This week I earned my first dollar as a self-employed professional advisor. I’ve been doing this since January. You might ask—why am I just now building a revenue pipeline, what went wrong?
That’s the wrong question. The better question is what went right.
That’s the story that follows.
In January ’03 I had one turntable by May, I had nearly 20 parties under my belt and more customers than I could ever say yes to.
I did it by giving it away.
I paid for records. I paid for my equipment. I stressed about the setlist. I lugged my gear to the event in my purple people eater. I sweated all night long in packed house parties drinking nothing but water—and exhausted, I moved crates of records back to my car at 2 am to drive home and lug them back into the house.
And if I knew you, I only charged whatever I needed to refresh my record collection that week.
I left my role as a Product Exec in January, unsure if I’d ever do it again.
New opportunities continue to hit my inbox (and there are some great ones), but I was unsure—do I want to give running my own firm a shot, or do I want to find my next role?
In the meantime, I started writing. Writing about what everything I learned going from an account manager at an unknown school to a product leader on some of the most loved experiences in fashion and storied brands in software.
I started writing not to get paid. But because I wanted to give any knowledge, I may have been blessed to receive—away to the world.
I wrote to share my thoughts; that too many businesses and products are built without purpose. And to highlight that becoming a product manager is too inaccessible for many individuals (outside of major tech hubs, WOC, POC, and non-traditional background). And finally, to warn against the crimes of maladjusted leadership.
For each of these, I want to do my part to change that—that’s my priority one.
I’m in mixtape season.
Without major distribution, Drake, an unknown rap/actor (ironically—Rap-tor, Raptor), released two major label quality LPs: Comeback Season and So Far Gone. But he released them as mixtapes.
At first glance, it looks like he gave away the product. But that’s not what happened; he innovated the business model.
While major artists earned money by selling records—allocating their time to getting customers to buy their music, Drake gave away the music and monetized everything else: touring, features for other artists, synchronization rights for TV and movies, and merchandise.
Drake was able to focus on the product he wanted to create, not the product that would sell. That meant less emphasis on the radio single, the guest appearance, or the R&B record, and more focus on what felt right.
This is where I am. I’m giving away my product. Not because it’s not valuable—but because it is invaluable.
I’m giving away my product. Not because it’s not valuable—but because it is invaluable.
And I want to remove any financial hurdle towards accessing. In mixtape season—you raise the quality of your product way beyond the bar for the industry, and then you eliminate cost as a barrier for getting your product in the hands of those who need it.
For example, I lead a cohort of product leaders from bay area startups, Amazon, Microsoft, and provide group course work and 1:1 coaching, covering masters level insights like how to take advantage of value nets for business model innovation. I give it away to those who make it through the rigorous application phase.
Since I’ve left the business world, I’ve had the privilege of working for:
- Junior PMs who want to learn how to go to the next level
- Senior PMs who want to reach a new level of performance
- Product Executives who want to get better at working through their teams and organization
- And startups, midlevel and other experiences that simply want a path to “power growth.”
All 👏 for 👏 free 👏
It’s just now after I’ve built an audience that I simply can’t scale to serve any longer, that I’ve launched my first paid offering and business/enterprise clients.
- Authentic self-confidence webinar.
- The Product Coach Podcast. subscribe more. Apple Podcasts. Android. Spotify.
- 1:1 Coaching (Open Office Hours). learn more.
- Resume rewriting / Job interview / prep / mock coaching for referrals. learn more.
- Praxis Product Leadership cohort for Leaders. learn more.
- Blogs, writing. Praxis Blog. MikalFM Blog. Twitter/MikalFM
- Power Growth Group 1-hour working session.
- Power Theory framework. (If I know you)
- Authentic self-confidence course. (No longer available)
- Praxis Product Leadership, leadership development cohort for Teams. (No longer available)
- Power Growth Group, growth advising, and services. (No longer available)
As a servant-leader, I’m here to serve my discipline, my community, and my purpose, of which you are firmly a part.
If you need any help or another perspective on any of the above, please reach out, when you win, we win.
It’s mixtape season.
Mikal Lewis believes the job of a leader is to serve. As the CEO and founder of Praxis Product Leadership, he helps product teams and team members pursue product excellence through servant-leadership and mastery of product management skills.
In addition to leadership development and product coaching, he is an accomplished product executive, he has experience building market-leading consumer (Xbox), e-commerce (Nordstrom), SaaS (Office 365), and machine learning products (Nordstrom Looks). Prior to founding Praxis, Mikal earned an M.B.A. from Florida A&M University and studied graduate coursework in HCI at the University of Washington.
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