just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 0 comments on The importance of not losing yourself

The importance of not losing yourself

I had a really great three-day weekend. Micky and I did a lot to get the nursery started. The walls are white, with one aqua colored wall. We moved a bunch of stuff in storage with the help of One Big Man, One Big Truck, and moved a couch and trunk out of storage and into the baby’s room. My red couch escapes!

I got to play some soccer this weekend, worked out today and hacked on some stuff that I’m really starting to get excited about (hopefully more on that coming soon).

The big win this weekend though was getting to do dinner with Saket. We’re at very similar places in our careers, and in a lot of ways our lives (Saket isn’t married with a kid on the way, but in general). I noticed on Saturday night that Saket and I meet in social situations a lot. We have to “share” each other per se. Saturday we just guy bonded, and it was really excellent.

It was a really awesome chance to reflect on myself while reflecting in Saket’s experiences. We talked about the naivety of college kids (which will be my next post), management styles under which we’ve worked, the frustration of the current political system and the situation in the Middle East.

I miss having conversations like that, and I feel as if I’ve lost them in some sense since leaving school. The problem is that it’s all we did in school, so relatively it’s a complete loss. The late night IHOP, going to Waqaar’s house and smoking hookah, being in Watauga Hall and up til 2am talking. I realized Saturday night that those moments and conversations are really important to me.

Now, I feel as if people do things in bigger contexts. Dinner parties with lots of people. Going to the games. It just feels big. The intimacy of one-on-one time with a friend is lost. I don’t know why that is. Are we too busy? Are we just trying to multi-task friendships as well? I hate to sit down and actually answer those questions because I don’t think I’ll like the answers.

But this weekend, I got it back, and all was well again. Even if the wall is aqua and not orange.

Becoming a PM, Uncategorized 0 comments on Is there a formula for convincing?

Is there a formula for convincing?

They don’t teach you the formula for convincing people of things in school.

In school, I had to take a public speaking course, and I’ll be 100% honest… it was awesome! I had a fantastic professor, and a great, great, great group of classmates with whom I worked. The glass taught me a lot about communicating, but nothing about convincing.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to convince someone that you’ve thought something through to the point that you’ve actually solved it. There are a few major hurdles you’re always forced to overcome:

  • The idea that you have any idea what you’re talking about
  • The idea that what you’re solving is actually relevant in any way
  • The idea that your solution, recommendation or general direction is valid

The situation is exasperated by a need to educate at the same time that you’re convincing. I think the best at this must be folks with kids aged 4-7 years old because your life is constantly getting that kid to do what you want for the reasons that you want them to.

That said, I’m starting to see a pattern emerge.

  1. Start with the background
    There’s always a need to establish the problem being solved. The problem may be one specific thing, or it may be a collection of things that have come together. Present the most general problem as your background information. Talk about motives; talk about concerns; talk about what customers are saying; talk about what customers aren’t saying.
  2. Build out a set of credible solutions
    For some reason, folks generally don’t like that you give them an answer. Instead, they want to work through the problem with you. So give people a family of solutions. Talk about the pros and the cons of each. Discuss the monetization strategy behind each. Identify the tactical hurdles, marketing hurdles and other challenges. Be honest about the fact that you did your homework, and that you did it well
  3. Provide a thesis
    Given that you’ve got a family of solutions, provide a strong thesis around which to build a framework. The thesis should act as a slogan for your solution. It should be something that’s easy for everyone to understand, and should also become how others sell your idea to the company at large. A very strong thesis built on the data points provided in the previous step goes a long way towards establishing buy-in into the solution you’ve chosen.
  4. Stop and listen
    At this point you’ve dumped a lot of information on people who have been, at best, tangentially thinking about the problem that you’re solving. The best thing you can do now is to stop, and get feedback. People’s gut reactions are probably their best insights into your solution. Do they buy into the thesis? Do they buy into the homework that you’ve done? Do they buy into the problem that you’re solving? You should know the answer to all of these things after this point. To know the answers, you have to stop and listen.

After that… I don’t know yet. It’s some part execution, some part investigation, some part re-doing the whole thing.

I’ll figure it out as it comes to me I guess 🙂