I hope you are safe and doing well through the ongoing health and humanitarian crises. The Coronavirus pandemic caught us by surprise, and has left us between repealed norms and an uncertain future. The end isn’t imminent but we’re optimistic.
If you worked on the front lines or in an essential category, sincere thanks & God bless you all 🙏🏻
If not, you probably have a story for your career-from-home in 2020. And that’s going to be my favorite conversation starter for learning, coaching, networking, interviewing and small-talk in 2021. How did you prevent your personal development from stalling? If you don’t an answer ready, this post might give you some ideas.
In May, Janus Boye offered me to host a session at his Product Management peer group. I took the opportunity to dive into this question with fellow Product leaders and get inspired by their stories from these troubled times. I want to share the leading questions I used (#5 added later) to help frame that story.
Prompts to set personal development goals 🤔
- What is the 1 thing you had/knew pre-COVID, but didn’t use it much, and are now using/applying it more than before.
- What Skill(s) or Technique(s) you learned pre-COVID are you applying right now?
- What book kept you inspired during COVID?
- What’s a Skill or Technique you want to sharpen in 2020?
- How did you give back to the community during these times?
I was delighted to hear that this formula was used in several group meetings to exchange ideas and opportunities – some adding their own questions on top. You might also use these for an internal workshop. Either way, I’m also happy to share my answers here.
Honest stories are powerful ❤️
Before diving in to my answers, let’s acknowledge that not all stories are a straight forward quest. There’s one part where life threw lemons: ranging from looking after kids to feeling isolated, and taking a pay cut, to losing your job. And there’s another where you made lemonade.
Remember that any recipe for lemonade is incomplete with the lemons. 🍋 So don’t hesitate to tell that as part of your story, even if that means showing vulnerability. 💪🏼
Here’s my story
- A Bluetooth earpiece from 10 years back. The majority of my work is done through collaboration, which meant spending that time on calls. And I was surprised how that $20 unit was doing its job, with a daily recharge.
- Product Discovery, OKRs and Leadership. Last year, we org’d into 3 tribes, I trained to be an OKR trainer and I had the great pleasure of attending the INSPIRED workshop with Marty Cagan. This year was focus on applying those 3 in tandem to drive impact and engagement in our “Impressions” tribe.
- The Team that managed itself – Christina Wodtke. I’m not into fiction, but I couldn’t ignore Petra Wille’s advice – a coach I greatly admire for her product & leadership skills. And fiction couldn’t be used any better to bring real-life product and cross-functional leadership challenges to life and explain key concepts. I highly recommend it anyone aspiring or doing a GM-type role in Tech.
- Human-centered design. Coming from an engineering background, I want to get better at gathering insights to design innovate, human-centric solutions. Having collaborated with Ideo in the past, their creative approach to innovation and advice from my dear colleague John Quintana inspired me to learn with the Ideo academy.
- Mentoring Product people. I joined the Mentoring Club to offer a weekly sessions as coach or mentor. It’s free and open to anyone who might benefit from what I know, learned or experienced.
That’s my story. What’s yours?