Impact Driven Culture

Impact Driven Culture

Let’s get slightly back to basics and pick it from there this time.

As product managers, our goal is to represent the business. In other words, if the products we design and push for don’t bring business, we should stop doing it. Let’s take a classic example – your dev lead comes over and states that they need to refactor a piece of code and it will take 2 weeks to do so. He calls it a ‘must have’. From your perspective, what should matter is what will happen if you don’t do it. Will development of additional features be slower as a result? Are there bugs that can’t be resolved as a result?

I came across an interesting example from a different perspective earlier this week – Asks from customer support. Customer Support are a channel for making business. If you have poor customer support, your customers will eventually abandon. Customer Support has to be part of the exercise of prioritization. If there are critical issues that require your attention, then make sure you attend to it and not something that you allocate time to address once in a while.

So now that this point has been clarified, let’s talk about impact driven culture. This is a process we started working on at Sears. The intention was to be able to state how everything we work on is planned to make an impact. If you do it the right way, you can end up with a clear process for innovation, prioritization, scaling.

With that big promise in mind, let’s see how it works.

First Step – Know What Drives Your Business

This is a must have for you as a product manager to clarify on your first few days on the job – how does your organization makes profits. Think as broad as you can about it.

Let’s take an e-commerce site as an example. Such a site can generate revenue from the following sources:

  1. Commission from transaction
  2. Subscription costs – for example, a site can open an option for a loyalty program and have users pay an initial fee that will reduce future fees
  3. advertisements
  4. Paid features

It’s also important to be aware of the distinction between revenues and profits. Simply put, Profits = revenues – expenses.  In that sense, you can also drive your business by reducing expenses. So the above list could also include:

  1. Reduce storage costs
  2. Reduce servers
  3. Reduce operational costs – this could vary from reducing the number of employees required to support your operation and also to the option of replacing them with a cheaper option such as out-sourcing
  4. Reduce legal claims

Second Step – Think of Ways to Drive Each of Them

This is the fun part.

You can now have a brain storming session on each of these activities and think of hypothesis and activities that can impact each of the above.

What I found useful is to have a clear understanding of the user journey, aka the funnel. The funnel is the list of phases in which users can be. You want your users to move down the funnel as possible to have them generate value. Let’s taking a gaming app example. The first phase is users who actually became aware of your game. The second phase is users who downloaded the app. The third phase is users who registered, followed by users who played sufficient time and eventually users who used paid features. At any point of the funnel, users can drop. So each phase will have less and less # of users. Your goal is to increase the ratio of users who start at the first phase and end up at the bottom of the funnel, while doing so at the minimum cost.  For example, if your company does a bad job in marketing the app, there might be many users exposed to it, but most likely they won’t do anything about it. If you could find out the level of conversion from the first phase to the second one by marketing channels, you might end up recommending to shut down some of these channels and hence improve your funnel.

Why hypothesis? Because there are cases where you don’t know for sure what will impact your users. For example, you can re-design your user interface and create a highly modern look & feel. Will that impact your users in a positive way? Maybe. And this is not a good answer. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’re representing the business. Will you be willing to invest X amount of dollars in something that maybe will yield a revenue? This is where hypothesis comes in handy. Hypothesis is formed of the following structure:

IF <describe the change you are thinking of making>

THEN <what do you think the impact on the user will be>

BECAUSE <give the logical rational for this>

It’s important to correlate your hypothesis to specific phases in the funnel. It will be easier to explain the logical rational of this hypothesis.

For example:

IF the browsing experience will be more intuitive for users

THEN first time users will convert better

BECAUSE it will be easier for them to find the thing they need and hence will proceed in the funnel.

That’s the intent of the hypothesis – to raise a suggestion on how to make an impact.

Why activities? Because in some cases we already have all the data to make a decision. For example, if in the current state it costs X$ to maintain servers to support the app and by migrating to a cloud architecture we can reduce it by 50%, then all we have to do is estimate the cost of making the change and see whether it makes sense to do it.

Third Step – Define an Action Plan

At this point, think clearly about MVP’s. You have hypothesis that you raised. There is a cost for implementing each of these solutions, and as the name suggests, you might end up failing. In that sense, think about what is the minimal viable product that you can set (not necessarily develop) in order to evaluate whether the hypothesis makes sense or not.

It could be by making a mock-up site and perform user testing on it. It could by implementing something quick and dirty in very specific areas just to get some signals. This is where your broad product team can help think together about a way to test it.

Fourth Step – Turn it Into a Culture

This is the most difficult step and the most important one. It can’t be a one time exercise, it has to be part of the ongoing nature of the company.

You want to reach a stage in which in a sprint planning developers challenge specific ideas because it’s unclear as to which hypothesis it will impact. Or that as part of a sprint demo, you don’t suffice with just showing the feature, you also talk about the hypothesis and what was learned from it. And that as part of your routine you have once every few month another brain storming session on new ideas as a result of new insights. And you have a clear dashboard showing you how your metrics are impacted and everyone in the organization are laser focused on it.

And if you managed to do all of this and your plan actually makes an impact – you just helped creating a sustainable business!

 

 

Advertisements
Building a Roadmap in a Short Period

Building a Roadmap in a Short Period

It’s very exciting to start a new position in a new company. There are a lot of things you start absorbing about the product – the vision, the different components, the different teams, the different opinions on what should be done, existing leads, new leads and much much more.

Sometimes, there are extra implications regarding the exact date you start. In my case, I started on January 1st and realized there is a roadmap presentation due in 3 weeks… I had 2 options – have my manager take this one, or do it myself.

I like to own my roadmap rather than have it defined by someone else and focus on execution, so I picked the 2nd option. So here is a challenge – you have 3 weeks to prepare a roadmap to the CEO, and after you already approved taking it upon yourself, you realize you have 2 weeks to present a progressive draft to the CTO, what do you do?

First thing first, focus on defining what is your product. If there are existing materials summarizing it, start with those. See what is the vision statement and whether there is anything to change. In my case, I found out later that there is a vision statement and it sounded a better articulation of the vision I had in mind. The vision should represent what you want to reach – how the world will be better if your product could reach its full potential?

The second step is defining the problem. If you’re a product manager working on a platform with different product managers responsible for different areas of the platform – start with defining your input and output. It’s important to note that they shouldn’t be defined in a technical form. For example, don’t state that your goal is to take a user query and ensure you invoke the relevant services in the system. Start with why – why is your component there in the flow and how can it serve the user. Once you have clarity on that area, you can better define the problem with these easy steps:

  1. Define your ‘TAM’ (Total Addressable Market) – note that the TAM isn’t the overall platform TAM. Your work starts at a specific phase. For example, in an e-commerce site – is your TAM all the potential users in the world, i.e. you are responsible for acquisition? or does your product address users who already reached the site, and if so, are these logged in users or guests? Do you have some context on these users or is it your role to find out this context? All of these questions can help you better articulate the scope of your product
  2. What is your ‘TAM’ looking to do in the product? Your users have some intent in mind. It’s your goal to help them go further down the funnel. The answer to this question should align with your vision statement

Once you have defined both TAM and their intent in mind, you can start articulating your roadmap. Your goal is to maximize the number of users who can fulfill their intent. Some of them already do so, that is your baseline. As for the rest, think about different reasons why they can’t fulfill it. You will come up with a few potential root causes and for each of them you can start attaching specific ideas on how to make an impact.

I know it’s a lot to grasp, so let’s pause and have a look at an example of what I just mentioned.

Let’s use an example to make it more concrete

Let’s say that you’re a product manager on Facebook and you’re responsible to the Facebook feed page. You can assume then that your TAM is the registered users on Facebook. There should be someone else in the organization thinking about how to grow the number of registered users, but that’s not part of your problem at this point. What are your users looking to achieve? I assume that if a user went into Facebook, her intent is to hear about what’s going on in her network. That is the main value. There could be other values such as getting updated on the local politics state, but as the product manager, you have to decide whether this is the main intent you want to encourage on Facebook or not. The second question is where do you start – have your users already opened the app/site and it’s up to you to improve engagement or are you in charge also on having them go into the site? For simplicity, let’s assume your users are already on the site.

You will have to define at this point what is considered to be a success for this intent. For example, is looking at one new post per visit or per day is sufficient? There is a difference between going from 0 to 1 and going from 1 to 2 and more.

Third, think of reasons why they couldn’t find anything interesting. I can think of a few reasons:

  1. Feed is cluttered with irrelevant posts from users
  2. User’s network is too small to see variety of posts
  3. User’s network is not raising enough posts for a daily variety
  4. etc.

If there is any supportive data about the size of each of these reasons, it will be easier to prioritize. If not, make sure to put it on your roadmap to do the proper user research to get this information. It’s ok to say there are things missing and that you’re on it. It will make your roadmap more credible.

Now, for each of these root causes, you can think of hypothesis on how to change it. For example, if you think that the feed is too cluttered, perhaps users are not aware of the option of ‘unfollow’. Maybe it’s worth highlighting for these users this option at the top of the page. Or maybe you can have a different ranking algorithm for the feed. Per each of these hypothesis, you can have concrete ideas on how to measure the impact.

Continue in this process, and you have your initial backlog.

From Backlog to Roadmap

You now want to transform your list of ideas to a list of work items.

Work with your dev lead to scope the line items. Most likely, you can already have a good sense of the level of complexity each of the line items have. Use that in order to decide what to scope. Don’t aim too high – you and your dev lead have limited timeframe and bandwidth to prepare a roadmap. To follow the above example, don’t come up with an idea of several machine learning based solutions in parallel for a team of 3 developers. Make sure you’re focused. Also, understand the level of maturity for each of your ideas. If there is too much information missing, skip it. Make it on your internal work plan to explore it further for the next time you present your roadmap.

Then, prioritize the list. You should look at a few criteria:

  1. The impact
  2. The cost
  3. The opportunity to learn

Most cases, you will hear about #1 and #2. #3 are a set of activities you want to start doing in order to better understand your users. Let’s take a specific example – adding a feedback option on your site in which users can share ideas and feedback to your site. It won’t drive any revenue, but it’s a good way to get a lot of feedback at relatively low-cost.

Final stage – put it all in a deck. Make sure to articulate your story. The story should tell why these are the most important things to focus on. If needed, work with other team to gather more data that can support the process. If you go to your CEO and say that you have all the right building blocks in place and hence you’re going to make an impact, then most likely you’re bound to succeed.

Worked for me. The feedback I got from the CEO is that it’s not evident that it’s my third week in the company

Onboarding Plan for PM’s

Onboarding Plan for PM’s

It’s been my second time within a few month in which I start a new job. Before starting at Sears, I prepared my own list of things I wanted to start with in order to onboard properly. It was a great start and I did feel within a matter of days that I already got involved in the decision making process.

When I started preparing for Fiverr, I wanted to prepare a similar onboarding list. As a reference, I opened the list I had for Sears, and then I realized it’s quite a similar list…

So what do you do when you have a repeatable concept worth sharing? Write a post about it 🙂

So here is my list. Of course it will be enriched as I evolve and will most likely slightly change between companies, but the backbone is similar.

  1. Understand the company and the context of what you do:
    1. What is the company vision? – this is the most basic thing you need to understand. There should be a clear vision statement. It’s not just the product, but also what is the company looking to achieve. For example, is the company looking to zoom in on a specific user segment in the upcoming year? This is a business decision which you shouldn’t be guessing
    2. What are the company’s top line metrics and goals for the upcoming year? – It’s important to understand how the work you will do align with the metric. This is your way of ensuring that everyone are focused on the business objectives. If needed, make sure to understand why this is the metric and if you think differently, raise a challenge. Don’t be afraid about being the ‘new guy’. Companies appreciate a fresh view of everything that was done so far
    3. Understand what are the goals of your specific department and how those align with the company’s goal – I’ve already seen cases where there was some misalignment between the two. It’s highly important to make sure that you understand the correlation. This will make you a top notch product manager in the organization. Unfortunately, not all product managers do so.
  2. Understand the users:
    1. Which type of user segments are there for the product? What are the characteristics of each? What is the ratio of each?
    2. Why do they use the product?
    3. At what frequency do they use to the product?
    4. What are their alternatives?
    5. How do they discover the product? What are the main sources for discovery?
    6. Why customers come back to use the product? What are the reasons they don’t?
    7. Understand the user funnel (this one is mostly focused on web sites):
      1. How many users go into the site (or if there is a mobile app – how many have them)
      2. Out of these, how many log in?
      3. How many engage with the site?
      4. How many make an action which drives revenue?
      5. How many return and in what frequency?
      6. How many share it with others?
  3. Understand the competition – have a reference of a few competitors. You can use SimilarWeb for this exercise by looking at the list of other related sites. You can also search on the web for a market analysis. Have a clear understanding of the ways in which your product can be differentiated from competitors. If you have an idea, make sure to pursuit it on your early days as you design the upcoming roadmap
  4. Understand the work processes – make a distinction between daily rituals (e.g. working with the dev team), weekly rituals, monthly rituals, quarterly rituals. Also, make sure to rationalize them. Sometimes it’s a good idea to talk to relevant teams about changing the processes. Often people are doing thing out of a routine rather than out of clear common sense. Re-designing processes can be a great way of putting your own personal touch into it
  5. Map stakeholders – who are the relevant people in the organization you should be aware of. An org chart can be a great start. What is important for each of them? How are they measured? Make sure to have early 1×1 intro meeting with them and ensure to listen much more than you speak
  6. Understand the architecture of your product
  7. Understand which data you have in order to drive decision making
  8. Understand the current product infrastructure;
    1. Is there a product backlog?
    2. Is there a product vision?
    3. Are there enough sprints planned ahead?
    4. Is there a technical debt backlog?
    5. Are there written materials in place?

After you have all of these, it’s time to think about your own vision and roadmap. You should describe it to other as an initial draft to drive brain storming. This is where you want your team to get involved and feel part of the effort. Since you’ll be the one coming with an initial draft, you’ll automatically be positioned as a leader.

And that’s a great way to kick off your early days!

 

Choices… Choices…

Choices… Choices…

 

If everything goes right,
we get a good experience.
If everything goes wrong,
we get a good story.
(Simon Sinek)

So I have a good story…

Unfortunately, my Sears journey has ended, and now it’s time for a new journey with Fiverr!!

In a situation where you evaluate several companies in parallel, it’s hard to make a decision. Of course it would have been easy if there was one specific opportunity which exceeds all other companies by all parameters, but in most cases this is not the case, and hence the topic of this post will be on how to select the next journey for yourself. As a side note, it’s also applicable to the question of whether you should leave your current company and role and start in another company.

There are 4 types of criteria you should look at when evaluating an opportunity (not stacked ranked):

  1. Your personal development – if you look at your skill set, would there be more opportunities to grow
  2. Compensation – all financial and social benefits
  3. The product – how proud will you be to work and evolve this product
  4. Career path – your opportunities to grow in this company and in your career in general

There are many types of factors that could impact each of the above types and I’ll elaborate about them below. Of course you could think of more, so I’ll focus here on the factors that I had in mind. Weights could be different on a personal basis

 

Personal Development

This is your opportunity to evaluate your current skill set. You can use a list such as the one on this post. Each work place may have opportunities for you to grow. It’s by nature given that most work places define the scope of a product manager differently between companies. There is also a lot of difference between small companies vs large corporates. When you evaluate an opportunity, think about the ways in which you can evolve further in this opportunity.  As an example, I came across companies where I felt that although the product is highly interesting, it will be similar to some of the things that I already did in the past. If your goal is to become more diverse, give higher weight to companies that will have the opportunity to learn more and faster.

Sometimes, it’s up to you to generate these opportunities. For example, if you want to be laser focused on being customer driven, you can be the product manager who arranges conversations with users and set up an ambitious goal to meet with customers. Except for security organizations where it might be complex, I’m pretty sure that all organizations would like to apply a user centric approach, but not all of them actually do it. Don’t hesitate to ask about the culture in the organization and whether the organization will allow you to geow in the directions which are most interesting for you. For example, if the orgniazation is currently struggling with technical debts or is not mature enough to have a product strategy, then maybe it’s not a good opportunity to grow your product strategy capabilities and you will need to focus on how to sell the product ASAP.

Compensation

There are a lot of things which fall under the title of compensation:

  1. Salary
  2. Salary increase processes
  3. Options / stocks – it’s important to have a look at the stock trend line to evaluate also the worth of these stocks
  4. Bonuses
  5. Social benefits
  6. Opportunity for an exit

There are also other elements which do not exactly qualify as compensation, but still worth considering such as:

  1. Work life balance – it’s of course nice to have a very high salary, but consider what is required of you as a result.
  2. Social responsibility – is the company involved in the community?
  3. Travel expectations

Have a look at all of these parameters and evaluate whether they are aligned with your expecations

The Product

The great part about talking to product managers is the opportunity to hear someone who is highly passionate about the product they work on and how this product can make the world better.

Of course not all places are like that. You should look at a few aspects of the product:

  1. Do you like it? Is it a product you will be proud talking about with friends? The product is your baby. You should love it and not look to spend a few years with it until it moves on to the next product manager
  2. The product stage in its life cycle – some products are already highly mature, some are at an early stages, some are on the way for pivoting and so on. Each stage in the life cycle has its own opportunities. You should evaluate whether the product is in the right stage for you. For example, let’s say you get an opportunity to be the product manager for Excel. It might be a great product, but what’s next for it? Is the product manager expected to just add more features (e.g. new types of calculations that has evolved in the last year) or is there a new type of falvor for this product such as the Office 365
  3. Your role within the product – are you going to be the only product manager working on it are will you be part of a team? What will be your role and impact in such a case?
  4. The perception of the product within the company – is it a leading product in the company? Is it the ‘black sheep’ of the company, i.e. it will be the first one to reach end of life in case the company runs out of business?

All of these are highly important to understand the likelihood that you’ll enjoy working on this product. Before joining Fiverr, I had a look at the specific area that I’ll be leading and within a few minutes I realized which type of change I would like to make which will be impactful. This is how you should feel. You will be the advocate for the product, you should have your own vision.

Career Path

And finally, there is the question of your ability to grow. What could be your next role in this company? If you would stay in the company for 5 years, how far can you reach?

For example, let’s say you join a global company and the local branch has only one product manager who is managed by a director of product abroad. Unless the local branch will grow, you’re only opportunity to grow is to either re-locate or to switch to another position on the site.

You will need to evaluate both the current structure and the likelihood that the company will grow. If the company will grow, you can grow with it. If it won’t grow, you will need to see which type of opportunities you can have in the current structure.

Putting it All Together

As mentioned, there are 4 types of parameters for evaluation:

  1. Personal development
  2. Compensation
  3. The product
  4. Career Path

The first thing to do, is to ask yourself before even going into the details of each opportunity, how important each of these parameters for you and decide on some weight.

Then, you can score each opportunity (e.g. I used a 1-5 scale) and see what is the total score each opportunity got. Have a look at the outcome – does it make sense to you? It’s a good way to see if you had the right criteria when evaluating.

But don’t just let the math make the decision. Try also to write down a PRFAQ for your new role. PRFAQ stand for Public Relations + Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a process which Amazon has developed which states that before working on a product, you should have in mind how the end result will look like. So before making a choice, think about the following – let’s say that a year from now, you’ll be invited to lecture in a product management conference about the progress you made in the last year. What will be the title of this presentation? What would you like to showcase? Will you be excited presenting?

If the answer is yes – go for it!

Product Group Manager Onboarding

Product Group Manager Onboarding

I’m about to complete my first month on my new jobs at Sears Israel. It’s my first time as a new product group manager in a company where I didn’t grow into the role. The internet is full of onboarding plans for product managers. I used to look at them and wonder whether there are indeed work places with the patience for a 90 days onboarding plan. But I don’t recall seeing an onboarding plan for a new product group manager. So I thought of dedicating this post to my own experience – what I did, why and how it went.

As I see it, there are several elements which are essential to succeed as a product group manager:

  1. Own the vision – understand the current product/portfolio vision and if needed, push for adjustments to make it a vision you feel comfortable owning. Remember, you are the lead for the product/portfolio. The vision has to reflect your view of how to win
  2. Lead the team – you have a team for a reason – the team is here to help you realize the vision. The team should be the one focusing on the day-to-day execution, giving you the bandwidth to think further ahead
  3. Manage stakeholders – any organization has stakeholders. Stakeholders can help your product move forward and they can block you from progress. You need to be able to map your stakeholders and build the right relationships with them

 

With that in mind, joining a new company as a product group manager becomes a complex problem for several reasons:

1.  The vision is already there for a reason. If you disagree with it, you need to persuade many people that some of the thinking that was done so far was insufficient and there is room for changes

2. Your team is already an expert of their domain. You need to build a reputation that will make them want to listen to your feedback and not just continuing to do things as they were used to. Recall the ‘Who Moved my Cheese’ book – it’s not a natural human behavior to immediately change, especially if things were working so far

3. Stakeholders sometimes look for the opportunity that a manager has changed in order to gain more power over the product

 

Luckily for me, most of it wasn’t the case in Sears, and so I managed to focus on the first month on fitting into the role as I vision it, rather than deal with unnecessary politics;

  1. Vision – I started with understanding the vision and strategy of the product. The #1 thing you need to do is to get familiarized with the product. If the product is already up and running, become a user. Start reading feedback from users about the product. Go over latest status reports – what were the most urgent things that were reported. You can’t really create a vacuum. You have to ensure as smooth continuity as possible while still driving to a change. In our case, I joined at a time of attempting a pivot to the product. This is a great timing to join since it means that the vision is currently being shaped and not already dictated. In that sense, I suggested to facilitate the discussions around the vision. It’s a win-win situation since nearly always the management group lacks a bandwidth. That’s where you as a new guy with lots of bandwidth can fit in. And it has to be done now, otherwise you won’t have this bandwidth in a few months from now
  2. Team – luckily, I got a great team and I only need to think about evolving and preserving them. As I mentioned earlier, the #1 challenge is building productive relationships with them. Your goal is to find their WIFM at this point. Leadership isn’t something that can be dictated, it’s something that you need to earn. The biggest source of power that you used to have, which is domain knowledge, is no longer there to help you in a new place. So which other sources you can use?
    1. Vision – if you managed to make a good progress with vision, go ahead and use it. If you have a more compelling vision than the current one, people will want to follow you
    2.  Professionalism – most likely, you’re a more experienced product manager. Try to use that for your advantage. For example, if you spot something that they challenge with, suggest an approach
    3. Listen – use your interpersonal skill set and be a great listener. There is always something which is not perfect. Hear them out and try to suggest concrete ideas. It will be even better if you could suggest to take care of some of these if it’s part of your role. For example, help out in building a strategy on how to expand the number of developers working on a specific product. In the process of listening, try to ask powerful questions. Powerful questions can help the other side to think a bit more about the situation. If you can cause your team, through powerful questions, to re-think their approach, they will probably continue to reach out to you for advise
    4. Show interest – make sure that they feel appreciated and that everything they do is important to you. Praise them when necessary. Remember, this is the team that should provide you with bandwidth in the future. Use the power of feedback in order to make adjustments in how they operate so you can become an effective team
  3. Identify uncharted areas and deep dive into those – there are always areas, especially in small companies, which are currently not taken care of. In my previous company, a new QA manager deep dived into the domain of applicative monitoring and set up eventually a team that raised the bar on quality and monitoring of outcomes. Similarly, you should be looking for such areas in your new company. Currently, I’m looking into the support process to see how we can improve the experience there
  4. Stakeholders – our team is split between the US and Israel. I’m currently focusing on improving the relationships with our US partners. One of the common questions I started asking is ‘how can I be of help’. The second thing I keep on doing is giving direct opinion – if I sense that something isn’t working properly, it’s a good opportunity to state it and make the other side involved. As I recently labeled it, I’m trying to make them ‘pigs’ instead of ‘chickens’.
  5. Get to know the data – I’m a data driven product manager. Data is king. I need to be familiar with it in order to make educated decisions rather than gut feeling. It’s a long process, so I didn’t put it as #1 priority to understand all dimensions of the data, but gradually I’m taking upon myself more and more tasks to get familiar with the data

One notable thing which I’m intentionally minimizing is understanding the domains in-depth. At this point, I’m assuming my team can take care of it and I can gradually deep dive.

There is a lot to learn and it’s important to know where to put your focus on. I don’t believe in holding for 90 days before showing results. Results of course will be better later on, but this is your opportunity to reflect your personality into the new role.

The good news – so far I’m loving every minute of it 🙂

 

 

Building Your PM Brand

Building Your PM Brand

“If you wan’t it, you can have it

But you’ve got to learn to reach out there and grab it”(Weezer, Photographs)

Think about a product you like. What makes this product so special to you? Most likely, it’s the value that the product brings to you, right? We are product managers, this is what we’ve been trained to do – think of how to deliver more value to the customers.

Now think about yourself as a product – do you properly communicate the value that you have to bring?

It’s highly important as a product manager to think about your branding.  After few friends heard that I found a new job, it immediately turned to the question of how it can be done, and more specifically, how to improve your LinkedIn profile.

Think about it – if a head hunter is looking for a good candidate, he has a very wide selection of product managers that can be found on LinkedIn. What is the reason for him to turn to you? Your KPI at this point is purely acquisition – you want the head hunter to see your profile and think it’s interesting enough to reach out. From that point on, it’s a different story on how to make progress in the interview process.

So let’s manage it like we would manage any metric – set a baseline, think of ways to improve, experiment and pivot if necessary. If head hunters reach out to you, then you probably done something good.

Where should I start?

Start with the overview section in your profile. Afrer looking at a few LinkedIn profiles, I noticed several common mistakes:

  1. Overview holds only a description of the company or the product or the team that worked on the product – this is about your brand, not on the company, the product or the team. You can describe them as context, but it’s more about you. You are the product. Head hunters are looking to hear about you. They’re not looking at your profile to recruit the product team or to buy your product. They are interested in you! Are you describing what it is that you did?
  2. Too generic description of a product manager – don’t hold a generic description. Otherwise, you will be considered a commodity. People buy commodity products when they aren’t interested in quality but they look for a low cost product.  Do you really want to position yourself as a common PM aiming for a minimum wage position? Even if  you did, companies aren’t willing to give up on the quality of product managers. For example, don’t describe your self as the one responsible for defining the requirements for the development team. You need to focus on the things that made your work unique. For example, what was special in the way you gathered requirements – were you running surveys with users? Were you conducing analysis to find the most impactful features? What was your contribution to key metrics of the product? Be creative! Think of different dimensions that will make you stand out
    yogi
  3. Reflect your passion – companies are looking for people which match the company DNA. What does your profile say about you? What are your passions? What are you strengths? Make it stand out. Think of the products you bought which looked like they matched your aspirations – whether it’s something from the supermarket that had someone smiling at you from the package. Or it had a relevant color. Or the name raised some association. This is what you’re trying to do – have your profile reflect you and why a reader should approach you for further details

 

Checked! What’s next?

  1. Look at your work history. Does it reflect the right things you want people to know about you. Is it relevant information? For example, if you were a bus driver at some point, it’s most likely irrelevant unless you are now a product manager working on a product aimed for bus drivers. If it’s irrelevant and took place long time ago, drop it or just mention the title with no details. If it’s relevant, highlight it. And by highlighting, again, don’t focus on the company/product/team. You can mention them as a context, but eventually focus about you. What did you do that made the product better? Which type of experience did you get from it? Did you build a roadmap? If so, mention it. Did you present to C-Level executives? If so, mention it. Did you get to present in conferences? If so, mention it. And so on
  2. Don’t be shy about presenting additonal aspects of yourself – I admit that as a recruiter, if there was something special mentioned in the CV or profile, it usually gave extra points. For examlpe, vonlunteering experience, rewards, re-location periods, etc.
  3. Don’t be ashamed about failures – failures are a great way to evolve. If you had a startup that haven’t materialized, mention it. The fact you tried already differs you from many other product managers.

 

How to track it?

Have a look at your # of weekly views report on LinkedIn. Do you see an uprising trend? If so, you did something good. If not, think about what else could stand out.

You can also engage more with LinkedIn to increase the likelihood that you will surface. For example, post or share. I also noticed that when I give recommendations, I stand out.

 

Bottom Line

Experiment! Do it like you would do to your proudct. Build-Measure-Learn. Think of the ways that will make you stand out. Look at other products and look for inspiration. And don’t forget to make it unique. You want to look like the perfect match for a position. Just like you would like your product to stand out for your potential market

 

The Leaving Speech

The Leaving Speech

Yesterday was my last day at ebay. It’s been great 6 years in which I learned, evolved, enjoyed, made friends.

As I started thinking about my farewell speech, I recalled a concept I recently heard of called ‘the leaving speech‘. The concept is interesting –  given that we no longer in an era where people start a work and 40-50 years later retire from the same place, we might as well acknowledge it and do the best to ensure our employees make the best out of the time they will be in the company for the success of the company as well as for their own development. By the time the employee will decide it’s time to move forward, she should look proudly at the achievements she made and wish for another work place at that caliber. The concept then suggests to have such a speech with new employees on their first few days on the job.

I’m thinking it should be slightly different and instead of the first few days before, as a manager, you actually get to know your employee, it should be about 3-4 month after she has started. This way, you get to know what motivates her and then you can make it a win-win situation – given that (a) you know what the company wants to achieve (b) you know what the employee wants (c) you know what the employee is capable of, it’s a good time to have such a speech that will take all 3 elements and visualize the ideal future.

So as I was thinking about my speech, I wanted to retroactively have a leaving speech with the past me from 6 years ago.  I used this list of motivators to come up with the top 4 for me and then I figured what I would visualize to myself in such a meeting:

  1. Goal (My purpose in life is reflected in the work that I do) – I want to make a positive impact on the world. I want to have happier people in the world as a result of the work that I do. When I joined ebay, our goal was to understand what we have on our shelves. I was part of the team who led us from understanding 3.5% of the inventory to 54% of the inventory. But inventory isn’t a human being. And so I did my best to occasionally having conversations with users. When you realize the impact on users, you can directly correlate the work that you do to other users as well. And that’s when you realize you made an impact
  2. Power (There’s enough room for me to influence what happens around me) – that’s the beauty of leading a product group; by definition, you have a team which you should lead. It’s an art. And when you occasionally zoom out and realize how the features that you drew on a whiteboard are now in production and users are actually using them for their benefit are the times when you realize the power that you have. Great career choice 🙂
  3. Relatedness (I have good social contacts with the people in and around my work) – when you go to work, you want to make good connections. There will be people who you will usually sit down for lunch with, those that you will play sport with, those that you’ll sit next to in a company event, etc. That’s important. But more importantly are true friends. And when you find a work place in which you can make good friends, all the rest doesn’t matter. There is a nice phrase saying – ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’. Find those friends. It will make your company a synonym for home
  4. Honor (I feel proud that my personal values are reflected in how I work) – there are a lot of things that I believe in. I have my own set of values. I believe in people, I want to be there and help them to unlock their potential. It’s a ‘Pay it Forward’ concept – help a few, they will help a few and so on. It’s a scalable approach to make the world a better and happier place. I had the chance throughout the year to mentor quite a few people, and I got to see them unlock their potential. You have a proud moment when someone tells you that they were thinking how you would react in a complex case and actually do it, or that they say that they picked up something from you

 

I’ll never forget ebay. It’s was a great journey, and now it’s time for a new one. By the end of the year I’ll try to do myself a leaving speech. It will be a fun exercise to write in a place such as futureMe and remind myself on my own premise