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Tag: Work

Caffeine 2018

My first job out of college was as an assistant to some guys at Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. I worked for David Ozer and Jeff Wolf. (Shout out!- I can’t remember their bosses name.) I learned to sign their names and I taped their receipts to pieces of paper for expenses. My computer was an IBM with a Pentium 75 mhtz chip. My previous chip was a 486, so the Pentium was a major step up. One of the perks of working there was a fully stocked refrigerator filled with soft drinks. Another perk was the in-building gym. When I…

Eat Club Review

What is Eat Club? For those of you who don’t know, Eat Club is a service where they gather lunch dishes from many local restaurants and package it up for delivery. The model is interesting since they don’t just pick it up and deliver. The Good They have a menu system with nice photographs.  One thing I appreciate is that they take “real” pictures of the food , not just food porn. For example: The food always arrives exactly at noon and you get an email notification. It doesn’t look awesome, but the realistic pictures are close. The Bad One…

My Presentation Process

I used to speak more often to groups. Its quite enjoyable for me and I hardly ever say “no” to invitations. Here is my process to prepare and give a presentation. It’s the same process I suggest to people just getting started. Step 0: Define the Parameters This is usually given to you. Who is the audience? How many people? How long to speak? Are there other speakers? Will there be a Q&A? Where is it? When is it? Someone else should give you this information. Step 1: Decide the Topic This is harder than you think. It has to…

2018 – My Year of Mostly Rejection

It’s been a strange year for my household. My eldest son got rejected from all but one university he applied to. My middle son got rejected from several musical groups that he was more than qualified for. He also failed his drivers license test 3 times in a row. My youngest got in a fight with his entire middle school, which was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever heard of. And finally, my search for my next adventure was met with one disappointment after another until finally I found a good home at Sitetracker. I’m not even going to…

Joining SiteTracker and Designing using Salesforce Lightning

I joined a new company called SiteTracker this month as their newly minted Head of UX. Just to be clear, I am the only designer, so “Head” is a little high falutin. I will post eventually about my interview process and lessons learned. SiteTracker is a Series A startup growing quickly in Palo Alto, CA and Montclair, NJ. The product is basically project management software, maybe even leaning towards an ERP system. It’s not for any kind of project that YOU do. It’s for big enterprises with high volume, highly templatized projects. Imagine a project to upgrade the cell towers…

The UX of Interviews (From both sides)

For the last couple of months, I have been talking with different companies about my next position. It’s a fascinating experience for me because I have been on the other side of the table for the last dozen years. Specifically, I am fascinated by how different people approach talking with candidates. This following is a hodgepodge of different anecdotes and topics, but hopefully you find it useful. The Grilling I was at an onsite interview and one of the people who worked there was grilling me with pointed questions. I asked him, “What is the fear you have about the…

Looking Forward

For the last half-year I was working with a stealth startup. Unfortunately, it did not work out as hoped. It’s an interesting space, but team dynamics is always a crucial factor. In this case, the ingredients in the crock-pot did not yield a pleasing taste. (Too much salt!) So, I find myself looking forward and thinking about what is next.  Maybe some unknown is good for the creative soul. I remember the Sabbatical I took in the summer of 2015. It really was the best summer I have ever had. If you ever have an opportunity, I strongly recommend it.…

Talent Marketing

I was just talking with a friend who is in marketing. They are trying to hire someone and we were brainstorming different marketing techniques to land the candidate. We noticed a pattern. Recruiting is exactly like Marketing. The parallels between them is striking and it made me wonder why we recruit people the way we do. (HR departments make a website, schedule interviews and that’s it) Imagine a different way of thinking about recruiting. Imagine a team inside the marketing department which had the following responsibilities: Demand Generation This is a universally accepted tactic for generating sales leads. You have…

LinkedIn Connection Algorithm

Do I personally know you? Accept. Did we meet within the last 7 days? Accept, I guess. Was it longer than 7 days? Dude, come on. Fine. Jesus. Accept. Are you famous? I make that impressed frowny “not-bad” face. Acceptaroonie. Are you a product designer? I click the mouse like I am giving you a secret high five. Accept-five! Are you a relative? Ugh, serious eye roll. Fine whatever. Begrudging accept. Are you a recruiter? You just want to connect to abuse my connections. Nice try! Ignore. Are you a BDR/SDR? No, no, no, no.  I should publicly shame this person.…

All Politics is Local

A phrase closely linked to Tip O’Neill, which has been on my mind lately. Specifically, I was thinking about how companies make decisions. When you gather a diverse set of people in a room to make a decision, people usually try to lobby for the decision that is best for their locality. Let’s imagine the decision was about what to put in the next release of a product. The sales people would optimize for features that help sales. Support wants features that help support. Engineers want to pay down technical debt. UX wants to work on the interaction design. Each constituency…

Decision Models

In 2005, I worked for a year at Intuit and they claimed to be Customer-Driven. This came from a specific story. Originally the company produced Quicken, a personal finance tool. When they watched their customers, they realized that many of them were using it for business purposes. They realized this market and produced QuickBooks, which turned into the category king of small business accounting software. The customer DROVE them to build the software. They took their cues from the customer. They weren’t data driven or creativity driven or any other kind of driven. At early Apple, one might say it…

Interview Questions for a First Marketer

I have a bunch of questions for Product Designers that I have evolved over time. However, I don’t think I have ever done the same exercise for Marketing. The context is the “first marketer” in a company. At Marketo, this was Kelly Abner. He did an awesome job and helped the product development by being his usual brutally honest self. So I’ve been thinking about questions I could ask. Not all of these will end up in the interview, but here are some: Topic 1: Traffic Cop “Are you aware of the Marketo Traffic Cop? Do you like it?” If…

The Care Pie

We all care about lots of decisions. However, it’s not healthy to argue about every single decision. In fact, it’s not healthy to argue about 90% of the decisions that are made. I talk to people about the Decision-Care Pie. This is a pie-chart that has two parts. The first part is the 10%. These are the decisions that you truly should argue about. You should be passionate and defend your position. I sometimes call this “Using your chips”. The other part is 90%. These are the decisions that you should NOT argue about. You should let other people decide.…

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.2

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.1 Frameworks for how to organize your product team are sometimes difficult to follow and figure out who does what. Product managers are often given too many job responsibilities and end up being spread too thin. Lately, I have been thinking about this and wanted to redo my v0.1 framework and add in a few items like Adoption Marketing and Market Demand Research. Plus, I reorganized the structure to make more sense to me. Take a look. I believe in open-sourcing this sort of thinking. I don’t have a book, I don’t have a speaking tour. We…

Startup People

What makes someone a really good employee for a startup? I was at a company culture outing a few years ago (small startup) and some people said they wanted to work there because they wanted to be part of a rocket ship. They thought the previous experience of the leadership team was such that the company would obviously be part of a huge new success story. This really freaked me out at the time. Every startup is exactly like a rocket ship, except that there is no place to sit, no engine, no wings, no navigation and no idea how…

Great Team or Great Players

I often hear people say they want to work at a company because they are led by a great team. What they usually mean is that the team is comprised of people who were successful before, or at least they were at successful companies. The same goes for venture capital investments. They often will invest in a great leadership team, but what they really mean is that the pedigrees of the leadership has been associated with previous success. In contrast, a true “great team” is a group of people who work well together. They are aligned in spirit with diverse…

Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite

For a business, I think Office 365 is a better choice than GSuite. Office 365 G Suite Rich Desktop Apps Nope Online Web Apps Same Separate identify Confused with my personal gmail Microsoft Teams (for Chat) Need to buy Slack Skype for Video Need Slack or other SharePoint (Wiki) Need to buy Confluence Works on Mobile Same Calendar is great Calendar sucks $13/user/month $10-$25/user/month 1TB Storage Same First, I can’t stand the Google business calendar. I really hate it. I miss meetings all the time because it has to rely on the browser to notify me. With a desktop app,…

Moving on from Engagio & MarTech

After 9 years of Marketo and 2 years of Engagio, I am moving on to a non-martech product. Engagio has a great future ahead of it and as a shareholder, I fully expect them to go public and be worth billions of dollars. I think I have built a good product foundation at Engagio that hopefully will serve them well for years to come. I have made great friends there that hopefully will stay in touch with me. As for Marketing, I have appreciated all of you and how wonderful it is to design products for you. There are so many…

Grinding

There are particular kinds of games where you have to spend alot of time doing simple things to get your level up. An example is killing a million squirrels in the forest so you can buy the sword to go after a dragon in a cave. This technique is called grinding. Some games specialize in this kind of play. The psychology is pretty interesting. It clearly hits a part of my brain that is difficult to shut off. I feel like I can’t stop grinding. Madden NFL Mobile has a serious grinding mentality. I find myself needing to do it…

An ABM Adventure

I am Head of Product for Engagio, a SaaS application with lots of features and users who use them. (Is there any other type of SaaS application?) Warning: This blog post throws data around the web with total abandon and gets confusing. You have been warned. My Mission: To activate and spur usage in the system. First Step: Usage Tracking If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. (Thanks, Avinash for that lesson over 10 years ago.) We use Pendo for application usage tracking and other stuff. We spent a few weeks tagging every feature in the app and rolling up…

Sphere of Influence, Control, Concern

An interesting way to frame an employee is by spheres, specifically three of them: Sphere of Control is the stuff you can decide on your own. This is people you manage and project you do the work personally. Sphere of Influence is stuff that you can guide through collaboration or subtle techniques. Your friendly co-worker is part of your sphere of influence. Sphere of Concern is stuff you care about but you have no way to influence it. This might be happenings in other departments in which you don’t have strong connections. Let’s take a look at some different circle…

Facts, Fakes and Fox

English is funny. Spelled different, pronounced the same, spelled the same, pronounced different. It’s like English doesn’t want to be “understood”. It’s like the language itself it trying to obfuscate the truth. Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Language is behind this whole issue. Whether you are in the world of product development or politics, the facts are a tricky thing. I remember someone in a meeting once said loudly, “People don’t like it, that’s a fact!” As if speaking loudly and forcefully made them more correct. Example: Stephen Miller raising his voice to try to mask that he is wrong. I…

Product Management Bullshitometer

Recently, I’ve been interviewing candidates for Product Manager and sometimes I hear phrases that set off my bullshitometer. This is a finely tuned piece of equipment that I keep with me at all times. It can detect bullshit intensity from any source. When I interview people, I keep a close eye on it. CEO of the Product An example came from someone who said they were the “CEO of the product”. I asked what they meant by that and they responded that you have to make things happen without having authority and that you have the ultimate responsibility for the…

Masterful Conversations

I’ve mentioned this technique in other posts, but I was searching for it and thought it deserved its own spot. The technique is one that I learned during my 12 months at Intuit in 2006 called Masterful Conversations. The basic premise of the technique is that we collectively spend all of our time talking about our own opinions and hardly even listen to someone else’s opinion. This creates poor conversations and poor relationships, especially in the work environment. As a better model, they provided this simple graph to break your role in the conversation into three parts. You are supposed…

Hiring UX Designer 2016

I am starting my search for a UX Designer to join our team at Engagio. I actually prefer people in the earlier stages of their career. (Directors need not apply) Designer Characteristics: Creative. Can come up with new solutions to problems. OCD. Does it bother you that their is a mistake in this question? Productive. We have a lot to do. Lots of context switching and multi-tasking. Concise. Confident. This position will have interactions with lots of people, including executives. Positive. It’s not personal; it’s always about the work. Special. A parent or loved one must vouch for you. Smart. Knows…

Happy is not my preferred state of being

My mom asks me all the time, “Are you happy?” I find the question to be annoying. (Sorry mom) The reason is that I don’t actually want to be “happy”. Happy to me implies blissful cow-like behavior. It implies sitting and staring at the sunset and thinking, “Gee, this is swell.” To me, it’s boring to want to be happy. I want to be focused. I want to be filled with purpose and drive. I want to be a man on a mission. Of course, there have been moments in my past when that purpose and drive led to a moment…

Hiring a Product Manager – 2016

I just started a search for a product manager on my team at Engagio. Summary Smart, intuitive, empathetic, energetic, friendly, fun person who can put on a professional game face for customers and partners. Here are some additional qualities I look for. Works well with others A Product Manager works with engineering, sales, design, customer success, partners, prospects and customers. Did I miss anyone? Synthesising input from all of these sources into intelligent requirements is part art and part science. This is the key to success as a PM on my team. Has long term vision and short term execution…

The Gooey Emotional Center

Marketo Retrospective Part 9 As part of a series, I am doing retrospective lessons from my 9 years at Marketo. This might be the last one. It’s the part that very few people understand, but I think it is the reason Marketo did well. Some people call it Product Market Fit, but to me that doesn’t do the concept justice. I call it the The Gooey Emotional Center of a product. There is a particular thing Marketo power users say to me. They say, “Thank you for my career.” This is a big deal to me. We didn’t just build software that…

Marketo Marketing

Marketo Retrospective Part 8 As part of a series, I am doing retrospective lessons from my 9 years at Marketo. Today, I focus on the Marketo’s Marketing. Like building a Sales Team I think this is an area that Marketo really shined and set the benchmark for thousands of other companies in the past 10 years. Content Marketing This all started with Jon Miller writing the Marketo blog. He was talking about digital marketing even before we had a product. He built a loyal following with great content, so when we finally had something to sell, he had built up an initial audience.…

Email Transparency, Pandora’s Box

If you have a corporate email address, you should read this post. You currently may not realize, but IT and the management of the company have full rights and access to your email..right now. They can copy your entire inbox and see every message. This probably doesn’t bother you too much because the reality is that they don’t look. So unless you got caught embezzling money, the likelihood is that no one will bother to look at your emails. Ok, now let’s imagine you buy SalesforceIQ, DataHug or Engagio. These tools consolidate all of the email to and from target accounts.…