Just ask Chic

February 9, 2021

My mom, her nickname was Chic (pronounced like “chick”), died from a brain tumor back in 2012.

Hundreds gathered for her memorial and my sister and I went around the room asking each of the assembled: how did you originally meet Chic?

Here are a few of the answers we got:

  • On a plane home from my husband’s funeral (my mom met many longtime friends by sitting next to them on a plane and listening to their stories)
  • Standing in line at the DMV
  • On a double date with Robert Redford 
  • In a castle in Germany 
  • In second grade (my mom kept in touch with *every* single person she ever met)

One of my favorites from the day came from Diane, who met my mother at a 1961 cocktail party. It wasn’t the location of the meeting that struck me, but what my mom did merely moments after. 

You see Diane had just started her first year of teaching elementary school. So, my mom, who was at that point a *one* year teaching veteran, grabbed Diane and two other teacher friends (whom she probably knew for all of two weeks) and dragged them over to a corner to hold an impromptu “first 90 days” coaching conversation.

This was so “Chic.”

Diane ended the story by telling me that from then on whenever she needed anything, she would just ask Chic. That came up throughout the day. In fact, “Just ask Chic” became the tagline of the memorial. 

Inspired by Chic, we at CG started doing Peer Coaching Calls for members. Just yesterday, for example, we ran a “First 90 Days” call for a first-time Chief Product Officer.

She sent me an email after the session and her words strongly echo Diane’s:

This group discussion has been one of the most valuable conversations I’ve had about my new job. Oh, the power of bringing different experiences and perspectives into a room!  That’s what I love most about CG.

I got goose bumps when I read this, especially when I read her reference to the “room.” Although I knew it was a Zoom room and not a living room in 1961, I couldn’t help but think of Diane and my mom all those years ago.

And, bonus round, a new member who had just joined two weeks ago, was on the call as a coach and sent this note after the call:

Loved the format and the opportunity to pause and help. I’m buzzing! I sharpened my own thinking being in the room, too.

Again, more goose bumps. 
The tagline may have changed slightly, but the moral of the story remains true: if you just started a new job – or need help of any kind, then just ask Chic’s descendants.



P.S. Again, if *you* need help or want to simply think out loud, get in touch. 

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

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

    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.

    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
  • 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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