Issue #39: 5 Things I Learned from the Movie Chef on Building Products, Leadership, and Careers. Also Learning Techniques and 5 Things.
Jon Favreau's 2014 movie, Chef was such a great movie I found myself reflecting on my career and my clients' careers, afterwards 😂
Hola friends! 👋
This week’s thoughts and feelings include:
5 Things I Learned from the Movie Chef on Building Products, Leadership, and Careers
(FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) How do YOU keep up with all the information online?
5 things to help you this week
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Hola friends! 👋
How was your weekend? Mine was pretty chill except for that one hour with my trainer when she kicked my ass by making me 100 of everything. So afterwards, I was pretty much glued to my couch using my aching muscles as an excuse to not move except to eat. 😹
What about you? What did you do? Care to share in the comments?
1️⃣ 5 Things I Learned from the Movie Chef on Building Products, Leadership, and Careers
A while back, I got asked what books/resources would recommend to Product Managers and aspiring Product Leaders to help them grow in their careers.
My list has always caught other people by surprise. Mostly because I always share a list of titles that have nothing to do with Product Management or even working in Tech! Like:
Let me continue the tradition with today’s recommendation: CHEF by Jon Favreau.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I suggest getting your priorities in order and watch it 😹.
Lessons on Building Products and Creating Value
01 You can have the simplest, most basic product in the world, but if you’re giving amazing experiences - people will come.
Pay attention to the experience your products bring. Sure it can solve a person’s problem but if it doesn’t invoke any emotion, then there will be no attachment between your product and your user.
And they’ll easily jump ship to the other product that can not just solve their problem but also make them feel good feelings.
At the end of the day, the framework you use, the process you follow, or the technology you invest in, will not matter if it’s not resulting in giving your users a good time.
Lessons on Leading and Building a Team
02 Have high standards but show people WHY it’s important and why you care to have these standards. So they can understand and make the choice to follow.
As leaders, sometimes we focus so much on what we think the team should be doing and how well they should be doing it.
But we can’t lay down expectations and expect people to just blindly meet them. And when they don’t, we get frustrated.
But why should they care?
As leaders, it’s also our responsibility to not just show the vision and define the direction where we want our team to go. It’s also our responsibility to create a culture of excellence and drive empathy for the people we’re building our products for.
But that also means we, ourselves, need to care. And probably we do. But often we overlook sharing and showing this with our team.
But we lead by example whether we do it consciously or not. So if our teams don’t see that we care about other things apart from the P&L — that’s what they’ll take away from us.
Lessons on Career, Growth, and Dreams
03 Don’t compromise your values for other people’s interests. You will do bad work and you will be unhappy.
When looking for jobs, a lot of the Product People I’ve talked to often only talk about the following:
The company’s name and how good it will look to have this in their CV
The product they may build and the technology it comes with
The title and salary they’re gunning for
Then they get a job and then they only learn later that there were other important things they should have paid attention to:
Having to work more than 12 hours a day and losing time for everything else.
Agreeing to / acting on decisions that their instincts have been trying to reject.
Believing that they need to behave in ways that are against their inner compass.
Mostly because somebody said it’s what’s good for the business. And it might be. But the question is, will it be good for us?
Not all jobs will be contributing to our purpose or help us reach our full potential. It’s normal. But they shouldn’t be blocking us from them either.
04 Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Feel your feelings but don’t let it make decisions for you especially if you’re in a bad place.
We all get frustrated or scared or something. And in moments of these intense emotions, our instincts might kick in and make us want to do something.
Say something we might end up regretting
Make decisions that have no rational backing
Or worse be afraid to make decisions even with rational backing
But acting on our base impulses can’t be good for us. At best we do something we’ll end up regretting that can impact our future. At worst, we constantly feel we are at our limit and we are always reactive to our stressors. And we end up creating a reputation for us that doesn’t best represent us and the value we provide.
And imagine if our work is constantly generating stress. What would our daily lives be like? Will we always be in a state of fight or flight?
Learning to regulate our nervous systems is important to help us make decisions that are actually good for us. But to also help us detach ourselves from the situations that may overwhelm us.
05 Lean into your strengths. Believe in yourself and success will follow.
Some doors will close. It’s not a matter of failure. It’s a matter of fit. Maybe that opportunity wasn’t just the right thing for us (as much as we were not the right one for them).
It will hurt. But it’s also an invitation to look deep into ourselves and really recognize what we’re good at and the value we can provide and for whom.
And lean in.
One door might have closed. But that’s just earned time to really be able to exercise the skills we want to sharpen, be in the space we want to grow in, and step into the career we dream of.
BONUS: RELAX and HAVE FUN!
Work is hard enough as it is.
Sometimes we get into conflict with our team, our stakeholders, and our leaders.
We don’t always have the time, resources, or capacity to do what we need to do.
And at times, we find ourselves in difficult or uncomfortable situations.
But this shouldn’t be an everyday situation. And it’s up to us to make sure that we’re also always finding joy in what we’re doing. For ourselves. For our team. And for the people who are supporting us outside of the walls of our offices.
Growth and success can be hard. But who said it should be devoid of fun?
If there’s anything this movie taught me is that our jobs are not always our purpose or our identities. But our jobs should be enablers. Not blockers. They should help us discover what we’re good at, provide the means for us to live the life that we want, and allow us to be the best versions of ourselves.
But when we let our jobs consume us?
When we forget who we are and what we stand for?
When we end up ignoring and deprioritizing our passions, values, and loved ones?
It’s time for some reflection.
If you’re in a moment right now where you’re trying to figure out how you can:
Be a strong leader to your team in a way that’s aligned with your values
Build products that you believe in and in a way that maximizes your strengths
Have a career in Product Management and Leadership that’s challenging but also fun. And most importantly, enables you to get closer to the life you’ve envisioned?
I still have 2 open slots for 1:1 Private Coaching. Let’s chat. I’ve made it my mission to help more and more product professionals, especially women, enjoy their Product careers, pursue their passions, and live in accordance with their values. So I’d love to help you too.
2️⃣ (FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) How do YOU keep up with all the information online about technology, information about your industry, new PM trends, etc?
I’m assuming that you’re asking because you want to be able to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry because you always want to be learning and growing as a professional.
🤓 Short answer: I don’t try to keep up.
😎 Long answer(s)
At this point, I know myself well enough that I have zero patience to comb through every information available in the interwebs. New information pop up every 2 seconds.
Instead here’s what I do:
I prioritize what I want to learn - is there a challenge I’m stuck in or is there a gap in my knowledge that’s making it hard for me to make a decision? Or maybe there’s a topic that I’m curious to expand on? Prioritizing what I want to learn helps me be more “on the offense”. To proactively seek out information that’s relevant vs. chasing down everything.
I engage in interesting conversations with my peers and my community - Probably my favorite method of learning because it’s already contextualized. Having prioritized what I want to learn, I seek out the people I believe to be credible and whom I can trust to share their knowledge on the topic with me. I ask them questions. They challenge my thoughts. And I always come out of these discussions with a lot more insights than I expected.
I always have my PM and industry lens on - instead of seeking out information from the usual sources, I always have my Product Management and Industry lens on so I can extract information from every situation I find myself in.
That’s how I find lessons from movies and books that have nothing to do with Product Management.
I try to extract trends that might give me relevant insights from Instagram Reels, debates on Twitter and Reddit, and the discussions in the communities I am part of.
I subscribe to different newsletters that have already synthesized a lot of information and I skim through them to extract insights and ideas that I may want to experiment with in the future.
These are just some examples. But they all boil down to a few things.
I know what my preferred method of learning is and I follow it.
I try to seek out only information that’s relevant as much as possible.
But I welcome accidental knowledge by always being in the right mindset to learn.
But I think what’s also important to share here is that there’s also something to be said about the mindset behind “keeping up”.
There’s no race or need to know anything and everything all the time. It’s unnecessary and takes away the fun of learning.
So prioritize. Know you’re preferred learning method. And be always in a state of openness for learning to happen to you. I promise you, you will learn what you need and more without the pressure of having 50 open tabs for articles you know you will never get around to reading.
3️⃣ Five things to help you this week
One of my favorite’s fromabout how you don’t need to be a Product Leader to encourage or even drive a strong Product culture in your org.
Lisa McLeod talks about how High Performers Manage their boss.
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