Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Persistence: key to success

Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) provides an excellent source or information. It covers stock markets, mutual funds, commodities and investing in general, as well as important industry topics and current issues in government and society (both nationally and internationally). However, IBD’s most engaging section to me is Leadership & Success (L&S). This section first attracted me to IBD and has held my attention for years.

Each day in the L&S section you will find 10 Secrets To Success. The fifth secret highlights the need to be persistent and work hard: “success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up” it states.

Persistence is one of the key characteristics of great leaders. Gaining it requires determination, a mindset that — no matter what happens — you will stick to your principles and goals. Persistence in leadership can be compared to running a marathon. To run a successful marathon you have to spend ample time (months) preparing. The time you spend, and what you do leading up to the race, will determine how well you perform during the race. And given the length of a marathon (26.2 miles, 42 kilometers), persistence is absolutely necessary to finishing the race.

Where running marathons is concerned, however, real success comes not from preparing and running single marathon, but from continued training, learning and determination. It’s the continuation of marathons that becomes the marathon.

Achieving success requires a continuation of effort. Mark Sanborn calls this Staying Power. When you face a big project, you spend time preparing and then exert increased effort to finish on time and with high quality. When you finish you do not pat yourself on the back as if you have “arrived” but you look forward to the next opportunity. You may (and should) take time to celebrate after completing a successful project, but the next day you get up and go back to ‘training’ for the next big project, just like you would train for the next race. It’s the continuation of successes that becomes the success.

Success is the journey, not the destination.

The Product Management Perspective: Persistence is a requirement for product managers. Obtaining the right inputs, understanding the market problems, determining the best way your product will solve those problems, creating requirements and defining releases (among other things) requires tremendous persistence. You do it, and then you do it again. Keep moving forward, be persistent, and while you’re at it, enjoy the journey!

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Great ideas

The Leadership and Success section of Investors Business Daily provides an excellent source of ideas and information for leaders. One of its highlights is the IBD’s 10 Secrets to Success section, a short article about one of  ten traits they have identified in successful people from all walks of life.

In today’s edition of IBD, Adelia Cellini Linecker writes about what it takes to make great ideas happen (the full article is available on Yahoo! Finance). “Great business ideas are seldom hatched in a boardroom. Blockbuster products are born when you hit the pavement and see firsthand what people need and want.” The ideas for this article come from the book Tuned In. Adelia identifies six actions to help you get tuned in to what people want:

  • Find openings
  • Study
  • Understand buyers
  • Create experiences
  • Communicate
  • Connect.

Phil Myers, co-author of Tuned In, stresses the need to to find market problems first, then decide which solutions customers will pay for. This approach leads to success. He says: “Be consistent about observing what’s going on in the marketplace; talk to people who may … have an inkling that they can be your customer.” Find a way to solve their problems and they will gladly pay you for it.

The Product Management Perspective: Great ideas, that turn into great products and even businesses, come from a deep understanding of the market. Product managers play a strategic role in identifying market needs and developing the ideas into product definitions. Working with their teams, they create products that people will gladly pay money to have.