PM Influencer Series: Mike Clayton

In our series, The Aha Moment, we chat with influencers in the project management space and get to know them better. We are asking a bunch of questions, some biz related and some not so biz related, in order to understand what makes them tick and find their aha moment.

This month’s Q&A is with Mike Clayton:

Q: What is your title at work and what industry are you working in?

A: I’ve been in the education industry since 2002. But, so too have I been consulting since 1990. I have what most people would call a portfolio career. 

From 2002, my main business was Project Management training. In 2008, I started writing books, and in 2016, I started OnlinePMCourses. Now I spend most of my time writing, filming, and editing videos for my two YouTube channels: for Project Management
and for general management

This doesn’t fully answer your question. I’m in the education industry, but my job title… I call myself a trainer, coach, consultant, author, and YouTuber.

Q: What led you to this career?

A: I left university for a consulting career and was attracted to the Project Management aspects of our work. In 1994, I joined the Program Leadership team at Deloitte in London, to deliver projects and programs for our clients. I have always been good at organizing and getting things done. I’ve had to learn the softer stuff, day-by-day!

Q: In your role, what is your main goal or focus?

A: As an educator and YouTuber, my main focus is finding ways to clearly explain ideas – sometimes complex ideas – in a way that is easy for my audience to understand, but does not patronize or over-simplify. Add to that the fact that a large part of my audience do not have English as their first language and I guess my main focus is communication.

And my goal – to educate.

And, to build the biggest and best pure-play Project Management YouTube channel!

Q: What is your biggest challenge in your profession? How do you overcome it?

A: In Project management, the biggest challenge is always the people around you – and the people you cannot see! That’s why I am a big advocate for Project managers to educate ourselves continuously in psychology.

Q: Do you have a daily routine at work? If so, what is it?

A: I am usually up between 5:00 and 5:30 am. I work briefly until breakfast at 6am and them walk for 30-45 minutes. After a shower, I am usually working by 8am. I work through until 5 or 6pm, with an hour for lunch. 

I am a big believer in disciplining myself to get the work done!

Q: In your experience, why do projects fail or fail to meet their deadlines?

A: For so many reasons – I have a course with 10 major points of failure and in each one I describe multiple causes.

But here is the thing: the tenth point of failure is external factors. All the others ultimately boil down to people. And even some of the external factors are people-related. Or, at least, people exacerbated.

But then, the question is who: the project manager, the project team, stakeholders, governance tiers. All of these are points of failure.

Anyone who gives an answer like ‘there’s one main reason…’ is likely to be missing something important.

Q: What is your tech stack?

A: It is vast:

  1. Video production is mainly Final Cut Pro 
  2. Graphics is mostly Affinity Photo and PowerPoint
  3. Excel for record keeping 
  4. Scrivener for content planning and development
  5. Trello for tracking processes, but looking at ClickUp
  6. ActiveCampaign for staying in contact with my audience
  7. Outlook for email
  8. Word for writing, along with Hemingway App and Scrivener
  9. Scapple for freeform notes
  10. Zoom for remote meetings
  11. OBS for livestreaming
  12. OneNote for notes

Q: What struggles do you have with the tech stack that you currently have? What would help?

A: I have spent a long time refining my stack and it works well for me. But, frankly, if I could make the time to get used to Apple Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and Mail, and therefore drop the Microsoft Apps, I’d be very happy.

Q: Have you read any books, articles or other resources that changed your perspective on project management? Or what was the last book you read related to your field?

A: I guess my perspective has evolved, rather than changed, over the last 20 years. But, back in 1994, I read Eddie Obeng’s All Change! The Project Manager’s Secret Handbook. That was very influential. And, I am proud to say that Eddie recently sent me an advance copy of a new edition. No sneak peaks, I’m afraid, but your readers are going to want to buy a copy when it comes out!

Q: If there was one activity you could remove from your daily routine what would it be and why?

A: Social Media. All forms of marketing are a chore to me – even uploading videos to YouTube, and that’s my bread and butter now. I don’t enjoy marketing, so that’s why I chose YT. At least once I have uploaded, YouTube and Google do most of the marketing for me!

Q: What advice could you give to up-and-coming professionals like yourself?

A: The tag line and the thing I say at the end of every video on my Management Courses channel is ‘Keep Learning!’ That’s my advice to any professional – whether in Project management, education, or any other profession.

If you want to learn more about Mike or get in touch – you can find him here on LinkedIn. Thank you Mike for hanging out with us and answering our questions.