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Building a long and meaningful career | Nikhyl Singhal (Meta, Google)

When i was a kid and i was growing up in the midwest entertainment was like going to the dog tracks the way that they motivated the dogs was they had these like fake rabbits these tails would go around faster than the dogs which would then motivate the dogs to go around in circles and what was interesting is the moment that the dogs if they accidentally touched the rabbit they would never run again because there was like well what's next i've achieved what i was looking for and so i think this happens a ton it's like your listeners are spending time focused on life well one day i will be ex i will be that vice president i will have more money i will have built something i will have started a company. But they don't think about what happens next what's the second thing what's your career next look like how do you ensure that you are always going to have something important and motivating to do with your career otherwise you'l keep working because you don't know any nothing else to do.

But you'l be sadder or you'l find ways to create war when peace is needed welcome to lenny's podcast where i interview world-class product leaders and growth experts to learn from their hard-winning experiences building and growing today's most successful products today my guest is nikhail singall nickel has worked on and led large teams on four different influential consumer products including facebook credit karma google hangouts and google photos currently he leads product teams for the facebook app at meta where we're seeing groups stories messaging and the feed before that he served as chief product officer at credit karma and held various leadership roles at google nickel has also co-founded three different startups and as you'l hear in this episode is extremely passionate about coaching and mentoring sharing his knowledge through his newsletter and podcast called the skip in our conversation we cover all aspects of the pm career and what it takes to be successful at every stage of the journey including the dangers of thinking too short term the importance of avoiding what he calls ex-growth companies or you're probably not getting promoted what to focus on if you're new manager the rise of the senior ic path also why top leaders often have huge development areas they don't know about and how to catch them and also why people who make it to the top often run into serious mental health challenges as i say at the end of this episode this might be my new favorite episode. And i'm really excited to bring it to you with that i bring you nikel singall after a short word from our sponsors this episode is brought to you by superhuman how much time do you spend in email each day how about your team you may not realize this but your email tools are wasting your time superhuman is blazingly fast email for high performing teams built to work with gmail and outlook teams who use superhumans spend half the time in their inboxes respond to twice the number of emails and save over 4 hours a week that's over a month of save time per year with superhuman you can split your inbox into streams or vips team members and emails from your favorite products to reduce contact switching and make sure you never miss an important email you can set reminders if you don't hear back so that you can follow up and never drop the ball on an email thread you can also work faster than ever before with powerful ai features like writing editing summarizing and even translating join the ranks of the most productive teams and unleash the power of superhuman try one month free at lenny that's superhuman dot com slash lenny this episode is brought to you by microsoft clarity a free easy to use tool that captures how real people are actually using your site you can watch live session replays to discover where users are breezing through your phone where they struggle you can view instant heat maps to see what parts your page users are engaging with and what content they're ignoring you can also pinpoint what's bothering your users with really cool frustration metrics like rage clicks and dead clicks and much more if you listen to this podcast you know how often we talk about the importance of knowing your users and by seeing how users truly experience your product you can identify product opportunities conversion wins and find big gaps between how you imagine people using your product and how they actually use it microsoft clarity makes it all possible with a simple yet incredibly powerful set of features you'l be blown away by how easy clarity is to use and it's completely free forever you will never run into traffic limits or be forced to upgrade to a paid version it also works across both apps and websites stop guessing get clarity check out clarity at to the podcast thank you lenny i appreciate it. I'm happy to be here so i have a very simple question to start how many product managers have you been a mentor to if you had to put a number on it good question. I just haven't thought about it from that perspective i would say hundreds is probably the way to sort of answer the question and a little bit has to do with whether or how we define being a mentor i know that was supposed to be a simple question and i'm going to give you a complicated answer. But i think that i started out just helping people you know 10 15 years ago trying to help them through their careers i find the whole area really interesting. And then what happened it was just hard to scale because people were always like hey can you find time. So now what i do is i tend to help and coach hundreds of folks through transitions. So if they're in a moment where they're trying to decide between another job if they're trying to decide to leave if they're having a sort of an alert at work i call them 911 calls i take a few 9-1 calls every week and from a relatively large group of people and so i find those are the most substantive times to help people is when they're in moments of dilemma or forks in the road and that's why the numbers more closer to hundreds okay follow-up question how many of those people you've mentored have been on this podcast probably half dozen to kind of close to a dozen at this point. Yeah easily a half dozen amazing. Okay is there any names you want to name or should we keep it anonymous we'l keep it anonymous because i want people to feel like and always call me and not feel like that.

I don't tend to share the names of most people. Okay. I know the one person that self-identified was annie pearl from calendly who's a big advocate of the stuff that you do. So. Yeah any someone i learned from and help talk with and she's also part of a community that i also build on the side where we pulled a bunch of the cpos together. And they've been building community. I'm a big fan of community learning and that's she's part of that. As well awesome i definitely want to talk about that.

But maybe just set a little context for our conversation i feel like you're in the very high percentiles of people that have seen a variety of careers in product management both good careers bad careers junior people senior people. And so i want to focus most of our time on talking about just the pm career path and what you've learned about what is important to have a successful thriving happy pm career does that sound good perfect. Okay. So i'm thinking we break up the chat into like early career or mid-career and way career and so within the early career section you've talked about how people often make a mistake in their early career specifically being very short-term focused in deciding where they're going to go and that's a very dangerous way of thinking about it. So i'd love to hear just your take on exactly what does that mean. And then why is that actually a bad idea. Yeah i tend to be long-term focused in most of my counsel and maybe to give you an example of what a short-term focused career kind of framework looks like is i really dislike my boss i feel like this company doesn't have it anymore there's just too hard to ship things those are all maybe true statements. But they probably exist in the many of the jobs that one would consider if they were to move from one to another and lateral moves are by definition not forward moves so what i try to tell people to think about is work backwards from your end state almost think of career as a product. So if you're building a good product you think about well here's what a great product would look like and then you break it into version one version two version three well in some ways the reason i called my newsletter my podcast the skip is because i always think about like what's not the next job but the one after it maybe think about not your boss's job but your boss's job and what do i need to think about to get there and in many ways you may think well. Okay if i need to found a company one day and that's my job after next then you want to look at maybe your current job. And then maybe the next job in service of that and that may lead you to saying hey maybe i need to grid it out.

And maybe i should stay maybe i should learn how to deal with some of this ambiguity that's why i want people to be a bit more longer term and not so short-term focused what are some other examples of that short term. Think you talked about my manager sucks things are moving really slowly but other examples where people may be like. Oh okay. I see this is actually short term let me think longer term. I'd say the biggest one in workplace is focusing career and promotion together. And i think that there's a perhaps a light connection between promotion and career edition. But i feel like too many people are you know the moment we talk about career they're like well let me talk to you i want to have a career talk with you. And i said sure why don't you find some time we sit down together and they're like well what do you think i need you need to do to get to career to promotion. And then i say well promotion is our system at this company to see you moving forward. And it's pretty clear in terms of levels and what you're doing and what the process is and who makes the decision and that's pretty short term because you can ask hey it's two years away how do i make it. 18 months right it's a classic but in reality if you're thinking career you're thinking about that sort of long-term arc and as i said maybe the job after next.

And then you need to look at the promotion in service because how many people have you and i talked to who said well then as soon as i get promote. I'm going to leave so then i'm like. Well. Okay then what's the promotion and service of. And you get into that conversation which tends to be again very long-term focused this makes me think about this interesting two-sided challenge with thinking about your future career and where you want to go on the one hand it's valuable to think about like getting more logos in your resume and working at netflix and meta and airbnb and uber all these guys. Right like it's there's power and value to that on the other hand you just keep doing that. And then what is your life turning into you're just chasing more fancy logos and feeling better about better brands in your resume and stuff this may be too big a question but just like how do you how do you advise people to think about how important it is to get some of these companies in your resume and build that side of it versus just like doing things you actually enjoy and having a fulfilling life and things that are doing things that are meaningful to you. Yeah. I mean i think collecting labels does feel shallow to most builders because if you're a product person you probably got into the business because you like building stuff and frankly not just product people want to do that a lot of technical people want to just build stuff and then the question is the things that you're working on in service of building and then when you ask people where are you happy as they always say well when i was able to build this thing and oftentimes they don't care whether it worked or not it's just kind of ironic so for me when i see people chasing logos i think about it as well i'm actually really a big fan of a diverse set of experiences that i think learning about pre-product market fit then seeing smoke turn into fire and witnessing and maybe shepherding that and then taking fire and turning it into something great and being inexperienced that where you can see the movie and these different frames makes you just a better builder so you can't really go wrong if you're looking at those experiences and you're looking at inside the building problems and outside the building problems those are maybe consumer problems and business to business problems the more diverse career you have the better builder you are and that usually comes out being satisfied but the idea of just doing that because you think it's going to make your chances better for the next job maybe scares me and it feels very much in service of some future dream that is not build oriented. And i think that can be leading to sadness i love that advice. And i say this often actually on this podcast the power of right diversity of experiences for so many reasons maybe just to close this loop would you agree there is a lot of value in having one of these like fangish companies on your resume like a lot of opportunity gets unlocked if you work at one of these companies that people are like. Oh wow. Okay this person's interesting or not. Or do people maybe overthink that generically the answer is. Yes i think it's especially important for executives i think that many executives are hired because they are to bring expertise of the next phase of organization to this company so i we're growing we want to go after the next phase we want someone who's has expertise the magma or fan companies however you want to describe them they really have challenges and expertise and how to build things at scale how to manage millions or billions of users and customers so the advantage is to be successful at that is an endorsement having said that those specific companies experiences you know can be substituted for other later stage companies but if you're coming in as an executive to bring someone to the next level and you've never experienced it's a very difficult thing to get that executive experience and to be like a sea level for that growth company the point out fang is no longer accurate because facebook is not meta so magma is the term that you prefer i'd prefer that i think it unfortunately kicks out netflix. But it also you know doesn't pay homage to adobe and salesforce and a number of other great companies so i think fang doesn't. Okay. I like this. Okay let's try to make magma the new thing magma make that the title of this episode just joking so the next area i want to touch on.

Is you wrote this kind of like hot take on something you call exit growth companies and how it's not good to be at a next growth company currently so can you just talk about what is an ex growth company and then why is that not a good place to be as a product manager but probably any kind of any kind of role i have a pretty strong opinion on this that i think that the for 10 years we created the hyperbo blitz scaling type phenomenon and there was a lot of good reasons for that some of which were just distribution platforms just got so good you know you could take out facebook ads you could grow with google and you could you know grow in 18 months that you know maybe took previous companies. 10 years so i think that the idea was that all of these companies could instantly grow when they found product market fit and that birth all these unicorns and then suddenly 18 months ago it almost like the music stopped zero percent interest rate went away and it became a lot harder to find growth through just fueling it with capital and i think that the sudden change meant that not only capital was harder to raise but companies started to focus on their core products you know. And you've talked about it on this podcast just how many you know layoffs and restructuring and managers moving to ics and all of that work is happening well the one funny pocket was there's these large number of growth companies who have raised substantive dollars so they're not going to run out of capital in 2022 or 2023 what's going to happen is they actually have quite long periods of time so you don't see them raising new rounds you don't see them laying off but in some ways they're still hiring or they're still seeking you know the next product the sad truth is that many of their contemporary companies that went public are worth 10 percent or less than what they were worth back then and these companies are privately held and so they're sort of sleeping in the shadows and my fear is from a career point of view so many tech professionals are in these organizations or joining these organizations with the expectation that they'l make money on their equity that they'l continue to do fine. And my sense is we're going to see even in the second half of this year lots of boards pulling back taking their capital back companies essentially saying hey we're capitalized like we're a scaled ocean liner.

And now we need to go find product market fit but doing that with 300 people and expectations of hitting a multi-billion dollar evaluation just isn't going to happen. And so that's the reason why i'm like danger this is not the company to join this is the company to leave find another phase times a wasting. And i worry very much that people aren't getting the message i know you probably don't want to name any names of companies but what are some signs that may be your one at one of these companies i think that the moment that you are reframing the core product trying to find that product market implies that this company valuation needs to be a pre-product market fit valuation so the two questions you ask yourself the day after we listen to this podcast is hey are we scaling a product we have customers that love us and we have a tremendous sucking sound or are we trying to find that customer sucking sound and if the answer is we're still trying to find it. And then you're like is your evaluation hundreds of millions or tens of millions and if the answer is hundreds or more and you're still trying to find that sucking sound you're an ex-growth company as a founder listening to this i bet you're like damn we don't want people leaving this isn't the kind of message we want to hear on the other hand is an employee at a company like that is your advice just generally recognize it. And then you should probably leave as soon as possible because things are not going to work out for you as an employee i think you have almost no recourse because you almost have to start over in terms of it's a new four-year investment i think that as a founder you can recap your company you can reset your stock price you could reissue you know you can make those hard decisions. And you can maybe return some of the money to the board and still continue or you can pull the plug and restart the company that maybe you really wanted to.

But i think the founders in a better position but they also have a lot more to lose and far more constraints but employees they're not if you listen to this and come to this conclusion a lot of times the listeners here half or more of their compensation is inequity. And we just concluded that most of their equity may not be worth anything in which case are you willing to take a half pay cut or work for 20 of what you can get in the market my question is that seems to be quite concerning the opportunity cost is just too rich an important variable in this framework slash piece of advice is product market fit this might be too big of a question. But just what tells you that something might have not a product market fit when you're at a company like this what are signs to you and like smoke signals of like they may not have product market fit for me it's always around this pull the sort of how much work do you have to do to basically generate pull so right now with open ai for example we're seeing ridiculous pull. But we may not be seeing for example massive revenue or profitability so that's the reason why i tend to feel like you can kind of tell by how hard it is to acquire your users when companies are putting very little in marketing and they're people coming into the door or there's such an easy sale you've got it.

And i think that this sucking pull kind of concept feels like the most appropriate way to define it as opposed to the sort of unit economics of acquisition and time to pay back there are lots of mathy ways to do it but early on you can tell are you working how hard are you working to bring people in the door is there any reason to consider staying at a company like this there are counter examples i think the counterpoint is this is the biggest role that you feel like you could get and you have an appetite to sort of learn at the. Like. I'm on the executive team i'm not going to get that somewhere else that experience is career additive i want that moment great. Sometimes i see loyalty come in this was my baby i feel a commitment to the team the team that i've made et cetera i actually respect that i think that you have to put bounds on that you know i think that you should have that conversation but the learning position the loyalty tend to be the primary reasons to maybe delay the decision but fear of finding another job is a is a bad reason but is it often common reason as well now that we've given many listeners an existential crisis let me move on to another question within the early career phase and then i'm going to move on to mid-career. And i guess the question is just is there any other piece of advice wisdom for early pms what should they be maybe the question is what do you think they should most get right in their early career there's probably two answers that i would share one is they want to build something that they as much as possible or world class in so if you think about the different types of product ambiguities that exist in industry you can be a great crafter you know you could be incredibly strong at market ambiguity you could understand how to navigate markets and create something new that doesn't exist you can be great at organizational ambiguity you know i know how to take complex teams that have complex goals and solve an inside the building problem you can be a domain expert i'm an ml expert i'm a really strong hardware piano you could be a team expert i just released thrive in managing managers. And i just know how to get the balance right so being a product manager means you're confronted with maybe all five or maybe more of these i want to know that you pick up one of these as early as possible. So maybe you expert become an expert in domain maybe you become a great crafter or maybe you really think through how to manage growth is another one that you know i would add to the list but picking a lane is kind of goal number one and then maybe goal number two is having a story to tell to that next employer and then next you know what i worry about is sometimes when i'm in an interview and you and i have probably done hundreds and you're talking to someone. And then they talk about those early jobs and they just sort of said they were there this happened. And it's very hard to connect like tell me exactly what you learned and what you did i want to know that story. And so it's just like amazon talks about building the press release before they start creating a product think about the story think about the skill then solve your day-to-day your week to week your month to month your performance review that's my biggest advice to ics i love that advice. And it connects to your earlier piece of advice i'm just trying to get a variety of experiences because that'l help you figure out which of these things is maybe best suited for what you're interested in what you enjoy doing.

Yeah. Absolutely awesome. So let's transition to mid-career let's talk about promotions you mentioned getting promoted earlier we chatted a bit about that there's probably no one ever that didn't want to get promoted it's a common topic in people's career but a lot of times people don't understand why they're not getting promoted they're not sure people are looking for to get promoted you promote a lot of people you've gone through a lot of promotions what would be your advice to give people who are trying to get promoted and just haven't been promoted what would you suggest people in that position generally do. Yeah. It's a great question i think that we want to kind of understand why and oftentimes asking your manager won't reveal the answer so let me start with that i think that the answer of what you do is correlated with what's the real reason and i think that there may be i'l suggest four kind of common things i've seen that really hold people back and depending on your environment you have to decide how many of these apply so i think the number one is that you just don't have advocacy you know you need someone to see the magic in you to be promoted and there is many of your listeners who have that magic but maybe have a manager or promotion team it doesn't always have to be the manager itself who doesn't see said magic and in that case if you have the magic you're in a bad setting and you just need to change that could be a shift within the project it could find a manager who sees it could be leaving the company i think the second that's very common now. Lenny. And i think it's coming up a ton is the next rule doesn't exist so this is not as present in hyper growth because the next rule always did exist there was always growth there was always hiring they're always hiring people above you below you.

Etc now i think there's lots of examples of people who aren't really qualified and working at the next level but the job doesn't exist and so you can't really create that job and ask them to be working at that next job if their position is mostly the previous one and that again i feel like it's not that satisfying because it means you're still being held back but it's radically different than if you're unqualified these two are sort of more the system is not in a position to advocate the third is when you are being impatient and i think the hardest ones that i think i've worked with is the highest performers have succeeded because they have set their goals to be more aggressive than what was essentially average achievable by default we expect you to be two years in this role they're like great. I'l see you in a year. And then they get frustrated when they can't do that and leadership takes longer to absorb it's more soft skills it's more subtle it's oftentimes it's based on you know impact which is a lot of times lagging and that tends to be frustrating and so if listeners are like. I know i'm used to being promoted annually and now i'm a leader. And i'm not moving as quickly it's time for me to go i'm like well maybe that's working as intended and so impatience is your number three and then the fourth one i think is about 50 of the cases where it's really there is a development area. But it isn't quite connected to the to the individual the listener has a development area it's substantive the manager is poor at identifying it perhaps even doesn't see it but the promotion committee does the individual refuses to hear it which is a very common one or they hear it. And they just don't want to change it. And they don't do it because they're arrogant they do it because it's like this is who i am. You want me to be x.

And i'm y and that's what a y is. And i don't want to be x this is the hardest one because this is where coaching and development and you know self-awareness come in amazing and this super resonates so just to summarize the four reasons you may not be getting promoted one is there's no advocate that sees your magic and understands that you're awesome too. Is there's no actual role that's available and so there's nothing to get promoted to and that's so true right now there's just not they're like everyone's laying people off they're getting rid of manager layers it totally see that all over the place threes you're probably just not being patient for you actually have some work to do. And you shouldn't be promoted maybe to follow thread on that first one if someone doesn't see your magic i see a lot of people just like complaining that like i'm doing so. Well i'm so great and nobody understands it no one gives me credit no one really appreciates me. I don't know if this is there's an answer to this but is there a way to help people see that no you're actually not doing great versus you are and people just don't see it like what's a sign maybe you're not as great as you think you might be the cheap answer is you have to get real feedback not formal feedback. I think that the more scale the company is the more they have these systems in place which provide formal feedback. But honestly you know we've run experiments where we said let's ignore the formal feedback let's have a real conversation with you know my peers on how our teams are doing the signal that comes out are dramatically different than the formal feedback. So what you're looking for when you feel like you're in this situation where you're not being seen and it might be because there's a real issue what you really want to dial into is let me get the ground truth as to what people are thinking. And you know you have to have very strong listener skills where the you know we all have been in the discussion where you're giving feedback to someone and the next thing that they tell you is they justify how you're wrong. No you missed this let me tell you about exactly why that was a situation that you're using wasn't you have to be great at pulling feedback listening to it you have to triangulate it from people like that don't see you all the time that do see you all the time your peers but you have to create an environment of safety where people feel like there is no worry about retaliation or concern etc and the more comfortable people are about giving feedback to you and the more you have the skills to pull it. And you don't trust formal or you don't trust manager the better shot you have of truly understanding what that real issue is in solving it this reminds me of jules walters on the podcast he gave a bunch of advice i don't know if you saw that of how to accept feedback and get people to give you feedback in one of its pieces of advice is ask people for real feedback and no matter how much you're melting inside hearing it just be like thank you so much for that because then people feel like all right he's listening i think jules is a great probably one of the world's best people in pulling feedback in my experience i think that the one that even ones up it is when you know i talked to jules will look for feedback then he'l repeat it back to me better than even i presented it and then i'd say well let me thou feel safer to even provide because anyone who's explaining it to a place that they all not only internalize it but they can articulate clearly understand the values it. That's the really powerful way is that what you're saying is i just interrupt far too often and in some ways it's almost to a point that it's annoying is that a fair assessment oh that's actually not the words i use.

But that's what really gets people comfortable in sharing with you what's really going on amazing. I think we're discovering some of these people that have worked with you that have been on the podcast slowly maybe while we're on this topic i didn't expect to go here but in terms of other tips for getting good feedback is there anything else that just comes top of mind of how to get better feedback from people because you know it's hard to do most people talk about getting feedback and then don't. Or they just don't know how so one is just you said repeat back exactly what they told you and be like very appreciative is there anything else i'd share out feedback it's a little easier when you are a manager but for example most managers that are listening you know have a staff discussion maybe you know it's. Sort of awkward. But maybe you have a stand up and you are giving you know notes to people so as a manager as you know someone will come to me and they'l give me a piece of feedback the next monday when i have my staff meeting i'l make a comment about something i'l say well a lot of this came because i got this great piece of feedback from you know. And i'l name the person. And i'm like it really helped me see this challenge now that feedback could be about me or without this project or about the team and it might be positive it might be constructive people hear that.

And they're like. Wow i get recognized for giving this guy feedback sign me up you're always trying to find a way to break down that barrier i love that tip you talked about managers and how often managers are not great and managers maybe they don't identify development areas maybe they're bad in other areas. So maybe just a question here of just like why are managers often not great and then two if you're a new manager i think a lot of listeners are maybe transitioning to management or about to transition what's your advice for being successful as a new manager i'l start by saying that in you know in a hundred years when the archaeologists look back and they see tech in the sort of early years of tech in the first 30 34 years they'l say that the biggest surprise was how much we thought it was okay to not train managers you know they the military probably didn't make that mistake for very long before they corrected it and most immature industries really trained managers but boy if you're a good coder you are ready to manage that's the way the industry works if you can talk you are ready to product manage if you can you know product manage and ship something out the door you should definitely tell people what to do i think that there's such a loose coupling between the skills to be successful at building things and teaching people how to build you know. It's the difference between if you can make a good car you must know how to make the factory that makes the car i don't think that's true at all. And i think that this is a massive epidemic that i think is just there's the thousand challenges that stem from this whether it's challenges around bias challenges around enabling coaching and teaching and solving development areas and my hope is that one day as an industry we find ways to improve and fix it but podcasts like yours are actually quite meaningful steps i would say that your podcast might be more meaningful than most l d departments in most organizations today and so that's powerful because you know you're having a tremendous amount of impact and i think that's learning is essentially a lifelong bad lifelong opportunity.

And i think that is the type of resources that just didn't exist a decade ago i think to answer your question around what are the common pitfalls like if you're a first-time manager listening or maybe someone who's considering it i think there are probably two quick things that i would say that you have to get you know brave really thoughtful about as you enter into this journey one is your challenge is going to be to share this steering wheel with the person or the set of people you are men are good. And i think that there's this three modes that people have in their head they're like. Oh the management is divide and conquering you go there i go there we meet up or they'l say it's like riding a bike or teaching to ride a bike i should say someone starts out on the bicycle i hold your hand i let go. And then i hope that you fly. And i think it's more like the sidecar on the motorcycle where persons on the driving the motorcycle. And i'm on the side car and whether i like it or not i'm attached but i have this relatively specific role of kind of giving counsel and i think that model of how do you share the steering wheel not just say you got it or i got it.

Or i got it for a while. And then i hand it to you is the key question. And then i think that the second miss that people tend to have is they tend to because they have power by the way organizational power not because they've earned that power they start managing whatever they define that to be and what i find is that you're more like the vampire knocking on the door of someone you have to be invited in you just can't walk through the threshold. And i think that no matter how senior the person that is the manager you have to earn the right to be the person's manager so maybe to be specific i or if i start managing someone the thing i'd like to understand is like hey well what can i help you with. And they can invite me in oftentimes the answer is i don't i don't need you. I actually wasn't excited about you as a manager i don't need another layer between you and the ceo get out. And i'm like that's cool because anything i say after that is just going to be annoying. And it's going to backfire now one day they will need help and i will be in the sidecar waiting to say perhaps i can assist and then when you finally get to that moment where you're invited in you pick an area or two. And then you really partner with that person on that area you know i can give examples on that. But i generally think that it's this invitation picking specific and then making sure we're sharing the responsibility is the key kind of set of set of notes that i would share with you what's your take on the ice path senior ic path something that a lot of companies talk about i know meta is big on this right now the layering managers and things like that i find a lot of times there's a lot of talk about it. And there's not really a real career opportunity there i guess what's your just take on as that is a real option for most people trying to not avoid trying to basically avoid the manager out on sting and i see pm.

Long term. Yeah. I think that it's a little bit more acute now because of the backlash that we talked about between growth where management was perceived so in this case manager was perceived as a way to drive expansion and so if you're in charge of expansion you're managing the people that are doing the build and now we're doing a lot fewer things. And so i think that's what's mandated this sort of growth in the ic track for lack of a better term i think it is one of the best things to happen to our industry because what's happened is in the last 10 years and you can tell i'm particularly hard on our managers here they've basically been promising ics that early promoted into management they didn't get taught and now they're sort of average managers and you know promising ics but now the story that they tell and what they've built is not awesome and if i'm looking to hire if i'm in a growth company and i'm the next hottest thing and i'm looking to hire someone and someone walks into the interview and said look i've managed two people before i mean i was like in the pro charge of this thing. But they really did the details and then by the way before that i was like early in trying to get this thing out the door. And then they picked me to be manager i'm like. Okay that's an interesting set of experiences i'm looking for me in my company to build something the next person walks in it's like i've been in ic for that whole time and during that time i went from learning something to demonstrating it to really being able to take it forward. And i got one of these ambiguities. Master. I'm an expert in domain i'm an expert in managing organizations i'm like i don't need a team ambiguous expert that's not my hard part my hard part is actually cracking the code on this complex market or this very complicated organization where we have two teams that have different goals you're the type of person i want. So i think lenny to your question i think the ic track is one of the best things that's going to happen people career. But to your point those tracks from a promotion and from industry how we perceive it are hard to they're not in cement yet they're tender. You wait six months you wait you know nine months they'l become very strong and solid and i think then we'l be able to lean very hard into them as a real promising crack for builders so that's kind of your senses.

This is going to become more and more real as these laughs have happened and kind of pull back some growth have happened. Yeah. I mean if you think about it's the reality in engineering and design so in engineering you can be the sort of vp of engineering or cto and in a design a lot of designers become design managers a lot of them stay as crafters and then for whatever reason in product managers maybe because there were managers in our title we just all became managers like what about the product what about the other side. So i actually think it's a bug that has existed for a long time that actually we're going to correct permanently now i wonder if part of it for pms is once you become a manager this happens to me. I didn't want to be an ic anymore is like that i'm done with that i really enjoy this management layer. And i imagine with engineers maybe they'l enjoy the coding like when i was in engineer i was like. Oh that's really. I don't want to just sit around manage i just want to code so i wonder if there's any part of that but a lot of your listeners like to build and actually when they when a lot they talk to their managers they're like i don't know if that job is awesome it feels like you spend all your time writing docs and telling your boss's boss like what a justify resources and head count like i just want to build stuff. I don't want to you don't build stuff. So it's i think there might be some of that i think that it's not perfect. But i think hopefully builder and ic will become worse anonymous this episode is brought to you by epo is a next generation.

A b testing platform built by airbnb alums for modern growth teams companies like draftkings zapier click up twitch and cameo rely on epo to power their experiments wherever you work running experiments is increasingly essential but there are no commercial tools that integrate with a modern grow team stack this leads to wasted time building internal tools or trying to run your own experiments through a clunky marketing tool when i was at airbnb one of the things that i loved most about working there was our experimentation platform where i was able to slice and dice data by device types country user stage epo does all that and more delivering results quickly avoiding annoying prolonged analytic cycles and helping you easily get to the root cause of any issue you discover apple lets you go beyond basic click through metrics and instead use your north star metrics like activation retention subscription and payments epo supports tests on the front end on the back end email marketing even machine learning claims check out that's and 10x your experiment velocity coming back to the manager life and how many managers are not great and also just how do you get better as a manager what have you found actually is effective in helping new managers become better i think i may have come across kind of hard on managers and i think i kind of said hey your manager and your managers manager isn't really doing much teaching you know find the right podcast good luck. And i think that's a pretty you know soulless answer. So maybe my maybe the way i describe it is well i think learning is changing and there's the self-service tools that are getting better and then there's this structured teaching which i think is weak and then there's community which i think whether it's within your company or outside of company i think is your is the answer that we'l see more and more i think. Community as a way of creating safety having authentic conversations feeling that you're not alone that others are going through the same thing and then sharing best practices is so powerful and what social software has done because it has really empowered community and now the tools are awesome how many great communities have slack channels or discord channels or you know zoom calls and we do a lot of that in the cpo community that i created and whether you're a new manager or whether you belong to a diverse group whether you are new to a company i think that all of your listeners should be part of an active community where they can be very authentic and very safe and sometimes it's hard to do that with your co-workers and so you need to find another community unfortunately those communities are not the easiest to find today you know. But i believe that the notion of community as a powerful propellant for learning is the critical ingredient and hopefully many people are creating these communities so that new managers can find the right services can you actually talk about this community that you've built and this could be a good time to talk about it it's called a skip is that. Right. Yeah. And i it was funny. It's has all kind of fun products they're always a reaction to something they weren't really intentional i as you open the podcast you know did you know really enjoy teaching and coaching i learned just as much from coaching others as they learn i think.

And yet i couldn't really scale. And so i had this summer where i had just come off of being a head of product and i had worn more of my people i was talking to were also header products and what would happen. Is. I would have these conversations and they would ask me a question i would say well that's the same conversation i answered on tuesday and it you know what you realize is it's a very lonely job being lonely at the top is not just an adage they don't and it's really everyone's so busy now it's like how do you have time to connect and everything's a single player you don't really have community and so i thought well wouldn't what if i took like the half a dozen people i talked to this month. And i just said hey all of you are all interested in talking through how to navigate this crazy world of year one year two chief product officer i think you would really gain i know all of you. And i think you can be safe with one another why don't we spend some time together. So we did a whatsapp channel and we brought a zoom call and this was during the pandemic. So you really couldn't meet up and you know we started talking we started talking every month and people were so empowered by the fact that the problem they were hitting was not just them it was you know my crazy ceo is telling me this and the next person is like. Oh yeah let me tell you what my person said. And then they would say. Oh my gosh that sounds worse than my situation. But then we would sit down and say hey the third person said i actually kind of had this and now i figured out a way out and here's what i did and you're like wow that's amazing i'm going to try it the next day they'd come back they're like it works.

And we started to connect and we built this trust and community building is interesting and powerful work and so six went to 12 and then 12 went to 15 and now we have 28 members and a lot of folks are interested in these types of communities. But i'm so worried about scaling it because it's the enemy of trust and authenticity and so for all of you that are building communities it's like a tree balancing act. But i do think that the goal is to find ways to take all of these sort of like-minded folks that are in these same situations and connect them together and late stage chief product officer happened to be one of the ones that had some of the most substantial importance to me because of all the coaching i did for that group if someone's listening and they're like. Oh i need to join this thing how do they find out about it how they potentially apply and try to join well we have enough members now there's a linkedin you know area called the skip cpo community. And you know you should contact any of the members that you know and ask them to join my request and my requirement is that they are number one product leaders in their organization and a company that's not pearly but that's mid to late and the reason being is those sets of problems tend to be the most similar to be honest i think this is not the only community that i want to be part of and help create but this one happens to be the pre-existing one i think there are lots of powerful communities that can be created but this particular one is very much focused on the skip cpos. Awesome i'l mention the community around my newsletter just so folks are looking for a community to join i try not to promote these sorts of things. But it's a good time as well if you're a paid subscriber to my newsletter there's a slack community you get access to there's about 12 13 000 people in there's meetups happening all over the world every month.

And it's amazing very proud of it people are getting a lot of value of it. And it's basically open to any level of product manager other functions they're in there too. So it's a very different sort of experience. But we'l link to that also in the show notes if you want to check that out. And i think that would be my put because so many of the managers will say you know. Hey i'm in ic here's a greater one i am not being told i have the next job i just was told to become an ic and i was a manager i feel like my learning opportunities are stuck but this is a bad time to look for a job they should be in your community they would learn more from that community than they will learn from managing one random person that they were attached to managing in some project that may or may not see the light of day yet that's how our society is programmed our industry is like no go manage that person because that's going to make you closer to the top forget learning. And i'm like well learning isn't happening learning's happening in your community learning is happening in our communities in general that's why i'm pushing so hard on this.

And this is a good segue to talking about the third bucket which is kind of later career cpos that's a segue in my mind there something that i've heard you talk about is that a lot of really senior leaders have real development areas but they're hiding behind these superpowers that they have plus people don't like to give real feedback to senior people. And so i'd love to hear just what you're seeing there and how maybe people can work with that through that. And how yeah. What we can learn about that issue. That. Yeah you've noticed this came from my kind of notes as i was talking to a therapist on this i they talked about the shadows of superpowers and i thought it was an incredibly powerful phrase that everyone focuses on your superpowers but no one ever thinks about what shadows they create and shadows of superpowers to me is the story of a lot of executives there's an adage that's thrown around which is what gets you there isn't what got you here and it's sort of the tools that have made you successful today you need to almost rebuild or relearn to get to the next phase and i think both of these sort of speak to the same point that oftentimes people have a great superpower they go into a performance review person says you know you're getting some feedback from your peers that you struggle in collaboration and you know the manager even sometimes is puzzled but the individual will say are you kidding me my last five performance reviews told me that i was one of the best collaborators in the company how in the world is that possible and then what you realize is that well you're collaborating as long as people agreed with your point of view now as a leader we're asking you to be opinionated and because you just think you're an amazing collaborator using the exact same tool set and it turns out that when you're dealing with senior people that may not even be in your function they may not be product they may not be tech they recoil. But you're moving so fast because it's your superpower you would never think that this needs to be rebuilt and sometimes it could be more extreme you know great collaborators sometimes are very reticent to present their own opinions because they're so good at assimilating others or people that are amazing at growth struggle to be innovative people that are world-class storytellers struggle to get in the details people that are very taste makers they are always the first to have point of view they don't necessarily introduce change particularly often you know you're strong politically but your decisions are unprincipled you're a structured thinker about blue sky innovations very tough you're an amazing listener but you're very weak to be decisive. Right. So i can go on forever and what i would say to you is sometimes even in a 30-minute conversation walking into the room just knowing what i know about the person i can unlock their development area faster than anyone ever before simply because my secret is i'l bet you because of this person's world class here these are the three things they're going to hit and they don't even realize it because it's their identity this is what got me here if you make me work on that you will make me change my superpower and i'm like that's why you're stuck that's why your career is plateauing. And then they get sad and it may take a long time to process. And then the work actually begins. And then they saw when they go and almost everyone once they have the name and the face they are able to solve but the face in the name is hard when it's sitting in the shadow of superpowers.

Wow that is an incredibly important point force someone to recognize this do you find that they need someone like you that's like a coach mentor person to come in and be like here's what i see or is there a way i guess as someone that's a peer or an employee to help them recognize this without them shutting down and being like no shut up you're wrong. No you don't need a coach what you do need is to listen to contradictory feedback so what was the premise here is you're being told that something that you hold is your strength is actually in your way or a development area do not dismiss that recognize most likely you're doing it correctly you just have gotten to the next level so what i'm hoping the listener dies is it goes back through all the feedback that they may even have and then looks at all the discard stuff. What's on the discard pile things that were discarded are anomaly is because they're artifacts of my strength and often your managers are the ones that do the discarding.

Oh that was just a weird po that person. And they were just into it you know they have it out for you they got reordered. And they were upset i'm like. No reception's reality talk to me about that one that might be it that's what i'm looking for fascinating this makes me think about companies that have the same issue companies strengths like say meta for example move fast and break things and then oh that ends up being the biggest achilles heel uber similar airbnb similar challenges like that absolutely this exact thing applies to relationships this replies to companies this applies to a lot. And i'm so happy that i was able to learn about it. And frankly it was a critical unlock for me because it took me i was stuck on something for years. And i just could not understand how for me it was i was very opinionated about something. And then i realized being loosely held on my opinions didn't mean that i became a weaker executive. But it was my opinions that got me to be so successful and it required me to rewire who i was as an executive and that took a lot of time and a lot of energy. But it came from this realization and then i started to apply it for other strength areas and now every time i have a strength area and myself for those that i coach i immediately talk through all the things.

And i bet you exist and most the time we're right. So what is it for you that you said was your superpower and your shadow i think that i was as an entrepreneur are very opinionated about you know using small amounts of information to make decisions. And then i was very good at driving those things and so when you become an entrepreneur you're great at grit you're great at opinion you're great at being decisive and then as an executive you spend a lot of time making sure everyone has context everyone is heard your opinions are actually edited collect for the collective for good reason. And it's not just to be to placate it's actually to improve but as someone who's basically been right a lot that requires almost a complete and you're like well that's not who i am. And i'm like. Okay you start with the sentence like that's not who you am you're definitely doing it right when you hit your leadership what was the process like for you to work through that like was it sound you said it took a long time what made it effective for you is there a coach involved something else i got a lot of setback i get a lot of negative feedback i had a lot of abrupt challenges at work where folks would say you know you're not collaborating well your peers don't have the same level of respect as they should and i was like are you kidding me like i that's not who i am these things that are being said about are completely iran. I was like very much struggling and that's when i said you know what i can struggle and blame others but what if they were right and if you know i'm going to be doing this for like 30 more years it's kind of worth it to figure out if they're right if they're wrong then you don't lose and that's what kind of forced it. And then the tooling starts then you start talking through you know my self-awareness was strong enough that i was able to say okay now that i understand it. I you know i had some peer feedback that helped bring it home from someone i trusted so that was like a kind of a linchpin to this. But these are tough things to break through and oftentimes they don't come nicely i guess is the point i was going to ask what that turning point for you was. And it sounds like it was direct feedback from someone you really trusted that's like. Oh i really need to take this seriously you got it you got it because i had a lot of feedback that i was dismissing.

And then i had feedback from someone i'm like that person i should listen to because they're giving me the feedback for the right reasons and they have the right language comes back to the power of getting feedback and getting good at that and making people feel safe and giving it m-hmm there's a good segue to maybe the last question you told me once that a lot of the people that you work with that have kind of made it have a lot of mental health challenges that they didn't expect their life to be the way it is necessarily when they got there can you just talk about what you see there in that in that group. Yeah this is a story that i don't think is told very well right now and partly because it's such a luxury problem it's almost a little embarrassing to discuss it openly as so many people struggle with so many basic needs you know going through layoffs going through all these challenges i mean these are real issues but i think that you know what i've noticed is that if you kind of break career as we've done in this podcast between sort of act one act two and act three you know if act one is sort of learning and being that sort of builder and then you know maybe building the car and then act two is building the factory act three is like what's after that you know what do you do after that. And i think that act three in the past wasn't as long as it is now before people would you know proverbially retire in their 60s when they used to actually physically work now almost all your listeners sit at a desk all day so they don't need to retire by any means and health is getting better you might see folks work until their 70s or 80s so that means that their careers are you know potentially 60 years long so even if you're 20 years or 30 years in your career you're only halfway through so this act three could be a thing.

And i don't think we talk about accurate enough and what often happens is. And this is what i've been watching for people that are at my age is they sort of succeed. And then they become lost and they almost goes hand in hand. So when i was a kid. And i was growing up in the midwest who you know entertainment was like going to the dog tracks and not even the horse tracks we didn't have horses so it was the dog greyhound dog tracks and so people would you know bet on a dog and greyhound would go across around the ring. And then you would see you know i bet on number three. And i'l make a buck or something and the way that they motivated the dogs was they had these like fake rabbits which sounds kind of cruel and horrible. So. And i don't want the sp if she had to come after you but to explaining something to have these like fake rabbits and what was interesting is the moment that the dogs if they accidentally touched the rabbit the you know the sort of the tail you know because the machine broke because this these tails would go around faster than the dogs which would then motivate the dogs to go around in circles sometimes the machines would break the dogs would actually catch the rabbit they would never run again and the reason why they wouldn't run again is because there was like well what's next i've achieved what i was looking for and so i think this happens a ton it's like your listeners are spending time focused on life well one day i will be x.

I will be that vice president i will have more money i will have built something i will have started a company but they don't think about like what happens next and when it happens when they succeed their north star their entire way of wiring their career themselves it has been around like getting to that place. And i think that if you're going to get there 30 years in and you have a 60-year career a lot of the discussion i've been having with myself and with others has been probably need to start working on that north star now what's the second thing what's your career next look like how do you ensure that you are always going to have something important and motivating to do with your career otherwise you'l keep working because you know any nothing else to do. But you'l be sadder or you'l find ways to create war when peace is needed or you'l spend money in an away in an attempt to sort of earn more and or you'l find habits that are bad.

And i really want us to have long 60-year 70-year careers not just 30 year or ten year which is why i enter this into the vocabulary out there that is really resonating with me i had a similar experience i had a startup and my whole goal was just like i just want to start a company that's my goal that's all i got in life i want to start a company and then maybe sell it maybe go somewhere with it. And so i did. And then we sold its airbnb. And then i get to airbnb and it's just like what the hell do i do now i don't have any other goals. And it was pretty sad exactly how you're describing it's just like i guess i'l just work here. And i don't know maybe i'l start another company. But that's not a i already did the thing i wanted to do your story is i think very inspiring because what you did is you said i think the thing that i want to do is give. But i want to do it in my own way. And i want to create something. But i want to do something that i think i can do for 30 years and i want to do it. And it has lots and lots of spokes to it. And so you reinvented yourself professionally. But you created a new north star my sense is for every one of you lenny there's a hundred that could do that could do giving that could do things that could scale but that end up falling into what got them to be successful in act two and they get stuck and so this is reason why like when you hit your skip keep looking for the next skip is the point i'm trying to make and i think you're an inspiration for a lot of folks who have seen you transition and realize is life after just being a tech professional entrepreneur there's gotta be ways to do more of this for all of your listeners and i think it's never too early to start thinking through it's actually quite powering to think that you have such a long career you can make mistakes and you can do some amazing things let them down the road. Yeah this is my fourth career is what i realized i was a engineer then a founder then a product manager and now this whatever this is whatever this is whatever this is i guess just to give people something inspiring productive. What are maybe some examples of north stars you've seen that people can evolve into i guess one path is this path of you know content creation helping people learn stuff what else have you seen that might work out for people i think that all variations here come into two categories one categories are ways to drive more scaled economics i've made millions my north star is to now make it tens i've made tens my north stars to two hundreds that's what drives people from it's not entrepreneurship it's investing it's not investing it's private equity etc whether we describe that as a bad quest or a good quest is a. Is a decision for your listener the other arc is around giving and you know eastern philosophies that have been around for thousands of years talk about this is the sort of end state of you know happiness.

I think that maybe to be provocative i think that it's okay for you in act one and act two to not predicate yourself around the notion of giving to others because this is maybe the time on the planet where you need to take and you need to create but boy if you're gonna work on an act 3 and you have 30 years regardless of where you are economically if you feel like you can take that off the table if you can find ways to give however that me whatever that means to you however that translates to you is that content is that volunteer is that starting a company that is more mission based that is not my role. But i think that if you were able to do that for 30 years and be giving you not only is that going to be more fulfilling than your act one and act two. But it's tremendous for society very empowering and that's where i commend you because you're giving through your passion but also making a livelihood. And i think that's a very powerful blend that is hard to achieve in act one and act two given constraints and that's the liberation that equity provides what do you think your act 3 plus ends up being you know many have asked me about this i would say that i'l use the word.

And then i'l tell you i won't use that word so it is around my passion around coaching and giving to others but because i'm a product person because i've seen success in building products thinking about scale thinking about community i definitively plan to devote my act 3 towards coaching and giving to others and lifting up those that with the right advice at the right time can change their trajectory but scaling that and doing that in a way that is very authentic is really the hardest part and it's a product problem and so that's what i'l devote 30 years to and you know i look forward to that every day that is beautiful that feels like an exactly correct fit for you and i am here to help you on that journey. Anyway i can thank you my friend absolutely is there anything else you wanted to touch on before we get to our very exciting lightning round. No i just appreciate your genius offer to have me attend and participate in this wonderful podcast that you created it's absolutely my pleasure. And it's not over yet we've reached our very exciting lightning round i've got six questions for you are you ready i am ready what are two or three books that you've recommended most to other people so two and both business books i'm sorry i'm going to come across boring.

But one is this sort of a little bit of an old school book called crossing the chasm by jeffrey moore i don't know if other list other speakers have spoken about this. But it's a book that jeffrey moore wrote and it's a book that really talks about how to get your first product on base. So it's this concept of creating a beachhead. And so i like that concept it so marketing is something that we don't talk about enough in product and then the second one is a book that none of your listeners have actually probably heard of called leadership and self-deception and it's a six hour audio that i highly recommend and it's a story about a person who has hit a wall and who's getting all this feedback that they don't know what to make of and it's around their mindset being stuck in a box that was very powerful when i listened to it in my late 20s and so i encourage all of your listeners to grab that one it's not one that anyone normally would hit. But it's a fun story it's a good ride. And you know i think maybe you'l get something out of it i have not heard of that second one. I'm excited to check it out have crossing the chasm back behind me on that shelf somewhere and you talk about how marketing isn't something product leaders and managers think about enough and i have many marketing oriented guests on this podcast and those episodes do. The least well. But i'm just gonna keep doing it because i totally agree with you i think there's so much to learn from for marketing and it's connected to growth which is connected to product. So i agree. Oh yeah. And i think that marketing is a language of connecting products with people and like that is what a product manager does. But we often lack the language we lack the thinking around how to explain it and yet we spend all our time on data and features for the diversity of having both playbooks can make one of just a much more powerful builder. So i agree with you though marketing folks probably some of the best content and at least listen to so maybe that's a plug for people to go back to this episode 100 that's what everyone should do and i don't know if you know this. But actually at airbnb the product management function has been renamed to product marketing so all the product managers are product marketers because brian is so big on you're not just building product your job is also to make sure people use it. And we'l see how that experiment goes. But that's a bold move i thought very much very much so. But it's an homage to this concept exactly okay back to our landing around what is a favorite recent movie or tv show i'm a huge sports fan. So i have tickets to the warriors and the niners and i'm a big bay area a sports fan and giannis is my son's favorite player. He's a basketball player for the milwaukee bucks and they have this disney plus story called the rise story and it's a story about his childhood and how he struggled to find notoriety and how he made it into the professional leagues it's a great disney plus family show.

And it's a. It's a great kind of you know zero to hero type thing. So i love that story i feel like you're gonna have a really good answer to this next one what is a favorite interview question that you like to ask i like of the format of what's something that everyone takes for granted that you think is essentially hogwash or inaccurate you know sometimes i'l ask a manager look you've managed you know hundreds of people in your career what's conventional wisdom that you bet against that you have founded accurately actually inaccurate and you can do that for what do people think about ai. That's inaccurate that everyone believes you could do that for you know domains you can do all kinds of things i love it is there is there something you specifically look for there or is it just depends on what you hear i'm always looking to for people to break this sort of interview mindset so everyone always prepares for interviews and then their entire conversation is predicting what you think you want me to say and as a result you can have high quality people that you dismiss because they weren't genuine there's no way to answer that question without being genuinely opinionated because it starts with what is the thing that you think i want to sit here and then tell me why it's inaccurate so when i break that wall i'm testing is this person authentic because sometimes i'm dismissing them because they gave me they told me nothing new. But i don't want the interview process to penalize them and this was my save question. But i can't use it now that i've told everyone it's going to be all over tick tock soon everyone's gonna know this next question what's a favorite reason product that you've discovered that you love the geeky answer in me is is the arc browser which i think probably a lot of folks are starting to use in you know that your listeners part of the reason is i think it's just great for folks that have hundreds of tabs and if you work at a scaled organization you just have lots of tabs. But i think it's also as a product guy you know i thought chrome was pretty good. And you know they've got like jillions of people using it. And you know billions of installs and so at some point you know you kind of come to the conclusion that this is probably good enough and then you see a product obviously built with a much smaller team and you're like. Huh there actually is opportunities to innovate at any time you see a innovation on something that's mature i as a product person i think that's just fascinating. And i was just blown away at how they created something that's better than something i hold as a tourism. Yeah we had josh on the podcast we talked about a lot of their philosophies and on the tap thing i think the key there is they closes your tabs after 24 hours unless you put them in a specific place which i love because i was like you think you would do that. But you don't. And then it's like broke so beautiful you wake up in the morning everything's gone. But you can save stuff that you want the other thing i'l mention with arc by the way also a huge fan.

It's all i use is. And i'm not an investor just a fan is the onboarding experience is like the best onboarding experience i've seen and it's just like i did it. I was just i got a tweet about this is so good and actually if you go to that episode there's a link to get past the wait list. Oh that's correct. Yeah he gave me many thousands of invites okay keep going what is something relatively minor you've changed in the way you develop products and your team that's had a big impact on the team's ability to execute a little bit of this is just because of scale but oftentimes we think a lot about the products and the features and the decisions that we're working on. And then we think that meetings are a nuisance or a must-have necessary evil to be able to deliver sometimes i realize that at a scaled organization the meeting operating system is as important as the products that we're building because it sort of speaks to how we scale and how we ensure we have the right degree of delegation the right conversations and then the right acceleration on the right decisions so what's an interesting is every quarter in my current teams even in my past teams i talk about our meetings like a product like we're on version 7 in my team. And so we're like hey version seven every 90 days these are the meetings these are the discussions this is how we organize is the attendees and then here's how we make decisions the cadence of the week this is when people can work from home hybrid whatever it might be. And then i take feedback two months in. And then every three months we make another rev and what it finds is that people then can plan and they can make meeting time effective and meeting time is such precious time it's the most expensive time in a company so when i was in a startup.

I couldn't imagine doing this. But now this is like my bread and butter as a leader it's the process part and frankly for new folks that are new in leadership positions in a new company it's the one thing you can do when you have low context when you don't know how the product works you can look at things with fresh eyes and see inefficiencies when everyone that's been in the system can't see it so i'm a huge fan of rebooting meetings first so process first then people then product then strategies sort of the notion i make and this is this first thing i always do final question what is one thing every pm listening should do to help their career ensure that the story you will tell about the work you're doing today is meaningful for your skip job so if you sit down and you write down in six months in 12 months in 24 months when i achieve or finish this role here's the paragraph i'l write here's a problem i solved here's a skill i built here's the headwind i faced here's what i did to overcome it use i in the sentence do not use we will do good things you or who we are thinking about your career we're not looking for we master the story now understand the story if the story sucks you probably should be thinking through how to make the story not suck but that to me is a very good career decision and i think everyone is building their story today i want to know that story i want that story to be incredibly compelling because whether you promote it or not that story is compelling you'l be promoted in career and that's what we're looking for nikhail this is the first time we've ever met i'm such a fan instantly this might be my new favorite episode i am so excited for people to listen to this there's so much value here two final questions before we wrap up where can folks finding online if they want to learn more and also talk about maybe various community you know skip and all that stuff that people can check out and then how can listeners be useful to you i'm building this brand around the skip because i'm so passionate there's two outlets that people can easily connect one is the podcast which you know much like yourselves is available on apple and spotify and others so you know i'd love for people to join my podcast and hear what i'm now moving my podcast to is almost like coaching calls you know because i have so many of them i'm saying like hey 30 minutes let me walk you to your problem and hear how i'm thinking about it whether it's a transition discussion or compensation discussion. Etc and then the other one is this sort of newsletter that i have on sub stack which is a bit of a mirror of the podcast it's different forms of the same topic areas so love for your listeners to connect with that. I think as far as getting in touch with me linkedin is where i spend most of my time professionally and so between twitter and linkedin my presence is relatively easy to find and then how listeners can help me i mean one is one you can build the most fulfilling career story and be your best but also give back and pull others forward whether that's through your act three or whether that's just helping others i mean i think that would be the most fulfilling to me i think eat back from your listeners to me on things they wish i would spend time talking about is incredibly empowering for my content because then i can deliver more meaningful content and it's very different from yours. But i think it's all around the arc of trying to help people you know gain forward and be more effective for tech professionals. So i would love to hear from your listeners just to make sure people know where to go to do this for feedback do you recommend linkedin. Yeah. Linkedin is the ideal but you can also find me on twitter if you're just trying to add a quick if you're trying to follow me follow me onto linkedin if you're looking for feedback just tweet me and then for the skip newsletter what is the url to go check that out it's the amazing. And you don't publish often but each issue is incredibly valuable. So we'l definitely link to that all in the show notes mikhail thank you again so much for being here. I'l let you go now and this was amazing. Yeah thank you buddy appreciate it. Bye everyone thank you so much for listening if you found this valuable you can subscribe to the show on apple podcast spotify or your favorite podcast app also please consider giving us a rating or leaving a review as that really helps other listeners find the podcast you can find all past episodes or learn more about the show at lenny' see you in the next episode.

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