Ask Me Anything - MeisterTask Senior Product Manager
We're thrilled to announce our very first Meister Community AMA (Ask Me Anything!) — your chance to probe the minds of Meister's product, development, and design teams.
Keep reading to learn more about our first guest: Liis Monson, Senior Project Manager for MeisterTask. And don't forget to submit your questions before February 26th!
**EDIT** : Liis provided her answers on March 1st - If you'd like to see her answers, scroll down to the comments or click here!
🙋♂️ How to Participate:
- Submit any questions you'd like to ask Liis in the comments below.
- Please limit yourself to a maximum of three questions to allow Liis to answer questions from as many users as possible.
- Please post your questions by the end of the day on February 26th.
- Check back on March 2nd to see Liis' answers!
👋 About Liis:
Liis took up the reins as MeisterTask’s Senior Product Manager in April 2021. Since joining the team, she has transformed MeisterTask into one of the world’s most intuitive task management systems and distinguished herself as an integral member of the MT "Product Trinity" (Product Manager, Product Designer and Software Engineers).
Liis describes creating products at Meister as her “true calling.”
❓ Feel free to ask Liis about, well, anything! Topics might include:
- Her vision for the future of MeisterTask
- The Meister design philosophy
- How MeisterTask fits into the wide world of task management tools
- What it's like working at Meister
- Her favorite MeisterTask Feature
- Anything else which might interest you!
Hello and good evening to everyone in our user community! 👋
So happy to have the chance to get more involved in our community and answer your questions. — I'll get through as many as I can!
Best wishes from our Vienna office,
As the Product Manager of MeisterTask, my only possible answer to this question is "Absolutely!" 😀
But from a more balanced point of view, I actually believe that the biggest opportunity for us as a company is to make sure that all of our products work well together and that our users can cover their workflow seamlessly — from ideation to execution and documentation — without needing to put one product "ahead" of any other.
On a similar note, we're very aware that our products often have different use cases, even within one company! Some users whose life evolves around MeisterTask work together with colleagues who spend most of their workday in MeisterNote, while still others work primarily in MindMeister. We need to be able to support all of them.7
From @Olaf Roeb: How far does the potential of use for private, non-professional projects like traveling, wedding-planning, learning, self-improvement, sports, health-related activities, etc. influence your strategy and choice of design and features, compared to business-related boards?
Private and non-professional uses of MeisterTask definitely influence our strategy. When making strategic product decisions, it is not just important that we enable and empower businesses, but also that we make MeisterTask delightful to use!
To this end, a strategic focus on personal projects and other features which put a smile on users' faces (for example: "micro-interactions" — completed task rocket launches FTW! 🚀), are extremely important: they help ensure that using MeisterTask as part of your daily life is a joy, and not just something you they do because your boss says so! 😊6
From @Rooster McNugget: We have already talked about work life balance in this post here. What does the perfect work life balance look like for you and do you already implement it?
Love this question. For me, learning how to establish, respect and enforce my boundaries has been a hard lesson to learn. A few rules I follow:
- I don't check MeisterTask, Slack, or my email when I'm not at work. (i.e. after hours, during weekends, when on holiday, etc.)
I actually uninstall these apps when I'm on holiday, so my manager would need to call me on the phone if the house really were on fire. 😅 The other side of this coin is that when I work, I am very present. I don't scroll through cat videos or browse Instagram during work hours - not only because my work wouldn't get done, but also because mentally, my work time would spill over into my free time!
- When there's a situation where I have to choose between work and private life, my private life always comes first.
I always prioritize private commitments and promises over professional ones. For example, if I've promised my husband to be home by 7pm, but just as I'm about to leave I hear there's a really cool spontaneous work party going on in the office, I will go home. After all, I have committed to him for my whole life, and while I like my colleagues and love my job, they are (sadly) only passengers in my life and we will one day have to move on. It may seem harsh, I believe we make such consequential choices like this every day - making them based on instinct or mood may seem appealing in the moment, but this can cause pain down the road. I believe choices like this should be faced honestly!8
This might be a somewhat surprising answer, but I believe that what sets MeisterTask apart from the competition is not any one single feature, but rather its "lack" of certain features.
We always aim to provide users with beautiful, elegant and smart defaults that satisfy 80% of their workflows, rather than build every feature possible in order to cover the remaining 20%. How to strike that balance and still keep the product evolving and users happy? That's the tricky part. 😊
The feature that I'm most proud of is the free trials framework that we shipped last year. Unfortunately, it's not really visible for our existing customers, but it has made a big difference to the way we run the business side of the product, and I am immensely proud of the incredible technical work that went into this more or less "invisible" feature.4
What an excellent question! As I said above - not everything customers request can actually be built. If we did, we'd simply end up with a "Frankenstein Product" that would be nearly unusable for everyone!
As for how I say "no" — I'm a firm believer that when people understand each other, all kinds of messages can be conveyed. This means giving concrete explanations about why a request cannot be fulfilled and being transparent about our current priorities and constraints.
In all cases, however, we try our hardest to work with customers to find a workaround. We don't want anyone to be "left alone" with their problem - despite the Product Manager being mean and saying "no". 😊4
@cesar, your question really zeroes in on the heart of the matter!
Roadmapping is a delicate process - while user & customer feedback plays a central role, it must also be brought into harmony with Meister's vision, business strategy, growth targets, app usability, as well as wider picture of our competition and the tech and SaaS (Software as a Service) industries as a whole.
So of course user feedback is primary (if we have no users, we have no product 😲), but my main job is to find the sweet spot between user happiness and business needs. I essentially try to fit all the requests into the wider picture of MeisterTask "needs," all while keeping in mind any engineering and design constraints. So unfortunately, not everything that is requested can be shipped, but what is shipped must fit within the "design constraint" of "we are simple, elegant and beautiful".
I hope that answers your question!7
From @Rooster McNugget: I love proverbs/life wisdoms, what is your favorite proverb?
This is a tricky one, as I probably have different proverbs for different parts of my life, and also for different times in my life.
- As a female leader, probably one of the biggest influences I've had was this quote from Cher which I came across in my late teens during the 90s: "Mom, I am the rich man". Suddenly it clicked for me: I really can achieve anything I want in life, even as a woman.
- As a Product Manager, one of my favorites comes from our own MeisterTask dashboard selection: "With self-discipline, most anything is possible," by Teddy Roosevelt. I'm a firm believer in incremental change and that consistency will always trump talent. I really do believe that true progress is achieved when we have the discipline to continue even when we don't feel motivated or inspired. For me, this is the secret (and pretty boring) sauce of success and excellence. 🍯
- In my personal life, the most influential and inspiring quote I've ever heard must be the "No" from Rosa Parks. It is much harder to say "no" than "yes" — to expectations, to injustice, to things that don't benefit us, just because we are trained by society to be "nice". Saying "no" often requires courage and bravery, or at the very least a certain degree of self-awareness. So when I don't feel comfortable saying "no", I often think that if she could do it, I can do it. Go, girl!6
A great question from an international user in Australia! :)
While MeisterTask is best known in the German-speaking world, we are already a global company with strong markets on several continents, from DACH & North America to Brazil & Japan. In my opinion, expanding our reach is a matter of lazer-focused company & marketing strategy.
But whatever we do and wherever we expand, I strongly believe that we have to stay true to our key differentiators: design, simplicity, excellent companion apps, and a focus on the data protection & security measures which are so essential for many of our EU customers.4
Could you describe, from your perspective as a project manager, the desired effect of beautiful design and visual appearance on the affection of users, and their situational and long-term motivation to use MT? How do you feel about it as a user yourself?
Being simple, elegant and beautiful is one of our key USPs (unique selling points) which I believe we should never lose. This philosophy has so far served us well, and goes beyond simply looking pretty. It has a clear business benefit for our customers, most concretely measured in the low onboarding costs of new departments and teams and the "user delight" that ensures a smooth adoption.
Personally, I find balancing simplicity with feature requests and workflows definitely one of the core challenges of my job as MeisterTask Product Manager, but I enjoy it immensely while using the product. Especially after I have spent some time playing around with our competitors - it is always a pleasure to return to MT!3
@Rooster McNugget : Since you must have a lot of meetings and appointments I would be very interested in how you manage your daily life in the office and what tools you use, except the MeisterSuite of course! 😉
At Meister we're fortunate enough to have hybrid workplace, and I work from home at least 2 days a week. Wednesdays at Meister are meeting-free for everyone, and I've had a long battle to also clear my Fridays from meetings as well. I feel that I'm most productive in a flow of deep work, so I get a lot done in these two days, and the other days are dedicated to the sort of collaboration that allows our team to combine our different intelligences, talents, and expertises to ultimately produce our best work. I believe that combining these practices in a hybrid workplace is definitely one of the best ways to achieve good productivity!
When it comes to tools outside of the Meister Suite, I use the MeisterTask <-> Slack integration a ton in order to combine synchronized work with async work.
I also really like a good old physical notebook I can write in! As the Product Manager of an online collaboration tool this might seem shocking, but I still believe there's magic in having to slow down my brain and use a pen. 😀
I also make use of quarterly and weekly planning schemes, as well as a daily "wrap-up" — I like to have a clear overview of where I've been and where I'm going. I feel it also helps me to put my workplace thoughts and anxieties behind me when I leave work.
In order to fulfill my PM duties, I also use Product Board, Figma, the entire Google Suite, and analytics tools like Amplitude and Metabase on a daily basis.4
Being a socially responsible and ethical company is one of Meister's core values. I think this question would be best answered by @Marlene Lechner, who has spearheaded a lot of our CSR efforts, so I'll tag her here.
BUT I would also like to answer this question by describing some of my personal efforts: My husband and I have made several decisions based purely on our environmental footprint. Here are some examples which anyone who reads this could try:
- we decided to move from a house to a flat, as it's more economical
- we try to only consume food that is grown within a reasonable distance from Vienna: mostly local and seasonal products (get those bananas outta here! 😊)
- we only consume meat one day a week.
- we've sold our car and now exclusively use public transport or car sharing
- we always try to consume organic (bio), local, small production and environmentally friendly products: this applies to food, clothing, cleaning products, furniture etc.
- at least half of the contents of our home is second-hand, e.g. furniture and furnishings, appliances, etc.
- We've had "fixed-size" wardrobes for over 10 years. We don't add an item unless we get rid of something else. As we try to only buy sustainable clothes we really like, this essentially means that we mostly only shop when the old things fall apart
However, I have to admit that we have one weakness: traveling. We are avid travelers, so while we'd like to think we are rather sustainable, it is probably not enough to offset the flight footprint sadly 😕4
@JanaIngendahl Did you already received requests for sustainability information from customers/ investors? Especially in software selection some of my customers are including sustainability factors in the evaluation process and look closely on resource use of the tools they purchase.
To be honest, the (sad) answer is "no". As I wrote above, one of our primary values is to be socially and environmentally responsible, but this value hasn't yet been identified as a significant factor in most customers' selection criteria. In spite of this, it remains a significant company goal! I'll refer this again to @Marlene Lechner!2
Okay! As evening deepens in Vienna, I'm going to call it a night. Thank you all so much for the questions, and sorry if I didn't manage to get to yours during this time! It's been a real pleasure read your responses and see this community grow. Hope to see more of you soon in these forums!
Hello, thanks for such an insightful initiative @Andrew Lapidus. This thread is so worthy of a bookmark! 🔖
I believe this type of dynamics gives us the users a great opportunity to discuss challenges we all face in the field, so here we go:
As the person with the final word on Product Strategy, I presume @Liis Monson might have dealt with an old saying that goes like this:
"The customer is always right"
So, this is my question for you, Liis:
How do you say no to the customer when you know for a fact that the customer's requests will negatively affect not only the product strategy, but the expected results as well?
Follow me on LinkedIn and:
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Hi Liis and Andrew,
Great idea! Keep all these ideas coming.
My question for Liis:
As the Meister products and company are expanding across the globe where and how do you see MeisterTask specially expanding in the near future in competition to it's main rivals Asana and Trello.
Olaf Roeb Member, DACH Partner, MT Tester Posts: 121 Star Contributor
Wow, @Andrew Lapidus ,
this one marks a summit, a beautiful initiative and so great to hear from a position where all concepts, plans, numbers, and requests converge.
Thank you so much for taking the time, Liis, as I am sure time even with the greatest tools is not something you can withdraw easily from the project. I would like to add these two questions to the agenda:
- How far does the potential of use for private, non-professional projects like traveling, wedding-planing, learning, self-improvement, sports, health-related activities, etc. influence your strategy and choice of design and features, compared to business-related boards?
- Could you describe, from your perspective as a project manager, the desired effect of beautiful design and visual appearance on the affection of users, and their situational and long-term motivation to use MT? How do you feel about it as a user yourself?
Happy to join the AMA!
@Olaf Roeb @Cathy Fanning @Andres D'Andrea: thanks so much for the positive feedback, and the excellent questions so far! 😁 Really looking forward to this — Liis is an absolute legend!1
Find it insanely great that you @Liis Monson, some say the Wonder Woman of MeisterTask, give us an insight into your thoughts, ideas and visions! 👍️
I find the previous questions from @Andres D'Andrea, @Cathy Fanning and @Olaf Roeb very interesting and I already looking forward to your answer.
And here are my questions I would like to ask you:
- Since you must have a lot of meetings and appointments I would be very interested in how you manage your daily life in the office and what tools you use, except the MeisterSuite of course! 😉
- We have already talked about work life balance in this post here. What does the perfect work life balance look like for you and do you already implement it?
- Then my last question: I love proverbs/life wisdoms, what is your favorite proverb?
Best regards, Samuel
The impossible does not exist! The solution has just not been found yet!6
Hi Liis - thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Not totally sure if this makes sense or if you'd even be allowed to answer:
Do you see MeisterTask as being the flagship product of Meister and will MindMeister and MeisterNote be developed to compliment MT instead of the other way around?4
Very exciting to see the first Q&A directly between user + product manager! Thanks for sharing your questions everybody!1
How does customer feedback influence the roadmap for your team? I'm sure you have tons of requests for features - what is the balance between giving what customers want and staying aligned with the motto of "design and simplicity?"7
Great idea and an amazing opportunity I want to take ;)
As I am working with companies that strive for a sustainable business, I am wondering what are the efforts at Meisterlabs regarding sustainability. So my questions would be:
- Do you already try to analyse and manage your own impact on society and environment (Buzzwordbingo would look like: Footprint, Green-IT, Responsible Development, Green Code ...😁 )?
- Did you already received requests for sustainability information from customers/ investors? Espencially in software selection some of my customers are including sustainability factors in the evaluation process and look closely on ressource use of the tools they purchase.
Ich möchte das die einzelnen Karten in einem Board Automatisch die Kürzel von dem Namen des Bord bekommen um die Suche für mich zu vereinfachen z.B. E.mails schneller einer Karte zu zuordnen ... ist die Frage hier an dieser Stelle überhaupt richtig ? :-)
Danke Gruß Oliver0
Moin @Oliver Reh 👋😉
Die Frage ist hier leider nicht ganz so richtig platziert. Hier geht es quasi gerade um so etwas wie eine "Fragerunde" mit Liis Monson. Wenn Du eine Funktionsanfrage einreichen möchtest, kannst Du das aber grundsätzlich gerne tun 🙂
Schöne Grüße, Jörg
Als Experten-Partner von Meister führe ich in meiner Agentur u. a. Workshops für die Integration der Meister Software durch. Hier in der Community freue ich mich auf den Austausch mit Euch und helfe bei Fragen zu MeisterTask, MindMeister und MeisterNote gerne weiter.
Weitere Informationen findest Du auf agenturkoper.de und LinkedIn.1
@JanaIngendahl I LOVE your questions! Very important topic 😀.1
I wanted to ask this as well, so I'll just upvote here! I
'd also like to ask which feature or update to MeisterTask has been the one you see as the biggest game changer or separator from the competition, and which feature you are most proud of!3
kraefti Member, MT Tester Posts: 2 Beginner
As I am using Meister as a kind of power-user as well for project- and multiproject steering, and as I am living in two technical worlds (apple and microsoft) I want to know:
- when will it be possible to assign whole groups of guests to a whole lane (automation)
- wenn will it be possible to use note by pencil
@kraefti, LOVE the question about the MeisterNote pencil function! Would love to have that too!
The impossible does not exist! The solution has just not been found yet!0
Why is there no option for a fixed date in automations?0