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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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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Please note this is highly opinionated piece — please be aware of biases!

As you know, there are a plethora of apps out there. Some are “amazing” – they are easy to use, have useful features that make life easier, and they are a delight to use. We even tell our friends about them, or write about them. And then there are some products that are not so “amazing” – they fail in one in one of the above aspects that makes us abandon them — not good for businesses!

On my quest to understand what makes a product “amazing” and unearth a framework to help us make any product “amazing”, I’ve found one classification system that allows you to categorize products into one of the following three groups:

  • Engineering-driven,
  • Design-driven, and
  • Product-driven

Let’s dive into each of these.


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I attended a talk by Natalie Hollier back in September on Lean Product Management for Enterprises: The Art of Known Unknowns, when I saw a slide from her presentation that blew my mind.

It wasn’t that the slide had beautiful visuals or fancy transition effects, but what it had was a simplicity on how it communicated on a high level the differences between the 3 most common product development processes: Waterfall, Agile and Lean.

This image/slide was so great, I had to ask Natalie for it, and luckily she sent it to me asap!

Without further adieu, here it is…
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