LEGO unicorn toy (Photo by Inês Pimentel on Unsplash)

Being a product manager at a growing startup means that I spend time reading in order to do my job. I read a lot. Most of the reading is centered around techniques for talking to customers, product strategy, and learning about data modeling.

But today I read an article called Give Away Your LEGOs: and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups. It’s based on the experiences of Molly Graham, who’s worked at Google, Facebook, and Quip. …

Two people cycling down busy street. Photo by Adrian Williams on Unsplash

Outputs and outcomes are used frequently in both product management and research to understand how people are using a product or service. We often say that we want to focus on outcomes and not outputs, as outputs can be misleading, un-impactful, or even harmful.

What‘s the difference between an output and an outcome?

An output is a measurement of what has been created.

An outcome is the level of performance or achievement that occurred based on what was created.

How to plan for outcomes

It’s easy to get caught up in solution based thinking as you’re trying to get work done because it initially feels faster.

But focusing on outcomes, rather than output, helps…

Picture of board with post-its and research notes. Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

The research paradox

Life is full of unknowns. And that’s why I’ve always been amazed when companies think of research as an afterthought. For all the guarantees and assurances they claimed to want, there was rarely an understanding that talking directly to people might actually help clarify and narrow down ideas.

Instead, there was often a false sense of security around analytics. Quantitative data was valued over qualitative. This imbalance made teams devalue the most important thing about customers—the fact that they’re human and have a lot of context around why, how, and when they make decisions.

In my last company, a co-worker…

It’s the end of the year and that means it’s time to dig deep and really come to terms with what you’ve done and who you are. I’m talking about looking into that self-awareness mirror and not shying away from the horror staring back at you.

Or, you know, just doing a check-in to see how your year went and then having some chocolate because you’re an adult and you deserve it.

Here’s my 2018 retrospective, a great idea that I stole from my friend Nate.

I usually keep these retrospectives to myself, but am posting it here this year…

Gatsby is a React-based site generator that creates some of the fastest websites you’ve ever seen. Go ahead and blink—I dare you! It’s a framework that not only helps people create super fast websites, but it’s also a great equalizer of the web. Think about it: if you’re in an area that has 3G internet, many sites can take about 15 seconds to load, if they even load at all. Thanks to Gatsby’s performance-first architecture, the same site can be on-screen in less than 3 seconds. So Gatsby can really bring the information to everyone.

Gatsby is also open source…

Investment is a funny thing. We’re basically putting something, money, time, whatever, into a little box and saying, “Hey, if I leave you here you’re going to grow and be even more tomorrow.” Technically, investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”

And this is such an odd line of reasoning because it requires us to make such so many mental leaps — from logically reasoning out the future, to imagining a future we haven’t seen, to calculating value and loss. …

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t be perfect. I’d dedicated myself to writing every day, and after two days, I already messed up.

This time though, it wasn’t from procrastination. Instead, I’d been doing so many things that I just forgot.

I remembered almost at midnight that I’d read it on the calendar that morning, opened my email to “just check”, went to work, had friends over, and before i knew it, it was midnight.

Now, I could’ve done a few things after realizing that I’d messed up. A few years ago, I would’ve beat myself…

I woke up today, sat down at my computer, and was convinced I was going to write something thoughtful, meaningful, and deep. I was going to talk about politics on the global stage, I was going to tackle gun violence, I was going to discuss the complexities of building mobility into urban spaces.

I stared at my computer for about 45 minutes, typed a few words, deleted those words and started over again. This happened roughly 20 times. …

I’ve had a few new beginnings in my life, both personally and professionally. And it seems that every couple of years I go for a hard reset on what I do and how I define myself.

I’ve desperately tried not to do this, but my mind won’t sit still and I’ve always got this, “only one life” mentality nagging at me to do things better than I did the day before or the week before or the year before. Sometimes that voice gets loud. And it refuses to go away.

So after a few years redefining my skillset and industry…

So, I’m trying to grow my email list. Which, for me, is a lot like the hell that Sisyphus was forced to live. If you don’t know who that is, here’s a quick little animation for you. Sisyphus, the eternally punished, got to roll this boulder up a hill, get it to almost the tippy top, only to lose his footing and watch it roll back down again. Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

This is what growing my email list feels like. More or less.

And for all of you working on this, too, I know you get pretty excited…

Marisa Morby

See more of my work at

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