The Last Birthday Cake?

March 08, 2021

Happy birthday, Chic!

This week is my mother’s birthday. 

Given that she built the first council in 1960 *and* drilled into me the importance of asking for help, her birthday is important for us here at Collaborative Gain.

We all owe her a lot.

For her birthday this year, I find myself thinking about two mistakes that I made.

After college, I moved from LA to New York to be a community organizer. That was not one of the mistakes. 

No. The first mistake was that I chose her very birthday to fly out of the golden state.

That’s right. I’m embarrassed to say that I chose the day my mother was born as the day to move across country.

Don’t worry. The gods knew that I chose badly.

I flew People Express, which went bankrupt literally minutes after we took off from LAX, forcing us to land in Denver and making me scramble to find an airline that would fly me the rest of the way. I got a US Air flight, but then that flight was stranded for a day by a snowstorm in Pittsburgh. It took me three days to get to New York.

Look, I was 23 years old so maybe we can see my hurtful timing as pure youthful idiocy. 

If I’m being honest, though, I was still angry. And that’s the second mistake. I was angry and held on to it. 

The anger came from a tough decision. When I was 14 and going downhill fast, my mother sent me to live with my father – and that experience scarred me pretty badly.

I now see, however, that, despite everything, living with my father was the best of the bad options for me. Frankly, I would not be here today had she not forced that move.

Further, separating the two of us choked her heart as much as it did mine. Probably — no, certainly — more. 

All of this wisdom, however, has come only recently – after she’s now eight years gone. 

So, let me now publicly thank you, mom for saving my life at 14 and, at the same time, ask forgiveness for these two mistakes, i.e., 1) being so casually cruel as to move on your birthday; and 2) even more importantly, for not realizing the sacrifice you made until years and years after your last birthday cake.



Summer Internships for your College-Aged Kids?

Please get us information either on your college-aged kids who are looking for an internship, *OR* on internship openings you have in your companies!

Next week I’ll be distributing this information out to everyone. 

Student information

– Name
– College/University
– Major 
– Year (i.e. first year, second year, etc)
– LinkedIn url (if they have one) 
– What kind of internship are they looking for?
– How to contact them — through you or provide their email 

Internship Information

– 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,
    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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