Aspen Highlands Bowl

How teaching skiing makes me better at UX and Product Management

I started teaching skiing more than 10 years ago to have fun, make friends, give back and become a better skier. All of those things happened and surprisingly the experience and training I get each winter makes me much better at my job.

If they ain’t getting it, you ain’t saying it right

This is my favorite saying when I’m training new instructors. I change my communication style to meet the needs of my group and that sometimes means teaching six people the same thing six slightly different ways. We need to meet our clients where they are, use language they understand and talk about things that matter to them. If they aren’t getting it, you need to change your approach. I have had good success with using Bolton and Bolton’s approach.

Tailor your exercises

We use drills and activities to develop someone skiing skills. You need to choose a drill carefully and tailor it to their skill level, the snow conditions and the time allotted for the lesson. In my workshops I take clients through a series of exercises designed to help them achieve a specific set of goals. Each exercise is carefully selected and tailored to the client.  My clients are willing to get out of their comfort zone and tackle hard problems because they trust in our team and the process.

Develop your sense of touch

To an observer a skier has a good “touch” for the snow flows down the mountain effortlessly, but inside they are always evaluating the snow surface and making small adjustments to the get the performance they want. “Touch” is something that needs to be carefully developed over time. Listen and watch for pain points, road blocks, happiness, a lack of engagement and constantly make adjustments to support your clients or skiers.

Talk less, do more

Most ski instructors talk too much making their students overwhelmed or bored. The best instructors give students the right information at the right time and leave plenty of time for guided practice so students can learn through doing. Instead of spending hours debating a feature, prototype it, see if it works, make adjustments and test it again.

Image : I was breathing really hard on the way up the Aspen Highlands Bowl, but the view was worth it and so was the trip down the mountain.

2 thoughts on “How teaching skiing makes me better at UX and Product Management

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