Startups

It seems impossible to get caught up in the tech sector without developing a passion for the business itself.

Ideas Are Cheap

An early wake up call in my product career was the stark reality of who makes product decisions within companies. Foolishly I believed that the strategy involved with launching a successful product starts and ends with product managers. Needless to say, 20-something year old me learned a few things about how companies operate very quickly.

Strategy is unequivocally the fun part of product management, but what most executives will never admit is that it is also the easy part. When something is fun, easy, and promises glory, there is absolutely no shortage of people willing to claw and grab at the opportunity to make a name for themselves. Young ambitious product managers will quickly find that their aspirations to steer a company will be reduced to a sandbox of things nobody else cares to bother with.

I originally found this to be a soul crushing reality, but things are not

The Arrogance Epidemic

Behind each of our unsavory characteristics lies a personal backstory. Our shortcomings are most certainly the direct result of a life event, perhaps long forgotten. We are to some extent victims of circumstance, but if there is ever a time to make an exception to this rule, I would argue that it be in the case of arrogance.

The internalization of superiority has been silently sifting deep into both business and society- a phenomenon which seems to be going unnoticed. Clear indicators of this shift in mindset are riddled throughout popular culture and politics, but perhaps most obvious in social media: to the discerning eye it is easy to see how the 1950s western mantra of 'everything is fine' has transformed into a self-worship exclaiming 'everything is great, all thanks to me.' To understand why this mindset can be harmful, consider the following:

Arrogance is self-inflicted ignorance intended to

Culture Over Rules

Technology startups are often dominated by Caucasian males preaching the importance of culture. This irony should be lost on no one... in the boom of entrepreneurship and investing, the intangible concept of togetherness became an undeniable metric for success. As VCs have continued to emphasize the importance of employee happiness, it's been clear that we've undergone a fundamental shift away from the suit-and-tie offices which once dominated American professionalism.

The importance of company culture has no lack of advocates. Those in traditional work environments may associate tech culture with ball pits and ping pong tables, but the significance of company culture goes far beyond short-term relief and happiness. Companies such as Airbnb openly preach prioritizing culture, and in doing so these pioneers recognize core beliefs as a primary prerequisite for success.

In the context of the workplace, culture should be considered a counter-argument to strict rule enforcement. While both culture

Will Product Go The Way Of Marketing?

I'm not too crazy about marketing people. It's not that I dislike marketing as a concept... on the contrary, I have nothing but respect for the concept of subtly manipulating the human mind. Thus it is naturally frustrating to watch the concept of marketing move away from calculated campaigns, and more into the realm of Mailchimp and Social Media junkies. If the ability to use Facebook tops your list of tangible skills, chances are I wouldn't trust you to define my company's voice.

I'm assuming that undergrad marketing programs consist of more than introductory Instagram classes. Where then, are these concepts being applied? From the outside looking in, a case can be made that marketing is the discipline of deploying microsites and unapologetic sales messaging.

I can only imagine how CMOs who meticulously shaped brands feel about a workforce striving for a bare-minimum understanding of their field. Yet I can

Product Management: The Personality Profession

Articles covering product management remain a scare breed. We're familiar with the cliché “qualities of a good PM" articles which recycle themselves on the front page of HackerNews once every few weeks. These seem to provide great advice at first glance, mostly because they closely mimic much of our society's golden rules.

Consensus amongst vocal product managers is that being a good PM isn't too far off from simply being a good person. The mantra of leading by example and turning the other cheek has somehow made its way into my own professional psyche for the last 8 years.

After thoroughly testing this mindset in the field, I'd argue that this mindset under the following circumstances:

  1. You're a PM at Google
  2. Your company would rather keep you happy than extracting maximum work for minimal cost

Those odds don't feel great.

After nearly a decade, I've stuck to my guns