Oct 26, 2023
While working on my book and talking to people, I discovered many people seek answers. Even with lots of books and videos, some folks still feel lost.
Why can't they find what they need?
From my podcast chats, I learned many have similar stories on how they started to lead the life they want. They tried different things and thought, "Maybe there's a better way."
This feeling isn’t from books. It's from real-life experiences and learning from mistakes. The big question is, how do we make things that really work?
How do we make stuff that works? I'll tell you my story and why it's important to know how to make a product from the start to the finish.
The Starting Point - My unique value proposition
When making something new, you need two things:
What People Need - By talking to people and understanding what they're missing, we can create something that helps.
What Only You Can Do - Think about what makes you different.
I began to wonder: what can I give that's special? Lots of people wanted guides, frameworks and tools. But that's not how I learned. I learned by being in the dirt, trying things out, and seeing what failed and worked. It was like an experimentation journey.
I want others to feel what I felt when I first learned about making products. It's a fantastic feeling. That's why I love building things.
The best thing for any job? Learn to make a product from A to Z.
My Story: From Advice to Action
I started my career as a consultant. That was the logical choice coming out of university. After a few years, I had the entrepreneur dream started to grow in me.
I had to decide: keep giving advice or do something different.
Even though I liked being a consultant, my future was already planned. I didn't want to give advice and then leave. I wanted more. I wanted to see and feel the results of my work.
There was a nagging feeling.
Around that time, I noticed something exciting. Every day, new small companies called startups were popping up. They were different and had fresh ideas. It felt like everyone was talking about them!
I didn't just want any job. I wanted to be part of this new world. I wanted to make things that everyone would use and love.
Learning to build cool stuff
One weekend, I joined a special event called a "lean startup weekend." People were talking a lot about this new way of starting companies.
I remember showing up on a Saturday in Quebec. We were told: make a new company in two days! By Sunday afternoon, we had to think of an idea, validate it, and have a solution. An intense weekend.
We split into groups and began brainstorming. One group member proposed a schedule for parents to plan activities with their kids. We wrote down what we needed to check to see if our idea was good. Then, we faced our first big test: we had to go outside and talk to real people about our idea!
Imagine this: four guys looking for families, talking to parents about how they planned activities with their kids. Sounds dodgy.
This was my first big lesson in the journey.
If you can't find your users/customers to talk to, how do you expect to sell to them?
So, we thought of a new idea about connecting people to places to eat. This time, it worked better!
With the morning's failure in mind, we hit the street again and approached people. With another team member, we decided to go to the busiest street in the city and interview people.
The goal was not to validate the idea with a simple yes. It was also to get some currency (money, email, phone number).
At each encounter, we refined our pitch.
Someone asked us for the name of the company. We didn't have one and made one of the spots after being rejected.
A guy was unsure about giving his number, but his girlfriend did because she liked the idea. He was stunned by her, and we were also.
The night continued, and we discovered the power of "Getting out of the building".
By the end of the weekend, we got some money from a kind person who liked our idea. We didn't win the event, but I learned so much. I understood the concept of traction.
From that weekend, I discovered how fun and exciting it was to create something new. It made me want to learn more and more about building products. I did something completely out of my comfort zone. And that's how I fell into it. I started my journey of making things.
This is just one of my product stories. Another one of my experiences can be read by following this link: One of my first entrepreneurial stories.
Today's Landscape in Product
Launching a product as a PM, indie hacker or founder is exciting and rewarding.
Yet, the discussions happening online are about frameworks, growth and prioritization. Those are important points. In the last decade, we have improved at building products and structuring our work.
I have the feeling of politics. Are we learning to be good politicians? Can we walk the talk and talk the walk?
Sometimes, unfortunately, we romanticise the process. We fall in love with what we are doing and forget that what matters is that we deliver.
The world is moving fast, and nobody is waiting for us. Our customers are changing. Our competition, the technology and what we are expecting is changing.
While debating the best features or templates, the world is moving. Finally, with experience, you understand no recipe no silver bullet exists. We can build methods and new processes. Yet, we know we are dependent on the context. We should always think about how to make the best things next.
This is why I want to go back to basics.
I want to talk about the simple, main steps of making products. It's about understanding the basics first. This is how I started in this world. I learned, tried, and saw what worked.
It is what saved me many times. It is what brought me here. It is what built my career.
Why should you care?
Imagine you are a founder, engineer, aspiring or experienced PM. Or maybe you're just curious. Whatever the situation, it will come down to your mindset when designing and delivering a product.
Companies are going back to basics and trying to implement a startup culture.
What I want to do with the series "Building a Product from A to Z" is reconnect with Product Roots.
I want to talk about the simple, core ideas of making products. It's like remembering the base ingredients of a dish before adding all the fancy toppings.
That was my path to product. And if it worked for me, it can work for you.
I worked years and years on the basics in an attempt to master the foundation of product.
My upcoming posts will be like a guide on making a product, step by step. I'm super excited to share!
I'm excited about it, and it'll help many people.
One last Task
Before we end, I have some fun tasks for you!
First, learn more about yourself. Check out this article: Productize Oneself.
Next, ask yourself: "Why do I want to build something?"
There is no bad reason for it. As said before, we all have our journey. Why we do it is something that only matters to us.
The third part of the assignment: I want you to write a contract for yourself. This contract is a commitment to change the path you are on right now.
For my part, I promise to teach you all about making products from start to finish. Making something new is like a fun trip. It's important to know all the steps, from the beginning to the end.
So, to everyone reading: stick around! I've got lots of fun things to share. They'll help you learn and get better at making awesome stuff!