Tales of a PO: Week 2 – Dating

Day 6 of the Product Owner role. Click here for backstory.

The major process we follow while developing products at Ignite is lean. It’s an interesting process that has quite a bit of similarities to other frameworks, such as Pragmatic, with one huge factor of a difference, it’s very very slimmed down. That’s a big ‘duh’ just based on the name.

The lean process  hinges on 1 major factor, getting out of the office. This means interview, interview, interview. You need to understand the problem the market is having, how it’s being solved currently, and where does your idea fit. Taking this approach will hopefully lead you to talk to a ton of the right people who will help you mold, pivot and shape your business model into the rip roaring product you hoped it would be.

I’ve taken this seriously with the seeds I managed, and now I get to do it myself.

Key lesson #1 – Networking is a lot like dating.

Remember the really rad times of being single? The days where you would go out with friends, enjoy a bunch of laughs, and have amazing conversations. They were awesome right? Yeah, they were. They were even better when one of our friend’s would build up enough courage to get a lady’s phone number. Big smiles, high-5’s, and confidence for everyone! Point’s on the board for the home team and mark off the checkbox next to “have a good night.”

This is essentially business networking. This is the same thing as going to a Meetup group, conference, or LinkedIn (networking version of online dating) and getting the contact/business card you were hoping for. You have the card!!!! Now what?

Now do you remember the really crappy days of dating? The moment that number gets in your hands, it’s a minute of excitement and then about 20 hours of, “ohhhhhhh nooooooo.” You now have to talk to this person.  Many of us become a mangled mess of self-consciousness while we analyze our next moves.  You build up enough courage to call…and leave a message.

Now you play the waiting game. You’ll go through the phases of, “It’s been a few days and I haven’t heard back. I should follow-up with an email.” Then you’ll hit, “They could be on vacation and they just forgot their out of office.” Maybe you’ll call from a different number …say from the local PizzaHut. You can see where this is going.

If this is your only lead you’ll smother them.

The successful few won’t put all their eggs in one basket. They’ll be like three little Fonzies, and what’s Fonzie like? Cool. They’ll keep finding leads and make sure they spread their attention out until somebody shows more attention back.  Then you can spend more time with that person.

So the lesson is, don’t worry about it. Go on with your life and treat your leads just as they are. A person. Not an early adopter, or a contact.

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp


Tales of a PO: Week 1 – Gut Check

Today is Day 1 of my new role, Product Owner.

For the past year I’ve been cofounding an intrapreneurial innovation and R&D lab, Ignite, for the world’s largest staffing firm. It’s been awesome!! and really really hard. Breathtaking really…in the sense of being gut checked, running a race, and seeing the most amazing sunset in your life all at the same time.

During the past 12 months I’ve been able to dabble as the hiring manager, maintenance man, admin assistant, developer, project manager, facilitator, real estate guy, office manager, event planner, marketing assistant, seed manager, and advisor. I’ve loved every role because it’s put me in the position I feel most comfortable, the guy behind the guy. 

Today I started a new role that I’ve only been able to experience from behind a chalk line as the Seed Manager. I’ve been dubbed a Product Owner, PO, for the Fall/Winter Semester round of seeds. This means I now need to follow my own process I’ve spent the last year developing. I no longer can sit in meetings and wonder why the PO is developing so much, or question why they conducted zero interviews that week. 

The next 3ish months I’ll be keeping tabs of my learnings here and what it’s like to walk on my path.

 It’s going to be breathtaking.

Washed Out – Falling Back



I Got 99 Posts Plus This One

What makes a company innovative? Heck, what makes people innovative? Why are we most creative when we’re in panic mode? I’ve been asking myself these questions over the past few months as I’ve been able to settle into my position as a manager of an incubator/R&D lab.

I believe it’s running lean and out of necessity that creates the most innovation. Yeah yeah we keep hearing that, but we’ve only partially read about who the real enemy is, success. When you’re at the top of your game, what’s keeping you there? Your “Why” changes. It’s no longer about becoming something great. It’s just about staying great. You go from trying to become the best, to trying to maintain what you’ve become.

For example: Batman kicked butt during the Dark Knight, but Bane told him what’s up. In fact, this blog post pretty much states what Bane has already told Mr. Wayne. Click the link. Maybe that’s not fair. He kind of retired, but Bane makes a good point.

Baby Bane…

Success Baby!

Tight deadlines and tight teams are innovative. Small departments that are out to solve real problems are innovative. How do you maintain it? You do something amazing, so you get a bigger budget, and then what happens? Your “Why” changes. You’re now focused on that budget, and not conquering the world. So, with each success your life should actually get harder. You have to set higher goals for your team and you set even higher personal undisclosed goals that reach to Variable 12, in the galaxy NGC 4203. Yeah that’s right, screw the “Moon”. People have been there. There’s a flag there. You have to reach for a place so far away it’s called Variable 12.

Setting amazing goals for yourself set you up for a personal failure, but they set you up to always strive and accomplish new things. I read a book (Damn Good Advice…) that my sister gave me for Christmas that I casually read, but it constantly keeps coming back to me. The number one thing I picked up from it was, “If you don’t come home at the end of your day completely exhausted, you’re a bum.” That seems a bit harsh and holy crap you’re workaholic. It’s not just for work. It’s for life. Set high goals for yourself and try your hardest to reach them. Otherwise what’s the point.

This is coming from a C student who only tried at sports because I didn’t understand how to try at anything else or see the point. I used to live by the saying, “What do you call a doctor that made C’s in school?…A doctor.” My wife, Samantha, made this flip last August when she decided to become a Pre-K teacher. She kicks some much ass at it. She reads up on it. She learns about new teaching styles. She gives those kids everything she has. She’s always thinking of new ways to take care of the kids and she is absolutely exhausted, and she loves it.

Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.

-Tim O’Reilly

So my point is, don’t let success be your downfall. Keep going and remember your “why”.

Double feature of music this week. One is to celebrate the title…but the first is just some good, good tunes.

Twin Shadow – Five Seconds

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiC9XNQSxFQ&w=560&h=315]

Jay-Z – 99 Problems

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwoM5fLITfk&w=420&h=315]

Non-monetary Change

I’ve been working and building a corporate startup incubator over the last 6 months and I’ve come up with a theory.

If you’re not frustrated then you’re not a startup.

That’s the conclusion I’ve come to this past hour. I believe change early and change often is a saying, but to what extent? Weekly? Daily? Hourly? Change can be great. I enjoy change, but I feel that too much change in procedures or operational change leads you to working on things that don’t matter.

A good example is a login screen for an app. Startups and engineers use frameworks (templates) to make it quick and simple to implement things, such as login screens. Every website has one. So why would you keep building and recreating the wheel. In my opinion, the same goes for operational tools. The trick is to pick something and go with it. If you spend too much time working on things that don’t matter you find yourself with a really great login page protecting a whole lot of nothing.

I’m pretty sure this analogy doesn’t make sense, but hopefully you get the gist.

And as promised a good tune to take you on your way:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08WeoqWilRQ&w=560&h=315]