A true collaborative gain

January 19, 2021

Last week we had our 300th Peer Coaching Call (PCC) and it was both moving and impactful. PCCs bring together 3-4 leaders, often strangers, to help with a question they are uniquely suited to answer. We started these two years ago as another way to help members ask for help, learn from each other, and – as always – never walk alone.

For this 300th PCC, we helped a longtime member and senior leader at a large traditional company  – we’ll call him Antoine. He had decided to take a new job at a Big Tech firm, and, with that change, he went from running a team of 200 to being an individual contributor. 

This was a courageous move on his part – and one done to shake up his career, and learn from some of the best in digital product management. I had coached him through it and applauded him for it, but it was nonetheless hard.

After he landed there, I suggested we convene a call with leaders who had done something similar in their careers. 

I began the PCC by telling everyone assembled that these calls – like everything we do – work best when everyone is open and vulnerable. 

The conversation we then had – and remember this was mostly a group of strangers (or mere acquaintances) – was amazing for the honesty and willingness to talk about the real challenges of making a move like this. People talked about the humiliation of losing teams, budgets, offices, assistants, and, most importantly, influence. But they also talked about the joy of being closer to the customer and learning from the best of the best.

We also got lucky: unbeknownst to us, one of the coaches knew Antoine’s new boss and some of the other key players in the organization and right there during the PCC offered to help him build internal allies and advocates.

By the end of the call, Antoine had gotten some great help, heard some great perspectives, learned some tactics, but, most importantly, had discovered that he wasn’t walking alone – and just knowing that is often enough to create the hope, motivation, and confidence to move forward. 

And that is a true collaborative gain. 



P.S. If *you* need help – and all of us do – and would like us to potentially set up a PCC for you, get in touch. Operators are standing by  –  i.e., reply to this email 😉 

P.P.S. The CG team has done great work over the last 2 years building this PCC operation. Big thanks to them for getting us to 300!

Upcoming Sessions 

Email Britany if you’d like an invite.

  • 100 Years of Leadership & Learning: Diversity & Inclusion at Hallmark – Wed, Jan 27 @3pm ET
    Sabrina Wiewel, EVP, Chief Administrative Officer, Hallmark
    Talk Type: Leadership Development; D, E, & I
    Audience/Roles: All Roles 
     Hallmark has a deep commitment and a rich history in matters of diversity and inclusion, dating back to when company founder J.C. Hall hired Hallmark’s first female employee in 1912 and its first female artists in 1918 – a time in which it was unheard for women to work outside of the home.Under the leadership of J.C. Hall’s son, Don Hall, Sr. from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, Hallmark was a founding member of numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives including Kansas City’s Minority Supplier Development Council and the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce.Through the next generation of Hall family leaders, Don Hall, Jr., and Dave Hall, Hallmark continued to earn accolades for its D&I efforts. The company has been recognized by Forbes and Statista as one of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity “and one of “America’s Best Employers for Women.” In 2019, for the fifth year in a row, Hallmark was named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), achieving a perfect 100% score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.This commitment to diversity and inclusion lives on today through its portfolio of brands which today includes Crayola and Crown Media Family Networks.For Sabrina Wiewel, Hallmark’s Chief Administrative Officer, Diversity and Inclusion is personal. Wiewel, who is Japanese-American, has experienced biases and prejudices throughout her life which has shaped her into the passionate diversity and inclusion advocate she is today.In her role at Hallmark, Wiewel oversees Hallmark’s global licensing, human resources, public relations, communications, and diversity and inclusion efforts. She works directly with the executive leadership teams and board of directors across Hallmark, Crayola, and Crown Media to embed diversity and inclusion into the products they develop and the workplace cultures they create. She’s been featured in Forbes’ Today’s True Leadership series, speaking about her personal experiences and Hallmark’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.Wiewel will discuss the unique and important role those brands have in the marketplace to ensure their products, content, and experiences are authentic and inclusive to today’s consumers, including stories and examples illustrating:- How some controversies led Hallmark to reaffirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion and reinforce the personal accountability of the company’s senior-most leaders.
    – How Hallmark set in motion a new, modern diversity and inclusion strategy and action plan to build on the foundation established a century ago.
  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments – Thu, Feb 4 @12pm ET
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO, thrv.com
    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles 

    Jobs To Be Done has proven to be an effective methodology for building much better holistic end-to-end products and customer experiences.

    *But* CG Council member companies with large distributed environments are finding it difficult to apply JTBD in effective ways.

    Jay Haynes, CEO of thrv, and a global expert on JTBD will come and speak to the Councils community on this specific challenge of using the methodology in large, complex technology environments.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • Groundwork: Get Better at Making Better Products
    Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin, co-Authors of Groundwork
    Talk Type: Product
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Product leaders are all too familiar with the one to two-year period it typically takes to train and coach PMs. Product leaders hire smart people and then work with them individually, guiding them through how to think about product management, and watching them develop. Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin wanted a much faster way to help cultivate efficient and effective product managers that consistently create products that delight customers, regardless of the industry, the environment, and the development methodology that the team employed. They took years of experience as product executives and working with hundreds of teams as product coaches to create a framework to Get Better at Making Better Products.

    The design philosophy and methodology behind Groundwork was created to help product leaders be confident that their teams were committed to solving the right customer problems, minimizing costly rework by using individualized needs, and leveraging actionable personas in big and small product decisions. Vidya and Heather want Groundwork to help product teams have a much higher chance of success in the market—and help every product manager shine.

    Join Vidya and Heather as they share the background, principles, and methodology behind the Groundwork to help you, and your team, get better at making better products. 
  • Making the Case for Empowering Your People
    Marty Cagan, Partner, Silicon Valley Product Group
    Talk Type: Product, Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    From Marty: “I have long been interested in the difference between how the best companies work, and the rest. Working with both types of organizations for so many years, there are many differences ranging from culture to process to staffing to roles to techniques. But at its core, strong product companies empower their people, and most of the rest do not. My focus over the past few years has been tackling this issue head-on, which means the product leadership. In this talk, we’ll discuss why this model consistently yields better results, and what’s necessary to transform to work like the best.”

    Marty’s Bio: Marty Cagan is the founding partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group, which he created to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising and coaching. Before starting SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.As part of his work with SVPG, Marty advises tech companies of all sizes and stages, stretching far beyond Silicon Valley. Marty is the author of the industry-leading book for product teams, INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and the upcoming book EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe.
  • See talks from the last month and beyond here.

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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