Change, change, change

March 30, 2021

Ironically, we humans find change hard. I say ironic because every moment of our life is chock-full of change.

Last year the pandemic hit and suddenly our lives and companies were thrown upside down.

Twelve months later and we are now about to make some big changes again.

Plato understood our anxiety with change and tried to cure it by promising us that below the ever-changing shadows lies a permanent non-changing world. We just had to become philosopher kings to see it.

Heraclitus, who pre-dated Plato, had a different message about change: We can never step in the same river twice because it is never the same river. It is always flowing. Change never stops. 

I am now with Heraclitus on this one. But that was not true for most of my life.

When I was 10, my father left, my mother had a nervous breakdown, and she put me in charge of her and my younger sister.

I’m embarrassed to say that, at first, I received this news with almost a kind of glee. “Finally, I have been taken seriously and given a serious job,” I thought to myself.

But really what happened is a 10-year-old boy marched around in clothes eight sizes too big with tears frozen in his blurry eyes.

The one thing that is indisputable, however, is that my life changed dramatically.

And my life – and the world – has never stopped changing. 

I became an alcoholic and drug user by age 11 even as I raised my sister and took care of my mother. I stopped the alcohol and drug abuse in high school – on the second day of 10th grade in fact – and got a scholarship to college. (How did I stop? I applied what my mother had taught me about asking for help). After college, I became a community organizer and then, of course, went to the Harvard Business School (isn’t that what all community organizers do?).

With all the change in my life, you’d think I’d be good at embracing change. And I do have my moments, but I also hear — to mix my ancient metaphors — the siren song of Plato’s cave.  My goal in life for a long time had been this: stop change. Give me stability, please.

Well, you can see from above how well that worked out.

In recent years, however, I have started to dip my toe into the cool ever-changing waters of Heraclitus.

And you won’t be surprised to know the one thing I’ve learned that helps – and again I learned this from my mother: do not wade alone in that river.

And that’s why I am especially excited that the spring meetings of the councils are coming up in a few weeks.

For several days we will all get to wade together as the world swirls and changes around us.



P.S. By the way — important side-note on Plato: he was the first philosopher we know of to bake women’s equality into his thinking and writing. It’s only taken the world about 2,500 years to start to catch up with him. Imagine this for a moment: what *if* we had listened 25 centuries ago?

P.P.S. We have a great keynote coming up after the spring meetings. More on that in the next newsletter.

Hire Summer Interns

We now have our simple Google Sheet up

It shows both young people looking for summer internships. *and* summer internships.

Please go hire the children of your fellow members. 

And if you have more job openings, then just respond to this email with the appropriate information as per below!

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Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO,
    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.
  • 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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