Should you get your MBA, or are degrees outdated?

Lately I have been spending time in twitter chats centered on the topic of millennials. Most of the participants are my generational peers (i.e. millennials). One of the subjects that comes up a lot is that college degrees are overrated in today’s day and age. Each time someone makes that point I have a small panic attack. Why? Because I have spent a good portion of my adult life in a classroom. Continue reading

Why failure is an option

It was another beautiful day in the Sierra’s. Not a cloud in the sky and the surrounding mountains were perfectly reflected in the glassy surface of the lake resting in the valley below. The sounds of tourists exploring the mountains echoed off the surrounding granite walls. They sounded happy and excited, completely unaware of the epic battle I was currently engaging in with one particular cliff on that mountainside.

34884_425727596120_4950067_nI was forty feet above the ground and desperately trying to control my breathing so my leg would stop shaking (a phenomenon rock climber’s call sewing machine). The tips of my fingers were delicately hanging onto two small edges protruding from the face of the cliff. Every second I refused to continue on increased the burning sensation in my forearms from the lactic acid. Continue reading

You don’t have to be artistic to be creative

Artistic vs CreativeI am not artistic. I can’t draw inside the lines, my style is jeans and a t-shirt, and I can’t hold a tune to save my life. In my family, my brother got all the artistic chops. He plays a couple different instruments and is a really creative guy. He makes the coolest wood engravings I’ve ever seen. I’m always blown away by his ability to take a blank piece of wood and transform it into a work of art.

Despite my inability to properly match the colors of my daughter’s clothes, I work to constantly develop my creativity. This does not mean that I practice painting, or have taken up piano lessons. I think that creativity can be expressed in a multitude of ways.

The way I define creativity is the ability to question everything and not see limitations. By doing so you can see the world around you as a blank canvas. To draw something on that canvas, you have to know who you are and what it means to express yourself. Continue reading

I believe that you and your team can accomplish anything

Tommy Caldwell Kevin JorgesonIf you have been following the news the last couple of months than you probably heard about the couple of guys who climbed the New Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. If not, then click here, here, or here. As a climber, I have been following the Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson story for over five years. I have watched as they have come closer to success each year. I found it very interesting that this particular story resonated with the general public so much. Climbers have been doing really hard and crazy things for a long time now. I have been wondering why people were so drawn to this story. Continue reading

Creating Training Programs to Scale Up Your Operations

One of the most challenging time periods of new product development is when things start taking off. Customers like the product and the demand begins to sky rocket. Product champions must figure out how to quickly scale up their operations and subsequently their staff. In an ideal world, Human Resources would spear head the hiring and training initiatives and feed the development team product ninjas on a weekly basis. If that is not the world you live in (like me), then you need to be able to develop a training program and deploy it quickly with little or no budget. No problem!

Where to start?

Marketing MaterialMy guess is that if you are finding yourself in this position you have already done a good job marketing and selling your product. The material generated for those efforts can be repurposed to serve as the foundation for your new training program. If the purpose of technical marketing material is to educate potential customers on a product, then that material can serve equally well to educate new team members. Continue reading

Why Work Life Balance is a Farce

Every day I feel torn between my personal life and my work life. The two seem to be in constant opposition to each other and each demand more and more of my time at the sacrifice of the other. As I yield to one the other often suffers and vice versa.

No Work Life BalanceWhat if there was a better way? I believe that all too often we strive to create very distinct compartments for our personal and professional lives, without taking into consideration that they might actually be symbiotic systems. Continue reading

Standing In The Line Of Fire

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.

trustWhat 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