Heather Denike and I were given the opportunity to attend the 2014 Digital PM Summit in Austin, Texas earlier this month. We were both pleasantly surprised with exceptional keynote sessions, thoughtful conversations with like-minded project managers, break-out sessions filled with ideas to implement back home, and last but not least - the graciously hosted happy hours.

We arrived early so we could take a day to tour Austin. Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Texas is HOT, even in October. I left beautiful fall weather in Minneapolis to 93 degrees with humidity so high you could see it in the air. This climate did not jive with my Midwestern figure, unless I was in one of the overly air-conditioned environments.
  • Texas beef is delicious, and like no other. Tumbleweeds must be the diet of champions.
  • South Congress is a great area to get a feel of Austin; lots of unique shopping, outside dining and live bands. The only downside was the Texas-sized blisters on my swollen feet, again from being hot.
  • We had the best French-Vietnamese food at Elizabeth’s Café. The noodle salads were fresh and topped with savory meats, and the French pastries for dessert were tiny bites of heaven.

While most of the speakers I heard were exceptional, there were a couple that really stood out. The opening keynote, The Project Communications Game, from Brent Harned. He referred to The Game of Life as he took you through a project, from inception to completion. He called out communication pitfalls as well good communication that allows you to move forward.

Nancy Lyons was missing her presentation partner Meghan Wilker this year, but still gave a great presentation comparing digital project management to lessons learned from Little House on the Prairie. Her references to the TV show were both hilarious and insightful. Additionally, she commented on how being the closing keynote leaves one with little to contribute. All the great lessons have been heard, and it is what we do with the information that really matters. Many of us know how to be great project managers, but we don’t always get to demonstrate our abilities, implement our tools, and incorporate our learnings.

Nancy’s message really hit home with me because I feel just the opposite at Three Deep. Our team gets to influence how projects flow, we are allowed to try new techniques to get better at our jobs, and our leadership is in full support of our endeavors to improve process and grow professionally. Maybe, just maybe, that is my biggest take away.