As I work my way through my current job search, I find myself having many interesting conversations about technologies and industries. Many of these conversations have left me exploring the ideas further. Once I put my product management hat on, it’s difficult to take off.

Disclaimer: The work produced here is not exhaustive or extensive. It is the product of 2–3 hours of research exploring a topic, using prior experience, and building a basic outline around a solution. It is intended to fulfill the requirements that one might see in an interview case study or homework assignment. …


I haven’t posted in a while. Sometimes life gets in the way. And lately, that has come from the age-old startup problem of wearing too many hats. Large companies have separate departments for product, engineering, marketing, sales, customer support, operations and purchasing, finance and accounting, etc. Each of those departments probably has multiple people with even more defined roles. At an early-stage company, you throw in fundraising as an almost full-time job and then you also have employees that have to take on the entire responsibilities of multiple departments.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a totally expected part of the…


If there is one technology that I am super excited about, it’s self-driving tech. I think it’s one of the most important techs in terms of the noticeable effects it will have on everyone’s daily life. Machine learning, AI, big data. All of those are important, but to a random person on the street, they either won’t notice the impact or realize the underlying tech that causes it.

Self-driving cars are not like that. Maybe I’m biased for living in Pittsburgh, where it’s a common sight to see self-driving Ubers (and I even saw an Argo car today). People will…


As a product manager, it can often be difficult to blend personality traits with job responsibilities. Many PMs come from an engineering background that keeps them primarily working on individual projects or interacting with a consistent, small team of colleagues. It can be a challenge moving into product management that can have the PM interacting with all facets of the organization — product (duh), design, development, marketing, sales, operations, c-suite, etc. — as well upstream — suppliers, OEMs, etc. — and downstream — customers and other stakeholders. Not only is this a big change, but product managers are supposed to…


This is the first in a series of blog posts I plan on doing around product management and start-up topics and concepts. In these posts, I plan to study and present my findings on problems that product managers and entrepreneurs can often experience. Some posts will be based on things that I encounter in my day-to-day work at a pre-seed startup company. Others will be based on things I read, with a focus on information gathers from Product Management for Dummies, The Product Manager’s Desk Reference, and The Startup Owner’s Manual.

I’ve always found prioritization to be one of the…


I just finished listening to the audiobook for A Whole New Mind by David Pink and parts of it were very eye-opening. Pink posits that we are leaving the information age and that we are facing the same dilemma as when we entered it. The main jobs of the age are being phased out as they are either being automated or outsourced overseas. To remain relevant, workers must embrace new skills. This means combining the left-brain skills of the information age with right brain qualities like creativity, inventiveness, and empathy. …


I just started a new book called SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal and it’s been hard to put down so far. The book is all about how when we play games, we actively seek out and attain psychological benefits that help us achieve our goals. What’s fascinating is that we can take those same rules and methods and apply them to reaching goals in out everyday life. McGonigal references countless studies and even 400,000 SuperBetter players that show that the rules she sets out can be used to tackle real work problems.

I’m not a much of a gamer (unless you…


Ed. note: This is a repost from 2015 as I migrate some posts over to my new blog.

So back in March I decided that I was sick of declaring I was going to do this or going to do that and never following through. Instead, I was going to put all of my goals and dreams down on paper and share it with someone who could keep me honest. I sat down one night, disconnected from the internet, and started writing. I wrote down my whys for writing the manifesto. I wrote down my purpose. I wrote down my…

Justin Schaeffer

www.justinschaeffer.com Product Manager, Startup Life, Improvement Junkie

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