TBPP2013: Adrian Jank on “Getting to Here”

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a segments of a Q and A session I had with Adrian — and shedding some light onto why Adrian is truly The Best Product Person of 2013. Getting to here...

TBPP2013_alt-abrv-114What makes The Best Product Person person of 2013 tick?

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing segments of a Q&A session I had with Adrian Jank  — and shedding some light onto just exactly what makes Adrian truly The Best Product Person of 2013.

Getting to Here…

> What key people helped shape you into the product manager you are today?

TBPP-Winner-2013Roger McAulay: In my first true product management role I was fortunate enough to work with a great CTO who really taught me how to build relationship building throughout the organization and how to make my relationships with developers more impactful. I’ve taken with me throughout my career. I’ve been able to take that philosophy and apply it across functional areas (marketing, design, executives, etc). 

Gothelf/Will Evans: Both are the thought leaders in the Lean UX. I was lucky enough to be on one of the first teams to be practicing Lean UX. The team itself was a hypothesis and it forced all of us out of our comfort zones and silos. It forced me to become a better facilitator. Product Management became less about owning the customer and creating ideas. Instead it became more about representing the customer and navigating the team towards potential value.

Growing Up Military: Another key attribute, there isn’t really a person attributed to it, that has shaped my career is how I grew up. My dad was in the Military. I moved around a lot and was exposed to a lot of different experiences and ecosystems. Learning how to get past being the new kid really taught be a lot about being empathetic. Empathy is a key trait in great product managers. Not to mention moving in the Military teaches you how to prioritize. Imagine being a kid and being told you get to fill one box(not a big one either) that will arrive within a few days after you move, all the other stuff you want will come 3-6 weeks later! 

> How did you decide to become a product manager?

After 1 semester of CS and calculus I realized programming wasn’t for me. However I knew I wanted to be in technology, and I enjoyed working with people. I changed my major and focused more on project management. Eventually this led me to  NYC and a hybrid project management/product management role at a startup. I quickly realized I loved the process of interacting with  people and defining the solution that this role afforded me. I decided this was my career.  This was before the startup craze hit New York City and no one really knew what a Product Manager.

I eventually turned this into my first full fledged product management role at a startup. I was green, but threw myself in it and loved it from the minute I got started and I’ve been a product manager ever since.\

> What inspires you in your day-to-day work?

Right now its knowing that I could latch on to a big enough problem that I can really make an impact in someone’s life. Healthcare is such a personal experience, and the ecosystem is finally ready to let technology help make healthcare a better experience for everyone.

Also the joy of getting to build something from scratch with a fairly blank agenda. Unless you are founding your own company, it’s rare when you get these types of opportunities. It’s really pushing my own capabilities and allowing me to experiment with my own practice of Lean.

Nominate TBPP 2014 Today! Gift Cards - In a Gift Box - Free One-Day ShippingThank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nomination period for The Best Product Person of 2014 has begun! The individual who first nominates TBPP is also awarded! Nominate your pick for The Best Product Person right now!

Stay Tuned

Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Adrian Jank, The Best Product Person of 2013!

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring The Best Product Person of 2013, or any other of the upcoming product person interviews, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

And, don’t forget, take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2013: Adrian Jank. (tweet)


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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