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I Won Before I Even Started

February 3, 2017

The email wasn’t unexpected:

Your Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification will expire in 3 days. Click here to renew.

The certification is good for three years. I took the test three years ago. It was the hardest test I’d ever taken. I think that certification was the the difference maker in me getting the job I have now. The certification is very valuable and I certainly want to keep it.

So why was I nervous about recertifying? There’s no test involved. PMP is all about projects. You have to accrue 60 PDUs, or Professional Development Units. You can get them for anything. If you attend a luncheon sponsered by a technical group, you get a half PDU. Work as a project manager for a year and you get five PDUs. Attend a class related to project management and you get 1 PDU for every course hour. Heck, even reading a book related to project management gets you PDUs. You have to accumulate 60 and record them on PMI’s website to be eligible to renew.

Why was I nervous?

I had recorded zero. Oh, I’d done the work. I’ve been a full time project manager for years. I occasionally write about project management. I read lots of business books. I’ve even taken some technical classes. Actually, quite a few technical classes over the past three years. But, would it be enough?

PMI, the organization that sponsers PMP and related certifications, allows self reporting. If there is a question about your self reporting, they will flag it for follow up. I wasn’t sure my experience was going to be good enough.

I needn’t have worried.

I finally logged in and started filling out a form reporting my PDUs. And almost immediately I started getting confirmation and approval emails. Eventually, I listed 60 PDUs worth of activities. I immediately got an email congratulating me on being eligible to renew.

I didn’t understand. There is no doubt that I’ve done the work, study, writing and other activities to easily show 60 PDUs, but they didn’t flag anything? That seemed almost too good to be true. And when I got to the last page of the application form, I understood why.

Several years ago, I got an offer in the mail to become part of a “Bliss Families in America” book. I could send the author my name and the names of my kids and parents and he would put them into a book that was designed to include as many Bliss family names as possible. I wasn’t worried about identity theft. Other than names, there was not much personally identifiable information.

I talked to my dad about it. (Obviously, he is also part of the “Bliss Family in America.”

I don’t get it Rodney.

What do you mean?

I mean, why is this guying doing this. Think. What’s in it for him?

Honestly, I hadn’t thought what was in it for him. But, my dad was right. An idea, especially a business idea needs to make sense financially. A couple months later, it suddenly made sense. I got a letter in the mail asking if I wanted to buy a copy of “Bliss Family in America.” It went on to explain how excited my kids would be to see their names in print as part of the larger Bliss family. It was only $24.99 and discounts were available if I wanted to buy one for each of my children.

I don’t begrudge the author. I don’t even feel tricked. It’s common today to see targeted ads on Facebook. Unles you are a relative of mine, you probably don’t get ads for sweatshirts that say, “It’s a BLISS thing. You wouldn’t understand.” Yours say “It’s a DOUGHERTY…” or SMITH or JONES. The point is that they are trying to sell you something around your name.

Most importantly, I now felt better about that original offer to add my name to the “Bliss Family in America” book. Because it now made sense.

As I reached the last page of the PMP renewal form, it also made sense. It costs $150 to renew a PMP certification for three years. PMI wants to make sure that people aren’t abusing the credential, of course. But, I had to prove that I was a professional PM to get the cert in the first place. And then I had to pass a rigorous 4 hour test to show competency. PMI is pretty sure that I have a grounding in project management. At this point, they are less interested in digging into my PDU history than they are in making sure I remain a dues paying member.

I’m okay with that. And like the family book project, now that I understand the process, I’m okay with them giving my PDU requests an automated stamp of approval. I just wish I’d know this was a test I’d passed before I started. I wouldn’t have spent nearly as much time agonizing over it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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