Located in sunny California, Dave Silverstein is an accomplished product professional with over 15 years of experience in his field. Dave is a firm believer that “normal” doesn’t build a successful business, change your family tree’s trajectory, or lead people to anything extraordinary; this drives his innovative and creative perspective on the projects he gets involved in. Dave is a graduate of Quinnipiac University and holds a B.S in Management and a B.S in Marketing.
As Chief Product Officer, Dave has experience in various areas, including eCommerce, software, technology, and game solutions. Overall, Dave has worked on some pretty innovative projects.
Dave has confidently led over fifteen B2B and B2C eCommerce product launches for successful brands like The Tile Shop, Giant Tiger, Mizuno USA, and Enesco. Some of his other projects include establishing the popular Lego Star Wars 2 across seven different gaming systems in a period of twelve months from inception to launch. He went to follow with another successful launch of the Lego Indiana Jones game. This launch was also done in a short period of eight months and was released across seven different gaming platforms, all to ensure the game released synced properly with the release date of the movie.
Dave Silverstein has also worked for Warner Bros., LucasArts Entertainment, Activision, and DEPLabs. He also maintains professional certifications as a certified scrum master (CSM), certified scrum product owner (CSPO), certified product manager (CPM). He’s currently working towards a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certification. Dave’s professional career also extends to his entrepreneurial endeavors. He is the COO and Board Member for the Orange County-based Family Wellness Acupuncture, that he and his wife founded in 2008. Dave is also the CPO at Mendit.
For more information on Dave Silverstein or to learn more about his product insights, visit his blog, or connect with him on Twitter.
Our Interview with Dave Silverstein
Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Dave Silverstein: I learned that failure itself is the best teacher. I used to fear failure so much that I wasted too much time trying to perfect everything to a point where failure wouldn’t happen. Then on many occasions, it did anyway.
From that experience, I realized that when I try to do something and fail, almost immediately, I have an idea or set of ideas on things to try next time to hopefully get it right. Fail Fast, Fail Often!
Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Dave Silverstein: One time, my team had just finished a seemingly impossible project to launch a video game on seven gaming platforms in 14 months from start to finish. Nobody had ever done it before. On the day we got approved to launch on the 7th platform, we were told to do it again with only eight months to coincide with a movie release for the franchise.
Everyone on the team was ready to jump off a bridge, but then I realized we just tell everyone we will do our best to make it happen. If we failed, we would work something out with management. If we succeeded, nobody would complain.
We really came together to figure out how to optimize everything and shave the development and platform approval cycles as much as possible. In the end, we just barely pulled it off and got the game launched in 8 months, day and date with the movie’s release.
Question: Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Dave Silverstein: A notepad and pencil. When the power is out, and the internet fails… I can still write things down and make sure things don’t get lost even if I need to handle it analog style!
Question: What is your favorite hobby, and why?
Dave Silverstein: I grew up a gamer and I still am today! It is an easy way for me to calm my mind after a long day. When I have time, I’ve also become quite adept at baking bread in the last few years (pre-pandemic). My wife can’t get enough of my rye bread and she wants me to bake a loaf every weekend!
Question: What excited you the most about your industry right now?
Dave Silverstein: Mainly I’m in tech, but that applies to all industries now, and I’ve worked in several. Currently, I am working in eCommerce, healthcare,, and the textile industry. What excites me about the tech side of it is that the solutions we are coming up with to handle changes retailers need for eCommerce due to the pandemic are all very similar to the other industries I’m working in. These solutions will help any industry, weather that storm and be more successful, as we come out of it and continue working toward the future.
Question: What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Dave Silverstein: The pandemic also increased a trend and changing behaviors in the use of technology that small businesses need to start doing just to stay afloat. Twenty years ago, small businesses didn’t need a website. Now they do. Ten years ago, social media was not required. Now it is. In 10 years what other new technologies and expenses will businesses need to master and or pay for help with just to stay afloat.
We haven’t yet realized enough technology advancements that can be scaled down enough in size and cost to be profitable for the tech platforms and also be helpful to the small business that needs the help the most with the lowest cost of entry for them to afford it.
Question: What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Dave Silverstein: I was leading a large cross-functional team through a major product development launch and some of the team members came to me with an issue that came up through the course of their work. The issue was a serious enough design problem that it would have resulted in our product being too hard for consumers to figure out how to use, and it could have cost the company millions in rework and lost time/sales if we implemented it that way. However, the executive sponsor of the project was adamant about the design being what he proposed and was not open to change.
I knew that presenting the issue would have led nowhere and would have made the executive sponsor question my role on the product launch, but I also knew he didn’t pay attention to the specifics either.
I told the team to just go ahead and change the design as they suggested. Nobody noticed we made that change and were happy with the results. I could easily have been fired for that.
Question: Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Dave Silverstein: When I get stuck with a lot of big things that take hours or days to complete, I focus on breaking things up into small bite-size chunks that I can quickly and easily move forward on. I keep doing that until I have momentum, and once I have that, everything gets faster and easier.
Question: What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Dave Silverstein: It is amazing what you can get if you just start asking for what you want and listen well enough to try and understand what their objections might be. When you can gain that understanding, it is much easier to work out a solution with people that everyone can work with, whether it be a seat at the table or something else.
Question: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Dave Silverstein: There are several that are up there, but “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier really helped me learn how to say things in a better way when I was learning how to collaborate better with people on the teams I was running.
Question: Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Dave Silverstein: Both are valuable but sometimes it depends on the situation. Sometimes you need the smartest people around to work through a problem and sometimes you just need some common sense to figure it out.
Question: What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Dave Silverstein: I don’t know if I’d call it perfect, but when I wake up in the morning and everything just feels right. For the rest of the day, everything just keeps going my way, and ends with me feeling better and more refreshed than when I started, that is as close to perfect as I can see.