AOAPM 3: Cancun
Adventures of a Product Manager, by Vik Tree
Wednesday, December 20th 2023, a beach, Cancun.
This post is presented by Sprig - build a product people love.
Sprig is an AI-powered platform that enables you to collect relevant product experience insights from the right users, so you can make product decisions quickly and confidently. Next-gen product teams like Figma and Notion rely on Sprig to build the user-centric products people love.
At Snyk, Sprig was an indispensable part of our product stack, and now, readers of The Product-Led Geek can get 10% off!
Against my better judgement, I’d sunk another four pints at the Kinetikode Christmas party before moving on to a nearby bar with Petra, where I’m not quite sure how many (any was too many) Jägerbombs were consumed.
In hindsight, this was not the wisest chain of decisions I’ve ever made.
I don’t remember getting home, but my Ring doorbell (other doorbells are available) proves it was 3:16 AM. Not that I needed my Ring doorbell to tell me that because - as I was reminded of around 47 times the next day - I woke up my fiancé and possibly both sets of neighbours in the process with a distinctly less tuneful rendition of the Osmond Brothers ‘Let Me In’.
I’m not entirely sure where I summoned this performance from, but as a consistent soundtrack to my childhood thanks to my mother’s swoonful worship of them, I suspect it had been lurking in my subconscious for many years, waiting to be unleashed in this inebriated winter moment 35 years later.
But yes, the next day was rough, to say the least.
I felt very, very fragile. I was tired and miserable. I had no energy, and, thanks to a perpetual feeling of being on the brink of chundering, I also had no appetite.
We were flying out to Mexico on Monday, and my anxiety about the flight was 8 out of 10. I’m petrified of flying. Like waking up next to Jason and Freddy petrified. Like diagnosed aviophobia petrified.
The numbers are pretty favourable. Assuming I take four flights a year (usually less) and that I will be flying for another thirty years, the odds of me dying on one of those flights are about 1 in 6.8 million. I know that I’m more likely to die driving to the airport than I am on the flight. I’m more likely to die from a nasty flu. Even walking presents a statistically higher risk. It’s all quite quite irrational, I know that, but I can’t help it. My palms get sweaty thinking about taking a flight a year from now. Even writing this is making me feel distinctly uncomfortable.
A few days out from a flight, saying that I’m not the most pleasant chap to be around would be an extreme understatement. My fiancé will attest to that.
Especially not when I’m nursing the hangover from hell.
Curled up on the sofa under a blanket and feeling extremely sorry for myself, I started to think back to the events of the night before.
I don’t think I said anything stupid to the Chief Moron.
Oh shit. I don’t know.
What I did remember, though, was the news he shared about Clive wanting to bring forward the self-serve launch.
I really didn’t want to have to deal with this. Not today. Not feeling like this.
I pulled up my work email on my phone and saw a new message.
From: Dee Tail
Subject: Slipstream Launch
Wanted to let you know I caught up with Clive.
He brought up bringing the Slipstream launch forward but I told him it was a no-go.
All good. Will fill you in when you’re back.
Dee Tail is my manager and the Chief Product Officer (the real CPO) at KinetiKode. I started calling her Dee Tail because I very quickly realised that she was afflicted with what might just be the most extreme case of micromanagement ever recorded.
If you’ve ever viewed a Linux kernel log at debug level, you’ll be able to imagine what our Slack DM’s often looked like.
But if there ever was a time for me to be thankful for Dee’s tendency to lean in too far, this was it. Gracias Dee. One less thing to worry about before having to get on a plane.
I spent the rest of the day watching Netflix and drifting in and out of sleep, punctuated by the occasional downing of the next couple of paracetamol tablets.
By the time Monday arrived and we were sat in the BA Lounge at Heathrow, the hangover was a distant memory. I was now consumed with my usual pre-flight mental routine.
My fiancé knows the drill. She’s been putting up with this for 6 years. She knows what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. And she knows when to say nothing. Now was one of those times.
There was a period in my life when I would never travel abroad by air. I’d either miss out on holidays, or they’d be made inconveniently complex through the need to travel by other means.
Over the years, I developed a way to cope with the fear of flying, but it’s still never easy.
I know not to drink alcohol before I fly. And I stay away from coffee. My doctor prescribed me a beta blocker, which takes the edge off things and prevents my heart from feeling like it’s beating all the way out of my chest.
And then there’s my mental routine. It will probably sound strange to you, but what I found helps the most is to perform a running commentary on the day’s events. In my head, I narrate every moment in the third party.
“Vik got up and helped himself to a small bowl of mixed nuts before refilling his glass of water and returning to his seat.”
Of all the things suggested by all the therapists I’d ever seen about my condition, this was the only thing that reliably helped.
Usually, when we land, the fear evaporates in an overwhelming wave of relief. And so it was this time. We touched down at Cancun International Airport with 14 days of blissful retreat ahead of us.
No shops crammed full of last-minute Christmas shoppers. No ruined turkeys. And no family to argue with.
I turned my phone on and waited for signal.
Not 30 seconds went by before it started ringing.
Incoming Call: The Chief Moron.
I hit the big red ‘Decline’ button.
Not now Jim, not now.
The first couple of days here have been serene. This place is magnificent, and I’m going to do my best to get KinetiKode out of my head until we’re back on British soil.
Nadie es profeta en su propia tierra.