How do you balance user requests with optimal design? How do you balance your work life with your personal life? What is your marathon PR?
Lots of balancing! Balancing effectively summarizes the job of a PM.
Balancing user requests v. optimal design
I pay much closer attention to the user's pain (vs. the user's request). Abstracting the problems we’re trying to solve creates room for the team to take in further context (per the four lenses mentioned above) and come up with creative, innovative solutions that can also be validated and iterated on along the way. I also know I am not a design expert. I have been so fortunate to have had excellent UX partners to work with.
Balancing work life with personal life… marathon PR
I learned early on that I was not my best self when I was burnt out. Fortunately, before, during, and after business school, I’ve taken the time to reflect on my values and how I ideally would be allocating my time. Nowadays, I have strong boundaries that help me feel connected with the people I care about and fulfilled in my personal life (whether that be training for my next triathlon or going hiking up to NH for the weekend). Fortunately, I don’t have to try so hard because the leadership team and my colleagues at HubSpot are very supportive and respectful of enabling HubSpotters to be at their best.
My marathon PR is 3:04. Hopefully one day I’ll break 3!
User requests are the kind of thing you should always be monitoring, but always consider in the context of your overall behavioral metrics and product strategy before reacting. A good phrase is to "take feedback seriously, not literally." You might be receiving very skewed data in user requests. There could be a selection bias in the customers who write feedback or leave reviews. The needs of your loudest power users might not match the most important problems and opportunities for your overall user base. What people do and say also tend to be different. So the trick is always going to be to take the signal from the feedback request, discover the problem behind any suggested solution, and then extrapolate and compare that problem to the needs of your overall customer base and product goals.
Work-life balance: One way I like to think about it is that you should strive for a fulfilling personal live and a fulfilling work life, and not so much count hours or aim for a specific "optimal balance" between the two. Some months you may work more hours to accomplish something really amazing. At other times, the right call is to prioritize your social connections, your family, your friends, or your personal passions. I've also learned to respect other people's work boundaries over the years. Not everyone will be equally committed to "do whatever it takes" in the workplace in any given month, and that's OK. There have been times when I've hit my limit in terms of stress/burnout and had to adjust and this has given me some empathy and perspective.
Running: I've only run 2 marathons, and my best time was in the 3hrs 20-some minutes. I kind of crashed in the last 2-3 miles and missed the Boston qualifying time for my age group. This year I'm trying to finally lose my COVID weight and run a 40 mile trail run over 2 days, but it's more about finishing (and enjoying the mountain) than clocking a good time.