Matt Schnitt

Product Manager @ HubSpot. I think and write about product management, SaaS and travel.

Study Abroad v2.0 - 6 Weeks In

Posted by Matt Schnitt on Nov 28, 2015 10:48:55 AM

One of my good friends wrote about his 2 years in the Peace Corps in Ghana on his blog, much the same I'm writing about my time here in Dublin. My hope is that these posts 1) keep family and friends updated since I'm notoriously bad at staying in touch, 2) give me some perspective/reflection on the trip and 3) act as a snapshot that I can look back at later.

We've now been living in Dublin a little over 6 weeks, slightly less than a third of the way through our trip. Dublin and Ireland in general is an interesting place - it doesn't overwhelm you like Paris or Barcelona but I think it's far more liveable than most major European cities.

Largely, that's because of the people. Besides the fact that they speak English (which don't get me wrong is a pretty big plus), they are extremely welcoming and friendly. It makes being a stranger in a new place significantly easier and the city/country seems to get better even after the sheen of living in a new place wears off. I remember coming down off the high of living in Prague a couple weeks after arriving there for my first study abroad and expected the same this time around. It never came because we're much more integrated into the city than I think I ever was in Prague.

Past that we're pretty well settled in after a couple of long weeks. We were incredibly stressed about finding an apartment since the housing market in Dublin is crazy, but we found a great one. We also registered as immigrants so we can legally live here (it was as much fun as it sounds) and have a couple spots for food and drink that we're starting to be regulars at. I think now that we're settled the next 3 months are going to start flying by.

The biggest downside of living in Ireland is the weather. They justifiably call Ireland the Emerald Isle - it's incredibly green and lush. What I didn't really think about was that to be so green requires an enormous amount of rain. Chelsea noticed that Irish people don't really have rain jackets. I think it's because every jacket is a rain jacket when you live here.

As far as traveling goes we've seen a lot of Ireland already (it is beautiful) and spent a long weekend in Madrid (it is filling). The real traveling is about to start though. Over the next 3 months we are traveling on all but 5 weekends. So far we have planned: Amsterdam, Cork, London, Berlin, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vienna, Zurich and Prague. I've been to most of these places before but Chelsea hasn't so the treat for me is going to be watching her experience them for the first time.

That's the overview - I've learned a couple interesting things so far here that I think are worth sharing:

Remote Work
Right now I am working with two teams in Cambridge, MA and one in Dublin. Remote teams are difficult to manage but totally doable. I think the saving grace in working with the remote teams has been the fact that I have a longstanding relationship with my teams in Cambridge. It makes it easier to keep an open dialogue about what is and isn't working with the remote setup and there is a mutual understanding and trust between us that makes the decreased communication more palatable. I think the mistake that remote teams make oftentimes is to not take the time in person to get to know one another. If I ever work on a team that has a remote component again, I would do whatever I could to all get us in a room together for the first month to create working, if not personal, relationships and a team identity. I think this is critically important to remote work.

The other big learning has been how valuable having a couple hours each day to work uninterrupted has been. A source of angst for me since I started being a PM has been that I'm closer to a manager than a maker - I usually don't have much tangible work to show for myself alone. This feeling had gotten worse in the few months prior to coming to Dublin. I was on a schedule where I would get into the office and immediately get interrupted with an urgent chat or email that would serve to change my focus from the important work I should be doing to the immediate work that I was presented with.

The time difference between Dublin and Cambridge is such that I'm guaranteed a few hours of work to myself each morning. Having that time back has been really productive and clarifying for me and is something that I'll definitely take home. Whether I achieve it by coming into work later or turning off any mode of communication at work for the first few hours, I'm going to make sure I have that time to myself to focus on what's important instead of immediate for a couple hours each day.

Being Uncomfortable
One of the big impetuses for coming to Dublin was to try something new and different. I was born, raised, educated and now work in and around Boston. There is a certain level of comfortability that comes from being in a place for so long. My family, friends and perhaps most importantly favorite restaurants are all in a stretch of about 10 miles.

I didn't think that was necessarily the healthiest thing for me at age 25 before I left. Now I know it's not. I think your late teens and early 20s are about discovering who you are. I think your mid to late 20s are where you codify who you are. One thing I discovered about myself in my late teens is that I like to push myself pretty hard even when it is pretty uncomfortable - this manifested itself in school and internships. I think maybe I am codifying this by arriving here and dealing with the challenges of getting established in a new country. I never want to be the type of person that gets complacent in any aspect of my life. If that's the only thing I take out of this experience (it certaintly won't be a full checking account), it will be totally worth it.

Celsius to Faranheit
I've got that conversion DOWN TO A SCIENCE. It's almost like it's science...

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4 Tips for Marketers to Reach Productivity Nirvana

Posted by Matt Schnitt on Jul 25, 2014 3:04:57 PM

Note: This is a repost from a guest post on Zapier's blog.

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4 Mistakes New Product Managers Make

Posted by Matt Schnitt on Jul 2, 2014 9:47:12 AM

This is a repost of an article I wrote for the HubSpot Dev Blog.

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Freemium: A Behavioral Approach

Posted by Matt Schnitt on Jan 31, 2014 10:09:00 AM

Recently, I stumbled across an excellent guest post on TechCrunch that delved into whether startups should consider a freemium model or not. The authors (VCs from IVC) likened freemium to a samurai sword, in that unless you are a master at using it, you're likely to hurt yourself ('tis just a flesh wound!). I think mastery takes into account not only the economic calculus to make the model viable - COCA, LTV, conversion rate, churn - but also the mental calculus consumers use when deciding whether to pay for a service they already use for free. The best way to accomplish this seems to me to be to look at the model through the lens of behavioral economics. If you've read the excellent Predictably Irrational, most of the rest of this post is an application of the theory in that book.

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