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The best thing you can learn from Inception of 'Alphabet' by Larry Page
This is something best I've read in long time, so just wants to keep this piece in my collection.
Written by: James Altucher
========================I visited Google a few weeks ago and, after almost getting arrested, my mind was blown.
First, Claudia wandered into the garage where they were actually making or fixing the driverless cars. When they finally realized she was wandering around, security had to escort her out.
We got scared and we thought we were going to get in trouble or thrown out.
Then we met with a friend high up at Google and learned some of the things Google was working on.
Nothing was related to search. Everything was related to curing cancer (a bracelet that can make all the cancer cells in your body move towards the bracelet), automating everything (cars just one of those things), Wi-Fi everywhere (Project Loon) and solving other “billion person problems”.
A problem wasn’t considered worthy unless it could solve a problem for a billion people.
So now Alphabet is aligning itself towards this strategy: a holding company that owns and invests in other companies that can solve billion person problems.
It’s not divided up by money. It’s divided up by mission.
I want to do this in my personal life also.
Just analyzing Larry Page’s quotes from the past ten years is a guidebook for “billion person success” and for personal success.
Here Are Some Of His Quotes:
"If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning."
To have well-being in life you need three things:
A) a feeling of competence or growth.
B) good emotional relationships.
C) freedom of choice.
Being able to wake up excited in the morning is an outcome of well-being.
Feeling like every day you are working on a billion-person problem will give you those three aspects of well-being.
At the very least, when I wake up I try to remember to ask: Who can I help today?
Because I’m a superhero and this is my secret identity.
"Especially in technology, we need revolutionary change, not incremental change."
Too often we get stuck in “good enough”. If you build a business that supports your family and maybe provides for retirement then that is “good enough”.If you write a book that sells 1000 copies then that is “good enough.”You ever wonder why planes have gotten slower since 1965? The Dreamliner 787 is actually slower than the 747. That’s ok. It’s good enough to get people across the world and save on fuel costs.It’s only the people who push past the “good enough syndrome” that we hear about: Elon Musk building a space ship. Larry Page indexing all knowledge. Elizabeth Holmes potentially diagnosing all diseases with a pin prick.
Isaac Asimov wrote classic science fiction like “The Foundation Series” but it wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up writing 500 more books, writing more books than anyone in history.
Larry Page keeps pushing so that every day he wakes up knowing he’s going to go past “good enough” that day.
What does your “good enough” day look like. What’s one thing that moves you past that?
"My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society."
Whenever I’ve managed companies and have had the small opportunity to be a leader I’ve judged my success on only one thing:
Does the employee at night go home and call his or her parents and say, “guess what I did today!”
I’m not sure this always worked. But I do think Larry Page lifts all his employees to try to be better versions of themselves, to try to surpass him, to try and change the world.
If each employee can say, “who did I help today” and have an answer, then that is a good leader.
Empowering others, empowers you.
"Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future."
The stock market is near all time highs. And yet every company in the original Dow Jones market index (except for GE) has gone out of business.
Even US Steel, which built every building in the country for an entire century, has gone bankrupt.
Never let the practical get in the way of the possible.
It’s practical to focus on what you can do right now.
But give yourself time in your life to wonder what is possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.
We’re at maybe 1% of what is possible. Despite the faster change, we’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities we have. I think a lot of that is because of the negativity… Every story I read is Google vs someone else. That’s boring. We should be focusing on building the things that don’t exist.
Sometimes I want to give up on whatever I’m working on. I’m not working on major billion person problems.
And sometimes I think I write too much about the same thing. Every day I try to think, “What new thing can I write today” and I actually get depressed when I can’t think of something totally new.
But I am working on things that I think can help people. And if you are out side of people’s comfort zones, if you are breaking the normal rules of society, people will try to pull you down.
Larry Page didn’t want to be defined by Google for his entire life. He wants to be defined by what he hasn’t yet done. What he might even be afraid to do.
I wonder what my life would be like if I started doing all the things I was afraid to do. If I started defining my life by all the things I have yet to do.
"Many leaders of big organizations, I think, don’t believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you’re likely to have issues."
Guess which company had the original patent that ultimately Larry Page derived his own patent (that created google) from?
Go ahead. Think a second. Guess.
An employee of this company created the patent and tried to get them to use it to catalog information on the web.
So Robin Li, an employee of The Wall Street Journal, quit the newspaper of capitalism (who owned his patent), moved to China (a communist country), and created Baidu.
And Larry Page modified the patent, filed his own, and created Google.
And the Wall Street Journal got swallowed up by Rupert Murdoch and is dying a slow death.
"I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out new things and figure out the effect on society."
A friend of mine is writing a novel but is afraid to publish it. “Maybe it will be bad,” he told me.
Fortunately we live in a world where experimentation is easy. You can make a 30 page novel, publish it on Amazon for nothing, use an assumed name, and test to see if people like it.
Heck, I’ve done it. And it was fun.
Mac Lethal is a rapper who has gotten over 200 million views on his YouTube videos. Even Ellen had him on her show to demonstrate his skills.
I asked him, “do you get nervous if one of your videos gets less views than others?”
He told me valuable advice: “Nobody remembers your bad stuff. They only remember your good stuff.”
I live by that.
"If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach."
Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to be academics. When they first patented Google, they tried to sell to Yahoo for $1 million (ONE MILLION DOLLARS).
When Yahoo laughed them out the door, they tried to sell to Excite for $750,000.
Excite laughed them out the door. Now an ex-employee of Google is the CEO of Yahoo. And the founder of Excite works at Google. Google dominates.
Money is a side effect of trying to help others. Trying to solve problems. Trying to move beyond the “good enough”.
So many people ask: “how do I get traffic?” That’s the wrong question.
If you ask every day, “How did I help people today?” then you will have more traffic and money than you could have imagined.
"Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people."
Everyone quotes the iconic story of Thomas Edison “failing” 10,000 times to get the electric lightbulb working.
I put failing in quotes because he was doing what any scientist does. He does many experiments until one works.
But what he did that was truly remarkable was convince New York City a few weeks later to light up their downtown using his lights.
The first time ever a city was lit up at night with electricity.
That’s innovation. That’s how the entire world got lit up.
"If you say you want to automate cars and save people’s lives, the skills you need for that aren’t taught in any particular discipline. I know – I was interested in working on automating cars when I was a Ph.D. student in 1995."
Too often we get labeled by our degree and our job titles. Larry Page and Elon Musk were computer science majors. Now they build cars and space ships.
David Chang was a competitive golfer as a kid, majored in religious studies in college, and then had random gopher jobs in his 20s.
The gopher jobs all happened to be in restaurants so he became familiar with how the business was run.
Then he started probably the most popular restaurant in NYC, momofoku. A dozen or so restaurants later, he is one of the most successful restauranteurs in history.
Peter Thiel worked as a lawyer in one of the top law firms in NY. When he quit in order to become an entrepreneur, he told me that many of his colleagues came up to him and said, “I can’t believe you are escaping”.
Escaping the labels and titles and hopes that everyone else has for us is one of the first steps in Choosing Ourselves for the success we are meant to have.
We define our lives from our imagination and the things we create with our hands.
"It really matters whether people are working on generating clean energy or improving transportation or making the Internet work better and all those things. And small groups of people can have a really huge impact."
What I love about this quote is that he combines big problems with small groups.
A small group of people created Google. Not Procter & Gamble. Or AT&T.
Even at Apple, when Steve Jobs wanted to create the Macintosh, he moved his small group to a separate building so they wouldn’t get bogged down in the big corporate bureaucracy that Apple was becoming.
Ultimately, they fired him for being too far from the corporate message.
Years later, when Apple was failing, they brought him back. What did he do? He cut most of the products and put people into small groups to solve big problems.
Before his death he revolutionized the movie industry, the computer industry, the music industry, TVs, and now even watches (watch sales have plummeted after the release of the Apple Watch).
All of this from a guy who finished one semester of studying calligraphy in college before dropping out.
Studying the history of Apple is like studying a microcosm of the history of how to create big ideas. Larry Page is recreating this with his new corporate structure.
We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.
The 20th century was the century of middle-class corporatism. It even became a “law” called “The Peter Principle” – everyone rises to their level of incompetence.
One of the problems society is having now is that the entire middle layer of management is being demoted, outsourced, replaced by technology, and fired.
This is not a bad or a good thing (although it’s scary). But it’s a return to the role of masters and apprentices without bureaucracy and paperwork in the middle.
It’s how things get done. When ideas go from the head into action with few barriers in the middle.
To be a successful employee, you have to align your interests with those of the company, come up with ideas that further help the customers, and have the mandate to act on those ideas, whether they work or not.
That’s why the employee who wrote much of the code inside the Google search engine, Craig Silverstein, is now a billionaire.
Where is he now? He’s an employee at online education company, The Khan Academy.
If you ask an economist what’s driven economic growth, it’s been major advances in things that mattered – the mechanization of farming, mass manufacturing, things like that. The problem is, our society is not organized around doing that.
Google is now making advances in driverless cars, delivery drones, and other methods of automation.
Everyone gets worried that this will cost jobs. But just look at history. Cars didn’t ruin the horse industry. Everyone simply adjusted.
TV didn’t replace books. Everything adjusted. The VCR didn’t shut down movies.
The Internet didn’t replace face to face communication (well, the jury is still out).
"What is the one sentence summary of how you change the world? Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!"
Not everyone wants to create a driverless car. Or clean energy. Or solve a billion person problem.
But I have a list of things that are uncomfortably exciting to me.
They are small, stupid things. Like I’d like to write a novel. Or perform standup comedy. Or maybe start another business based on my ideas for helping people.
Every day I wake up a tiny bit afraid. But I also try to push myself a little closer in those directions. I know then that’s how I learn and grow.
Sometimes I push forward. Sometimes I don’t. I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.
Nobody knows what the definition of Art is.
How about: something that doesn’t exist except in the imagination, that you then bring out into the real world that has some mix of entertainment, enlightenment, and betterment.
I don’t know. Something like that.
Certainly the iPad is a work of art. And the iPad has created works of art. And when I first saw a driverless car I thought, “that’s beautiful”.
I’m going to try and put my fingerprint on something today. And maybe it will be art.
The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer.
We’ve been hypnotized into thinking that the “normal life” is a “working life”.
If you don’t “go to work” then you must be sick or on the tiny bit of vacation allotted to you each year.
What if everything you did you can inject a little bit of leisure, a little bit of fun into it.
I have fun writing, except when I think I have to meet a deadline (work). I have fun making a business that people actually use except when I think about money too much (work).
When you are at the crossroads and your heart loves one path and doesn’t love the other, forget about which path has the money and the work, take the path you love.
We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone. We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren’t that many things people use twice a day.
What a great idea for a list of the day!
What are ten things that can be invented that people would use twice a day?
You need to invent things and you need to get them to people. You need to commercialize those inventions. Obviously, the best way we’ve come up with doing that is through companies.
I was speaking to Naveen Jain, who made his billions on an early search engine, InfoSpace.
He just started a company to mine rare earth minerals on the Moon.
But his real goal is extra-planetary colonization.
Somehow we got around to the question of why have a company in the middle of that. He has billions. He can just go straight for the colonization part.
He said, “Every idea has to be sustainable. Profitability is proof that an idea is sustainable.”
You may think using Google’s great, but I still think it’s terrible.
K. Anders Ericsson made famous the “10,000 hour rule” popularized later by Malcom Gladwell.
The rule is: if you practice WITH INTENT for 10,000 hours then you will be world-class.
He then wondered why typists would often reach a certain speed level and then never improve no matter how many hours.
After doing research, its because they forgot the “With intent” part. They were satisfied with “good enough”.
You have to constantly come up with new metrics to measure yourself, to compete against yourself, to better the last plateau you reached.
Google is great. But it can be better. Having this mindset always forces you to push beyond the comfort zone.
Once they changed the way typists viewed their skills (by recreating the feeling of “beginner’s mind”) the typists continued to get faster.
We have a mantra: don’t be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.
Many people argue whether or not Google has succeeded at this. That’s not the point.
The point is: Values before Money.
A business is a group of people with a goal to solve a problem. Values might be: we want to solve a problem, we want the customer to be happy, we want employees to feel like they have upward mobility, etc.
Once you lose your values, you’ll lost the money as well. This why family-run businesses often die by the third generation (“Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations).
The values of the founder got diluted through his descendants until the company failed.
I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. Since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. In fact, there are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name.
Our parents have our best interests at heart and tell us how to be good adults.
Our schools have our best interests.
Our friends, colleagues, sometimes our bosses, sometimes government, think they have our best interests.
But it’s only when everyone thinks you are crazy that you know you are going to create something that surprises everyone and really makes your own unique handprint on the world.
And because you went out of the comfort zone, you’re only competing against the few other people as crazy as you are.
You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know that if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed, it will be completely gone by the next morning. Sometimes it’s important to wake up and stop dreaming. When a really great dream shows up, grab it.
For every article I’ve ever written, there’s at least ten more I left behind in the middle of the night thinking I would remember in the morning.
I have to beat myself in the head. I . Will. Not. Remember….Must. Write. Down.
It’s hard to wake up. And that’s the only thing worth remembering. It’s hard to wake up.
I have always believed that technology should do the hard work – discovery, organization, communication – so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly.
This is a deep question – who are you? If you have a mechanical hand, is that “you”?
Conversely, if you lose a hand, did you lose a part of you. Are you no longer a complete person? The complete you?
If an implant is put into your brain to access Google, does that effect who you view your self to be?
When books were invented, memory suffered. We no longer had to remember as much, because we can look things up.
Does that make our brains less human?
I bet memory has suffered with the rise of Google. Does this mean our consciousness has suffered?
When we created fire, we outsourced part of our digestion to this new invention. Did this make our stomachs less human?
With technology taking care of the basic tasks of our brain and body, it allows us to achieve things we couldn’t previously dream possible.
It allows us to learn and explore and to create past the current comfort zone. It allows us to find the happiness, freedom, and well-being we deserve.
Over time, our emerging high-usage products will likely generate significant new revenue streams for Google as well as for our partners, just as search does today.
This is it. This is why Larry Page has re-oriented Google into Alphabet.
Don’t waste your most productive energies solving a problem that now only has incremental improvements.
Re-focus the best energies on solving harder and harder problems.
Always keeping the value of “how can I help a billion people” will keep Google from becoming a Borders bookstore (which went out of business after outsourcing all of their sales to Amazon).
How does this apply to the personal?
Instead of being a cog in the machine for some corporation, come up with ways to automate greater abundance.
Always understand that coming up with multiple ways to help people is ultimately the way to create the biggest impact.
Impact then creates health, friendship, competence, abundance, and freedom.
But this is also why he created Alphabet and put Google underneath it.
To save the world. To save me.
Original article appeared here: http://inc42.com/buzz/20-things-ive-learned-from-l..
Exclusively.in will be merged with Snapdeal, website to be shutdown
After acquiring online luxury fashion store Exclusively in February last year, Snapdeal is merging the entire catalogue of products under Exclusively with its Fashion and Apparel category. All team members at Exclusively will continue with their existing business responsibilities, the company said in a statement, while the delivery of products under the Exclusively will be fulfilled by Snapdeal post the merger.
The Exclusively.in website will soon cease to exist as a standalone website and will neither continue to accept orders from users, while the brand itself will be retained by Snapdeal, the company told MediaNama. Snapdeal however mentioned that the “integration will ensure a wider access for the fashion and lifestyle products available on Exclusively,” since all Snapdeal users will be directly buying from the inventory of products listed on Exclusively.
A Mint report said that Snapdeal is currently reviewing acquisitions and related investments it made in the past years, while it looks to cut costs in a scenario where funding has slowed down. The Exclusively.in website had been processing around 150-200 orders per day with an average purchase size of about Rs 12,000-20,000, the report added.
Expansion of logistics: After rival Amazon announced that it is building six fulfillment centres, Snapdeal said that it opened six logistics centres in Delhi-NCR, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Kolkata, in this month.
Funding: In February, Snapdeal raised $200 million in funding from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with participation from Iron Pillar and others. It had also raised $500 millionin August last year and $627 million in October 2014.
Previous developments of Exclusively.in
Exclusively.in was previously acquired by rival Myntra in 2012. But Myntra had sold back its entire stake in the company back to founder Sunjay Guleria in second half of 2013 and it has been operating independently ever since, according to an Economic Times report. Currently it sells wide range of fashion and lifestyle products from Indian designers and international luxury brands like DKNY, Armani, Michael Kors, Porsche Design, Marc Jacobs among others.
Exclusively.in started as a flash sales site but pivoted to a standard e-commerce model offering designer apparel and accessories in 2011. The company used to ship products only to the US and UK catering to but latter shipped to destinations in India and other global destinations.
The company had raised $16 million in a Series-B funding round led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Accel Partners India and Helion Venture Partners in 2011. It had previously raised $2.8 million from Accel Partners and Helion Venture Partners in November 2010.
Elsewhere in the fashion e-commerce segment
Last month, Snapdeal’s rival company Flipkart had acquired fashion commerce company Jabong via Myntra for $70 million in cash. In reality, Rocket Internet, which holds a majority stake in Jabong sold the company to Myntra through its fashion commerce arm Global Fashion Group (GFG). Flipkart had earlier acquired Myntra in 2014. Jabong’s major investors including AB Kinnevik and Rocket Internet were in talks with players since September 2015 to sell the company.
The Jabong acquisition comes after reports suggested that Snapdeal and Aditya Birla Group-backed abof.com expressed interests to buy the company. Economic Timesreported that the Jabong’s initial asking price for the sale was $250-300 million; but the final deal size came down to just $70 million with Flipkart. In November 2014, Amazon was reportedly in talks to buy Jabong for around $1.2 billion. However, the deal fell through following disagreements between the companies over valuation, according to a VCCircle report.
All you need to know about the cool gadgets launched at CES 2017
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 began with a bang on January 5, 2017, in Las Vegas. The tech fair featured an exuberant display of technology and witnessed big brands like Google and BMW coming together for the creation of future technology.While the participating brands including tech companies like Dell, Lenovo and HP displayed some really cool laptops, organisations like Google and BMW went high on Artificial Intelligence.
In case you missed out on the developments, check out the updates here:
Lenovo launches series of gaming laptops Lenovo Legion (Photo: Lenovo/CES 2017)
CES 2017 witnessed Lenovo launching a new series of gaming laptops– Legion. Lenovo Legion Y720 features the latest range of Intel Core processors with discrete graphics and super fast hybrid storage space and an Xbox One Wireless Controller support. The company also launched Yoga Book, which runs on a custom version of Android operating system. Yoga Book also features an innovative Halo keyboard, which appears when you need it and vanishes when you don’t.
LG unveils a super-slim television
LG unveils TV (Photo: LG/CES 2017)Korean consumer electronics giant unveiled a super-slim television at CES 2017. The smart-TV is a mere 2.57mm thick and features an OLED panel with nano-cell technology. The company would start shipping the TV, that looks like a poster on the wall, from March 2017.
Samsung shows off Odyssey notebook system
Samsung Odyssey (Photo: Windows/CES 2017)The year 2016 was a year of epic bloopers for Korean electronic giant Samsung. However, the company has a number of devices lined up in 2017 to make a stellar comeback. Starting the year with a bang, the company showed off its latest notebook– Odyssey at the CES in LA. The laptop is power-packed with a number of features including the 7th generation Intel core i7 processor with a wide-view angle display, a 1TB HDD, Dual SSD + HDD and Triple storage space. The company also updated its Notebook 9 series laptop adding an increased battery life, Windows 10, 7th generation Intel Core i7 Processor to it. The company also announced Chromebook and Chromebook Plus, that offer 360-degree rotating touchscreen.
HP launches world’s slimmest convertible
HP Spectre (Photo: HP Spectre/CES 2017)Ahead of CES 2017, US tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) unveiled the world’s thinnest convertible laptop. EliteBook x360 promises the longest ever battery life of over 16 hours. The laptop is protected by a coating of Corning Gorilla Glass and is powered by the seventh-generation Intel core i7 processor. The company also unveiled EliteBook x360, which features ultra-high display, 16GB DDR4 RAM and Windows Hello support.
Qualcomm display the all-mighty Snapdragon 835 processor
Snapdragon 835 (Photo: Qualcomm/CES 2017)While CES is all about the big brands bragging their peerless technological advancements, it’s the core products like the processors, VR and graphics that draw maximum attention. In this cases, the show-stealer was Qualcomm that unveiled its all-mighty processor Snapdragon 835 at CES 2017. The company is launching the processor in conjunction with the Power Rangers VR gear.
Nissan and BMW bring Microsoft’s Cortana to cars
BMW integrates Cortana to its dashboard (Photo: BMW/CES 2017)Remember Cortana? Microsoft’s smartass AI that has been guiding you on your Windows laptops and phones. Well, two of the biggest names in the automotive– Nissan and BMW are bringing Cortana to your car. While BMW plans to use Cortana for a personalised autonomous driving experience, Nissan plans to use the AI in a similar way while adding ‘google maps like’ features to it.
Kingston unveils 2TB flash drive
Kingston (Photo: Facebook)In this digital era, storage space is of great importance, specially when we’re dealing with the humongous quantity of data every day. To facilitate the process of data storage, Kingston launched world’s first flash drive with the storage space of 2TB at a pre-CES event. The USB drive is completely shock-proof and is compatible with Windows 7 and higher versions, Mac OS v10.9 and above, Linux v2.6 and above and Google Chrome.
Dell launches Alienware and other laptops
Dell laptops (Photo: Windows/CES 2017)If CES is too big an event, Dell made it even bigger by releasing a series of laptops. Apart from updating its Alienware series, Dell also updated its Canvas, XPS, Precision and UltraSharp series of laptops. The company also added WiTricity magnetic resonance wireless charging technology to its laptops to enable wireless charging in its laptops.
Blackberry launches Mercury
Blackberry Mercury (Photo: Facebook)TCL, the company that now manufactures smartphones for Blackberry showed-off a teaser of their rumoured smartphone– Mercury. The smartphone will feature a combination of Android-Blackberry keypad and will be launched at Mobile World Congress 2017.
Casio launches WSD-F20 smartwatch
Casio smartwatch (Photo: Facebook)
Japanese consumer electronic giant has updated its smartwatch WSD-F20. The smartwatch runs on Android Wear 2.0 and features GPS functionality and support for online and offline maps. WSD-F20 comes with a rugged look and can slip into the low-power monochrome mode for basic tasks like checking time. Though the prices haven’t been confirmed yet, the smartwatch will be hit the market in April this year.
What it takes to be a Product Manager
A Day In The Life Of A Product Manager : Based On A True Story :-)
By: Amit GoelAmit Goel
Co-Founder & CEO at CareerPlot
I had published this post about 1.5 years back on my personal blog and now, reposting it on LinkedIn. This post is not about being inspirational or talk about the pros and cons of being a product manager. It is all about doing what one always wants to do in life. Everyone plays an important role in success of a company. Be it a CEO, COO, sales, marketing, programmers, testers, admins, HR, finance, support or a lesser known mortal called Product Manager, everyone is so integral for a company to be successful. and the measure of success is only one thing called “Customer Happiness Index”.
So, With all the kind of roles mentioned above, most of them are very well defined functions. There is only one function called Product Management which is so ambiguous (in everyone's mind) that even product managers get confused many times why they exist. Sometimes, it is so frustrating for a product manager to figure out whether one is an engineer, support executive , operations person, salesperson, marketing professional or basically, either nothing or everything.
So, Let's visualise a day in the life of a product manager. Feel free to replace the characters in the story with the people around you. For example: you can replace the CEO with other managers, directors or project heads etc..
A Product Manager day entails a minimum of the following.
Daily Stand up meeting ( a catch up with his/her team)
This is the bare minimum and a must have. A product manager definitely starts a day with a daily stand up with his teammates (mostly virtually on telephone to save time in the morning while being in traffic). In this stand up, he blurbs out the issues he is facing to get the feature released on time or if nothing else, at least get it released. Also, he fights out with his team mates (other product managers) about why his thing is important and others need to wait. By the end of this stand up, his blood pressure has already shot up and is boiling with anger.
Stand up with Feature Teams
This is optional if agile is functioning in its best possible format in a company. but in reality, agile is twisted in most companies and a product manager becomes the part of feature team stand up to make sure he observes the progress and issues and resolves if it can be. Now, there are different opinions by everyone on how agile should be. But a product manager should be the last one attending daily stand ups of different teams.
Dealing with Sales teams
By the time, stand ups are over and a product manager barely manages to finish a cup of coffee and is about to finish his 50% of email replies, he gets the calls from sales executives about clarifications of certain features in the product and if they can be modified with in a day to get the potential customer. Of course, most of the time , the answer is a BIG NO. and he spends crucial minutes explaining that it cannot be done. at the end of the discussion with sales executive, with in few minutes, he starts seeing the mails from almost all corners how a customer is lost because a product is not up to the mark and he missed out on such basic scenario of customer needs. and as a result, company has lost a very significant customer and a huge pile of money.
Dealing with Tech teams
Because of argument with sales teams, he talks to tech team if certain tweaks are possible in the product quickly. Inspite of him being technical and polite, the tech team just ignores him and says a BIG NO without understanding the impact on customers or business or even giving him/her a proper hearing. They just move on to their second cup of coffee and a discussion on how Facebook is handling millions of requests per second. Because for tech teams, their daily dose of technology orgasm happens with hi-tech discussions about how other companies are building cool technology and how their company is full of stupid shit of people who do not know anything. Now, the product manager is left distraught and disarrayed by a bunch of engineers who claim to "know-it-all" gods.
Dealing with Marketing
As the product manager is recovering from the blows given by tech teams, a mail from marketing arrives asking for suggestions for a new partnership they wish to crack. They want suggestions if they can launch a new product scheme in the market and if the product can support it. This one is fairly easy and a product manager says yes to anything which helps in product growth. but then, comes the hard part. Now, he needs to draft a one pager and get the graphic designer to depict it in exactly what marketing teams wants and the hours go by while that lonely graphic designer sitting in a corner thinking like Leonardo Da Vinci or Salvador Dali tries to open up Photoshop on his 16 GB memory machine for the next two hours.
And an irritated customer calls
While the lunch time is gone and the product manager is hungry, here comes the patience test. A customer calls directly to product manager as he got the phone number figured out by fooling the customer support executives or through the connections on LinkedIn and complains that he is not able to perform a transaction or may be there is some issue he is facing. Remember that every customer feels that the issue he is facing is life threatening. A product manager rushes to the QA team to verify it who, in turn, asks for “steps to reproduce”. A few hours with the QA team with the last hour full of hot debates and then, a few expletives and abusive exchanges gets the problem identified and now, an unacceptable timeline is communicated to customer about the fix of the issue. This angers the customer and he disconnects the phone.
Phone call from COO (chief operations officer)
The Product Manager is just about to begin his lunch when people are having snacks or playing ping pong in the evening, when the COO calls. The angry customer has reached out to top management and has threatened to part ways with the company if the issue is not resolved in an hour. Forgetting the so called lunch in between, the product manager rushes to tech team and pleads (read: begs ) to them to fix it urgently. Finally, one of the tech guys agree as he feels that he should help the needy (like sometimes, PETA feels to help the humans instead of animals). He fixes the issue but by that time, QA team is already preparing to leave for the day. Now, the product manager pleads (read: begs again) to the QA guy and he agrees to help (like Trump agreeing to help an immigrant who belongs to Slovenia). Then, the Dev Ops, Sys Admin and release teams finally listen to the pleas of a poor guy and make the release happen.
Roadmap Disagreement with CTO
By that time, CTO figures out that they have many more important things in technology to be taken care of as product needs to be scalable and reliable. and a huge discussion with CTO happens to align the roadmap again. Note that, roadmap discussions are a daily affair and a dream of one year roadmap is just a “DREAM”. CTO wants the system to be scalable to handle million customers at any given time when in reality, the company is still yet to breach the 5000 customer mark. and this is top priority because his team has figured out that Facebook and Google have built and used this super cool piece of technology and now, they have open sourced it too. Also, all other engineers in the world are talking about it so they need to implement it too.
Finally, Status update with CEO
The office is empty. People have gone home. It’s the security guards having dinner in office. The product manager is winding off for the day as he is just about to miss a celebration at home. But then the CEO calls, he has heard about the customer complaint, last minute bug fix done by tech guys, problems identified in product by COO and team, sales team complaining about product not having that feature which can bring revenue, marketing team just cribbing about zero support from product management, a screwed up roadmap as told by CTO and of course, not adhering to the instructions given by the CEO himself. So, CEO agains tells the product manager to spend another quick one hour to find a solution to all the problems and send him a proposal which needs to be reviewed first thing in the morning....
While the product manager is working on the proposal, the birds are chirping outside. The cleaning staff has started coming in... The sun is getting to 30 degrees in the horizon...
By the way, the celebration at home which he was supposed to attend at any cost got over yesterday.
FYI, This is not my story. I am one happy product manager who loves every aspect of product management and building products.Check my profile to know more about me :-)
PS 1 : If you are an aspiring product manager based in India ( Bangalore or Hyderabad ) and want to meet me in person, I can definitely catch up with you for a cup of coffee on any weekend. Just connect with me on LinkedIn and then, send me a message ...
If you want to have a telephonic discussion with me on anything about product management or startups etc, or would like to have my advice on these topics again... just connect with me on linkedIn and send me a message...
PS 2 : If you want , you can read my previous articles on LinkedIn to get my thoughts on product management. check the section "Don't miss more articles by Amit Goel" below.
Disclaimer : Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them. All events described herein actually happened, though on occasion the author has taken certain liberties with the event definition and chronology, because that is his right to freedom of exaggeration like every other human being on this planet and especially, because he belongs to India.