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The Science of Growth with Sean Ammirati (2-time Founder Turned VC)

I recently finished reading a new book about startups. It’s called The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust. It’s written by Sean Ammirati, who is a partner at Birchmere Ventures and an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon, where he teaches a courses on entrepreneurship. He was previously COO of ReadWriteWeb and cofounded mSpoke, a content recommendation engine that was acquired by LinkedIn.

The book is a spiritual successor to Four Steps to the Epiphany, in that it is an intellectual framework for thinking about high-growth entrepreneurship written someone with deep experience in the field. While there’s a cursory similarity to Good to Great / Great by Choice in comparing pairs of winner/loser companies, it really shines as a way of thinking about, talking about, and analyzing startups at different stages of growth: Continue reading…

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My Reading Notes on The Advantage

I recently finished reading The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in business by Patrick Lencioni. You’ve definitely heard Lencioni’s other books: Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team were two which popularized the trend in the late aughts of the business book as a fable.

This book is more of a typical nonfiction business book: a main idea broken into several components with tactics combined with stories and case studies from consulting engagement it’s plus personal anecdotes all rolled into one concise and clearly written book. Continue reading…

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The Biggest Challenge With Building Products is Uncertainty

I was recently asked to share my views on three questions around product management for the UsabilityTools blog. My answers are now published along with thoughts from 46 other product managers and I thought I’d share my response here as well.

The questions were good ones and were worth thinking about. In general, I’ve found that building new things is all about creating clarity and alignment and dealing with the uncertainty.

What is the most important quality a good product manager should have?

The ability to think across disciplines and both understand and communicate needs + priorities between business, technology, design, research, users and other stakeholders.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The ultimate challenge of building products is that it is hard to know what will work. You can have an incredibly well engineered, beautiful, and user centered product and it can still fail. Running a good process is how you steady a team’s morale – keeping it up when things don’t work, and not getting cocky when it succeeds wildly.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

The most important measure of productivity is time my team spends working in alignment, with a clear understanding of expectation and goals, on efforts they believe will have major positive impact.

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Thinking Out Loud about Product Management: Early Observations as a PM on the Demo

When I moved to New York City a year ago, I had a plan to become a product manager in a technology firm. After interviewing for PM roles at Pivotal Labs and Meetup, I met with Noah, the CEO of Percolate. He told me that they didn’t have a PM function and but that he was looking for hackers on the marketing team.

I jumped in with two feet — producing blog posts, case studies, white papers, webinars, films, and independent research — and learned a ton about marketing enterprise software. But I continued be passionate about directly building technology products. And in 2015, I finally got my chance to do it. Continue reading…

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My Reading Notes on How Google Works

This is Day 4 of the #WkofBks series I’m doing as part of the Your Turn Challenge. Today, I’m sharing thoughts from the book How Google Works, which I read over Audible.

how-google-worksAbout the Book in a Nutshell: Technology (including the internet and the smartphone) has dramatically reshaped the way business operates, both internally and externally, and what make Google successful was its relentless focus on hiring “smart creatives” and then giving them a lot of room to move fast, make decisions, and focus improving outcomes for the user.

About the Authors: Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg are two long-time executives at Google. Eric was formerly the CEO of a technology company called Novell before serving as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011 while Jonathan Rosenberg was hired into Google in 2002 (after twice declining an offer to work there) and as SVP of Product, worked on Ads, Gmail, Android, and Chrome before stepping down in 2011 as SVP of Product. Continue reading…