In nearly 6 years at Daxko, I’ve had a variety of roles and opportunities. I started as an intern in 2010 with no background or degree in technology, but I am so glad to be part of this ever-changing industry! As a Product Manager on our Product Strategy team, I’ve been especially grateful to have such strong mentors and peers that have shown me the ropes. As I’m rounding out my first year on Product Strategy, I’m reflecting on some of the key lessons I have learned in this role, in the style of one of my favorite daily emails – TheSkimm.
Skimm’d in the pod over an iced latte.
REPEAT AFTER ME….
What to say when your coworker offers you a gluten free cookie…
Not right now. Unfortunately, that’s the typical answer I have to give when a customer or coworker suggests a product enhancement. So many of them are great ideas! But I have to say no to most of them. Some ideas don’t align with our product vision, would take too long to accomplish, or are simply way too expensive to do. It was initially tough to face these requests, but I’ve learned to say no firmly, explain why, and refocus on the things we are doing.
What to say your bff is trying to caption her latest Instagram selfie…
This is critical. In my role, so is communication. It’s critical that I pass the right information onto the right people at the right time. Our company often talks about this at an organizational level, and I’m certainly not perfect at communication; However, when we have a discussion or a decision, I try to ask myself, “Who would want to know about this?” I especially try to remember to explain why we are doing certain things, since it’s usually common knowledge to me, but not for everyone else. I’ve learned that if you feel like you are over-communicating, it’s probably the perfect amount. And I try to go easy on the emojis.
What to say when your coworker asks you to turn down the volume on your Bieber playlist…
What do you mean? I ask this question all the time, and to all types of people I work with: Developers, end users, and other team members. If an engineer is explaining a process I don’t understand, I try to ask them to explain it another way. Or if a user tells me that my product needs a feature, I’ll ask, “How would you use that?” or “What actions would you take if you had that information?” As the Product Owner, I need to know about more than just how the software works – I need to know how the data is consumed, why the page is designed that way, how we bill our clients, etc. I’ve never been shy about asking questions, so this comes easily to me.
What to say when your barista asks “Tall, Grande or Venti?”….
Um, the big one? Estimation is one of the toughest parts of my job – since I’m responsible for our product roadmap and release dates, but am not coding or designing the user experience. Humans are bad at estimating things in general, so it’s definitely tough to answer questions like “How hard would it be to do this?” or “How long would this take?” My biggest revelation has been how much easier it is to estimate something by breaking it down. While, it’s difficult (and time consuming) to figure out how many months and resources an entire project may take, it’s much easier to ask how many hours one task may take. I have to rely on my team to help me with this, and it can be tedious, but it’s the best way to set realistic expectations of what we can develop in a set amount of time.
Meg H. is a Solution Designer who connects ideas across teams and loves an ice cold Coke Zero.