Most product managers I know are optimistic realists. I am both — a former product manager and an optimistic realist. So call me biased. You could say it is their nature, but I think it comes from the job. Product managers plan thoroughly and vigorously for a future that is better than today. But getting there requires a certain confidence.
I am obsessed with baseball.* Anyone who knows me can vouch for this. Unfortunately, I blew out my arm throwing when I was 18, which made playing the sport impossible. So I started watching and following professional games. Soon after, my love for our national pastime merged with my love of numbers. I started developing advanced algorithms for my college team. I still do this for fun today — mainly for the Cubs.
We have all been there. You are working closely with the team. Defining requirements, iterating quickly on designs. Everyone is pushing hard to get the feature definitions completed. But now you need to revert to an earlier version of your mockups. But where are those designs? Did someone save over them?
I was getting a bit annoyed. I had sent an urgent task to a colleague and heard nothing back. It was funny since I had just seen this person in the hallway. So I sent an email and then a chat message. Nothing. I stopped by their desk, but it was empty. The next afternoon I found out the urgent task had been completed. It took a day and a half. But there was never an acknowledgment that my request was even received or that it was completed.
There are moments in all of our lives when we experience a deep sense of satisfaction. When we have worked incredibly hard and realized our true best. Instant flashes of mental and emotional euphoria. Masterpieces that no one else needs to appreciate. But you know that what you just accomplished means everything. And guess what? These moments can happen at work too.
Do you like to focus on the big picture — or get down in the details? It is true that our brains tend to favor one side or the other. But if you are a product manager your answer to this question should be “both.” Growing a successful product requires both top-down and bottom-up planning.
I care about product managers. A lot. This should not be a surprise. If you have been reading this blog for some time, then you know that I once was one. Product managers are special because they sit at the epicenter of everything. They communicate ideas, set strategy, and lead cross-functional teams to create products that delight customers. But there is something else that may be a surprise.
Managing one product is a big job. Managing multiple products? Even bigger. The truth is that, as the size of your product portfolio increases, so too does the complexity. You want to be able to quickly showcase how each product is contributing to the overall goals of the business. We might not be able to magically streamline your product portfolio, but we can give you the visibility you need.
We called him “Rodney.” It may have been cruel but this guy got no respect at work. Loud and rude and always asking for a special favor or seeking a shortcut to get something he wanted. He made more noise in his cube than a rowdy heckler at a comedy club. You can probably guess where the nickname came from — this former co-worker sounded a lot like late comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
Woosh. 2017 was intense. So much happened in current events and business and everywhere else. We saw product managers take on a more critical role within companies than ever before. Yet amid all the topsy-turvy there was one thing that did not waver — the power of the written word.
I have a hard time slowing down. A voice in my head always says, “Why wait? Keep going.” So, I almost never stop. I quickly move forward from finishing one project to starting the next. Always focused on the next big goal, the next big step for our company. It has worked for us so far. Aha! is one of the fastest growing software companies in the U.S. — and yet…
Art was always my favorite subject in school. Throughout my education, I had incredible mentors and teachers. During college, I was able to share these lessons with other students while working for a local non-profit called Generation Communication (GenCom, for short). At GenCom, I led high school students in creating social impact projects, such as recycling awareness and anti-smoking posters for other non-profits.
Are you panicking yet? It is that time of year. Last-minute gift shopping. Maybe you are rushing off to the mall or paying extra for overnight shipping. Or, if you celebrate Hanukkah, you are now just late. We get it — you want to give the people you care about the absolute perfect gift. Our team at Aha! feels this way all the time. But our gift-giving looks a little different.
Were you an awkward teenager? Not yet an adult but not a kid anymore. I know there were times when I was not quite sure where I fit in and what my role was. This is the beauty of growing up — you have time to try and figure it out (only to realize that the answer is never clear).