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I Made This Spectacular Failure Once

Uncategorized Dec 23, 2020

Failure is a fantastic teacher.  Failure is also the way I came to start the Intentional Product Manager.  

A few years ago, I worked for this fast-moving Boston area startup, and I could see myself becoming established as a leading product manager there.  I wanted to build an amazing vision and strategy, and I tried many different avenues to get there.  Still, at the beginning of the first year, my performance was below expectations. I had not been able to contribute anything meaningful to my customers or learn anything about them. My failure was that I let my job run me instead of me running my job.

Ultimately, when I started to build my brand was when things began to change.  The key for me has been consistently redesigning every aspect of my job to enhance my personal brand, one step at a time.  Even if you have issues and challenges along the way, you’ll figure it out.  

Finally, seek out help when you need it. Even people at the highest levels struggle.  Even if you feel satisfied that things are going well, they could be better and take action.


Hey, everyone, it's Shobhit, hope that you're doing well. I hope you can hear me. Sometimes there's all sorts of issues, but I think it's working fine. So anyway, let's get going. Let's talk about my failure. So one of the things that we all realize is that failure is one of those things that is just an amazing teacher. You learn so much from your failure, and the way I came to Intentional Product Manager and came to start it and create this group and all that was because of a spectacular failure. So I wanted to walk you through that and just relate, well, what are the lessons that I learned? So are you ready for it? Let's go.

Here's my story. A few years ago, I was working as a product manager for a fast moving Boston area startup, and I was excited about this opportunity and I could see my career going places because I had felt that this was the right place. I was at the ground floor of a fast growing company and about to take on the world. And this was the opportunity for once and for all establish myself as someone who others could see as leading product management. It was my vehicle to the executive suite, chief product officer. I wanted to be seen as someone who really changed the thinking at the startup. I wanted to help them think better, bigger, build an amazing vision and a strategy, and do what was necessary to take product management to the next level.

And I tried a lot of different techniques to make it happen. So I kept reading medium articles, blog posts, product management courses and books, everything I could find, I applied. I mean, I remember even sitting at a Starbucks and doing all my brainstorming there because I wanted it to be away from what was going on in the company, all the noise of the office. But at the end of the first year, I got feedback that I had failed, that my performance was below expectations, that I had failed to establish vision, that I was a good soldier but not a good general, and that I had not been able to contribute meaningfully to my customers or learn about them. Now, that sucks, right? That's an awful position to be in, and imagine getting this review in December and how your holidays go. Wasn't my best time for sure.

But here's the thing, I went on a journey to recover and the realization was despite that all I had read, despite all the literature on product management, somehow I had failed, and that was basically because I had let the job run me rather than me running the job. And so I decided that I will win back the trust of my peers, that I decided that I will become the strategic product leader by focusing on the right things that lead to the outcome, and so I started down the journey.

But the day to day demands of the job had not changed. And even if I was trying to be more strategic, I was still expected to handle all the tactical demands, help get the product released, right? Help docs, deliver on everything. And by the end of the day, I was always exhausted, I was starting to feel discouraged, efforts really seem to be going nowhere. And that meant I either needed to try something new or get a new job, and you know what? I see a lot of PMs in that situation all the time. I was now even getting excluded from major strategic meetings, from customer conversations. I was getting more discouraged, and savior was really reshaping my personal brand through intentional redesign.

Once I did that, people would see me as someone more strategic, who I could offload more of that tactical work to. You build a brand, you build a reputation, and the note that I hear from a lot of PMs is that, hey, I need to do all these things. I can delegate because it's my responsibility, but that's only because you haven't yet built that brand. And so, the key for me has been consistently redesigning every aspect of my job to enhance my personal brand, one step at a time. And really the results have been, I got the highest rating at that company the next year, I got a job at Google, which is obvious fricking amazing, and that's how I really founded Intentional Product Manager. It was based on that failure, that lessons that I learned, and how realizing that... I felt there's so much knowledge about PM. So that means I must now absorb all that knowledge and become an amazing PM.

But as someone has said, if knowledge was all it took, we'll all be billionaires with flat abs, with six pack abs, but we're not. It requires transformation, and that's the reason why I do all these things, why I launched Intentional Product Manager, that's the core of my big. So what I want you to learn from my failure is maybe two or three things.

One, never let the job run you. If it's running you, you have to get ahead of it. Otherwise, you will get sucked up and you will have failures just like mine. Second, good things can come from failure. So even if you have had issues and have had challenges, that's okay, we can figure it out, you can figure it out, and last but not least, seek out help. Whether it's friends, family, coaching, programs, groups, whatever it is, we're in this together. Even people at the highest levels struggle, and so don't feel ever ashamed of any failures or the fact that you're not doing amazingly well at your job, or even if you feel dissatisfied that things are going well but I know they could be better, take action.

And of course, one action you can take that for a lot of people is a big, it's just the starting point to a huge transformation in their career, is set up a call with me, I'll post a link below on how to do that. The only requirement for that call is, so you must be either in a product management role or right at the cusp of where I'm ready to go and find one, and you must be committed, that is the important thing above everything, committed to making change happen. Not just interested, there is a huge difference between being interested and committed, and I want you to be committed to really have this call man. The Shobhit, and I look forward to seeing all of you all very soon.

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