#IfIOnlyKnew

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A few articles caught my attention over the course of the week, so I set them aside to read when I had the chance.  The chance came this morning, and at the top of one of the articles on the Forbes site was this hashtag statement.  An innocuous reference most people probably didn’t even pay attention to.  But these are the types of insights I would either reiterate or share with my twenty something self.  Enjoy.

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Focusing on the Right Things

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We’ve all heard it said Product Management is akin to being CEO of your own product line.  In prior posts, I compared/contrasted the roles/responsibilities of a CEO and the Product Manager, and even took the bait on an article that lead with the provocative statement Product Managers, you aren’t the CEO of anything.

Regardless of where you stand with the conversation, I am a firm believer it’s not the title, or the perceived authority with the role, that defines leadership.  You are a leader when you start acting like one.  But if you do aspire to achieve a CEO role, you should know what to expect going in.

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Horizons, Patterns, & Surfing

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I will prepare and someday my chance will come.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you will know I am a big Abraham Lincoln fan. In fact, I have probably used this quote in prior posts.  And while I don’t think President Lincoln had surfing in mind when he crafted these words of wisdom, they do offer a wonderful perspective leading into the discussion at hand.

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Leading Through Tough Times – “be the change you want to see in the world”

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Sometimes life comes at you hard.  It’s been over 3 years since I posted an article about the storms in life.  The focus was on a principle I learned a long time ago … you are either in the middle of a storm, just coming out of a storm, or about to go into one. It’s not meant to be a doom and gloom view of the world, just reflective of reality. Think about it … life is full of problems, challenges, and issues.  The point I made was depending on the approach you take in dealing them, the outcomes can be very different.

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If I am to speak for 10 minutes, I need a week for preparation

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Sound advice from our 28th President Woodrow Wilson. Whether it is to customers or executives, at an industry conference or an internal company meeting, as a simple mechanism to share information or to build influence … one of the responsibilities that inevitably comes our way as Product Management leaders is presenting.

Having access to an interactive coaching session exploring the ins and outs of serving as an on-brand, on-message, on-tone spokesperson is just one way my current company invests in its employees. The thought is, every employee at some point or another has the opportunity to serve as a brand ambassador for the company.

Having recently participated in just such a coaching session, it reminded me of some posts from several years ago about how to make the most out of these presentation opportunities.  Practical advice for any Product Management leader … enjoy.

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If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.

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In a former life working to help launch Apple Pay, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know John Rethans, Global Digital Strategist with Apigee/Google.  Given the conversations I’ve had with him over the years, I wasn’t surprised to see his article recently in Forbes When Innovation Centers Don’t Innovate.

dilbert strategy

Interestingly, the theme of the article plays directly into a Dilbert cartoon a colleague left on my desk in December … both the article and the cartoon describe a concern I had when I took my Strategy role.  I’ve had experiences in the past where the Strategy or Innovation folks were disconnected from the organization.  To paraphrase a quote I’ve heard, they were were so heavenly focused (head in the clouds) they were no earthly good (no practical application).

Having read both The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, as well as McKinsey’s new book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, I am fully aware innovation is an absolutely necessary part of what we do as Product Management Leaders.  The title to the post comes from Steve Job, who said it this way …

If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.

 

But the efforts must deliver value to the core business while at the same time not becoming a distraction to the core business.

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Timing is Everything

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Technically, I shouldn’t be writing this right now since it is early evening.  At least, that is what author Daniel Pink stated earlier in referencing findings from his recent book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.  While at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit this week, I had the opportunity to sit in on Daniel’s key note address, and the results were fascinating. Surprising in some cases, unsurprising in others, but fascinating nonetheless.

In a nutshell, there are times during the day when people are happier and more productive at certain tasks, and taking breaks does make a difference. A snip-it from the book description … Timing, it’s often assumed, is an art. In reality, timing is really a science. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule?  How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start?

Read on if your are sufficiently intrigued.

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Analysts, Partners, & Councils

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This past week was one of those heavy travel weeks meeting with various industry participants out on the West Coast.  On the flight home last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on a few salient elements of those meetings that play into our roles as Product Management leaders every day.

  • Strategy – Identifies and develops the strategy for the business/product.
  • Visionary/ Information Bearer – Looks to the future for change opportunities.
  • Evangelist/Thought Leader – The face of an organization, represents company at public events.

These are a subset of points I made in a post nearly 4 years ago where I was comparing the roles/responsibilities of a CEO to a couple of job descriptions for Product Management.  I think you’ll enjoy that post, but today I wanted to share my reflections from each of the meetings mentioned in the post title.

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The End of an Era

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He who has a why can endure any how. Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (versus merely surviving!).

This quote from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche seemed appropriate given the topic of purpose has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  To some degree all of us yearn for a sense of belonging, to know our strengths are being brought to bear, to know we are adding value or making a difference.

Several factors recently have me revisiting this, and yesterday’s passing of Billy Graham is one of them offering a fantastic example of someone who was singular in his belief, in his passion, in his vocation.  Put aside any religious biases for a moment … what leadership lessons can we take from his legacy?

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Knowing Me, Knowing You

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Had a wonderful lunch conversation today, and the context reminded me of an article I once read many moons ago.   And as happens sometimes, my mind would not let go of the topic.  So I decided to see if I could dig it out of the archives … lo and behold, I still had it!

The article is titled Unschooling: The Secret to Being a Great Leader and this is one I definitely recommend you dig into for yourself.  There are a couple of poignant items I took away, and they brought to mind lessons I learned from a Leadership training program I went through almost a decade ago. Allow me to share thoughts from both.

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