Note to read­ers: A new posi­tion at Adobe finds me broad­en­ing my focus, embrac­ing all I have learned as a dig­i­tal mar­keter to build strong prod­uct man­age­ment skills. Back when I first started in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, espe­cially B2B, I exper­i­mented. A lot. That trial and error, in addi­tion to invalu­able men­tors that I sought out to sat­isfy a vora­cious appetite for learn­ing, honed an edge for life: I still love to learn.

I was tremen­dously lucky that the lead­ers I sought to fol­low early on returned my enthu­si­asm five-fold. I cer­tainly held up my end of the bar­gain, but when­ever I reached out to Mar­ket­ing Sherpa founder Ann Hol­land or Mar­ket­ing Exper­i­ments leader Dr. Flint McLough­lin, I always learned more than I asked for, and I will always be grate­ful for that. 

To sharpen my B2B dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing skills, I turned to Sir­ius Deci­sions’ Tony Jaros. Through a monthly call with real-life men­tors, I quickly devel­oped a strong dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing knowl­edge base. I fol­lowed a sim­i­lar path in tak­ing this step up at Adobe. I asked ques­tions and sought wis­dom, find­ing myself with no less than a dozen new books sug­gested by respected upper-level man­agers in the field.

One such book, 42 Rules of Prod­uct Man­age­ment, a com­pi­la­tion of guid­ing prin­ci­ples put together by Brian Law­ley and Greg Cohen, proved a quick study that helped me to hit the ground run­ning. In this next blog series I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned as I dove­tail lessons from the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing world with new skills in prod­uct man­age­ment. My goal is to enhance appli­ca­tions, solu­tions, and tech­nol­ogy through my own indi­vid­ual prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence as well as through lead­er­ship man­age­ment of 120 dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing staff.

Prod­uct man­age­ment for dig­i­tal mar­keters. By dig­i­tal mar­keters. Hal­leleu­jah! The only thing that could make it bet­ter is your input. I’d love to hear your feed­back on LinkedIn, Twit­ter, and this blog site.

Pas­sion is con­ta­gious. When peo­ple are pas­sion­ate about some­thing, they find uncon­ven­tional paths that lead to suc­cess, dri­ven by inner fires that burn with ideas, inven­tions, and inno­va­tion. Apply­ing such pas­sion may require bend­ing the rules a bit, but that’s okay if you know, as the Dalai Lama says, how to break them prop­erly. Many great ideas have been born out­side the proper box of con­ven­tional wisdom.

Recently, I’ve put on a new hat here at Adobe. It is allow­ing me to explore my pas­sion from a more inter­nal per­spec­tive. For the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve been focused on mar­ket­ing, more specif­i­cally, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, peer­ing through the exter­nal lens of the cus­tomer. As I dive into the new, more inter­nal realm of prod­uct man­age­ment, I have found sage advice in a hand­some lit­tle vol­ume sim­ply titled 42 Rules of Prod­uct Man­age­ment.

The first rule in the book? Rules are meant to be bro­ken. I’m lik­ing these guys already.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that rules are impor­tant, but life is dynamic and things change, requir­ing, if you will, new inter­pre­ta­tions to accom­mo­date progress. If men did not have pas­sions that led them to curi­ous exper­i­men­ta­tion, progress would be nonex­is­tent. These guys get it, though.

The edi­tors run through the suc­cesses of Henry Ford and the Model T auto­mo­bile, Fred­er­ick Smith and FedEx’s tri­umph over the postal ser­vice, and Masura Ibuka’s Sony pocket tran­sis­tor radio, high­light­ing the mul­ti­ple fail­ures that forced all of them to move rules around a bit in order to suc­ceed. They all had pas­sions and they all nudged the perime­ters of the rules a bit, finally find­ing suc­cess after mul­ti­ple tries. Yes, that means failures.

Believ­ing in them­selves, and nur­tur­ing their desires to bring cus­tomers new prod­ucts they believed had huge value, inno­v­a­tive men like Ford, Smith, and Ibuka deliv­ered new and inter­est­ing prod­ucts that made life bet­ter than it was before their exis­tence. They tried. They failed. They per­se­vered. And they broke a few rules along the way.

Bend­ing, or even break­ing, rules is allowed. Espe­cially if it advances, improves, or enhances cus­tomers’ lives in valu­able ways. But be pre­pared to defend your pas­sion­ate path, espe­cially if you, like many suc­cess­ful inno­va­tors, don’t suc­ceed on your first try. They didn’t say it would be easy. They did say it would be worth it.