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Interstellar Business Show
It's okay to fail: Tristan Pennicott on learning environments
Have you ever experienced a work situation where people are pointing fingers…
And blaming each other for mistakes and problems.
Have you ever experienced a work culture where people try to shirk responsibility or shy away from building anything new.
If you said “Yes”, you’ve probably experienced a culture of blame.
A culture that has a serious and negative impact on:
The trust, innovation, cohesion, and growth of your business.
Now. here’s the good news…
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In today’s episode…
- You’ll learn why it’s important to get okay with failure in your business.
- Plus, you’ll meet a product manager at IBM Cloud and learn what a product manager really does
- Finally, you’ll get actionable steps that will help you build a learning environment for your tech team…
So you can show finally show finger pointing and blame the front door!
This week’s guest is Tristan Pennicott – Product Manager, IBM Cloud and Community Organizer
Discover show notes and links to Tristan at www.Interstellar.Show
Episode notes & resources
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Listen to more episodes here: Interstellar.Show
More about Tristan Pennicott – Product Manager, IBM Cloud and Community Organizer
Find and connect with Tristan here…
Get Andrew’s free Resources for Tech companies with teams → https://bit.ly/2Ygyoij
Join Andrew’s Interstellar Community → https://interstellarway.life/sign-up-for-newsletter/
Please note, this transcription is autogenerated, so there may be errors.
[00:00:00] Andrew Bull: Have you ever experienced a work situation where people are pointing fingers? And blaming each other for mistakes and problems. Have you ever experienced a work culture where people try to shirk responsibility? Or shy away from building anything new. If you said yes, you’ve probably experienced a culture of blame.
A culture that has a serious and negative impact on the trust innovation cohesion. And growth of your business. Now. Here’s the good news. It doesn’t have to be that way. In today’s episode, you’ll learn why it’s important to get. Okay. With failure. In your business. Plus you’ll meet a product manager at IBM cloud and learn what a product manager really does.
Finally you’ll get actionable steps that will help you build a learning environment for your tech team. So you can finally show finger pointing and blame the front door. Now, before we get started and meet our guests, please make sure you subscribe and follow us wherever you’re listening today. So you never miss an episode again.
[00:01:50] Andrew Bull: Today I’m joined by Tristan Pennicott, who is a product lead and cloud computing enthusiast.
Welcome to the show Tristan.
[00:01:59] Tristan Pennicott: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Andrew.
[00:02:01] Andrew Bull: I saw Tristan’s profile on LinkedIn and it really spoke to me because Tristan does loads of work around volunteering. And obviously he works at IBM and has a very important job there. I just thought it’d be a great opportunity to get some. On with his wealth of experience and new unique ideas to come on the show and share those with us.
What are some of the achievements that you’ve achieved so far? Tristan?
[00:02:27] Tristan Pennicott: My career trajectory, hasn’t been the traditional one where somebody finds their niche and just hammers it home and climb that ladder where I’ve started out as a data analyst. And I was doing that for about three years, had some really big accomplishments there. Pulling some awesome records and helping leads.
It was a health tech company. So with my reporting and efficiency that I helped to actually increase sales, increased targeting. So those are my first big wins of my career. I thought it was going to stay in that trajectory for basically the rest of my career. But after about three years, I made a pivot.
My background is a bit different as well. I majored in computer science as well as psychology. So two totally different majors, but I find that they helped me so much to this day. And after there I went to I basically led over three New York city buildings for a New York foundation for senior citizens.
And there I had some big wins . Revising the whole operations from the ground up. When I got in there, it was a couple of older people, so just had to re energized the system there digitized a lot of things. A lot of things were stuck on paper. So I use my data analyst skills to organize and create a database there.
So that was another big win. After that, one of my biggest wins, I went to a startup, whereas a scrappy team of about four of us. So it was myself, the CEO. The COO and the VP of marketing. And that was a great journey, a great ride where we actually ended up raising over $15 million, closing out from pre-seed to series a.
And that just taught me so much to um, and some wins outside of just the professional career, like volunteer work. My father, that’s where I got my. To give back. He’s a pastor. He has a couple of churches, Reverend Pennicott, and that’s where I learned from a young age through community work.
Meeting with mayors and other political people of influence that can really get things done. So doing things like food drives and helping young kids in the Bronx and south Bronx where my mother’s a librarian there, she’s working with other students. Give people a way, a light outside of what can really damage the black community in the south Bronx.
And we’re not. So that’s one of my bigger wins. And obviously today just working at IBM and just being a contributor in every way possible.
[00:04:38] Andrew Bull: You’re a product leader. IBM. Is that right?
[00:04:41] Tristan Pennicott: Correct, product manager we’re currently working on IBM cloud..
[00:04:43] Andrew Bull: Okay, fantastic. And have you a community of other product managers that you work alongside?
[00:04:49] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s a bit different the way product management is different from company to company. And when I got to IBM, I found that a lot of the product managers to have their own, chat, slack channel, where they communicate with bounce ideas off of one another. So it’s a big community of other product managers there.
[00:05:06] Andrew Bull: And what does a product manager actually do? Because I’m quite ignorant of what that role actually is.
[00:05:11] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, that’s a great question. Especially for anybody listening. Some people may be hearing about product management for the first time. It’s I guess you could say, as a relatively new role within came to prominence within the last 20 years, but more specific. Over the last decade or so it’s been really on fire and a lucrative career where I stumbled into it.
Working at the startup where, anything you use, think of your favorite app thinking of your favorite website, think of your favorite hardware product. Maybe it’s a S Bluetooth speaker or something like that. The product manager has to think behind that. Let’s use one of my favorite apps, Twitter, for example. They implemented things where you can have a tweet, that’s 140 characters, the product manager and the product lead there said, you know what? We need to up that to two 80. And here’s why, so that goes on the roadmap. Other things like including threaded tweets, all these small things, maybe. On LinkedIn, somebody changes where the connect button lives, right?
Maybe they change the color, maybe a bigger, smaller. So these are the types of things that a product manager thinks of to push a company forward. That’ll take you to the next level, always having that 10 X thinking. So it takes a bit of creativity and a bit of technical know-how and the day-to-day of the role is creating a roadmap.
So in one queue we’re going to do X in two Q. We’re going to do X and measure it, have different metrics working side-by-side with engineering, a UX designers. So it’s a collaborative team, even though it has manager in the title, you don’t really manage it. You manage products and it takes a bit of that.
Remember I said, I majored in computer science and psychology. So this is the perfect blend of if you’re going to create a prototypical product manager. And this is the perfect blend because you have that technical know-how as well as the people skills, the kind of influence without authority. Maybe you have an engineer that’s working a bit slower than you’d like, so you’ve got figure out how to motivate them.
And you’re the cheerleader for that product. So in a nutshell, that’s what a product manager does. Different from company to company, even by title at IBM, they used to be called offering managers at Microsoft. They’re called program managers. So that in an essence, if you have those fundamental skills, you can go anywhere.
Every hot company startup is looking for a product manager now to take that true ownership, it’s a great profession. I’m a gamer. So I love gamifying the situation and seeing smiles on customer’s faces. Once I know I launched the feature and in the back of my mind, I’m like, that’s me.
[00:07:27] Andrew Bull: I love hearing about how you’ve got that power to shape a product, but also how you’re having to lead people. And have a vision, have a really strong vision for where you want the product to go as well. Do you find it hard sometimes to switch off from thinking about things like I used to work in the film industry.
So when I watch a film, I’m always looking at technical staff or beats and looking at how stuff’s done and that can ruin the experience for me. Do you find that sometimes you’re on LinkedIn and you’re like, oh, why have they done that?
[00:07:58] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. Firstly, I relate with you on another level, cause I’m a big film buff as well. So if I’m watching like a film by the knee, Villa new or something like that, I can see little things that they do or it’s peek behind the curtain. So I can’t wait to pick your brain on a film stuff, but that’s for another podcast.
But yeah, what I find is that and my wife as well, she will be watching TV or using an app on apple TV and it’ll keep crashing or they changed something and she will just explain product manager. Why did you do that? So you’re always consistently living in this world where you’re trying to always improve.
And I got that from. Previous CEOs I used to work with, they always said to me, Hey Tristan, you always have to exercise what they call the idea muscle, right? You always have to keep flexing it because if you’re not ideating as a product manager, you’re probably stagnant and not going to keep growing. So that’s why I’m a part of a lot of these different product communities I’m always reaching out to other product matters. Friends that work at Spotify, Google all the big fan companies. And I always learn how they do things elsewhere and see if I can implement it and make myself better as a good product manager. You’re never reinventing the wheel. There’s nothing new under the sun. Something’s out there.
Somebody already did it before. You’re struggling with a roadmap you’re struggling with a metric. So you always have to be in that state at all times, which I find bleeds into my regular life. Picking up an app, a new iPad, a new, the new Mac book. They eliminated the touch bar, right?
That’s an example of a physical product where somebody is looking at it saying, how can we make this better? So all of that is always I’m tied up in my day to day.
[00:09:25] Andrew Bull: Yeah. It’s hard to break free because we’re so surrounded by technology now it would be, yeah, I guess you have to sometimes just put that. Find that off button and stop thinking about technology for a while. And I know later on, we’re going to talk about meditation and how meditation has helped you.
So let’s come back to that. Switching off the technology button later on let’s move forward now to our first segment of the show.
So in this segment, we ask our guests to share a secret or story that’s helped form their approach to business and life. What’s your secret Triston.
[00:10:12] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, so that, that’s a great question. I actually developed this too, as you say, have courage when I was actually pretty much the second hire at the startup, where in that office, it was myself, the CEO COO, and a VP of marketing. And I was thrown into a position, which. For anybody listening.
If you worked at a startup before, you’re wearing multiple hats, it may say, something on your resume or LinkedIn, but that doesn’t tell half the story of the things you have to do. So I was brought on for my data analysts work that I’ve done previously and stepping into this role first time at a startup.
I thought I would have a clear, defined role of what my day-to-day would be, and it was extremely ambiguous. And the things that I would do basically helped create that claims journey for our customers is InsureTech company. So I did that as well as lead the day. And local work metrics and things of that nature as it related to my department.
So every day I, it would get bad to the point where sometimes I’m stepping into the office, not knowing what’s gonna happen next. And I after a while, just been able to. Take a moment breathe and just let things come to me. Of course Google was my best friend, especially if I had to do any a bit of technical work.
So I think my secret is to really believe in yourself, to take a moment and build a community as well, have a mentor, somebody you can lean on and bounce things off of. So you’re not really quite in, in off guard when these fire drills arise. So I think that was just. Personal story. Just the experience of having the ambiguity day to day in the first 90 days or so at that startup.
So I think my power and my superpower now, when people ask me, I always tell them being able to thrive in ambiguity.
[00:11:49] Andrew Bull: So what I find really interesting about that answer Tristan is that you’re right. We don’t exist in this black and white world. We live in this world of grace and sometimes there isn’t a clear path forward. I think. Highlighting such a important point there that we do need to live in ambiguity. And is that something that’s carried forward into your work today with IBM?
[00:12:16] Tristan Pennicott: Absolutely. As a product manager, you’re always presented with very ambiguous. Problems and part of being a product manager, a lot of them use different frameworks and ways to think through a problem, which if you’re just in any other profession or just living day to day, you don’t really think about that, right?
You’re presented with an issue and you usually get your first response as a product. You have to ask clarifying questions and dig a bit deeper before you present a solution being a bit more methodical. So I find that being able to thrive in ambiguity helps me tenfold in that situation, especially in the space I’m in, which is a relatively, a hot space with a cloud computing.
So always trying to figure out how to be competitive and what to create and move.
[00:13:01] Andrew Bull: How close do you feel to the frontline? Of the sales process as a product development? Because like we’ve such a huge company. I wonder how disconnected sometimes you might feel from the end user being frustrated or making a buying decision because I use Google suite. But in some ways I’m not thinking about like individual things about their products might frustrate me, but my decision would be like, I know so big and unwinding and over so much time.
I just wonder how do you, how’d you manage to deal with that? Like the lack of immediate feedback and signal from your end user.
[00:13:46] Tristan Pennicott: That’s a really good question. And that’s something that I honestly struggled with coming from the startup. I would literally be on the phone, email, tweeting Facebook with our customers just easily at where I would recognize power users and reach out to them for beta testing and things of that nature, where you switch over to this massive beast, which is IBM.
And I find that there are a lot of conduits are champions for the customers. So it’s not like I’m doing. The grassroots movement that I was doing previously, where I had direct access, where my access now is talking to other like sales leads and other engineering managers and things of that nature and getting their perspective.
And from that, looking at surveys and just general chatter on, on social media and whatnot, and being roadmaps and things of that nature from there. So that is a really great question. And that’s something I’m. Struggling with me personally. I love going straight to the source.
and that’s something that I think other product managers would agree on. I’m more, I love talking to people and hearing their issues and from that creating what we call personas, where we lump up different people into a persona and solve their issue. So yeah, a much different way that I’m going about it now, but I still find myself being.
[00:15:04] Andrew Bull: Yeah, that’s a really interesting to hear that you reach out to people and. I hear what they have to say actually, before I came on our call I used the editing app for the podcast and someone from that company reached out to me and actually that’s really good because actually I do have feedback for them.
There’s stuff that I want them to put in their app to make it better for me like their volume bar. It’s not detailed enough for me.
[00:15:31] Tristan Pennicott: See, you might be a product manager. You don’t know it.
[00:15:33] Andrew Bull: maybe we’ll see maybe my next career.
So you’ve already shared a little bit about your story. You’re from New York you’re Jamaican as well. Okay. And so you say you’re a proud son of immigrants. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that pride shines through.
[00:15:53] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. So my upbringing, native new Yorker of Jamaican descent, New York as a whole for your listeners, if you haven’t been there, it can be a. An amazing experience. I think it’s very diverse, kind of like, London is where you have people from all over the world, just in this fish bowl of a city. I specifically grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, which is right by the Bronx, right by New York city.
So I was growing up around Colombians Mexicans, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, you name it. I probably had an interaction with them and that helped me so much in building my worldview where I wasn’t. Narrow-minded I find it a lot of the world’s issues that are happening right now with people is because they don’t have any contact.
They don’t have a frame of reference. With people, they only get what they see in movies are TVs and online things of that nature. So I find that helped me build a scope and even back to when I’m building products and whatnot sometimes some people think for only one demographic. What about for the people in a third world country are less fortunate country that don’t have the correct internet bandwidth. Can they still be as productive?
So little things like that helped shape me in my thought process, but just growing up with my mother and father, both from Jamaica, when they got here, I always had that Jamaican experience from them. And when I stepped out into the. I had my point of view, but also gathered from other different people.
So I was lucky to have that where I would go back and teach them different things. Certain things that I’m learning, something that people take for granted for especially here in the states is us history or something like that. I’m teaching them for the first time, even though they got their citizenship and whatnot, very basic questions they ask, but that’s teaching them different things.
And what I find is. They have a drive. My mom holds a PhD in library science. So part of that is they take education very seriously, and that helped me really learn and find a nuance of learning and how. Thing. So w what the end result of that sometimes I’d be in school and I’d finish tests early, finish homework early, and they’d have to push me ahead and whatnot.
I was being homeschooled with, as well as having that public school experience, which I got thankful for my mom and for my dad. What I got is I mentioned earlier that he’s actually a pastor and he’s a mechanical engineer. So I got that kind of technical aspect from him when I still don’t understand half the things he does, but he’s things he does is still amazes me, but more so of the giving back and just being a decent human. And I think those things have shaping me. And they grew up very less fortunate where I went back and visited them. And, they only had one pair of shoes. Two pants, if you get a hold of knit, my grandmother would sew it up. The running water wasn’t. It was such a big perspective to see where they came from and where they got to.
And I feel like I have it a hundred times easier. So I always keep that in the back of my mind to help me drive in. I can’t let anybody down. I can’t let myself down. They sacrifice so much for me to get an education, to go to school to not be on the streets and things of that nature that usually happens to people in my community.
So I had a different perspective and always had them in the back of my mind when I’m going out, being successful. To help other people because unfortunately that’s the way the game works. If you’re not good, you can’t help another person. If you’re on a plane right now, the first thing the store, the flight attendant is going to do is they’re going to say, Hey, if a oxygen mask drop drops down right now, make sure you put yours on first before helping others.
And that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to get myself in a good position to be able to give back and help others. So that’s what they gave me from the, that immigrant background of hussling.
[00:19:22] Andrew Bull: I love that drive. And I just love how that story has helped fuel you and your values. It comes across in, in what you’re saying. That’s awesome. And I think you’re right. It’s saying. Out of our bubbles and be able to see other people’s perspectives. And that’s something I’m trying to actually do with the podcast as well.
Just bring loads of different people onto the podcast and exposed the listeners to all those different perspectives. I think one of the downsides of product development of social media apps is that we just get told or shown the stuff that we’ve already liked or engaged with. And we don’t get those fresh perspectives.
So I think we have to fight the fight and be prepared to be open to hearing from new voices and new ideas that we haven’t heard before.
[00:20:08] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. Yeah. And some of that might be techs fault. I always talk to a couple of machine learning guys, and that’s what we do once we find your. It turns into an algorithm and we’re going to bombard with that. If you said you’re a big fan of movies, maybe just love dramas. You look on Netflix, it says, Hey, we’ll give you more of what you like.
And I’ll keep you in that bubble. So you got to actively fight against that.
[00:20:27] Andrew Bull: that’s right. You should just let your kids loose on your Netflix profile for a while. And then that would completely ruin the algorithm. If everyone did that would really mess a Netflix app. Actually, they wouldn’t know what anyone was doing anymore.
[00:20:40] Tristan Pennicott: There you go.
[00:20:40] Andrew Bull: Let’s move on to our next segment, which is called.
[00:20:45] Andrew Bull: triston, what’s the big idea that you’ve got to share with our tech leaders today?
[00:20:59] Tristan Pennicott: the big idea I have is. Something that I’m seeing happen more and more in tech where I’m encouraging a learning environment. The difference between tech and a lot of other jobs is that tech is always changing every six months. There’s something newer and better.
So when you see certain people in positions that have been there for 20, 30 years, they might be there with a bit of antiquated Thinking so to speak, especially in tech. So I always want to say, have a, promote a learning environment, a place for people to fail fast. And when people hear that they. A bit skeptical, but there’s nobody wants to fail, but the reality is we fail.
I probably fail 10 times a day. And when you think of the word fail, I like to think of it as the first attempt in learning. That’s what failing is, it’s like when a baby is learning how to walk, first they start out crawling, then they take little steps and after a while they develop that gait and all walking is controlled falling.
So have that mentality and it’ll promote a really great environment where you can develop more calculated risks and and you will have a better environment. People are willing to root for you and work more. So I think that’s what I would love to say is to encourage more of a learning environment and fail fast and be innovative.
[00:22:20] Andrew Bull: So in your notes that you sent across before the show, you said failure is okay. Is that the crux of your big idea?
[00:22:31] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, I believe so. Some of the biggest companies you don’t see the failures that came on the backend, right? You just see the finished product and certain companies I’ve worked for where people would fail and all of a sudden. They’re out, right? You can’t get that trust back. And when other employees and people in a position to see that, then everybody’s on edge.
It creates like a backstabbing environment, right? So that’s one thing that I really hope that CEOs take to their culture and develop that nurturing culture. Sometimes it takes a bit of mentoring and increasing that work-life balance and reiterating what the common goal is, what the mission is, what the purpose is.
And so things like that, we always have to take into consideration.
[00:23:14] Andrew Bull: Yeah. And you can have a culture of blame if you’re not careful where it, the focus becomes on who can point a finger at who. Protects themselves rather than learning and actually pushing things forward. And like you say, he takes a number of attempts to get a result or a finished product. How many times, how many attempts did it take NASA before they sent the first spaceship up into space or got on the moon?
Quite a few. And no one would say that whole project was a failure or not worthwhile, so yeah, we have to get okay with that and make it okay for our team. And even a leader. I suppose even a leader might themselves be okay with failure and call about it. But if they’re not deliberately shaping the culture of the business and making sure that people below them are cool with failure too, then you could have that negative culture of blame going on in the business.
[00:24:11] Tristan Pennicott: And here’s the harsh reality with that too. As CEOs are trying to shape their culture. Some employees there are just mercenaries. They’re trying to get the highest salary out there. And that, that, that can be okay too. As long as you can identify and play that, that people politics game.
And maybe that’s not you any CEO’s listening, maybe that could be somebody else. That’s appointed a lot of these companies that are hiring, like head of people, a community manager. I’m always HR. I have a friend that’s in a FinTech and his job got so stressful that they actually brought on a full-time therapists.
Our performance coach is what they call them. So people would take, once a week, just go sit down with them and everything out, whether if it’s something going on personally at home or at work, because a lot of companies usually just have a one-on-one with. Upload your skip level manager or your direct manager or something like that.
And usually it’s just about work. They’re not in a position to talk about different factors. So I thought that was very interesting. I don’t think that’s something you can do on a big, large scale, but it was just interesting to see how different companies and industries are going.
[00:25:13] Andrew Bull: And do you think that. The idea of it’s okay. To fail, goes against any conventional thinking. Are there some traditional ways of thinking about success and failure that you’re overcoming by saying failure is okay.
[00:25:32] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. And here’s the way, one of my mentors that works at Google put it to me is. There’s different type of failures. You have the one failure where you can learn from. Where maybe you input code wrong, or you develop a, you had a wrong metric or something for a new product you’re looking at.
And then you have those kinds of boneheaded failures where they put it where maybe you just were negligent. You didn’t, you weren’t focused enough and you just made a boneheaded mistake. So there’s two types of failures and it, depending what type of failure. You can react appropriately.
So when I say failure is okay, it’s good to learn from it. There’s a caveat there where you have those failures where it’s learning experiences, right? And then you have those failures that could have been entirely avoided, had more thought, more care, been put into that and developing that care and thought comes from being that cheerleader.
We’re working for this one goal, trying to inspire that passion.
[00:26:25] Andrew Bull: Yeah, so failing to set my alarm clock and get up on time. Isn’t the kind of learning culture that we
need. What we’re talking about is people who make an honest attempt to make something work for a business and try something new. It could be. Innovating the products or maybe running an advertising campaign, but they try their best and it doesn’t work.
The point is not to point the finger of blame at those people, but to help them learn and move forward with it. And I’ve got a great quote from Zig Ziglar here, who said, make failure, your teacher, not your undertaker.
I think he had, yeah, I think he had a great point with that.
[00:27:08] Tristan Pennicott: Yes. Yes, that’s great. I love that so much.
[00:27:10] Andrew Bull: So are there trends that demand CEO’s take action with this idea? I know that remote work in or hybrid working is something that a lot of tech companies are doing right now. Is that something you’re doing at IBM?
[00:27:24] Tristan Pennicott: Yes. Yes. Yes. And that’s one of the biggest trends right now, just by happenstance of the way the world changed. But tech has been doing this for a while now, but what I find is, and some of my friends that I have in different industries, their bosses and CEOs are really struggling with this.
Whereas. If they have this old school mentality, where if I can’t see what you’re doing, you’re not productive. And that kind of messes up the culture. It destroys work-life balance where I find people overcompensating, instead of working 45 hours a week, I’m upping it to 55 hours a week. I’m opening up to 60 hours a week.
I’m sending out late night emails. I’m taking late night calls just to have that visibility to show. Hey, look, I’m working on. Then the next person and it removes that team effort. It goes more to that superstar individual effort. So that’s a big trend that I’m seeing right now. So navigating that work from home environment and making sure that everybody is motivated and on the same.
[00:28:23] Andrew Bull: And how can CEOs then take first steps with this then? How can we encourage people to get okay with failure or to maybe better categorize what is acceptable failure and what’s not acceptable failure. Is there some thoughts that we need to put into this to, to take those actionable first steps?
[00:28:44] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, I think it’s relative to each company, but if I’m starting anywhere, I always ask what does success look like and what does failure look like? Because success at one company could be increasing growth by. 10% when another company success is raising growth by 50%, right? So you always want to be set up each person for success.
So to have a clear instruction of what they’re working towards. So I think you should start with that defining clear parameters and it goes back to setting that trend, setting the goal of what is in mind. So from there you just reverse it.
[00:29:19] Andrew Bull: Yeah I don’t know. I like the point of setting the goals that are relevant for that person and what they’re working on. And also, I probably don’t get into that trap of being. Horrible Sal’s leader. Who’s always moving the goalposts just at the last minute all the time. Cause I think that’s quite demoralizing to do that.
Oh, you’re almost there. Just try a bit harder then you’ll
[00:29:42] Tristan Pennicott: yeah, yeah.
[00:29:43] Andrew Bull: I think that’s a bit of a cheat, a bit of a cheat trick to play on people. I know. I suppose also we can quantify the kind of risks that are being taken as well, because there are some risks which we just can’t afford. Or some mistakes and failures, we can’t afford like losing a big client would not be a good one.
Whereas maybe trying a new widget on our product or trying a new kind of advertising format or maybe things that we can afford to fail on.
[00:30:12] Tristan Pennicott: So that’s a great comment there where that’s something that is very relevant in a product manager’s life, where we take those calculated risks, I’m going to overhaul our entire homepage. So in order to make that a calculated risk and be really thoughtful about it, you can do like a Canary release or A & B testing.
Where only X amount of people will see this new page and you can get that feedback. And if it’s positive enough, we’re just going to roll it out. So little things like that we always do to try and have that calculated risks. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You scrap it and you move forward.
[00:30:44] Andrew Bull: That’s excellent advice. I like the fact it’s based on what you’ve actually personally done in the businesses you’re working as well. Let’s move forward to our next topic, which is called
[00:31:08] Andrew Bull: so each week I like our guests and leaders to share how they’re owning their future and be role models for how you can be an empowered leader or person working inside a tech business and own your future, which I think is the key or a key component of human flourishing.
Really being empowered and feeling like your in the driver’s seat, in your car in life, how are you planning to personally develop and grow?
[00:31:40] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, this is a great question because the thing about life, if you don’t live life, life will live for you. I have some people, especially when I was working at the the senior independent. Senior citizens home, where I got so much advice from these older people that are like 80, 90, they lived their life.
And they saw me a young kid come in there and they always said to me, Hey Tristin, if there’s anything you want to do in life, you make sure you go out there and do it. Don’t end up being 85, like me with regrets. And that really stuck with me to this day. So that’s why I’m always talking about calculated risks.
I’m always, aside from being a product manager and have that framework of thinking through things, I’m always thinking. How can I achieve X? So when you’re talking about. Owning your life. I’m big on personal branding and that’s representative , on LinkedIn. I’m always very active there.
I have almost 10,000 followers on Twitter and various social media websites that I use to always get that personal branding out there. Because even though I’m a product manager and I work at IBM, I’m Tristin first and foremost. So I’m trying to make a career out of my brand and as myself.
And then from there use that leverage to help others, right? Because there’s somebody out there that was in the position that I was in five years ago, I’m swimming in student loan debt and trying to figure things out. So that’s my goal. Even if I didn’t have a job, I’m still going to be out there and be active there’s ways now, especially with the internet where you can brand yourself and achieve any goal.
You’re looking for. I had a friend that was jobless during the, they got laid off during the beginning of the pandemic and they didn’t skip. They use that extra time to continue posting on LinkedIn, continue being active. And as a result of that, they have recruiters reaching out and different people offering mentorship, job opportunities.
So you always have to take life by the horns. You’re always going to have little pitfalls and things of that nature, but it’s how you bounce back. That really defines who you are as a person. So never get too comfortable is what I’m trying to say. I had an experience before during the 2008 crisis, the housing market where we actually lost our house we were in and my dad was going through it.
So I always understand that no matter how successful they were, you can always just lose something in an instant, You don’t really have true ownership sometimes. So you have to always have a plan, a and in 17 backup plans.
[00:34:04] Andrew Bull: I suppose it could be argued. You have ownership of your future by making sure that you’re planning for some downside in you’re doing.. And that’s how that’s how you own it by not living right on the edge. You build a bit of slack into what you’re doing. It’s like when I bought my last house with my partner we, we bought a slightly smaller house than we could have afforded to because we would just like assessing future risk and going well, actually, things take a slight downturn.
We want to be comfortable and not feel like we’re in a bad position here. So
[00:34:38] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
[00:34:39] Andrew Bull: These are the smart things that we can do both in our personal lives and with our businesses as well.
Let’s move on to our final segment of the show.
In this final segment of the show, our guests share some actual steps and take away that you can use in your business.
So you’re not only learning from Tristan today, but you’re actually putting into practice what you’ve learned during today’s show
Tristan. If people take on your big idea of failure is okay, what’s the big result that they can get in their business.
[00:35:21] Tristan Pennicott: I think in terms of metrics and whatnot, and more so in terms of performance, you will get that trust from your employees, right? They know that this is not a dog eat dog sort of environment. You can have that open door of communication, because they’re not worried that they were going to come to you with a stupid idea or something like that.
So it, it breeds creativity as well and that 10 X thinking of how we can get to the next level. So I think tangibly, doing things like whether it’s like a bi-weekly meeting with a smaller group that. Just talk about ideas. I love, love, love having those brainstorming sessions, where we’re not talking about what we’re currently working on or currently stuck on, but where you would like to go.
Those were some of my favorite meetings to just show that creativity that you have and that passion that you have of where you want to grow, where you want to go. I think. Having opportunities for growth in a company whether it’s a lateral move into a different apartment or climbing and climbing that ladder.
So being sure that there’s room for growth, because that’s another thing that I’ve see that employees can get really stagnant and feel like they’re being looked over. Little things you can do like that to keep people motivated, to want to stay with the company and move forward and create a great environment.
So those are some tangible things that I’ve had in my career. If you can have off sites, I know that things are a bit crazy in that regard. One of my biggest requirements and things that I like for working somewhere is can I just go with someone to let’s go to the pub after a Friday night?
A long stressful day. Let’s just go to the pub, have a drink and just decompress. So having that culture of being able to work at a high level and having. That come down to be able to decompress and just look at each other as humans at the end of the day, when I, some companies, I look at you, you’re an engineer, you’re a marketer, you’re a seller.
You know what I’m saying? So I love to find out what makes people tick and that way we can have a more human relationship first and foremost. And by. I need some help with this roadmap. You’re a great engineer. Can you help me with this? Gary V has a great book called jab jab, jab, right. hook where you’re developing things being of service before you go and ask for something. And from the top down, sometimes it can be of, I have this ask, get it done because of the hierarchy. So get to know people, get to know your employees, get to know what makes them tick. So that’s I think those are my tangible advices.
[00:37:45] Andrew Bull: Thanks for that book recommendation, Triston go and check that out because I’m sure that it’s a good reference that Tristan’s given us. And yeah, I appreciate how much you focused on the importance of the environment for your team
as well, because I think that is important if you want to both attract and retain team members right now, because we’re in a very competitive market for team members right now. So I think if you want to keep your team members and attract more people, people and culture and lifestyle can’t really be an afterthought anymore. They’ve got to be more in focus and more on your agenda.
[00:38:23] Tristan Pennicott: And in line to that as well. One thing that I found when I was at another company and hiring people, one thing I would ask them, how do you like getting feedback? Some people are, they like oral feedback, they like written feedback. And this was such a tangible thing that I found gets more out of your employees, right?
People that have children, one child likes X and another child likes Y you get to learn them and you it helps you in parenting. I don’t have any children yet, but I’m just going off of how my parents were raising me. I was more of the reserved, kind of a. Child where my sister was more of the outgoing.
So just thinking of things in that nature, and it helped me a lot in especially hiring people and things of that nature. What makes you take, how do you respond to things, right?
[00:39:10] Andrew Bull: And this all comes back to listening, I think, and really taking time to understand people and not just putting something. In a seat at a desk and saying, there you go get on with it. I’ve, I’m paying your monthly wage. Now I expect output and that’s it.
We don’t need any, we don’t need to develop this relationship or grow things between us anymore. And I just don’t think that’s enough anymore. And I think if you’re too busy, perhaps as a leader to learn enough about your team members, Then maybe it’s time to bring in some other people and make those teams a bit smaller.
So that team leaders can actually know who’s in their team and help those team members flourish as well.
[00:39:51] Tristan Pennicott: Absolutely.
[00:39:52] Andrew Bull: So if people want to learn more about you Tristan Pennicott, where can they go?
[00:39:57] Tristan Pennicott: Right now, I would say just, you can reach out to me on my LinkedIn just search from interest and Pennicott on there. I’m sure Andrew you’ll have the link somewhere. I do have a couple of things that I can’t quite talk about yet that are in the works. Th so I would rely on that. You can find me on Twitter.
If there’s a product management community out there, I’m probably a part of it. There’s several ways to get in contact with them. If you just want to chat about product tech movies and just life in general.
[00:40:23] Andrew Bull: Awesome. And yeah, we’ve got a website for the podcast called interstellar.show and we’ll have an individual episode page for Tristan’s episode. So you’ll find his links there as well. So you can easily get in contact with him. All I’ve got left to say is thank you, Tristan. And for coming on today.
[00:40:43] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah this was great, Andrew. I really appreciate you reaching out. I get LinkedIn, sometimes it can be a bit noisy where you get a bunch of people reaching out, trying to sell you something, mentorship and whatnot. So when you reached out with the podcast idea, I’m like this is different, I saw your content, what you were doing and whatnot.
So I would love to, help out anyway.
[00:41:01] Andrew Bull: Yeah I love the whole podcasting because it’s a really great way of connecting. Different people and breaking through those barriers, because I think if you approach LinkedIn in the wrong way, it can become overly professional and quite cold, or maybe quite cynical because you get those sales requests
from people straight off the bat, people just trying to sell you straight away without building a relationship with you. So I think the great thing about podcasts in this kind of thing, it connects people and I hope, moving forward me and you will see. Contact. And this is beginning of me knowing you and our listeners potentially knowing you as well.
[00:41:37] Tristan Pennicott: Yeah. Whatever you need, I’m always here to help give back in any way I can. This
[00:41:42] Andrew Bull: Thanks, Triston. See you soon.
My thanks to Tristen for being an excellent guest on the show today. I loved learning about Triston story. And his work as a product manager. Our conversation made me realize how important his profession is. Especially if we want to make sure people don’t get left behind in the tech revolution. If we want to make sure seniors people with poor bandwidth and people with learning challenges can stay connected with important things like information opportunities.
Community and loved ones. We need to ensure the technology that we’re developing remains accessible to all. It’s something. I will be keeping an eye on with everything my company does, whether it’s an app or a new website page. And I hope you do the same. Let’s not leave anyone behind. Now if you haven’t already done so hit that subscribe or follow button wherever you’re listening today.
And all I’ve got left to say is thanks for being here. Have courage own your future. Take action.