Project Management And Leadership With Anh Dao Pham – #326

Anh Dao Pham: Project Management And Leadership

Anh Dao Pham: Project Management And Leadership

How many books have you read on project management? What about leadership? The problem is these topics don’t exist in silos. My guest today says we need to combine the practice of project management and leadership into one balanced approach – project leadership. Because as we emerge from the pandemic, organizations need leaders who can unlock creativity, get projects done, and engage their teams by building strong, personal emotional connections. In Glue: How Project Leaders Create Cohesive, Engaged, High-Performing Teams, Anh Dao Pham vividly brings compassionate, positive, nimble leadership to life, demonstrating with actionable guidance, the power of caring and connection to inspire outstanding results.

Project Management And Leadership


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Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

James Taylor 0:00
Please welcome to the super creativity podcast Anh Dao Pham. Welcome, man.

Anh Dao Pham 0:55
Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

James Taylor 0:59
Well, lovely to have you with us. And in the book, your book is called glue. And in the book, you say that project leaders are the glue that binds the team together? What do you mean by that? And can if you could maybe define what you be with us this word project leaders?

Anh Dao Pham 1:15
Sure, absolutely. So I guess, first of all, start with the idea of glue. Have you seen the movie, Jerry Maguire?

James Taylor 1:21
Yes, many years ago, a very old movie was love Show Me the Money, wasn’t it? That was a quote

The glue that binds teams together

Anh Dao Pham 1:27
that Tom Cruise and Rene Rene Zellweger. And there is a line in that movie where, you know, very famous line where Tom Cruise says to Rene, so like, Are you completely. And in a lot of ways, I think as a project leader, as somebody who does that they work to complete the team. So we’re not just working to be a leader who’s somebody who’s out in front. They’re not a project manager who is just sort of managing tasks overall. But what they’re really looking out for is what the holistic health of the team is. And so oftentimes, people think project leaders should just be out in front pointing, what we think they should do is not actually what is most effective for the teams. If they are actually thinking about the teams holistically, you’re looking for gaps to plug within the team and looking for ways that they can actually make that team more cohesive. So for example, you might see that your team lacks clear direction and in that case, you need to provide it, you may see that a task has been dropped on the ground. In that case, you would want to pick it up and help them, you might notice that your superstars are doing really well. But they lack morale in some ways. And so you might work to boost that morale overall. And so it’s a dynamic where somebody is more embedded within the team, looking at all the individual team needs, and then helping them to fulfill those in a way that makes the whole team productive. That makes project leaders glue. There’s also a dynamic, and that’s pretty popular in basketball, or in the sports world. Or they’d call people, you know, certain players are called Glue, guys. And that’s pretty common there. But it’s not common in like technology and project management space. But the concept with those folks is, that they may not be the people who score the most points. But what they do is they, when they’re on the court, they really look out for the overall health of the team, and whether or not the movement of the team is working well. And this is essentially the same principle, if you are really leading the project, it’s not necessarily being on the front of being embedded within the team and trying to make everything operate more efficiently.

James Taylor 3:23
God. So it’s almost arranged a little bit when I used to be in the music industry, and we’d be on tour with this kind of large bands. And we’d have, you know, lots of crew and everything. And there was always at least kind of one person that was usually the tour manager who was that glue, you know, great all these different personalities, different egos, different people kind of doing things that they can have brought everything together. So something else use this phrase, project leaders now we often hear this word project managers or project management. So what’s the difference between project management and project leaders or leadership?

Anh Dao Pham 3:55
Yeah, I mean, I think project managers tend to be people who have that title. So you’ll have an organization where there’s a project management office, and there’s people who are specifically designated to be a project manager. And those people tend to have skills that are really good at process overall, but aren’t necessarily feeling like they’re empowered to be a project leader. On the flip side, you might have projects where somebody is designated to lead the project, but they don’t have a project management title officially. And it could be one of the same. The project manager could be the person who’s being the project leader, but not necessarily. But what you’re what I so the main distinction that I think there is, you know, what you’re really looking for is who’s actually going to take this project and drive it forward. And it may not be somebody who is designated with that formal title, but anybody in that role, who is a leader on that team can step up and lead the overall team to delivery and success in that requires a combination of both being able to manage things and tasks that are important, as well as the people management skills it takes to actually create a cohesive team and be the glue

James Taylor 5:00
One of the things I really enjoyed in the book is you end each chapter with a kind of cheat sheet or an Action Guide. For example, that was, in the first chapter, second chapter, you provided a really excellent meeting planning checklist, which I wish I’d seen years ago. What more meetings much more efficiently after reading and actually use that checklist? I was in a meeting today. And I kind of use that checklist. So tell us a little bit, you know, how can we plan and run more productive meetings?

Productive Meetings

Anh Dao Pham 5:30
Sure, meet bad meetings are one of my pet peeves. You know, people spend a ton of time in meetings every day. And when you have a bad meeting, it really sucks the energy out of you. So I spend a lot of time making sure that the meetings that I hold are very good. And there’s sort of two different categories of things. One set is are things that are relatively obvious, but you don’t always make sure that you’re doing those are things like making sure that you have the right attendees. So a very critical attendee for the meeting, or do they accept the meeting? And are they planning to attend, that’s really important, otherwise, sometimes your meeting will be unproductive altogether, creating a clear agenda so that everybody on the team who’s in the meeting, knows why they’re there and what the purpose is. I like in agendas, to titles of no books on a bookshelf. If you have a calendar that’s packed, and you want to know which meeting you should be attending, you’re going to look at the agenda and the title and make sure that it’s something that you feel like is relevant to you. So that’s really important. In terms of just logistics, a lot of people neglect to think about the holistic meeting, you know, it’s like do people do we have enough chairs in the conference room for all these people? Do I have the right audio visual setup, so that I’m not going to have problems with remote attendees, those things are very important as well. And when you neglect them, they tend to cause a lot of problems in your meetings. So good to think about as well. And then a couple of other things on that topic just doing if there is any prep work that needs to happen before the meeting to make sure that it’s productive, you want to make sure that your attendees know and have enough time to do that. And then finally, just out of courtesy, you want to make sure that your meeting ends on time. That’s something that as a facilitator, it’s your job to kind of keep things are on track. And while people will say they want meetings to end on time, they don’t always keep to that they’re not good at moderating themselves. So it’s kind of your job to make sure that you’re gently moderating those things, then there’s a couple of things that people don’t always think about on meetings that I like to talk about. First, instead of setting the tone and the energy for me, so a good meeting facilitator will try to pay attention to the energy and in the meeting and set the tone based off of the conversation that you have. It’s like here on this podcast, if you came and you started talking to me, you had really low energy, then I would feel that and your listeners would feel that if you want people to feel uplifted, you want to come with a certain amount of energy to bring to the meeting, so that everybody feels that way as well. And then finally, one mistake that I often see people doing with meetings is they might have an agenda, and they’re super prepared, but then they stick too closely to the agenda. So oftentimes, a meeting facilitator will almost be you know, Nazi like, it’s like, Hey, we’re gonna stick to it at all costs. But sometimes the agenda was not right, or you’ll go through the meeting. And part of the course of the meeting is a certain amount of discovery. So partway through, you might find people are talking about a particular topic, it may feel like an interruption to the agenda. But your job is to make sure that everybody’s making progress. So instead of closing off the conversation, it’s good to ask the group to say, hey, is this something that’s important for us to continue talking about? If so, if everybody agrees, let’s use the time to do that. If not, then can we move it to a follow up item. And I think that flexibility is something that, that a lot of people will neglect in the facilitation and it can make it, it can break a meeting, because people will end up spending time doing something that they’re not as interested in doing, and isn’t necessarily as productive. So those I think, are my best tips for meetings.

James Taylor 8:50
Fantastic. You can do all those tips gonna make a much more productive meeting, as I found today, as well. One of the things on that I wanted to get your thoughts on was when you’re, you’re kind of making minutes and over the course of meeting or someone’s making minutes over the course of a meeting. What things should they be ensuring the no team they’re making note of and then communicating with people, either at the end of that meeting, or after the meetings taking place? Or when the next meeting happens?

Anh Dao Pham 9:21
Yeah, absolutely. I know, taking is a huge passion of mine. Anything you’re passionate about. I actually write in the book I devoted a whole chapter on note-taking because it’s so important. For me, there’s a couple of different layers of note-taking. One is depends on how familiar you are with the topic. So at a very minimum, even if you’re not very familiar with the topic, the one thing that you want to make sure to do when you’re running a meeting is making sure that you’re calling out and noting noting action items and key decisions. So even if you’re not sure what’s happening in the meeting or you’re not completely familiar with the dialogue, you’ll look for things like keywords People will say that indicate that a decision has been made or that there’s some agreement and then ask and then restate that and record whatever that is. And then the other item is an action item, if you’re hearing a name or somebody agreeing to do something, capturing those particular action items is really important. So at the end of the meeting, at least, if you have your the two key decisions that came out of the meeting, and then here are the action items, and who’s going to actually be taking charge of them, those are the most critical things that you want to send out at the end of a remain to make sure that you’re going to make progress when you meet the next time.

James Taylor 10:30
Some great advice. Now, I’m interested in this role of the project leader, what are there any kind of characteristics? You know, I mean, you’re you’re been in this whole world of kind of project leadership in Primerica for a long, long time and different organizations Ticketmaster now, in the work you do today, with Edmonds, is there any personality things that you notice characteristic people are really tend to be very good at this role? Specifically, I’m wondering about you ask the right kind of questions and noting things. What role does curiosity play as maybe one of those things?

Job Of A Project Leader

Anh Dao Pham 11:09
Yeah, absolutely. I think curiosity is a huge, hugely important trait for this person, or this type of role. It’s a curiosity, adaptability, and then also the ability to synthesize maybe the most critical things. A lot of times when you start a project, you often don’t know everything. And oftentimes, when a leader is designated, it’s at the point where a project is sort of in need of some amount of help. So they get they get a person to say, Hey, you’re going to be responsible for driving this through. And at that point, you may not know everything when you’re joining, but you’re responsible for trying to make sure that progress is happening. So in those cases, I think curiosity plays a huge role. And what I like to give in terms of advice for people who are starting in that position where they don’t feel like they know enough to help is to think of themselves more like a detective. So if you watch any sort of detective series like a Sherlock Holmes, then you’ll notice that, you know, the whole, the whole purpose of that role really is to uncover the truth, and then piece of the puzzle pieces together. And you do that by asking questions, and you can’t really manifest the right questions unless you have a natural curiosity about how things work, and how those things fit together. So I’d say curiosity is definitely huge. The other is adaptability, because things change quite a bit. And like I said, even just in a meeting, if you’re not adaptable, then you may end up pushing your team to be doing something that may not be as productive. So you want to really feel out what is important at any given time, and then adapt your style to what is most helpful to your team at any particular time. And then the last piece of it, I think, is is synthesis, which is, if you’re curious and adaptable, and you’re learning things as you go, that’s great. But it doesn’t become impactful until you start really making the full picture come together. So you’re putting all those puzzle pieces together and solving the mystery. And that skill of synthesizing where you’re taking this information from lots of different contexts. And then creating something that makes sense and is logical and is easy to explain to other people is a real is a really key skill in terms of being a super effective project leader.

James Taylor 13:19
When it comes to those kind of questions, you are there any advice you would give, maybe at the very start of a process a bit of a new project? You know, it’s been decided that this is this is a project that organization is going to do some type of initiative. You know, group of people come together, some of them know each other, maybe some of them don’t. One of the most important questions that you should be raising if you’re that project leader, right at the start that very first meeting.

Questions In Meetings

Anh Dao Pham 13:45
Yeah, at the very beginning, I think there’s a few things. One is that you want to make sure that everybody is on the same page to start. So I talked a lot in the book about alignment and how that’s really important to the very beginning. And just having a really clear understanding of what the ultimate goal for the project is. And that That is stated in a way that makes that makes sense. And means the same thing to every person on the team is extremely important. So I like to start out a project by speaking with a person that I will refer to as the project sponsor, but sort of the most senior and authoritative person on the project, who’s accountable for ultimately accountable for delivering that person asking them, you know, what is the main goal for this project? And how would you define success? It’s extremely important. And then once you have those, that question answered, then that’s when you would engage the team and make sure that everybody fully understands it. I find oftentimes that you’ll define a goal, but it’ll be somewhat ambiguous. So you could say, like, when I decided I was going to write a book, I said, I’m going to write a book and it’s going to happen in this timeframe. But writing a book means a lot of different things. Is it just a draft that I’m completing? Am I going to be finished with editing? Is it going to be fully published? Those are different definitions of words. Writing a book and finishing writing a book. And depending on who you are, your definition may be different. So I think the first really key question to ask is, what is this? What does success mean for those projects, and then defining that in a way that’s, you know, unambiguous to everybody on the project is important. And then once you’re engaged, there’s another question I just always stress is really important, which is more about getting a project moving or continuing to have a project moving. And relating back to your question about meetings. At the end of every meeting, if you capture the decisions and the action items, that’s great, you want to capture those in your notes, but you also want to understand what the next steps are. And so if you don’t ask any other questions in your meetings, but that this one question, what are the next steps that will help you move your meeting, your meeting and your project forward? If you make sure to ask that question before everybody leaves the room?

James Taylor 15:54
You mentioned that that concept of a sponsor for a project one of the one nice quotes you had in the book was President Jimmy Carter comment he made to his former chief of staff, Jack Watson. And they can have you also the kind of leads into a discussion you have in the book about this role of the sponsor for a project, you know, what is that role? And so can you can you elaborate further to that? What is that idea, this project sponsor? And why are they important? Why do we need to have them in a project? And how do we find them, maybe in a larger organization of a larger organization, it can sometimes feel a little bit squishy at the start, like, Who is this magical person?

Project Sponsor

Anh Dao Pham 16:38
Yeah, it’s, it’s an extremely important role. And it exists for every project in some fashion. A project sponsor to me is essentially the person with the power to either fund or cancel your project. And so the simplest analogy I have is, you know, when I was doing a home remodeling project, I was the project sponsor. And I actually wasn’t as involved, my husband ended up managing a lot of the project itself, which is ironic, because I, as a project manager,

James Taylor 17:06
I’m imagining lots of Gantt charts in your house, or

Anh Dao Pham 17:10
you wanted to manage it. And so I was mostly hands off. But at the end of the day, I had veto privileges. And I could say, Yes, we will pay for this, or no, we won’t. And so it’s the architect or the contractor would propose something, I would say I was the one who was able to fund or deny that thing from happening. And of course, in collaboration with my husband, but he would sort of sanity check with me on these decisions. But what you’re really looking for in a project sponsor sponsor is that person, you know, who’s the ultimate person who could potentially cancel your project, or who’s the person who put their name on the line to say, this is a project that needs to happen, there’s always somebody who’s accountable. And what’s interesting about that role is it’s not always somebody who’s involved in the project day to day, there may be a pretty high level executive in the company that’s, you know, on the hook to deliver, but it’s who’s you know, creating that status report and saying whether or not this project is going to deliver on its promise. And so if you don’t know who that person is, it’s always good to ask, oftentimes, your if your project manager or project leader, you’re in the middle of the organization, you receive a project that’s kind of in flight, and they say, Hey, this project needs help go. And you make some assumptions, and you start moving on it. But if you’re not really connected to the person who is ultimately responsible for delivering it, then chances are that you may not have full clarity on what’s most important to focus the team on at any given time, or the clarity on the ultimate goal for the project. Like if it’s been restated in a way that maybe you translate it into something else, or your team members translated into something else, you’re not going to be as successful. So, you know, the easiest way is to to ask, you know, who’s the person who funded this project? And can I meet with that person and make sure that we’re on the same page that that relationship is so important to establish overall. And in particular, if you’re a project leader that doesn’t have any formal authority, which happens quite often, you might be a person who’s in a cross functional role, and you have, let’s say, developers or contractors in some way that don’t report to you. And if you have a good relationship with that person, that person’s authority essentially extends through you because you’re serving as a conduit for getting something that’s important to that person done.

James Taylor 19:18
One, one of the, I’m going, when I was at college, we had we can we did some lunch and basic kind of project management things. I remember at the time thinking, wow, this feels really kind of heavy bureaucratic. I do remember there was lots of Gantt charts was one of the things, those lessons and being a little bit put off by it about, you know, just, you know, just this just doesn’t feel like it didn’t really kind of gel with me, particularly but in your book, you shared a method for leading projects for the calm method. And this use of milestones to make things that much more kind of flexible, and I felt just kind of reading that. I felt that That’s a type of project leadership I think I could sign up to. And there was no, there was no Gantt charts in sight, I think in any of your book at all. So can you tell us what what is this comment?

CALM Method

Anh Dao Pham 20:12
Yes. So yeah, if you read my book, you’ll notice that I don’t like to use Gantt charts. And that’s probably sacrilegious in some ways coming from somebody who does a lot of project management. But what I find is the Gantt charts are extremely detailed. And sometimes they’re useful for planning purposes. But what happens is, if you have a very large Gantt chart with all these different dependencies, and you end up, you end up spending all your time just trying to maintain that over time. And that’s not a super productive use of your time overall. So in the book, I introduce a concept that I call the comb method, just for short, it’s closely aligned, but loosely managed. And it’s the idea is that it piggybacks more on paradigms that are more modern in the sense that most teams don’t work in a way that is very linear. Right now, a lot of teams have their own workflows for getting things done. In the technology world, a lot of teams are in Agile Scrum, or agile Kanban, which is even more fluid, where you’re defining work as you go in small iterations and sprints. And those hit the board. You know, it’s certainly in cards, and they go through this workflow process. And to track that in a separate sheet. And a Gantt chart with a big dependency tree just doesn’t make any sense. And so when I talk about coulomb, it’s essentially defining what the goal is, and defining the milestones, and then telling people what’s important, just making sure that they’re very clear on what the priorities are. And then just reiterating those things over and over again, but then really leaning on the teams and trusting them to use their own workflows to get things done. So rather than tracking every single little thing that needs to happen, and checking those off one by one, you’re really leaning on the teams to say, Hey, I’m giving you this overarching goal and milestone, I need you to be here by this point in time. Can you do that? And can you make sure you’re prioritizing these things first. And when you give a team that type of trust, it frees you up from tracking all those details and managing that crazy Gantt chart. But it also instills a sense of ownership to that team in a way that makes them deliver more effectively.

James Taylor 22:20
So this kind of there’s I mean, I know we did this the technique, agile, but there is an agile illness about that type of way that metaphor leading projects.

Anh Dao Pham 22:29
Yeah, there’s, there’s an agility about it. And there’s also there’s a flexibility about it. So in the case where you’re leading a very large project, and you might have multiple teams, what’s nice about it is that each team can operate the way that they currently operate. And what you’re really doing is just giving them like, here’s the goal that I need you to hit, do it in whatever way works best for you. And that creates a flexibility. So you know, each team can operate the way that they feel is most efficient. If they’re Agile Scrum, or agile Kanban, or some or spiral or some other methodology, or even a waterfall, that’s fine. It’s just if they all hit the same milestone at the right time, and make sure that they’re prioritizing the right work, you’ll end up being successful and you won’t have to track all the nitty gritty details for each one.

James Taylor 23:15
I’m so glad that you picked up and you corrected me. I think I said add gentleness. Well, you said agility. And I thought I think I agree on that. It’s like one of those words probably like like truthiness. It sounds kind of right. Completely wrong. So yes, definitely more, it’s more more agility as well. Um, there was there was a nother kind of final part of the book that I actually used today. I mentioned it to someone I was having lunch with a with a client today. And they were talking about a project that they were looking to do initiative they were looking to do. And then as we were discussing this with thinking it through, I said, Oh, I’ve just read this book. In the book, the author, she mentions this idea of doing a pre mortem. And I kind of explained probably very bad accident, you go and get the book when the book comes out. Instead, it kind of goes into much more depth. But for those that have never It’s a phrase I’ve heard before. But I think you explained it very well in the book as well. So what is a pre mortem? What’s the use of doing a pre mortem when thinking about a project?


Anh Dao Pham 24:16
Yeah, this is a really cool concept that I love. Especially when you’re launching a project that feels very risky, or you’re not sure, you’re not sure if you’re gonna land it correctly. And you might feel like you might have some blind spots like there are things that I’m sure I’m missing. I’m not sure what they are, but I feel I’m worried about them. And so what a pre mortem is essentially an exercise where you project out into the future. So let’s say my project was I’m going to launch this book, I’m going to project out into the future three or six months beyond the book launch and say to myself, Okay, at that point in time, let’s say the book launch fails, okay, it failed miserably. What happened? What did I do wrong? And what you do essentially is you pull your team in, you give them this hypothesis. a typical situation of the failure and then you ask them the question of what went wrong. And then everybody uses that as an opportunity, a pretty cathartic exercise essentially, where they can lay out all of their worries. I like to do it in person on post-it notes where everybody writes their different worries on a post-it notes, and then we cluster them together for different themes. But what it does is it uncovers all of those worries in an extremely nonthreatening environment, and it allows you to crowdsource all of those worries as well, so that the people who are thinking about their tactical pieces and there may be something that they’re worried is kind of blocked them, you can get that bubbled up right now. And so it is extremely helpful in sort of as a preventative measure from actually predicting the future.

James Taylor 25:48
That’s great. It’s funny when I mentioned this to this, this, this gentleman’s client, he’s in the world of compliance in the pharmaceutical industry. So the idea of pre motivates in a total sense. Like, I love this, I like this idea as well, I could probably go quite well, Google does a thing called anxiety parties, as well school, check out Google anxiety parties. That is a technique that Google probably comes up a lot quite well, alongside this. You mentioned the whole process of writing, publishing, and promoting this book be it’s a huge project. How did you lead the project of birthing this book, Getting this book out into the world,

Anh Dao Pham 26:27
it’s still going to be a project actually ended up having two phases, the first piece of it, and I didn’t realize that’s when I started writing the book. But the first piece of it was just the writing of the book itself. And then the second piece is actually promoting and marketing and launching the book. And so in the first phase, I actually leaned quite heavily on very traditional project management or project leadership practices where I created a very unambiguous goal for myself, then I set, you know, a specific milestone, for making sure that I wrote that very first draft during a certain period of time. And then I was actually watching one of your TED Talks recently about the creative process. But the first part of it really was a ton of research. And it actually happened, maybe before I had fully realized I was going to write a book, but I was I read a ton of books on happiness, business, and inspiration. And I had highlights because I read them on Kindle. So I had highlights of books that I’d read for, you know, three years or so. And when I embarked on starting the project, I essentially did kind of like a roadmap planning exercise, where I had these giant posters that I littered my bedroom walls with. And then I posted notes for every idea that I wanted to categorize and talk about in the book. And I had them color-coded. So I had, you know, here’s an idea of principle that I want to talk about. Then I had evidence from, you know, readings and quotes that I had, where I’d written those on post-it notes or stories that I wanted to tell. And I ended up clustering them into various chapters was like a very project management D thing for me to do. So I can show you a photo of my bedroom walls that was literally like every wall had posted on it.

James Taylor 28:09
I’m not going to look like something. Is it carried from Homeland, the TV show homeland where she has all the cards and the photos on the walls and the floor? She’s like, trying to make sense of it all?

Anh Dao Pham 28:20
Yes, absolutely. It’s, it’s like a puzzle. So when you first start trying to conceptualize a book, you have a mesh of information in your brain. And so I used that process, sort of that like a very much like a road mapping process to try to distill those thoughts into concrete actions. And then from there, I set very concrete milestones, they were, they were based on my word count overall. So I had a certain word count that I needed to get to, I gave myself a daily goal to get to that word count. There were days when my husband would come in and say, Hey, are you ready for dinner? I’m like, no, no, I’m behind on my word count.

James Taylor 28:57
What was your What was your number? And did it change over the course I know some people who have the 500 a day and they always do much more than 500 words? But they have that by setting a low bar for themselves. It feels it’s more attainable. I know, other people have got these huge word cans daily, and they somehow managed to do it. What was your number?

Anh Dao Pham 29:16
Yeah, it started out. In the beginning, when I started it, I gave myself a challenge of 3000 words in 30 days, so 1000 a day. But then as an individual contributor to my project, I actually blew past milestones, and then ended up rebooting my project halfway through. So in the end, I ended up having to do 3000 words a day, over the course of about 20 days or so. So the end of the end net result is about 55,000 words in the book overall. But yeah, my original target was 1000, which I thought was achievable, but it’s not achievable. Once you delay your own project, you have to then figure out how to make up that time.

James Taylor 29:54
Well, congratulations to you because I know this is we have a lot of authors on the show and know how much work and love and passion and late nights go into writing and editing and publishing and getting the book out and marking the book. So congratulations. On this. You made you mentioned, you actually made Kenny mention my TED talk there, which is about creativity. How do you keep your own thinking fresh? What influences Do you try to surround yourself with? So, your creative synapses are always going?

Anh Dao Pham 30:25
And that’s a great question. I read a lot, actually. And so I did, I did have a goal to read a book a week. And for a while I did that last year, I read, I think 45 books or so. So I was a little bit shy of 52. But book word count this year, because I’ve also started blogging, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs. So I’ve been a little bit more behind on my books, but I tend to read business blogs, self-help blogs, and particular blogs on happiness, or social psychology, I’m extremely interested in that, you would be amazed how many applications there are in social psychology in the study of happiness into making productive and happy teams. And so I end up putting a lot of those things in my book, but I’m constantly reading now. And that always inspires me.

James Taylor 31:11
That’s great. I think maybe what you need to do next one of your future projects is starting a podcast, because we’d love to be able to get you guests on every week. And most of them have a new book, and it kind of forces you into reading a new book, and some books are really pleasurable. reading your book there. Other ones are these big academic tomes you can have to work on takes a little bit more time as well. But it definitely forces you to, to kind of get your reading count up as well. So maybe, maybe we’re looking for the under-farm Podcast coming to you soon.

Anh Dao Pham 31:48
But yes, it’s a great idea. And I really appreciate your reading my book so quickly.

James Taylor 31:54
So Is there any technology that you use either to kind of free up your time for your creativity, or helps you augment your work a, as a project leader?

Anh Dao Pham: Project Management And Leadership



Anh Dao Pham 32:08
It’s It’s not necessarily a particular technology. But, um, I was, I was thinking about, you know, how I’ve changed the way that I behave in the last several years and how technology has influenced that. And it’s really not necessarily a particular device, but just how accessible information is and how easy it is for you to make personal connections with people. So such as yourself, like we would have never met if it hadn’t been for technology or a social network available. And what I find amazing about technology these days is you can find inspiration in people. And then you can get to know those people in a much more intimate level than you could before. So for example, if I’m a fan of you, I can listen to all your podcasts, I can look at different TED Talks that you had available, read anything that you’ve published, I happen to be a fan of Angela Duckworth, who was the author of great,

James Taylor 33:01
great book. Yeah, yes, it’s

Anh Dao Pham 33:03
a great book. She doesn’t know me, but I’m a fan. And I feel like I have a certain Kismet with her because I read enough to know that she’s an Asian American female, she has a couple of kids. She’s passionate about helping people. And I find I have like a very deep connection with her even though she doesn’t know me because I can be inspired by listening to her podcasts or reading her books or reading her blogs. And I find that with all the different communication paradigms out there, and social media that it’s very easy to find these people who can be inspirations to you, and in a way, you know, a mentor with you without even having to know you. And that’s what I find so amazing about technology these days. And that’s what I think can spur creativity. So if you’re in a rut in any way, I feel like the advice for me is always to just go and look for somebody who inspires you and has a certain amount of creativity that will, you know, spark interest in you. And then build a personal connection with them, whether that’s actually interacting with them through social media or reaching out to them through your network, or just reading more about them and listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos. I find building those personal connections is what makes me feel the most inspiring and creative.

James Taylor 34:17
Well, fantastic. And it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. What’s the best way for people to learn more about the new book glue and also to maybe learn about some of the other things that you’ve got your other writing other things that you’re working on just now where should be good?

Glue: How Project Leaders Create Cohesive, Engaged, High-Performing Teams by [Anh Dao Pham]

Anh Dao Pham 34:31
Sure. I’d love it. If people would contact me on my website. My website is From there, you can get a link to my book if you’d like to read it. I have blogs that I’ve been posting there. And I would love it if folks would reach out and ask questions or provide any feedback about the book, or anything that I’ve written about. I am really excited about the book. I think the best thing about it really is that it’s helping me make new connections like this connection to you and I’m excited to connect with readers and see what they think overall. So, yes, please reach out to me, I’d love to hear from you.

James Taylor 35:06
We had a guest on the show a while back, David Allen, who wrote the book, getting things done. And I think a book came out maybe 2025 years ago. And he has a commitment. He does one podcast or one media interview every single week. Since that book came out, it’s now 20 years later. So it’s a long project. So I didn’t really want to keep doing podcast interviews and interviews for as long as that but people could please go and check out and our website there, and are found, thank you so much for being a guest on the Super creativity podcast.

Anh Dao Pham 35:39
Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. And I really appreciate the time.

James Taylor 35:44
You can subscribe to the super creativity podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts while you’re there. Please leave us a review. I would really, really appreciate it. I’m James Taylor, and you’ve been listening to the super creativity podcast.

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