Introducing People Skills for Product People

People Skills for Product People is a live course based on learning by doing to help you develop your soft/ EQ skills you’ll need to grow in your career.

As Product People, we tend to focus on technical skills (or hard skills) such as A/B testing, business models, KPIs, MVPs, strategy, roadmaps, etc. You know the ones I’m talking about.

However, as you grow in your careers you’ll realize People Skills are the difference between success or failure. In fact, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 per year more than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.

Introducing People Skills for Product People

In People Skills for Product People, you will learn step-by-step strategies and tools to get your team working towards the same goals and expectations. While building trust, and understanding. Develop your mindset, leadership skills, and emotional intelligence to build products your users want to buy and use faster.

What’s different

I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time. Do we need another course in the wild?

Yes, based on how I’ve seen students learn and actually enjoy learning. This will not be a traditional course. You’ll learn about and practice new skills in a simulated (and safe) environment.

Each module will have three components designed to help you learn by doing.
1. Discuss
2. Practice
3. Chat with a pro

What does this mean?

Yes, there will be written and video content like other courses, however, we’ll discuss the module topic as a group, live. You know for understanding. Then you’ll have a fact pattern where you will have a chance to practice your soft skills and then debrief live. What went well, what didn’t. Finally, we’ll line up a product expert who knows that topic well. You’ll be able to ask questions and better understand the nuances live.

Why learn with me?

I’ve been leading/ facilitating workshops and teaching at a local university for over nine years. Check out some of the comments from past students and workshop customers here.

Expectations

This course is designed to help you start your journey to improving your soft skills/ EQ. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what you are good at/ comfortable with and where you need to continue learning.

Who is People Skills for Product People for?

This course will be designed for Product People. If you work in a team and interact with internal and external team members and need to influence without authority. This course is for you.

Are you?
– Afraid to ask for a raise or ask for more money during an interview?
– Unable to give feedback because you are not sure how to without it being taken negatively?
– Wanting to say no multiple times a day but end up saying yes?
– Avoiding that necessary yet uncomfortable conversation with an engineer/designer?
– Unable to deliver bad news?

Then this course is for you.

What will you get out of it?

Each week we’ll focus on a soft skill using the framework mentioned above. While the course length and topic choice are not finalized some of the topics might include:

Right now, I’m looking at a four-week course length (but open to suggestions).

Other topics we are considering including Empathy, Motivating the Team, Communication skills, Patience, Perseverance, Trust, Active Listening, Ability to Adapt, Critical Thinking, Body Language. There are so many to list.

Have a skill you are interested in let me know below.

Get Involved

I’ll be building out this course in public. To be the first to know and receive weekly updates in your inbox subscribe to my email list (also, if you are an email sub, you’ll receive a special pre-launch offer).


Or follow me on Twitter as I share more each week. We’ll launch pre-orders in Nov and the course will run late Jan 2021.

Share your thoughts

Let me know what you’d like to see in People Skills for Product People.

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Learn by doing

Last week I wrote about How to learn X? and this week is a follow up on the learn by doing series. In this article, I’ll talk about why I like to Learn by Doing and introduce #TPAPitchside 2020.

Pradip Khakhar

Why Learn by Doing?

As someone who has been in the position of a student and professor. I’ve seen and experienced both sides. Last week, I talked about looking forward to French class in secondary school and how the vibe of the class changed when the teacher changed.

As many of you know I have a full-time job (which I love and have an awesome boss I work with. If your reading this boss – your awesome) however, I also teach at a local university for about nine years now and over the years I have tested different teaching techniques and materials and here’s what I found:

  • Students can read, listen or watch videos anywhere. If you don’t interact with the student why are they in class. They can read, listen or watch videos at home.
  • When introducing new topics provide an opportunity for students to ask questions, and provide them with meaningful feedback.
  • Gear the knowledge that you share towards helping students learn a new skill that they can apply in the real world.
  • When the students start applying the skill in the real world be there for them, providing support and coaching.
  • Help facilitate group discussions, peer learning, and a sense of community and cause in the class.

In my opinion, when you shift the mindset to Learn by Doing, the students start to appreciate the class, subject, and your role. Here’s what I mean. Traditionally, education was about someone standing in front of the room and lecturing for a period of time, then they would ask you to go to page X in your textbooks read the chapter and answer the questions at the end of the section.

Be Practical

To an extent topics need to introduced and discussed, I find that setting practical exercises can be more rewarding, for example:

  • Bankruptcy – I ask students to complete a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition
  • Contract law – I ask students to draft or review a sample contract
  • Computer aided legal research – I ask students to write a memorandum of law based on a fact pattern

In the above examples, it is important to share the theory behind the respective subjects. However, the end result or skill the students learn is relevant to a potential job the student may do if they worked in one of the areas of law.

Run small experiments

Over the years I have been running small experiments during meetups, corporate training and while teaching at a local university. Here’s what I’ve found;

  • Tweak how you deliver your message, for example, to show how important communication is and how easily the message can be misinterpreted I did a simple exercise using lego.

    I asked for two volunteers and asked them to sit in opposite directions so they cannot see each other.

    The only way for them to communicate is to talk. Both volunteers were each provided the same set of lego pieces and the task was that one person will build something using the lego pieces and talk to the other person.

    The other person would use the verbal directions provided and try to build the same lego model as the first person.

    This exercise has become very popular as the audience can see what both volunteers are building (the audience cannot provide any direction). At the end with the big reveal, we can see how closely their lego models matched.

  • After each event ask the audience what they liked about the session and what they didn’t often you’ll get some very useful feedback that you can incorporate into the next session.
  • You cannot please everyone, some students will be very appreciative and eager to learn more and maybe someone might complain that you have a British accent and they had a hard time understanding you (Only has happened when the student didn’t like their grade).

Introducing Pitchside 2020

This week I am super excited to announce Pitchside 2020 – Learn by doing is a one-day event for Product Managers designed to step up your product management game.


Pitchside 2020: Tickets go live on Monday, October 28, 2019. Click To Tweet

What we will cover

The goal of this event is to help Product Managers develop the skills and mindset to collaborate and communicate effectively in cross-functional teams. Combining lecture-style teaching, simulated exercises, and conference-style talks to create a learning environment where you can practice your new skills.

This is a full day event starting at 9 am EST and finishing at 6.30 pm EST, with six sessions:

  1. User research and (interactive) customer discovery interviews
  2. How to validate ideas quickly and effectively (interactive) mapping ideas to a MVP
  3. How to build a community around your product or cause
  4. Negotiating in a cross-functional environment (interactive) – simulated negotiation
  5. Collaborating and communicating with the design team
  6. Collaborating and communicating with engineering

The schedule and what we cover is subject to change.


Pitchside 2020: Tickets go live on Monday, October 28, 2019. Click To Tweet

Tickets

Tickets will be available to buy Monday Oct 28, 2019.

  1. Online only. A recording of all sessions, slide decks, and handouts. $95
  2. Early-bird, Full day event (Limited availability). Buy your ticket before Dec 31, 2019. $195
  3. Regular ticket. Full day event $295
  4. Regular ticket + Dinner. (Limited availability). $395

What’s next:

We have an amazing line up of speakers and topics for Pitchside 2020, starting:

  • Monday, Oct 28th – Pitchside 2020 event page will be online and tickets go on sale
  • 30th Oct, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 1
  • 06th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 2
  • 13th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 3
  • 20th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 4
  • 27th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 5 and 6

Wanna get involved?

What do you think, let me know your thoughts? does this concept interest you, or do you think it will be a fail? would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Feel free to reach out via social or using the form below. If you’d like to get involved let me know, how you can help.

How to learn X?

I’ll be honest, I was in two minds Before calling the title of this article How to learn X?. In the end, I decided to go with it. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know in this article. I’ve had a fun relationship with learning, there was a time when I absolutely hated learning anything and on the flip side there was a time when I loved learning. This article talks about the different ways we can learn something new and what I find the best way for me to learn X?.

Plus I’ll be making an announcement at the end of this article. Interested in learning more about the below image, continue reading to the end 🙏

Pradip Khakhar

Learning simplified

For me, I had a mindset shift when I realized that learning is based on two components:

  1. My desire and motivation to learn
  2. The ability of the person teaching

Now before anyone gets upset there are a few things I’d like to clarify:

  1. This is my personal opinion and not based on any scientific research
  2. Yes, I agree that learning is my responsibility and not the responsibility of the person teaching.

However, hang in there with me. Here is what I mean.

Imagine when you were sitting in a secondary school class (high school in the USA or any class in general) and you were excited about one particular class. (In my case it was learning French and computing if I can make it two classes).

I had a desire to learn a new language (french), however, the teacher made classes really fun, interactive and engaging. It was a class I looked forward to attending.

However, the “fun” teacher left the school and a new teacher was hired. I still had the desire to learn, however, classes became very boring and the teacher just didn’t have the same passion teaching as my previous teacher.

Could I still have done well in French, absolutely at the end of the day I’d like to think that I have the ability to control my own outcomes.

The point I’m trying to make is that:

  • When you are motivated to learn you’ll make it happen and,
  • When you are not motivated to learn you won’t want to learn. You’ll likely end up making excuses for why you didn’t learn
  • However, the way the materials are presented to you can make a difference in how you learn.

How do you learn?

Everyone learns differently and digests information differently. There is no right way to learn, the education industry and educators need to use different methodologies to connect with students. Below are 3 different mediums that can be used.

I use the term “education industry and educators” loosely as anyone can create educational content today with the technology and tools available to everyone.

Audio

Growing up l don’t recall the use of audio in any of my classes (not even the French class). However, over the last few years, audio has exploded with podcasts. According to podcast statistics, there are over 750,000 podcasts.

In my opinion, this number is outdated as the date of the article is June 01, 2019 and likely more podcasts have started, however, for people like me that have started a podcast but not published on a podcast platform such as Apple Podcasts my podcast will not show up anywhere (except with the host platform).

Listening to audio gives the listener the ability to learn something while multitasking. I often listen to podcasts while cooking, driving or while working I would have an episode running in the background.

Tweet me and let me know When do you listen to podcasts? Click To Tweet

Video

Video has been around for as long as I can remember. The quality of videos has increased tremendously with advances in camera gear and lower barriers to entry. Anyone can easily create a video on a mobile phone and upload it to online platforms in minutes. The power has shifted from corporations controlling the TV to creators who make online videos on platforms such as YouTube. The demand for video has only increased and supported by high engagement rates.

As a result, creating video courses, training and tutorials have exploded. Think about it:

  • When you were onboarded to the company you worked for, did they ask you to watch any videos?
  • Have you Googled and watched a video on YouTube that took you step by step to solve the problem you experienced. Only the other day I Googled something about editing audio files in Audition and how to do something in Photoshop. The best results were step by step YouTube videos by creators who are passionate about sharing their skills.
  • Video is being used in new ways everyday

Video is here to stay and more and more organizations are slowly starting to see the value video can bring their business. Compared to audio it’s much harder to multitask while watching videos since video combines both audio and visual.

Written

Written text includes slide decks, blogs, essays, etc. and in my opinion, written words have been around forever, well ok as far back as I can remember. Starting from first school (kindergarten in the US), learning was about reading. Don’t get me wrong reading is important (and so is writing) but it may not be the best format to learn for everyone.

How to learn X?

Learning is personal and different for each individual. Start to think about what kind of person you are and how you operate. Are you someone who:

  • Loves being in a social environment
  • Needs to write things down
  • Likes to draw or create formulas
  • Learns on your own
  • My personal favorite that has worked for me is “Learn by doing” 🤩

There is no right or wrong way of learning you have to find the best way that works for you. Be self-aware.

Once you’ve realized what your preferred way of learning is the next step is to start applying these methods in school or professional lives and see how it affects how you learn. Are you able to understand and process information quicker?

Naturally, you may not be able to use these methods everywhere. For example, if your boss wants you to read the annual report for Netflix it’s most likely going to be in a written PDF form and not a 3 part documentary (though that might be interesting).

Find what works for you and try to play to your strengths.

By becoming aware of how you learn you may find that you start to enjoy learning and retain information quicker.

Learn by Doing 🤩

This is my favorite method of learning and over the years I’ve realized that for me to effectively learn I need to “learn by doing 🤩” and what I mean is I like to get my hands dirty and learn by going through the motions of doing something.

For example, when I started my podcast I tried to listen to other podcasts, watch videos and read about how others have started their podcasts and what people recommend when starting a podcast.

This only got me so far, I needed a real-world application and I wanted to talk to others who are already podcasting.

I learned more actually going through the motions of starting, recording, and releasing a podcast episode than I did listening to podcasts, watching videos and reading blogs.

Now don’t get me wrong once I started the actual process of podcasting things started to click for me. Things I had heard on podcasts, watching videos and reading all started to make sense.

Let me know how do you learn?

Learn by Doing – Announcement

If you’re like me and like to learn new things by practicing and doing things with a hands-on approach. I am super excited to announce that next Thursday, October 24, 2019 I will be making an announcement that I think will be valuable to you.

If you have not subscribed to the email newsletter please do use the signup form 👇

Learn by Doing - announcement on October 24, 2019. @ 12 noon EST Click To Tweet

Read more articles here

Are you ready to sell?

But wait, I don’t sell anything. Well, love it or hate it; you need to be ready to sell. The purest form of selling that everyone experiences at some point in life is selling your skills to get a job. The best salesperson receives the job. However, we are not here to get a new job.

Pradip Khakhar

In this article, I talk about five things you should think about as you get ready to sell. First of all, how you get prepared to sell depends on:

  • What you are selling
  • If you are selling B2C or B2B (both can be a very different experience and approach especially when selling to an enterprise which can easily take 6-8 months if not longer)

Also, let’s get this out the way:

  • User is the person who uses your product.
  • Buyer is the person who makes the purchase
  • There are times when the user is the buyer (for example in B2C)
  • There are times when the user is not the buyer (for example in B2B)

Why sales is important?

According to CB Insights the top 2 reasons why startups fail (out of the 20 reasons provided) are related to sales:

  1. 42% of startups fail because there is no market need
  2. 29% of startups fail because they run out of cash

Founders and Startups are always looking for their product-market fit and monetization, which IMO comes down to how good you are at selling and understanding the target users’ challenges and needs (and the buyer process).

Running a business comes down to simple math. If you spend more than you make you likely won’t stay in business for long (unless you raise millions of dollars, sell part of your company and then filing for an IPO will help extend your runway and stay in business longer 😉)

Strategies such as Inbound marketing does not replace the sales function. Having potential buyers approach you is a fantastic feeling, but inbound marketing is effectively a form of selling (or supporting the sales function) to increase sales.

Sure, you can use SEO and get your blog pages ranked higher in Google searches in hopes of buyers lining up to buy from you. It can happen, however, if that does it is the exception than the norm. Many founders and startups, unfortunately, realize this when it’s too late.

There are several different tools and techniques available to us to Connect and Communicate with our buyers. We do this with the end goal of Closing a deal that leads to an exchange of money for a product or service.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “making the user successful” and briefly mentioned Product/Market fit. I plan to write more about PMF; however, for this discussion, sales numbers are an indicator of PMF. Note that a one time sale or a one month use does not indicate PMF. If the user is churning, we need to figure out why?

Don’t be a sales jerk

Regardless of your job title, which may include sales or a variation of it, or if you are a founder, sales can be fun and intellectually stimulating if done right.

I am talking about the salespeople that send constant email diarrhea that completely wastes your time, and the emails have no unsubscribe link at the bottom. Please don’t do this. Ps. if you receive unwanted email diarrhea, click and use this privacy-focused company to Unsubscribe.

Are you ready to sell?

Five things you should think about as you get ready to sell.

Pradip Khakhar

1. Know what you are selling

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised, and no, I am not talking about being able to repeat the spec sheet. Know your product or service deeply, know it inside out. By this, I don’t mean you have to know everything technical – that’s where you bring in additional help. But you should be able to discuss it comfortably.

You may have heard be ready with your 30-second elevator pitch (and if you have not, my interpretation is you should be prepared to pitch to anyone as if you were with them in an elevator for no longer than 30-seconds before they get off at their floor).

Be ready to communicate in the channel your buyer is most comfortable with. Selling is multi-channel, therefore find the channel that resonates with your target buyer and be comfortable interacting with them.

A 30-second elevator pitch should get the buyer interested in learning more, a full-day workshop (maybe an overkill in some circumstances) allows for a more tailored experience.

As you get ready to sell practice on friends and family. You don’t want to be practicing live in the field and potentially losing deals. Although once you are in the field, you will learn a lot of things that practicing with friends and family won’t teach you.

Believe in what you are selling. If you honestly do not believe in the product or service you are selling, trust me, it shows. How can you convince someone to buy from you if you can’t sell yourself?

Yes, I know some salespeople can sell exceptionally well without believing in the product. Let’s treat that as the exception.

2. Know who you are targeting

Unfortunately, user research is still a relatively new concept for organizations, and therefore, teams are not very well equipped to conduct user research effectively.

On the bright side, I believe organizations are realizing. User research (and competitive research – discussed in the next section) are two of the foundational areas everyone should be allocating time and resources to research.

To understand your user and buyer use the following tools to help you:

a) User Personas

A user persona is a fictional character that represents your target user.

At a high level, when creating a user persona, think about:

  • Who the user is
  • What are the user’s main goals and what does success look like to them
  • What challenges does the user face that prevents them from achieving their goal
Persona

Photo by Alex Person on Unsplash

Other things to consider to humanize the persona further:

  • Photo and Name
  • Personality
  • Behavior patterns
  • How comfortable they are using technology
  • What technology they currently use
  • Demographic
  • One sentence to describe the persona

b) User Stories

User stories are sentences that represent what the user is trying to do (what success looks like to the user) using the product or feature.

Typically there are three components to user stories:

  1. A persona
  2. The bridge that gets the user to
  3. Their goal

For example; As a remote team leader, I’d like everyone on the team to be using one collaboration tool that allows the team to collaborate in real-time with a single source of truth.

c) Customer Journey Maps

A customer journey map outlines the touchpoints a user (buyer) has with your product from the initial realization the user has a challenge (see below in buyer journey) right up to the point the challenge is solved (user success).

Creating a customer journey map will provide a view of the user. This allows you to tailor your touchpoints in a seamless way across all your channels and will help highlight:

  • When and where users are interacting with your product and company
  • Where to focus time and resources on in assisting the user better understand your product and how it can help the user solve their challenge.
  • Bring a fresh perspective to the sales process
  • Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash


User personas, user stories, and customer journey maps are each a blog post by itself which I plan to write more about in the coming weeks. If you like what you are reading considering subscribing to my newsletter.

Get my email newsletter 💌


3. Know your competitors

This a big one, just like knowing who you are targeting, having an understanding of your competition will help you field questions such as

  • What’s the difference between your product and Company X’s product?
  • Company X is cheaper, why should we buy from you?

I cannot stress how important IMO it is not to talk trash about your competition but instead focus on why your product is a better fit for the user. Having said that, you must know your competition inside out.

I was writing this section. Then I noticed Marie Prokopets and Hiten Shah had shared an article recently titled “Why you shouldn’t ignore your competitors”? This outlines this topic very well, and I highly suggest you read it.

4. Make it easy to buy

The differences between B2C and B2B sales become more apparent

From a B2C perspective, the sales cycle is usually shorter, and users can generally speaking sign up right on the website. Think about how easy it is to sign up to Netflix or think about Amazon and how easy it is to make a purchase using one click. How many times have we bought something from Amazon because of how easy it is to buy? (as opposed to creating a new account and adding in all your details, plus the free two-day shipping can help if you are a prime member).

From a B2B perspective, there are solutions where users can sign up from a website and add your team members such as Intercom. This is where we see a transformation into a B2BC space.

However, from a traditional B2B perspective, especially those that float RFX’s, the buying process is more complex and generally can take months to close.

In the buyer journey, generally speaking, there are three stages where the buyer:

  1. Realizes that they have a challenge
  2. Researches different options and determines each solution in relation to the challenge
  3. Makes a decision to move forward with a solution

Most people don’t want to be sold things

Most people don’t want to be sold things or be added to a mailing list or be in a funnel. The buyer is looking for information to help them make an informed decision on which product is the “best” fit to solve their challenge. When the user is ready to buy, make it as easy as possible to buy.

Depending on what your goal or desired outcome is, how easy you make it for a buyer to buy can be relative. For example;

Should a free trial period require a credit card? Click To Tweet

Generally speaking, I would say no because I have not yet decided if that product is right for me, however, and I do not want to part with my credit card details.

However, some startups prefer to request a credit card as a way of reducing users who are not serious and may be interested as a result of some initial launch hype, for example. Some startups claim they ask for a credit card because they do not want a lapse in service for their users as they transition from the free trial into a paid user.

5. Celebrate the wins and Understand the reason behind the no

Every win is a success, right?. Not exactly. Here’s what I mean.

Scenario 1:

An inbound lead signs up for a free 30 day trial of your product. Depending on how you view this, you have moved a lead through to the next stage of your funnel. However, the user decides against becoming a paying member.

Let’s say during the free 30-day trial, the user contacts you, support, and the product team with questions. You need to calculate the cost of servicing this user against the number of dollars it brings in (at this time, its $0).

I think a 30-day trial is way too long for certain products IMO; however, that's a story for another day. Click To Tweet

On the flip side, understanding the reason why the user decided against becoming a paying member is valuable information that can be used to fine-tune the offering and how it is positioned.

There are so many questions that can be answered by simply asking the user why they chose not to become a paying member.

It makes me 😀 when I try a product during their trial period and don’t subscribe, and I receive an email from someone from the product team asking me why I didn’t subscribe.

Scenario 2:

The same user opts for a month to month subscription. Now hard dollars are being brought into the company; it may be time for a celebration?

From a growth perspective, it sounds like a win; however, the risk of churn is higher on monthly subscribers.

Case in point: Let’s say the user decides not to continue the subscription after three months and decides to delete the account.

During the three months, the user was a paying customer. It is likely the user moved to a tier that provides access to additional support tiers. How much time and resources (equating to money) is spent on supporting the user?

Scenario 3:

You are an account manager for a services company and responding to an RFP (or an extension). The opportunity is for back-office resources.

The total contract value is $100 M, over five years. If you can close this opportunity, you are going to be the sales superstar far exceeding your sales quota.

Sounds good, right?

What if you know from the “true” financial model that it will cost the company $115 M to deliver on the services.

Maybe the company knows this and is willing to lose $15 M and are eager to go ahead with the opportunity anyway.

While the headline will read, “Company X wins huge $100 M deal,” you will know the deal is losing the company money.

Celebrating a win is essential for the team who worked on it. However, at the same time, any customer that is costing the company effectively means the company is paying the customer to use the product (or services). Which can happen if a company wants to sign a big brand or doesn’t want to lose out to a competitor among other reasons.

Getting to the point

The point I am trying to make is we are caught up in a world of growth, and as a result, it is easy to forget:

  • Retention is just as necessary (if not slightly more IMO than growth)
  • There are valid reasons to enter into an opportunity that loses money, such as acquiring a large brand as a customer. However, not keeping an eye on the financials is a recipe for disaster.

In Closing

Selling is a combination of art and science. It can be fun and very rewarding if done right. Stick to the basics and understand:

  1. What you are selling
  2. Who you are targeting
  3. Your competition
  4. Make it easy for the buyer to buy, and,
  5. Celebrate the wins and understand the reason behind the no

Finally, something to think about:

Sales is easy (easier than delivering what you just sold). Click To Tweet

Do you agree or disagree let me know on Twitter?

How to negotiate a lemon

Recently I asked Twitter, “Two chefs in the kitchen want the last lemon. Who gets it?” In this blog post, I’ll show you how to negotiate a lemon and introduce the basics of negotiations.

Here’s the situation: Two chefs want the last lemon to complete their dishes. The problem is that only one lemon is left. Who gets it? The two chefs need to negotiate for the lemon, but the basics of how they negotiate for the lemon can be applied to almost anything.

Pradip Khakhar

Let’s look at the options and outcomes:

Option A: Chef 1

If chef 1 is able to negotiate for the lemon to finish the dish, chef 2 misses out and therefore is not be able to complete the dish.

Option B: Chef 2

Similarly to option A, if chef 2 is able to negotiate for the lemon to finish the dish, chef 1 misses out and therefore is not be able to complete the dish.

Option C: 50/50

Splitting the lemon 50/50 may seem like a good idea to please both chefs and half a lemon may seem to be better than none of the lemon. Is this a fair compromise? (maybe?)

Option D: Other

There is only one lemon, what are the other options I hear you ask? This is where you can get creative.

How to negotiate a lemon?

And this is where *some* people start dropping off when the word *negotiation* is mentioned. It doesn’t have to be that way. We all negotiate in some way every day, from simple things to choosing who decides what to watch on TV or negotiating large complex business deals.

In one of my favorite books Bargaining for advantage by G. Richard Shell, he explains:

Negotiation is an interactive communication process that may take place whenever we want something from someone else or another person wants something from us.

So instead of thinking of it as a negotiation start to think of it as a communication process. Anyway, let’s get back to our question.

Two chefs want the last lemon. Who gets it?

Results from Twitter

When I asked this question on Twitter. The results were interesting. 👇
Pradip Khakhar

Nobody selected option A, therefore, appears that nobody wants chef 1 to have the lemon and 6% of the respondents chose option B.

The question does not differentiate between option A (chef 1) and option A (chef 2). Options A and B mean that one chef will be able to finish the dish (and therefore be happy) while the other chef doesn’t finish the dish (and therefore be unhappy). This is a terrible outcome and negotiations should not be a zero-sum situation.

6% of the responses chose Chef 2. Without talking to the 6% we don’t really know why they chose Chef 2. A couple of thoughts come to mind that they potentially randomly picked between the two chefs or that they see negotiation and in particular this lemon situation as a zero-sum event. This is a common fallacy

The majority of people who responded (70%) chose 50/50, this could suggest an appeal to their compromising personality. Your personality is linked to your negotiating style While it may seem to be the *fair* thing to do it may not be the *right* thing to do.

The remaining 24% chose “other”.

Summary of the results from the Twitter Poll

Chef 1: 0%

Chef 2: 6%

50/50: 70%

Other: 24%

Some of the comments were interesting:

🙏 Thank You, to everyone that commented and voted. I really appreciate you engaging.

OK, so how do I negotiate this lemon

What if there was a way in which both chef 1 and chef 2 are able to finish their dishes?

As we saw from the twitter comments understanding why each chef needs the lemon is fundamentally the key to solving this challenge.

Let’s say that chef 1 wanted the lemon for the juice and chef 2 wanted the lemon for the peel (AKA rind or zest). A little communication and understanding the interest behind why chef 1 and chef 2 want the last lemon helps create a solution in this situation where both chefs get what they want.

One size does NOT fit all

Clearly this may not happen all the time, however the moral of the story here is:

1. Negotiation doesn’t have to be terrifying.
2. Think of it as a discussion and ask questions.

Every negotiation is different and has its own nuances. I’m planning to write more about negotiation in the future however, below are 4 things to think about as you negotiate virtually anything (yes, IMO you can negotiate almost anything).

(Please note that negotiation is not a one size fits all and the following is my POV. It is NOT the only way. If you are currently negotiating something important to you seek personalized advice from a professional.)

It’s about talking to people

This means that you need to understand people, how they think, act and react. However, before you look at other people (the people you negotiate with) you first need to take a look at yourself in the mirror and be self-aware. Think about:

1. What kind of person are you?
2. What are you partial to?
3. Do you think with your brain or your heart?

How to find out your personality

I am not a big believer in standardized tests, however, if you are curious what your personality type is – take a look at 16 Personalities and take their free personality test as that is one of the better personality tests out there (in my opinion – no affiliation).

If you took the 16 Personalities test let me know what your personality type is:

I took the 16 Personalities test and I am an Enter personality type here Click To Tweet

Does your personality influence how you negotiate?

Your personality can influence how you think, act and react in a negotiation. I’ve seen personality shine through in a positive and negative way.

For example,

1. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable pause. It’s human nature to be uncomfortable after asking a question and then just staying quiet. Yeah, you know what I am talking about that uncomfortable silence. Staying quiet comes naturally to some people and it can be very difficult for some people.
2. Knowing when you stop talking. If you are uncomfortable with the pause and the person you are negotiating with is not, you may end up talking during that pause to avoid that awkward silence. I’ve seen prices change drastically during this pause the salesperson wanted the sale and the potential client just stayed quiet.

It’s possible that you may not know who you are negotiating with especially in business deals where you are invited to negotiate face to face. However, you can learn to quickly read the room and understand the dynamics. For everything else, well there is the internet. LinkedIn, Twitter and even personal blogs, etc. can show likes/ dislikes/ potential similarities, etc. The goal is to try and understand who you negotiating with to find some common ground and make a positive impact.

Should you always be nice?

IMO I think is more important to be known for someone who can get the job done than to be nice. (Obviously, there are exceptions to this such as making sure it’s legal and working with family etc.) There is a saying: if you want to please everyone “sell ice cream” I don’t recall where I saw this saying, I did not create it.

A few things to consider:

1. Is the negotiation a one-time transaction or a relationship?
2. Does your personality make you compromise or be accommodating?
3. Short term goals vs. long term goals
4. How much leverage do you have?

For another POV read this article: How being nice in a negotiation can backfire.

Prepare

This is a step that I cannot stress enough. When someone has done their homework and prepared they know the deal better than the person they are negotiating with.

Things to think about as you prepare:

1. What is your goal or outcome? (or put another way what do you want out of the negotiation)
2. What are the alternatives (in the event a deal doesn’t happen)
3. What is your walk-away point (you are not getting the value out of the deal anymore)
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 for the person (or people) you are negotiating with

Look for solutions where both parties find value

Repeat after me: Negotiation is not a zero-sum outcome.

In our lemon question above, I told you that chef 1 wanted the juice and chef 2 wanted the peel, this means that both chefs were able to create a win-win situation. However, let’s say that I told you the chef 1 wanted a couple of slices of the lemon to add on the side of the chef’s taco dish and chef 2 also wanted the same thing. In this case, a 50/50 split would make sense and still create a win-win situation.

If you are the type of person that “demands” things you may get what you want in the current deal, however, you may end up losing the relationship.

If you are the type of person that “gives aways” things you may not get what you want in the current deal and may be seen as a pushover in future deals.

Usually, the best deals are:

1. Efficient (I have seen a sales deal take over two years and still has not closed. I think by now the salesperson needs to cut the losses and move on).
2. Maintains a relationship (Remember its all about people instead of showing pipeline that really doesn’t exist)

Always, Always focus on the goal or outcome. The minute you start focusing on positions you are asking for trouble and the negotiation may come to a standstill.

Practice

Product Managers and Salespeople are negotiating all the time and to an extent, we all are negotiators in some form. Negotiation is a skill and can be improved like any skill. I’ve shared some basics in the blog post, however, there is so much more I’d like to share and will do so in the coming months.

If you’d like to see more content around negotiations and persuasion let me know:

Hey Pradip - I'd love to learn more about improving my negotiations and persuasion skills. Click To Tweet

I cannot stress how important it is to practice. I ran several negotiation classes at Long Island University and for private companies and the feedback was that they all enjoyed practicing in the mock negotiation.

It’s one thing to sit and read, but if you *Learn By Doing* you will improve your negotiation skills. After all, you cannot learn basketball by reading – you need to get out on the court and play.

The more you practice the more you start seeing negotiations through a different perspective. Its a blessing and a curse (in the nicest possible way) as you start seeing when people BS you (yes, it’s true). Not everyone but there are several people who will use underhanded tactics and leverage to force you into a deal that may not be in your best interests.

On the other hand, you also start seeing people who are genuinely interested in creating value for both (or all) parties and are sincere and upfront.

How to negotiate a lemon – closing

As with anything preparation is the key. Know what you want out of the negotiation (be very clear about that) as well as what the other person what’s out of the negotiation (I will concede that finding this out can be difficult and take additional work). Be self-aware and know the importance of interpersonal skills. And finally, self-integrity (I’ll just leave it at that).

Read something else

Pradip Khakhar

Hiring a freelancer on FreeeUp

This article is about hiring a freelancer on FreeeUp. Well, actually I needed a notebook specifically designed for podcasters. A notebook I could use to help me plan, research and tell stories for each episode. Being new to the podcasting world it would be a plus if the notebook could help me keep track of my workflow. I saw several amazing options, however, something was missing in what I saw.

I recorded my first episode in May 2018, before I recorded each episode I made notes on what I wanted to talk about. After a few episodes, I started to notice the format I used for pre-recording notes were similar.

Since I was unable to find what I wanted I spent some time hand drawing concepts and designs showing them to friends and family. I knew what I wanted, I wanted a tool that could help me research and create stories for my podcast.

Using hand-drawn designs, I tested out various concepts until I was excited about using the notebook for every episode.

This solved a problem for me

This solved a problem for me, I figured it may also solve a problem for you? However, there was one BIG problem I didn’t know how to create a professional looking design that I could send to a printing company (creating Podcast Stuff Notebook from idea to sales is a story for another day).

Without knowledge of professional design (publishing) software I had two choices:

  1. Spend countless hours learning software (yes, I know an argument can be made for using software that doesn’t have a high learning curve) or,
  2. Find a freelancer who already knows the software and hire them.

I chose to hire a freelancer who already knew the software.  

My second problem: where can I find a freelancer who can do this for me.  My immediate thought was to visit a freelancer marketplace. I’ve used marketplace services before.  Generally, speaking in my opinion marketplaces can be categorized in one of two ways:

1) Write to the freelancer only and,
2) Interact with the freelancer.

Freelancer marketplaces

A marketplace can be set up where each freelancer/ company creates a page and displays their work.  After selecting a freelancer/ company and completing a form regarding requirements, a couple of days later you get your first draft.  You review what is sent and then fill out another form requesting any changes (if needed).

Alternatively, a marketplace can be set up to allow a real conversation (phone or video call) with the freelancer/ company.

I’ve tried both types of marketplaces, and they both have excellent use cases.  For this project, I wanted to talk to a human an explain my vision and expectations.

After searching a few marketplaces, I realized so many freelancers would fit the need. How do I choose? I didn’t want to spend hours talking to freelancers trying to figure out if we would be a great fit. In reality, I really did not want to talk with more than 5 freelancers (to save time).

My Solution

I came across a service called FreeeUp, their product angle is “FreeeUp pre-vets thousands of VA’s, freelances and agencies each week for skills, attitude and communication then only allows the top 1% into the marketplace.”

Interesting right?

Pradip Cloud

I had briefly interacted with FreeeUp’s CEO Nathan, who was scheduled to appear on my podcast.  Since Nathan is based in Florida, I told him that once I figured out podcasting in person, I’ll work on podcasting remotely (it’s nearly a year, and I still haven’t invited Nathan back, sorry Nathan soon would always love to have you on in season 2.)

Around the same time, I was receiving email newsletters from Nathan.  I decided that the pre-vetting was essential to me. I didn’t want to spend much time vetting myself and created an account on FreeeUp.  Plus since Nathan and I have interacted previously, I figured I could contact him if I were unhappy. During the project, Nathan did follow up with emails and texts to ensure my experience was nothing but amazing and I genuinely appreciate the CEO of the company taking the time to do this for a small project.

Choosing a freelancer

The experience was amazing, as soon I created an account I received an email explaining how things worked in FreeeUp.

I filled out the “request a freelance” questionnaire.  The questionnaire was more detailed than what I have seen previously.  I saw this as a positive,  it makes me think about what I really want, and it doesn’t waste the freelancers time.

Within hours several freelancers reached out to me to introduce themselves and share their portfolios.  

How FreeeUp works

Using FreeeUp saved me time as there is no need to browse unlimited profiles, based on what is entered into the questionnaire. FreeUp matches you with multiple freelancers. (however, if you enjoy browsing profiles FreeeUp may not be a good fit for you.)

My understanding is the matches are based on your budget (which corresponds to the experience of the freelancer.  The lower the budget, the fresher the freelancer is. The higher the budget, the more seasoned the freelancer is). There is also an option to choose freelancers based in the USA or international.

pradip

After reviewing the first batch of matches, I declined one immediately as the skill set was slightly different and requested additional matches.  In total, I reviewed 5 matches ranging from fresher to experienced and based in USA and international.

I spoke to 4 matches, explained what I was looking for and asked for their feedback. At the end of the day, I reviewed their portfolios and choose the freelancer I felt really understood my vision

Talking with 4 freelancers

  • The difference between the lowest and highest price quote was about $4000 USD
  • One freelancer walked me through the thought process of how that particular freelancer’s price was reached, and I was very appreciative.
  • One freelancer provided fantastic feedback and suggestions and asked questions around what my vision is and my expectations around the final output. If I had selected a printing company and what specifications they need to print the notebooks.  I got a good feeling with this freelancer and decided to move forward.  Some of the questions asked made me feel confident that this freelancer has done this previously.
  • One freelancer saw that I was raising funds on Kickstarter and my guess is that is the reason why the price came in so high.

Guess which freelancer I chose?

Yep, the one that asked the right questions and made me feel comfortable. Once I selected the freelancer I wanted to work with. We set up a schedule of deliverables, so we both are on the same page regarding timelines and plans.  The freelancer, not only kept to the schedule but exceeded my expectations and I am super happy with the performance.  Even when the printing company had a few issues and requested changes, the freelancer was on it in a timely fashion.

The payment structure was based on an hourly rate, the freelancer provided an approximate number of hours the freelancer expects to work on it.  I was given a range, performing some basic math calculation, I calculated the expected total price.  The project came in under budget.  Since this project is priced hourly, I asked the freelancer to provide updates every X hours on progress and at any time if the freelancer thought they would need to extend beyond the upper range of the estimate.

To summarize

The Podcast Stuff Notebook is now available to purchase, and if you are in the market to hire a freelancer, I highly recommend using FreeeUp.

Finally, this article is not sponsored.  I truly enjoyed my experience with FreeeUp, Nathan had asked if I would be willing to provide a testimonial and I completely forgot about it for months, and therefore I decided to write this article.

Review: Wise Guy

You had me at…

“At the end of my career, I want people to remember me as a father ❤️- not an entrepreneur, author speaker, brand ambassador, evangelist or influencer.”

Halfway through the book, 📖 I read this quote, and it immediately became my favorite quote in the book.

I don’t know Guy personally nor have I ever met or seen him in real life. However, through social media, I recently had the honor and privilege of reading a review copy of Guy Kawasaki’s new book Wise Guy releasing on Feb 26, 2019.

Guy Kawasaki - Wise Guy

Source: Guy Kawasaki

Who is Guy Kawasaki 🏄‍♂️?

If you’ve been living under a rock, Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Guy is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. Guy is also the author of The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA. As well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College

In this book, Guy shares many personal and professional stories. Ranging from his humble beginnings, origins of his name, making a move to California, getting into and succeeding in the business world.

I mean Guy has eaten all over the world, and nothing compares to his mum’s beef stew, guava ice cakes, and tsukemono (pickled vegetable). I feel the same way, (I haven’t eaten all over the world), however, nothing beats my mum’s home cooked Indian curries 😉.

Guy Kawasaki school

Source: Guy Kawasaki

Wise Guy is easily one of the best books I’ve read, a series of vignettes that contain just enough information for the reader to want more. Throughout the book, Guy sprinkles in words of wisdom 🤙. Great nuggets of knowledge that are practical and relatable in the real world.

For Example:

When Guy considered an opening in the 🍏 Macintosh Division as a “software evangelist” guy realized that “evangelizing Macintosh to developers was fundamentally sales.” Because of his background in jewelry, this job was something that Guy could do. Guy talks about not worrying about the “minimum requirements” of a job since they represent wishful thinking. Successful candidates are the ones who made their shortcomings irrelevant. While this seems simple and obvious, many people don’t see it that way.

In short, there are two types of individuals in the world 1) those who can deliver results and 2) those who cannot.

Another example of great wisdom, which took me 37 years to realize is “learn how to sell and Life is sales”. Everything we do is in some form of sales, think about it. You may think you have never done sales, every time you apply for a new job you are the product, you are trying to sell your skills to fill a gap or need for the prospective employer (that’s a form of selling).

Wise Guy has 12 chapters, and a separate section at the end titled “recommended reading” where Guy shares a selection of books he recommends reading. I mean what better way to find your next book to read. I browsed the list, and the next book I plan on reading is going to be Guy’s first recommendation in the recommended reading section (Guy mentions this book several times throughout).

My favorite nuggets

Guy drops a number of nuggets, below are some of my most memorable:
– Five stages in life,
– Going away for college lessons,
– Five lessons Guy learned from his father’s response when dealing with people, ❤️
– Don’t fear the impact of quitting,
– Guy’s commencement speech at Menlo College in 2012, 🔥
– Allow employees to contribute to a higher purpose as a source of motivation and employee retention,
– Top eleven lessons learned while at Apple, 🔥
– Great companies begin with these types of questions,
– Eleven points to explain the silicon valley phenomenon,
– Shopping center test,
– Six lessons from surfing,
– Surfers code by Shaun Tomson,
– List of top 10 pearls of wisdom. 🔥

Something else that stuck with me was “the importance of the second follower,” usually the early adopters are employees, friends, and family. However, getting that one big name to use your product or service adds credibility for others to be at ease. I am not a design person, yet, after seeing Guy talk about Canva, I started using it. By no means am I an expert and the learning curve was very quick. The barrier to entry starting design doesn’t seem as high any more thanks to Canva.

Stay humble

I’m a big fan of Sir Richard Branson ✈, and all I will say about this story is Stay Humble and share the below image (read the book the story is 🔥).

Guy Kawasaki and Richard Branson

Source: Guy Kawasaki

Employment history

Guy lists his jobs from 1971 through to the present day, and the only job he got through an ad was a filing clerk position. “Foster connections and not job applications” is an excellent nugget that many people don’t consider in this one-click application era. While the numbers game may work for some people (I’ve attended a few talks, and the presenters are proud of this numbers strategy), I 💯% agree with Guy, you are more likely to get a job through your relationships.

Side note:

This reminds me of a famous saying:

I know the CEO of [fill in your company here] or I know the president of [fill in your country here], however, it does not mean that the CEO or president knows of me or knows me 🤦‍♂️.

Moving on

I was surprised to read about Guy’s regrets in life; you don’t often hear people discussing anything remotely to do with regret. So this was a breath of fresh air and a definite sign of strength and not a weakness by any means. Thank you Guy for sharing your real personal side 🙌.

Social media can be a funny beast at times; however, as we move forward in a social world, the impact of social media is not understood by all. Guy has worked with many organizations, and some have even turned his services down (I mean can you believe that? I am shocked). It is essential to have a voice, develop an opinion or view, and yes you may lose a few subscribers, but you may pick up more, and the net effect is positive – “Life is short, and you can’t make everyone happy.”

Life is short - Inspirational Quote - Guy Kawasaki - Wise Guy

Source: Guy Kawasaki

In closing 💯

Reading short stories about Guy from his four children is my favorite part of the book and in my opinion one of Guy’s biggest successes. As a father, my greatest joy has been our son.

In summary, Wise Guy is a fantastic read, one of the few books that I read in one sitting. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it back down.

Hopefully, one day when I’m in California I’ll bump into Guy “by chance” at the Apple store on University Avenue in Palo Alto or see Guy surfing at the 38th Avenue break in Santa Cruz.

If you enjoyed this review, I highly recommend you go and purchase a copy of Wise Guy here.

Ps. I’m also going to buy a copy of The Chicago Manual of style.

PPS. Guy, I think you hit your goal of educating through this book.

PPPS.
Happiness Quote - Guy Kawasaki - Wise Guy

Source: Guy Kawasaki

How to start a podcast

Two months ago back in May 2018, I decided I want to start a podcast. I had zero experience in recording, editing and publishing audio. Then I had the bright idea of adding a video component for YouTube.

To re-iterate I had zero experience in recording, editing and publishing audio and video. I mean I always loved shooting video and capturing photos on the automatic setting on a simple point and shoot, however, all I did with that content was merely store it on an external hard drive and now in the cloud.

I was determined, and I knew to achieve this goal of starting a podcast, I would have to:

– Choose the topic of discussion
– Decide the name and who the target audience is.
– Get listed on Apple, Google, and other major podcast sites. Add the graphics, show notes, etc.
– Attract listeners.
– Choose the hardware needed: (depending on the how at a minimum):
– For audio, I thought I would need mics, cables, recording device (or laptop) and editing software and a platform that can host the audio files.
– For video, I thought I would need a video recording device (like a DSLR), mic (backup) and a platform that can host the audio files.
– Finding guests who are willing to be on the podcast.

The to-do list kept getting longer and longer. I needed to break it down so that the podcast does not spiral out of control and never launch.

I ended up breaking the to do’s into three components:

1. The podcast idea and concept
2. Recording and editing
3. Distribution

1. The podcast idea and concept

The idea and concept are one of the most important decisions you can make, some of the questions you should be asking yourself is:

– What is the subject or topic discussion?
– Will you talk alone, with someone each time or a new guest
– What is the style of the podcast?
– How long will the podcast last (20, 30, 40, 60 mins) and how often will you publish a new episode (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)?

2. Recording and Editing

At the essence of every podcast, you will need a way to record the audio. With Anchor.fm you can start a podcast on your phone, yes on your phone! How simple is that?

If you want something more traditional, you will need a microphone, recording device (which can be your laptop) and software to edit the audio files.

3. Hosting and Distribution

Once you have recorded and edited the audio and are ready for the world to see, I mean listen to your podcast you need a way to get it onto your audience’s devices prepared to listen.

I would strongly recommend starting to build an audience as early as possible, that is one of the things that I did not do.

First, you will need a podcast host who will store the audio files on their servers and then make them available to your listeners.

Then the audio files are picked up by the major platforms such as Apple and Google.

Have any questions about starting your podcast, feel free to contact me.


Image Credits
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen.
Photo by Firmbee.

I uploaded my first YouTube video

It’s been coming for a while now; I had my first YouTube video ready for a few weeks. As time got closer to uploading, fear crept in. What if the video tanks and I get negative reviews? What if, what if, and more what if’s.

Then I asked myself, when did I become so worried, where did this imposter syndrome come from?

Finally, I summoned enough courage to plug in my external hard drive and upload the video and thumbnail.

Is it better to do absolutely nothing or to try something and never regret not trying? I thought to myself “just do it.”

As soon as the video finished uploading, the thumbnail finished uploading. I felt relieved; the video is out there.

As you as the video went live I started texting all my friends and contacts that 1) I had promised that I would launch the podcast and 2) Appeared on the podcast.

Yes, I know the first ten episodes are a learning experience and just to get them out there.

Over the next few hours, I would watch the statistics seeing the number of views and subscribers increasing (although they are minimal at this point, for me 12 people subscribed and 40 people viewed the video. It’s a bit of a buzz.

Thank you to all my friends, colleagues and everyone who has been on the first ten episodes of the product angle podcast.

Take a look for yourself below my first YouTube video.