We recently sat down with Blockchain Founder & CEO @ AIKON, Marc Blinder, to discuss empathy and how it plays into product management. After all, while there may be many answers to the question of what makes a great product, there is no question that empathy is a part of that equation.

Blockchain Founder & CEO @ AIKON, Marc Blinder, and Product Talk host and Mighty Capital Sr Manager, Adam O’Donnell, talked about fundraising, the importance of empathy and so much more.

On what makes a great product

Great products accomplish many great things, but what’s most important is that it’s a successful experience for the user on the other end.

“The ultimate experience of a great product is on the user’s end. I think of a product like Carta, which is taking this very obscure world of legalities and contracts that are not really written for the average person and making it easy for them to digest. And that gives you that feeling of like, I know what I’m doing, and I’m in control. 

It could also be something like Slack. They have these sort of little surprise and delight moments where you feel like ‘oh, ] here’s all these animated GIFs going through in the middle of my feed, or here’s a nice animation or a funny quote.’ All these little details that just give you a good feeling as an end-user.

It’s hard to find the one aspect, but I think it’s the way it makes people feel on the other side of the screen that is the sign of a good product.”

On why empathy is essential in product management

Caring for your customer is essential and approaching that with empathy both for your customers and your product team is what will get you there. This is something that great product managers understand.

“What makes a great product manager is empathy, right? If you’re trying to drive this emotional experience of someone at the other end, having some empathy, being a good listener, and really trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is one of the best things you can do as a product manager. Obviously, you also want someone who’s going to be organized, who’s going to be technical, who’s going to have a sense of responsibility and all those great things. Honestly, it’s hard to find the right person. But I think that empathy and that understanding goes a long way.”

On how to gain empathy for the user

Monitoring the customer experience and asking for feedback is a great way to see your product through your users’ eyes.

“Watching users use a product is amazingly informative. If it’s a consumer-facing product, you can actually look over their shoulder and see them using it. That can be incredibly informative. 

One of the things I learned back in before I worked in tech, I was in politics. We did a lot of polling. And so I have some sense of how that industry works. And one of the core things, of course, is making sure you ask everyone the exact same questions. So you don’t get a bias sample by changing what you’re saying based on what they’re saying. And so I think doing something like that can be quite painful because you’ll sometimes see people who are totally confused, totally stuck, whatever it is with your product, but actually taking the time to watch a bunch of different people from different walks of life trying to use it can be really useful and really effective. 

For enterprise software, I think there’s sort of a similar thing that happens in the form of maybe a weekly call or a monthly check-in. You’re always listening and trying to prompt them. To give you that feedback. What’s confusing this month? What is blocking you today? Like, what can we do to make this system easier?”

About the speaker
Marc Blinder AIKON, CEO Member

A veteran of 5 startups, I've experienced everything from total failure to $400M exit and everything in between. I love building teams and working with brilliant wonderful people from all walks of life. Specialties: Blockchain, Product Management, Social by Design, Creative Leadership, Team Development, Business Strategy.

About the host
Adam O'Donnell Product Manager
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