I have spent 20 years in the software industry and 15 as a product manager — so I have experienced a lot of awesome change. I have worked for companies with less than 15 employees and more than 1500. I have been part of an IPO and acquisitions, managed product portfolios, worked with Waterfall and Agile methodologies, and delivered on-premise and SaaS products.
This diversity is what makes the software industry so exhilarating. It is dynamic, challenging, and stimulating – and product managers sit at the epicenter. But all PMs know that this career comes with fatigue as well. The road to building great products is often littered with conflict, frustration, corporate politics, and long days. It can wear you down over the long run — and that is what happened to me.
I had spent 15 years at the helm of various software products spanning supply chain, MES, and text analytics. I knew myself well enough to know that I was burned out. So, I chose to gain some clarity by humbly stepping away.
I made the right decision. It allowed me to became a much more central figure in my family’s daily rhythm. I reconnected with my family in the best way — I spent more time with them. We traveled to Norway and saw places more beautiful than one can imagine. I also took on a few guest services jobs that had me on the ski slopes and rope courses of Park City. I gained immense pleasure by giving guests experiences to last a lifetime.
But as time went on, I started to feel a void. I missed the adrenaline rush of working with innovative technology on products that helped solve hard problems. I missed working as part of a team to build something special. Just as I knew when it was time to step away, I knew when I was ready to return. However, I vowed that it would ONLY be for the right opportunity that presented something special.
During my sabbatical, I started seeing buzz on my PM social channels about a company called Aha! that delivers “Roadmapping software for PMs who want to get their mojo back.”
The tagline caught my attention. The idea of software aimed at helping PMs excel at their jobs resonated strongly with me.
So, I did my research, starting with the website and product. I watched the Getting Started video to learn the product’s basics and to get a sense for the company vibe. I liked what this cloud-based application did, how it looked, and the expertise and thought that went into the design. The vibe was cool and fun.
Next, I was on to the 30-day free trial to get some hands-on experience. The product exceeded my expectations. The feature set was more comprehensive than I anticipated. The product had a methodology agnostic framework that would work for anyone in the profession and really help those in need of a framework. The interface and user experience was intuitive.
Where had this product been my entire PM life?
I reached out and was fortunate to quickly connect with the team. The two co-founders, Brian and Chris, are transparent about how their core values have shaped the company. This includes the Responsive Method, which is based on the belief that interactions with urgency propel people and organizations forward. I left my interviews convinced that they were revolutionizing both software AND business practices.
Aha! is more than a product — it is a product management movement.
I felt great about the team and about myself and knew that I had found a new passion. I was thrilled to join the Aha! Customer Success team. My sabbatical from product management confirmed that I get the most joy when I am helping others. The Customer Success role at Aha! leverages my product knowledge to help my peers build better software and be happy doing it.
Aha! gave me my mojo back. Now, I want to help other PMs reclaim theirs too!
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.