Product Love Podcast: Mike Belsito of Product Collective

What do you consider a product?

Us product managers, past or present, are probably quick to point to our trusty smartphones, our favorite apps, and even our own software but Mike Belsito thinks otherwise. He considers everything a product.

Like most product managers we’ve interviewed in the past, Mike accidentally fell into the role. He jokes that becoming a product manager was probably the next step after being a failed startup founder. Yet, nobody would call him a failure in his new role as the Co-Founder of Product Collective which organizes INDUSTRY, one of the largest product management summits in the world.

This week on Product Love, I sat down and talked to Mike Belsito about the conference he’s organizing, and why he believes that everything is a product.

Everything is a Product

Over on the tech side, we traditionally think of product as a form of software, and product management roles are only affiliated with the tech industry. However, the average person might think of products as purely physical items like their favorite shoes or sunglasses. Then, there are people who believe that products go beyond this definition of an owned object, and can be expanded as a created experience.

He once approached an attendee who revealed that they worked at the fast-food restaurant, Chick-Fil-A.  “When you walk into Chick-Fil-A, that’s my product,” she told him, which allows us to see how a restaurant experience counts as a product in itself; there are teams of people strategizing and implementing the ways we experience the places we go.

Her goal in attending INDUSTRY was to take her learnings from the software side and incorporate it into what she does. Mike believes that tech managers need to spend time with people who are not managing tech products. “That’s just a good reminder that we can do more there,” he says. Spending time outside of our tech circle allows us to learn from many talented people across multiple disciplines on how to build great and lasting products.

The INDUSTRY Conference is a Product

Mike also treats the conference, INDUSTRY, as a product. By conducting surveys, and attendee interviews, he gets a grasp on which features of the conference are worth adding or removing. Although the conference is in Cleveland every year (and in Dublin in the Spring), he wants each year to be curated as a different experience for attendees who do return.

Mike firmly believes that an emerging trend in the product management craft is more companies realizing that they are all “product-minded.” The conference draws attendees from companies like Home Depot and the Federal Reserve Bank, which goes to show that INDUSTRY attracts all types of product people. If you want to meet more product fanatics, and engage in brilliant conversations behind our favorite products, I recommend registering for INDUSTRY. You can catch me there too, in a pink shirt!