Being Successful in Your First 90 Days at a New Job

Hopefully my last couple posts helped you get through negotiations and you now have a job at a startup or tech company. How do you ensure success in your new role?

When starting a new job, you’ve got a short window to make a great impression. You also need to set yourself up for success in what may be a role you occupy for 1-5 years or beyond.

If you walk in the door without a plan and just hope your new manager will have everything ready to go, you’re making a big mistake. Every time I start a new job, I find my manager is  really busy and just hopes to throw me into the fray to see what I’m capable of. It’s always easier to assume that this will be the case, and then when you do have that perfect manager, you’ll be over prepared.

In my experience, you have 90 days to make a great first impression.

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The Soft Skills Required in Salary Negotiation

Sandi from Quibb had a great suggestion to write a post about the soft skills needed for salary negotiation, so I decided to take a shot at it here. Would definitely love any feedback!

As outlined in my last post, there are many tactical elements you must consider when negotiating an offer. However, this post did not cover how to properly convey these messages to a potential hiring company. That’s the goal of this post.

For sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you have already received one or more offers (again, congratulations, that’s awesome!). And you have decided that you are going to negotiate with a company for a higher offer for any number of reasons.
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How to Negotiate Your Offer at a Tech Company (or anywhere)

I had been writing versions of this, and then Eric Bahn wrote an excellent post outlining all the elements of a startup job offer, so I can spend far less time defining everything. For many of the terms I’m talking about here, I highly recommend reading his recently published article here.

I’ve been on both sides of job negotiations, both as the job-seeker and as the hiring manager. So, I’ve seen a fair number of tactics executed in the process of people attempting to match a new role for themselves.

This post is designed to help the job-seeker through the negotiation process.
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Building Great Landing Pages

In part one, I wrote about how to optimize your registration modal. However, there’s quite a bit more to building a great registration experience.

For one, your advertising or SEO content needs to land the user on a page or experience that matches what they were searching for.

If a user is looking for clothing and they click on a page about T shirts, it’s always going to be better to land them on a page that highlights T shirts that are available on your site, and even better if you can land them on the specific shirt they hoped to buy.

However, if you also hope to collect their email address during this process, you can attempt a lot of tactics on your pages to convince your users to give you their information.

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4 Ways to Optimize your Reg Wall

How to optimize your signup experience?

There’s often a debate that happens at companies – should you force registration or should you allow your site to be open to users and then hope to provide enough value that they register later.

While I understand the merits of the second and think that optimizing the experience to reveal some parts of the site is great, giving the entire experience away for free is a waste of an opportunity to capture the email and other valuable information about a user. It’s telling that the majority of leading web services force you to register (and most always have).

The intent of this post is to describe how to optimize your reg wall to get the most people through your process, to collect the critical information you need, and have as low a bounce rate as possible.

There’s also a lot of evidence that collecting more email addresses is almost always a net positive for revenue and engagement.

There are going to be a series of multiple posts going through various important parts of how to optimize your registration experience. In the first one, I’m going to do a quick case study on how to optimize the actual reg wall itself and the experience around it.

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So, You Want to be a Product Manager?

How do you become a product manager?

Its not a job that has a single path in. It’s not like consulting, banking, or law where you go step by step through the process, do the right thing, and end up one day leading a product management organization.

Personally, I randomly picked Intuit’s Rotational Development Program to start my career. I couldn’t have described the difference between product management and any other job at the time, and really didn’t even understand what I’d be doing until I actually started. I just had used QuickBooks for one of my dad’s businesses and thought “hey, that software wasn’t too bad, maybe I should work for them.”

Good PMs can literally come from anywhere, with a variety of backgrounds. It doesn’t necessarily require a technical background, a business background, or anything. I know PMs who are just as good coming from a technical background as those who may have studied something as non-tech related as English in school.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t defining characteristics. I wrote about that pretty extensively in an earlier post. So how do you open the door to become a product person in the first place?

It certainly depends a bit where you’re coming from, so I’ll try to go through some scenarios on how to get that first PM job or get the skills where someone will even consider you an acceptable candidate.

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How to Structure Your Consumer Facing Product Team

I’ve been asked a fair amount, how should product management be structured at my organization or startup?

There’s not a perfect answer, but there are some principles.

Guiding Principles

Any good product management structure should have the following characteristics:
  • There’s a singular person (a CPO, VP of Product, CEO, Head of Product) leading the organization responsible for setting direction, vision, customer focus, and metric focus
  • Each of the product owners should have tightly focused areas of interconnected responsibility. In the majority of cases, it’s easiest if each PM has 1 or 2 key metrics that they are focused on.
  • When combined together, moving these metrics advances the company towards the product vision and increases the success of the company. If you move all your metrics up and the right and you aren’t improving as a business, it’s time to pick new metrics
  • It should be obvious and apparent what area each product owner runs, what metrics they are responsible for, and how it impacts the business. If you have a PM working on special projects that don’t advance your startup, it’s time to question the purpose of the role (and you might need to fire the person if they can’t be repurposed)
  • Product organizations are adaptable. As the business evolves, they need to grow and evolve with it, either to tackle new areas of the business or to fix problems in existing areas.

What follows are different examples of how you can think about structuring your product organization.

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What is Product Management?

This topic has been about written extensively. I drafted this for a company I was consulting as they were getting their product management function into place for the first time and wanted help understanding the exact role of a product manager.

After writing it, I realized it sounds quite a bit like Ben Horowitz’s Good PM, Bad PM essay from years back, so I’m linking it here to be clear I had no intention of stealing the concepts from that post (although I did write it independently and realized how similar it was after reading it). Good PM, Bad PM

What is product management:
I view product management as the embodiment of the business, the customer, and the technical side of the company. It’s your responsibility to balance across all the stakeholders and make sure that you are the person pushing the product and the business forward.

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