Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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The most important relationship

I rarely write about personal things on this blog, but a confluence of events caused me to change what I wanted to write about this morning: my family situation, a podcast and a blog post. I wanted to diverge a bit from writing about leadership in the business world and focus on THE most important relationship – marriage.

Debbie (my wife) and our children are away this weekend, and I miss them when they’re gone. The solitude has given me lots of time to reflect on how much I love being with my family, and how important my marriage is in every aspect of my life. Nothing is more important to me than Debbie, and my children are a close second. I believe (and hope) that you have similar relationships in your life.

While running this morning I listened (for the 3rd time) to a podcast about the business of marriage. In this short podcast, my friend Dr. Paul and his guest give great insight into the importance of the marriage relationship. I highly recommend you take the time to listen. (He has lots of great podcasts on his Live on Purpose Radio site.)

The third thing was reading today’s blog post by Michael Hyatt that asks the question what are you doing to protect your marriage? He gives three actions he takes to protect his own marriage, and I recommend you read them. Even if you’re not married his information will help you. Take the time to read.

I really hope you’ll spend time looking into the resources I’ve linked here. There’s so much more to life than work. I realize you may not be married or maybe you’re marriage isn’t ideal, but if you’ll set goals and work hard, you’ll find true happiness in this most important relationship.


The Product Management Perspective: Sometimes product managers become “married” to their products. It’s happened to me a time or two in my career. It’s not worth it. If you’re focused more on your work and products than you are to the people most important in your life, take a step back, reevaluate and make some changes.


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Five championship strategies

One of the most amazing sports records in the history of all sports is 401 wins and 9 losses. This is the career record of Larry Gelwix, coach of the Highland High rugby team (Salt Lake City) for more than three decades. This team was featured in the recent movie Forever Strong. Larry recently recorded a podcast with my friend Dr. Paul on Live on Purpose Radio. During this conversation Larry shares the strategies that have made his teams successful through the years.

What struck me the first time I listened to this podcast is how beautifully these principles apply to product management, to leadership and to life in general. They have obviously worked for Larry and his rugby teams throughout the years.
Here are the five championship strategies:
  1. Choose what team you’re going to play for. Decide what ‘jersey’ you’re going to wear in life, in love, in business, in relationships. Where is your loyalty? Where is your heart? Figure it out, make a decision and don’t look back.
  2. Don’t play with snakes. Every situation has a right and wrong; choose the right.
  3. Hit the field running. Attitude and effort are more important than natural ability. Attitude and effort are more important than natural smarts. Attitude and effort separate the champs from the chumps. Attitude follows behavior; if you want to change your attitude, change your behavior.
  4. Expect to win. Larry spells ‘win’ as an acronym, W.I.N., which stands for “what’s important now.” Look at every situation and ask, “what do I need to accomplish?” Then ask, “what’s important now?” We need to look ahead and have goals for future success, and make choices right now that take us in that direction.
  5. Focus on the final score. Focus on the end game; focus on who you want to be; focus on what you ultimately want to achieve. In life we all write the script of the final person we want to be. If my final score is who I want to be — a man or woman of integrity, of honesty, of virtue, of hard work, of ethics — then I can sustain setbacks and difficulties that come.

Living these five championship strategies will make an incredible difference in your success. As Larry says: “these strategies work!” He has proven this as a coach and as a successful CEO. Don’t miss this podcast; you’ll be glad you listened.


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A marvelous journey

I’m away this week, so I “pre-loaded” my blog with a link to a great post.

On his podcast, Dr. Paul talks with John and Amy Simmons who share an amazing story about adopting children from Russia. This podcast is not about leadership or product management; however, it’s a powerful story that is worth taking time to hear. I highly recommend The Marvelous Journey Home.


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Knowledge is power

To what do you attribute your success?

This question was answered in a very interesting fashion on a on a podcast where Dr. Paul interviews Dayna Steele, a lively author and former rock-n-roll disk jockey in Houston. In the interview Dayna talks about meeting and associating with rock stars like Jon Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar and other rock legends. She provides interesting insight into their lives, how they think and what drives them.

In her book Rock to the Top Dayna talks about what drives these famous rock stars to be successful. What most caught my attention was her answer to the question posed above. She used Gene Simmons, from the band Kiss, as an example: Gene said he attributes his success to his ‘voracious’ reading habit; he reads every chance he gets. Dayna then quoted Fortune article she’d read where Warren Buffett said the same thing. Two very different people, both successful in very different ways, attribute their success to their appetite for reading and gaining knowledge.

The third item in the Five Factors of Leadership asserts that knowledge is power, when (and only when) it is applied. When the knowledge is applied it increases the success of the person applying it as well as those whom he/she leads.

Consequently, success comes from combining three important aspects of knowledge:

  • Reading: Acquiring new ideas
  • Thinking: Reflecting on the impressions gained through reading
  • Acting: Applying the knowledge gained through effort and hard work.

The combination of these actions will improve your success.


The Product Management Perspective: The process of defining and creating successful products requires a commitment to understanding your markets and the role (or position) your products will play therein. Gaining this understanding requires reading, thinking and acting. As the product manager, you are in a unique position to improve your company’s standing (i.e. power) in the marketplace through acquiring and applying knowledge.


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Create value for others

If you want to succeed, create value for other people. This principle has been taught by many leadership gurus and success coaches for decades.

My friend Dr. Paul discusses the concept of creating value for others in a recent podcast episode. If you get really clear about what you love and what you do well, and you share it with others and create value for them, it will come back to you. Here’s a short clip from that interview that illustrates this point:

Another great example of creating value for others is Chris Brogan. Chris has one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, and a tremendous following on Twitter. In an recent post by another great example of creating value — David Meerman Scott — Chris shares one of the secrets to his success: “the number one thing I do with both Twitter and blogging is I’m helpful.” He finds information that’s useful to his readers/followers. He asks questions and engages people in his conversations. Chris focuses on helping others, and in doing so increases his brand and his value. Check out the interview on David’s blog.

This concept is not a secret. It’s not magic. It’s not only available to really popular people like Chris, David or Dr. Paul. Creating value for others is a principle that works if you go about it with the real intent to help others. Make it real and you will lose yourself in the fun of creating value for others.


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you create value for customers through creating great products. You create value for your teams by providing requirements they understand and a product direction they trust. To the extent you focus on helping others with whom you associate, you will help yourself.


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Lift others

The best thing you can do to elevate yourself is to lift others: lift their spirit with a kind word, lift their hope with a positive reaction, lift their burden by helping them in times of need. The act of lifting others causes you to feel better and to improve.

Yesterday my friend Todd sent out a wish for his own birthday (via video on Facebook). His wish was that everyone would find at least one other person and make his or her day better. In his video he talked about hugging his stressed-out accountant and giving an extra big tip to a young lady at a restaurant; both simple acts that produced positive results.

Last night I listened to Dr. Paul’s interview with Steve Farber about the concept of helping others to be greater than yourself. It occurred to me that this principle is not only good for individuals who want to feel better and be happier, but it is also important for leaders who want to elevate their organizations to new levels. Ultimately it becomes cultural. When leaders go out of their way to help others, and they encourage their people to do the same, their organizations flourish.

Take a few minutes today to make a difference for someone else; leave a comment and let us know about your experience.

The Product Management Perspective: To some degree — because of the nature of the job — product managers work independently of each other. You have your products and your teams you work with (outside of the product management team), and it takes most of your time to keep things going. Even though you’re busy and have little to no extra time, it’s worth the extra effort to help others. Major dividends come from helping other PMs on your team. I recently worked with a group of product managers who are very busy and whose time is limited. However, they spend time as a team, share ideas and support each other in moving Product Management forward in their company. They lift each other in small ways that reap big returns. Look for ways you can do the same for your team.


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Ethics and family values

Would you ever think to associate a con man with one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents? Most of you have probably heard the story of Frank W. Abagnale, which was written in a book and later immortalized in a movie called Catch Me If You Can created by Steven Spielberg starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Both the book and the movie focus primarily on Frank’s life from age 16 through 21, the time he pulled off some incredibly illegal and unethical acts. The more amazing and inspiring story is what Frank did with his life after he served his time in prison.

You can hear Frank tell his own story (which differs somewhat from the movie) on the Live on Purpose Radio blog. In the next episode — Catching Frank Abagnale — you can listen to Dr. Paul interview Frank about his views on ethics, family and other important topics: “What [Frank] has done … can illuminate the principles that could bring some enormous power into your life if you are willing to be taught from his deep bank of experience.

Steven Spielberg said: “I did not immortalize Frank Abagnale on film because of what he did 40 years ago as a teenager; I immortalized him on film because of what he’s done for his country these past 30 years.” Some people tell Frank he was brilliant or a genius. He disagrees; had he been brilliant he would have found some other way to survive. He talks about his love for his parents and for his country. He tells how the love of his wife turned his life around. It’s an intriguing and inspiring story that is well worth listening to.

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