From Publications

7 Hard-Earned Lessons In Leading A Dysfunctional Team

My most brutal adventure at work was also most brag-worthy. I was in charge of turning around a team that was highly talented but consistently, and mysteriously, underperforming. High turnover rates and missed deadlines were problems we tried to address with different leaders over a span of three years. At the end of 36 months of trial and error, I was offered the opportunity to take a fresh perspective on this puzzle. Among others, my challenge, however, was that this department operated outside my area of expertise: I led business designers and product managers, and this was a team of…

What Fifth-Graders Can Teach Us About Problem-Solving

“Have you ever invented anything for people who have nothing?” a fifth-grader asked me at the end of my presentation on how to design new businesses. Half-touched, and half-surprised by the probing question, I choked as I offered an answer to my audience, the elementary school students of P.S. 56 in Brooklyn. It was my first day as one of the mentors who participated in Big Idea Week in May. Schools in Brooklyn and Queens had invited product people from New York-based tech shops — including General Assembly, Etsy, Facebook, and Pensa — to coach their students on entrepreneurship and problem-solving. As an instructor…

Tension at Work? Maybe You Should Hug It Out

On national hug day – yes, there is such a thing, it seems appropriate to visit the touchy subject of invading a colleague’s personal space. Conflicts at work not only mess with our heads but also our immune systems —making us easy targets for infections during these stressful times. Researchers have accumulated substantial evidence to back this theory (increased stress= increased risk to your immune system). At the same time, they have found that people who feel supported during periods of strain are protected from its negative impact on health. And yet, what behaviors demonstrate care and concern? Dear huggers, you may be onto…

Your New Rules of Personal Branding

I had the incredible opportunity to interview, Sally Hogshead, the author of the #1 WSJ Best Seller of How the World Sees You. She generously offered tips on how to discover our natural strengths to captivate others at work and play. Her unexpected insights on why some people succeed emerged from decades of advertising for the world’s most well-loved brands. If her career in advertising conjured images of Mad Men and ad-women smoking cigars and sipping whiskey, you were wrong. Hogshead was knee deep in data from a study that had nearly half million participants when I spoke with her.…

5 Roadmap Mistakes We Agile Teams Make

If your team lives by the Agile manifesto or principles of lean start-up, then this may be your mantra: Build the product; don’t fiddle with your plans for it. I’m surprised at how often people misinterpret this to mean that they must stop thinking and acting strategically. Your agile shop is configured to ship small…

Timeless Lessons from Brilliant Careers of Women from Another Era

This article was first published on FastCompany.Com. In her book Her Brilliant Career, journalist and author Rachel Cooke offers an alternative view of the 1950s woman that counters the cultural symbol of supplicant domesticity we’ve come to accept. As she narrates the stories of pioneering women whose work paved the way for future generations, Cooke applauds these women’s “sly kind of feminism” and celebrates their struggles. “They doubted themselves, they got in muddles, they made mistakes; feeling defensive, they sometimes seemed difficult and distant even to those who loved them.” While we may have never heard their stories before, the…

Proof That Your Moonlighting Gigs Can Earn You More Than Just Extra Cash

A version of this article was first published on FastCompany.Com I am on a quest to stay passionate and productive in my day job. By day I am a business consultant, but by night—not to mention during the wee hours of the morning and on weekends—I become a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and photographer. On my journey I have met a number of inquisitors who ask why I toil away the hours before and after work to master crafts that are seemingly unrelated to my day job. For instance, I work in consulting, so my pursuit of an MBA was…

One Path into Product Management

My first product gig was like Lyft, but for grounded aircraft engines. If a flying machine needed a spare part, then our solution helped locate the nearest optimal warehouse for it. That was a decade ago, when I kicked off my career with GE. At the time, product management hadn’t made it to the tech…

In Defense of Product Documentation

A version this article was published on General Assembly’s blog. A decade ago when I started my career in product management, most tech shops gave this role an ambiguous label like consultant or analyst. At the time, besides being a source of an existential crisis my job description had two other problems: I couldn’t explain it to my mother, and it involved authoring specifications – the kind that made its author and readers want to die! Now, most tech teams either include a product manager or are wondering if they need to. And while my mom still doesn’t get what…