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Parents spend so much time teaching their kids lessons, everything from table manners to how to ride a bike. Yet there is so much we can learn from them, especially as managers and leaders. My eight-year-old daughter Amaya, for one, has taught me many lessons that I now incorporate into my career. Here are a few I’d like to share.

Find a meaningful way to express yourself.

I learned about TikTok from Amaya who is full of flare, sass, creativity and a love for dance. One day she was sharing her videos with her friends and she explained to me it’s her way of showing her friends her style and expressing themselves with one another. I realized this is her way of storytelling. …

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I want you to close your eyes and imagine the boardroom. Okay, now open. What did you see? If you had the same image in mind as I did, it was likely one of a conference room with board members wearing suits. Most of them were probably men and close to, if not already, in retirement.

Fun fact: Most boardrooms are filled with one type of persona. The average age of board members is 61 and they are typically in the top 5 percent income bracket! …

One of the chapters in my new book is, “Don’t Marry Your Product: It’s Illegal in Most States.” While the chapter title is, of course, meant to add humor, I do believe the concept of marrying your product should be illegal in product management. Yet most of us do it. I have been guilty many times myself.

What do I mean by this? As product managers, we obsess about our product. …

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My dad was recently admitted to the hospital. He’s better now, but it was a rough few weeks for my family and me. As he was recovering, we began sharing stories from my childhood, funny moments involving my brother and me. From baseball games to spelling bees and family trips, my father spent over two hours sharing memories.

After reminiscing, he paused and reflected, “You know what I’m most proud of in my life? The amount of time I spent watching my kids grow up.” This surprised me as my father is also extremely proud of his career with the same company for over 30 years. …

When Northwestern Mutual embarked on a transformation to create the ultimate client experience, my team’s responsibility was to build the company’s first-ever set of mobile apps for clients.

Research suggested that one target group of advisors and clients wanted a mobile app — and we assumed they would be our highest adopters. Much to our surprise (that happens when you make assumptions), the top users of the mobile app were another group altogether. We learned our lesson quickly. Now our mobile team takes the time to deeply understand all of our clients and their wants and needs.

As digital product developers, I think it’s common for us to think too narrowly about a given customer, and along the way, we make incorrect assumptions about groups of people based on their age, gender, income and more. All of that can lead to customer confusion, dissatisfaction and indecision. It’s time for us to change — we need to build experiences that work for everyone. We need to obsess about every customer’s experience and let that obsession drive every product development decision we make. …

If you’re a product manager, you’ve probably been asked to work on a project within a tight deadline, which means putting in extra hours late-night and weekends. When that happens, who are the people you want on your team? What adjectives would you use to describe them?

When I asked these questions at a talk I gave at Product School, the answers were not smart or successful. The adjectives were patient, flexible, thoughtful, collaborative, empathetic, and even funny. That’s because if you’re going to spend that much time with people in close quarters, you better like them and get along.

With product managers, the softer, more compassionate side, is extremely important because a big part of being good at the job is relationship-building. …

Companies turn to their leaders to make the big decisions — the judgement calls that can affect thousands of employees and customers. I’ll tell you from experience — it’s easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis. The fear of making the wrong move can be a massive weight on a leader or a team.

When I joined Northwestern Mutual three years ago, one of my first tasks was to help launch a new client website. It would be an immense undertaking and core to reinventing the company’s client experience.

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Northwestern Mutual website homepage in 2014

Like most significant technology projects, we held a number of “go / no go” decision meetings, making the final calls on whether to deploy the significant work of the team. Huddled in a conference room, we were on a call with various stakeholders who were raising significant questions about launching the site: “What if it fails? What if people hate it?” The weight of the decision was clear. …

I was only a few weeks into the new job when a top financial advisor was visiting my office. I was eager to meet him — so much so that I started our meeting by diving right into our plans for mobile, web, and strategy without pause. I was in my zone.

We’ve all been there. I wanted to impress him with how my team is going to transform the business and enhance the client-advisor relationship.

But 15 minutes into our hour-long meeting, he stood up, extended his hand and thanked me for my time. I was in shock. I had so much more to show him. This was the first meeting I ever had with one of our advisors. …


Vivek Bedi

Digital Product Executive | Public Speaker | Author | Entrepreneur | Board Member

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