April 13, 2021
Spring is in the air and so is asking for help (and the spring meetings are next week!).
And that all has me thinking about the counter-cultural power of asking for help.
My understanding of asking for help is a kind of hippy notion.
I say that because my mother launched the first council in 1960 and I was born that decade – you could say both me and the councils are flower children.
The heart of my hippy notion comes down to this: is asking for help a “getting” activity or a “giving” activity?
In other words, when you ask a peer leader for help are you trying to get something from them or, counter intuitively, are you being giving to them?
My answer is both, but with emphasis on the latter — assuming your question is honest, open, and vulnerable.
How are you being giving by asking for advice?
That’s ridiculous, right? Is that some psychedelic fantasy?
No. It’s our humanity.
You give the people you ask many things: The joy of being giving back to you (we humans do actually love being giving, especially when asked); the trust, respect, and confidence that comes from being asked for expertise and insights (and we are all insecure so doses of confidence are HIGHLY welcome); the learning that comes from them giving expertise and insights to you (no better way to learn than to teach), and, the discovery, in some cases, that they have the same question (and didn’t know it – and that’s a big gift).
I taught this recently to one of my longtime friends — we’ll call her Sally —who decided to put together a council of Wall Street masters of the universe. I told Sally that she needed to explain to those big bank CEOs the flower power of asking for help.
And that they needed to come in to that council not peacocking — but with the intent to be open, honest and, I know this sounds crazy when talking about those big swinging drips, even vulnerable.
In the preliminary conversations, they gave Sally a hard time.
They snarled, “this better be worth my time” and “you know the ROI on my time is veryhigh.“
I told her to let be those idiotic statements.
Instead, I coached Sally on how to create the trust environment from the get go.
She opened the first meeting with the important statement that they need to *give* trust to get trust; and, Amazon style, they need to emotionally invest before the ROI becomes clear; and, they need to share how, despite their success, their troubles are not so far away; and that every one of them has a broken wing (or two); and, finally, that there’s nothing they need to do that can’t be done better together.
You are teaching them to not carry the world alone upon their shoulders, I continued. Instead, you are helping them discover the kind of love and support that money cannot buy.
That is an amazing gift. You should know it and they will know it.
She called me with excitement after the first meeting. They had come out of the shadows and held each other’s hands. One had even cried. Imagine that —a staid, pin striped, macho money baron CEO crying.
I share this story in the week before our spring meetings to reinforce the message you’ve already heard many times: be open and vulnerable, and respect your accomplished peers by giving them the gift of asking for their help.
Now that my sermon is done, please turn to page 23 in your hippy hymnal and sing along with me to another song:
I need somebody
(Help!) not just anybody
(Help!) you know I need a council member
After this dark winter.
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured (but now these days are gone)
(And now I find) Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my team back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?
For those of you in the Councils – have a great spring council meeting next week!
P.S. How many songs from a certain 60s group of hippies do I directly or indirectly refer to above?
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!
– Company name
– Internship description
– Application process url (or notes on how to apply)
– Anything else
Recent Talks and Activity Recordings
- JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
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.
- 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.