July 23, 2018 - Comments Off on Interview with Product Gym on Product Manager Soft Skills

Interview with Product Gym on Product Manager Soft Skills

Product Gym, a company that provides tools for people looking to transition into product management, invited me to speak at their event highlighting Women in Product Management, and interviewed me on crucial soft skills that make for effective product managers. The interview, originally posted on their blog, is pasted below:


PRODUCT GYM: What is your definition of Product Management?

NICOLE LENZEN: Product Management involves the definition, build, launch, and iteration of a product. In terms of the role itself, I think what you said about product management being so different depending on the organization is really key. Maybe you’re very technical, or design-oriented, or have a strong business mind. However, there are some general areas of expertise that overlap whether you're working for a product-based startup, doing digital transformation within a large company, or working within the growth hacking space.

I think one of them is being able to communicate at all levels to all different types of backgrounds. It’s really having that right brain/left brain thinking to understand either a designer, engineer, or business person and communicate and translate the ideas and concepts of each of those various groups to the other. There’s also a lot of communication up and down, so at one moment you may be working in the weeds and the nitty-gritty, and the next moment at a very high level with executives and key stakeholders, so being able to again translate and communicate with the right fidelity is important. Does that make sense?


PRODUCT GYM: Absolutely.

NICOLE LENZEN: That's just one thing. There are other things too that I can quickly tick off. I think one of them is just being generally super organized and the source of truth. Being great at planning, documenting, and getting people on the same page to ensure they're all tracking towards the same vision is another that comes to mind. It’s making sure everyone is motivated towards achieving the same objectives and goals, which may be short term or long term depending on whether you're looking at an MVP, a pilot, or a really long-term calendar.

That kind of leads me to another one which is focused around leadership, and being able to really nurture your people. You're in a position where (as everyone always says) you manage product, not people. So you don't necessarily have a hierarchical position. You may not be above the people who are working on your team. However, you own the deliverables and the success of the product, and in many ways, the culture of your team. To that end you have to keep everyone engaged and feeling like they are individually contributing and growing, and that their voices are heard.

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August 1, 2017 - Comments Off on Changing the Narrative: Girls Who Code Today Become Women in Power Tomorrow

Changing the Narrative: Girls Who Code Today Become Women in Power Tomorrow

As part of the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, I organized a day of activities for 20 Los Angeles area high school girls at BCG Digital Ventures headquarters to learn about various career paths in the digital innovation space. Throughout the day, Girls Who Code participants took a tour of our Global HQ in Manhattan Beach, saw rapid-fire presentations on what each of our cohorts do in their day-to-day jobs, had an informal Q&A with women in leadership over lunch, and participated in a design thinking workshop to help ideate products that help girls figure out “what they want to be when they grow up.” 

In the post below based on my keynote speech, I discuss the importance of women in the workforce–not just in technology, but across all industries.

Programs like Girls Who Code didn’t exist when I was in high school. As one of the few females in my computer science classes, I was used to being an outlier. But it was incredibly difficult to figure out what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” As a result, I ran a lot of experiments in real-time. After working in Silicon Valley for a stint, I pivoted my career and went back to school to study fashion design. I went on to run a number of businesses, including a consultancy in the digital space, which led to product management at BCG Digital Ventures.

The specific set of challenges women in tech face are front and center right now–and for good reason. The number of women graduating with CS degrees now is even less than when I was in school. In order to continue to make progress, we must keep this topic in the forefront.

From my experience, there is no direct path for any individual. You can play many roles in your lifetime and you don’t need to climb any particular ladder in any particular order. I believe that we should continue to introduce opportunities for young girls to explore what they enjoy and discover what they’re naturally good at doing.

As digital becomes part of everything we do, technology and new job growth are becoming synonymous. You don’t have to work at a stereotypical “tech” company if you have tech skills, and you don’t have to be a full-stack engineer to have an amazing career at a “tech” company– building game-changing products requires input from all disciplines. Within the next few years, we will see the demand for skilled workers outpace supply. There will not be enough qualified people to fill the jobs created–let alone enough female talent.

Women are typically the early adopters, accounting for–by far–the majority of spending decisions in the US. If women are the ones using the technology, then shouldn’t we be contributing to its design and development? Recently, a friend of mine working on a women’s health app noticed that every single team member (including him) was male. Something is wrong with this picture! We need balanced viewpoints and actual end-users guiding key product decisions.

When you consider that companies with women founders perform three times better than the S&P 500, and that female-operated, venture-backed companies average higher annual revenues and use less capital, it’s of paramount importance that we increase the amount of women in prominent, influential roles. Ultimately, we need to create an environment where females are securing positions of power not just in the corporate world, but as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, politicians and beyond.

It is my hope that we will eventually come to a place where gender roles no longer exist–no labeling or discrimination by race, sexual orientation, or otherwise. But the only way we are going to get there is to flood the workplace with diversity, open-mindedness and amazing talent. That’s where organizations like Girls Who Code come in. The more girls we get excited about technology, the more women we will have in the workforce in the coming years.

April 12, 2016 - Comments Off on Podcast Research Project

Podcast Research Project


I recently did an independent project for a company on podcasting, putting together a product feature strategy to test the hypothetical assumption that listeners who interact with other users have a better overall experience, using the podcast app Stitcher as the example platform.

The project was fun and informative, and got me hooked on podcasts. After testing a few apps, my preferred one is Pocket Casts (on Android), and since finishing the project I have listened to the entire first season of Serial. I've also explored episodes from Here's the Thing, Actuality, Radiolab, There Goes the Neighborhood, and Dollars to Donuts. (I welcome any other recs!)

My friend Simon and I have a bit of a soft spot for 007, and once he discovered my renewed interest in podcasts, tipped me off to James Bonding (of The Nerdist empire). Simon recently purchased the entire 007 collection on Blu-ray, so we've started from the beginning with Dr. No, and are proceeding to watch each film in order of release. I'm then listening to the corresponding podcast soon after. I must say, they're pretty entertaining - I was definitely caught walking down the street laughing out loud.

Anyway, back to the project at hand... My research had me inclined to think that podcasting is a more personal experience than other share-heavy mediums, but the brief was specifically directed towards increasing user-to-user interaction so I took a feature strategy that I felt best aligned with the typical podcast user: saving and sharing highlights of a podcast with friends and colleagues. Check out the project deck above for research, insights, and feature design.

November 17, 2015 - Comments Off on Recap: Pioneer Mode 2015

Recap: Pioneer Mode 2015

Last weekend marked the very first Pioneer Mode conference—two days full of inspiring conversation, problem solving, and designing. A lot of people contributed to Pioneer Mode’s success—our amazing group of speakers and workshop leaders, all of the attendees, the volunteers. Instead of hearing how great it was from us, check out all of the tweets shared using the #PioneerMode2015 hashtag throughout the course of the event.

August 1, 2015 - Comments Off on Carol – Custom Couture Mother-of-the-Groom Dress

Carol – Custom Couture Mother-of-the-Groom Dress

Creating a couture garment is perhaps one of the most satisfying (in the thick of it) and rewarding (after the fact) activities. It's no walk in the park, however, and requires meticulous hand-work, continuous problem-solving, and extreme patience to get past the finish line. People often ask me about the pressure of working with such expensive and often irreplaceable materials, and catering to such demanding clients. Bottom line, you have to love it (or at least be well-compensated for it!). With any type of work that's so technique-oriented, it's the ability to apply intense focus, and to also walk away at intervals, that helps you navigate through the project. Having an incredibly skilled assistant named Aris also helps!

When my brother found his lady for life, I had the honor of making his beautiful wife's gown (blog post to come), the dress I wore (of course), a few rehearsal dinner ensembles, and also the dress my mom wore to the wedding as mother-of-the groom. My mom is a beautiful woman who takes amazing care of herself. She also works her ass off, yet always thinks first of her family and rarely treats herself to nice things. I could not have been happier to have the opportunity to create a custom, one-of-a-kind piece that made her look and feel like a million bucks (I wouldn't know exactly, but I guess that's a good feeling?)

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November 25, 2014 - Comments Off on Thanksgiving Playlist: 12 Songs to Digest To

Thanksgiving Playlist: 12 Songs to Digest To

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 11

Photo by Glen Jackson Taylor

The best part of Thanksgiving is getting together with friends from near and far and completely indulging in a delicious meal. The over-eating is always a good choice (just this once), until the food coma starts to sink in and the only place you want to be is back home in a pair of pants with an elastic waistband falling asleep to reruns of The Twilight Zone. Don't be that person this year, not when there are stories to be shared and lives to be caught up on.

We want to wish all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings, filled with friends, family, good food, and—of course—even better music. So we put together a little playlist for you to digest to. You can expect some of the classics—Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald—with a few modern twists thrown in (we're talking the best of Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes). Stick around past the feast, press play and let the conversation flow. There's no lulling to sleep with this Thanksgiving playlist.

August 21, 2014 - Comments Off on Q&A: Google Glass’s Janine Gianfredi Shares Her Shopping Considerations, Favorite Outfits, and Thoughts on the Future of Wearable Tech

Q&A: Google Glass’s Janine Gianfredi Shares Her Shopping Considerations, Favorite Outfits, and Thoughts on the Future of Wearable Tech

Janine_Elena5Janine Gianfredi on top of the world in windy San Francisco, wearing our Elena Dress

Meet Janine Gianfredi from Google Glass

Janine Gianfredi travels around the world spreading the wearable tech love that is Google Glass. As Head of Brand Marketing & Partnerships for the tech giant, Janine needs to make an impression wherever she goes. Most recently, she found herself in London for a Glass expansion campaign and a fashion event. Shortly before that, she attended an advertising festival on the beaches of Cannes. Toss those destinations in with the couple of times she's been to Italy this year for work meetings and you've probably got a pretty scenic visual playing out in your head. When it comes to fashion, Janine plays close attention to what she buys, where it was made, and how comfortable she feels, and is always empowered through her personal style.

Janine might be a familiar face to you— we previously profiled how we reclaimed her wedding dress and turned it into an evening gown. While she's currently based in San Francisco and works in Mountain View, California on the Google Campus, Janine is an ex-New Yorker who still manages to wear a bit of black here and there. We caught up with Janine between trips to ask a few questions about her daily itinerary and what she looks for in a work wardrobe. Read on to see what she has to say.

A Day in Her Shoes

Waking Up: I probably travel two weeks out of every month. On those trips, it's common to leave on Monday morning and return home on Friday. I'm packing up for the week to go to New York, or lately we've been going to Europe quite a bit. No complaints there! (It's been a really great roster of places.) Those weeks are very different because I'm usually staying in a hotel and I'm not far from where I'm working for the week.

When I'm here in San Francisco, I get up at about 5:30 in the morning, which is a good two-and-a-half hours earlier than when I lived in New York. I hop in the shower, but definitely don't wash my hair every day because it dries it out. I get dressed and head down to hop on my shuttle around 6:30am, which takes me from SF to Mountain View in just under an hour.


Morning Rituals: I get to campus around 7:30am, and the first thing I do is visit the barista for a latte—less for the caffeine and more so for the ritual. I sit and read emails or articles while I eat breakfast, and I get to my desk around 9am. From 9am until 4:40pm I have a pretty hectic day—a ton of meetings. I have a stand-up desk now—I don't sit anymore, which also makes me not really wear heels as much.

Don't Skip Meals: I do not miss meals ever. I am very, very good about eating three meals a day with snacks. I eat lunch every day around noon and I try very hard not to eat at my desk. I try to grab somebody and get away even just for a few minutes. My meals are very veggie-heavy. I usually avoid meat for breakfast and lunch and save it for dinner if I am eating it.

Work/Life Balance: I usually get on a shuttle around 5:30pm or so to arrive back in SF by 6:30/7. My husband George picks me up a lot of the time from the shuttle because I'm usually too tired to walk home! Since we moved here, we actually cook quite a bit for dinner. When we were in NYC, we barely ever did, but now we're really good about it. We have more space to cook, so it's easier. I also try very hard not to work when I'm home. I put in a long day and then I'm done with it. A lot of times at night we'll watch a show or read a book. I try to be in bed by 11pm to get up again at 5:30.

Weekends: I could work out here during the workday, but I choose not to. Part of it has to do with getting sweaty. I take way too long to shower and do all of that stuff. It just doesn't fit well into my day, so I tend to save it for the weekend. It may not be the best, but it's what I do. Friday nights I try to get to a yoga class, and we'll often meet up with friends for dinner. Saturdays we jump in the car with the dogs and go to Crissy Field. We try to be outside and just chill out. I do a pretty good job of not doing work on Saturdays or Sundays. I'm actually in the habit of not looking at emails until Monday morning now.


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July 22, 2014 - Comments Off on Edie Romper: Perfect for Your Bike Commute or a Picnic in the Park

Edie Romper: Perfect for Your Bike Commute or a Picnic in the Park


With summer heating up, it can be hard to nail down an office-friendly outfit that takes the warm temperatures into account. The Edie Romper is here to fix just that. Available in grey or navy, this romper is a fresh streamlined update to our Pixie Romper. With a softly gathered bodice and a cinching waist-tie, Edie helps show what you want to show while leaving just enough to the imagination.


The best thing about the Edie Romper? You don't have to worry about storing it away for fall—wear it over tights with your favorite blazer and flats for those chilly days fighting the office air conditioner or autumn breeze. Oh, and did we mention it has pockets? This spunky design is made in NYC in a luxurious stretch silk georgette, breathable and glamourous all at one time.


Aside from making an impression in the office, this versatile playsuit fits right in at a weekend picnic with friends or browsing the flea market with your beau. Add a statement necklace for an added detail or keep it simple with the feminine buttons—they give a soft touch of elegance that goes a long way.

Edie Romper in action at the Lindy Focus Fashion Show

The Edie Romper is available in our online shop for those looking for a new summer-friendly style to bring into their work (and play) wardrobe. If you're in New York City, schedule an appointment to stop by and view the collection.


July 8, 2014 - Comments Off on Meet the Eva Collection: Feminine, Tailored Dresses and Separates with Vintage-Inspired Details

Meet the Eva Collection: Feminine, Tailored Dresses and Separates with Vintage-Inspired Details


Feminine details, vintage-inspired charm, and an all-over elegant silhouette is a given with the new Eva Collection. As always, the styles focus on keeping you put-together, no matter what the day throws your way. Whether you've got a bike ride commute followed up with an important client meeting or an impromptu happy hour get-together, we've got a pleated neckline, peplum or pocket (and much, much more) to keep you looking lovely no matter how hard you work.


Today's office dress code may be leaning a little on the casual side, but women still deserve to look and feel great during the day while stepping it up style-wise. Finding that perfect place between power suit and sundress, the Eva Collection is redefining modern work wear by introducing an elegant, feminine style that'll keep you feeling empowered.


But don't just take our word for it. We showed off the collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week and Lindy Focus XII. Keep your eyes out for our versatile new styles being worn the way they're meant to be worn—on the move.

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December 24, 2013 - Comments Off on Nicole Lenzen launches new Eva Collection at Lindy Focus XII

Nicole Lenzen launches new Eva Collection at Lindy Focus XII

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the new Eva collection at Lindy Focus XII. After a successful debut with the Candy collection at the 2012 Lindy Focus XI, we are proud to once again present new designs for the very first time with a runway show at the event.

The new Eva collection adds more office-friendly and multi-use dresses to the Nicole Lenzen line. Drawing inspiration from the sophisticated color tones of the 1940s post-war era, the Eva collection is elegant as much as it is versatile. Highly adaptable separates are also introduced to complete the offering of stylish, movement-friendly looks.

Join us for the new collection launch at Lindy Focus XI:
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Asheville, NC

Fashion Show
9pm, Sunday 28 Dec

Vendor Booth
Monday 30 Dec
Laurel Lobby

Call or email to make a private appointment to try on styles during the week
Friday 27 Dec – Tuesday 31 Dec
+1 347 878 8573

About Nicole Lenzen New York 
Nicole Lenzen's ready-to-wear collection channels vintage inspiration through a modern design eye. The feminine silhouettes are tailored for movement, and carefully constructed in New York City.

About Lindy Focus
Lindy Focus is one of the most inspiring and anticipated swing events of the year, bringing together amazing talent and energy from around the globe for nearly a full week of dancing, music, performance, teaching, learning, and sharing. We cannot wait to again be a part of this fantastic event!