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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Carlos-Gonzalez-de-Villaumbrosia

56 / Lifelong Learners Propel Product 

Description

In today’s episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, the Founder and CEO of Product School, shares his inspiration for Product School and its role in shaping the next generation of product leaders. Carlos has an unending passion for helping others succeed in the product space, and his enthusiasm is contagious!

The most successful and inspiring product leaders are all very curious and interesting people, but it can sometimes be difficult to find time in our busy lives for learning and self-improvement. Carlos shares strategies to make lifelong learning a reality.

“We are all creating the future together,” he says. Working towards product-oriented goals throughout your organization can eliminate silos and drive better customer outcomes. Likewise, sharing your insights and learnings with others can fuel long-term success in the industry.

Listen to hear more about:

  • Democratizing access to education in product management and more generally
  • Finding mentors, no matter what stage of your career you are in
  • Product managers as generalists and the importance of product-specific, on-the-ground experience if you are transitioning from a more specialized role
  • The future of product management now that the profession has gained traction and clarity

Carlos’s Recommended Reading

Product Chiefs podcast

The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager by Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia and Josh Anon

Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues by David Bradford and Carole Robin


About Carlos

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia is the Founder and CEO of Product School, the global leader in product management training with a community of over one million product professionals. Product School instructors are real-world Product Leaders working at top companies including Google, Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Uber, and Amazon.

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Aaron-Cooper

55 / Encouraging Great Ideas

Description

Great ideas can come from anywhere. It is the job of product leaders to seek out these ideas by taking educated risks, thinking (and working) outside the box. In this episode Aaron Cooper, the Enterprise User Experience Leader for Navigation and Sensors at Honeywell, shares key strategies for ideation, workshopping, and working across disciplines.

Aaron believes that “excellent facilitation helps you scale your ideation.” In fact, great ideas and great leadership go hand in hand. An idea can lay dormant for years waiting for just the right moment to be applied; the quietest team members often contribute the deepest insights. The key is creating a space for everyone’s contributions, then recognizing which can be applied to build better products.

Listen in to learn some strategies that improve your facilitation skills, and be sure to catch Aaron’s thoughts on:

  • Persona speed dating to keep customers’ needs front-of-mind across the organization
  • Gleaning deep insights by asking the right questions and asking them often
  • Challenging the status quo and choosing people who are “willing to be a little crazy”
  • The impact of AI on the future of product, especially for designers

Aaron’s Recommended Reading:

Frank Lloyd Wright, by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer.

On Fairy-Stories (essay), by J.R.R. Tolkien.


About Aaron

Aaron Cooper is the Enterprise User Experience Leader for Navigation and Sensors at Honeywell. He leads end-to-end design, from researching customer needs through ideation and into implementation and iteration of products and services.

Aaron collaborates and leads, leveraging more than 20 years of growth as a designer in domains ranging from product design and architecture to marketing and interaction design. Every day, he works with cross-functional teams, driving ideation and prioritization to deliver new value for customers and businesses. Aaron is a certified Design Thinking and User Experience instructor, is certified in Scrum, and is a Six Sigma Green Belt. On the side, he does stained glass, which can be viewed at prairiehomeglass.com.

His motto is, “There is always a person I can help to be successful, more efficiently, and with greater joy.”

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Giff-Constable

54 / Navigating Complexity and Uncertainty

Description

As a product leader, it can be hard to work within a multitude of constraints: profits, product-market fit, time, customers’ needs; the list goes on. Giff tackles the tough questions and elaborates on the product leader’s job as “chief synthesizer.”

In this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul welcome Giff Constable, a self-proclaimed “healer” within the product community. He has a vast breadth and depth of knowledge pertaining to testing new ideas, innovation, and teamwork.

Giff’s experience in many roles such as chief product officer, CEO, and consultant in “messy situations” has given him unique insight into the role of product within organizations and how product leaders can advocate for their products in ever-changing markets. All in all, he stresses the importance of “looking uncertainty in the eye” in everything you do.

Listen to hear Giff’s thoughts on:

  • Sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success in business models, research, and continuous improvement.
  • Asking the hard questions and challenging your assumptions as a product leader.
  • Experimentation and user research strategies for both new and seasoned product managers.

Giff’s Recommended Reading:

Talking to Humans: Success starts with understanding your customers, by Giff Constable with Frank Rimalovski.

Testing with Humans: How to use experiments to drive faster, more informed decision making, by Giff Constable with Frank Rimalovski.

Gibson Biddle’s writings


About Giff

Giff Constable is a product leader, entrepreneur, and author. He was most recently the Chief Product Officer at Meetup, and earlier was the CEO of Neo, a global innovation consulting company acquired by Pivotal. He is the author of two books on how to test new business ideas, which are used as core curriculum in top university entrepreneurship programs and accelerators around the world. He has two headstrong children, an extraordinarily lazy dog, and publishes science fiction when life permits under the pen name GW Constable. To hear more from Giff, check out his blog, giffconstable.com.

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Nina-Foroutan

53 / If You’re In Product, You’re the Connector

Description

We often talk about product living at the intersection of technology, business, and UX. And that makes sense in a limited, Venn diagram way of thinking: Product as the place where these things converge. But as we have discovered, using a 3-piece diagram to explain what product is all about is a gross oversimplification.

Through her lens as a journalist-turned-product leader, Nina Foroutan, Director of Product Management at Forbes, sees product not at the intersection, but more as the oxygen each requires to sustain itself. In this episode, Nina joins Sean and Paul describing her product leader role as participant in all things product, as she puts it: “in the in-betweens.”

Sometimes her day is technology-focused, on others it’s more on UX, and sometimes it’s more business and data. But one thing is clear: every day is focused on users.

“When you’re in product, you have to be involved in every aspect,” she says, “and understand user pain points and how the solution you’re trying to build helps get to the organization’s business goals.”

Where product truly plays its role, “where it’s actually actionable,” is as facilitator. “When you’re in product, you’re the connector. You’re the reason why and the one who makes it all make sense. That is where product lives.”

Be sure to catch more of our conversation with Nina to get her take on —

  • This period of awakening we’re in right now – especially as it relates to hiring for diversity and inclusion and creating an environment that’s accepting of everyone.
  • The importance of soft skills, like having the emotional intelligence to remain calm and roll with the punches when everyone else is panicking.
  • That in her world content is the product, and technology is the vehicle for delivering the user’s experience with it.

Nina’s Recommended Reading:

Little Black Stretchy Pants, by Chip Wilson.


About Nina

Nina Foroutan is the Director of Product Development at Forbes where she leads a team of product owners focused on driving content and revenue experiences on Forbes.com. Prior to Forbes, she was a product lead at Hearst Digital Studios launching new brands and building platforms for their partnership with Verizon. Nina has an MBA from Babson College F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business and currently lives in Manhattan.  

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David-Wang

52 / Mindset, Process, and Tools

Description

If you’ve never done product before, the journey can be super-scary. So many questions: Do I have what it takes? Is this the career I want for myself? What type of PM do I want to be? Where am I in my career product life cycle?

Worry no more.

In this episode of ITX’s Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul are joined by ProductGo co-founder, David Wang. David is a true champion of product managers around the world – especially if you’re just breaking into the field. In our conversation, he outlines a prescribed path for product management newcomers who may not have a PM degree but who do have a passion for “creating things that can change the world.”

Our initial connection with David arrived compliments of podcast guest, Adrienne Tan.  

David’s own path to product management took him 5 years “just to know what I was doing, and another 5 years just doing the job,” he says. “But what I realized was that everything I learned [about product management] can be categorized into one of these three areas: mindset, process, and tools.”

Once he started thinking about product management through that three-part lens, it helped him make sense of all the information he had read and practiced, he added.

David also realized that as our knowledge grows and technology evolves, the same happens to the mindsets, processes, and tools that once guided our thinking. Avoid tying yourself to one mindset or process or toolbox, he cautions. Part of learning product management is understanding that it is a repeatable, almost cyclical process.

“We can add mindsets to our mindset category and get rid of others over time. Tools and processes come and go. So as a PM, that realization has actually helped me learn management much faster.”

In this pod, David shares what he means by “much faster.” He lays out a prescribed 12- to 18-month plan for what onboarding to a product career might look like and involve. But don’t be in a rush to make it happen, he advises.

“It takes time for that mindset to change, and product managers are really hired for their mindsets, not so much on their certifications.”

Listen in to hear David’s thoughts on: where ideas come from, the power of the Growth mindset, and what he means by your “origin story.” Knowing your origin story will help to remove any doubts about whether and where you belong in your PM role.

David’s Recommended Reading

Lovability: How to Build a Business That People Love and Be Happy Doing It, by Brian de Haaff.

INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan.


About David

David Wang is a global product leader with 15+ years of experience building products for start-ups and coaching corporates in Australia. Currently, David is the Founder of ProductGo – an online school advancing the art of Product Management in the APAC region.

Before starting Product Tree, David was the Head of Product for SocietyOne - a Fintech start-up raised over $70M. David is also a Distinguished Lecturer in General Assembly for Product Management, where he taught over 3,000+ students globally.

In his spare time, he runs a book summary site 5minuteknowledge.com and he is also a top writer for a product publication with over 1 million readers globally. Read more from David on his blog or website.

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Wolf Alexanyan

51 / Cognitive Bias and Software Development

Description

Without mental shortcuts to help, there’s no way product managers could process the daily waves of information coming at us. We apply these shortcuts, called cognitive biases, to drive efficiency in how we perceive and respond to the world around us. But when we’re unaware of, or not sensitive to, these biases (that exist naturally within us, by the way), well, that’s when we make mistakes. Mistakes that manifest in our lives as product people as well as is our everyday lives as humans bumping along in our own existence.

In this episode of the ITX Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul welcome Wolf Alexanyan, Head of Product Management at The Software Development Company. Fresh off 2+ years of research regarding cognitive biases, Wolf recently published two significant works in our space: The Science of User Experience, which explains the importance of using our brain’s errors and biases to develop software product solutions, and UX CORE, a compilation of 105 hands-on examples of cognitive biases used in software development and team management.

“When I was working on UX Core,” Wolf says, “I wanted to show people not just how to use the biases to relate to others and protect yourself from being manipulated, but to show how powerful our brain is.

The moment we understand how to get in touch with our own cognitive biases is the moment we seize the power to make positive changes in our own lives as both human beings and product people. As Wolf explains, the power lies within each of us.

“This is the most important thing: if we focus on ourselves and spend some time just to understand the errors that we have – instead of trying to understand the capabilities of the world and opportunities that arise – we will benefit from that much more, much more.

Tune in to hear Wolf describe the role ego plays in cognitive bias, with specific reference to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and hear him explain why the “Blind Spot Bias” is the one that new product managers need to learn and understand before all others.

Wolf’s Recommended Reading:

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.


About Wolf

Wolf Alexanyan is the Head of Product Management at The Software Development Company, working on lawful cyber intelligence systems. For the first half of his 12-year career, he worked as a technical specialist, after which he shifted to management. Wolf has led the research and design of such products as the eSports gaming ecosystem, air operator’s registry system for the General Department of Civil Aviation of Armenia, the world’s first levitating camera.

His main passion is studying different cognitive science disciplines to understand patterns of human behavior and thinking. He has recently finished 2.5 years of research regarding cognitive biases and published his work in two pieces. The Science of User Experience explains the importance of using our brain’s errors and biases in developing solutions for software products and development teams, and “UX CORE” consists of 105 hands-on examples of cognitive biases used in software development and team management.

He sincerely believes that humanity is on the verge of a cognitive revolution. Although cognitive biases are most used in the development of political and digital products, regular people can reap enormous benefits if they take the time to study their own biases and beliefs.

Visit Wolf’s website with his notes about project and product management: https://keepsimple.io/

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Christian Idiodi

50 / Product Problems Are People Problems

Description

Whether discussing onboarding, the challenges we product managers confront in today’s upside-down world, or the benefits of being a “lazy” product manager, all problems boil down to people problems.

In this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul welcome Christian Idiodi, partner at the Silicon Valley Product Group. As a leader in the product world from the beginning, Christian explains that people problems are also leadership problems, because “leaders are responsible for the context, culture, and frameworks we apply” to help solve complex problems.

Christian’s approach may seem unconventional, but his wisdom reflects a set of commonsense best practices that really aren’t all that common! He jokes with his teams, saying, “If your product work is not hard, you’re not doing it right.”

Sometimes, though, the work is hard because over 70% of product managers today are self-taught (“Imagine going to a self-taught dentist.”), having missed out on the innovative “bootcamp-like” onboarding experience he devised for his product managers.

In the modern product world, Christian says, the best way to succeed is to find a great product leader who you can learn from. That’s the best way to know what good product management looks like.

Listen in to catch more of Christian’s unique insights. They’ll help you discover how understanding the people in and around a problem will lead to better solutions. You’ll also learn why being “a lazy product manager” has its advantages.

Christian’s Recommended Reading:

EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products, by Marty Cagan.

What You Do Is Who You Are: How To Create Your Business Culture, by Ben Horowitz.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz.


About Christian

Christian Idiodi has been a product leader for over 15 years, building teams and developing enterprise and consumer products that have shaped companies such as CareerBuilder and Merrill Corporation as well as clients such as PayPal, Etsy, Starbucks, Dell, and Macy’s.

Christian is passionate about helping companies implement the discipline of product management to build world-class products and new technologies. At CareerBuilder, Christian founded and managed CareerBuilder Institute, the industry’s first combined human capital and consumer training platform. As VP of Enterprise Product at Snagajob, Christian conceptualized a new-to-market solution and led the discovery, development, and successful launch of the ReadyHire business line. He designed and led the B2B product strategy for IdentityForce. He then founded Firtsi, a product consulting company that has overseen the product development lifecycle for over 120+ new products.

Before joining Silicon Valley Product Group, Christian was the Global Head of Product for Merrill Corporation where he built the company’s product organization and led them through a transformational, large-scale industry launch of the first SaaS app for due diligence in the finance industry.

Christian teaches product management and innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. He also gives back to his local product community each year by supporting and advising two student-led startups from conceptualization to product delivery. Christian graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Psychology and Community Building and earned a dual MBA and MPM from Keller Graduate School of Management.

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Lena-Sesardic

49 / The Many Paths To Product Management

Description

There’s no clear career path to product management. And while that sounds like just another obstacle keeping you from your dream job, it should actually come as a comfort to all you PM hopefuls. Here’s why.

It’s about equifinality, which simply means that the same end result can be achieved by many potential means and from many points of entry along the journey. It’s one of those grad school textbook terms you never expect to encounter again – until, perhaps, you’re talking about the path to product management.

The term resurfaced recently, thanks to Lena Sesardic, who joined Sean and Paul on this latest episode of ITX’s Product Momentum Podcast. Lena’s own journey is a story of equifinality; she is Croatian, but lived portions of her life in Europe, the Pacific Rim, and North America. Her professional life is equally diverse. Once an innovation lab product manager and entrepreneur, Lena is now a product management consultant and author. Her recent book, The Making of Product Managers, offers an up-close look at 20 real-life humans whose varied paths to product management should inspire us all.

So hang in there, you product designers and technologists. Take heed, marketers and web developers, and you mathematicians and high school educators. If product management is the field to which you aspire, it’s very likely someone has come before you to show the way.

But don’t take it from me. Tune in to hear it in Lena’s own words. Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn!

[03:24] As a product manager, I found that writing a book is a lot like building a product. Iteration was a really big part of it, and adding important features too.

[04:46] It doesn’t matter what you did before. There’s likely to be a parallel that you can draw on, and there’s no limit to who can break into product.

[06:39] PMs require such a huge, diverse skill set. Decision-making, analytical, communication skills.

[06:58] There’s also less tangible, equally important, PM skills.

[08:32] Experience isn’t just the number of years, but it’s actually what have you done. Get a taste of everything.

[10:32] Diversity of experience is key in terms of prioritization. You really need to get the full picture, to be able to look at the problem from every perspective and think about the holes in your ideas.

[12:40] PMs get to own their role because the job of a product manager is actually carving out what their job description is.

[14:22] Predict the organization’s needs. Insiders are privy to how the organization is operating, growing, and changing. So as an insider, you might be able to predict when things are going to be needed – and step in to fill that void.

[15:49] The product manager is the glue that holds the team together.

[18:09] If you can crack the code to become a product manager, you can be a good product manager – and you deserve to be one.

[20:27] Innovation through Transplanting. Taking something that’s working in one industry, spinning it a certain way, transplanting it into another industry. Just like that, you have a new service and it’s actually Innovation.

Lena’s Recommended Reading

The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki.

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

The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers and Learn if Your Business is a Good Idea when Everyone is Lying to You, by Rob Fitzpatrick.


About Lena

Lena Sesardic is originally Croatian but grew up in Asia for most of her life before moving to Vancouver, B.C. in 2009 to study Economics at the University of British Columbia.

She first started working in Product Management in early 2017 while being part of a startup-like team within a large financial technology organization. She then led an innovation team at a customer experience management company.

Presently she works as a Consultant in Product Management at the financial technology organization where she previously worked, while pursuing personal projects on the side. Her latest personal project is her newly launched book, The Making of Product Managers.

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