Lea Goldberger is a product executive, consultant and mentor. She currently works at IT Central Station as the VP of Product Management. Her areas of expertise include leading content, community and social teams in order to achieve their goals through optimal execution strategies. Lea prides herself in bringing inspiration and motivation to each and every one of her teams through her unique leadership methods and she was kind enough to share some of her success tactics with us.
Q: Please share a little bit about yourself, your background, specialty, and what motivated you to enter the field of product management.
A: I’ve been in Product related roles for 16+ years. I’m currently VP Product Management at IT Central Station (leading platform for Enterprise tech reviews). Before that I was the VP Product at Roomer Travel and Fiverr.com, and I was director of Product at BillGuard and Answers.com. This list of companies expresses that I have experience in different types of industries (eCommerce, travel, FinTech, UGC and more), building great products on different platforms (desktop, mobile, tablets), for different types of customers (B2C, B2B).
I entered this world as a web content editor, when the web was just about static HTML pages. I was fascinated by this new world called “The Internet”. My Google handle is “hagoleshet” which I got way back then, which in Hebrew means “The surfer”, from the days when we surfed the web. I was very involved in the websites we built, and later on learned more about building applications….and the rest is history!
Q: As a product leader, what tactics do you like to implement in order to make sure that your team is as productive as possible during the development process?
A: Communication processes will make or break collaborative work. I make sure that the Product team and R&D have the right tools to plan and execute development as defined in the Product Roadmap and pre-sprint planning. More importantly, I make sure that everyone is communicating effectively, regularly and empathically. We should all be on the same page in terms of Why and What we’re trying to do (achieve company goals). They are accountable for the How and When.
Q: What advice would you share with new product managers/owners? What information do you wish someone had shared with you when you were first starting out?
A: I actually wrote two relevant posts about this topic, (What I did wrong as a Product Manager, and How to become a top 1% Product Manager). These posts highlight areas that I learned to notice the hard way. Being a product manager is an extremely difficult job. People from the outside tend to look at it as a fun job with lots of control. In fact to be successful as a PM you need to excel in many areas, both creative and analytical. You have to be goal driven but at the same time people driven as well. You can get lost in the chaos, being pulled in many different directions within your organization.
I also think that people don’t take their own professional growth into consideration as they get bogged down with work. Your growth is a win-win for you and your organization. Don’t forget to think about it and push for it. In most cases, your manager won’t do it for you.
Q: Where do you look to for inspirational and revolutionary ideas?
A: The world is inspiring. You just have to open your eyes and ears to it. I read a lot, every day through sites and influencers I follow. I make sure to read about areas that are also different in industry and technologies. Innovation usually comes through making original connections, rather than expanding more of the same. I stay current in technology and marketing trends.
This is part of what makes me excited about my current role where I help build the leading platform for marketing Enterprise tech through peer reviews and social activities. This is a marketing channel that is getting more and more attention from B2B marketers looking for new ways to connect with customers.
Q: Please identify a few common mistakes you’ve observed throughout your career made by product owners and their teams, and how they can be avoided.
A: The biggest mistake I see people make in their role as Product Managers is focusing only on “Product” and less about being a “Manager”. This is a leadership role even if you’re just starting out. Your personal skills are the greatest tool you have to become a successful PM. You can easily learn and improve your technical skills.
But without knowing how to effectively lead people on your team, lead developers who aren’t on your team, and be perceived as a leader by your management team – you’ll have to work very hard to build wonderful products. In addition you’ll have to extra hard at becoming a product leader within your space, and you’ll probably be stuck in personal conflicts and frustrations.
Q: How do you ensure a successful product launch? What are some personal touches you like to add?
A: A successful launch will happen when the process was effective, keeping all stakeholders in the loop early on and throughout the development cycle. When there is ongoing communication between everyone involved, clearly sharing when, what and how progress is made. Emails go out before, during and after for clear follow up.
I make sure to include shout-outs to relevant people who stand out, along with giving kudos to people who help make it happen. Recognition is important and helps people become motivated to be part of the team. It also helps management see who the key employees are who are mentioned often.
Follow Lea on Twitter for more Product Management insights