At a Glance
Ruth Pearce, President at ALLE LLC (Project Motivator)
Focus Areas: Future of Work, Leadership, Mental Health, Project Management
Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio: Ruth Pearce
Thought Leader Interview
Thinkers360 thought leader interviews profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Ruth Pearce, President of ALLE LLC. Ruth brings over 25 years of extensive experience in the field of project management from the fields of financial services, state government, education and non-profits. She is also a group coach, author, speaker and trainer focusing on the topics of Social Intelligence and Mindfulness for project leaders.
Her book “Be a Project Motivator: Unlock the Secrets of Strengths-Based Project Management” has received 5-star reviews from project professionals at every level. Ruth was recently featured in the Thinkers360 article Special Report: 150 Women B2B Thought Leaders You Should Follow in 2021 as well as Thinkers360 Predictions Series – 2021 Predictions for the Future of Work.
Thinkers360: Tell us a bit about your background and areas of expertise
RP: I started out my career as what is commonly known as an accidental project manager. I did not plan to be a project manager – my education was in Economic Theory, but once I fell into the opportunity, I found I LOVE the people side – engaging the customer, the team, other stakeholders. I am OK at the process side, but my superpower turned out to be people engagement. Over the years I have been a mediator, a coach (for groups, teams, and 1:1), a project and program manager, and economist, I picked up a law degree and passed the bar in California, I have a certificate in positive psychology which has only enhanced my teamwork and team work. I am the VIA Institute on Character’s Product and Practice Development Consultant. I partner with 12 other facilitator/coaches to provide a program called In It Together – Navigating Challenges from Strength. I am an accredited ICF coach, and I train coaches to be coaches with the Center for Coaching Certification.
I also feel that my experience as a lifelong carrier of anxiety has a part to play. I have been anxious and managed to “do it anyway”. I speak, I write (my first book was Be a Project Motivator: Unlock the Secrets of Strengths Based Project Management published by Berrett-Koehler in 2018), I study, I read, and I play with my rabbits – Dylan & BunnyPenny.
My true expertise is drawing on ALL those sources of experience, learning and development to offer the most to my clients that I possibly can. My greatest joy is seeing a client get to where they want to be. It is not about success but more about feeling as though they belong in their own skin.
Thinkers360: What are your current responsibilities and what’s a typical day look like?
RP: A typical day is one that does not look like any other. And I love that. Most days I will work on my project for VIA, reach out to new contacts for VIA and work with others who are integrating character strengths into their practices. Then there is the work to get our In It Together Coaching program up and running. To speak to and work with MANY project managers who are navigating workplace change and team engagement. I coach 1:1 about three times per week and three times a year I teach the CCC Certified Master Coach program which means I am teaching, observing and generally witnessing new coaches growing into effective coaches. It is wonderful. I try to meditate and read every day, and to post and comment on LinkedIn about topics that are meaningful to my company – inclusion, mindfulness, character strengths, workplace dynamics & leadership. I do write some of my own content but mainly I am a curator of other great content from books, journals, respected websites and experts.
Thinkers360: What’s the favorite part of your current role?
RP: People – seeing them develop, hearing varied experiences and perspectives, supporting them as they navigate challenges and conflict. I asked my father many years ago who he would spend time with. He answered, “anyone who can tell me something new. And that is easy because everyone knows something that I don’t know.” He was endlessly curious as am I and he was endlessly enthusiastic about co-creating environments where others could discover their personal, professional and emotional potential, as I am I.
Thinkers360: How do you utilize Thinkers360?
RP: I love to share content on the site and I love to see and connect with others who are out in the world doing great work. Although it is a great platform on which to have a presence, it is even more a platform to connect with others inside and outside our own areas of expertise. This expands awareness, knowledge and usefulness for all of us!
Editor’s Note: See Ruth’s Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio.
Thinkers360: How do you like to work with brands who wish to engage you as a thought leader?
RP: Mainly I mine for their thoughts, their resources, what do they already have that they are overlooking. In the same way that my professional and personal pathway has led me to this current version of myself, their experiences, resources and pathway is leading them to their own unique story.
I was asked recently “how did you get to be where/who you are?” On reflection I realized that I lived my life, I made my choices and I seek to learn from every experience. I cannot lay out a pathway for someone else to get to the exact spot that I occupy, because even if their experiences are similar to, they are not the same as mine, their strengths are different, their responses are different. It is about finding out who YOU are meant to be rather than trying to be someone else. There are so many experiences in my life that it would be easy to label as “good” or “bad”. For example, maybe my father’s OCD and my mother’s depression were “bad”. On the other hand, they showed me what you can accomplish anyway. My Dad’s OCD made him hungry for learning and that got passed down to me. Each of our experiences is just that – an experience – and whether it is good or bad or something else depends on what we do with it.
We can all use a little help making the most of our experiences, and that is my focus. Making space for things that just “are” and then mining for possibilities that come from them. As they say in Improv “yes, and…” Whatever we start with there is a “yes, and…”
It reminds me of a project I was appointed to take over as program manager where I was informed “the team is demoralized, and they are not performing as we need.” I could have taken the view that all was lost, and we needed a restart. But by looking at the situation as a group of people who were demoralized and underperforming AND they were people with experience, strengths, ideas, perspective and skills, we were able to create a high-functioning team who produced some amazing project outcomes.
Thinkers360: What’s your main advice for upcoming thought leaders?
RP: Appreciate others. Ask lots of people for their thoughts. Model curiosity and openness. Embrace divergent views. Consider what it would mean if the opposite of your personal belief was true.
None of us knows everything about anything. Sometimes the magic in thought leadership is to come up with a totally original idea and other times it is to take two disparate ideas and meld them together to create something new. Read widely, talk to people who don’t think like you and find out their reasoning, be open to changing your mind as you learn more and treat the process as a quest to learn as much as you can rather than a quest to be a thought leader. And share what you discover – especially when you find out your previous ideas may be open to question!
Thinkers360: What’s one tip you would provide to project managers to build team engagement?
RP: Actually I have a motto – Be Hopeful, Be Strong, Be Brave, Be Curious! It has served me well!
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