My Name Is Ron Yang — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
I love building products. I love each step of the process. There is the pre-launch phase, when you figure out what to build. Then comes the execution phase, when you work closely with your engineering and design teams to get things built. And it keeps getting better.
The launch phase occurs when you work closely with your marketing and support teams to ensure a successful go-to-market. There is never a dull moment, and there is always a new challenge to master.
But my favorite part of building products is when I see that customers are using the product and it becomes something that they fall in love with. It becomes a product that makes their life better, and they start to wonder how they lived without it.
I have been through this process hundreds of times, and it never gets old. Over the past 15 years, I have shipped literally hundreds of releases and thousands of features. Along the way, I started and sold my own company, and led product for the founding teams of companies backed by the same investors as Facebook and Twitter.
My sense is that all that experience was for this moment. I have joined Aha! as Director of Product Management.
I gained my love of product management by becoming an entrepreneur — and my own very first customer. Now, I want to continue building products that people cannot live without.
But more importantly, I want to help other product managers build products that their customers cannot live without.
From Becoming My Own Customer…
For any product manager (or any other job), I have always found that your odds of success are highest when you humble yourself by becoming your own customer. This allows you to live, breathe, and eat as that customer. Ultimately, you come to know what that customer cannot live without.
When I built my first company, I was its very first customer. It was a local daily deals website which helped people find new, fun things to do in their city at a fraction of the price. I came up with the idea when I moved from New York to Los Angeles for graduate school. It was a win-win; local businesses were happy because they got new business, and my classmates were happy because they got a great deal on a fun new activity.
I loved every aspect of bringing the product to life and building the team. It empowered me to learn about all facets of a business, from sales and marketing to hiring and product. The roles of a CEO and product manager have many similarities. In both roles, you must have generalist skills so that you can lead and collaborate with teams across the entire organization.
A CEO leads a company by setting the vision and doing whatever it takes to ensure success. A Product Manager leads a product by setting the product vision and doing whatever it takes to ensure that product’s success.
I came to realize that I loved the product management side of things. Focusing on building products that serve customer needs really resonated with me. I wanted to keep building new products that customers could not live without.
…To Leading The Obvious Choice
I’ve had lots of experience creating new products and companies, but was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to work on a product that was growing really quickly and help scale the business. But I also still wanted to be the customer of my own product.
I was drawn to Aha! because it solves a problem that I have grappled with throughout my product management career.
At its core, Aha! leverages best practices of setting your product vision and strategy, prioritizing your features, and communicating to stakeholders. These are the same best practices that I have used over the years. But Aha! allows all of this to be done using one tool directly through the application itself.
In the past, I spent most of my time in Microsoft Office. I was constantly updating roadmaps in PowerPoint, prioritizing features in Excel, and writing “how-tos” in Word. And about once a week, I would get an email from someone on the team — “Hey, can you re-send that PowerPoint deck to me?” Or, “Can you update one of the slides in that deck from a few months ago?”
I was in Microsoft Office and Email purgatory — part of the product manager role that I yearned to live without. With Aha! there is no need to live in Microsoft Office and no need to play the role of an email router.
Product managers should be focused on the most important things: leadership and innovation. Updating PowerPoint slides and playing “email router” are definitely not in that category.
Aha! solves these problems and more. I am excited to join a world-class team that helps product managers worldwide build products that their customers love and cannot live without. To me, leading product at Aha! means being its biggest advocate and most loyal customer.
I cannot think of a more exciting and rewarding adventure.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.