In my short Product Management career, I’ve had the fortunate opportunities of working in the personal health and book industries: my first job was helping people lose weight and maintaining their fitness + wellbeing, while my second one was making books more accessible in America.

Not bad…

I often think/dream about the future, and it’s really an exciting time to start thinking about the future. There’s a lot of cool things happening out there that are going to shape the future, but the three most exciting emerging fields for me are UAVs, IoT, and 3D Printers.

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Why do people use your product or your competitor’s product? In essence, they are trying to get a job done. But what is a job? Let’s take a look at, for good reason, the most used example: the drill vs. the hole.

Do I need a hole or do I need a drill bit?

 

 

As Harvard’s Marketing Prof. Theodore Levitt famously said:

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Mind blowing, isn’t it?

Nobody buys a product or service for their features, they buy it for their benefits or for the job they wanted solved. This reasoning was what helped me to grow from an average salesperson at Staples to one of the best performing…while I was in high school! I remember when I first started at Staples, I used to sell printers based on their features, often telling customers that Printer A could print 22ppm (pages per minute), but Printer B could print at 30ppm, but they didn’t care and chose Printer A because of its price. Once I learned that I should instead talk about how Printer B could get you back to your life sooner, then people started to cared. Nobody wanted to sit there and watch the printer print paper, they wanted their print job to be finished quickly so they could staple/bind it, and move on to the next thing.

This reasoning was what helped me to grow from an average salesperson at Staples to one of the best performing…while I was in high school! I remember when I first started at Staples, I used to sell printers based on their features.  I used to tell potential customers that Printer A could print 22ppm (pages per minute), but Printer B could print at 30ppm, but they didn’t care about ppms, just the cost. Once I learned that I should instead talk about how Printer B could get you back to your life sooner, then people started caring. Nobody wanted to sit there and watch the printer print, they wanted their print job to be done asap so they could staple/bind it, and move on to the next thing in their lives.

Sadly, I forgot this key learning while in university, but luckily got reminded about it and learned more about it through a framework calledJobs to be Done (JTBD) at, coincidently, the New York Jobs To Be Done Meetup. They more I learned about it, the more I felt it was undervalued in the world of marketing, and most importantly, in the world of product development.

Let’s look at how Jobs to be Done can help your product be the best for its customers.

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As a Product Manager, I pride myself on delivering products with some polish. The polish is the delight, that makes your users smile and want to use you again and again, beside just getting the job done. Most companies don’t add the polish, since it’s sometimes hard to measure the impact of polish/delight directly, but thankfully that’s been changing recently in B2C products, and hopefully we’ll see it more in B2B products.

While working on the ReadWell eReader app, I had to do something I was not proud of: I had to ship an ugly experience.

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An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign

 

Uber is sweeping the world, no need for me to elaborate on that since it’s so well known, and New York City is a perfect market for Uber since most people who live in Manhattan can’t afford/don’t need a car especially since you have the benefit of having a good bus and subway transportation system, and you have thousands of taxis at your disposal in case you can’t or don’t want to take public transit.

Uber is doing so well here because it has a lot of available drivers, a very easy way to access them (couple taps on the app), and it’s cheaper than the regular, yellow taxi.

But not everybody is using Uber! They are still standing out in the cold trying to find a yellow taxi!

I constantly see people on the road exhibiting this strange behavior. It can’t be that they don’t have a smartphone, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford a personal, temporary driver.

So why are people not Ubering?

Here’s what I think might be going on:

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It’s a start of a new year and you may be looking for a new challenge as part of your New Year resolutions. When looking for a new job, you would usually look at other companies that build their own products for their own customers, and most importantly, have a Product Manager position. But now you have another choice: agencies.

I’m not talking about the traditional digital/media agency here. I’m talking about a different breed. These “agencies” offer Dev and UX resources to help others build products and tend to refer to themselves as any of the following: product consultants, product development firm/shop, design firm/shop, etc.

Their main goal is to help you build a product, not just a website or a useless app.

Some of these firms either started out as an outsourced dev shop and then added design/UX to their toolkit or started out as a design/UX shop and added development to their services. Now they are looking for Product Managers!

But why?

To answer this question, I’ve spoken with a number of these product development firms, including Neo, Happy Fun Corp., Fueled, Prolific Interactive and Thoughtworks, to understand why they need Product Managers. Here’s what I’ve learned during the conversations:

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Google introduced Material Design as part of the latest version of Android OS: 5.0 Lollipop. Material Design is the most comprehensive design pattern library I’ve seen. The amount of detail covered and illustrating is amazing— Material Design painfully illustrates every interaction a user can have with an app, from colors to visual motion of widgets.

Material Design is there to ensure that whether you are using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or smartwatch, everything is uniform and standardized, so no surprises.

I think Material Design is part of the evolution of design.

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into-the-sunset

We all know there are tons of personal reasons to travel, Google even lists 1.6 billion search results for the search term “why travel”, so you know it’s important.

Other than relaxation and taking some time to recover from a hectic work life, taking vacation and travelling can make you a better person in many aspects, such as:

  • Making you more open-mind by experiencing new experiences and cultures
  • Making your brain bigger and sharper as you age by learning new languages
  • Making new friends by talking and interacting with people
  • Making you adaptable through certain experiences (i.e you lost your luggage or passport, now what?)

Even though there are a great many reasons to travel, it’s been reported ~41% of people don’t take all their vacation days for reasons such as catching up with a ton of work, not having a replacement or it looks like they are not dedicated to their job and company.

As Product Managers, we’re seen as essential to product and the organization so taking vacation is hard, but can travelling help you as a Product Manager? Can it enhance your career and make you more kick-ass in the professional life?

Without a doubt: yes!

Let’s explore how you can use traveling to be a better Product Manager so you can feel less guilty about traveling:

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From my personal experience, empathy is the one attribute that almost every single job descriptions depict as a requirement for their Product Managers.  This make sense since Product Managers are supposed to be the advocate of the user, and in order to do that, they must be able to empathize with their user, right?

Well, this author believes empathy is a piece of the puzzle, but another attribute is much more needed:

Let’s look at why:

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