The Product Love Podcast hit 100 episodes last week! What an incredible feat by our team. Over the past 100 episodes, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting with so many amazing people who are building the products that are shaping our world. And what better way to commemorate 100 episodes than by going through our top ten favorites?
For our 95th episode, we sat down with the VP of product at Box, Ibrahim Bashir. To my delight, we covered two of my favorite topics — product management and Doom. While we could have spent the entire hour talking about the latter, I’m glad we delved into the world of product a bit more.
During our conversation, Ibrahim shared a powerful point. He said that churn is the best indicator of a lack of product value and of go-to-market repeatability. Retention should be a top-line metric for all product teams during these uncertain times. Also, retention is the only way to show that your product is actually effective and continually offers benefits to your users. That’s why every product team should be tracking retention on a consistent basis.
Every great product manager knows that the first principle of building a product is to understand the problem. With this mindset, Intercom has crafted an amazing product. As Des said in this episode, it’s never good enough to do something purely to beat the competition. If your mission stays true to creating a solution purely for your customers, your product will be successful. Des also chatted about how to manage interdepartmental friction and best practices for prioritizing user feedback. If you’re a PM who’s going through the growing pains of scaling a product org, this episode is perfect for you.
Product School is truly ahead of its time. It was the first tech business education program to offer product management certificates and corporate training and saw the growth of product management as a field long before later imitators. In this episode, Product School’s founder and CEO shared what made him realize that PM was going to be a rising function, and how he tailored Product School to fit the needs of this market. Also, he explained what makes Product School stand out from other PM education offerings such as MBA programs. If you’re ever considered earning a PM certification or degree, definitely check this episode out.
4. Brandon Chu, VP of product at Shopify
Ok, you caught us — this one is technically two episodes. In Episode One, Brandon described what it was like to shape the product management function at Shopify as one of the very first PM hires. He also shared some helpful advice for junior PMs looking to move up the ranks. In Episode Two, Brandon dove into crafting an end-to-end customer experience that delights and retains users. And both episodes offer insights into product management in a high-growth environment.
Tatyana Mamut holds a Ph. D. in economic and cultural anthropology and has spent a lot of time in the humanities space. So how did she end up making the pivot to technology and software products? In her Product Love episode, she explained why tech isn’t just about tech — it’s about how people use and experience a product. That’s why she’s encouraged more people in the humanities to make the move to tech projects. The combination of being well-versed in both worlds unlocks innovation and creates experiences that resonate.
You might assume that the most difficult parts of creating a product come from the technical side — coding, engineering, design, etc. But Oji dispelled this myth with the cold hard truth: that in fact, the most difficult part of building products is managing people. That’s why Oji has called on PMs to master the human side of building software. Product managers need to be more intentional about building strong relationships with their colleagues. Product managers are no longer expected to take on coding or rely on domain expertise. Instead, their key skills are centered around building alignment across teams. In this episode, Oji even recommended having difficult conversations with stakeholders in order to foster clearer understanding.
As a product discovery coach. Teresa helps teams glean insights from customer interviews, run effective product experiments, and drive outcomes that create business and customer value. While that certainly keeps her busy enough, she also runs the popular Product Talk blog, where she shares PM best practices and her own perspectives on what’s happening in the world of product. In her episode of Product Love, Teresa discussed the discovery process, the explosion of PM tools, and the top biases product people need to be aware of.
The PM position is one that almost defies definition, as it sits at the intersection of so many different functions. According to Sachin, product management should really be categorized into three distinct roles: innovators, builders, and tuners. So, which is the most important? Well, it depends on the product. For example, new products require creativity and innovation, while long-standing products need tuning to better meet changing requirements and personas. In his Product Love episode, Sachin explained why hiring managers should be clearer about which of the three PM “roles” they’re looking to fill, and shared his own interviewing best practices.
Want to evangelize the importance of product management within your company? In this episode, Christian shared what he thinks the golden ticket to the executive table is — a deep knowledge of the customer. Because of their many user touchpoints, product managers are uniquely positioned to be customer champions. To demonstrate this, Christian recommended interacting with customers in a very visible manner. In fact, he even encouraged PMs to go on the road to form better customer relationships in-person.
This episode with Cindy is one of my favorites because it touches on a difficult problem. How do product managers differentiate between customer wants and customer needs? Product managers want to say yes to every customer, in hopes of retaining them over the long-term. But the reality is, your product can quickly become overcrowded with features and overwhelm your users if you say yes to everything.
Cindy reminded us that product managers are the actual industry experts in the room. While customers are the experts on their own problems, they aren’t privy to the constraints of the solution. Cindy recommended digging deep during customer interviews and asking users about how to improve their current situation. Try framing questions in different ways to see what information customers can reveal.
Thank you to all of our Product Love Podcast listeners. We can’t wait to see what the next 100 episodes will bring,