Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Why we need to re-think learning

Long-time readers of Lead on Purpose have seen this quote by Eric Hoffer: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” It has become the chorus I have sung over and over. You must keep learning if you want to keep growing. You need to consistently feed your mind if you don’t want to become irrelevant.

Re-think learning Continue reading

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Knowledge is power

To what do you attribute your success?

This question was answered in a very interesting fashion on a on a podcast where Dr. Paul interviews Dayna Steele, a lively author and former rock-n-roll disk jockey in Houston. In the interview Dayna talks about meeting and associating with rock stars like Jon Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar and other rock legends. She provides interesting insight into their lives, how they think and what drives them.

In her book Rock to the Top Dayna talks about what drives these famous rock stars to be successful. What most caught my attention was her answer to the question posed above. She used Gene Simmons, from the band Kiss, as an example: Gene said he attributes his success to his ‘voracious’ reading habit; he reads every chance he gets. Dayna then quoted Fortune article she’d read where Warren Buffett said the same thing. Two very different people, both successful in very different ways, attribute their success to their appetite for reading and gaining knowledge.

The third item in the Five Factors of Leadership asserts that knowledge is power, when (and only when) it is applied. When the knowledge is applied it increases the success of the person applying it as well as those whom he/she leads.

Consequently, success comes from combining three important aspects of knowledge:

  • Reading: Acquiring new ideas
  • Thinking: Reflecting on the impressions gained through reading
  • Acting: Applying the knowledge gained through effort and hard work.

The combination of these actions will improve your success.


The Product Management Perspective: The process of defining and creating successful products requires a commitment to understanding your markets and the role (or position) your products will play therein. Gaining this understanding requires reading, thinking and acting. As the product manager, you are in a unique position to improve your company’s standing (i.e. power) in the marketplace through acquiring and applying knowledge.


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Leadership is a choice

On his blog The Practice of Leadership, George Ambler wrote that leadership is about blazing new trails. What caught my attention, and very quickly, was the close-up of the cow at the beginning. The premise of the post is that people, like cows, tend to follow others on the same winding paths from one point to another. Rarely do they stop and ask why they are going where they’re going. It becomes easier to stop thinking and just do what someone tells them to do. Seldom to they pick up their heads, look around and try to determine what they could change to improve their situation. Instead, like the cows, they follow the path until it gets more trodden and eventually feels like the only possible way to get from here to there.

Leaders are trail blazers; they are not afraid to go places or do things that haven’t been done. They stand fearless in the face of obstacles and find ways to get beyond them. George says: ” if you’re following the herd through the cow paths of life…you’re not leading!” Read the poem and quotes and George’s commentary to get the full picture.

The Product Management Perspective: Having been raised on a cattle ranch, I have followed many a cow trail in my days. It’s amazing how they wind along not going in the best direction to get them to their destination. At times product teams meander like cows, following the habits of their predecessors, not really knowing why. Such behavior never leads to successful products. While such a problem cannot always be solved by the product manager, he or she is in the best position to take the lead, make the tough decisions and get the team headed in the right direction. Leadership is a choice.


2 Comments

Knowledge is power

To what do you attribute your success?

This question was answered in a very interesting fashion on a recent podcast Rock to the Top. Dr. Paul interviews Dayna Steele, a lively author and former rock-n-roll disk jockey in Houston. In the interview Dayna talks about meeting and associating with rock stars like Jon Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar and other great rock legends. She provides interesting insight into their lives, how they think and what drives them.

In her book Rock to the Top Dayna talks about what drives these famous rock stars to be successful. What most caught my attention was her answer to the question posed above. She used Gene Simmons, from the band Kiss, as an example: Gene said he attributes his success to his ‘voracious’ reading habit; he reads every chance he gets. Dayna then quoted Fortune article she’d read where Warren Buffett said the same thing. Two very different people, both successful in very different ways, who attribute their success to their appetite for reading and gaining knowledge.

On a related note, George Ambler talks about the importance of taking time to stop and think. George points out that setting aside time to think is critical for effective leadership. Scheduling time to think allows the mind to tune in to the important nuggets of knowledge and filter out the non-essential and potentially detrimental thoughts and ideas.

The third item in the five factors of leadership asserts that knowledge is power, when it is applied. When the knowledge is applied it increases the success of the person applying it as well as those whom he/she leads.

Consequently, success comes from combining three important aspects of knowledge:

  • Reading: Acquiring new ideas
  • Thinking: Reflecting on the impressions gained through reading
  • Acting: Applying the knowledge gained through effort and hard work.

To what do you attribute your success?


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Act outside the box

We often hear the saying “think outside the box” (or the “bun” in the case of Taco Bell). This saying implies we need to think in different ways and see things through a new lens. Looking through the new lens helps us form a clearer picture of what we need to do to improve our situation. However, thinking is mostly passive and by itself is not enough; we need to act, or be active.

Acting outside the box means putting into action the things we think about when we think outside the box. As leaders in any capacity we need to act on the ideas we come up during brainstorming sessions and see them through to a successful end. I like how Timothy Ferris states it in his book The 4-Hour Work Week: “It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”