Many times, our work experiments aren’t well defined to measure results, or they don’t turn out the way we hoped. But sometimes, you circle back to check in on a series of small investments over a long period in pursuit of one goal, only to find they were wildly successful. This is one of those stories: the practical steps that my team took in 2020 to reduce our critical issues by 100% while growing our weekly active users (WAU) by 150%.

There was no magic formula, just a series of smart decisions, consistency, and proactivity. I’ve identified 5 things that…


I’m honored to be this week’s guest on This is Product Management, a podcast by Alpha. It was so much fun to record because the topics are basically all of my favorites:

  1. Product management in startups, and what to do when you’re stuck trying to determine what metric even matters rather than how to make it go in the direction you want
  2. Executive alignment, and the importance of understanding how key stakeholders like to communicate
  3. Imposter Syndrome, and how to get over it
  4. How to break down walls and objections with stakeholders through collaboration and shared discovery
  5. The importance of keeping users at the heart of your decisions, and how to do that as a new startup that may not have a large user base yet

Give it a listen and let me know your take on these topics.


Photo by Cookie the Pom on Unsplash

Travel and in-person meetings may not be part of our work-life right now, but user interviews have never been more important. My product is used by some the world’s most advanced marketing teams, and we’re hearing from them that there are “pre-COVID” user insights, “during-COVID,” and there will be “post-COVID” insights. They are so hesitant to lean on what they have historically known about their customers that they are asking for data to be separated so pre-COVID knowledge doesn’t muddy the waters in this new reality.

What these marketers know, and what user researchers, product managers, general managers, and designers…


When I joined my current company, I heard a couple of recurring themes in my first few weeks of meet and greets. One of them was that no one trusted the product and engineering teams. Software rarely shipped, when it did, it was buggy, and there wasn’t a lot of clarity about what was being built and why, when customers were asking for something entirely different.

It quickly became clear that job #1 was not going to be a product strategy but rather building a functional product engine that delivered results. …


When stakeholder relations get rocky, try these techniques for getting them on your side.

Photo: Stijn Swinnen/Unsplash

It’s a bit like the tango. Energetic, powerful, dependent on each other but with a hint of argument woven in. That’s stakeholder management at its finest. But what about when you’re being stonewalled, and all you hear are all the reasons why what you’re proposing won’t work? We’ve all been in that situation: You need buy-in from a department head whose team needs to adjust a process or report data in a different way, and they’re reluctant (or they downright refuse) to endorse the change with their team.

Product management is a deeply collaborative, relationship-driven job, and developing techniques for…


Why the first thing to do when you’ve got a new idea is to build nothing: three practical steps to validate ideas and start strong

Every month or so, I have a great idea for a new startup. I’m going to change the world. I’m going to build the best networking/entertainment company, I’ve got the next subscription-box blockbuster, and I’m going to bring catering and personal chefs into the digital age. (A sampling of my 2019 ideas.)

When I have these ideas, my first instinct (still, even though I know better) is to brainstorm domain names and buy a URL. Then I want to design a logo or even sketch out some designs. I think about a go-to-market plan, how cool it would be if…


Thanks to my friends at Projekt202, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Seattle Interactive Conference #sic2019. With hundreds of talks over the two day event, it was informative, well-run, and buzzing with creative energy. It was more marketing-heavy and less design-heavy than I was expecting, with a lot of focus on branding, both personal and organizational.

My top learnings and takeaways are below.

On Branding and Experiential Marketing

Good Branding Starts from the Inside

The headline around building a brand that matters is that it starts from the inside and flows outward rather than being painted on. Michael Gaston, founder and CEO of Cut.com, …


Empathy could be the difference between big profits and going out of business

Photo: Josh Calabrese/Unsplash

I’ve spent more than two years enabling companies to connect with and learn from their users. Over the course of more than 15,000 conversations, I’ve learned a bit about empathy — its role in the product development process, its impact on marketing success, and its inseparable connection with innovation.

The challenge with empathy, and especially CX leaders tasked with implementing an empathy program in their companies, is that the tangible results are often hard to identify. Business success is always a combination of factors, and carving out the percentage of lift that empathy provides is frankly impossible to do. …


What’s the secret to being a successful B2B product manager? Is it a stellar onboarding experience? Laser focus on your activation and retention metrics? Important, yes, but what if I tell you it’s something much more nebulous? Something a lot simpler, and a lot harder to be disciplined about. What if I tell you it can transform how you look at problems, categorize your users, and prioritize solutions?

Let’s start with some background.

The Experience Matters

There’s an antiquated idea — that’s still holding on in some circles — that design doesn’t matter for B2B companies. …


I’ve spent the last two years working on products at Discuss.io that enable our users — product managers, marketers, and user researchers — to build connections with their users, wherever they are in the world. Product managers talk about anything and everything with their customers, things like the impact of hard water on people’s shampoo purchasing habits in Indonesia, all the way to personalization features in consumer apps, and the fine line between helpful and creepy.

Though companies may value the voice of the customer and want to incorporate user feedback into the product, it can be hard to shake…

Ashley Wali

Product leader @discuss.io. Inspired by @adilwali, our 2 boys, & the beauty of the PNW. Passionate about gender equality, travel, & weekends at home.

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