Q1 Newsletter Here! Problems Solved, Podcast Alert and “Hit Refresh” Book Review

I’ve been told my real life stories are the most impactful when I’m sharing best ways to use technology. Here are a couple of recent stories about how I helped solve some problems for my clients.

Manufacturer Scheduling
When I started at this manufacturing customer, several people told me they didn’t think Microsoft Project was powerful enough to do what they needed. So I asked them to tell me what they were looking for. Here are a few of the requests – “we need to keep track of a lot of activities (1000 was their estimate)”, “we need to know who is working on those activities”, and “we need to be able to determine when work requests exceed availability.” The first shock to the customer was how many resources and tasks the software can actually handle – 700,000 resources per project, and 400,000 tasks. Clearly 1,000 tasks was no problem. In about an 1 hour I was able to set up a sample schedule that convinced them Microsoft Project would work for them. I even showed them how it could forecast demand versus capacity in any timescale they wanted (weeks, months, etc.). After this initial work, the customer decided to have me continue working with them for the next 3 days to help them set up their schedules and to provide some focused training. Before I left, the customer told me they never knew what Project could do and they never would have done so much without my help.

To learn more about data limits click for specifications on Microsoft Project.

Project Formulas
After this forestry industry customer convinced me to fly in to solve their difficult problem, I was curious about the challenge. They were prepared for me. When I walked into their conference room it had several computers hooked up to large monitors, multiple white boards filled with information, and printed schedules on several walls. It took them nearly two hours to explain their tracking process and the type of formula they needed my help with. I was literally able to give them what they needed in 5 minutes. It turns out they didn’t know that Microsoft Project has hundreds of task fields in the software and they just happened to be asking for a formula where Microsoft already had an answer. After a few minutes laughing about how easy it was for me to solve their problem, they said “I guess while we have Cindy here, we should see if she has anything else to share with us.” I spent 2 days with this customer and before I left they told me, I guess you were right, you could have helped us remotely.


New Podcast for Microsoft Users!

Find the podcast https://www.spreaker.com/show/mvps-talk-microsoft-365 “MVPs Talk Microsoft 365”

New Podcast Alert!
MVPs Talk Microsoft 365 available wherever you listen to podcasts! New episodes released Tuesday at 7:00 AM EST.

Hosted by Neil McDonnell, this podcast presents weekly interviews with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP). In these episodes, MVPs will share their thoughts on any recent changes to Microsoft 365, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, etc. and the impact IT leadership should be aware of, as well as sharing some best practices around total cost of ownership and maturity within your organization.

This podcast is suitable for a general audience. You might be a leader, executive, IT person, project manager, or simply interested in Project Online. Feedback from listeners so far includes – “I learned something new,” and “I can now explain Project Online in simple terms without needing a geek reference book.”

Here are a few topics in my episode of the Podcast –

  • Problems customers are trying to solve with project online
  • Migration/upgrade
  • Licensing overview for Project Online
  • My thoughts on the book, Hit Refresh
  • Trends in Project Online
  • Bonus – brief discussion on agile.

I’m starting to listen to podcasts more and more and I’m hoping to find some good ones. On my list are Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and Hidden Brain hosted by NPR’s Shankar Vedantam.

What are your favorites? I’d love to hear your recommendations! 


Book review: “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella

Cindy Lewis and Erik van Hurck join forces to bring you this book review.
Cindy Lewis (North America) and Erik van Hurck (Europe) are half a world away but they have actually been working together for many years solving customer problems and sharing ideas. After a casual conversation recently, they decided to collaborate on this book review knowing they’d make the review more thorough by combining them into one piece.

A Brief Summary of the Book
“Microsoft’s CEO tells the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, tracing his own personal journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant technological changes in the digital era. As much a humanist as an engineer and executive, Nadella concludes with his vision for the coming wave of intelligent technologies and a distinct call to action for leaders everywhere.”
Erik chose to read the book version while Cindy selected the Audible version.

The Review by Erik
In terms of selecting the actual hard copy book to read, I wish I would also have chosen to listen to the Audible version. Satya Nadella’s writing style is sophisticated for a non-English speaking native like myself (I’m Dutch). That made reading it in English a bit of an added challenge. That doesn’t in any way mean that I disliked reading the book. In some ways it was even refreshing and an achievement to read through the book.
There’s a lot that can be said about the content of the book itself. I will divide it into 3 parts:

(Very) Personal
I was highly surprised (astounded, Satya would probably say) and touched by the first part of the book, wherein Satya gives the reader a glimpse into the hardships, challenges and achievements in his personal life. I believe that there are some paragraphs in the book that you cannot read without having warm feelings for the man.

And then there is Cricket. I have never seen a match, either on TV or on the field, but it’s funny to read how much impact the sport has had for Satya on his aspirations and leadership methods. In one section he draws parallels between coaching and leadership that will first make you laugh then immediately make you think.

Empathy, culture, mutual respect, love for what you do and who you are with; such are the concepts that Satya wants to get across to the reader.

Leadership and Microsoft
At some point halfway through the book I started to grab a pen and underline sentences. It’s a habit I picked up after reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Hit Refresh contains actionable leadership advice as well as a great story on how it came to be that Microsoft is changing its culture.
Satya is a great storyteller. The book includes details about his role in leadership as CEO of Microsoft, and along the way we learn a lot about him as a leader.

The Future
There are a lot of technological advancements happening at a very fast pace. In an attempt to look into a crystal ball, Satya Nadella picks three trends that are getting a lot of focus today. These include quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and mixed reality.

The subjects are clearly close to Satya’s heart because the passion is clear as he talks about Microsoft’s (artificially) Intelligent Assistant Cortana and the Microsoft Mixed Reality headset HoloLens.

There is a lot to talk about, as Hit Refresh takes a look to the future, past the PC and servers. I would argue that this is a very interesting book to pick up because of the great content and in depth knowledge on Microsoft’s management, as well as the fact it’s written as a biography, with the author (the CEO of one of the biggest companies around) still in his prime. I believe that rarely happens.

The Review by Cindy
A positive for the Audible version is that I got to listen to Satya Nadella himself during one part of the book, and they selected a narrator with a similar accent as Satya for the remainder.

After my November 2017 visit to Microsoft’s Redmond campus, I learned everyone was talking about the book. I even heard ideas from the book coming out in many presentations from Microsoft employees. It was very helpful to have finished it before I arrived.

The information shared helped me understand the tough decisions made by Satya as an individual and by Microsoft as a corporation. Many of those decisions shocked me given Satya’s position at Microsoft.

Stories Helped Illustrate
I appreciated the stories that illustrated how not everything will go right as a business and how often one has no choice but to deliver the truth about poor performance and the need to eliminate that portion of the business in order to move forward.

The book helped me understand the technology news topics that were hotly debated and the stand that Microsoft had to take and why. For example, when Edward Snowden leaked information from the National Security Agency about government surveillance programs of individuals, the public immediately assumed that access to Microsoft customer data was included as well. Microsoft was questioned about joining forces with their competitor Google to petition for new laws. But, in reality, this partnership is best for all because it will help promote legislation to protect customer data while also cooperating with law enforcement.

New Ideas, New Thinking
Satya made me think about the cloud in new and interesting ways. He stretched my brain beyond traditional cloud benefits that people talk about, such as suggesting that the cloud be used for accessing information with multiple devices. I’m now thinking about the three trends that Erik mentioned earlier.
I liked Satya’s humble approach. The book was not about how great he is as a leader but more about his journey (that is not over) and how he continues to do uncomfortable things to grow. He shared stories from both his personal and work life to illustrate this concept.

A clear takeaway from this book is that vision and culture can’t fight each other if your business wants to succeed.

My final recommendation is to add this book to your reading list, you will not be disappointed.


If you would like to obtain the book yourself, below are some links to help you find it or you may check your local bookstore.

Hit Refresh Hardcopy or Downloadable Book Version

Hit Refresh Audible Version

Author Bios
Erik van Hurck is a Senior PPM consultant for Projectum, a western European Microsoft Partner with offices in Denmark and The Netherlands. As such, Erik assists enterprise customers to adopt the new Project Online cloud solution for Project and Portfolio Management. Erik has a personal blog (www.theprojectcornerblog.com) and is also a writer for the Microsoft Project User Group (www.MPUG.com).

Cindy Lewis is a Microsoft Project MVP and an expert in scheduling with a long history in project management. Cindy believes in helping customers jump start their knowledge in a topic and continue to grow on their own after she departs. Her training philosophy is known as the 4 Pillars of Success which is also the name of her company: www.4pillarsofsuccess.com.


TIP CORNER: Second Monitor Sound Problems?

Do you use a second monitor and connect via HDMI but want to hear sounds through your laptop or Bluetooth speaker? Right-click on the speaker icon in the lower right corner and choose Playback Devices. Switch the device until you get the desired result. This is useful when you are playing an instruction video and need to hear sound or when you are watching your favorite YouTube channel.


Where in the World is….. Cindy Lewis?

  • March 2018 MVP Summit
    Redmond, Washington
  • March – May 2018 Client Engagements
    Client engagements in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee and multiple locations in Michigan including Grand Rapids, the Lakeshore and metro Detroit.

Follow me on Twitter to Stay Up to Date!


I’d Love To Hear From You!

Did You Like This Newsletter?
Have An Idea for Future Topic?
Want To Discuss Hiring Me?

cindy@4pillarsofsuccess.com EMAIL
616.446.8569 CALL/TEXT
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