Category Archives: plan

5 THINGS GREAT PRODUCT MANAGERS DO EVERY DAY

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My favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

In the late 1990s, my first product management job was helping to roll out high-speed internet nationwide when it became a viable (and highly desired) alternative to dial-up services. We went from providing 300 lines monthly to more than 3,000 — all in a window of about 60 days. I quickly learned how to balance staying on a strategic course and managing the endless minutiae that was required to get each customer up and running.

I had always been a leader, so handling the stress and responsibility was natural for me — but I had a lot to learn about focusing my efforts on what mattered most. I soon realized that with great accountability comes great autonomy. It was up to me to prioritize what needed to get done and when.

This is great news for ambitious product managers: You have more control than you might think, no matter how hectic each day feels.

Here are five things great product managers do. Used consistently, these actions can help you prioritize your work every day and thrive.

1. Align actions to goals

To succeed as a product manager it is essential to take a goal-first approach. Prioritize what must get done that day and assess and align new work against your goals. Swiftly break through the endless tasks and chatter by evaluating each request or demand through the lens of your goals. This does not mean you should shut down disruptions as “noise” to be silenced. Embrace the interruptions that align with your goals — one may be the missing idea that makes your product wildly successful in market.

2. Connect the dots

Understand how your product serves your business — the big picture of why you are building it. This may seem obvious, but without that connection, product managers are often led astray by differing opinions, demands from internal teams, and conflicting customer feedback. Identify why your product matters to your business and to customers so you can navigate with a steady mind.

3. Solve one simple problem

You may be tempted to solve every problem for your customers. But you cannot be all things to all people. You will spread yourself too thin and lose that firm direction. Instead, focus on solving one problem at a time. I like to say, “Focus on one problem, and solve the second for free.” Tackle one problem well and new opportunities will emerge.

4. Learn from others

Invest the time and effort to learn about your product team’s core work so you can set realistic deadlines. This is especially important for teams that share resources. Ask questions and get to know the full scope of their experience and tasks. It is also important to admit what you do not know. Rely on the expertise of your extended product team to help you deliver on the promise of your product.

5. Say “no” with confidence

Not every idea will be meaningful. And, in fact, most will be lousy. Great product managers understand that saying “no” is not a one-word answer. This is your chance to explain why the idea does not make sense within your strategic direction. Do not hide from these conversations or be dismissive. Take each “no” as an opportunity to recommit to your goals — and to re-evaluate whether your aim is true.

I know this advice to be effective — but hard to follow. So be kind to yourself when you feel cornered or stuck. Stick out your chest and remember that you have more control than you think and a team at your side.

You too can achieve the quiet power that separates good product managers from great ones. Never lose sight of your goals and embrace each day with humility and strength. Now go get busy.

Discover your own power as a product manager.

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

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Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

How To Get What You Want In Just Ten Steps

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Being fearless enough to chase what you want is the ultimate goal for all of us. But in reality, leaving your comfort zone to get everything you want just isn’t that easy. Tired of letting your doubts stop you from reaching your full potential? Fed up of thinking about what could have been? Or, do you just need to face a new chapter? Here’s a 10-step routine for getting what you want, which will help you achieve your goals and dreams faster than ever before!

1. Create a plan

Before you can go after what you want, you have to be sure it’s definitely the right thing for you. Map out what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. It will make the end goal much clearer.

2. Start with small changes

Once you know what you want, the initial changes don’t have to be too drastic. Ease yourself in by making little changes every day. Wake up earlier, write to-do lists and take time for yourself.  These small changes can make a huge difference.

3. Ask for what you need

Whilst you are taking things into your own hands, you may find that you need the help of others too. To get what you want you can’t be afraid to ask for what you need. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

4. Develop willpower

Knowing what you want and achieving it are two very different things. You have to be prepared to work hard and never give up. Your willpower will be tested like never before. Believe in yourself and persevere.

5. Celebrate progress

No matter how big or small, to reach to your end goal you have to celebrate every bit of success along the way. This way, you will keep up a positive mindset and be all the more likely to get what you want.

6. Accept setbacks

The road to getting what you want is bound to be a bumpy one. Come to terms with the fact that you win some and lose some, instead see it as a new challenge to prove yourself. With this mindset, you will be far more likely to get what you want in the long run.

7. Re-assess your goals

Just because something is what you once wanted, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. It’s okay to change your mind. Make sure you regularly ask yourself, ‘will this make me happy?’ and ‘is it worth it?’ This way, you will know exactly how to get what you want.

8. Check your circles

To get where you want, you have to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that help get you there. Remove anybody that refuses to help you move forward, celebrate your success or help to pick you up when you are down. You will be surprised how others can stop you from getting what you want.

9. Create balance

Being determined to get what you want is great, but you have to make sure you aren’t working too hard to get there and neglecting your social needs. Find that perfect work-life balance and you will find your goals much easier to achieve.

10. Be satisfied with what you have

Often, we can become so focused on getting what we want that we forget to appreciate what we have. Take a step back, appreciate what you have achieved and you may find that what you want may already be something you have.

Ghostwriting

 


Writing in the Background: A Glimpse into Ghostwriting

By Assuanta Howard @astapubl

Ghostwriting can be synonymous with translating or editing, but it can also mean researching or organizing a written piece. Perhaps the word “translating” is the best way to characterize ghostwriting, whether it’s translating scattered ideas into a cohesive work or capturing and translating the style and voice of an author.

Although ghostwriters perform a myriad of functions in the production of a publication, ghostwriters often remain completely anonymous, unknown to their readers. Sometimes an author may choose to name a ghostwriter as coauthor and credit the ghostwriter’s contribution to the overall creative formation of the work. Other times a ghostwriter might simply be thanked in the acknowledgements.

So, why hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters can organize thoughts and perform research for you. These services can be extremely helpful, especially if your book is primarily purposed to instruct or inform. You may have general knowledge and ideas for your book that a ghostwriter can help you build upon. You can give your ghostwriter your vision for your work and then he or she can help your brainstorm or research to find more ideas.

Ghostwriters also help an author express his or her voice in written form. Speaking is certainly different from writing, and although one might have ideas and enthusiasm, it can sometimes be difficult to translate that onto paper. Not everyone with a great book idea is as comfortable with writing as they are with speaking. In these cases, the ghostwriter’s greatest task is interviewing the author and then capturing the author’s tone as he or she writes the book for the author.

Whose work is it really?

The “credit” for the creative work of ghostwriting may seem like a point of contention. There are several ways to view this issue. One is to see the “creator” of the work as the one who first had the idea, and the other is to view the creator as the one who wrote the piece. If one understands “creation” as the conception of ideas, then creative credit must go to the author.

Ghostwriters can be a wonderful asset to authors; they ease the burden of research, editing, and revising, and they help authors turn thoughts and ideas into publishable material. Ghostwriters are like the pen in an author’s hand. With the author’s direction, they move to find a way to best communicate the author’s message.

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

www.astapublications.com

Why Rich People Hate Trump


From Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners: It’s back to Europe. Back to school. Back to work.

Let’s begin by bringing new readers into the discussion… and by reminding old readers (and ourselves) where we stand.

Small and Lonely Group

As a Diary reader, you join a small and lonely group.

But we know something others don’t.

We—and apparently only we—understand the real cause of our economic malaise.
What malaise, you ask?

Well… how could the richest, most technologically advanced, and most scientifically sophisticated economy stop dead in its tracks?

The rate of economic growth has gone steadily downhill for the last 30 years. By some measures, after accounting for the effects of inflation, we’re back to levels not seen since before the Industrial Revolution.

And how could such a modern, 21st-century economy make the average person poorer?

When you measure actual inflation, rather than the government’s crooked numbers, the median U.S. household income is 20% lower today than when the century began.

And why would our modern economy concentrate wealth in the hands of so few, so that only the richest 1% make any real progress?

You may also ask a question with an obvious answer: Why are the richest and most powerful people in the country overwhelmingly supporting Ms. Clinton in the presidential race?

You find the answer to all these questions the same way: Follow the money.

Record Haul

Ms. Clinton is raising record amounts of money—$80 million in a single month.

Big corporations, banks, military contractors, rich people—all are pitching in to make sure Hillary is our next president.

Why?

Because she promises to protect the status quo.

That, of course, is what government always does. A free economy is a precarious place for wealth. It is despised by nearly everyone—especially the rich.

In a truly free market, the process of “creative destruction” can’t be controlled. New wealth is born. Old wealth dies.

Naturally, people with wealth and power try to use government to get more wealth and power… and to stop the creative-destructive process. They want to protect what they’ve got already. That’s why the real role of government is to look into the future and keep it from happening.

Hillary stands like King Canute, promising to stop the tides of economic history.

What’s this got to do with money?

Let’s ask another question instead: What is the source of Ms. Clinton’s campaign pile? Whence cometh all this lucre?

“It comes from rich people,” you will say.

But where did the rich get so much money?

Ah… that’s where it gets interesting.

We remind you of the context: So far this century, only the rich have gotten wealthier. Naturally, they are keen to see the system that gave them—and them alone—such great wealth continue.

Old Money, New Money

The key to understanding it all is the money system itself.

The money you spend today is the money that President Nixon inaugurated on August 15, 1971.

That’s when he reneged on America’s promise to convert foreign creditors’ dollars to gold at a fixed price of $35 per ounce… and broke the last link between the dollar and gold.

Nixon’s new money looked, for all the world, like the old money. It seemed to work just like the dollar always did. And the most distinguished economist of the era—Milton Friedman—advised Nixon to put it in place.
Subtle… slippery—the difference between the old dollar and the new one went unnoticed for 40 years.

Old dollar? New dollar? Who cared?

Even now, most of the world has no idea what happened. But we, dear reader, are beginning to connect the dots.

Here’s the basic difference: The old gold-backed dollar represented wealth that had already been created. You got more dollars as you created more wealth.

Money was real wealth.

But this old money was hard for the authorities to control. They said it was uncooperative. Intransient. And stubborn. They wanted a new kind of money… and a dollar they could manipulate (to make a better economy, of course).

So, the new dollar was created. And this new dollar was not based on wealth, but on debt.

It was not backed by gold. And it was not connected to the real wealth of the economy.
Instead, it was brought into being by the banking system—as a credit. It increased as people borrowed and went further into debt, not as they grew wealthier.

The more they borrowed, the more they could buy. This gave the economy the appearance of growth and prosperity. It allowed millions of Americans to increase their standard of living, even as their salaries stalled.

But every purchase put people further into debt…

Between 1964 and 2007, credit expanded 50 times.

And in 2008, the credit bubble burst.

More to come…

Reeves’ Note: The big corporations, banks, military contractors, and rich people backing Hillary Clinton are just apparatchiks of what Bill calls the Deep State… a nebulous group of elites who have infiltrated the far reaches of the American government.

Bill exposes this unelected group of insiders, and offers a “prep guide” to protect your wealth and privacy from its intrusion… in this urgent warning.

How To Move Forward

Take These 7 Steps to Get Unstuck

By Mark Ford

When you agreed to do it, it seemed like a wonderful challenge.

Now, your deadline is fast approaching… and you haven’t even started.

Getting the job done is a priority — yet it somehow doesn’t happen. Instead, it stays there on your daily task list — highlighted for attention but never attended to.

What causes this pernicious process? Why does a great opportunity turn into a very big chore… that turns into an overwhelming enigma… that threatens to turn into the big job you never even started?

There are many causes. But only one solution always works for me.

The solution involves seven steps:

  1. If you’ve been stuck for more than three days, you’re stuck. Admit it. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat: “I shot my mouth off. I’m stuck.” You’ve been waiting for inspiration to save you, but it hasn’t appeared. Stop waiting.
  2. Change the status of the job. It started as one priority among many. Now, make it No. 1 on your daily task list.
  3. Don’t even think of attacking the whole mess at once. Break it up into small pieces. If it’s a 40-page report you have to write, break it up into pages. If it’s a bunch of people you have to talk to, think of each conversation as a separate task.
  4. Working back from your deadline, figure how many discrete units (pages, calls, etc.) you need to do each day. Then figure out how long it will take you to do that many units.
  5. If each unit can be done in less than 15 minutes, you’re in luck. Give yourself the job of doing just one 15-minute task each day. If you’ll have to spend more than 15 minutes a day to finish, then begin — still — with 15 minutes… but increase your daily time commitment as you get rolling.
  6. Start immediately. Complete your first 15 minutes — even if you don’t think you’re doing the task well.
  7. Keep going until you break through the psychological barrier you’ve been up against.

The secret here is to reduce each day’s work to 15 minutes.

It’s such a small amount of time — you won’t have any trouble doing it. This gets the ball rolling… even if it doesn’t seem to be rolling in the right direction.

Sooner or later — and this is guaranteed — you’ll get the inspiration you’d been waiting for while you were stuck.

Then, you’ll find you’ve already done a good deal of the grunt work (thinking, planning, researching, whatever).

This method is particularly useful when you get to the point where you don’t even like a project anymore. Unless you have the discipline to hack away at it every day, you’ll avoid it. And it will never get done.

Some days, you’ll want to work more than 15 minutes. That’s fine.

In fact, that’s the idea. It means your creative mind is starting to kick in.

One day — and this can happen at almost any time — you’ll see the big picture… and you’ll be able to get the whole project done right. You may decide to scrap — or change — some of what you’ve been doing.

But from that point on, you’ll work quickly and easily.

What are you waiting for? Get to it.

Editor’s Note: Mark Ford is hosting an online training event all this week. It culminates with a two-hour webinar event on Thursday. He’ll explain the ideas behind his favorite wealth-building methods and show you how to create a sizable net worth in 7 years or less… without touching stocks, bonds, or options. If you’re ready to increase your cash flow starting tomorrow — and to stop being a slave to a paycheck — go here to sign up for 100% free access.

About the Author: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.