Enthusiasm is key for great product teams (And life)
“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. But how do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” ― Gordon Parks
Something I've observed over the past few years as I've been working in the software industry as a Product Manager is just how important framing your work, be it a bug fix or a brand new feature, in a way that shows its value to our customers, and also presenting it in an enthusiastic way.
When I mention enthusiasm, I'm not talking a dramatic "we're going to save the world" type of enthusiasm; for some teams that could absolutely have the opposite impact. But if you frame work in just the right way, and show how excited you are to solve the problems you're solving, it becomes infectious.
I've found for me that there are three key actions you can take in how you work as a Product Manager to help create an environment where enthusiasm in the product and the problems you're solving becomes second nature to the teams you're a part of.
① You're havin' a laugh.
I'm the first to admit I probably tell a few too many dad jokes and use too many puns, but I've always found if I enter a meeting, or start a day laughing about something with the team I tend to have a better and more productive day overall.
For me, having fun at work instantly makes me want to turn up and do the best I can to keep that energy going. Start your meetings with the team by (trying) to make them laugh with a joke, or a funny story, and the energy from that often flows down when you get into the weeds of your business problems.
② A good soldier never leaves a man behind!
Platform and feature incidents and outages happen. You can try your hardest to minimise the impact they might have, but there will be times your team is up late, fighting fires.
I'm by no means a technical product manager, nor is it my job to write code or approve PRs, but I'll be there with the team during those trying times - providing support, handling communication across the business and at times with customers if it's outside support hours, and if we're in the office I'll get the team food and anything else they might need.
It's not much, but showing your not just dumping a problem on the team to solve, and you're there with them, goes a long way in building trust in your team.
③ Don't skip the trip to Mordor by riding eagles.
What I mean by this point is really how you should deliver the story of your problem to the team, and to the wider business as a whole. Don't skip the smaller, 'character building' aspects of your business problem just to get to the solution as quickly as you can.
Boromir didn't die so Frodo and Sam can hop an eagle like an Uber, dropping into Mordor with a Prancing Pony feast to-go, and you shouldn't undersell the research and development effort of earlier iterations just to show the final product.
Telling great stories is something I struggle with, and I'm learning how to become a better at it all the time. When I talk about the problems we're trying to solve as a team I try to remind myself not to skip over the small points. Every detail should be a story beat to your great three-part epic, and the effort that goes into all this hard work will help inspire those around you to turn up and be one with your fellowship.
Being enthusiastic about what you do in life in general will often pay dividends, no matter what it's for, be it professionally, or through self-improvement, or hobbies you enjoy. And quite often I'm inspired by those around me who show the same level of enthusiasm. So try and surround yourself with people who care about what they do everyday.
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