Kamal Manglani and Navjot Singh met on the Hult MBA program in San Francisco. Now they’ve co-authored Product TakeOff – a book on product innovation, described as “one of the best product management books of all time” and Amazon bestseller.
We spoke to Kamal, who has led Transformation efforts for major retailers in the Bay Area, to find out more.
What’s the inspiration behind your latest book?
This book – Product TakeOff – a partnership with my co-author and Hult MBA classmate Navjot Singh – shares a new view on product development. The book takes inspiration from Silicon Valley and the leadership of top-notch companies. It features one of my favorite companies – Menlo Innovations based in Ann Arbor Michigan – where I learned a lot of what I know today. Other examples include how Elon Musk uses first principles thinking to solve really hard problems. This is one of the most crucial skills needed to be a product manager.
The book was also deeply inspired by our families, who wanted us to leave a positive difference in product development teams. Both our wives are building products and managing awesome teams. They were our first reviewers.
Elon Musk explains the First Principles method
You led Transformation at eBay. How do you stay grounded?
I make sure I wake up early enough to have some personal time to meditate and exercise. Then I do the daily school drop-off – and this part of my life centers me.
My days vary hugely. But I always spend 30 minutes in the morning unraveling my priorities on my kanban board and prioritizing the number one thing to complete that day. This “mini goal setting” allows a small sense of accomplishment each day.
What led you to do an MBA?
I was at a point where I had spent over a decade in the same company. I wanted to try something radically different but didn’t want it to be a job. So I decided to take a sabbatical and see where the experiment took me. The MBA was a grueling one-year program that tests you and builds you into a world class leader. When I was finished with the course my perspective on life and career had changed and I was no longer the same Kamal as before the MBA. I would do it all over again if I had the chance. My learnings were huge and I made some lifelong friends along the way.
When I finished my MBA, my perspective on life and career had changed. I was no longer the same Kamal as before.
The MBA hugely changed life for me at home too. I was able to plan ahead and bring my family from India to the U.S. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride but I have enjoyed each and every moment. Some days were very hard and in those moments I got to chisel away a new learning.
If there is one thing I would recommend trying out – it would be take a break for a year to learn. Find a program that suits your needs. For me that was an MBA at Hult.
What are you working on now?
I am experimenting with a new dimension to my career. I have several new teaching opportunities. And my own exec coaching role continues to grow with more c-level folks at startups and enterprises wanting attention.
What’s your advice to incoming Hult MBA students?
There is a strong Hult community out here already – do not think you are starting off new. You already have a base – all you need is to let go of your doubts and take the leap.
Thanks Kamal. All the best for your future endeavors.
Get a sneak peek of Kamal’s and Navjot’s latest book here on Amazon.
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