Stardate S03E34

Sean K. Gabriel
Captain’s Log: Supplemental
4 min readNov 28, 2022

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Mood: 🤔. Taking the long view. Am I becoming who I want to become?

Looking out towards the Alps from Champel, Genève

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

I took last week off from weeknoting, along with several days from work, to look after the lovely lady featured above. I’m so glad everything’s on the mend now. It also gave us the opportunity to slow things down, and think about where we’ve been, and where we’re headed next.

I’ve got a lot to be grateful for when I take the long view of my work over the last few years. I’ve learned an immense amount from what originally I thought was going to be a short foray into consulting. And I’ve built a reputation for discipline quality, doing what I say, and walking the walk. Ups and downs of recent weeks don’t take any of that away.*

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

These last couple weeks of PQ coaching were all about activating the sage within — through it, I could see many opportunities to strengthen my empathy muscles. It was one of those obvious things I’d forgotten, but now remember clearly, that EQ isn’t just measured outward from yourself. Being able to attune it to yourself is just as important.

And when it comes to the world of work, I used to use a north star of maximizing impact for others. I thought it was the right measure to connect to other beliefs I hold dear about servant leadership, and putting people first, but I’m seeing that it misses a direct measure of self. I’m not quite sure how to amend it yet, but I’m increasingly drawn to the idea of self-actualization through work: growing a career into a calling. And what a privilege it would be to explore this more fully.

💡 What do I need to remember?

A slogan we coined in a recent delivery chat, no context needed:

Delivery problems are always downstream of product problems.

But if that’s true, what’s upstream of product problems? It’s hard enough to agree what ‘product’ even is these days, but I see it as the engine of a modern digital business. It’s how a business chooses to pursue its goals and engage its customers: ship something you monetize. A product.

Upstream, then, are business problems. Strategy problems. In this sense, product is a strategy, but it might not be the right one given a company’s goals. The same can be said for delivering services, too.

If you’re looking upstream from what appears to be a healthy product or service, it’s important to do your own analysis of the long term prospects of a business. Fortunes can seemingly change overnight if you aren’t looking at the full picture, and leadership always has a vested interest in maintaining your belief in its success. It’s a painful lesson for so many in our field right now.

Think critically when an outlook is handed to you by those in charge. What success metrics would you trust?

📚 What did I discover?

A snap of Tendayi’s MTPcon talk this year that succinctly recaps the purpose of early product experimentation: to de-risk business models by gathering evidence. Aligns well with Itamar’s observations that not all evidence is created equal — and that actions speak louder than words!

Loving this contrarian take on the ideals espoused by SVPG — and not letting perfect be the enemy of good (and better) product management.

Even though I’ve followed digital gardening for a while now, it only just clicked that wikis are how you make it a team sport. This blog explains better than I can. Plus, it’s got a killer byline: “the web began as a tool for thought.”

So much of what Jacs shared in this podcast resonated — PM as a sometimes lonely role, the ‘duty of care’ we feel to our teams, and needing to make sure we look after ourselves.** A very worthwhile listen.

Write your process down. It’s a simple but effective way to take yourself off autopilot — and a great way to study the difference between your good decisions and good outcomes. I’m really curious to explore using this as a way to evolve my weeknotes format in future seasons.

🏠 AOB

Still feeling conflicted about moving on from the birdsite. I feel like I only just started getting the hang of its non-obvious alternate function (befriending interesting folks who ship projects regularly) and it’s suddenly time to pack up with the chaos from above.

I was hoping to buy some time with Moa Bridge, but it’s a halfway house for the indecisive. I see others taking their stand, and noting “the true victor in any war is the person selling weapons to both sides.” Is this what tweeting and tooting in the same breath has become?

*It’s like Julie counsels, “no matter where you journey, your skills and your past experiences go along for the ride.”

**Happy to have found the Product Mind crew as a space where PMs look out for one another.

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Sean K. Gabriel
Captain’s Log: Supplemental

Aloha (🤙。◕‿‿◕。)🤙 big on team building & lean product dev. Author @ aspiringpm.com. Thinking aloud with #weeknotes. Works best when caffeinated ☕️