3 Product Lessons I Learned From Finance

3 Product Lessons I Learned From Finance

When I went to college I knew that my ultimate aspiration was to found my own tech startup and in order to prepare myself for that goal, I decided to pursue a dual-degree at the University of Pennsylvania from both the engineering and business schools. I studied computer science in the engineering school and ultimately settled on finance at Wharton. While I may have been better served studying marketing or management, I did learn some important finance principles that I still use day-to-day in my product management role. I wanted to share three such principles that I find incredibly relevant to product.

Understanding User Psychology: Thinking Like a Game Designer


[This is the third post in my Understanding User Psychology series. If you haven't already, make sure to check out Meet Your Happy Chemicals and The Psychology of Persuasion.]

When looking to understand user psychology to design better product experiences, one of the richest sources of knowledge exists within the game design world. Game designers have been refining their techniques for decades to build ever more engaging and enjoyable experiences that drive specific player behavior. Their techniques are rooted in a deep understanding of player psychology and have built an incredible set of mechanics that they repeatably leverage to design addicting games.

Today I wanted to provide an overview of some of the tenants of game design and particular game mechanics that can be leveraged to drive user behavior in any digital product.

My Top Five Product Management Essays of 2016


2016 was another great year of writing for me. I published my 100th essay at the beginning of the year and wrote another 20 essays throughout the rest of it. I grew unique visitors by 50%, page views by 80%, Twitter followers by 30%, and email subscribers by 450%.

But just like everything I do in product, what excites me most is rarely the stats, but the impact I have on real people's lives. And this year I appreciated the outpouring of notes from readers. I relished the stories of helping a reader get their very first product manager job, helping an entrepreneur to reach product/market fit, and helping a new product leader find their footing in their expanded role. Please keep sharing your stories as it's really the fuel that motivates me to keep on writing.

As a quick look back, here are the five most popular essays I published this year in case you missed any of them.

Modern Project Management for Product Managers

modern project management

One of the critical responsibilities of product managers is driving the overall execution of their product. Relentless execution will ultimately determine whether you'll be able to make your product vision a reality. Driving the execution of your product not only means doing whatever it takes to make your product win, but it also encompasses a set of core project management responsibilities. While many product managers are familiar with agile methodologies for managing a development team, I don't believe it provides a full view of how a product manager should be effectively managing their overall product process.

Today I wanted to provide a complete picture of a modern project management process for product managers. This covers a set of planning and project management activities that product managers should drive annually, quarterly, bi-weekly, and daily to effectively manage a product development process. It's rooted in the agile movement, with a deep recognition that customer needs and product requirements are ever-evolving and agility is absolutely paramount to enable you to swiftly change plans as soon as it's appropriate. At the same time, it recognizes that planning is absolutely necessary for enabling blue-sky thinking, thoughtful trade-offs of priorities, driving team alignment, and ultimately for enabling you to realize your product's long-term vision.

Understanding User Psychology: The Psychology of Persuasion


[This is the second post in my Understanding User Psychology series. If you haven't already, make sure to check out the first post: Meet Your Happy Chemicals.]

When looking to understand user psychology in order to design better product experiences, Robert Cialdini's seminal work, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is a classic read. Robert Cialdini brings to bear his years of research on influence to detail the 6 weapons of influence leveraged by compliance practitioners (salesmen, car dealers, fund raisers) to get you to say yes to whatever they are selling. These same tactics can be leveraged in designing product experiences to help delight users as well as drive them to our desired product behaviors.