Product Love Podcast: Brandon Chu, VP of Product at Shopify – Part 2

This week on Product Love, I had Brandon Chu, VP of product and GM of platform at Shopify, back for a follow-up episode. People always say that the sequel is never as good as the original, but hopefully, this proves otherwise. If you want to learn more about Brandon and how he started his product management career, check out the first post here.

In this episode, we dive into shipping the entire customer experience. He believes product managers need to be thinking about this holistically, which starts with humbling yourself and understanding that the product is going to be imperfect. 

We also talked a lot about how product managers can build credibility with their teams. A PM’s job responsibilities are sometimes nonobvious, and they often have to prove their skill set to their engineering and design peers. This doesn’t mean pretending to understand engineering jargon or focusing completely on influence. Brandon believes it’s better to be genuine and work on providing value in different ways. But what should a product manager’s skill set even be? What metrics do they own? What should team compositions look like?

Check out the episode above to hear all his answers and learn about the amazing entrepreneurial culture of Shopify. You’ll also hear about his side business!

Notable Moments

0:45 – What are you saying when you say ship the whole customer experience? What’s the promise given to the prospective customer before they’ve even signed up? How does that flow into the use of the product? 

2:59 – Product experience is a trend. Now that software is much easier to assemble, it’s more about stewarding the entire customer experience and the business.

3:50 – How should product managers approach customer feedback to better ship an entire customer experience? At Shopify, PMs spend some time in support. They listen to customer calls and do onboarding. It’s what you build into the culture that enables people to learn about how the business works.

5:48 – How do you build credibility with engineering and design? Every PM goes through this arc every time they join a new job. Brandon thinks it’s not really about building influence — it’s about providing value for the team.

8:25 – How does Shopify support entrepreneurship initiatives? How do they start developing an entrepreneurial mindset? It actually starts with their customers. Their employees are building their own businesses and have their own store in Shopify. It’s an incredible feedback loop. 

10:50 – Learn what Brandon sells in his Shopify store. 

13:15 – Brandon’s rule about his side businesses. 

13:30 – Favorite Shopify employee store? Beef jerky. 

15:20 – Brandon shares how many people he manages. 

16:19 – How does Brandon evaluate skill sets? It’s all about placing a bet on a PM in an area where they’re supposed to establish a vision. That’s the meta of a PM — hire people who have a vision and entrepreneurial grit.

19:30 – What should the composition of a product management team be?

20:15 – What skill sets are hardest to find in PMs? In the long run, it’s people who can keep up leadership authenticity and energy. That’s something so intangible in great PMs that makes the difference. 

21:30 – What metrics should product managers own? 

22:32 – What about benchmarking PMs against each other? 

24:30 – As an investor, what do you look for? He typically looks for the caliber of the founder. Are they able to build the team? Do they have grit?

27:00 – What trends excite you in the product community?

29:50 – What’s your favorite product? 

32:13 – Three words to describe yourself.