Life

I Didn’t Eat Red Meat or Poultry for One Year

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Each year, I try to give myself a very hard challenge that I don’t fully believe I can fulfill. It’s not really a New Years resolution because I typically start the challenges between February and March. Plus, I feel like New Years resolutions are often people giving up or doing things to improve themselves versus just doing it for the hell of it.

This year, I chose to give up all red meat and poultry. Big deal? Yes, huge. I’ve been eating meat since… forever. I fucking love a good hamburger. Making chicken parmesan is part of my heritage. Bacon is one key to my heart (apart from Chocolate). Up to this point, this has probably been the more painful challenge I’ve given myself. On average, I’d eat meat in some form or fashion 6.5/7 days of the week. I tried to have meat with every meal as a good source of protein to balance my diet out.

So why choose meat? Truth be told, my girlfriend told me a very sad story about two Canadian Geese trying to cross a road in our home town Fort Collins, Colorado. Typically, people in our town slow down or stop altogether to let the geese cross because we’re a fairly humane species. Except on this day, as the mated couple of geese tried to cross the road, a car went out of its way and swerved to hit one of the geese. It struck one of the geese and killed it immediately. The other geese was its mate. My girlfriend got out of her car and pulled the dead geese off to the side of the road while its mate followed, crying out for it. As my girlfriend sat there, she saw how much pain the geese was in. It kept nudging its dead partner to try and move and wake up. It almost yelled at the cars in anger and sadness. I guess we’re not all humane.

I was very sad and moved after hearing the story. For those of you that don’t know, Canadian Geese mate for life. This means that if their partner is injured, it will stay by its side. I know what it’s like to lose someone that close to you and it sucks. I can sympathize. After hearing this story, it took me down a brief path of wondering not only how often this sort of stuff happens on a daily basis but how we treat our animal friends – domestic or not. At the end of the day, we’re all on this planet together sharing the same resources. Might as well be friendly to each other, right? It was then that I got the idea of trying to give up red meat and poultry for the year as my challenge. As a quirky tribute, at least I could give it a shot.


One year later and I’ve succeeded!

It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. I’ve lost about 10 pounds all together (multiple factors though). I had to learn a lot about different styles of cooking, how to not cook with meat, where to get protein, etc. Many thanks to my girlfriend for helping me with recipes! To be honest, I haven’t really notice a difference in terms of health so nothing big to report there. I feel like I have more energy but there could be 100’s of factors contributing to that. What I do know is that I do eat much healthier now due to me having to really focus on how to get protein from different sources, other than meat. This means things like fish (lean), beans (smelly), avocados (2.9g), or even protein shakes. This different way of thinking has led towards a more lean, healthy, and “clean” diet (whatever that means) that I think has helped.

But! That’s not why I did this in the first place. You’ll notice though that I still eat fish which makes me a pescetarian. I chose to continue to eat fish as it was a good source of protein and I just wasn’t ready to commit to giving up all meat at once. This was a big change to begin with already! That said, when I did eat fish, I always tried to get it wild caught so that at least I gave myself the impression I was doing good. Someday I’ll give that up too.


At this point, I’ll be continuing to exclude red meat and poultry from my diet. Now that the challenge is over, I may dabble back and forth but I haven’t decided yet. As for my next yearly challenge… I was able to decide on one late January and god was it a tough decision…

I’m not going to drink beer for an entire year.

Yep. For those of you that don’t know me, I fucking love beer. I grew up in Fort Collins, the craft brewery capital of the USA. For this year, there’s actually no real good reason why I’m giving it up. No sob story or religious reason. Towards the end of January I started to think about what would be another really hard thing to give up. I floated the idea of no beer, said “Hah, yeah right. That’s dumb, never giving that up”. Then I said fuck it and haven’t had a beer since then. Cider doesn’t count. Why do it? Why not?

Best Product Management Interview Questions I’ve Been Asked

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If I’m counting correctly, I’ve interviewed in the ball park of 30-35 different companies for different roles, often times doing multiple rounds of interviews. Of these, around 26 of them have been for product manager roles in varying capacities, from typical product manager roles to director or principle product positions. I’ve been asked some god awful questions (such as stupid challenge/trick questions) to exceptionally great and hard questions. I’ve done extremely well in some and felt great about the outcome, others I’ve felt like shit and totally bombed.

Over the years, these are the questions that have stood out to me the most as great questions to ask at each of the different interview stages. Note that this isn’t meant to be a full comprehensive list, just the ones I personally felt to be the right questions to be asking.

Phone Screening/1st Round

Why our company? What caught your eye? I like this questions specifically because it shows why a candidate is interviewing there in the first place. Are they here for a paycheck or do they actually have some passion about the problem space?

What do you see as a challenge in this industry? Even if the candidate doesn’t have a great grasp on the industry just yet, what you’re looking for here is if they have opinions about what may be hard. For example, a candidate might say that data collection for a certain vertical is hard and follow up with why they believe that. This shows that they did some research, can hold an opinion, and are genuinely curious about the problem space.

In-Person/Onsite

Describe to me a product you love and how you would improve it. For me, the best results of this have been when the candidate whiteboards this out. I find this question interesting because you get to see how they generate solutions on the fly to things they see problematic.

Let’s say you have a Kindle. You buy a book and then read it. Draw what that process looks like. There are no right answers to this question but very wrong ones. This is best captured on a whiteboard. As an interviewer, the best results is to sit back for 5-7 minutes and just let the candidate go at it without any help from you. Be silent. This questions helps show how a candidate views problems, maps them out, and works through different scenarios.

For example, to answer part of the question the candidate would probably think about things such as handling authentication, book delivery, book recommendations, email confirmation, etc. The candidate then may question how exactly do you deliver that book. Where does the book come from? When we deliver it to the Kindle, what other information are we passing down? Where does that information come from? It’s an exercise that shows how someone goes about problem solving, what their logic process is, and where they are strong/weak at.

What do you do in your spare time? What sort of personal projects are you working on? It’s good to know whether or not a candidate has outside interests and if they have a drive to continually learn.

What books are you reading right now? What do you enjoy reading about? More of a personality question but, much like the previous question, this is a good way to understand who the candidate really is. What interests them? Do they like to learn? What areas of personal growth are they focusing on?

Second/Final Rounds

We have this problem in our company. How would you solve it? One of my favorite things to do is whiteboard with people. I enjoy problem solving and find this question to be great for both parties to get a feel for how each other work.

As a candidate, I want to see what you’re like when I challenge your opinions, suggest new ideas, and how we would work together to solve problems. As an interview, I receive the same benefits but also get to see how you problem solve on your feet.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you think you want to end up? Lots of companies look for ambitious product managers who want to learn, grow, and progress their career.

Take a walk with the candidate. This isn’t really a question but more of a personality filter. Get them out of the office, have them relax a little bit, and see what they’re all about. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time with someone, make sure it’s someone who you can be comfortable with.


There isn’t one way to interview candidates and every company or person has their own flavor for figuring out whether or not they fit. Some require presenting a roadmap, others weigh personal history and background.

What questions were you asked that you felt to be the “right ones?”

 

How to Handle Failure

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I’m fairly qualified to talk about this subject. I’ve failed at many things. Lots of things. In many different subjects. I’ve failed at businesses (4), failed at client projects (3), failed at school tests (5), failed at relationships (10+), failed at jobs (2), failed at delivering features (1), failed at winning (100s+),  failed at interviews (2), failed at being a friend (5), and have failed on countless other areas. Both big and small.

I don’t like losing and I especially don’t like failing. I find it incredibly painful, take it very personally, and very seriously. I’ve been a competitor my whole life and failing is something that I’ve never gotten used to, and never want to get used to.

Failure sucks but it is inevitable and crucial for learning. While there are different ways of failing or handling “graceful degradation”, I’ll only explain how I know how to handle failure.


Failure Means That it’s Already Here.

I used to beat myself significantly to the point where I’d be depressed. I hated it. However, I’ve changed my thought process to realizing that if I’ve hit the point of failing, that I cannot change the failure in that moment. The moment is already here and it’s going to suck. I’ve changed my thought process to accepting that the failure is here versus a continuous blame, sadness, and depression. Instead of running from it, I face it. By doing this, it doesn’t prolong the failure and gets you back into a state of problem solving faster. You start saying “I’ve failed. What’s next? Where can I go from here?” instead of drowning in anxiety and clouded thoughts.

Handling Failure Starts with Saying “It’s Ok”

I always felt like everything I touched or did had to be successful. I still feel that way. When things don’t go the way I expect it I now shift my thoughts towards acceptance. If a failure has happened and I’ve accepted that I can’t change the past, then I accept that it’s ok that the failure happened. Accepting it helps bring in the realization that you cannot change the past.

Focus on What’s Next

Being positive helps in any situation – especially in failures. There’s no point in dwelling in the past, especially if it’s in a business setting. If speed is of the essence, then you need to refocus and course correct. I start thinking about where the options are, what are the different possibilities with different outcomes, which outcome do I think is most favorable, and how can we get to a better resolution faster. I find it helps incredibly to constantly think about what’s next in a positive format because the options will present themselves much more clearly than if I hold in anxiety and think about the now.

Retrospective

Once the worst has past, I take some personal time away from the situation (personal or professional) to think about what led up to the problem. The best way to approach this is by playing the blame game but approaching the problems from a pragmatic approach. This includes yourself. I’ve found many times that I can trace back actions that I’ve made as major contributors to failures which helps inform me of future improvements.

This Too Shall Pass

Remember, we’re on a pale blue dot in the vast cosmic sea. Failures may feel painful while in the present but always feel less painful afterwards. All failures will pass as long as you let them pass. It’s critical that you don’t hold on to them as it will hurt you, cloud your thoughts, and make it challenging to find the next steps. In the scheme of life, the failure is small and insignificant.