My Product Philosophy (aka How I Reason)


This calendar year has been one of progress. In addition to launching Your Look at, I have the fun challenge of the front lines of retail disruption through leading a redesign of the Nordstrom Product Page across desktop, mobile web, and app.

My product philosophy is nuanced and difficult to summarize. Correspondingly, the same elements that make my product philosophy apophatic are the same that make it successful. My product philosophy is divergent. That is, my philosophy diverges from the expected.

Growing up hip-hop

The smoothest bridge to my perspectives on product development and strategies is hip-hop. As an up and coming emcee, I learned the process born out of taking something known, let’s say a record or an aphorism, and transforming it into something completely new and different.

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Immersion. Learning from Zero to Now.


When doing think. When thinking do.

A career swings between two extremes, leveraging strengths and mitigating weaknesses. A tactic I’ve found helpful through each swing of the pendelum is immersion—an approach for building on strengths and mitigating weaknesses.

You might adopt this tactic in the midst of or leading up to a moment that requires uplevelled skills in any one area. When leverage your managing and leveraging your own curriculum.

What to focus on?

The first question at any time is what to focus on. The key principle of immersion is that you choose one area of focus at a time: visual design, typography, team communciation.
The right area to focus on will come to you swiftly with just a moment of reflection:
What is the single most important area for me to improve to get where I’m going.

Ths question is intendended to be temporal. Your goal is to constantly improve the single most important area—similar to chain runs. You’re constantly improving the most important area, until there is another most important area.

Time box it

Take to your journal and write a concrete goal. By X, I will be better at Y, as demonstrated by Z.
Your time horizon should be a 2-8 week interval.

Build a list

What about all those areas you didn’t focus on? well build a list. I use a simple excel file to prioritize all my potential areas of focus and come back to it.

Reading list

Ok, now plow Amazon, or your favorite library and put your money where your mouth is. Acquire 2-5 books on the subject area.
You’re going to read them in tandem. One book is your primary read, and the other is your change of pace read. So for example listen to an audio book in the morning, and read a different book in the evening. The goal is not to plow throw books in the domain, but to replicate a good class environment. You’re hearing the same ideas from different perspectives—forcing you to synthesize versus rote learning.


With your reading list at hand build a set of activities you will do to exercise your idea.
This is critical because you need both “know what” and “know how.” Riding a bike is “know how”—teaching your child how to ride a bike is “know what”.
Let’s combine theory and practice.

Do it all again

Times up it’s 8 weeks later. You’re improved at this. Take a break, or dive into your next immersion.
I’ve used this approach to:
1. Learn visual design
2. Learn tableau
3. Learn illustrator
4. Learn regression analysis
5. Learn presentation design
6. Build forecasting models
7. Learn the foundations of philosophy
8. And countless others…

Product Management Hall of Fame (Draft)


Note: This list is largely skewed towards company founders.

Steve Jobs. Accomplishments: creating the home computing industry as well as the mobile era.

Learn about him: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli. Steve Jobs (Film); Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview (Documentary)

Steven Sinofsky. Accomplishments: implementing at scale a product development process with strategic integrity.

Learn about him: One Strategy by Steven Sinofsky.

In Progress:

Bill Gates

Mark Zuckerberg

Jack Dorsey

Elon Musk

Jeff Bezos

Tony Fadell

Julie Larson-Green. (Office Ribbon)

Brett Taylor. Facebook Newsfeed.

Reed Hastings