Hope Gurion is a seasoned professional with a background in product management, business development, and coaching within the tech industry. As the founder of Fearless Product, she plays a pivotal role in advising and supporting product leaders and teams. Hope’s career traces back to the early stages of the internet, where she contributed to shaping digital experiences. She held positions at AOL, Jobster, CareerBuilder, and Beachbody, and she brings a wealth of experience in dealing with various challenges in product development, business growth, and leadership. In this episode of the Unlearn Podcast, Hope joins Barry O’Reilly to discuss her career journey, emphasizing the importance of persistence, adaptability, and shared vision within product teams.
The Reach of Shared Vision
Hope reflects on her experience at AOL, particularly in AOL Shopping. Despite creating a detailed Product Requirements Document (PRD), the disconnect between her vision and the final designs revealed the necessity for shared understanding among team members. This disconnect eventually led to a breakdown in trust. Hope emphasizes that everyone should comprehend the business context and constraints. “It was just a learning moment for me in terms of, do you really have [a] shared vision?” she tells Barry. “Does everybody on the team really understand the business context of what we’re trying to do?” This situation was common in the early 2000s tech landscape, Barry says. “There’s still plenty of companies living in that world of siloed teams, lack of cross-functional groups.” [Listen from 2:05]
Jack of Many Trades
Hope shares a key moment from her professional evolution, recounting a significant turning point when Matt Ferguson, the CEO of CareerBuilder, offered her a position. Hope initially turned down the role due to personal reasons, but Matt persisted, expressing a genuine belief in her potential and leaving the door open for future collaboration. This persistence became a catalyst for Hope’s subsequent transition to CareerBuilder. It demonstrates how a leader’s perseverance can reshape an individual’s career trajectory. Hope’s career evolution also highlights her adaptability. She navigated various roles, from AOL to CareerBuilder. Her eagerness to find ways to grow the business and diversify revenue streams led to her role as Chief Product Officer. [Listen from 11:05]
From Chief to Coach
Hope’s transition from being a leader in various companies to becoming a coach and advisor wasn’t a predetermined career move, she shares. Barry prompts Hope to reflect on this shift, asking about the triggers and the unlearning process required. Hope’s career shift was triggered by certain constraints she experienced in her role as CPO. At CareerBuilder, she faced the challenge of training and developing individuals from diverse backgrounds into product-related roles due to certain constraints. This experience became foundational for her belief in the coachability and trainability of product leader roles. Her coaching venture was a result of requests for interim consulting, leading to her collaboration with Teresa Torres. Reflecting on her coaching transition, Hope shares, “Knowing what types of skills I think are coachable and trainable, and knowing that was something that I got a lot of satisfaction doing and had seen a lot of different scenarios [of], is what gave me confidence that I could do this to a certain segment of people.” [Listen from 21:26]
Hope advises listeners to focus on fundamental questions such as understanding the customer, evaluating alternatives, and articulating the unique value proposition, emphasizing the importance of alignment and shared understanding within product teams to drive forward progression. [Listen from 27:15]