5 Months Later and I'm Back

5 Months Later and I'm Back
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    The last post I wrote was on Sep 28, 2022. It's been about five months since I've worked on an article or written anything personal.

    I've been adapting to my new Director of Product Management role at Finix. In October, I was promoted to lead our product team, increase our ship velocity, and, most importantly, deliver amazing software for our customers.

    For those that may not know Finix, we power payments for software companies. From startups to publicly traded companies, we offer everything software platforms need to build world-class payments experiences.

    My journey at Finix

    I've written about my time at Finix a few times. After some reflection, I've mapped out my journey at Finix into four main acts so far.

    This post mainly talks about Part 4.

    Part 1 - Joining a Seed Stage Startup

    When I joined Finix, we were around 15 people. I joined and did anything and everything the company needed.

    My background was in Product Management (I was a PM for roughly ~3 years before I joined Finix), but Product skills apply to most roles. At the time, there weren't any product roles available; I didn't mind.

    My official title was operations, and I did every role, from developer support, sales engineering, to customer success.

    Part 2 - Building and scaling a support team

    The second act began by managing the support team through the pandemic. If you're curious, I wrote more about this portion of my time in the article below.

    Support Engineering | Lessons learned building a team during the pandemic
    I created and scaled our Support Engineering team at Finix. This piece is a reflection of my time leading Support Engineering.

    Part 3 - Returning to Product Management

    Once we raised our Series B, I returned to Product Management. I returned as Senior Staff Product Manager, and my primary mandate was to launch Finix as a PayFac.

    If you want to learn more, Richie Serna, Finix's CEO, wrote a product update below in May 2022.

    Reintroducing Finix: A PayFac for Platform Payments
    For the last year and a half, the Finix team has been heads down, evolving our product. Today, we’re excited to share what we’ve been up to.

    Part 4 - Leading the Product Management Team

    In October 2022, I was promoted to Director of Product Management and started leading our Product Management team. I moved from being an Individual Contributor to the head of a department.

    The role change brought a fresh perspective on what I value and want our product team to carry forward.

    Customer First

    One of my values and Finix's first company value is Customer First.

    When I think of who embodies this value, Jeff Bezos frequently comes to mind from years and years of interviews.

    The number one thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor. - Jeff Bezos

    As the former department head of support, I thoroughly believe in this value. Our #1 priority is our customers. It's what I think about every day and how I make decisions.

    Product Craft

    I deeply believe in Craftsmanship, and it's one of my values for myself and our product team.

    Shreyas Doshi created a framework that places product leaders into three main buckets:

    • The Operator: Excellent at: scaling teams, cross-org alignment, unblocking execution
    • The Craftsperson: Excellent at: defining products & strategy, mentoring PMs
    • The Visionary: Excellent at: big-picture thinking, inventing what’s next

    When I first read this thread, I  instantly recognized that I'm a Craftsperson product leader. Craftspersons tend to be the best product leaders when a company is less than 1,000 employees.

    A family that values Craftsmanship

    I  grew up watching my dad build and renovate homes as a child. He started as a foreman and eventually became a General Contractor. I remember the hours and hours he would spend reviewing plans and drawings to ensure his customers got the home of their dreams. Building and renovating buildings is hard and detailed work. I learned the value of craftsmanship from my dad, and my dad learned from his dad.

    My grandpa was a craftsman. My grandpa came to the US from Guatemala to train to be an airplane mechanic. He eventually stayed and worked repairing planes in Los Angeles. After a period of airline consolidation, he was laid off and eventually found his way building precision parts for a federal contractor in Burbank, CA.

    Several of his machined parts made their way to space via NASA rockets. My grandpa valued doing things well and being proud of the work you are turning in to customers.

    Here's a photo of my grandpa calling my old Jeep "mid"

    Steve Jobs on Product Craft

    You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.
    And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.
    Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.
    And it’s that process that is the magic.    Steve Jobs

    Highlights from Leading our Product Team

    Customer First Dashboard Updates

    Thanks to the collective feedback from our customers about the Finix Dashboard, every page of the Finix Dashboard has been redesigned, focusing specifically on how content is organized, utilized by different teams (such as features catered to developers and to payment operations), and laid out for greater clarity, discoverability, and ease of use.

    This project was an extensive collaboration with our design, product, and engineering teams. I'm very proud of all the hard work and craftsmanship that went into this dashboard update.

    Read more

    Redesigned Finix Docs

    Starting from our customer first values, we've made many updates to our docs. Our lead doc writer, Ketan Mehta, has led the charge here. We've also carefully maintained our API reference with craftsmanship in each new API we add.

    In-Person Payments

    We've also been hard at work expanding our in-person payments selection. If you have a need, we can probably support it.

    Cenobio Hernandez, our In-Person Payments Product Lead has been focused on this initiative.

    Feel free to contact me if you are curious about any of these devices or payments in general.

    There's much more we're working on. I don't want to steal the thunder from our fantastic Product Marketing team, so I'll leave out what we're building this quarter.

    Back to Writing and Reflecting

    While I accomplished a lot in the last five months, there are a few things I had to put on the back burner to achieve these items.

    Writing was one of them. I don't regret the decision. However, now that things are in a great place, I'm excited to return to writing and creating content.

    Shooting Product Airballs and Training for Next Quarter

    I'm also now at a point where I can look back, identify the airballs I missed, and learn from them.

    When I'm in doubt or feel imposter syndrome, I always return to our LA treasure, Kobe.

    Get over yourself. You're worried about how people may perceive you. It's embarrassing because you shot 5 airballs. Get over yourself. After that, why did those airballs happen?"

    For context, Kobe Bryant made 5 straight airballs at the Lakers @Utah 1997 Playoff Game.

    While the NBA operates in a yearly cadence, Product Development typically operates in a quarterly cadence, and I'm training for the next quarter.

    Next quarter, my airballs in Q1 2023 will make it into the net.