Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Why do nice companies finish first?

In a recent post we found out why nice companies finish first. Throughout the book the author quotes successful leaders that show how companies (and people) that are nice experience more success than their less kind counterparts. Here are a few of my favorites:

 “We feel customers are our friends, and we talk to them like friends. What you hear is amazing.” –Nazim Ahmed

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” –Walt Disney

“Frankly, you can’t be a jerk and be successful in the service business for a long period of time. When you’re in the service business, reputation is everything.” –Kenneth Chenault

“Superior customer service has always been and always will be the cornerstone of our brand and is a cultural attribute that differentiates us from the rest of the pack.” –Chris McCormick

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” –Henry Ford

“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.” –Warren Bennis

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” –Oscar Wilde

And from the author himself:

“Lesson number one: it pays to be a nice guy. Second: always stand behind a pompous ass whenever possible. Your niceness will be thrown into dramatic high relief.” –Peter Shankman

“There’s no way to institutionalize or ‘corporatize’ niceness—your HR department is never going to come up with a management structure that magically creates a collegial atmosphere. It has to come from the top, and from there it will filter down through managers, supervisors, staffers and so on.” –Peter Shankman


The Product Management Perspective: Do nice product managers finish first? I’d love to know what you think; please leave a comment.


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Three winning words

December is a great time of year. Most people go out of their way to be a little kinder and a bit more open to what others are thinking. Regardless of religious beliefs most people seem more open to talking to their neighbors and cutting people slack for things they would not consider at other times during the year.

There are many things that contribute to the feelings that abound during the holiday season; however, given the focus of the Lead on Purpose blog, the following three words seem most applicable:

  • Trust: The word trust has bi-direction meaning and only works when flowing both ways: you have to depend on other people to do what they say they will do; and you have to work, act and believe so that others will confide in and depend on you. People who live and behave in such a way that others can confide in them understand the importance of trust. Take inventory of the people you trust and the people you feel trust you. Do everything in your power to make word ‘trust’ part of your persona.
  • Integrity: The word integrity has deep meaning and is often intermingled with words like honesty and truthfulness. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. People who live with integrity are incorruptible and incapable of breaking the trust of those who have confided in them. Every human is born with a conscience and therefore the ability to know right from wrong. Choosing the right, regardless of the consequences, is the hallmark of integrity.
  • Positivity: The word positivity suggests the act of being positive; engaging in positive activity. It’s a word that implies action and effort put forth to improve your circumstances. Positivity does not mean arrogance or hubris, but a quiet, inner self-confidence that — regardless of the circumstances — inspires people to keep moving forward. People who are optimistic about the future and take a positive attitude whenever possible find success in ways other people will never know. It’s not magic, but a law of nature: optimism leads to success.

Take some time to ponder and apply these three winning words and without a doubt you will find applicability in your own life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2011! Take time to enjoy the Holiday season and rejuvenate for the year ahead.


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Communicating with customers

When times are good, communicating with customers is easy. Travel budgets are typically flush with cash, optimism abounds and your desire to discuss company direction is high. However, in difficult times one of the first things to drop off in many companies is customer interaction. Whether because of budget cuts or the more serious problem — loss of company confidence — communicating with customers seems to go by the wayside when times get tough.

Regardless of how well your company is doing, you need to communicate with customers. In a recent IBD article, Gloria Lau emphasized the importance of customer relationships:

Get out there and make sure clients know you’re there for them. A lot of suppliers are spending time internally focused, curtailing travel expenses. Instead, this is the time when you should spend more money with customers. You need to build those relationships to let clients know you’ll be there for them in the long term. Once you have a solid relationship with customers and you help them through a crisis, their memories can be pretty long.

In difficult economic times spending money to interact with customers is a sound investment. Spending time and money on potential customers is also relevant. Chances are your competitors are not making the same effort, so make the most of your opportunities.


The Product Management Perspective: Much has been written about the importance of customer visits to the success of your products. In this podcast with Stacey Weber we discuss the importance of customer visits, and other topics such as business problems and requirements analysis.


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Three timely words

December is a great time of year. Most people go out of their way to be a little kinder and a bit more open to what others are thinking. Regardless of religious beliefs most people seem more open to talking to their neighbors and cutting people slack for things they would not consider at other times during the year. If only it could be this way all year long….

There are many things that contribute to the feelings that abound during the holiday season; however, writing about all of them would be futile. Given the focus of the Lead on Purpose blog, the following three words seem timely and fitting:

  • Trust: The word trust has bi-direction meaning and only works when flowing both ways: you have to depend on other people to do what they say they will do; and you have to work, act and believe so that others will confide in and depend on you. People who live and behave in such a way that others can confide in them understand the importance of trust. Take inventory of the people you trust and the people you feel trust you. Do everything in your power to make word ‘trust’ part of your persona.
  • Integrity: The word integrity has deep meaning and is often intermingled with words like honesty and truthfulness. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. People who live with integrity are incorruptible and incapable of breaking the trust of those who have confided in them. Every human is born with a conscience and therefore the ability to know right from wrong. Choosing the right, regardless of the consequences, is the hallmark of integrity.
  • Positivity: The word positivity suggests the act of being positive; engaging in positive activity. It’s a word that implies action and effort put forth to improve your circumstances. Positivity does not mean arrogance or hubris, but a quiet, inner self-confidence that — regardless of the circumstances — inspires people to keep moving forward. People who are optimistic about the future and take a positive attitude whenever possible find success in ways other people will never know. It’s not magic, but a law of nature: optimism leads to success.

Take some time to ponder these three timely words and without a doubt you will find applicability in your own life.

I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2009! Take time to enjoy the Holiday season and rejuvenate for the year ahead.


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How to get along

There seem to be a lot of stories flying around the media about people bickering, fighting or otherwise not getting along with each other. While such situations might help spark a political campaign, they do nothing for people trying to progress and become more successful. It’s especially important learn how to get along with your boss and co-workers. On his Great Leadership blog, Dan McCarthy writes about 10 ways to get off on the right foot with your new manager. He makes the assumption that the new manager is a good, competent leader and not a jerk. Here’s the list of ten (without detail; check out Dan’s post for the meat):

  1. Be good (both doing good things and good at what you do)
  2. Be proactive about introducing yourself
  3. Exhibit behaviors that are appreciated (enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, initiative, and good judgement)
  4. Clarify expectations up front
  5. Help your new manager learn
  6. Try to minimize how many times you say “we tried that before and it didn’t work”
  7. Be VERY open to change
  8. Learn about your new manager
  9. Watch your manager’s back
  10. However….. don’t be a blatant suck-up.

Working for a new manager/boss/leader provides a great opportunity to shine, to model things (including your career) the way you’ve always wanted them to go. Take the opportunity to form new relationships and make most out of new circumstances.


The Product Management Perspective: Dan’s advice is significant for product managers. They not only have to manage up to their boss, but also horizontally, with managers of other teams on whom they depend for success. The ten steps listed above work equally well in both cases.