If you haven't talked to a customer today, you are doing it wrong

Great advice for entrepreneurs and Product Managers from Startup L Jackson. In effect he asks us to come up with a framework that guides/informs your intuition. Keep refining the framework everytime you meet someone new!

And there are a few specific examples of how you can keep refining it based on who you meet.

Anyone and Everyone:

Ask everyone you meet what they believe, and why. When you’re talking to your Cousin Eddie, ask him about his favorite apps. How does he buy stuff? Does he watch YouTube? How does he find new restaurants or plan his travel? How does he advertise his small business?

Founders:

When you meet other founders, ask them how their business works. Treat them as experts with insights that can help you improve your framework. Who are their customers? What do their customers love about the product? What have they tried that customers hated? How do they explain the product to customers? They’re building a marketplace, cool! How much do providers have to make to stay engaged? How many uses before a buyer sticks?

Customers:

And if you have an area you’re working, talk to customers. Every day. Talk to users of your product, active, inactive, new, and old. Talk to people who don’t want to use your product. Talk to people who are using a competitor’s product. Talk to customers of products in adjacent markets. Now, reread this paragraph and replace talk with listen.

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Conflict Strategies for Product Managers

I saw this article on HBR (it is from last year). It is meant for “nice people”, but I think these are just as applicable to Product Managers, who often need to wield influence without authority.

Teams need conflict to function effectively. Conflict allows the team to come to terms with difficult situations, to synthesize diverse perspectives, and to make sure solutions are well thought-out. Conflict is uncomfortable, but it is the source of true innovation and also a critical process in identifying and mitigating risks.

As a PM, you need to be comfortable with a healthy level of conflict. Healthy Conflict is a sign of passionate people who stand for something. If you are not getting push back on your ideas, you may be settling for mediocre local maxima.

The secret of having healthy conflict and maintaining your self-image as a nice person is all in the mindset and the delivery. To start shifting your mindset, think about your value to the team not in how often you agree, but in how often you add unique value.

Wow! and now for a couple of specific tips:

  1. Use “and,” not “but.”

May Sound cheesy, but this is a flavor of the Yes And Principle in Improv.

  1. Ask for help. Another tactic for “nice conflict” is to be mildly self-deprecating and to own the misunderstanding.

The wrong way to be a hero is by avoiding conflict or “taking one for the team”. Don’t be that kind of a heroic PM.

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Short Form Blogging

  • Negotiate a comfort zone on two axes.

  • Traffic is irrelevant

  • Have fun. Blogging is not your job. Don’t add it to your to-do list. If it’s not fun and you’re not done? Screw it. Take the baby to the park instead.

This “short-form” post from Gina Tripani inspired me to get back at it again. Nope, no in-depth medium style pieces, probably a lot of tools/tips style posts and a bunch of link posts (like this one). The last time I wanted to post, I ended up updating my theme, so fingers cross if it’ll work out this time.

Seasons

Despite the harsh winters, I really like the New England area for the four seasons and how each season has its unique beauty. Here is a snapshot of how the same place looks in Fall & Winter.

Windows 8 Is The Perfect OS That Nobody Wants

People care about speed, efficiency, clarity, and delight. But a phone interface matching a laptop interface is about as important as socks matching underwear. It’s nice, but on most days, probably the last priority on your mind.

Takeaway: Your design could be great on paper and executed perfectly, but it still has to solve a real problem. Props to Microsoft for trying though and setting the tone on this.