Interview with Rich Mironov

RichMironov-smTo bring additional perspectives to the intersection of leadership and parenting, I interview talented professionals who are also parents. This month’s interview is with Rich Mironov, author of The Art of Product Management, consultant to tech companies, blogger, husband, and father. He will now tell you more about himself and his views on leadership and parenting.

1) Tell us about yourself.

I’ve spent thirty years in Silicon Valley, mostly in software product management and B2B tech startups. Lately, I’m consult on software product management, agile and business models – splitting my time between startups and big companies.

Back in 2001, I started writing Product Bytes, a series of articles on software, start-ups, product strategies, Silicon Valley, and the inner life of product managers. I compiled my favorite Product Bytes from 2001-2008 into a book, “The Art of Product Management.

I also founded the first P-Camp, now spreading worldwide as Product Camps. These semi-unstructured get-togethers provide product managers and product marketers an opportunity to network, teach, learn and share.

I met my sweetheart at Stanford Business School, and we’ve taken turns on high-risk ventures (limit: one startup at a time per household!) – and being primary parent to our daughter.

2) You’ve been blogging for many years, and back in 2003 you wrote a great post titled, Parenting and the Art of Product Management. What inspired you to write this post?

My daughter (of whom I’m inordinately proud) was 12 and doing her first startup, and it had been obvious to me for a long time that managing grown-ups at the office was a lot like raising kids. In particular, that kids depend on their parents to plan for the long term (college), to insist on unpleasant but necessary things (vaccinations, homework), and to protect them from predictable disasters (toddling across the highway). Product management maps surprisingly well to this, since most functional contributors live in the very short term (sales reps, agile development teams).

3) What three adjectives do you think describe the best leaders? The best parents?

Leaders: inspiring, practical, humane

Parents: supportive, loving, honest

4) What skill or best practice have you used both as a leader and a parent? What challenge were you facing at the time, and what did you learn?

Anticipating and countering short-term thinking. At the office, this is the bad excuse (“just this once, let’s skip our normal QA/regression testing”) or precedent-setting one-off request (“I need this special discount to close an end-of-quarter deal with an important customer, but won’t ever ask you for special pricing again”) or magical thinking (“can’t we add one more thing onto the roadmap without delaying anyting?”) . At home, these sound like “I don’t feel like going to soccer practice today” or “I’ll eat my vegetables tomorrow” or “I re-e-e-eally need that new iPad.” Small decisions have consequences, and you have to decide which issues are worth standing your ground for.

5) Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Raising a child has made me a better manager.  I try to identify my employees’ unique skills, support their aspirations while getting the immediate job done, and mentor them for long-term success. I feel parental pride when they go on to do great things elsewhere.

Thank you, Rich, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! Dr. Madeline Levine, a child psychologist and author, also promotes the idea of taking a long term view of what’s right for children. Short-term thinking can have a negative impact on future goals, whether that is raising a healthy, successful child or exceeding that 3-year business plan. It’s great to see you taking the long term view, both at home and work.


© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

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