Listening to my hidden voice… and the real voices

Introducing my little Product Voice Something I learned early on in my career as a Product leader was to trust the ...

Introducing my little Product Voice

Something I learned early on in my career as a Product leader was to trust the little Product Voice in my head—the one that speaks up on occasion after I cut a feature, dismiss a suggestion, quickly agree to or approve of a change, or validate an outcome as good enough,

When agitated, the little Product Voice wakes up and simply says to me, “Wait a tick… are you sure about that?”

Again, the Product Voice is mostly quiet, but on those rare occasions when it does decide to speak up, I’ve learned the hard way that when I ignore it, it always comes back later telling me—a little louder—“I f*cking told you so.”

Well, my little Product Voice has been chattering away at me lately.

Last August I set aside the Really Big Idea I was formulating & testing—the one that ultimately led me to start this company—in favor of something that seemed simpler and more immediately achievable. I still believe it was and is a smart pivot, but the Voice has since been poking at me:

“Hey, you know that Really Big Idea could easily solve that new problem you’re up against.”

“Hey, that Really Big Idea is much more exciting— and potentially game changing—than this me-too product you’re working on right now.”

Introducing real voices

What’s new and different in where I am with Xander is that I now have more real voices in my ear than ever before, including: my MIT Enterprise Forum Mentorship Team, mentors from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service program, a soon-to-be mentor from the MassMedic IGNITE accelerator program), and a couple/few old & new industry colleagues I’ve been speaking with.

All of these real voices have been politely poking holes in this simpler/achievable product concept I’ve been working on.. which keeps waking up my little Product Voice.

Time for a pivot?

Listening to all of the voices, I took a step backwards, and I started digging into the primary research I did last year with target customers and subject matter experts. I’ve been pulling out more and deeper insights about my customers and their problems than I had initially uncovered. I shared my new discoveries with my wife, who helped me form new hypotheses to text and explore.

As a result:

  • I’m pivoting my current product concept, following the real voices I’ve been listening to—I’ll have to dig deeper into the problems I’m trying to solve, and broader on how I might solve them.

  • I’m bringing back my Really Big Idea, following my little Product Voice, and I started reaching out to potential partners to get started

  • My wife and I came up with a couple of new ideas—both unexpected and exciting—that I will research and explore from the ground up

Failing = Learning

I was feeling disappointed by these discoveries, and for a day or two I felt like I was having a setback—”Ugh, I’m still at the beginning.”

Now I’m reminding myself that this is exactly the time to have these realizations and make bigger changes. And I’m not at the beginning because I’ve already learned so much and progressed through some flawed ideas onto something bigger and better.

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