After I bought our house, we had a competitor. The competitor was our neighbor next door that had this beautiful swing. I concluded that we needed to get a swing set. So, I went out and got a swing and put it together. After which, I noticed that my family wouldn’t use it. Eventually, I finally figured out that we didn’t have a shade on top. This is why my kids didn’t want to use it. The sun would shine on them if they used the swing. 

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Customer Obsessed, Not Competitor Focused

The point of this story is that I paid attention to the wrong thing. I looked at what my neighbor had rather than thinking about my customers, which is my family. It’s easy to say you focused on the goal. But when a product is released that has lots of things and features-  you might end up creating more friction points.

“However, if there’s value at the end, customers are ready to go through the friction point. More often than not, as PM’s we forget to include the delight factor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “Will this delight your users?”. This way, you know that your customers will be okay facing a few unaccounted for pain points. This is why it always pays to have a quality objective.”

Thinking Outside the Room

I started working with contractors for the first time after becoming a homeowner. You know the plumber, the electrician, the general contractor. I remember I wasn’t getting anywhere. Eventually, I realized that I needed to use the platinum rule. The platinum rule is to treat others like they want to be treated. Talk to them the way they understand.

So the point here is that it’s about owning the interaction as PM’s. For example, let’s say you need to get from one side of the forest to the other. There are two ways to go. You can carve a nice path or you can burn the forest down. Both get you to the other side. However, I prefer the option that sees you carving the nice path.

In addition, I think a PM must focus on the why. For example, I was interviewing someone right out of college and asked, “Why do you want to be a product manager?”. They responded to me by saying, “I have really good ideas that I can offer to DoorDash”. This was a problem. You need to get into product management because you love obsessing over the why. The why is this the most important thing. As I say, fall in love with the problems, not the solutions.

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