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Artifacts of a Product Manager

Artifacts of a Product Manager

Photography Was a Passion of Mine Long Before I Became a Product Manager

After just a single elective photography course in college, I became hooked. The class format was simple enough — first, we received our assignment with some basic instruction from the professor, next we took to the streets with our overpriced film to capture our shots, and we then selected our top 3 to 5 film negatives (remember those?) that we wanted to develop onto photo paper.

That magic occurred in the darkroom — a barely lit cave directly adjacent to our more formal classroom. It was filled with dangerous chemicals, *early 2000’s emo rock, and intensely frustrating iteration — all to create something a little more tangible. My head was spinning. I loved it.

Once we completed the development process, it was time for our instructor to kindly deconstruct exactly how and why our photos sucked, but “don’t worry” she explained — if we enjoyed photography and kept working at it, we were almost guaranteed to get better.

She was an expert photographer, and I proved her correct

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My footing was sure before the ground shook.

After graduation, I worked at 2 technology startups that could not have been more different from one another. The first spun off from an established R&D firm and made it easier to search for audio online (speech to text). The second was an online personals website that made it easier to hook up. Although both were very different (with equally quirky cultures that I enjoyed) both provided a great primer on the day to day hands on work required to market and sell products and services to a group of people who can benefit from its use.

After 5 years; I built up enough experience and knowledge to become semi-dangerous. My footing was on solid ground — and my future path was becoming a little clearer as I understood more clearly what I wanted to do, and what I didn’t want to do. I was in full stride and gainfully employed. I wore a Halloween costume to work for the first time ever. I was going on international business trips (yes, international)

And then the economic crisis of 2008 occurred and people were frightened. The people who ran companies were also frightened — and many (including my own) responded the best way they knew how. Layoffs.


I created digital shipping tools after I was an office boy.

A few years later, I graduated from a corporate-sponsored MBA program and dove head first into my first official role as a Product Manager with FedEx. My excitement and curiosity were matched with challenge and ambiguity — but more importantly, with the praise and kudos from my team and management on the victories and progress made along the way.

After a few years I came up for air to reflect — experts were asking me for my opinion, no two days were the same, and I was helping people in my own humble way — making online shipping easier and more efficient, in particular — for those silently head down in the largest and ugliest cube around — getting all the most essential and despised tasks/chores of the day — like preparing labels for shipments. You may have heard of them as they have many different titles:

  1. administrative assistant
  2. secretary
  3. temp
  4. regular assistant
  5. personal assistant
  6. executive assistance
  7. <insert your own> assistant
  8. person sitting next to the person in charge
  9. office boy
  10. me

And trust me, after providing that service (even for a single year at one of those startups) my appreciation for these task managers grew. All from our shared experience, holding down the cube.

To be continued…

Night Moves – On Connections

A Collection Inspired by “Night Moves” – A song written and performed by Bob Seger. One of my absolute favorite songs ever.

I was a little too tall
Could’ve used a few pounds

Tight pants points hardly renown
She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high

Way up firm and high

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy
Out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy
Workin’ on mysteries without any clues
Workin’ on our night moves

Trying’ to make some front page drive-in news
Workin’ on our night moves in the summertime
In the sweet summertime

We weren’t in love oh no far from it
We weren’t searching for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Living by the sword
And we’d steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, the alley, the trusty woods
I used her she used me
But neither one cared
We were getting our share

Workin’ on our night moves
Trying to lose the awkward teenage blues

Workin’ on out night moves
In the summertime
In the sweet summer time, summer time

And oh the wonder
Felt the lightning
And we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered

Started humming a song from 1962
Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

Night Moves
Night moves (night moves)
Night moves (night moves)

Yeah, Remember, night moves
Sure do remember those night moves (night moves)
Ain’t it funny how you remember (night moves)
Funny how you remember the night moves
I remember, I remember, I remember, I remember night whoa, whoa
It’s works, Working and practicing
Oh, on the night moves
Working and practicing….

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My Post (18)

Euro Mutt

“The world’s trash and mutts – the whole lot of them, in ships every day by the dozen.” – Matilde H. Journal Entry (est. 1880) recording of an overheard comment during passage to an American port (NYC). German Immigrant – 16 at the time of passage. Traveled alone.

Or, personal labels I am comfortable with – by Matilde H. (1883)

My sense of beauty is Italia,

simple yet bold.

pragmatism of Deutschland

thoughtful and structured

attitude towards others of France

laissez-faire but curious

passion of Scotland

misunderstood yet strong

presence of England

conservative and reserved

pace of España

relaxed with meaning

purpose of Ireland

complicated and symbolic

surroundings are Kongeriket Norge

filled with peaceful tranquility

I do not love them,

Nor hate them.

I am with them.

Always.

 

My X-MAS Time Gift Wrap

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All of these precious gifts from you

they consume me

and often at times like these

oh how they can confuse me

“why am I acting my way

through Christmas again”?

I know we do not have much

in the way of material things

which sort of makes

  • it sting a little more.

Did these gifts

ever hold a real sparkle in your eye?

You heaped them on me

and I always knew

this was your display to me

of love –

everybody could see.

I never learned to wrap a gift

decorative bags became an indispensable friend.

Perhaps I am lazy,

or have never found the perfect packaging

for my one and only true gift

to you.

 

 

 

 

Please Come Home

A 20-pound ball of empathy –

he is one of our marvelous creatures.

Has anything ever held a mirror up to your humanity

like an animal that loves or

an animal that fears?

Throughout history,

we have served each other’s purpose.

They are bred in our reflection

mutts at the core, wanting to be truly known,

begging for nourishment –

constantly.

*Chase — otherwise known as booter, booter-butt, chicken butt, or boo boo

Seriously though; what does love have to do with it? With any of it at all?

He sits on his folded legs, 3 feet from the large stand bubble that practically dwarfs his little body. The large expanse of a room consumes them both.

He is excited. The MTV is on and he knows his odds are about 1 in 4 that the new Tina Turner video will be coming on shortly. He has deliberated – and there will be no touching of the actual tv this time or getting too up close, this time he wants a pan of every single glass tube end. Maybe he could record it in his head better that way.

And then it happens just as he knew it would.

Tina is over for another brief visit. But she is even more mesmerizing than before and those vibes begin quickly — with a high intensity that will quickly subside, but stay long enough to leave a slightly deeper impression that eventually will need to be filled.

In front of him, she is shaking and strutting, he is hypnotized by this “dance”? The hair. The voice. Those legs. Is this expression!? How you can be?

Where do you learn this?

Certainly not at school.

Not even at the local skating rink. That’s why he never skates much – too busy watching.

Like right now – but today she has a message for him as well. He knows to pay attention because she keeps on repeating it – and it forces him to open his ears a little more.

What’s that Tina? That question you are asking – “Whats love got to do with it”?

Has a better question ever been asked?  What does love have to do with it? With any of it at all? Another question he can add to the running list.

At that moment, he discovered his first expert. His first “expression” expert. He will meet many more experts in the years to come – all of them having valuable lessons to teach.

However, first – he must tackle the complicated world of gender roles as exhibited in the American domesticated house pet – cats and dogs in particular.