Living Life Lean

Stupid-Book"A lot of people thought it sounded stupid … " — Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter
"Everything I do people think is stupid." — Seth Godin, Bestselling Author

By such a definition of "stupid," I’ve done many "stupid" things in my life.

  • Beginning my first startup before I graduated university,
  • Establishing consumer protections in the advertising market,
  • Pushing TV and entertainment content organizations toward a more open, transparent, and available distribution channels,
  • Launching The Product Group (and The Product Jobs, and The Product Mentor, and The Product View),
  • And, and, and.

I’ve never thought of these as "stupid." With my long product management background, and experiences in agile and lean methodology, I have most often described my life approach as that of a lean philosophy (methodology). I have always lived my life and made decisions … to just START and TRY. Start with the minimum viable experiment, act, learn, improve, repeat. What a wonderful way to describe a lean life to the product management uninitiated, "start something stupid."

Start Stupid

This usage of "stupid" comes from a pre-release book I recently received and read. The book is called "The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live without Regret" by Richie Norton. This theme is best exemplified by the 2 earlier quotes.

In this sense, I have lived my life doing one "stupid" thing after another. Some quite successful, others awkward lessons in the long road of life. I appreciated Richie’s refreshing take on living life for success, being effective, and overcoming paralyzing procrastination. For anyone seeking to be more productive, to applying lean principles to their life, to more efficiently experimenting and building upon lessons learned, this book is for you.

Lean Stupid

While I have never thought of these decisions in terms of "stupid", Richie’s provocative style and storytelling, may be just the thing to help spur a whole new segment of people to Do. Whether you call it "stupid" or "lean living", the core principles persist…

  1. Eliminate waste
  2. Amplify learning
  3. Decide as late as possible
  4. Deliver as fast as possible
  5. Empower
  6. Build integrity in
  7. See the whole

If you are seeking a fresh and exciting kick to jump start yourself and success or wondering what it might be like to apply lean methodology to living better…

Go start something stupid. Live life Leaner. Enjoy the read!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

About these ads

#LeanNYC 2013

lsm Starting on Friday, and running for the past 3 days in NYC on the 17th floor of a building near 37th Street within the AlleyNYC space, Lean Startup Machine and 100+ awesome product people, worked together, innovated, iterated, and had a blast! And, this year, I was fortunate to have been a mentor at the event, worked with and met many great minds and made many new friends.

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What is Lean Startup Machine?

Lean Startup Machine is a competitive three-day workshop where you learn how to apply Lean Startup methodologies in the real world. This is not about writing code–but building things that people want.

Hope to see you at a future event. And, can’t wait to do my next one!


theproductgroup_logo_2010_FINAL In the meantime, looking forward to seeing everyone at the next meetup of The Product Group on March 7th, with Featured Product: Vitogo!

TPM-Short3-Logo And, don’t forget to sign-up to be a product manager mentor or mentee at today!


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Perspectives: Product Management Advice from Jeremy Horn

As we look towards 2013 and the future of product management, I thought it would be a good moment to post an interview I participated in earlier in the year.  As you look towards 2013 and beyond, what product business models will prove out most successful?  What new product management trends do you expect to see?

Re-blogged from an interview earlier in the year on Openview Labs

Over the course of more than a decade in the Internet industry, Jeremy Horn has witnessed some pretty seismic shifts in the constantly evolving technology landscape.

One that he’s particularly happy to see is this emerging trend: Companies are no longer afraid to ask customers to pay for their products.

“That’s a pretty important change in perspective,” says Horn, a Senior Director of Digital Products at Viacom and the creator of The Product Guy blog and The Product Group, a New York City-based product meetup with more than 1,900 members. “Whether customers admit it or not, if they’re not paying for a product, they’re not married to it or invested in it. When they commit to it financially, however, it’s a different story.”

Slowly but surely, that shift in thinking has permeated Internet startups, Horn says, encouraging entrepreneurs to quickly demonstrate and deliver value to paying customers, rather than users who might just be kicking tires.

Horn sat down with OpenView for a brief Q&A to talk about why that change has made the concept of the minimum viable product more important than ever, and what advice he would give to startup founders who are trying to get their ideas airborne.

A lot of entrepreneurs spend months or years trying to develop a perfect product. Why do you think that approach and the search for perfection are counterintuitive?

I think building a software company is about three key things: Figuring out who your target customer is, deciding what you’re trying to deliver to them, and choosing how you’re going to get it in their hands. Those are the questions that tend to eat up a lot of an entrepreneur’s early days.

Once you’ve answered those questions, you shouldn’t waste any time building and delivering a minimum viable product. You might fail and you might be embarrassed by what early customers think about your product, but those are two very worthwhile side effects. By exposing your product to your target market, you’re able to test its usability, acquire feedback, and build something better.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid of losing early customers because your product has bugs or because it isn’t yet perfect. Yes, you may lose customers because of some early bugs. But those lost customers will also allow you to gain critical knowledge about what the market wants, what features you should deliver, and where your product should be going. In a way, the value of that information is addition by subtraction.

Why isn’t the freemium model a successful means for accomplishing the same goals?

It’s simple, really. When customers aren’t paying for something, they don’t care as much when it doesn’t work. Ultimately, that means that you aren’t going to get good, real-time feedback that can help you build a better, more responsive product in the future.

Additionally, if you don’t charge for your product, what does that say about it? Unfortunately, customers associate free products with lower quality, viewing them as substitutes for higher quality, more valuable alternatives. So, when users finally decide that a free product isn’t doing the trick anymore, guess where they’re going to turn?

When you charge for your software, you’re assigning a value to it. You’re telling customers that your product’s value is justified by its capabilities — like unique features, fantastic customer support, groundbreaking technology, or superior user experience.

Why is it so critical for startups to establish key metrics and how does lean methodology factor into early stage product management?

The old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is applicable to virtually any online startup. I firmly believe that you can’t drive a product by gut feeling. You have to measure your progress, monitor your missteps, and mark your course, using all of that information to make relevant, meaningful improvements to your product strategy. If you’re not doing any of that, how can you be sure that the things you’re doing are driving the business in the right direction?

As for lean methodology, it ultimately helps businesses measure the value that they want to permeate throughout their companies. It’s a way to develop hypotheses, test them, iterate, and repeat until progress is made toward a key goal. Every company executes product management a little bit differently; some prefer lean methodology, while others might favor product sprints or Kanban. A startup founder or product manager’s goal should be to find the one that works for his or her team and make sure everyone adopts it.

The Product Guy: Astonishin’ in 2010!


Wow! Another year of The Product Guy is now coming to a close… an awesomely astonishin’ 2010! Together we explored many exciting products and enjoyed the perspectives from very smart guest bloggers, from startups to user experience to modular innovation and more — all while getting to meat and speak with many of The Product Guy’s steadily growing readership.

And, once again, let’s take a brief look at the top posts that made this year on The Product Guy so awesomely astonishin’…

#10 Stribe to be Instantly More Social

Recently, The Product Guy had the opportunity to interview Kamel Zeroual, CEO of Stribe — Gold prize winner at Le Web ‘09. And he covered topics ranging from this Paris-based startup’s origins to where it is going and how it is planning to get there.


#9 brainmates Interview with The Product Guy

Two weeks ago I was interviewed by Janey Wong over at brainmates for their brainrants blog. We touched on some really good Product Management topics in which I think you would be interested.

So, here it is, reblogged straight from Australia…


#8 Why Startups are Agile and Opportunistic – Pivoting the Business Model

Startups are inherently chaotic. The rapid shifts in the business model is what differentiates a startup from an established company. Pivots are the essence of entrepreneurship and the key to startup success. If you can’t pivot or pivot quickly, chances are you will fail.


#7 Quick-MI Worksheet: Spreadsheet to Sustained Online Success

Over the past few years I’ve been discussing Quick-MI. Now, through the help of Google Docs, I’m sharing the Quick MI Worksheet to make it even easier for you to apply Quick-MI to your products, track progress, and share the results with your team. The Quick-MI Worksheet automatically performs all the necessary calculations and summarizes the product for you.

#6 Modular Innovation 201

The products and concepts that constitute Modular Innovation are those that connect, enable, produce, enhance, extend, and make use of these relationships and, in turn, users’ online experiences with them. Let’s get to understand them better.


#5 Facebook PDQ

In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Page Load plays an instrumental part. Facebook is one such excellent example of a web product with Prompt Page Load Time.


#4 Automating the Path to a Better User Experience

Quick-UX evaluates the degree to which a product successfully addresses the following 3 questions: Can I use it? (Usability), Should I use it? (Usefulness), and Do I want to use it? (Desirability). Now, through the help of Google Docs, as I did the other week with the release of the Quick-MI Worksheet, I’m sharing the Quick-UX Worksheet to make it even easier and faster …


#3 jQuery ThreeDots: yayQuery Plugin of the Week!

I’ve been a fan of yayQuery since shortly after their initial podcast episode. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise and elation when I heard them announce that my ThreeDots plugin was this week’s jQuery Plugin of the Week… almost falling down the stairs as I listened this past Friday while entering the subway here in NYC.


#2 jQuery Plugin: CuteTime, C’est Magnifique! (v 1.1) [UPDATE]

I am very pleased to announce the latest major update to the CuteTime jQuery plugin. CuteTime provides the ability to easily: convert timestamps to ‘cuter’ language-styled forms (e.g. yesterday, 2 hours ago, last year, in the future!), customize the time scales and output formatting, and update automatically and/or manually the displayed CuteTime(s).

In addition to the inclusion of French CuteTime in this latest release, version 1.1 features: ISO8601 date timestamp compliance, insertions using the %CT% pattern of computed numbers within the CuteTime cuteness, support for all foreign language characters and HTML, Spanish CuteTime translations, courtesy of Alex Hernandez, richer demos and test, improved settings flexibility of the CuteTime function, documentation updates (corrections and clarifications).


#1 jQuery Plugin: Give Your Characters a NobleCount

In my quest I have been on the lookout for a jQuery plugin that would provide the ability to: (1) provide real-time character counts, (2) enable easy to customize visual behaviors, and … While there are other similar tools out there, none adequately met these goals. Therefore, I created the jQuery NobleCount plugin.




This year The Product Group grew beyond all possible expectations! Now with 600+ active members in NYC we Product People of all sorts and levels of experience to meet, interact, and network, in a laid-back, conversational environment on first Thursday of each month. Thank you to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios, RYMA Technology, and Sunshine Suites, and to every one of you who attend, engage and help make The Product Group the astonishin’ success it has become!

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Happy New Year!

Jeremy Horn 
The Product Guy

Getting Lean, Engaging Yipit & the Games are Afoot in November!


A big thank you to everyone who made it to our latest roundtable meet-up of The Product Group, as well as to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios, Sunshine Suites, and Ryma Technology Solutions.

IMG_0705 Over the course of the night a few of the highlights were…


Featured Product: Yipit
exploring the product, exploring the product, its challenges and successes, from growing organically to exploring alternate business models
(thanks to Yipit Product Person: Vin Vacanti)

Minimum Viable Product
from misconceptions to lean methodology
(thanks to Guest Expert: Joe Chin of SourcePad)

The Product Group meet-ups are an opportunity for Product People (managers, strategists, marketers, etc.) to come together to meet, interact, and network in a roundtable setting. It’s awesome to meet fellow Product People in a laid-back, conversational gathering.

IMG_0715 If you are a Product Person who would like to have your product or methodology featured at an upcoming meetup of The Product Group, contact me.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our next meetup …

  Thursday, November 4th @ 7PM
@ Pace (163 William Street, 2nd Floor, NYC)

And, stay tuned for more announcements about November’s Featured Product.

If you would like to attend our next meet-up, RSVP today or visit our group webpage at…


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

P.S. Interested in becoming a sponsor or host of The Product Group? contact me.