My first coach was my grandmother. Her work ethic inspired me to push hard to achieve my goals, from competitive swimming starting when I was 8 years old to putting myself through college. Over the years, I have been blessed to benefit from the guidance of many mentors. Even my husband and two small children are coaches in their own way, keeping me grounded and focused on the right priorities.
I spent an hour driving three miles. Welcome to Los Angeles — that was my commute. I was working as a product manager at an e-commerce company on the west side. Some call the area “Silicon Beach.” Most days it felt more like “Silicon Gridlock.” But there was something that eased the frustration.
Maybe it was in an email? No, wait. You wrote it down on a sticky note. Or was it captured in those meeting minutes? How much time have you spent trying to locate that certain feature or idea? One study uncovered that most professionals spend about 20 percent of the week just trying to gather information. With a product management search engine, you could spend that time propelling your product forward. Let me explain.
I was wary at first. My previous company gathered everyone for an all-hands meeting. This was several years back when I was working at a fast-growing software company. About 150 people crammed into a room that was meant for maybe 25. People were practically on top of each other. Disaster ahead?
“Increased social media followers by 4,000 percent. Boosted website traffic by 3,500 percent.” I see puffed up metrics like this all the time. Especially on resumes submitted by people applying for marketing roles. While I appreciate the instinct to show results, what do these eye-popping numbers really mean?
Getting lost used to be much easier. One wrong turn and you could lose your way. You might pull over to unfold a faded paper map. Maybe even ask a stranger at a gas station for directions. Now smartphones and GPS have changed the way we navigate. But even the best technology cannot tell you where you want to go.
“There has got to be a better way.” This was my inner monologue as a product manager. I found myself creating the same reports again and again. I would spend late nights in the office, painstakingly updating the same spreadsheets and tracking down outdated versions. It was frustrating and incredibly time-consuming. Read more…
Sometimes your gut instinct is wrong. I discovered this a number of years ago after launching a new product. A strange phenomenon was happening. The more support interactions a customer had, the more likely they were to keep using the product. Wait — what? The more problems customers had, the longer they stayed with us?
You know that feeling when you are running late? Someone is waiting for you and you just cannot get there on time. You feel anxious. I bet your friend will let it slide a time or two — but customers are not so forgiving.
Who is the most misunderstood in technology? I would say it is the person who plans what will be built next. This person — often called the product manager — is a puzzler to many. Just consider how many different job titles are used for people who do the work of product management: product manager, product owner, business analyst, and even program or project manager sometimes. To keep it simple — let’s refer to these folks as product managers.
It is one thing to write down your thoughts in a private journal. It is quite another to publish those thoughts for everyone to read. You need to have a strong conviction to share what you have learned. That is why I started writing on the Aha! blog — to share my views about building great products and companies with others who are trying to do the same.
Aha! is a Rails monolith. Although we have embraced front end technologies, such as webpack and React, Rails is the glue that holds everything together. And like many Rails monoliths, CoffeeScript made up the bulk of our front end code. It was the obvious choice for us when Aha! launched in 2013 — back when Rails 3 was stable and ES6 still lived in arcane specification documents.
“I could never work remotely.” A friend of a friend said this to me the other day. We had just met and I was explaining how we run Aha! as a fully distributed team. Despite that declarative statement about “never working remotely,” this person seemed plenty interested in the concept of remote work once I described how we do it at Aha!
There is a lot to juggle in the day-to-day work of building a great product. But even on the busiest days, forward-thinking company builders and product leaders are always on the lookout for opportunities for improvement.