Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Leave a comment

Your Passion is Your Greatest Asset, Learn How to Harness It

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job. The multitude of trials and setbacks are not for the faint-hearted. However, it can also be the most rewarding career, though you need to give you all that you’ve got to actually make your business a success.

Choosing to take the path of entrepreneurship can be very difficult – starting from obtaining legal documents to managing your workforce. The difficulties also rise to new heights as you progress, so it is only important that you have a burning passion for your company so that you can overcome those difficult situations graciously.

Your passion-intro Continue reading


6 Ways to Choose the Best Employees

Guest post by Jon Spivey

The best employees help your company to thrive and achieve its greatest potential. So to reach your potential, you must put effort into finding and choosing the best employees for your company. Consider these six tips.

Look Outside Traditional Channels

If you place a job ad, you can expect to quickly receive hundreds of resumes. Most applicants won’t have the skills and abilities you’re seeking. Career fairs can be helpful, but there’s no guarantee that there’s enough talent to choose from. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Three Ways to Get Your Team Excited About a Boring Product

Guest post by Guy Ascher

It’s hard to get amped up about selling razor blades, but somehow Dollar Shave Club has pulled it off. It’s one of the most successful new startup companies and it sells items that most people couldn’t give two hoots about. The secret is in the marketing. If you sell a boring product – toilet paper, pens, razors, water bottles, fishing supplies – you need to figure out a way to excite your employees. If they’re not excited, they can’t sell your company. If they can’t sell your company, you’re going to be out of business in short-order.

Tell A Story About Your Product

One of the best ways to breathe life into a boring product is to give it a story. It doesn’t always work, but most products do have one. Maybe your company started out of your parent’s basement. You were tinkering with your bedroom fan, and you figured out how to get those blades to spin 30 per cent faster.

You blew up a few test fans in the process but, at the end of the day, you had yourself the coolest room in the whole house. Later on, you decided to see if you could create massive fans for other people that would replace expensive air conditioning units. After several years – success.

Sound like a silly story? Maybe it is, but it’s the kind of thing really does exist out there. By the way, there is a company out there with an interesting fan story – it’s called “Big Ass Fans.” They make industrial and residential fan units that are unlike any other fan you can buy. Are employees excited about selling the company? You bet they are.

Create An Emotional Experience

Part of selling involves getting your prospects emotionally committed to your marketing message. If your prospects aren’t invested, they won’t care what you have to say. Creating an emotional experience can be tough, but one of the best ways to pull it off is to personalize your marketing messages.

Use surveys as a barrier to your email list. Make users fill out a short survey. Why? So you can provide customized advice about their problem. Most people are comfortable with answering a few questions, especially if the payoff is personalized service. No one wants to be “just another number.”

Another way to connect emotionally with your audience is to use high-quality video. Try to communicate your message with music and stunning visuals. Usually, this will win out over an obvious sales pitch. For example, the “embrace life” promotion is an ad that shows the benefits of wearing your seat belt.

The visuals are stunning and, even though there’s no dialog in the video, the message is crystal-clear.

Create a Personality For Your Company

How do you create a personality surrounding your company when you sell something as boring as contact lenses? The same way Apple creates its personality when selling something as “boring” as a computer. In the 1980s, no one used computers the way they do now. Apple was a key player in getting the marketplace excited about a hunk of metal, some plastic, and a keyboard.

The same can be said of Zappos. Who gets excited about shoes? These people do. Find something that you can use as a point of differentiation. Maybe you offer premium-quality products that are visually stunning. Maybe you have the best customer service in the world – and can prove it.

Whatever your angle, create a personality or “gimmick” surrounding your products and your company. It’ll make it a lot easier for our employees to get jazzed up about something that’s otherwise not very exciting.

Guy Ascher studied Marketing at the University of Newcastle in the UK. After years of working for marketing firms in Manchester, London and then eventually New York, he moved on to consulting small businesses on a their marketing needs. His articles focus on helping smaller businesses compete with well-established brands using new techniques or technology.

The Product Management Perspective: The key to making your product exciting is to make sure it’s the best product in the market. Focusing on sound product management principles will help you focus on this goal.

Leave a comment

Does loving your job make you a better leader?

I recently attended a keynote address by Dr. Craig Manning, sports performance coach and author of The Fearless Mind. He talked about how 10% of our brain is the conscious, and 90% is the subconscious. As we practice and perform, the things we learn in our conscious mind flow into our subconscious and result in our naturally doing what we train our mind to do.

What struck me the most was his emphasis on the importance of loving what you do, and focusing on what you love. That is the key to becoming great at your chosen vocation.

This experience made me think of a blog series I called The LOVE of Leadership. Here the word ‘love’ is used as an acronym that describes the behaviors that, if practiced, bring out the best in the people you lead:

As you strengthen these competencies—so they come out naturally from your subconscious—you will see a noticeable improvement in the success of your people and your organization.

To learn more about the science behind these powerful principles I highly recommend Dr. Manning’s book The Fearless Mind.

The Product Management Perspective: Most product managers I know love their job. This helps them work more effectively with people from other teams. Your love for your job and products will communicate a positive message to the teams you work with and the customers who use your products.

1 Comment

Letting Others Lead

Guest post by Jason Miner

There is more to being a leader than simply assigning tasks for subordinates and making ruling judgments. A leader relies on his or her own confidence and knowledge in order to accomplish the task at hand. He or she needs to be able to quickly analyze a situation and have the tenacity to complete the project regardless of surrounding situations. The leader needs to be approachable, but command the respect of subordinates. Conversely, a good leader needs to realize when to step back and let others take responsibility. For the benefit of everyone involved and the success of the project, sometimes it is better to for leaders to yield to others. Here are three reasons why stepping back will benefit you in the long run:

  1. Success – A good leader understands what needs to be done in order to succeed in the project at hand. If he or she is unable to accomplish a successful outcome due to insufficient knowledge, then it might be in the best interest of everyone to allow a subordinate to lead the project who does. Delegating a subordinate to take the helm who has more experience in the specific task proves that the leader can see the sum of his or her assets within the organization. You wouldn’t delegate an experienced auto-mechanic to work on domain login authentications if you had an experienced network administrator within the group.
  2. Sacrifice – It may take swallowing of your pride in order to admit to yourself that a subordinate’s skill in a specific area surpasses your own. In order to complete projects in a timely manner while decreasing the chance of failure, stepping aside and delegating the task to this individual will lead to the success of the project. Sacrificing your pride for the good of the whole is one of the reasons why you are the leader.
  3. Experience – While unknown variables happen continuously throughout life, a leader can recognize the difference between being able to overcome an obstacle and not having a clue as to what the next step should be. If a subordinate has handled the situation successfully before, then it stands to reason he or she may have a solution that could benefit the team and the project. Letting someone else take command when you clearly are unable to handle the situation is a lesson in humility and judgment. As long as you’ve learned from the situation, you add yet another piece of knowledge in order to make you a better leader.

Stepping aside to allow a more skilled person take the reins throughout the project doesn’t mean you have failed in anyway. On the contrary, it means you are doing everything you can to make sure the task succeeds. Removing yourself doesn’t have to be a permanent situation as long as you learn from the experience and grow as a leader. Don’t allow your pride to be the downfall of your subordinates, the project, or your own self-worth.

 Jason Miner plays a vital role for http://www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this an even better place for bloggers.

1 Comment

Improving management effectiveness

One of the primary themes of Lead on Purpose is leading effectively regardless of whether you are in a position of authority – in a ‘management’ position. That will continue to be a primary topic for this blog. However, I was recently introduced to a new tool that will help managers and leaders of small to large groups direct their teams more effectively. The tool is called ThEME.


Elizabeth Haas Edersheim and her team created the ThEME tool to connect you to the “greats of management.” It is an interactive tool for accessing the wisdom and practical experience of great management thinkers and practitioners – both the gurus of the past and today’s pathfinders. Its integrated framework of the elements of management effectiveness provides users easy access to quotes, video clips, anecdotes, and exercises on any element of management.

Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

“Good is the enemy of Great.” –Jim Collins

“Don’t confuse motion with progress.” –Peter Drucker

“The societal disease of our time—short-term thinking.” –Warren Bennis

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.” –Steve Jobs

The ThEME tool will help you gather the specific information you need to manage effectively.

The Product Management Perspective: If you are leading a team of product managers, set clear goals and make sure your team knows what’s expected of them. Product management focuses on releasing the right products to the right markets at the right time; set both financial and operational goals for your product line. Build strong relationships with your team. They need to know, without any hesitation, that you have their backs and will do everything you can to help them succeed. Build relationships of trust.


The LOVE of leadership: Experience

The practice of love in the context of leadership is both powerful and necessary. Steve Farber describes this clearly in his audio book Extreme Leadership: In Pursuit of the OS!M. What does it mean to love the people you lead? My definition for the acronym LOVE embodies the actions necessary to cultivate positive behaviors that lead to successful results:

  • L – Listen
  • O – Observe
  • V – Value
  • E – Experience

The word experience functions as both a noun an a transitive verb. Among the noun definitions is: direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge. The verb definition includes: to learn by experience. Both emphasize the need to engage in the activities and efforts of others. They imply action. The act of experiencing connotes an exertion of effort on the part of the leader to work on a level that the people they lead (or manage) will see them functioning at their level. This will help them gain confidence in the motives that drive their leader.

Trust is a key factor of success in every organization. As a leader you need to conduct yourself in a way that the people whom you lead will trust you. By the same token, you need to trust the people you lead to do what they say they will do. As you experience their work you will gain insight into what motivates them to do great things and they will trust you and discern your integrity.

practical-lessons-in-leadership1Leaders who spend time with their people get to know their them on a deeper level. This goes both ways. In their book Practical Lessons in Leadership, the authors Art Petty and Rich Petro provide excellent insight into what attributes make a great leader. Among the most important is getting to know your team. You come to know what your people want. They start seeing you as someone who cares about their ideas and careers. They want to work for you and will give their best effort.

Noting that many managers do a lousy job of spending time with their associates, Petty and Petro point out the importance getting to know them:

Nothing is more important (after understanding your mission) than providing quality time to your associates in both group and one-on-one settings. Your willingness to meet with your team and to invest your time in listening to their ideas, issues and concerns is an important tool for building your leadership credibility. The perception that ‘you care’ is powerful and priceless (p. 80).

Your ability to experience ‘a day in the life of’ the people you lead will differ depending on the size of your organization. In large organizations the CEO cannot meet with and know every employee. However, with new technology and honest effort, leaders can communicate their concern and connect with everyone who works for them.

Take action to experience life on the floor or in the cubicles of the people in your organization. Gain a deep understanding of what they do and what motivates them. Your efforts to feel what your people feel will result in unity of purpose and energy in your organization.

This is the last post in the series The LOVE of leadership. Your comments, critiques and analysis are welcome. Please leave a comment with your take on the role love plays in leadership.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers work closely with people from different parts (i.e. teams) of the organization. When you interact with other teams, make the effort to experience what they do and why they do it. Work diligently to understand how things look from their vantage point. And when you make decisions, keep in mind how the results will influence other people. Love the people you work with and inspire them to succeed.


Book Review: Greater Than Yourself

greater-than-yourself“The real pay-off comes in the giving of the knowledge, not the keeping of it.” The long-standing saying ‘knowledge is power’ has been used in many contexts. According to Steve Farber — author of GREATER THAN YOURSELF: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership — the only way for knowledge to truly lead to power in a person’s life is for that person to give it away. The reason this principle works is seemingly simple: “Everyone will want to work with you. And because of that you’ll be able to accomplish anything you set out to do.”

Greater Than Yourself follows the increasingly popular genre known as the “business parable.” What sets this book apart from others in the same genre is the main character: Steve Farber himself. Steve wraps himself and his love of guitars into the story from the beginning in combination with a cast of fictional characters that add color to the story. He draws you in to his adventure of finding the original owner of his new guitar, and through the adventure teaches you the power that comes from helping another person to become greater than yourself. The story is so compelling it keeps you reading and the combination of real and fictional characters helps you learn how to apply the principles to your own life.

The story gives character and life to a principle of truth that has existed for centuries: the more you lift others the higher you will go. This concept comes to life through the greater than yourself (GTY) framework and is fleshed out through several examples of GTY projects. The following elements combine to create the GTY framework:

  • Expand yourself: “You expand yourself in order to give yourself to others.” Shift your perspective from isolated to connected, from alone to interdependent, from me to us. Take a personal inventory of the things you do well, experiences and life-lessons that have taught propelled you to your current position and determine what you can to improve the quality and depth of your current knowledge.
  • Give yourself: “Act instead of just watching others act or hearing about it in the news.” ‘Philanthropize’ your life. Invest in relationships with other people and be clear on your intentions to make a difference in the lives of others. Promote their welfare, fortunes, success and capacity for achievement. Give away your knowledge, connections, experience, advice, life lessons and confidence. Hold others accountable for their commitments.
  • Replicate yourself: “Pay it forward, and demand that those you teach pay it forward, as well.” Ensure that your GTY efforts expand far beyond your own relationships. Challenge everyone you know to practice GTY in their professional and personal lives. Share your successes and failures with others so they can learn from your experience.

Greater Than Yourself combines a interesting story backed by a compelling idea that will absolutely make a difference. The story inspires you to keep reading and the principles come to life in such a way that you can truly grasp how to apply them in your own life. If you want to “lift all the boats” around you, read Greater Than Yourself, apply its principles personally and make someone else greater than yourself.

You can follow Steve Farber’s own GTY project at greaterthanyourelf.com, and if you’re brave enough you can add your own story to the site.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers become leaders by helping others. Using Greater Than Yourself as a model, product managers can truly build peers and people on other teams, resulting in great products that people want to buy.


Leaders are mentors

One of the key tenets of leadership is the need to pass on the knowledge and experience to others. Most great leaders throughout history have made it a priority to grow and develop other leaders who can come in, take the reins and lead more effectively.

A mentor is a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor, a coach. A mentor cares more about helping others than getting credit. A mentor seeks to make the world better through helping individuals and inspiring them to help others. In the context of helping others, a mentor seeks to:

  • Guide: Mentors teach others how to learn, how to find ways to do things themselves. When you ask your mentor questions, he or she does not give you the answers, but guides you to find the answer yourself. They teach you how to be successful by helping you become self-successful.
  • Inspire: Mentors motivate. They have high optimism and a love for life. Their energy is contagious. Mentors lead people to succeed through their own success and by encouraging others to believe they can also succeed. They set a pattern to follow.
  • Build: Mentors develop others. They provide opportunities and direction. They create structure and process to channel the growth and development of those they lead. Their goals are “other” oriented; not wanting the glory or limelight themselves, they foster the growth and success of others.

Make it a priority to find someone for whom you can be a mentor. Your efforts will help that person learn and grow. Giving your time and knowledge to others will help you develop your leadership skills.

Leaders are mentors. Mentors are leaders.

The Product Management Perspective: A key opportunity (if not specific job requirement) of a product manager is to inspire people on their team to be successful. They build products that delight their customers. They do not simply see themselves as the keeper of requirements, but the leaders of teams and causes which tie directly back to their products.

1 Comment

Time value of experience

Time value of experienceTime value of money is a widely understood and accepted concept. At its most basic level the time value of money demonstrates that, all things being equal, it is better to have a fixed amount of money today, rather than an equal amount in the future. The concepts get more complex with topics such as compounding interest, present value of annuities, future value of growing annuities, etc. (Check out Wikipedia for a detailed description.) Receiving a fixed amount of money today, rather than waiting, is valuable because you can put the money to work doing things to build wealth and prepare for the future.

That brings me to the time value of experience. What if you were to look at life experiences as if they were money? They bring value and provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to move forward and progress through your life. Experiences provide a type of life currency. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to experience things today rather than to postpone them to a later date. They will be more valuable to you now than in the future. Granted, there are many experiences you cannot control. However, for the things you can control, the sooner you have the experiences the quicker you can invest them to improving your life and to helping others. Since leadership is largely based on experience, it makes sense to acquire as much experience as soon as possible.

Take advantage of every opportunity to do things that you know you want to as soon as you can. Think about something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but for whatever reason you’ve postponed. Commit to yourself that you will do it. Having that experience today will most likely be more valuable than having the same experience in the future.