March 24, 2017 - No Comments!

The Power of Saying No

Whats the most powerful word in a product manager's or founder's vocabulary?


Its the biggest productivity hack that doesn't get its fair share of love. Productivity is all about getting things done, and the best way to get things done is to have fewer things to do.

Cut down on things to do by saying no to any new feature or stakeholder request that is distracting or not immediately urgent.  Saying no is a simple way of making sure you follow the strategy and vision that you initially laid out and not get bogged down with distractions that might seem cool at the time - but don't serve the overall strategy.

We only have 5 or 6 hours at most of real work hours in a day.  Maximise your productivity on making sure you are working on what needs to be worked on. At the end of the day product management is all about solving problems.  Make sure you are solving the right ones and be brutal with the word "no."


October 31, 2016 - No Comments!

Why I Canceled My MacBook Pro Order

I had been waiting to upgrade my 2012 MacBook Pro for over two years. After multiple Apple events in 2016 with no new hardware announcements, I tuned into the Oct 27 event wallet in hand, ready to give Apple my money.

After watching the event and the demos and sitting thru the Jonny Ive film about how the MacBook Pro is lighter, fueled by the blood of young baby dragons and has a new keyboard I was left wondering... who is the computer for exactly?

It used to be that the MacBook Pros were for nerds and geeks like me: Tons of terminal windows open with vi editor running, writing code in XCode, while processing the latest RAW images from a recent photoshoot in Photoshop and Lightroom, maybe surfing the net, listening to streaming music (or even sourcing a streaming server from the laptop maybe), and maybe also looking at some cat videos on YouTube.    Its no surprise that 90% of all awesome developers I know use MacBook Pros. Its the laptop of choice of serious developers.

This Pro machine seems to be aimed at the latte-drinking hipsters or brogrammers that dont care about specs, but just want that cool-looking computer and brighter screen to process their selfies in.

The 'Pro' in MacBook Pro means a computer thats heavy in computing power and less about the form.  Apple, in true Apple form, spent too much time on the form and not enough time on the function - and still came up short on both counts! The Touch Bar is a gimic and a silly excuse for making the entire screen a touch screen.  I still dont think a 'Pro' computer should have a touchscreen for obvious reasons that its not functional - but a Touch Bar is even more unnecessary.

macbookprosSo... Do I want the Pro or the Pro or the Pro?

Macbook Pros dont need to be sexy - they need to have kick ass performance for development and heavy image or video processing or whatever it is that "Pros" do.  There's already laptops aimed at bloggers, the casual consumers that sift thru cat videos on the internet: They're called MacBooks, iPads and iMacs.

So on launch day I spec'ed out my 15" laptop and pre-ordered it.  Even though the new computer - my first new one in 4 years - was only about 13% more powerful than the old one - with the same amount of RAM!  All told with the options, it priced out at almost $4000. Not chump change.  So - why I did I order one in the first place?  Simply put - by the time the announcement case around, I was so invested in a new MacBook Pro that I was acting on auto-pilot.  I also really, really needed a new laptop!

Until I took a step back and thought about whether the new laptop justified the $4K price tag... and decided to cancel my order.

Apple: I dont want to save battery life, I want more RAM.  I dont want it to be 17% lighter, I want more RAM. I dont want it to come in smooth sexy space grey. I. Want. More. RAM.  I want it to be upgradable. I dont want a Touch Bar. I dont want Skylake chips, I want Kaby Lake processors.

So for now, my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina with 16GB RAM will have to do.  I hope Apple rethinks what 'Pro' means to them and stop chasing 'sexy' and start adding what we Pro users actually want. I remain hopeful that Apple will upgrade their MacBook Pro line up with faster chips in Q1 2017, or announce new iMacs.

As for whats happening at Apple lately with their products, I'll leave it to Steve Jobs to sum it up perfectly.

April 22, 2016 - No Comments!

Its OK To Be Small

What is it with the world's obsession with size of your company?  If you're a startup founder, or a small business owner, you're not "successful" in the world's eyes unless you take your company public and have thousands and thousands of employees playing foosball and ping pong in between free foot massages and stuffing their faces with free gourmet meals in your $1000/sq ft office space?

Why do some people, when you tell them you run a small business, or a "lifestyle business," respond with a "aww thats nice" like you just told them your dog died and they are just being nice to you?  Why is there a stigma to just running a small company on the internet?

The recent problems Twitter's been having with Wall Street got me thinking: What if Twitter, rather than expanding into other media initiatives just to please their investors, got smaller?   Twitter, in order to grow, needs to learn to love it's smallness.  Its never going to be Facebook. Heck, Id argue its not even a social network. Its a utility that connects users to ... well, whatever they choose.  The biggest mistake Twitter made was to think that it can compete with Facebook or Google. That belief comes from the Silicon Valley Go-Big-Or-Nothing mindset.

Lets face it - most internet companies wont ever be part of the $1 Billion Valuation Club (I refuse to use that stupid U-word).  And somehow, if you start a company and you fail to join that club or take your company public, you're a failure?   Why does every startup founder dream of taking the easy way to scale and go for funding rather than at least giving bootstrapping a shot?  When I started FRISKY, I never once thought about taking VC money. And still to this day, years later FRISKY is a self-funded, bootstrapped company.

How'd we get here?  Fundamentals still matter.  Profitability matters. If you're running a successful, profitable small company without taking a dime from venture capital, you're more successful in my mind than what a term-sheet might say you company's worth.  Because bootstrapping a company, while it may be the slow scenic route, is heck of a lot more fun because you're free from all pressures but the ones from your customers and your own goals.

So, say it with me, founders: Its OK to be small.