89 / Innovation Starts With Self-Awareness

Hosted by Paul Gebel & Roberta Oare

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saleema-vellani-podcast-guest

Saleema Vellani

Ripple Impact

Saleema Vellani is a 9x founder, TEDx speaker, and the best-selling, award-winning author of Innovation Starts With I. She is the Founder & CEO of Ripple Impact, which is a business accelerator and community that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and scale their platforms. Saleema also teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools.

She contributes to Forbes and has been published in 15 research publications, most recently on promoting a circular economy and solving food insecurity through hydroponics and insect farming.

Saleema Vellani first visited the Product Momentum Podcast 2 years ago, shortly before the release of her now best-selling book, Innovation Starts with I, and just as a global pandemic tightened its grip on our world. Now 2 years on, we’re delighted have her back on the pod, this time with Paul and ITX product strategist Roberta Oare, to learn about her experiences during what Saleema coined “the reinvention revolution.”

Product leaders tend to emphasize a market- or user-focused awareness, and rightly so. Empathy for others is a critical ingredient in improving their experience.

But is that truly where innovation begins? Or might the source of that “lightbulb moment” be found elsewhere?

Saleema believes that until you truly know yourself – and know what motivates you to be your best self – it’s difficult to bring your best effort to your team, to your users, to your product community.

“It’s important to understand who we are as individuals,” she adds. “Whether you’re a business owner or a product manager, if you’re trying to design or innovate and ignite some kind of change, it’s important to start with knowing who you are and what makes you unique. It’s not about just having new ideas.”

Tune in to hear more from Saleema – a living, breathing case study about how we too can benefit from our own transformative journey – including:

  • How important it is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Why failure is the key to success
  • What she means by “optimizing the constants and customizing the variables”

Paul [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Project Momentum, where we hope to entertain, educate, and celebrate the amazing product people who are helping to shape our community’s way ahead. My name is Paul Gebel and I’m the Director of Product Innovation at ITX. Along with my co-host, Sean Flaherty, and our amazing production team and occasional guest host, we record and release a conversation with a product thought leader, writer, speaker, or maker who has something to share with the community every two weeks.

Paul [00:00:43] Hey folks. Today, I’m joined by a very special guest host, Roberta. Hey, Roberta.

Roberta [00:00:47] Hi, Paul.

Paul [00:00:48] We talked about a lot with Saleema today. We got into the journey of self-discovery and infusing yourself into it. We talked about helping others through helping yourself first.

Roberta [00:01:00] …A new spin on the 80-20 rule and resiliency and grit, some of our best friends. We also talked a little bit about customized pizza toppings.

Paul [00:01:08] Mm-hmm. And we wrapped up with this journey into ourselves through the lens of those around you. Being comfortable being uncomfortable.

Roberta [00:01:17] It was a great time. I hope everyone enjoys it.

Paul [00:01:19] Let’s get after it.

Roberta [00:01:21] All right.

Paul [00:01:24] Well, hello and welcome to the pod. Today, we are excited to be joined by Sallema Vellani. She is the 9x founder, TEDx speaker, bestselling, award-winning author of Innovation Starts with I. She’s the founder and CEO of Ripple Impact, which is a business accelerator and community that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and scale their platforms. Saleema also teaches design thinking and entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools. She continues to contribute to Forbes and is published in 15 research publications, most recently promoting a circular economy and solving food insecurity through hydroponics and insect farming. Saleema, we are so excited to have you back on the show. Welcome.

Saleema [00:02:02] Thank you so much. Excited to be back here.

Paul [00:02:04] So just to get us teed up here, why don’t you bring us up to speed? It’s been a while since we spoke last. You’ve got a fantastic book out. Can you share with us a bit about where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to and what’s sort of this process of discovery and change that’s gone on? Have you kind of reinvented yourself over the past book launch?

Saleema [00:02:22] Yeah. So interestingly, I ended up writing a book about reinvention and self-innovation. And when we last talked, which I believe was a couple of years ago, I was earlier in the journey doing 100 interviews with a bunch of different leaders and entrepreneurs and innovators. And what I realized was interesting that that self-awareness was missing from the innovation process. Oftentimes, you know, as a design thinking, professor and expert, we start with empathy oftentimes when we’re innovating. And you look back at even just looking at the iPhone. The iPhone a lot of people think is innovation. But what I discovered with innovation was actually a very internal process that starts with the individual. And Steve Jobs is an example of that. When he was fired from Apple and went on his journey to discover himself in India, and then he came back and was able to innovate and lead Apple to success.

Saleema [00:03:08] And so essentially, I think that with change, it’s important to understand who we are at the individual level, whether you’re a business owner, a product manager, if you’re trying to design or innovate and ignite some kind of change, it’s important to start with knowing who you are and what makes you unique. How can you create an original combination? It’s not about just having new ideas. We’re living through a point right now where I call it, like, the reinvention revolution, where we’re trying to reinvent ourselves over and over again, reinvent our businesses. These changes is just part of our daily lives. And so it’s important to really think about how can we take existing things and combine them together in new ways. So for example, with the hydroponics and refugees or a lot of the different businesses, ventures, and projects that I’ve been involved with, it’s important to start with the self.

Saleema [00:03:53] And in terms of my own journey, I didn’t realize that the book would be a transformative journey in itself and that it would lead me to reinvent from being more of an innovation strategist, design thinking expert, into actually doing what I was very passionate about, which was helping entrepreneurs and starting Vertical Impact. And the book was the catalyst to that journey.

Paul [00:04:12] Hmm. It sounds like, you know, where a lot of product leaders tend to focus on this market-focused or user-focused awareness, until you really know yourself and know what drives you, you’re not going to be bringing your best self to your team, to your users, to your product community. So in order to create new things, it’s really an introspective journey of looking for where we’re most passionate so that we can show up as our best selves. Is that an accurate digest?

Saleema [00:04:36] Correct. I think that a lot of sort of group speak happens when we bring people together. And we have those workshops where we have the Post-its and the Lego and the pipe cleaners and all the fun materials, but essentially, what I always do is give people some time alone to be able to come up with lots of ideas and bring themselves into it and their why. And I think there’s something really powerful there when we infuse ourselves and our skills, our journey, our experience, our stories into the process.

Roberta [00:05:00] So for those folks that are listening that might be looking to start this journey, can you give them some examples of how you’ve been able to take those moments where you realize, “this is something I want to be more actively passionate about.” How do you turn that into this process of change?

Saleema [00:05:18] Yeah. So I’d say like one of my favorite examples is, like, when I was going through my own crisis and I was trying to figure out how to use my skills to get a job and a visa, and the whole story’s in my book. But essentially, I was in survival mode. You know, I had a Masters, I had all these other credentials and accomplishments, but I needed something fast. And so through my 100 coffees I had over the course of those two weeks, it was interesting. I was discovering a lot about myself through the lens of other people, and I think that adds to the definition of self-awareness. It’s not just who you think you are, it’s is a lot of how other people see you or how they see the future version of yourself that maybe you haven’t tapped into that potential or that talent yet.

Saleema [00:05:53] And it was interesting that one person that I met with saw that like, “well, you’re really resourceful and you have all this experience with marketing, but also international development, and you have these different things that make you unique; I can help you out if you want to work on this project to look at some of these technologies that can help refugees grow food without using soil and using 90% less water. Can you look into this?” And it was interesting that like just the idea of, we don’t always have to be trying to solve a problem. Like obviously, the problem there was, like, we help the food security problem. But essentially the idea around the hydroponics, the aquaponics, and the different climate-smart technologies, that’s not something that the organization was looking at. They were thinking, “well, how do we improve traditional agriculture? How do we improve machinery? How do we stare at the problem in a different way?”

Saleema [00:06:35] And I think sometimes we look too hard at the problem and we kind of move away from actually just ideating and bringing in some of those crazy, wild ideas that are often, there’s a lot of resistance or pushback to implement. But essentially, with iteration, we get there. Sure, even that project, we got a lot of pushback and it seemed way too sophisticated. But then when we iterated and we went to the field, we talked to people, then we got, you know, from self-awareness to empathy and really understanding the refugees. We went to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We realized that there are simple ways to make this work. You know, using solar panels, without using electricity, without using really complicated LED lighting and things like that. And so that was one example.

Saleema [00:07:13] And my entire career has been like all these different examples of sort of combining different things in ways.

Roberta [00:07:19] Clandestine in a bit, right?

Saleema [00:07:23] Definitley.

Roberta [00:07:23] And I think that part of what ends up happening in that reinvention cycle is that once you do it and you start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, it starts to feel a lot easier to navigate. And you talk about this in your book a little bit. And resiliency and grit are some things that you just can’t replace without having time and experience, right? There’s a lot of that involved. So can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve done in your life quakes to sort of demonstrate to yourself that resiliency to continue?

Saleema [00:07:55] Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s important for us to be comfortable with getting uncomfortable. And I think that with the resiliency part, it’s about realizing that failure is the key to success. Like, it’s not just failing. It’s how you overcome that failure, how you grow from that, how you can iterate from that failure. And I think not seeing it as a loss or something bad, but failure is just failing smartly. I have in my book the different types of failure. And a lot of people have written on this as well, but failing smart or failing forward, failing fast and really trying to think of it like a test or a beta and set it up so that it’s small in scope so that you almost are not aiming to fail, but trying to get beyond that point to pivot. And I think that’s where a lot of product creators and businesses, a lot of people focus so much on this big launch without actually trying to get feedback and fail smartly. So I think failing smartly is key.

Saleema [00:08:48] I think also with regards to the resilience, there’s one exercise that I make my students do at Hopkins, or at least before the pandemic. I used to get them to go out on the streets on Massachusetts Avenue here in Washington, D.C., and get them to basically do this exercise that was kind of inspired from the Lean Startup where you try to go get customer validation and stuff out of your ideas. And in this case, I actually went out and got them to go try to get rejected. Go in pairs, record each other, go and try to get rejected, and that will empower them. And it was amazing. They would ask people on the street, random strangers, “Can I get a hug? Can you give me a ride? Can I immigrate into this embassy?” And it was amazing because they were terrified initially, but then when they came back they were all energized and you got them out of the classroom. They were like, “Wow.” Like, we watched the videos and told stories and it was amazing. What they learned was that people are more willing to help than they think, and also that it’s not so bad when you get rejected, and you kind of build that resilience up by getting rejected.

Paul [00:09:43] Yeah. A million years ago, when I was in a different sales role, one of the mantras that we would start our day with was, “smile and dial.” It’s tried but true. You pick up the phone, you make 40 phone calls a day, or whatever you’re doing. And you know that of the ten people who actually pick up the phone, one of them might actually give you an appointment. Of that one who gives you an appointment, you know, two out of three of them are going to no-show, and so on and so forth. So one of the things that I found really helpful is just kind of getting to know, you know, N-O. Getting to no. Because the faster you get to no, the sooner you’ll find that one person, that one solution, that one product community, that one need that’s going unmet that you can actually be of value in.

Paul [00:10:23] Because when you’re just searching for the blue space, that sort of aspirational blue ocean untapped product community, there’s going to be nothing but disappointment when you think you’ve got something to add and you haven’t experienced that failure, that loss. And understanding this feeling, I think is part of that journey of self-discovery. Which kind of leads me to one thing that’s really stuck with me since we spoke prior to this show. I don’t know if you meant to put it this way, but it stuck with me in a really meaningful way. I’m wondering if you could elaborate a bit more on it, just in terms of the 80-20 rule and sort of these principles that seem to be universal. You said, “optimize the constants and customize the variables.” And it really helps me crystallize, “I keep reinventing the wheel. I keep, you know, de-optimizing the constants. I keep trying to make these things perfect when they’re doing the job when I really should be focused on these 20% of things that can be customized and can create better experiences.” So I’m wondering if you could share a bit more about how you came to that conclusion and what kind of things you’ve experienced over time that fit into that pattern.

Saleema [00:11:27] Yeah. So the 80-20 rule is interesting because there’s a lot of different 80-20 rules out there. But this one is interesting because it’s kind of like, if you think about it, a pizza and like toppings that you put on it, right? And so the toppings are sort of the customization, but all pizzas will generally have the sauce, the cheese, basic ingredients. And so I got that inspiration actually on the 80-20 rule from Alex Osterwalder, because when I interviewed him, he created the Business Model Canvas, he talked a lot about that. Because I was asking him, you know, through my own challenges when I was doing a lot of innovation and design thinking workshops because it was a lot of customizing I was doing oftentimes.

Saleema [00:11:58] And what I was learning about the process is how do, you know, I rinse and repeat, sort of create something that can be repeated with a lot of other customization? And what he talked about was like, how do you do that? Because you work in so many different countries and you teach the Business Model Canvas, you have all these different workshops to strategize. And he said that ultimately it’s separating the constants and the variables. And the constants being that 80%, the variables being the 20%. How I apply that with not just with workshops, but my first experience actually applying that before I knew what the 80-20 rule was in 2009 when I was 22 years old and running my translation business in the south of Italy in a town called Reggio Calabria when I couldn’t get a job during that crisis after college. And what I found was that having a really good template for any proposal, we were applying to lots of different translation projects online back in the day when companies were buying domains, .de, .fr, .es, and we were just killing it with, you know, helping companies go global with a human translation team that was operating entirely virtually at a fraction of the cost of traditional translation agencies and able to translate in HTML. So we had some really great differentiators and we would put that down in that proposal and we had a very specific template that we developed that we over time realized that over many iterations we came up with this really good proposal template and we would just use that and we were able to use that to apply to lots of projects and we would win them consistently because our proposal was so good. And we would still customize a little bit of it, but the meat of the proposal was the same. And that took us a lot less time and we’re able to repeat, repeat, repeat, do a tiny bit of customization here or there, but it helped us significantly grow into a business that we were able to get acquired right before Google Translate replaced us. So yeah.

Saleema [00:13:36] I guess another one that’s more what we’re doing right now with Ripple Impact is we have a business accelerator. We’re helping a lot of different entrepreneurs grow their businesses and we take them through the same program, whether they’re an author, an author-entrepreneur, or they’re an entrepreneur, they’re all doing very similar things. There’s slight customizations. So if they’re authors, we have a slightly different approach to their marketing strategy with slightly different assets or tools and templates that we can give them as well, like a book awards spreadsheet, or a template on how to pitch for blurbs and certain things that aren’t in the traditional accelerator program. And so there’s like things like that, or how do we customize experience from the sort of customer experience standpoint is, even though the program has, you know, we have everything in Google Drive, we have everything in Notion, we have a very clear process on how we give our strategy sessions and we produce all the different deliverables in the program.

Saleema [00:14:21] But one thing that’s different is having a client manager who customizes that experience for everyone. So they essentially will refer back to the roadmap, check in on progress, and there’s that sort of human element to it. And so I think that’s important when innovating and working on that 20% of that sort of customizable piece, it’s important to add some kind of human element in there.

Roberta [00:14:40] That human element is very interesting. And I would imagine that understanding and being able to communicate with people is also a very valuable skill that you have. And you have a pretty fluent background in multiple languages. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to deciding to learn so many different languages? What was the impetus behind that?

Saleema [00:15:01] Yeah, you know, I grew up in Canada, so I was forced to learn French. I wasn’t that passionate about it. I did really well in it, but I actually realized I wanted to learn Spanish, which I didn’t do in school until university. But I actually went down to the Dominican Republic and I was learning a lot on my own actually during high school just on studyspanish.com and writing conjugations out and I was just very passionate about it because I really felt like I wanted to communicate when I went to the Caribbean and I went to different countries in Latin America. And yeah, it was very self-driven. And I think I realized, even though I felt frustrated at times when I went down and I realized later I was pretty good at picking up these languages and I saw the value and how they changed my perspective when traveling or when living in these countries, I decided I wanted to learn some more. So I picked up Portuguese. I lived in Brazil for a bit, studied it, lived in Italy, north and south. I learned some Arabic and a bit of some other languages, but I got fluent in five of them, in Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, and of course English. And yeah, I realized it just changed my experience and my being able to empathize with the local people more and just create a whole different experience when I speak the language.

Roberta [00:16:08] Yeah. And I also think too, that your exposure to all of those different languages and the slight nuances between them helps you really tune in to what people are saying and some of those slight variations that words can take on and have through context. Another theme that I took away from your book, which I thought was really interesting, had to do with cognitive flexibility and how important it is to continue expanding that muscle of our brain. It’s, I believe, one of the things that helps us bring those disparate notions together. Can you tell us what other kinds of things you do in your practice to expose yourself either to disparate thoughts or a connection to thinking that might produce a different combination than previously thought?

Saleema [00:16:55] Yeah, sure. So as a person whose mind is always in different places, I think dot-connecting is very natural to me, just being able to jump into different conversations because my mind runs that way. For my interviews for the book, certain people have that ability. It’s not just called cognitive flexibility, but there’s another term that some people know of as associative thinking. Some people are gifted with it and so people can learn a little bit of it, but generally, there are people that have it. And then I realize that for some people, it’s just much harder for them to adopt it or to learn it.

Saleema [00:17:22] And one way that I’ve done it, other than, you know, I talked about like the translation business. There’s other projects and businesses I’ve been involved with. The language school in Brazil is another example of that dot-connecting of, you know, how can we finance this orphanage while building a language school that will cater to foreigners that are passionate about the mission and all that? There’s a really cool story on that in my book. I think currently what I do in terms of that dot-connecting or cognitive flexibility is that Ripple Impact, actually, what we are is a business accelerator, but not one that just requires an entrepreneur to spend a lot of time getting mentorship and trying to do the execution on their own, but rather where we are their team. And there’s a lot of people right now that are jumping into entrepreneurship and they don’t know where to start or they have an idea. They’re sort of in that stuck early phase.

Saleema [00:18:04] And one thing we did differently is instead of just giving strategy help and advice or coaching them or consulting with them, which is what I did actually when I was on a podcast a couple of years ago was advising a lot of entrepreneurs. And I realized they didn’t just need advice. They needed a team, they needed, you know, they’re like, “Saleema, well, you’ve had this success because you’ve had a team behind you, and I don’t have that team, so your advice is great, but how am I going to implement this?” And just bringing on freelancers or virtual assistants here and there wasn’t enough. They needed somebody to share that vision with them and to partner with them.

Saleema [00:18:32] And so it was a really, really uncomfortable step because it wasn’t necessarily my skill to do this. But in addition to strategy, what we did was we built an accelerator that included the creative piece. So we’re like a strategy consulting plus creative agency as one and there’s no other accelerator out there that does that. And it’s that unique combination of connecting those dots of like, well, they need designers, they need, you know, marketers, they need copywriters, they need all these different skill sets to operate. And people that are operating within the niche of helping them be experts are helping their businesses grow, but also really care about their business and not just be a freelancer that they hired to knock out some work for them. But we’re working alongside them and partnering with them, and that’s something that I would say is pretty unique in terms of using that cognitive flexibility.

Paul [00:19:14] Yeah. Speaking of cognitive flexibility, one of the things that challenged me, especially in talking to people on a podcast, was just this concept of good questions versus bad questions. And the way that you frame that, even though I’ve heard it in different ways, in different contexts, it really struck me as a fresh take because of the way that you tried to get at enabling people to tell stories. So you were working through this almost process of awareness or mindfulness in real-time, helping people to bring themselves to the conversation and not stop a conversation. So I’m wondering, in bringing this mindfulness and self-awareness in real-time, what are some real practical ways that, you know, product leaders who might be listening to this now can show up to their teams and help get these ideas out on the table and approach them in new ways and not just, “the button is blue, the font is Helvetica?” It’s easy to turn into a feature factory and just get products out the door and not think about the impact they have on people’s lives and the awareness of what goes on behind the scenes. Can you share a bit about that process and how people can bring that to their own teams?

Saleema [00:20:18] Yeah, sure. So there’s lots of ways and just, you know, now that we’re sort of going back to in-person a bit with the world, one thing that I do is I try to bring my team together, or at least regionally we do retreats in Colombia, Mexico, or in Latin America, or even in Dubai, I brought one of my team members there. And we try to get together to actually spend some time on our business, not just in our business, and how can we innovate? We spend a lot of our summers doing innovation. We even bring on some interns. Sometimes I run a program where we have new perspectives come in and work on specific projects that are sort of on the back burner that we’re like, “Well, maybe this can help us scale,” or, “this is an idea,” different ideas that sort of have the opportunity to be incubated in these 2 to 3 months per year focused on innovation within our own company.

Saleema [00:20:58] I’d say also, for leaders, really trying to build diverse teams that incorporate different types of personalities. And in my book, I talk about the innovative team recipe where you have the visionary, which is often the founder or the leader, the ideas person, combining them with a strategist and a design person, not just graphic design or UX design, but a person that could craft an experience or customer experience and executors. And bring those different people together is what enables innovation. And I think just having regular sort of sprints or meetings where people can bring their ideas to the table, whether it’s a retreat, however you want to do it. I think that just giving them that space and valuing what they say and figuring out, how can we implement those or test it, even on a small scope, I think goes a long way.

Paul [00:21:40] Hm. So if I’m understanding, I think what you’re saying, it’s really about being present in the conversation and not imposing an expected outcome on the experiment, but really taking a hypothetical stance and saying, “I think this is what is going on,” trying to disprove it, and understanding that there might be the potential for failure and not seeing failure as a bad thing, but as a learning opportunity. Is that kind of where you’re going with that?

Saleema [00:22:02] Yeah, I think ultimately spending some time with the ideas and trying to put them out there and see how you can test them. And maybe merging those ideas. A lot of times the best ideas are not really looked at nicely. The beginning is kind of like, “Oh, that doesn’t seem… That seems like a terrible idea or it doesn’t seem feasible.” But then we actually iterate, we work on it, we talk about it, we look at it in different ways. I think that we can move away from, you know, failing to actually having something that could be scalable or making a pivot in some way. And I think some of the best ideas that we’ve had or some of the best improvements that we’ve had in my current company has been through taking some space away from our daily operations and spending some time to bring those ideas to the table in a creative nature or whatever, in a different setting. And that’s why we do those retreats.

Roberta [00:22:44] So along the concept of experimentation, Saleema, can you tell us a little bit about how you, in all of your years and all of your transformations now, have sort of developed yourself? Where has it come from? Has it been through others? Has it been through the journey with others? Has it really been a lot of your own just letting go and taking that step forward of saying, I do know?

Saleema [00:23:10] Yeah. I think that I’m a person that generally will appreciate the validation from others. And so I generally like to hear what others have to say or how they see me. And so one thing that I did was during the book interview process, I would often ask people, “Where do you think I would excel in my career based on our conversation?” They barely knew me, but they just saw me positioned and how I was in that present moment, which would be very different than maybe people who have known me for many, many years. And so it was very interesting, some of the responses that I got. I would get their feedback on even, like, my book title, Innovation Starts With I. I was very worried about having that word innovation in the book title. My initial book title was Ripple Impact and that didn’t go so well. It worked well for the company, but Innovation Starts With I got a lot of pushback initially and people were like, “Innovation’s such a buzzword,” and this and that.

Saleema [00:23:56] But ultimately when it got chosen for a TEDx talk and in all my interviews, a lot, I’d say like 80%, 90% of the people loved the title. And I asked them, “What does that mean to you?” It actually validated a lot of what I was not confident in. I was very scared about talking about self-awareness, connecting that with innovation. I was like, “Oh, this could go totally wrong.” And there were a few people that were like, “I don’t see that connection.” And I sometimes took it personally and I was like, “Actually, you know what? There’s a lot of people that do understand that and they have stories around that.” And it was kind of scary putting something out there that wasn’t so mainstream.

Roberta [00:24:25] That’s amazing. It takes a really brave personality to do that. And I happen to love the title. In fact, I also love the artistry on the book, but it’s because I’m an M.C. Escher fan.

Paul [00:24:38] So one of the things that we ask all of our guests, before we wrap up, and we’ve got one from you already. I’m wondering if your definition has changed. How do you define innovation? That’s in the title of your book.

Saleema [00:24:49] So to me, innovation is, how do we leverage existing things and put them together in new ways that create value, is how I would define it. I think that it really is about these original combinations. I think too many people think it’s about new ideas or they get confused with invention. And I think that there’s so much stuff out there. What I learned through the book interviews is we don’t always have to be focused on solving a problem. A lot can come out of ideas and then positioning those ideas to then realize, “Oh, this is a problem we can actually solve.” I think when we’re looking too hard at a problem, it’s really hard to innovate.

Paul [00:25:19] Awesome. And I’m going to ask you a second, what’s a book or podcast or article that you’ve read lately that’s inspirational to product folks? But while you’re thinking of that, if I could just go back to the beginning and recap some of the big takeaways that I’ve taken over the course of our conversation today. One of the things that I found really helpful is, back at the very beginning, we talked about infusing yourself into the journey and helping others by understanding yourself first. The image in my mind when we were talking about it was that airplane take-off checklist. Like, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help somebody else. So almost this journey of self-discovery is the first step on innovation. Number two was the resiliency and grit, and failing fast, failing forward, failing smart, and understanding that you can learn this type of confidence only in the practice. And then the third piece that we talked about that I really loved is this process of embarking on the personal reinvention journey. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to understand yourself through the way others see you. You have to understand yourself through how you’re going to be positioned both as a business owner, as an author, with the title of your book, even as a way that you’re kind of taking a stand. So is there anything that you think I missed?

Saleema [00:26:29] Yeah, I think you got it pretty accurately. I think the 80-20 rule, awesome if you can implement that.

Paul [00:26:34] Absolutely. So back to our last question. What are you reading, obviously besides your own book, which we will link and love to share out with everyone here? What are you listening to? What are you reading? What are you watching that’s inspiring you lately?

Saleema [00:26:45] Yeah. So I read pieces on a lot of different things actually, but I would say one podcast that I tend to listen to a lot is How I Built This. I really like it, especially for product folks I think it might be particularly interesting. A lot of you probably might have heard of it or listen to it, but I think that one is particularly interesting. Some of the examples and the stories out there, they’re very non-obvious and so it helps with that sort of cognitive flexibility or dot-connecting, associative thinking because you can take very different businesses and how they got built or different ideas and how they iterated and hear the personal story side of that as well and how that was part of the innovation. And I think the more non-obvious it is, the easier it is to actually apply it.

Paul [00:27:22] Yeah, it’s a classic. I love that one. Thank you so much for taking the time today. It’s been a pleasure staying in touch with you, seeing your success. Congratulations again and all the best.

Saleema [00:27:32] Thank you so much. It was lovely being on your show.

Paul [00:27:34] Cheers.

Paul [00:27:37] Well, that’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get, so please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world, just like you’re doing. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next episode.

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