Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Leave a comment

Why leadership is an endurance race

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to truly prepare for a marathon is to train, to practice, to run. You need to get out on the road. You need to put in the miles. It takes time, it takes effort, and sometimes it hurts a lot.

As the great 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 put in the work, it will not matter.

endurance-marathon Continue reading


11 Comments

Do hard things

What does the statement “do hard things” mean to you? In its most simple form the statement can be broken down as follows: the word ‘do’ connotes action or “bring to pass;” the word ‘hard’ (in this case) means challenging or perhaps difficult; and ‘things’ can be any action, task, job or responsibility of your choice. However, there’s much more to this statement than its simple form. Doing hard things means intentionally taking action toward something that you know will not be easy, and yet the end result will far exceed the effort you will exert the pain you will suffer.

Knowing the road will not be easy, why should you do hard things? One reason stands out in my mind: doing hard things instills in you a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that you can do what you say you will do. You build self-worth from which the desire for continuous improvement springs.

St George MarathonMy most recent “do hard things” project was to run a marathon in 3:30 (three hours thirty minutes). I set the goal more than a year ago and determined to carry it out after being accepted to the St. George Marathon last spring. My previous best at St. George was 4:03 and my overall marathon PR (personal record) was 3:43. So, I knew my goal would be challenging. I trained hard running an average of 35 miles per week for 18 weeks. I improved my diet and nutrition, learned what I could do to improve my endurance, and studied the race course to set a strategy for averaging a pace of eight minutes per mile. The marathon runner Juma Ikanga said after winning the New York Marathon: “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.” I knew I had to prepare well if I were going to ‘win’ my race (i.e. reach my goal).

Fortunately everything came together as planned. The day was picture perfect and the race went as planned. I finished in 3:30:31. The training was hard. The race was hard. The last five miles were especially grueling. However, the feelings I experienced during the entire process, and especially after the race, were incredible. It was a great sense of accomplishment.

With that said, one additional — extremely important — aspect of doing hard things is this: make sure you have support from people who care about your success. Without my support team there is no way I could have reached my goal. I would not have succeeded without help from the following:

  • God, for giving me everything I have.
  • My dear wife Debbie, who despite thinking I was crazy for running a marathon, gave her complete support and encouragement to me throughout the entire process.
  • My children for not hugging me after I would come home from a training run, but who always hugged me after I showered.
  • My sister Jen for running several long training runs with me, and pushing me during the race.
  • Other friends and family for continually asking me how the training was going and giving me encouragement along the way.
  • Golden at the Runner’s Corner for convincing me to try a new, much lighter pair of shoes. He promised I’d gain at least five minutes during the run. I think it was at least ten.
  • Duane Newman for helping me understand the course and map out a pacing strategy for the race.
  • Many others who have encouraged me along the way.

Running the St. George marathon was an awesome experience and confirmed what I already knew: I can do hard things.

I recommend always having a “do hard things” project on which you are working. Doing so will provide continuous learning and motivation. Don’t shy away; do hard things.


Leave a comment

Leadership and endurance

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to truly prepare for a marathon is to train, to practice, to run. You need to get out on the road. You need to put in the miles. It takes time, it takes effort, and sometimes it hurts a lot. 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.

A great example of enduring leadership was Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. From as early as 1765 Adams called for America’s split from England; a decade before the Revolutionary War started. A recent IBD article illustrates the important qualities of strength and courage that helped Adams not only endure but also succeed: “Samuel Adams’ success came from his willingness to work tirelessly for the cause of liberty. Politics was a kind of ministry for him, and that kind of dedication makes a difference.”

Like the pre-Revolutionary times in which Adams lived, succeeding in today’s world requires endurance and perseverance. Success does not come overnight; it comes after months and years of hard work. Only after pushing through the difficulties we face will we achieve true success.


The Product Management Perspective: Product development cycles can seem long and arduous at times. As a product manager you need to exercise patience at the same time you persuade others to work hard and work effectively. There are days when it seems like nothing will ever come together the way it needs to. However, those who persist always achieve success.


1 Comment

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!


Leave a comment

Success is a marathon

This morning while reading IBD, a favorite source of information, I reread the 10 Secrets To Success (they print the ten traits and highlight one each day). 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 you will stick to your principles and goals. Having run three marathons I have found that the key is preparation; it’s what you do leading up to the race that determines how well it goes. It’s the consistent and persistent training that determines how well you run a marathon. Where running marathons is concerned, however, real success comes not from preparing and running ‘a’ 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. We all experience ‘marathons’ along the way to success where we exert increased effort to finish a big project; we do not pat ourselves on the back because we have arrived. We may (and should) take time to celebrate after achieving successes on projects, but the next day we get up and go back to ‘training’ for the next project big project, just like we would train for the next race. It’s the continuation of successes that becomes the success.

Success is the journey, not the destination.