Tag Archives: product

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.

How to Close a Deal

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WEALTHY

12 Rules for Closing the Deal

By Grant Cardone

Like any sport, there are rules to selling, especially when it comes to closing the sale. Here are a dozen of my best rules for closing the deal.

  1. Stay seated. The saying goes, “Present the product, service or idea on your feet, but always negotiate from your seat.” Even if your prospect stands up, remain seated — going from a seated position to standing up suggests something has changed and allows your prospect the cue to exit and end the negotiations.
  2. Master eye contact. This is a discipline you can only instill through practice, and you can perfect it by recording yourself and reviewing it. If you want to be believed and look confident, it is vital that you make and maintain eye contact with your prospect. It shows you are interested in them, confident in yourself and your product, and what you are proposing.
  3. Communicate clearly. People don’t trust someone who cannot communicate confidently and clearly. I practiced for years using recorders and video and played them back, ensuring my communication was coming across the way I intended.

Click here to read all 12 of Grant Cardone’s rules for closing.

How to Be Rich (2016 Edition)

The best way to get started is to get started. Life rewards action…not reaction. Wait for nothing. Attack life.” – Kekich Credo #81

How to Be Rich (2016 Edition)

By Mark Ford
“Contrary to popular modern belief, it is still quite possible for the successful individual to make his million — and more.”

J. Paul Getty wrote these words in 1965 in his book How to Be Rich. I first read it more than 10 years ago and liked it very much. I read it again recently and was equally inspired. It’s a quick and easy read (it was written as a series of essays for Playboy magazine), but it’s loaded with practical advice for anyone who wants to build wealth: business owners, professionals — even superstar employees.

Getty was a very rich man. I’ve heard it said that in today’s dollars, his wealth was greater than Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s combined.

Getty made his fortune by buying oil businesses at bargain prices just after the Great Depression. A small portion of the book is devoted to telling this story. The rest of it presents Getty’s thesis: that the best way to become rich is to own or work for a growing business and that business growth is dependent on following a dozen or so common-sense strategies.

“Although there are no sure-fire formulas for achieving success in business,” Getty says, “there are some fundamental rules to the game, which, if followed, tip the odds of success very much in the business man’s favor.”

Those rules include:

  • The best way to make a fortune is to own your own business.

  • The central aim of every business is to produce more and better goods (or more and better services) to more people at a lower cost.

  • A sense of thrift is essential for success in business.

  • Legitimate opportunities for expansion should not be overlooked.

  • The business owner must run his own business. He cannot expect employees to run it for him.

  • The business owner must be constantly alert for new ways to improve his products and services and increase his production and sales.

  • Nothing builds confidence and volume faster than a reputation for standing behind one’s product.

Another chapter talks about real estate. Getty was a big believer in real estate as a secondary investment. He made millions that way. He also talks about investing in fine art. In the course of his business life, Getty acquired one of the greatest private collections of art in his time. He left much of that collection to various museums, including what became the Getty Museum in Malibu, California.

In discussing employee compensation, Getty’s ideas belied his reputation for being a penny pincher. He was a believer in paying his employees well — as well as or better than the competition. He also believed in treating his key employees as partners, by giving them incentive-based bonuses and, in some cases, shares of profits. (More than a few of his key employees became rich as a result.)

As the author of The Reluctant Entrepreneur, I was delighted to note that Getty disputed the notion that entrepreneurs should “think big and take big chances.” His success, he says, came from “thinking small” (i.e., paying attention to details) and avoiding risk at every juncture.

How to Be Rich also has a chapter devoted to passive investing. Most people don’t realize it, but Getty’s record as a buyer of stocks was stellar. What was his strategy? To buy great companies with distinct competitive advantages when their shares were cheap.

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Getty wrote How to Be Rich when I was about 15 years old. America was a very different country than it is now, so you might wonder: Do those same rules apply today?

If you are at all familiar with my thoughts on wealth building, you know my answer. Let’s review just a few of the rules to see if they hold up:

  • “The best way to make a fortune is to own your own business.” I made that observation in Automatic Wealth and in a half-dozen books since, including Ready, Fire, Aim, The Reluctant Entrepreneur, and most recently The Big Book of Wealth Creation (more details on that next month).

  • “The central aim of every business is to produce more and better goods (or more and better services) to more people at a lower cost.” That should be the aim, but too many young entrepreneurs today believe their purpose is to create something that they can sell to a larger company for billions of dollars. Still, this is the best way to build a lasting relationship with customers.

  • “A sense of thrift is essential for success in business.” I haven’t written much on this. Perhaps because I don’t have a natural “sense” for thrift. Unlike some business people I know, I don’t enjoy quibbling over nickels and dimes. But I do know that thrift in business is important. If you neglect the cost side of your business, your profits will eventually disappear.

  • “Legitimate opportunities for expansion should not be overlooked.”Legitimate is the key word. I take it to mean “realistic” — that expansion and/or acquisition is good for business only if the chances for success are very good. My rule on this, which I’ve explained in Ready, Fire, Aim, is to enter arenas only “one step removed.” In other words, expand only into areas about which you are already at least 80% knowledgeable.

  • “The business owner must run his own business. He cannot expect employees to run it for him.” I’ve made this point many times. When a business gets big, the owner will be tempted to do the “easy work” of making speeches, attending functions, and writing inspirational memos to employees. But if you spend too much time doing that, you will lose the knowledge and skills you once had to do the “hard work” — developing marketable products and selling them.

  • “The business owner must be constantly alert for new ways to improve his products and services and increase his production and sales.” Again, this is something I’ve covered in many essays and all my books on business building. The strategy I recommend is “incremental augmentation.” It’s the opposite of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s based on the belief that if you aren’t always improving your product, a competitor will eventually create something better. This was always true, but in today’s electronic, information-based economy, it is essential.

  • “Nothing builds confidence and volume faster than a reputation for standing behind one’s product.” Again, this is critically true today. Unless you have a virtual monopoly like the cable companies, you can’t get away with treating your customers badly.

So, the answer is yes: The wealth-building ideas in How to Be Rich are as true today as they were in 1965. And they seem to be as true for big companies, like Getty Oil, as they are for smaller, entrepreneurial companies — the ones I write about.

If you read How to Be Rich, you will like it. But you may find yourself wanting more — more specific examples, more instruction, more detailed guidance. You can get that from some of the books I’ve written on this subject. (Yes, me!) I recommendReady, Fire, Aim, Automatic Wealth, and The Reluctant Entrepreneur.