When the new CPO says “This is garbage. You can do better” – with Leah Tharin
The watershed moment that shaped Leah's future leadership style and career.
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“It was my second meeting with Smallpdf’s new CPO, and I was in tears.”been hoping for recognition for the work she’d done as growth lead on the desktop app. Instead, the CPO – someone she respected very much – said, “This is total garbage.”
Leah described this conversation as a watershed moment that helped shape her future leadership style and career.
Leah has become a leading growth advisor for B2B companies, a program creator at Maven, an executive coach, podcast host, and influencer in the growth community. But in that moment, while leading the core product team at Smallpdf, she took the brutal feedback very personally, and completely broke down.
“I left that meeting, cried a little more, and then — after some reflection — decided to get over my pride,” Leah says. She got on a call with the CPO, and asked him for help.
What he said in the follow-up conversation put a whole different spin on things: “You’re wasting your potential. You can do better”.
“I was always very scared to lead people because I don’t like to make people feel bad. But this experience really unlocked things for me, and defined my leadership style going forward,” Leah says. “I learned that you can give really tough feedback, but be caring at the same time.
You can be frank, and tell someone, ‘This is not good,’ but you can also tell them you know they can do it better.”
That moment changed Leah’s perspective on leadership, and helped her step into her confidence in a whole new way.
In addition to this story about how she turned a rock-bottom experience into a career-defining moment, Leah also talked about:
How she pulled herself out of a really dark place by being honest with herself and detaching from the comparison game.
The time she and her dad launched a company and ran it for four years, even though it was clear after year one that it wasn’t working out.
Her regrets about spending much of her early career pretending to be a know-it-all all the time.
Watch or listen below 👇
Moments to listen for:
[10:45] Growing in the messy middle
[13:04] The watershed moment that altered Leah’s career
[21:27] Learning to zoom out and slow down
[25:00] Continuing with a struggling business
[26:16] The superpower of a growth mindset
[28:53] Managing the spectrum of self-doubt
[37:14] Improving from poor presentations
Connect with Leah on LinkedIn
Check out Leah’s PLG Course
Listen to The Productea with Leah Podcast
Learn more about Navattic
Learn more about Appcues
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