For many of us, the beginning of the year is a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to recommit to the things that matter most to us.
Last year, I wrote “What I’m Saying No to This Year—And Why” to clearly outline what I wanted to focus on in 2019. Over the course of the year, I reread that post at least a dozen times to help me stay focused on my priorities.
I’ve sent it to dozens of people to communicate what I do and don’t do. I link to it on my “Get in Touch” page to help ward off irrelevant requests. My goal is to save my time and the time of those reaching out. It’s been tremendously helpful.
Creating a ‘What I’m saying no to’ list has been tremendously helpful in saving my time and the time of those reaching out. – Tweet This
As a result, I’ve decided to start a new tradition of writing a public annual letter reminding myself (and everyone else) of my priorities for the year. This is the 2020 version.
Doing My Best Work
I know that I do my best work when I focus on reading, writing, teaching, curriculum design, and community. I also know I need to balance that work with a healthy dose of outside time to stay sane.
Over the past six years, I’ve developed and honed my Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum by reading and writing about the best research on problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking. My goal is to continue to refine a structured and sustainable approach to continuous discovery that is grounded in research and practiced by hundreds of teams.
I’m fortunate that this work blends the things that I love to do day in and day out. Reading inspires me and helps me recharge. Writing helps me to formulate my thoughts and evolve what I think. Teaching and curriculum design are both fun design problems that keep me engaged with the practice of product management. And writing, teaching, and designing for and with the product community help me to stay sharp and feed my soul.
Investing in More Teams in 2020: How We Might Learn Together
My primary professional goal in 2020 is to increase the number of people who have access to the Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum. I want to make sure that anybody who has a desire to learn to work this way has the ability to do so.
My primary professional goal in 2020 is to increase the number of people who have access to the Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum. – Tweet This
Discovery Coaching: For the past six years, the primary way I’ve offered the Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum is through my coaching practice. I run a 12-week coaching program for product trios (i.e. a product manager, a designer, and a software engineer with shared responsibility for a product). Participants learn to develop sustainable discovery habits working as a true cross-functional team. It’s a ton of fun and I plan to continue this work in 2020. It’s also the best way I’ve found for creating meaningful and lasting behavior change for a team.
As many of you who have reached out already know, I often have a waiting list for coaching. So I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve partnered with Hope Gurion to expand Product Talk’s coaching services. Hope has been coaching product teams using my Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum since the fall of 2018. She is an experienced executive and an excellent coach. This partnership will allow us to work with more of your teams sooner.
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve partnered with Hope Gurion to expand Product Talk’s coaching services. This partnership will allow us to work with more of your teams sooner. – Tweet This
If you are interested in coaching, please get in touch.
Public Workshops: In 2019, I hosted my two-day Continuous Discovery Habits workshop in two different cities. We went to San Francisco in April and New York in September. Both events were a success and I’ve heard from many of you that you are planning to attend in 2020.
I’m excited to announce that we’ll be returning to both coasts this year. We’ll be hosting an event in Portland, Oregon in May and Boston, Massachusetts in September. The workshop is a great way to get introduced to the Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum.
Tickets for both events are already on sale. Grab yours here.
I’ll be returning to both coasts this year to give the Continuous Discovery Habits workshop. Tickets are available now. Grab yours here. – Tweet This
Online Courses: I know there are many self-paced learners who prefer to direct their own learning experience. For this crowd, I’ve developed a couple different online courses.
Continuous Interviewing, a four week, practice-based course, helps students develop and hone their interviewing skills. I launched this course in the fall of 2017 to a small cohort of beta-testers and the program has run every quarter since. Over 300 students have taken the course and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. It’s so fun to see product people invest in this skill and level up their discovery game.
This past fall, I launched a limited beta of the full Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum as a self-paced course. This is the same 12-week curriculum that I use in my coaching program. I’m excited to announce that this course is now available to anyone who is interested. This program includes:
- 10 instructional modules that cover in depth my structured and sustainable approach to continuous discovery
- Case studies and real-world examples of how product teams are putting this program into practice
- Monthly Q&A sessions with me to get answers to your specific questions
- Access to a supportive Slack community of like-minded peers
These online courses are the easiest way for anyone to get started on their journey towards more continuous discovery practices. I’m thrilled to be able to offer this.
Both courses are open for enrollment. Learn more here.
2021 Update: Through testing, we’ve learned that students achieve better learning outcomes when they take our Master Class over the self-paced curriculum. As a result, we’ve updated the links in this article to point to our live Master Classes.
Corporate Workshops: In the past, I’ve turned down most corporate workshops because the travel was too prohibitive for my schedule. But I know there is a ton of demand for the Continuous Discovery Habits workshop as a private corporate event. It’s a great way to introduce the Continuous Discovery Habits curriculum to your entire team. So I’m excited to announce that Hope Gurion will be hosting a limited number of corporate workshops in 2020. Check out this video for more details.
Read Product Talk: I’ve published 200+ in-depth articles right here, which are freely available to everyone. New articles come out the first Wednesday of every month, and I’ll continue to publish regularly throughout 2020. Get notified of new articles here.
Subscribe to the Product Talk Newsletter: I also publish a monthly newsletter which highlights what’s new here, recommends a book I’ve read recently, includes worthy reads from around the web, an article from the Product Talk archive, and something fun to share. I’ll also continue to publish the newsletter throughout 2020. You can subscribe here.
Read the Book: Back in 2016, I wrote that I was working on a book. That was mostly true. I did start writing a book but realized that I wanted a better feedback loop between me and my readers to know if I was on the right track with my content. So instead of writing a book, I launched my online courses. Courses allowed me to get continuous feedback as I developed my content.
However, the time has come to write the Continuous Discovery Habits book. This is my primary project for 2020. I will be turning down a lot of things (see below) that I would normally do to make time for writing this book. I am very excited to get it into your hands.
The time has come for me to write the Continuous Discovery Habits book. This is my primary project for 2020. – Tweet This
As I write the book, I’ll be posting excerpts and asking for feedback both here on Product Talk and in my Continuous Discovery Habits Slack community. That community is only for Continuous Discovery Habits online subscribers. So if you want access, check out that option here.
I’ll add a link to the book once it’s available for pre-sales. But in the meantime, I have A LOT of writing to do.
Making High-Quality Training Accessible to Everyone
One of the reasons why I offer so many different ways to learn and engage with the same material is because I want to make continuous discovery habits accessible to anyone who wants to implement them. However, I’ve heard from many of you that many of these options don’t fit with your budget.
I know that not everyone can afford coaching or has the option to bring someone in for a corporate workshop. If that’s where you find yourself, please check out the public workshops and the online courses. These are priced to easily fit most companies’ professional development budgets.
If you don’t have a professional development budget or aren’t sure how to ask for one, please check out this video I recorded with my friend Kim Nicol on this very topic.
If you don’t have a professional development budget or aren’t sure how to ask for one, please check out this video I recorded with my friend Kim Nicol on this very topic. – Tweet This
And, of course, everyone can dive into the 200+ articles right here and the Product Talk monthly newsletter for free. The book, when it is ready, will also be an affordable option.
Finally, if you live in a country or region of the world where US prices are prohibitive because of the nature of your local economy or you’re experiencing other financial hardship, you can apply for a scholarship for one of my online courses here.
What I Won’t Be Doing in 2020
An annual strategy and priority list would not be complete without a “stop doing” list. I know it’s not enough to just say what I will do. The value of a post like this is to remind myself what I won’t be doing this year.
I know from the first attempt in 2016 that writing a book is a huge project. So I’m cutting out everything that isn’t critical until it’s done. That means I will not be doing any:
Podcasts, webinars, or guest posts: I get asked to do these all the time and they are a ton of fun. However, all of them (100%) are on hold until the book is done. However, as soon as I’m finished writing, I’ll be ramping these up again as I try to get the word out.
Conferences: There are so many great product events throughout the year and it’s always hard for me to limit myself to only two. However, this year, I will be doing none. I am utterly thrilled and flattered that you would like me to speak at your event. But for 2020, I have to pass. Please, however, do ask about 2021, as I’ll be open to opportunities for promoting my new book.
Consulting of any kind (other than the training options listed above): I get asked to do a lot of interesting things and I would love to be able to do all of them. In a typical year, I have to say no to the vast majority of these requests and for 2020, this will be especially true.
The best way to work with me is to explore the training options listed above. I severely limit the activities that I engage in so that I can do my best work.
Balancing Work with Outside Time
I’ve learned over the years that it’s easy for me to become hyper-focused on my work. So each year, I deliberately set personal goals designed to pull me away from my work.
Last year, I set a goal to increase my time outside. It was perfect. In 2019, I learned how to cross-country ski and to mountain bike. My boyfriend and I rented a house in Bend and we now split our time between Portland and Bend. Living in Bend allows us to get outside almost every day.
I’m continuing this personal goal through 2020. Now that there’s snow on the mountain, I’m hoping to snowboard or cross-country ski four to five days a week.
During the spring and summer months, I’m looking forward to hopping back on a bike and tackling more of those Cascade lava rocks.
I know that’s a luxury a lot of people don’t have and I’m eternally grateful that this is my life. I also know that it’s critical for helping me recharge and stay engaged with my work. I encourage everyone to invest in hobbies outside of work that they are excited about.
I know spending time outdoors is critical for helping me recharge and stay engaged with my work. I encourage everyone to invest in hobbies outside of work that they are excited about. – Tweet This
What are you planning to do in 2020? And more importantly, what are you planning not to do?