fiance, boyfriend, girlfriend, college roommate? Remember the awkwardness of learning when to use the bathroom, replacing grocery items, how loud to play music, etc. This was that “getting to know you” phase of a new relationship. Instead of experiencing these awkward activities, why not address both of your expectations, desires and requirements, etc. right from the start? If you sense that you are not on the same page, you have questions, you have doubts; don’t wait and engage right away in the dialog about concerns and questions. Add to this conversation the when and how to communicate (phone, email, meetings), introductions to others (who are the stakeholders)…. And, who is doing what; updating project plans, writing status reports, etc. How and what will be done when there is a disagreement and finally remembering to put the seat down (kidding on this last one!).

This all makes sense – right? If so, you are ready for a “win-win” relationship with your consultants.

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Pain is my Prayer

There are many times in which one might pray for someone in pain. During one long and arduous training ride over several sections of road between New Hampshire and Massachusetts in preparation for the annual Pan Mass Challenge – my prayer was my pain.

Pain is Prayer” has become one of my mantras while pushing hard.

I recognize that many people suffer from the ravages of cancer, or other life challenges, either directly or indirectly. In the case of cancer patients they endure and battle through multiple chemo therapy and radiation sessions and the consequences of these body altering activities. Then, there are the family members and/or supporters who live with the stress of watching their loved ones.

On this day, my internal voice screamed, “I care; I care a lot!” My spirit goes out to every person and their families. I was pushing myself very hard and I thought; this is for Jack, this is for Helen and Joe, this is for “Bumpa” and everyone else on my “helmet“. Then, on the PMC weekend and I would push harder. I hold this belief that my exertion has a, call it a “cosmic connection” to helping others. It is a spiritual connection. I feel that the energy I give is an energy that can be used to help others.

When I prepare for the PMC I have several “prayer” moments.

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HIIT It!

Time

Not enough time to exercise, then just “HIIT” it!

HIIT is ‘High Intensity Intervals Training‘.

This exercise regimen is not a new fad; however, its profile has received a lot of press recently due to its short(er) time duration engagement proposition and to the uninformed, an association with CrossFit; the latter being a branded form of multi-disciplinary exercises.

I actually heard someone say after seeing a short video report story on HIIT, “That’s all!” I thought, “Yea, but you would not be able to handle that level of effort“.

Another way to look at this form of exercise/conditioning is from a quality-versus-quantity perspective. Depending on the HIIT model you follow the level of effort during a session will have your body screaming and begging you to stop and you will be done between 15-20 minutes. However, the results are solid. For those wanting for facts and are into the science (and consider yourself to be “older”), then check out Martin J. Gibala, PhD’s “Intermittent exercise and insulin sensitivity in older individuals: It’s a HIIT” article. Of note from this paper are the following two points to consider.

  • “…may serve as a timeefficient substitute or compliment to commonly recommended moderateintensity continuous training for improving cardio metabolic health…”
  • “…efficacy of timeefficient interval training protocol to improve
    insulin sensitivity and cardio respiratory fitness in older individuals…”

My view of “High Intensity Interval Training” (HIIT) begins by looking at the words from the acronym.

High Intensity. I propose that ‘high intensity’ is relative to a person’s present health and fitness level. For the person who has not seen their belt buckle since high school, then vigorous walking may be intense. Even for the conditioned athlete going all-out for short time intervals will be taxing. The immersion into these efforts is painful – I know.

Intervals. This component of HIIT is the attraction for many; it refers to the timing aspect of engaging within the exercise regime. Forever, individuals have had as their number one reason for not exercising is a lack of time. HIIT’s proposed value is that you can achieve results in a less amount of time.

While there are variety of routines available today and many gyms, or clubs, offer such programs, for the out-of-shape individual I implore you to get a physical exam, or talk with your doc (there, that PSA warning is out of the way). Now, where to begin. Start with your own personal HIIT session and follow this suggestion.

  1. Warm-up! Swing your arms, twist your body, walk, cycle, just move easy-to-moderately for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Go Hard! What does “hard” mean? You will know it when it happens. Depending on your form of exercise (walking briskly, cycling like a cyclone, or running away from a tiger) push hard for 1 minute (for those who are using technology or know themselves well this will be a 80-90% effort), your heart is pounding in your chest, you are sweating, your breathing is labored, and more!
  3. Recovery. My god, that was hard! So, take 2-2.5 minutes and recover, by slowing your preferred exercise so you can swallow your heart and oxygen, and you can feel your extremities again.
  4. Repeat! Yes, repeat steps 2 and 3 for 3-5 more times.
  5. Chill. Continue walking or cycling for an easy 3-5 minutes.

Total HIIT Time: Approximately 15-25 minutes. Now that wasn’t too bad; was it?

Once again, the above suggested session is for those who have been away for a while. For those with fitness backgrounds and want to try HIIT, the above session still works with the following considerations.

  1. Warm-up is moderate and increases slightly towards first hard interval.
  2. Hard should be in the 90-95% range.
  3. For recovery, target between 1.5-2 minutes.

Okay, so this is suppose to save time and get results. Someone might say, “I get it, 15-25 minutes; but overall, how many times per week?” Reports will suggest 2-4 times per week. I suggest that the number of times per week is based on two considerations; 1) How a HIIT aligns with your training goals? and, 2) How hard are you pushing in a HIIT session? Personally, I find 1-2 times per week has been beneficial and complimentary.

Got 15-20 minutes? Are you ready to HIIT it? Want more? If so, you might find Dr. Martin Gibala’s “The One-Minute Workout” to be of value. OneMinWorkout

 

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