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Habit change as a design exercise

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2019



Learn to Successfully Design Your Habits Easily

Previously, I’ve talked about building habits using pure willpower and the danger of anchoring on this alone to develop new habits.  Today is about the different ways with which you can start building really awesome habits. These tips are based on two books that truly inspired me: The Power of Habit and Atomic Habits.

First off, understand that your habits link to your identity.  How you see yourself will be reinforced by the habits that you adopt.  Full disclosure, I have for myself 8 statements that I read each morning in which I anchor my identity. The more reinforced the identity gets, the more improvement you will see over time.  This is fundamental in establishing habits.  

Make them obvious.  Implementation intention is the key here.  Identify a regular time, a place or a situation when you will do the new habits.  The easiest way is to tie a new habit with an...

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How to Get More Information by Listening Better

That One Skill Every Product Manager Should Have

We are the voice of the customer and we cannot play this role unless we understand the customer. The most vital skill at play here is our listening skills. Engaging our customers, our teammates and anyone we are talking for any purpose cannot happen unless you get deeper in to the conversation.

I am going to share with you the framework I use to listen better and have those much needed deeper conversations so I can get the information that people don’t normally share.

I call this framework SOAR.

SOAR  will help you start to get better, and start to see that momentum where you’re building up your skills as a product manager.

Full Transcript

Hey this is Shobhit, founder of International Product Manager and today we are going to talk about how do you listen in a way, how do you engage your customer, your teammate, anyone who you’re talking to in a way such that you get more information, you get deeper into...

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Six Product Development Mistakes That Slow Teams Down

Six Product Development Mistakes That Slow Teams Down

What product managers should do instead.

Image by DNA02 from Pixabay

This article is based on “The Principles of Product Development Flow” by Donald Reinertsen, and my experience following his principles.

Using Reinersten’s principles, these are what I think are six common mistakes Product Development teams make:

  1. They often do not use a useful metric for prioritizing projects (Hint: there is one that works better than most others)
  2. They do not make decision principles readily accessible by everyone
  3. They try to maximize utilization instead of optimizing outcomes
  4. They try to minimize variability without understanding the implications
  5. They minimize disruptions rather than reducing total work in progress
  6. They don’t clarify what role each person plays in product development and how to leverage them best

1. The importance of prioritizing projects

If you asked most teams what is most...

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Focus when distractions show up

focus productivity Oct 25, 2019


How do you focus even when distractions show up?

  1. Realize that it's not just the pull of distractions that causes you to move towards them, but its that the thing you are trying to work on is uncomfortable. That discomfort pushed you towards the distractions. Next time, observe and pay attention to these feelings.
  2. Note the distraction. Carry small sticky notes with you where you can note these distractions and come back to them later. Doing this activity enables your mind to compartmentalize these distractions
  3. Use curiosity. Pay more attention to that particular thing what you are working on. Try to find something unique you have not noticed before and get curious about your work. That will enable you to get deeper into the job you are doing and help you keep away from distractions.

I encourage you to use these techniques in conjunction. I am confident that within one week, you can master them and start to see significant improvements in your ability to focus.


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How to Master Difficult Conversations

A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.—Tim Ferris

Have you ever avoided a conversation that you know that you needed to have? Has a desire for comfort taken you off the direct path to achieving your goals?

Or even worse, have you ever had the difficult conversation, and then felt you came out worse as a result?

As a Product Manager, you are likely to face more difficult conversations than people in other positions. Examples include stopping work which no longer aligns with top priorities, giving feedback to others, negotiating roadmaps, and apologizing when you dropped the ball.

Mastering “difficult conversations” gives Product Managers superpowers. You get confidence to advocate for new product ideas, drive changes in how your organization functions, and are enabled to lead your group.

I would argue that if you are not...

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How to Apply Michael Porter's Concepts and Thinking

Uncategorized Sep 23, 2019

I used to love Boston Sports club. I remember paying something like $95 a month for it and loving it despite the relatively high price point.

And then I heard, they dropped their prices. Slashed them to $19.95 a month in 2015. And on top of that members hated them.

And now, they seem to have made their way back to a higher price point of $49.99 a month+.

At the same time, Planet Fitness charges ten dollars a month. And OrangeTheory can run over $200 a month.

So why the pricing gap? How can companies have such different price points for what seems to me the exact same product.

At the same time, I happen to read “Understanding Michael Porter” on a recent Porter Airlines flight to Toronto.

Porter, porter everywhere

In this post I summarize Michael Porter’s concepts, including competition, the five forces, value proposition and value chain, and fit. Concepts that...

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Customer Interview learnings from “The Mom Test”

Uncategorized Aug 27, 2019


Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

The Mom Test by is one of the best books I have read about customer interviews.

If you are a Product Manager or a UX designer or researcher, and you haven’t read it…..please just go and read it.

I just hope some of the nuggets I share here (with my own commentary) help convince you. Seriously its a short read, costs 10 bucks on Kindle and just so worth it.

Here are my main learnings from the book

  1. Go into customer interviews with the right mindset
  2. Talk about their life instead of your idea
  3. Ask terrifying questions
  4. Don’t assume that the problem space matters to them
  5. Get commitment. Ignore compliments
  6. Refine your customer segment until you get consistent problems and goals
  7. Get clever on finding conversations

Go into customer interviews with the right mindset

“Deciding what to build is your job.……You aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed...
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Six ways to maximize your Product Management Energy




What’s your energy level as a product manager? 

When you go day to day, come into work, are you in to it?  Are you excited? Do you bring this high energy level or the appropriate energy level to your team, to the work that you do?  Are you intense in every activity that you do? 

Those things matter a lot, they can literally change how much you get done in a day, how excited your team feels. 

Let’s look at six different kinds of energy levels that you must demonstrate in order to make sure you're living up to your potential as a product manager. 

The first energy level is you need to be positive, energetic, give them a sense of an epic win possible and that the product will do well.  Align the team behind achieving the best possible thing for your product, for your customers.   

Second you need to vary your communication level.  You as a product manager must work on not just being at a high...

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The One Thing Amazing Product Managers Do: Broken Down Into Four Situations

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Go on, guess what I meant.

You might think it’s all about understanding customers. Good guess, but that’s not what I am talking about.

Inspire their team? Sure some Product Managers do that, but not all of them and not always very well.

Influence others? Nope, not that either.

Manage stakeholders? Not a bad guess, but I have seen enough product managers who are awesome, but do a poor job of managing stakeholders.

So what is it?

It’s asking the question just right for the problem they are solving.

You have probably seen this in action. The awesome product manager asking just the right questions in a meeting. Amazing us with their thinking, without having to come up with the answer on their own.

Think of questions like glass. And think of your thinking like light. You can use the questions as a mirror; to reflect thinking in another direction. You can use it as a magnifying glass; and increase the importance of an...

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User Research: takeaways from Boston Product breakfast

I attended Boston Product's breakfast on the topic of user research.  Here are my core takeaways from the event:

Opportunities to do research exist everywhere!

Opportunities for user research exist everywhere. Ideas came up included

  • Listening to support calls
  • Putting up surveys in the product and validating hypothesis quantitatively
  • Using LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit friends or friends of friends for user studies
  • Actually viewing user sessions with plugins such as Full Story and Appsee
  • Sales calls. Several Product Managers mentioned that they went to sales calls in exchange for being able to interview customers
  • Attending industry conferences
  • Malls, Liquor stores etc. Basically anywhere where your potential customers might hang out

Justifying user research can be tricky

Fighting for resources for User Research still seemed like an uphill battle for several product managers. One of the participants had to re-organize their role and make sure that they...

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My coaching clients use the very same template every single week to focus in on things that really matter.