My Approach To Product Management

I added my answer to “What are the essential software tools for a product manager?” on Quora but wanted to go a bit further and summarize how the entire Product Management flow can work together with tools.

So often I talk with companies that are building and buliding but are super disconnected with their customers, the business objectives or the efforts of other teams. Or, they are growing and making progress but wish their Product Management was better.

Here’s my version of how Product Management can work. Of course, this is one of many different approaches.

Start with the Goals
When your company is cranking along it might feel lame to pause and talk about goals. Mumblings like “this is a waste of time”, “too many meetings”, “we already know what we’re trying to do”, “too much process”, “we don’t really do this”, etc may crop up. You need to push through this, having a clear goal to work with that everyone has agreed on is key to doing anything else well.

One stategy you can use is OKRs. Spend an hour watching this Rick Klau talk on OKRs on how Google does it and read this First Round Capital article about Swipely.

Example Objective: Increase Customer Engagement
Example Result: Increase user custom report sharing to 10 shares per user per month

Make sure your goals are somewhere you can add to or reference digitally. You are committing to building product to impact these goals, they need to be within arms reach.

Understand the Product
It’s important to be at a point with your product where you can understand what impact decisions will have on the product performance.

Heap Analytics
Heap is the best tool I’ve ever seen to understand user behavior. The install is a simple snippet. From there, you as the Product Manager have tons of control to investigate behavior.

feature_funnel1

SendGrid Reports
Whether you use SendGrid or another system to deliver your transactional email, don’t treat email as a secondary piece of your product, give it the credit it deserves. Spend time building a spreadsheet model that enables you to download data, add to your model and see how your transactional email is performing.

Google Analytics
I’ve never become an expert with GA or had anyone around me that was. I’ve found GA is great for understanding your audience and macro behaviors. Where does our traffic come from? What devices are being used? etc.

Internal Reports
Is there anything about your product that you need to understand it better? Ask for help from your Engineering team and work hard to uncover missing pieces of the puzzle.

Just like having clear goals set for the business, understanding how your product performs is a prerequisite to do anything else strategically.

Understand your Customers
You have heard “Get out of the building” a million times now.  What are sustainable things you can be doing to better understand the problems your customers have and how you can impact their lives?

Visit Customers
I used to procrastinate about visiting customers at their office but have since learned to love this part of Product Management.  Instead of organizing some type of user testing or formal feedback session with your customer, simply make it your goal to stop by and say hello.  “I’m in San Francisco next week and wanted to drop by and say hello.  Can you grab coffee at 10a on Tue or 4p on Wed?”  Another approach is to use conferences to talk with customers.  I have found having a conversion about work life, the customer’s products and their strategy is a great way to understand their world much better.

Use LinkedIn for Personas
Search LinkedIn for 2nd connections in the San Francisco Bay Area with keyword “Marketing”.  You’ll see people with titles like “Vice President Marketing” and “Marketing Strategy for Saas, eCommerce and Payments”.  Tweak the search and find profiles that are relevant to your product then print these out and tape them to the wall.  Cute persona names like “Mary Marketer” have never resonated with me.  I like talking about how real people would find value.

Help with Support
Try to plugin somehow with the support process.  You can be part of the team helping to answer tickets, you could attend the support team’s regular meeting, you could ask for access to their ticketing system so you can review tickets and look at trends, etc.  Understanding tone, terms customers are using and problems they are having using the product is context you need to make better decisions.

Have a Repository of Ideas
Good ideas and customer feedback pile up extremely fast. You need a system in place for storing and referencing these ideas.

Prodpad
In Prodpad, anyone can submit an idea via email and each idea has a business case, impact vs effort scale and user stories that the Product Manager can write. This is awesome because it gives everyone on the team a place to send ideas with low friction and empowers the Product Manager to add detail and prioritize.

Create the Gameplan
Let’s assume now that you have clear goals, understand how the product performs and a repository of ideas that could potentially impact those goals, it’s time to come up with the gameplan. Each team is different, sometimes it’s the sole ideas of the Product Manager and other times it’s a collaborative effort from the whole team. In either case, it’s your responsibility and critical that you get buy-in from the team. Talk about why certain features are prioritized and backup your thinking with evidence like user data, business KPIs and customer stories. The rest of the team is about to work very, very hard on building the product you’re asking them to build, they deserve a rock solid gameplan.

Google Design Sprint
Being able to pull off something like the GV Design Sprint with your team is varsity stuff. It requires a level of leadership, ability to collaborate and skills that most teams don’t have. I recommend watching that video for inspiration and understanding where your team’s strengths are to come up with your own version.

Roadmap
The Roadmap is a way to talk about the gameplan with anyone that’s not on your immediate team. It tells the story of how you are going to invest and why.

sample-roadmap

Because you have done the hard work of defining goals and understanding your product, you are not shooting from the hip now.

“We are rolling out a new report UI that will make it easier for users to share custom reports with their team. This will be measured by seeing an increase from 1.5 reports shared to 10 reports shared per user per month. This aligns with our business goal of improving customer engagement.”

Wireframe and Flowcharts
Now that the plan is understood, it’s time to dig in. Use simple wireframes and flowcharts to articulate your gameplan. For each flow, be able to talk about how it will impact one of your goals. Using tools like UI Stencils or Balsamiq Mockups makes this easy. Tape everything to a wall in your office to create an easy way to informally discuss the plan with the team.

2014-04-23 14.37.17

Get Feedback
Once you have wireframes or designs, use tools like InVision and Usabilityhub to get feedback from customers, the general public and internal stakeholders. This lends credibility to the entire design process and builds trust with your team.

Write User Stories
User stories define what will be built. If you have been collaborating with the team on what to build, writing user stories should be more busy work than innovation. This is the time to think through every single edge case and be very detail oriented. During development, questions are always going to come up. The more thorough you are writing user stories, the smoother things will go.

Daily Standup
Attend your team’s daily standup even if you have nothing to add. You need to be there to answer questions and support the development of the product you are asking the team to build.

QA
Even if you have a full-time QA on your team, I’d recommend being a key part of the testing effort. When I haven’t done this, I’ve felt disconnected from the team and hard work being put in to build the product I asked for. You need to be the expert of the product, the more time you spend on alpha and beta versions before going to production the better.

Communication
Updating the company about product development happens differently for every company. Do you need to be a part of your sales team’s weekly meeting to talk through what’s in progress and what’s on the roadmap so they can talk intelligently with customers? Do you need to demo new features at company meetings?

Screenflow
Creating screencasts to show off new features is powerful. I have used this technique to demo products in board meetings, company meetings and to customers. I’ve used Screenflow for Mac to author the screencast then uploaded to Vimeo to share.

Blog Post
For new features, write a blog post that talks about the value for your customer, how it solves their problems and include screenshots. Your marketing team may choose not to use the post, it may not get promoted, etc but it’s a great practice to be in.

Launching a Feature
The moment has arrived but the work is not done. Once a new feature launches, it’s important to understand early indications of how things are performing. Talk to your support team, any tickets related to the new feature? Test your analytics, is the data being recorded exactly as expected? If you are running any A/B tests, are they recording data correctly?

Numbers Review
I heard Steven Lurie describe a “Numbers Review” meeting in which the Product Manager presents performance data of a newly launched feature.

“Product teams have a bad habit of always looking forward. What’s the next shiny feature to build? When the Engineering team works hard to build something they should not be in the dark about how it’s performing.” – Steven Lurie

The beauty of the Numbers Review is that it connects many of the core concepts in this post together. In order to deliver a great Numbers Review meeting the Product Manager needs firm benchmarks on product performance prior to the new feature. They also need to reiterate the intended value of the feature and how it connects to company goals (OKRs).

Summary
These are two of my favorite images describing Product Management.

what_is_a_product_manager

mario1

My approach is just one of a million different ways to build amazing products.  I hope you found some useful tips.

Product Management is a wonderful blend of design, collaboration, empathy, strategy and engineering.  Now, go forth and make amazing things!

Learning about Startup Investing

How are startups raising the seed funding they need to get to the next phase?  This is a very simple overview of a few vehicles that help startups raise capital and some new and interesting trends in the ecosystem.

Syndicates
An Angel or Fund can lead a Syndicate on AngelList. Investors that are backing the Syndicate have the option to invest in specific deals that are being syndicating. Syndication allows Investors to pool their resources and share risks.
Ex: FG Angels

Funds
Funds on AngelList are “index funds” or “fund of funds” that give Investors broad exposure to lots of deals within a specific vertical. An Investment committee votes on deals that have been syndicated.
Ex: AngelList Consumer Fund

Corporate Investment in Super Angels
Recently, Mailchimp invested $2M into Sig Mosley’s $30M super angel fund.  Thriving companies like Mailchimp see this type of investing as a way to diversify cash, help startups and get early access to the most innovative companies in their space.

Accelerators
Many startups choose to go through an Accelerator program. Typically an Accelerator program will take an equity stake in the startup and provide seed capital and a convertible note option, a loan that converts into equity at some point in time.
Ex: Techstars provides $118k for a 7-10% equity stake

Angel Investors
Individual Angels are a core part of the ecosystem. Startups will often bring on several Angel investments in combination with going into an Accelerator or using AngelList to assemble the seed capital they need.

Crowdfunding
Hardware and hard goods startups are using a combination of Angel investing to get the company running with a prototype built and Kickstarter to fund the first product release.  Ex: Ubooly

I recommend reading Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson to get schooled on VC investing.

Learning about Startups

Occasionally people ask me “Where do you go to learn about cool startups?” Here are a few tips on how to get started and have fun learning more about the startup world.

Discover New Products
Product Hunt is a daily newsletter, mobile app and website of new products.  These can be anything from a new version of an existing product to a prototype to a new company. Almost every day I find value in scanning Product Hunt’s morning email.

AngelList is a platform for startups to showcase their company and post jobs. Investors use AngelList to participate in syndicates and research companies. Try browsing syndicates and investors to learn about the investments they are making, it’s a powerful way to learn about amazing companies and see trends.

Research Company Financings
Subscribe to Crunchbase or Dan Primack’s Term Sheet daily email for funding announcements. Dan goes deeper into deal analysis, PE and IPO news as well as personal stories which I find super interesting. From both of these emails you’ll be up-to-date on funding announcements and M&A in the startup world in a quick 5 min morning read.

Startups in your Network
This is another fun way to learn more about the startup world. Try looking into your extended network to see which of your friends, friends of friends and connections work at startups.

Facebook
Type “friends of my friends who are founders” into the search box. You’ll probably get a long list of people that work at startups. Click on the company name to learn more or follow.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.03.22 AM

LinkedIn
Click on “Advanced” to the right of the search box and search for 2nd Connections, Company Size: 1-10, Keyword: Co-founder, Location: San Francisco. Like Facebook’s search, you’ll find a ton of people you are loosely connected with working at interesting startups.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.04.32 AM

Attend an Event
Lastly, one of the most impactful and satisfying things you can do is get involved with your local startup community. Search meetup.com for an event and attend. Subscribe to the Startup Digest email for your city.  Connecting with your local startup community is inspiring, awesome for your personal network and helps all of the entrepreneurs trying to make a dent in the universe.-

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.06.15 AM

Of course, there are tons and tons of awesome resources out there for following startup news, learning about financing, finding a co-founder and more. Hopefully this gets you started.  Enjoy!

 

Unboxing: UI Stencils

I finally ordered the UI Stencils Starter Pack for $75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a long-time Balsamiq Mockups fan and believe in it’s effectiveness.  I also like the tactile approach using pencils and paper.

In my first quick sketch, I found myself thinking through interactions as well as the UI.  What emails need to be sent?  How does this fit into the overall user onboarding flow?  How should referrals work?  How do we help the user be successful after signing up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was easy to let these ideas flow because it took 10 seconds to sketch them.  If I was doing this on the computer I would have thought to document the other intractions, in Evernote perhaps.  I would hesitate about where the information ultimately belonged, switching between apps and losing focus.  This is the beauty of sketching, it lets your ideas flow and separates this creative step with the later steps of refinement and organization.

 

My Last Day At PivotDesk

David and I have decided that it’s time I leave PivotDesk.  This has been the hardest choice of my professional life.

I wrote the team at PivotDesk a few days ago and stopped by the office to wish everyone well.   We have made commerical real estate more efficient and cost effective for everyone from entrepreneurs to small business owners to brokers and I’m extremely proud of that.

Hopefully this post helps others avoid a similar situation in their companies and gives some context on how this can happen to the best of teams.  As several mentors and incredible friends have told me, this is way more common than people realize.

Alright (sigh), now that’s out of the way so let’s talk about what the hell happened.

Over the past six months I gradually lost the confidence of my teammates.

Here’s how it happened.

Tunnel Vision
For the past three years I’ve woken up in the morning thinking about how to grow PivotDesk and fallen asleep almost every night thinking about what else I should have done that day.  At the park with my kids I was always reviewing my task list, on the weekends I’d crave time alone so I could think about what’s coming up, everything was about growth, scale, more.

I was so caught up in this type of thinking for so long that I had blinded myself to all of the other things that make a team truly work well together.  As all teams do, we’ve had a few disagreements over a variety of situations.  I handled these situations with little care, love or respect for my teammates.  I just wanted it over so we could go back to growth, scale, more.  Little did I realize, I was slowly eroding the support from my team that is needed to succeed together.  And worse, I was growing defensive and outwardly frustrated as my stress level rose.

Stuggling With Co-founder Balance
I began as VPE at PivotDesk and after our MVP and Engineering team took shape moved to VP of Product where I’ve been for the past two years.  I also have a second job as Co-founder.  This job has no job description or performance metrics, rather it’s a mix of a zillion different things from sales to ops to bizdev to customer support.  Finding the balance between these two roles has not been easy and is another reason I ultimately lost the team’s support.

Just a few examples:

  • Taking coffee meetings instead of attending daily standup.
  • Running the company meeting instead of focusing on a great product update during that company meeting.
  • Letting my week fill up with sales, finance, pr and exec team meetings and not leaving myself enough time for deep product focus.

As I asked others on my team for feedback once I realized things were going sideways I heard things like “No one really knows what you do anymore.”

Making the Hard Decision
Saying “hard decision” doesn’t even come close.  When David and I talked about the possibility of me leaving I started visibly shaking, my mouth turned dry and I started having trouble breathing.  As the words “If I’m getting in the way at all, we should seriously consider that I unhook from PivotDesk” came out of my mouth it was surreal.  All of the emotions started kicking in; the Imposter syndrome, anger, disbelief.  We decided to give it a week, talk to the people that have seen this the most, then regroup and make a decision.  For a week I let all of the “Co-founder projects” slip and focused only on product.  I felt like our team was in perfect harmony and kicking ass.  We released a major feature and were collaborating perfectly on the next feature.   Our OKRs were lining up to our analytics informing what we were building and planning on our roadmap.  Ironically, it was one of my favorite weeks of work ever in my career.

At the end of the week David and I spoke again, there was no change in the team’s support, it was time to unhook.  I was crushed.

When talking with a good friend and mentor of mine this week he said “You are not special!”  As I laughed and said, “Hey, thanks a lot.  Is that supposed to make me feel better.”  He said yes and went on to talk about seeing this happen in different ways over and over in fast growing startups.  The company changes so fast and sometimes people and teams simply aren’t the right fit for the phase of the business anymore.  This did make me feel better and he encouraged me to not assume 100% of the burden.

The Next Chapter
It’s incredible how much of one’s identity can get wrapped up in the company they are trying to build.  The constant pitching, the t-shirt wardrobe peppered with company logos and talking about the business at every holiday, lunch with friends or phone call with Mom really adds up.  It’s what you live and breathe as a startup founder and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

For me, one thing has always stayed constant over the past 20 years of my professional life whether working at a big company or startup, the love of building software.  From the first 10 years as a software engineer through today as a product guy, day-dreaming about cool ideas and turning them into reality is thrilling.  I still get nervous as a I watch customers, friends and teammates use the products I’ve help build.

I don’t know exactly how the next chapter reads, but I’m positive using PivotDesk to share office space will be a part of the mix.

 

3 Tips Product Managers Can Use To Do Great Work

Product Managers need to envision the world as it should be while having a clear understanding of how their customers see the world today.

Here are three ways to succeed in doing this as a Product Manager.

1. Understand / Measure
You have a great idea for a feature and a vision of the positive impact building this feature could have on the bottom line.  As the Product Manager, this is a very exciting feeling, you can make the world better!  However, this is precisely the time to be super careful.  Before building, you need to undestand how everything is going to be measured and be able to articulate why the product needs this feature to your team.  If the feature is an iteration on an existing feature, do you have a good benchmark?  If this is something brand new, thinking through how everything is measured helps you elaborate the idea.

Tip:
Create an Evernote notebook for the new feature and add three notes: Benchmark, Business Impact and Customer Stories.  If you don’t feel good about the quality, accuracy and depth of these notes, you shouldn’t move forward with the feature.

2. Talking With Customers
No one cares what you or your company does, they care about their problems and how you will solve them.  During customer meetings, pitch your idea of the future conversationally and then listen to the subtext in what is being said rather than the exact specifics.  There’s a huge difference between what people say they want and how they behave, as I’m sure you’ve heard before many times.

Tip:
Use coffee meetings to have an informal discussion about your customer’s life.  Ask questions like “What are you working on?” and “What would make your job easier?” to get the conversation going.

3. Don’t Forget About Changing The World
Is this you?  Your email is a constant stream of things customers can’t do with your product and examples of how other products are doing things much better.  Of course it is, that’s life as a Product Manager.  A mistake PMs make is turning this input into a todo list for the product and losing focus on game changing ideas.   Remember, you are at the intersection of what your customers need, how your product can help them and how that can fuel your business.  You are in a unique position to envision and empower amazing ideas that get turned into real life and job changing solutions for people.

Tip:
Keep a notebook next to your bed.  When you wakeup with some incredible product idea you’ve been dreaming about, sketch it out.  This will help you be free of the constraints and realities you may face on your team and allow you to think big.

For further reading:
What, exactly, is a Product Manager?
Good Product Team Bad Product Team

 

5 Evernote Hacks PivotDesk Uses To Do More Faster

On the eve of an awesome day 1 of #EC2014 I wanted to summarize a few Evernote hacks our team uses to work smarter and do more faster.

1. Use a @today tag
I forget where I read about this but it definitely wasn’t my idea.  Tag notes as @today and add a @today tag search to your shortcuts.  At the end of each day, think about what you are doing the next day and tag relevant notes with @today.  The next day you are ready to rock.


2. Use an Inbox notebook
I have a notebook called “Inbox”.  The web clipper and email forwarding default to that notebook and sometimes when I’m in a hurry I create new notes in Inbox.  Every few days I “process” the Inbox notebook just like I do with my physical inbox and Things inbox.  It also lives under shortcuts so it’s always top of mind.

3. Use Evernote for Company meetings
I heard this tip from Phil on a podcast long ago.  Every two weeks PivotDesk has an all-hands company meeting and multiple people update the company on parts of the business.  Funnel analysis, KPIs, Customer Stories and a CEO update are all components of this meeting.  I have a stack called “Company Meetings” and a notebook for each meeting.  I invite contributors to the notebook in advance then publish it to the rest of the company the morning of the meeting.  We typically have 5 -7 people attending remotely and the rest jammed in our conference room.  We use Google Hangouts so everyone can see each other and then use presentation mode in the conference room as we talk through the data.

4. Use Evernote for Board meetings
In the past, as we prepared for an upcoming Board meeting we would discuss good and bad things in the business that had happened in the past few months and look forward a few months.  We had a lingering feeling that we were forgotting to tell a fun customer story or leaving something out.  Now, with Evernote, we create a new notebook immediatelly following a Board meeting that we use to capture data points, customer stories, articles and anything else relevant to preparing for the next Board meeting.  This has eliminated the need for a long conversation to discuss what happened in the previous quarter because it’s already captured.  This has been a huge time saver for our Exec team.

5. Use a shared Travel notebook for business development
Our team is constantly meeting with customers, partners and prospects around the country.  As a 20 person company, each of us is very well networked in different ways.  We have a “Travel” notebook that we share, each note is tagged with a city.  If our CEO has a trip to LA in the next few weeks, we will clip LinkedIn profiles, articles and add notes about people to meet with, upcoming events and news in that city.  Our CEO is able to leverage the reach and insights from everyone’s network to plan a productive trip.

About PivotDesk
PivotDesk is an online marketplace that connects companies with excess and unused office space to startups and small businesses that need flexible, month-to-month space to grow their business.

Notes from my Sharing Economy talk to CU students

Watch a video created by PivotDesk showing “A Day in the Life of the Sharing Economy”.  Using car sharing, home sharing and new service models are now the new normal for some people.

Many companies are renting inventory they own.  Technology and insurance innovation enables people to share this inventory.

  • Zipcar
  • Car2Go
  • Netflix

The phrase “access over ownership” is used to describe these Business to Consumer marketplaces.

There are new examples of B2B services such as Getable.

Many companies now capitalize on remnant assets.  Extra office space, under utilized cars and camping gear that gets used once a year are all examples of remnant assets.

These marketplaces enable peer-to-peer transactions.

Leveraging spare time has created some of the most successful sharing economy companies.

  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Homejoy
  • Rover
  • TaskRabbit
  • Postmates
  • Instacart

Companies considered part of the “sharing economy” are mostly marketplaces.

  • Craigslist
  • eBay
  • oDesk
  • Thumbtack
  • OpenTable
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor

Marketplaces characteristics include:

  • Liquidity
  • Curation
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Frictionless payment
  • Mobile
  • Social Proof
  • Frequency
  • Network Effects

Here’s a quick slide deck I built using HaikuDeck.

https://www.haikudeck.com/p/e4dHuawFSA

And here are a few links I recommend for anyone thinking about marketplaces:

All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces by Bill Gurley

Marketplaces One Pager

Sharing’s Not Just for Start-Ups
by Rachel Botsman

How GTD Areas of Focus relate to Product Management

One of my favorite GTD concepts is Areas of Focus. Using Areas of Focus in your personal productivity system helps group work into context. No need to look at todos like “Get House Painted” when you’re at work. It’s better to look at only work related stuff that you want to be focused on.

For the longest time I’ve had Areas of Focus like House, Family, Marriage, Gear and Travel. I had one Area of Focus for work called PivotDesk. Inspired by a recent webinar on GTD Connect given by David Allen, I decided to refine my work-related Areas of Focus.

Old: PivotDesk

New: Product Management, Feature Development, Product Performance, Product Marketing

As I went through this exercise, I had a chance to think through the different types of work a Product Manager interacts with to get the job done.

Product Management
Idea management, sprint planning, processes, team, budgets, timelines, product roadmaps, internal communication and demos.

Feature Development
Scoping, customer interviews, idea validation, wireframes, designs, details and QA.

Product Performance
Instrumentation, A/B testing, analytics and KPIs.

Product Marketing
Product tour, blog posts, inbound channels, segmenting visitors and drip email campaigns.

I’ve found each of these areas requires a different headspace, pace and communication style. When focused on Product Management, my head is very much in business and planning mode. I’m emaliing, looking at the calendar and updating people. When focused on Feature Development, I am putting myself in our customer’s shoes, feeling empathic and brainstorming ideas. I’m staring at personas and drawings taped to the wall and getting whiteboard marker stains all of my arms and clothes. I’m far, far away from my email and calendar.

What do your Areas of Focus look like?

What I Want To See From The David Allen Company In 2015

I am such a damn fanboy. The #selfie I took with Phil Libin from Evernote at Collision Conf was something I talked about for weeks and the time I ran into Joe Gebbie outside Om Malik’s Design Conf and updated him on PivotDesk was a highlight for me, not sure why. Actually, I do know, these guys have executed on big things that impact my daily life and I admire that.

So of course, because I’ve embraced GTD and experienced the benefits over the years, I’ve become a fanboy of the whole crew, David Allen, Kelly Forrester, Mike Williams and the David Allen Co coaches I’ve interacted with.

But what happens when a fanboy feels let down?

GTD and it’s principals are rock solid in my view. I’ve lived, taught colleagues and survived by some of the concepts in GTD and can never look back. However, the community around GTD is weakening.

Given a system for GTD, or in general just doing a better job at executing on your day-to-day tasks, why care about a “community”? When I started going deeper and deeper into GTD I found myself leaning on gtdconnect and podcasts for inspiration. I realize this sounds lame but I did it and it yielded results.

Ex: During the past 2 yrs…. 1) I had two little kids 2) got my MBA and 3) co-founded a tech startup. I sought comfort in listening to the same podcasts over and over. Something about the iteration, background noise and community felt like a massive advantage I had in my corner.  Do More Faster, Get Things Done, Inbox Zero were things I enjoyed and made me happy….along with producing good results at work and home.

As GTD Connect has faded, Kelly Forrester has moved on and the whole thing seems weak, I still occasionally listen to old podcasts but am now rethinking my approach. I don’t want to move on but maybe I need to.

Ideas

Here are some things to do.

1. Lots of interviews with people in different domains – the interviews with GTD’ers doing amazing things throughout the world are fascinating and keep me paying my monthly fee.

2. More presence. My company PivotDesk is based in Boulder, CO, one of the most vibrant business and tech scenes in the world. If you asked 100 people on the street about GTD maybe 1 would know, this sucks. Why aren’t there more ways to scale the GTD philosophy in a way driven by the David Allen Co? I would help.

3. Better Software. I use Things. My buddy that has no clue about GTD but crushes it uses Wunderlist. My other buddy I’m educating about GTD uses Asana. The smartest engineers on our team at PivotDesk use only PivotalTracker and nothing else to manage their own personal life. I totally get the “tool agnostic” thing but I’m bummed that David Allen Co hasn’t done more with thought leadership around software to support GTD. I’ve reached out a few times to Intentional Software to beta test some of their rumored projects and have gotten zero response. That’s incrediblely lame and a good signal whatever they’re working on will probably suck. I have no financial gain or career gain, I just want to help and got a goose egg…boo!

4. Meetups. A women in Denver has planned a GTD event in which 3 people show up each month. She is trying so hard to make this work and it’s nice/lame. Where is the support from David Allen Co? These people are your evangalists and they have no support/training/kuddos. They are passionate about what you are selling and you are absent. Embrace this crew of people.

I will continue to be a fanboy in 2014. What David has done is amazing and the dude is great. I evangalize GTD, teach people about it, and use the approach every single day. It’s been a life changer.

However, as I look to 2015 I bet I evolve. Continue to pay $48/month for GTD Connect, no. Buy David’s revision, of course. Tell others about GTD, of course. Be a fanboy, probably not.

Mike – keep GTD Connect an exclusive, amazing resource that’s worth paying for and give the GTD amplifiers a voice. Let me know how I can help.