Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Creating a culture of persistence

We live in a world that makes it increasingly easy to justify failures and abdicate responsibility. Too often the news trumpets the reasons why certain groups don’t get what they want, and they showcase how those in authority are responsible for others’ shortcomings.

While there are certainly injustices in world today, successful individuals don’t let them affect how hard they work or what steps they take to progress. Capable leaders keep doing the right things for their teams and their customers. They persist through difficulties, and in the process, they create a culture of persistence.

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The value of hard work and perseverance

Recently I was reminded of a story about a young man who lived during the 1849 Gold Rush. An older, wiser man observed him passing by obvious ‘flecks’ of gold in the stream, and asked him why. The young man said he was searching for the big ‘nuggets’ of gold. The old man pulled out his pouch and said “The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”

What are the ‘flecks’ of gold that you are passing by in life? Are you looking for the big victory, but missing out on the many small wins that will bring you more happiness and success? Life-long accomplishment comes from the small, consistent wins along the way.

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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.

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What is the value in perseverance?

Throughout my life I’ve been a big believer in the value of hard work—it’s one of three lessons I was taught from my youth. Everyone who takes an idea and makes it into something valuable does it through hard work. Tied very closely to hard word is perseverance, continuing forward without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure.

The downside to hard work and perseverance is they take time. Good things don’t (usually) happen overnight, or even within a month or a year. Creating value, and creating meaning in your life, take time: time to start, time to build, time to realize the results. Continue reading


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What is the real driver of your success?

Every so often something happens that brings into question long, and sometimes closely held beliefs. One of those happened this morning.

An important topic, one that has—I thought—defined who I am and the way I work, was turned on its head. Yesterday I purchased and downloaded Scott Adams’ (of Dilbert fame) audio book: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and was listening to it on my morning run. He uses humor, as you’d expect. What I didn’t expect was that, in talking about success, he would throw out—with the ‘bath water’—a something I had long embraced as key element of success. Continue reading


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Three leadership lessons from Dad

Today is Father’s Day and for the last several days I’ve been thinking about Dad and the important lessons he taught me, both when I was growing up in his home and in the years since. Though I don’t think it was ever his specific intent, he taught my siblings and me – and many others in the community – how to be leaders in whatever we pursued. Here are three important lessons that have helped me get to where I’m at today:

Hard work: Nothing replaces hard work. No matter what job you have to accomplish, there’s nothing more important that getting busy and getting the work done. Dad raised my siblings and me on a cattle ranch, and there always seemed to be work waiting for us. He taught me the best way to get through it was to “roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

Responsibility: At a very young age Dad taught me responsibility. He gave me chores to do and paid me for the hours I worked, with the agreement that I would keep track of my time. I learned at a young age the importance of accounting for the work I did. He let me start my own cattle herd at a very young age. That experience taught me about how business works.

Perseverance: If you want to succeed, you have to “stick with it.” Dad taught me the importance of the statement “stick with a task until it sticks to you.” He taught that if you press forward with hope and desire, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. Dad continues to teach this lesson in his older years. He suffers from cancer and its ill effects, but he always smiles and has something positive to say every time we talk. He has proven through the years that he will never give up on anything.

These lessons, and many others he has taught me, came much more from his example and the way he lived than from eloquent speeches or sit-down discussions. Happy Father’s Day Dad! You’re my ultimate teacher. I love you!


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you’re not the ‘father’ of your products, but your leadership will make all the difference in their success. I hope you can find a way to apply these lessons.