Go big or go home. That’s what we used to say to each other while climbing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We pushed ourselves harder and harder every season. We were constantly trying to find our best on those boulders, cliff faces, and mountains.
I’m still trying to go big. Except now the mountains have become revenue goals, and the relentless desire to get to the top of the cliff has been refocused on some crazy new product. The game has changed, but the rules are the same.
One of the mandatory elements you have to have in climbing is trust. Trust in your partner. Trust in his abilities, his focus on your shared goal, and his commitment to always putting his partner’s safety first. Trust in your partner is sometimes all you have when your ten miles away from the nearest phone and on a 1000’ vertical rock face. Continue reading
To be a disruptive force in an existing market you have to be nimble, quick, and lean. One of your primary advantages over the existing competition is your agility. The behemoths in your space have lots of employees, complex organization charts, and they hold endless meetings to make simple decisions.
You and your team are small. You are able to quickly respond to customer’s feedback and expectations. When a problem arises, you don’t have to call a review committee. You simply analyze the problem, formulate a solution, and execute. Continue reading
Have you ever left work feeling like you worked nonstop all day, except you have absolutely no idea what you did? It was like you were there, you were working, but nothing worthwhile actually happened.
How about the constant interruptions all day? You sat down at your desk this morning knowing generally what you needed to get done, then the phone rang, or your boss walked in, or your buddy down the hall chatted you up all morning about his weekend at the beach. Now it is four thirty, and just like before you have nothing to show for the day’s work. Continue reading
Back in the winter of 2009 I experienced one of the highest points of my life followed a week later by one of the lowest. The high point was when I married my favorite person in the world, my beautiful wife. We celebrated our honeymoon in sunny Mexico and then headed back to another cold winter in the Sierra’s. The honeymoon really ended when I walked into work the following Monday to find out that I had been laid off due to the recession.
The next six months were some of the most humbling of my life as I searched unsuccessfully for a job. All the while my new wife supported our small family. I can safely say she did not marry me for my money, because I didn’t have any for the first few years. Continue reading
“It gets easier the closer to the top you get”
I have heard many different variations of this perspective over the years. I have heard peers express their longing to be the CEO so they can make lots of money and not have to work hard. I have heard leaders joke about the hard day they just put in at the golf course. I have heard people of all socioeconomic levels make assumptions about a leader’s lack of work ethic, simply because they are a leader.
I find every one of these perspectives to be rather frustrating. Continue reading
I graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering back in 2006. After working two years for a Civil Engineering firm, I got laid off at the end of 2008 due to the housing crisis.
So by the summer of 09’ I was broke, newly married, and desperate for work. Fortunately I landed a dream job working for a company called Ropeworks. The company specializes in rope access which is essentially industrial rock climbing. Using rope techniques developed on the big walls of Yosemite Valley, workers are placed hundreds of feet in the air to perform a wide variety of tasks.
I was fortunate enough to get hired because of my engineering background. The original idea was that I would help the company land more bridge inspection jobs. I did do a few bridge jobs (I even got to inspect the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans), but most of my time was spent doing maintenance work on 300’ tall wind turbines. Which was an awesome gig for an adrenaline junkie like me.
I believe the success of innovative products depend upon the dedicated team driving that product. Because there are so many forces opposing new products entering the market, the development team has to be unified and focused on the goal to succeed. The team has to have a leader they respect and are willing to follow when those opposing forces are bearing down.
That responsibility can be a lot for a leader. Especially when that person is having to play the corporate political game at the same time. Too often team leaders can focus their energy on impressing executive management instead of impressing the development team. Yet, these are the people who are the engine moving the new product to market. Continue reading
In the last post we talked about where product managers run into conflicts and what some of the root causes for those conflicts are. In this post we will take a look at some tools I have found to be useful when working on conflict resolutions.
Leave Your Emotions at the Door
The quickest way to escalate a tense situation is to let your emotions control your actions. So many things can go wrong if you go into a confrontation feeling intense emotions such as embarrassment, anger, or fear.
When I have to have difficult conversations with people who I feel have wronged me, I sometimes have these emotions stirring inside. It is important to keep these feelings from influencing the things I do or say so that I don’t negatively impact my team.
To accomplish this, I will often step outside and focus on my breathing while walking around the building. Continue reading
Have you ever taken the fall for someone else? How did you feel? There was likely a bit of anger, frustration, and resentment. You probably told yourself that you would never allow that situation to happen again.
What if I told you not to make that resolution? That instead, you should seek opportunities to stand in the line of fire for someone else. For someone you lead.
As product managers, we are responsible for leading teams that take ideas from concept to reality. By definition this is a learning and developmental activity. As with all learning, people make mistakes. This is in fact how most people and teams learn, by trial and error. This is likely how you yourself learned, by making mistakes. Continue reading