Terrence-Liverpool

57 / The Product-Led Organization

Description

What does “product-led” really mean, and how can you leverage it in your personal practice and throughout your organization?

In this episode, Sean and Paul catch up with Terrence Liverpool, AVP, Consumer Bank Digital Product Manager at Synchrony Bank. Terrence brings a wealth of insights that come from working across the digital sector at companies such as Comedy Central and Nasdaq. Terrence is both an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur and he shares how product ownership is central to both roles.

Terrence also draws our attention to another key skill for product managers: intuition. He encourages PMs to question decisions that are made and then “dig deeper to get the story behind it all.” With changing business goals, it is also important to continually refocus on the big picture.

Tune in to this episode to hear all of Terrence’s insights, plus more on:

  • Sustaining two-way communication with stakeholders to prioritize the user experience
  • Leveraging your organization’s core values to guide long-term goals
  • Promoting customer advocacy through innovation

Terrence’s Recommended Reading:

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan.

Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value, by Melissa Perri.


About Terrence

Terrence Liverpool is an innovator who loves tackling complex problems and building products from the ground up. He currently serves as Synchrony Bank‘s AVP, Consumer Bank Digital Product Manager where he is responsible for emerging digital products. Before joining Synchrony, Terrence worked as Senior Director, Digital at Emerald Expositions, and as Senior Manager of Marketing and Digital Communications at NASDAQ. He has also held positions with Publishers Clearing House (PCH) and Comedy Central. He has a passion for fitness, social entrepreneurship, and community development. Youth mentoring and education with organizations in NYC are particularly near and dear to his heart.

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Transcript

Sean [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to the Product Momentum Podcast. This is a podcast intended to entertain, educate, celebrate, and give a little back to the product leadership community.

Paul [00:00:32] Hey Sean, how are you?

Sean [00:00:33] Doing good, Paul. I’m excited about this interview.

Paul [00:00:35] Yeah, it’s pure storytelling of a fantastic product manager’s journey.

Sean [00:00:41] Yeah. We got to learn about scaled Agile inside of a large financial services institution and we got to learn what they mean when they say product-led, you know, in a big bank. It’s pretty cool.

Paul [00:00:52] Yeah, I think autonomy is something that we strive for in a mindset, but it’s not often something that we can say we have total control over. But looking for those areas where we can solve a problem in the sphere that’s right in front of us, I think it’s a really powerful story.

Sean [00:01:08] It is. Figuring out how to control the controllable. That’s your quote. I like that one.

Paul [00:01:12] All right, let’s get after it.

Sean [00:01:14] Let’s get after it.

Paul [00:01:18] Hello and welcome to the pod. Today we are super excited to be joined by Terrence Liverpool. He’s an innovator who loves tackling complex problems and building products from the ground up. He currently serves as Synchrony’s Associate Vice President, Consumer Bank Digital Product Manager, where he is responsible for emerging digital products at Synchrony Bank. Terrence has worked as a Senior Director, Digital at Emerald Expositions. He spent time at Publisher’s Clearing House, Nasdaq, and Comedy Central. He’s got a passion for fitness, social entrepreneurship, community development, youth mentoring and education with organizations in New York City are particularly near and dear to his heart. Terrence, welcome to the pod.

Terrence [00:01:54] Thank you for having me.

Sean [00:01:55] A little plug for our school, he’s also a Simon alum.

Terrence [00:01:58] Simon alumn, for sure.

Paul [00:01:59] Rochester representing, absolutely. Terrence, you’ve faced challenges within your organizations over the years and you’ve obviously thrived through the frameworks that you’ve built up in your personal mantras in product management. Just to get us started, can you share a little bit about what it is about a product-led mindset that helps teams gain perspectives when they face challenges?

Terrence [00:02:22] I would say, for me and just like from what I’ve seen in general, having a product-led mindset is definitely what pulls you through tough times, particularly with what we’ve been going through this last year, year and a half from just every organization I’ve been in. When you do run into bumps and hurdles like keeping a focus on what your traditional goals were when you started a product, so essentially your customer. It’s keeping them first and making sure that you’re keeping in mind to include not just the stakeholders, but all your team members in that process and not just, you know, running things down the funnel and just building orders out, but continuing to keep everyone involved in that process.

Terrence [00:02:58] So just to take, for example, what’s been happening this year, a big thing for Synchrony was basically trimming down a lot of teams, particularly Agile teams, and our team got hit pretty hard as well. So one of the things that allowed us to really keep flowing and not really lose much traction in terms of getting items out and just the points that we were able to knock out every sprint was around ensuring that we kept our core team members, that one had a good handle and grasp for the product, and two, making sure that we kept people around that, you know, weren’t afraid to have their opinions heard and be a part of the discussion process. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being able to go back and forth about certain items that we might need to take care of. And having someone that’s a devil’s advocate, not just in general, just to continually be the person poking folks, but always thinking about how this might negatively affect our users or just going to negatively affect our brand and bringing that up in the conversations so that, you know, however we go about putting things together, we always have all aspects in mind. Because if everyone’s just thinking in one lane, it really doesn’t help us continue to move the product forward and just strategize. So I think that’s been a real big part of how the product-led mindset has really helped in moving forward.

Terrence [00:04:13] And then I’d say the last piece of it is really just being ingrained and knowing that your customers, as I said, are really who you’re trying to please at the end of the day. And so the big thing for us was just providing the ability to self-service and get to things as quickly as possible without putting any roadblocks and obstacles in your way. And if you can continue to do that a large part of the time, your customers, in general, will usually be happy. I’m sure you’re going to have speed bumps along the way, but that’s usually what helps keep it going.

Paul [00:04:42] Absolutely.

Sean [00:04:43] Yeah. So if I can summarize what you just said, product-led, at least in your organization, means having a clear vision that includes keeping your customers first.

Terrence [00:04:52] For sure.

Sean [00:04:53] And making sure you’re including all your stakeholders in the process.

Terrence [00:04:56] Exactly.

Sean [00:04:57] And I also picked up on, you know, it’s always people when you have to shrink.

Terrence [00:05:01] Right.

Sean [00:05:02] And I heard you say two things that stuck with me here, it’s two criteria that you held on to. Like, we kept people who are not afraid to speak their mind, right? And you kept people that you had confidence in [that they] really knew understood the product and the customers.

Terrence [00:05:16] For sure.

Sean [00:05:17] Those are two things that I think all product leaders should be thinking about. These are important leadership aspects and products, like keeping that focus on the customer, and the better you know your product and your product ecosystem and customer ecosystem, the more valuable you are to the team that you have.

Terrence [00:05:35] For sure.

Paul [00:05:35] Yeah, that’s a great summary, Sean. You know, one word that you used Terrence that I didn’t hear you say out loud if I’m recalling correctly, but that came through implicitly is resiliency. We’re all facing crises, some small, some big. The crisis of the moment might be, “we’re going to roll over a user story from one sprint to the next.” It might be something big that we’re facing down, but resiliency means that we’re looking at this, not as a paralyzing end of the world, but it’s a new shape of the problem that we have to get our arms around, find a solution, and march forward. You used a phrase when we were chatting before this: “stop, assess, decide, and act,” and sort of that mental model of don’t jump ahead, don’t go too slow, just have this constant cycle of decision-making. Can you share a little bit more about sort of what goes through your head when you’re looking at a challenge, big or small, in these organizations?

Terrence [00:06:27] Yeah, I mean, I think pretty much for any product manager, the big things you want to think about are, one, how this is going to impact the long-term product that you’ve been pushing towards? So for us, like the bank app and the bank websites have been a big thing for us. But it’s one aspect of, you know, putting out what you were trying to do in like maybe the next few weeks or the next month. But it’s also that long-term trajectory you had for your product and where you wanted it to grow and how you wanted it to grow. And that may necessarily change with everything that’s been going on. So with that in mind, you just think about what the core values are for the organization and also what the core values are for your team and keeping that as your, I guess you could say, linchpin as you move through that trajectory.

Terrence [00:07:13] So, like, for instance, items we’ve been working on where the team has put in like a good bit of work, sweat, and tears, and then it comes up in the business and they’re like, “OK, that’s no longer our goal, gotta switch shop and move forward.” And you can spend a lot of time just taking tires, like, “seriously, what’s wrong with these people? They don’t get that we put all of this effort and energy into it,” or you can simply look at it as like, “Hey, business goals change and now it’s time for us to move on and make this happen.” But, at the same time, when those new business goals do happen, we have that comfortability within our team to speak up and say, “OK, but does this make sense?” Or, “OK, what if we do it this way?” And our stakeholders and senior leadership team listens and takes some of what we say into account and I think that’s something that’s unique at the current organization that may not have been the case in other organizations I’ve been to in the past.

Terrence [00:08:02] And that really helps in terms of, one, having a sense of ownership of the product that you’re working on, and then two, just understanding that you experience your customers probably more than anybody else, because if they don’t like something, you’re the first line of defense in terms of when they come back and say X isn’t working. So you can at least portray that and pass that along to the stakeholders. And then the other piece of it is you’re looking at the data on a regular basis. You’re looking at how people are taking to these new features you are rolling out and how they’re taking to this product you’re building as a whole. And if something is really going to head off, it might fall flat on its face when you roll it out.

Sean [00:08:40] You know, it’s so interesting that you put it that way. I’ve been hearing the exact same theme really starting to emerge over the past year. You know, a year ago, if you’d asked product leaders what the most critical skill for product managers in organizations today would be, I think to a person they would have said empathy. And that’s true. You know, that’s table stakes. We have to listen. We have to assess. We have to shift business goals when the market tells us one way or the other. But lately, I’ve actually been hearing a lot more of what you’ve been saying in that last train of thought where intuition is really as equally, if not more valuable, than empathy. And empathy is always critical. It’s always key. But intuition, to know that the numbers aren’t the end of the story. We have to look at the data, assess the data, but listen to the story that the data is telling.

Terrence [00:09:26] Exactly.

Paul [00:09:26] Am I reaching too far? Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Terrence [00:09:29] That takes me back to like the Simon days when I was there and it was like frame, analyze, communicate. So basically, like, you have the numbers, you have the information, but you really have to dig deeper to get the story behind it all. So that’s definitely it, yeah.

Paul [00:09:41] Excellent.

Sean [00:09:42] All right. I got a different question for you. Any system which is too stable for too long will eventually be disrupted. Like, lots of people talk about that. This is especially the case in large industries like banking.

Terrence [00:09:52] Right.

Sean [00:09:53] You’ve been at Synchrony for a while now and it’s an embedded industry. Banking has been around a long, long time, and it is highly regulated as well. So in an organization that big, like what kinds of ideas do you admire? How do you challenge the status quo?

Terrence [00:10:08] I guess because you can say we’re in the middle a bit. We like to think of ourselves in the bank team as a bank, but also as more so just like a tech organization, and that was something I kind of picked up when I was at Nasdaq before. When Adena Friedman took over, she really looked at it as like, “we’re no longer just a financial services organization, we’re a technology company that, you know, part of what we do is financial services and then there’s a number of other things that fall under that umbrella.” So I came into Synchrony with that mindset. And since we’ve been a part of this team, I think the great part has been that we essentially built what we have from the ground up. So all of our digital products, I was a part of the ground floor and we built it up and turned it into something new, but with the mindset of going forward of, “OK these banks are traditional, they’re super big; we’re likely not going to be beating them in terms of numbers, et cetera; what we want to focus on is the customers that we have, making sure they’re satisfied and have what they need, and then also make new and innovative things to them that are going to, you know, stand out and they’ll look to incorporate into their day-to-day and maybe tell other people about.”

Terrence [00:11:08] So we look at different things that we’re doing in terms of like integrating A.I. So you see that happening in the space all around, like a lot of the cutting-edge companies and companies that are coming out now are looking at things along those lines. We also look at what guys like Chime and some of the other folks, you know, not necessarily calling themselves banks, but they’re like financial-ish-type institutions and the things that stand out to consumers about them. So we do a lot of user surveying and digging into why people may like X over Y and then taking that into account as we look at building our products out. So I think it’s really a matter of like kind of balancing between, you know, what a traditional banking institution would need to put out there and then also what are some new and innovative things you can give your users that are going to help them do things better and also open them up to new aspects of maybe the products or information that we can pass along that would make us, you know, competitive in the space, but also continuing to innovate and be someone that stands out as an outlier. So it’s not just, “hey, this is another bank app; this is something pretty cool, I want to tell my family members about it.”

Sean [00:12:15] Yeah. I love that you’re really not just talking the talk about putting customers first like you’re walking that walk. You’re doing a lot of customer surveying and research, not just throwing technology at the solution, really trying to figure out, “what do my I customers need?” And I hear pings of a really core advocacy strategy. You mentioned, like, getting people to share us and really understanding who our customers are and knowing our customers really, really well, and that’s amazing.

Paul [00:12:41] Yeah. You know, you mentioned Adena Friedman a moment ago. And, you know, she’s obviously a visionary and very product-led in her approach to technology and how we take this institutional force of business and flip it on its head and say, “we’re not just a financial services company, we’re a technology company that happens to do financial services.” Is there something that we can implement at the team level, at the product organization level within companies, or even as entrepreneurs in smaller companies? You know, we may not have this big influence, but we do have control over our own teams, our own schedules, our own mantras that we’re repeating to ourselves internally. What can we learn from people like Adena who can take these grand visions and make them real? Can we do things like that?

Terrence [00:13:27] Sure, yeah, I think we definitely can. It might be on a smaller level, but we definitely can. I look at Adena and then I probably would also put like our current CEO, Margaret Keane, in that category. She’s really been someone I’m super impressed by in terms of how she tackles, like, just the business space and then how she has built an organization that really cares about the employees, but also is focusing on innovative ways to do things. I think, to answer your question like it really comes back to having that mindset of an intrepreneur. I really got into the product space just as a young kid coming out of college. I was really interested in the whole Internet boom and all of that stuff. And at the time, the bubble had just burst for the first time. So we graduated in 2002 and everyone I know that had offers were getting them snatched off the table, et cetera. And I got a job with the excite network. They basically put out like excite.com, askgeeves.com, some of those other properties. And I started there doing like ad trafficking and things of that nature. And it was like a boring thing to do on a day-to-day basis, but you really got to learn a lot of how the back end of technology works and things along those lines, and from there just continued along in the product space.

Terrence [00:14:30] And I really love every aspect of that because you always feel like you’re basically putting something together. Like at the end of the day, you can look at this finished product and say, “we helped make that happen.” And then as I continued to go on, it’s like, what can you do continuously to add to whatever final product is coming out? So whether it’s on a larger structure, like you’re basically putting down orders into the rest of your team, or you’re a day-to-day person that’s working on making things happen. But like what internal motivation and internal strategy can you put into that final product to say, “this little tweak here is something I did.” Like even if it’s just a matter of like, say, when we were at Comedy Central and we were working on like a video player and we had different conversations about what the icons might need to look like and you came up with a structure or a strategy for why this should happen and then it makes it into the product. That’s a fingerprint that you had on that final product. So always looking at how you can shape whatever product is, whether it’s visual, whether it’s just how it works functionally, whether it’s, you know, making it easier for users to use. So just continuously looking at it like, “I’m not just working here, but this is my product.” Have some ownership of it, whatever aspect of it you’re doing.

Paul [00:15:38] Yeah. You know, that actually takes me back to a phrase that one of my mentors, when I was in the Navy, told me, you know, you control the controllable. When you’re driving a ship, you can’t control the wind, you can’t control the tide, but you can control the things that are in front of you. You can control your rudder, you can control your propeller. And it applies to product. You’ve got a team of motivated people. You may not be in an organization that totally empowers you to be autonomous, but you can control how enthusiastic you are. You can control the energy you bring to the table. I hear a lot of that coming through. I think that that energy is really what’s missing from a lot of our product conversations, looking for the ideal framework or the ideal scrum system. It’s what you have in front of you that you can control.

Terrence [00:16:17] Exactly.

Sean [00:16:18] Well that leads to the next question here. So you guys are using Scaled Agile?

Terrence [00:16:22] Correct. Yep.

Sean [00:16:23] So there’s been a lot of controversy lately, even in conversations that Paul and I have had, about that Scaled Agile paradigm as being another set of processes and restrictions on actually getting great products built.

Terrence [00:16:37] Right.

Sean [00:16:37] What’s your take on it?

Terrence [00:16:38] I mean, I’ve used Agile now for probably over ten years, and I think the Scaled Agile has its ups and downs. But I think it was the best thing for our organization in particular, and particularly our team because we are a number of different teams working on the same product but basically having different moving pieces for all of us. So our Scaled Agile train, for lack of a better word, is composed of three teams now. It was composed of six teams before. So to have that many different teams needing to work together, I think how we formatted and structured it in Scaled Agile was ideal. In the past, I’ve done just straight-up scrum and just different types and they worked good for those organizations once we finally went through the whole process of implementing it. But I think at Synchrony in particular, and the bank, for the most part, it has really been helpful to do it in this manner because of how many different people you needed to get on the same page and just how it had to shift in our organization, because we really wanted the first teams to really do Scaled Agile at Synchrony, and then it rolled out to the rest of the organization post-us. So we were, I guess you could kind of say, either the prototype or like the…

Paul [00:17:51] MVP?

Terrence [00:17:52] Yeah, the MVP. So they really wanted to see how it worked with this organization. And I think it was good for us because, like I said, the digital products we built were essentially from the ground up, like we had a website before. We never had a native app. So we totally redid what we did on the website and built in new back-end services to have everything for the most part in-house. And then we also built out this like native footprint and everything of that aspect. And it was a lot of coming together of the teams just around how we might want X, Y, Z to look. But also, at the end of the day, you break out into your different groups and you have to, you know, get your work done. But you might need something done from this team before you can even start on this, so having everybody on the same page helps a lot.

Terrence [00:18:33] It’s crazy trying to put it all together, though, because when you look at, like, that large group of people, it’s like you’re trying to wrangle everybody together. But I think the best part of it was there was a good mix of folks that have been there, traditionalists, or folks that have been there for a while, and then like newer blood to the organization. So folks that had just joined or been on different, more innovative projects like our innovation teams, et cetera. So they had a certain mindset of how to go about it and just more about like the team effort of it all and not so much like, “I might need individual call-outs or individual gratification.” It was more so, “alright, we’re going to put out the best product and everybody’s going to feel great about it when we finally do it, and then accolades are coming after that.”

Sean [00:19:14] I like that. The most profound thing you said in there was that this is the best thing for your particular organization. Like you guys made it work and it worked for you and everybody was signed up for that goal. That’s the key thing, right? We’re all signed up for that goal that you threw out there.

Terrence [00:19:27] For sure.

Sean [00:19:27] The trick with any process, and this is a recurring theme that Paul and I’ve seen and heard a lot, is that every team is different and using the same process for every product and every product team just doesn’t work. Like, teams have to meld and figure out what pieces are going to work for them.

Terrence [00:19:42] Exactly.

Sean [00:19:43] But yeah, having those shared goals, getting that alignment first so that you know you’re all going after the same thing is powerful.

Terrence [00:19:49] Right. Takes out a lot of the infighting.

Sean [00:19:51] Yeah. Yeah. And the larger the organization, the more important this is, right?

Terrence [00:19:55] For sure.

Sean [00:19:55] You have to give people some amount of autonomy in their work. So it’s like this balance between structure and freedom.

Terrence [00:20:02] Yeah, you don’t want it to be too rigid because then you’re not going to get the creative aspects of your team that you might have. And I think, you know, that’s what’s been great about our product, as I mentioned before. And I wouldn’t necessarily use push back, but it’s like we come with our ideas and our stakeholders listen to it. And then also if we think something doesn’t make sense, we’re not afraid to speak up about it and pass along information that we think, you know, would be helpful.

Sean [00:20:25] All right. So those are two key takeaways with Scaled Agile, like make sure everybody’s aligned on the goals, make sure everybody has the right to speak up and it’s safe that they can, you know, call their teammates out when things just don’t feel like they’re going right.

Paul [00:20:38] Was that pun intentional? It’s SAFe?

Terrence [00:20:40] SAFe, yeah. Made me giggle.

Sean [00:20:43] Maybe a little bit. So we were we’re talking about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship is really what we’re talking about here in a big company, right?

Terrence [00:20:51] For sure.

Sean [00:20:52] You are actually an entrepreneur as well.

Terrence [00:20:53] Yes.

Sean [00:20:54] And you have an application that you built. So what was that experience like in contrast to working in a big company, you know?

Terrence [00:21:01] It’s a big contrast, just because you’re basically like the linchpin for everything. So myself and my co-founder, like we got an idea together for what we like to call a connection app, but in essence, it’s a dating app. With covid, it originally started as focused around events, but it’s really focused around location. So you can essentially set up a dating pool at any location where you are. The ideal environments would likely be, you know, if you’re out at a conference or you’re at a sporting event. But even so, now, with everybody masked up, there’s an opportunity to really be anywhere and connect, whether you’re at a bookstore, a supermarket, you name it.

Terrence [00:21:34] But to get more to what you were asking about, the experience. It’s been enriching, but it’s been crazy because essentially you’re trying to do everything. When you’re at a larger organization and you’re an intrepreneur, you have a lot of resources you can call on. You have a legal team, you have a built-in design team, you have built-in engineers. Here, you really had to pull that all together yourself. Like you have to find your designers. You have to find your engineers. You have to find good designers and good engineers. You have to ensure that the wireframes are all set. You have to make sure all the legalese is in place. It’s like a million different things. It’s like a love-hate relationship, because at the end of the day, when you look at it all, it’s like, “We put that together,” which goes back to the whole having your fingerprints on it. But it’s also like, if anything goes wrong, it’s your tail because at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. So I guess that’s like just product management, but on a larger spectrum, because it’s your organization now. And I think the thing that’s really been good for us is before we ever really started any legwork in terms of building it out, we really tried to test the idea with who we thought the customer base would be here in the city and in other places, just getting feedback from them on what they would want to see. And that really helped us put together like a framework for a prototype that we initially built out and then the actual app that we’ve completed.

Terrence [00:22:44] And I think, from my perspective, the best part of it all has really just been the learning that’s going on. I feel like I’ve taken a million different podcasts, audiobooks, class sessions, even hopped on some of our entrepreneurship classes that I took at Simon before just to like audit and sit in and see if anything resonated. And there’s been a wealth of information. So it really has helped to just increase the knowledge base of what you can do. And then you understand on a larger level, like, all the things that come into play at the work organizations where you are because there’s so many different moving pieces there that come into it. But overall, I’ve really enjoyed it. I guess you could say I’ve been I’ve been an entrepreneur in the past, but more so like with putting out music and some of the stuff I did when I was younger. But this is like really the first full-on, from the ground up product that I built. Well with my co-founder, but all on our own. And just see it come to life now and really be something you can put out there for people to take to it, adopt, and give their feedback on it is wonderful.

Paul [00:23:45] That it’s such a great story, that summary of, you know, its product management just on a larger scale. You know, it’s your fingerprints, the buck stops here. So much great insight in there that you just can’t learn without doing.

Terrence [00:23:56] Right.

Paul [00:23:57] You can read all the books. You can listen to all the podcasts, but until you do it, you just don’t know. I’ve got a couple of last questions for you. But before I jump into wrapping up, where can listeners go find your work? Music, app, anything else?

Terrence [00:24:09] So for myself, if you need to find me, you can go to LinkedIn, Terrence Liverpool, just like the football team. But for the app itself, it’s called the Swym App. That’s s-w-y-m. It’s literally like every social media handle @swymapp. It’ll be out there and then the app itself is probably going to be rolling out in the next week or two. We’re just doing some final testing but the website is already up, so you can go in and join our email list and you’re going to find out more about it and exactly when it rolls out, we’ll definitely ping everyone about it. As far as my music, I haven’t done that in a while.

Paul [00:24:43] Fair enough.

Terrence [00:24:43] So we’ll leave that one to the side, but big hip hop fan and R&B fan and we made a bit of it when I was younger.

Paul [00:24:50] Excellent.

Terrence [00:24:50] Outside of that, just continuing to push forward with what we’re doing at Synchrony as well as helping Swym be a successful app.

Paul [00:24:57] Excellent.

Sean [00:24:58] Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing all of your knowledge and experience. It’s clear to me that Synchrony is certainly able to benefit from your being an entrepreneur and certainly your entrepreneurship has benefited from your big company experience as well.

Terrence [00:25:10] For sure.

Sean [00:25:11] It floats both ways. Question for you: how do you define the word innovation?

Terrence [00:25:16] I’d probably say innovation is being able to look at a problem and think of new ways to tackle it. And that’s really pretty much in any space that you’re in. So if you’re in the food space, I was like reading about some folks the other day where he built what’d you say a packaged food company because he’s a single father and really had no time to really cook at home. So he was talking with a chef friend one day and they came up with like this packaged thing that he does where he pre-cooks the food, sends it out in freeze-dried packages, and then you basically throw it in boiling water for six minutes, and then it’s like a ready-made meal. So he came up with that innovation just through like, “I have a problem I need a solution for; I looked at everything that’s out there, didn’t exist, and so now we have this.” And I think that pretty much happens, like, wherever you go. When we were at Publisher’s Clearing House, we were trying to come up with a way to kind of get younger users and we had our online gaming set up and we know people like to win. So it was like, why not put the two together, and then you could get people in that way? So it was really just looking at a lot of things that might be out there that you want to kind of tweak to make it more amenable to people or it might be coming up with something totally new that’s not in the space that you think would be valuable to people. A lot of it is like taking ideas into account and then testing that idea before you put all of that effort into it.

Paul [00:26:39] Great answer. Yeah, testing, learning, and being aware of the problem that you’re solving. Last question for you: you find out that a good friend of yours is breaking into their first product management role, changing their career. What book are you going to give them to get them started down the right path?

Terrence [00:26:55] I was just listening, probably a few days ago, to like Inspired by Marty Cagan.

Paul [00:27:00] Can’t go wrong.

Terrence [00:27:01] Yeah, he’s definitely, like, really raw with his advice. But I like it, especially for someone that just be getting into product management because it tells you a lot of, like, the stuff you don’t want to do and a lot of product management books out there give you like this rigid process of how you want to go about it, but not necessarily tell you about the experiences of those that have been successful and then just give you more insight into the things that have made them successful and also the things that have been product killers for others. So that’d definitely be one I talk to. And then The Build Trap as well is another great book. So I’d probably recommend both of those.

Paul [00:27:33] Two great ads, absolutely. Great stuff.

Terrence [00:27:36] Yeah.

Sean [00:27:37] Great product minds.

Terrence [00:27:38] Terrence, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with us. I know I’m definitely better for it and I’m looking forward to great things in the future.

Terrence [00:27:47] Well, I thank you guys.

Sean [00:27:48] I love these conversations with folks that are actually in the trenches doing the work and great learnings. Thank you, Terrence.

Terrence [00:27:54] And thank you so much. I appreciate you guys having me.

Paul [00:27:56] Cheers.

Paul [00:28:00] That’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get. So please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world, just like you’re doing. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next episode.