Happy New Year!
Every year, I kick off January with an update on how the year went and I share my plans for the upcoming year. This year is going to look a little different.
You might remember that at the start of 2023, I announced that I wasn’t setting any goals for the year. I had been pushing hard for several years (writing a book, promoting the book, launching courses) and was tired. I needed a reset.
My husband and I had planned to take a sabbatical year. We had plans to travel, to ski and mountain bike, and to devote some time to our learning goals. But alas, the year didn’t go as planned.
In February, my husband had a total knee-replacement surgery that didn’t go as expected. Seriously, this surgery is no joke. Instead of traveling and recharging, we spent a lot of time at home recovering.
I’m not very good at doing nothing, so I decided to use the newfound time to finally migrate off of Teachable (my original course platform). While I’m glad I did this, like all tech stack replatforming, it was much harder and took much longer than I estimated.
As 2023 wound down, I started to reflect on the year and to also look forward to 2024. No matter how hard I tried, I kept coming up empty. I was disappointed that 2023 didn’t turn out as planned. The thought of setting goals for 2024 brought tears to my eyes.
I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m facing major burnout. I’ve been here before. I know how serious this can be and I’m not going to push through it.
Instead, I’m going to give myself space to find the fun in my work again. And maybe even finally take some time away.
I do have a few themes I want to explore, but I’m not committing to any of these. I’m going to let the year unfold day by day. I’m going to give myself the luxury of only doing what brings me joy.
I know it’s an incredible privilege to give myself this opportunity and I’m grateful to every single one of you who has read my blog, bought Continuous Discovery Habits, or enrolled in our courses, as you are why I can now take some time for myself.
So instead of sharing a plan for 2024, I’m going to share what’s swirling around in my head, with the caveat that I may not actually end up pursuing any of these ideas this year.
Making Our Discovery Courses More Accessible Around the World
I am still incredibly motivated to help teams around the world adopt a continuous cadence to their discovery work. I know that our courses are a great way to do that. But they don’t work for everyone.
We have prioritized live-taught, cohort-based courses because we know that’s what drives the best learning outcomes. We typically offer our courses at 9am Pacific to cover the Americas and Europe. But every day, I hear from folks in other regions who want to take our courses but can’t because this time doesn’t work for their time zone.
I know our price point doesn’t work for folks in lower-GDP countries. I know that some people love our practice-oriented courses and some people want more lecture-style content. I know that some people love video content and other people prefer to read. I know that we could reach more people if we translated the book and our course content into other languages.
I want to address all of this. Someday.
We have several ideas for how to make our courses more accessible. We have dozens of opportunities we could address. I’ll be noodling on this a lot this year.
Exploring How Generative AI Can Support Discovery
One thing that does bring me joy is playing with and exploring the capabilities of generative AI. I’m particularly intrigued by how this technology can help students develop skills in each of the discovery habits.
No, I don’t mean interviewing GPTs instead of talking to real customers. Nor am I convinced that these tools are ready to replace human synthesis of real interviews. But I do think they have tremendous potential as tutors in helping us develop our skills.
I am experimenting with a custom GPT that can simulate a customer for the purpose of supporting story-based interview practice—not replacing the real thing. I am experimenting with a custom GPT that can take source input (like an interview snapshot and transcript) and then give you feedback on how you’ve framed your opportunities. Not generating the opportunities for you, but helping you better frame the opportunities yourself.
Essentially, I’m experimenting with how you plus a GPT can develop discovery habits faster and in an easier way. Right now, I’m experimenting with ChatGPT Plus to build these tools and expect to release some experiments throughout the year.
This is something that I genuinely enjoy. It’s reminding me how exciting new technology can be and that I need to preserve more maker time on my calendar.
Getting Back to a Daily Writing Habit (And Maybe Starting the Next Book)
I used to wake up every day and write for 30 minutes first thing. I’ve gotten away from this. After Continuous Discovery Habits came out, I stopped writing and focused more on promoting the book. But I want to write more.
I want to contribute more content to Product Talk. And I think I’m ready to start shaping the next book. But again, I’m not setting a timeline for any of this. Instead, I’m going to use writing as a way to re-find the joy in my work. If something productive comes out of that, great. If not, there’s always next year.
Finding Better Ways to Support Product Leaders
For the past four months, I’ve been hosting monthly discussion sessions for product leaders who manage multiple product trios. Think Chief Product Officers, VPs of Product and/or Design, CTOs, etc.
My goal with these events is to create a safe space for senior leaders to discuss their day-to-day challenges with managing teams who are trying to adopt the discovery habits. So far, we’ve tackled challenges related to team structure, defining and communicating strategic context, and how to get all three roles involved in the product trio. Attendees submit questions and challenges ahead of the event, and then I curate a few topics for us to explore together.
To build and maintain trust, we don’t record the sessions. Nor do we allow AI note-takers. The goal is for everyone to show up, be present, and participate.
They are a ton of fun. I’m planning to continue these discussions throughout the year. If you’d like to be notified of the next event, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
I want to join the next leadership discussion.
I manage [NUMBER] people in the following roles: [JOB TITLES]
My biggest challenge to managing teams who are adopting the discovery habits is: [BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR CHALLENGE]
Please keep your emails brief. We just want to verify that you meet the event criteria.
Keeping the Lights On
And of course, I’ll keep doing the things that keep Product Talk chugging along.
- We will continue to offer all of our courses throughout the year. Huge shoutout to our instructor team who helps make this happen year after year: Hope Gurion, Ellen Juhlin, and Ellen Brandenberger.
- I will be doing a limited number of speaking engagements for companies who are also investing in our courses. I will no longer be doing stand-alone corporate speaking engagements. I see too many companies expecting a one-hour talk to change their product culture and I’d rather give my time to the companies that are committed to making a real change.
- With Melissa Suzuno’s help, we are aiming for weekly blog posts on Product Talk. But I’m not going to lose sleep if we miss a week or two. We’ll continue to publish our monthly newsletter.
- I’ll continue to do podcast interviews as they fit my schedule. But I’m going to say no to most other events including company webinars and all conferences. I am considering going to Oslo in October for Y Oslo, but otherwise won’t be traveling for events.
A Quick Word on Email and Social Media
This blog post is going out a week late. It was hard for me to write. I’m still feeling unsettled about 2023 and am struggling to muster excitement about 2024.
Over the past two years, I have seriously considered walking away from the tech world and finding something new to do with my life. I’m not ready to make that decision. I’m hoping that I can fall in love with this work again.
In the meantime, be kind. If I don’t respond to your email asking for advice or reply to your social media comment, it’s because I’m finally learning to take care of myself. Social media, in particular, has taken its toll on me.
I know I’m not the only one who’s struggling as we’re heading into 2024. Be kind to yourselves and get some rest when you need it. Let’s re-find our joy!