High-signal questions to help you stand out

Source: Adobe In Stock

You’re about to start a serious, monogamous relationship. How much time do you invest into really getting to know them before you commit?

Jobs are serious, monogamous relationships, yet most of us take the plunge after only a handful of hours. You can always quit and find another one, but inertia is stronger than you think.

Let’s cover some high-signal questions to learn the truth before you commit years of your life. They kick off what I call the Question Domino Effect. …


How to Marie Kondo your packed calendar

Source: Adobe InStock

Are you suffering from too many meetings? You’re not alone. Most of us are tethered to our calendars. We conflate busyness with importance, when it actually means we’re starved for time to think.

To do our best work, we need to tidy up our packed calendars. Here are some tips that helped me survive as an introverted PM. ‍

Opportunity cost > ROI

Audit your calendar and identify the job of each meeting. Does it improve outcomes? Does it ladder up to a company goal? Is your presence even required? If it’s not all three, it should be on your chopping block.

A meeting…


The little-known story of Facebook’s top competitor

Source: productlessons.xyz

How can you be first to market, have a prophetic product with traction, and still have to shut down your business?

This is the real story behind the first college social network. It signed up 75% of campus within its first month. Seeing the undeniable traction, the founders left school to focus on it full-time.

Campus Network had all the makings of Facebook, and yet it failed a year in.

Startups bite the dust all the time, but what’s remarkable about this one is that it got so many things right. …


How startup equity really works

Source: Adobe InStock

I was an early employee at a hyper-growth startup. Life was rich until I tried to quit. This is the story of why I had to pay $300K to unshackle myself.

There’s surprisingly little coverage on this topic, maybe because nobody is incentivized to reveal the unsavory truth, or because VCs and founders get a lot more airtime.

Here’s everything I wish I knew before I joined a startup. I hope it can save you from burning piles of money like I did. ‍

Golden handcuffs

For all the talk around “disruption”, startups exert a surprising inertia over employees.

“Golden handcuffs” is…


Keywords and outcomes that will get you an interview

Source: Adobe In Stock

What does a great resume look like? How do you stand out? I’ve reviewed thousands of product manager resumes. Here’s the sad truth: most of them go straight to the shredder.

To write a resume that converts, it helps to understand the psychology of your audience. Their #1 concern: can you do the job well?

Every step in the hiring process is engineered to de-risk you. There are two proven ways to do this starting with your resume:

  1. Show that you solved similar (enough) problems → relevant experience
  2. Show that you quickly learn to solve new problems → strong track…


Source: Adobe InStock

Why does everyone want to do strategy? What’s really behind execution problems? How is everyone so confident in this meeting? And is “finding purpose” overrated?

These were a few of the topics covered in a conversation with Shreyas, Evan and Karan. I learned a lot from them, and want to share the highlights with you. ‍

Strategy as intelligence?

How strategic are you? Most people will say they’re above average or maybe even exceptional. But, by definition, most people cannot be above average.

Part of the allure of strategy is that it’s seen as a proxy for intelligence. It’s why so many people…


Don’t compete, tell a different story

Source: Adobe InStock

There are two myths as old as time: 1) competition is healthy; 2) winning requires outdoing the competition. Both ideas take root during our formative years in school, and color our decision-making for the worse.‍

Why competition is (often) unhealthy

Schools drive and reflect our obsession with competition. We are taught to memorize textbook answers to win the prize of higher grades. The way to outdo each other is to do more of the same.

We then apply this to the real world. We watch competitors closely, analyze their playbook, and try to outdo them at their own game. If they have three cool features…


Why going big can lead to your extinction

Source: Adobe In Stock

How do you raise millions of dollars, delight millions of customers only to be sold to a bootstrapped competitor for $35K?

This is the real story of two sites: Pinboard and Delicious. It first caught my attention because I love underdog stories. As I went down the rabbit hole, I realized it represents so much more, including:

  • What customers want vs. what people are incentivized to build
  • First big decision founders need to make — and employees should ask about
  • How a flea can devour an elephant with the help of time and profitability‍‍

Winning formula: simple & reliable

Customers want simple and reliable solutions.


How design defaults shape user behavior

Shopping cart
Shopping cart
Source: Adobe In Stock

The story of the $300M button made a big splash over a decade ago when it was covered in a book called Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. The story was originally written by Jared Spool and sent to Brad Frost when he was writing the book. I recently stumbled upon it and was immediately captivated.

It’s a great example of how designs can impact a business, in this case to the tune of $300M. It’s also a reminder of how defaults matter, shape user behavior, and even influence power dynamics.‍

A simple button change

There were only two buttons: Login and Register…


How to escape the career treadmill, delegate well, and avoid mental traps

Source: productlessons.xyz

I fell down the most productive rabbit hole: Shreyas Doshi’s tweets. Shreyas is a product leader at Stripe, but on the internet, he’s been breaking records for clarity of insight — 280 characters at a time.

Shreyas is like the Charlie Munger of product management: he tells stories that help you reinterpret your past, and make better decisions in the future.

Here are 5 big ideas I’ve learned from reading thousands of Tweets from him:

  1. Become 10–30–50 to escape the career treadmill
  2. Delegate with transparency
  3. Bias for building is a double-edged sword
  4. Focusing illusion leads you astray
  5. Gifted Debaters win…

Linda Z

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store