Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


3 Comments

Value comes from work

Have you ever noticed that (in most cases) when you receive something for free you put less value on it than you otherwise would? This is especially true when the ‘gift’ comes from a person or entity with whom you have no relationship. No doubt you are thankful to have something new and have the opportunity to use it for its intended purpose, but after a few days or weeks have passed the value is usually gone. A few examples will illustrate:

  • Children and toys: When parents give a child every toy she wants, she gets bored with them and they end up scattered all around the house. Every time they take her to a store she cries for the new toy. Conversely, a child who has assigned chores that result in the right to buy a new toy will value the toy and wear it out playing.
  • Teenagers and cars: When parents buy their teenager a brand new car for his 16th birthday, he’s no doubt happy to have the car, but too often doesn’t take good care of it and crashes it or burns up the engine (or does something else to ruin it). On the contrary, when a young man works, saves the money and buys his own car, he takes great measures of care for the car.
  • They family business: Too often when it comes time to pass a family business the next generation the recipient is not prepared. When this happens it’s usually because he or she has not carried the responsibility of the business and does not have the work ethic his or her parents had. Too often the business fails because the heirs did not learn the value of hard work. Granted, in many cases the hard-working parents who created a successful business took the time and effort to teach their children to work and the transition goes smoothly, but unfortunately that is not always the case.

If you really want to value something you have to work for it. Ultimately you will not find joy in what you do without working diligently, and you cannot achieve success without making a concerted effort. As Vince Lombardi so eloquently said: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

For me it’s simple: when you invest your time and your own money, talents, resources and effort into creating or improving some thing, you value the end results. It’s simple but true.


The Product Management Perspective: Nothing comes easy in product management. However, when PMs work diligently, and effectively with their teams, they find satisfaction in the resulting success of the products, and ultimately the company.


Leave a comment

Preparing to win

One of the most well known, yet least practiced principles of success is the need to prepare. Regardless of the pursuit, if you want to succeed and feel the thrill that comes from winning (however you define ‘winning’), you need to prepare ahead of time. As the marathon runner Juma Ikanga said after winning the New York Marathon: “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.” You can want to win more than anyone else in the world; yet if you do not want to put in the work to prepare, it will not matter.

When you consider successful leaders whom you admire, and think about what they did to achieve greatness, it may seem like things come easily to them. Over time, no doubt things do come more easily. However, most if not all great leaders have learned this truth spoken eloquently by Vince Lombardi: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” So the next time you are contemplating why things seem to come easy for others, just remember they most likely spent a lot of time somewhere along the way preparing for what they are accomplishing today.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers face an interesting challenge: they are responsible for the success of their products, yet the people they rely on to get their products successfully out the door do not (usually) report to them. This situation lends itself to planning and preparation. Take the time upfront to prepare, and do the work necessary to make your products successful.


2 Comments

Exercising enthusiasm

People feed off the enthusiasm of those around them. Leaders who love what they do and show it by their expressions, actions and tone, endear themselves to those around them. Seth Godin is spot on in his recent post about why this is not the time to ask for money. He says: “Attention can be worth more than money. Enthusiasm is priceless.”

Exercising enthusiasm takes hard work. Vince Lombardi said it well: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Enthusiasm leads to success only after a lot of hard work and persistence. The news is largely negative these days, but don’t let that stop you from being happy about the good things in life, or passionate about your favorite team, or excited about the successes of your family and friends. When times are tough, look for the positives and focus on helping others see them. Others will come to you for advice and look to you for leadership.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers need to find ways to motivate the teams they work with. Lead on Purpose is all about finding ways to lead and inspire other people — over whom you have little or no managerial authority — to do things better and faster than they thought possible. The ‘rah-rah’ cheer leading approach will not fly, but the focus and work will. Remember Lombardi’s quote.