Iulian Danciu is the Head of Product at InboxAds, a one-stop shop company that enables publishers to monetise their email newsletters with programmatic native ads.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career 13 years ago working as a hardware & software engineer. I moved to a business-centric role when I transitioned to HP.
Over the next few years, I took advantage of lateral movements and promotions to add new challenges to my role, such as people management, business intelligence, project management and program management.
It was a natural progression towards Product Management, and I did enjoy every step along the way. Over the past seven years, I have been working with products across multiple industries and various stages of their lifecycle.
My current role is the Head of Product at inboxAds – where I lead the product portfolio along with the product teams. We’ve grown from a basic MVP to a complete ecosystem with 3 different products over the last 2.5 years.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
When you’re working in Product Management, each day is different and brings its own challenges. For example, I like Mondays because they are used to set the week in advance, so they are very important in setting up the right tone.
I start my Monday morning with a cup of coffee, a quick meditation session and then our weekly meeting discussing our plan for the week, removing roadblocks and sharing useful information with each other.
Noontime is reserved for going through emails and other administrative tasks. I enjoy reading or learning during the lunch break or contributing to the Product Management communities.
During afternoons, I have other sync meetings with partners or I join our sales team and meet some of the new prospects.
I try to keep my agenda organized, and while I do offer flexibility, I am protective with how I spend my time.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
One of the positive aspects of the pandemic is the remote working environment that everyone got a chance to experience. We are working remotely for the time being & we enjoy the added flexibility.
As I am leading teams that are spread across multiple locations and time zones, the flexibility added by remote working came as a blessing.
My daily personal routines have blended perfectly with remote working: I have more time for meditation and study in the morning and I can squeeze in my workouts in the evening during sales calls. It doesn’t get any better than this.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I take this very seriously and it’s sometimes one of the questions that I ask during interviews: “Who are you outside your career, as a person or human being?”
While the career is an essential aspect, I believe that it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines us. The framework that I try to apply is to keep 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for your career and 8 hours for your passion or anything else that is not work-related.
A positive work-life balance equals a happy employee who performs better than an unhappy one investing 12+ hours / day in their work.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I constantly reflect over the status quo of many aspects related to my life, adding or removing routines, habits and even unhealthy relationships with people.
In the past 12 months, it has been more about reducing and removing things and gaining more clarity, focus and energy to invest in what really matters.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
For sure! As a Product Management leader, Marty Cagan’s Inspired and Empowered are a must-read, along with Teresa Torres’ freshly released Continuous Discovery Habits.
I don’t listen to many podcasts, other than a neuro-science based one. For me, the podcast format doesn’t work so well, as it requires my complete focus to follow with the information. Therefore I can’t just listen to it while doing something else.
As far as newsletters go – I’m receiving a dozen per day around Product Management, UI/UX topics, and Leadership. The one that I do recommend is Medium’s daily digest. I managed to curate it in such a way that all of the articles are worth reading!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I’m a big fan of Google’s products, as we use them at work, too. The only true gadget I couldn’t live without is probably my Bluetooth meeting headset.
I do spend most of the day working on my laptop or smartphone, but I cannot say I can’t live without them. We have plenty of alternatives to just about everything nowadays, and I like to try new things out every now and then.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Elon Musk – as he’s part of so many great companies and projects at the same time, I can’t imagine when and how he finds time for anything else.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Balance is key. This is one of my favorite recommendations that applies universally to many things in life. Build a career, grow, become a true professional, but make sure you invest time in yourself.
Don’t let that job title or company name you’re working for define you. Time is the most valuable resource that we don’t get enough of, yet people choose to spend it as if it’s infinite.
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