About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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The Product Manager vs. the CEO vs. the CTO

product manager vs ceo vs cto

Do you like tennis? If you like watching it live, you know that it is best to sit behind one of the players. Because if you are at mid-court, you may get dizzy snapping your head back and forth to follow the ball. And if you are a product manager caught watching angry volleys between a CEO and CTO, you also know the whiplash feeling. 

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Hey Product Managers: It Is Time to Set the Strategy That You Think Is Right

product manager strategy

“Vision.” What does this word mean to you? I define it as knowing what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. In business, it can be difficult to determine what your vision is and then commit to it. Of course, this is a lot easier if you are the CEO of a company. Everyone looks to you to set the strategy and wants to know how they can help make the company a success.

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6 Ways to Ensure Success When Your Product Is Built on a Platform

Platform-built product success

Product management is rewarding. And it is also really hard work. I know a few product managers who have the toughest challenge out there — leading a product that is built on a platform or collection of products managed by other people. You need to advocate for your product every day. In the process, those other people’s problems become yours as well. It can be difficult to see how an individual product is making a real impact on the business. So what should a product manager do? 

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The Founder’s Paradox: The “Future You” Might Not Like the Choices “Today You” Is Making

founders paradox future you

The guy with the laptop. This is how I am known by one of my kid’s soccer coaches. Let me explain. The kids need to be there 45 minutes before games to warm up. There is not much for parents to do during that time except chat with each other. So I pull out my laptop, find some shade, and work. Once the game begins, I put the laptop away to be fully present for the game. This is a conscious choice. But I do miss out on those pre-kickoff conversations with other parents.

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The One Thing Most Recruiters Overlook

recruiters overlook

Does this sound unrealistic? A screening call on Monday. An interview with the hiring manager on Tuesday. A chat with another cross-functional team member on Wednesday. A video call with the CTO on Thursday. This rapid cadence is not unusual at Aha! — our team acts quickly to schedule conversations with promising candidates who have applied to an open role. But I know this is not the case at the majority of organizations.

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Aha! Cares — A New Model for Corporate Giving

Aha! Cares philanthropy program

“A startup is for adventure.” I wrote that when we founded Aha! in 2013. Along with my friend and co-founder Dr. Chris Waters, I was energized about how we could change the way that product teams work. And since then, we have achieved some worthy milestones together — from hiring our first teammate to celebrating our 5,000th customer to publishing Lovability, a book about the philosophy behind the company.

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How to Avoid a Rambling Presentation at Work

avoid rambling presentation

“Can you get to the point?” The senior executive who asked this was clearly annoyed. It was early in my career and my colleague was presenting quarterly marketing results to a group of company leaders. But instead of summarizing the key metrics and takeaways, he gave a long-winded description of each step the team had taken along the way. Although he clearly was attuned to the details of the work, the meandering explanation left everyone feeling lost.

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Remote Team Meetings vs. Office Team Meetings

“What do you mean you saw your co-workers? You work at home.” A friend who works for the county court system once asked me this with a look of confusion on his face. He knows that Aha! is an entirely remote company, but he was unfamiliar with the concept of remote meetings. I chuckled as I assured him that nobody had to fly into the Bay Area — we simply caught up over video conference.

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Product Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy

product vs marketing strategy

“But why?” You have probably heard this question countless times if you are a parent. Children have a seemingly insatiable curiosity to learn the reasons and causes for things. This yearning tends to diminish as we get older. But knowing “why” is important for people of all ages and it is critical in business. I am going to focus on why it matters to product and marketing teams at fast-moving technology companies. 

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10 Surprising Lessons From Our First Year at Aha!

Woo-hoo! Time to celebrate. You just reached the one-year mark at your company and things are going great. But no one else seems very excited about your milestone. Your manager and co-workers are silent, and it just seems like a regular day at work. You begin to wonder if anyone even notices all you have done — let alone appreciates it. 

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How to Craft a Winning Marketing Presentation

marketing roadmap presentation

What is in your marketing plan? I would guess that you have goals, activities, and dates. These are the basic elements of any marketing roadmap. You create a visualization of your marketing strategy, the work required to achieve it, and when you plan to tackle it. Because it organizes all this information in one place, the roadmap is an incredibly useful tool to clarify and communicate the team’s direction.

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Is Your Office Infested With Sharks?

office shark

Have you seen the movie? Doooo-doo. Doooo-doo. The first notes of the Jaws theme song are instantly recognizable. Whether or not you have seen the film, the music probably still evokes a feeling of fear. You might even visualize a shark lurking in the water, waiting to sink its teeth into an unsuspecting swimmer or surfer. But there is a different type of shark to worry about — one that is typically found in cubicles. 

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The Product Manager vs. the Product Marketing Manager

product manager vs product marketing manager

It is no secret that I have a special fondness for product managers and product marketing managers. I have written before about the enormous value that these folks bring to a company. I worked in both roles early in my career, so I know firsthand how instrumental the disciplines are to driving the growth of the business. Unfortunately, that hard work is often unappreciated or misunderstood —  not just because both start with the word “product.”

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