Tell Us Who You Are and What You’re Up To As A Product Leader?
I’m Tim Holley, a Vice President of Product at Etsy. At Etsy, I lead a group focused on apps and connections. One of our focus areas is evolving our iOS and Android apps to be engaging, best-in-class shopping experiences. We also focus on bringing to life what makes Etsy special, which is often about human-to-human connection – buyers connecting with sellers, buyers connecting with other buyers.
Getting involved with Products That Count and Being the NYC Chapter Head
When I was head of product at SoulCycle I realized I didn’t have that many connections in the New York product community. Getting involved with Products That Count was a great way to meet product people and generally give back to the community a little bit.
The monthly speaker series is an opportunity for product people to connect with each other and learn from New York based product leaders. We try to make sure the talks are useful for PMs so we focus on actionable insights that the audience can apply to their day-to-day work. Just like building products, we iterate on the format and topics of the talks. We ask for feedback after each event and use that to, hopefully, continually improve the series.
What Makes a Great Product?
A great product solves a customer’s problems. That might sound obvious – it’s probably product 101 – but it’s surprising how many products are created without really listening to your customers to understand what problems they’re trying to solve. But, in my opinion, just solving a problem isn’t enough. The product needs to have moments of delight to make people want to use your product over a competitor’s.
Traits of a Great Product Manager
I think there are a few traits that make a great product manager.
One is having customer empathy. Whether you’re building enterprise products, tools for small businesses, or a consumer app being able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and really understand their pain points is critical in making sure you’re building a product that actually solves their problems.
Second, a great product manager is a leader. You’re responsible for setting a vision that’s exciting and motivating for the team. You’re responsible for making sure the team has what they need – for example context, tools, enough people – to work effectively. And sometimes you’re going to have to make unpopular decisions others understand, even if they disagree with them.
Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to be decisive. There’s always going to be ambiguity in what you’re building. You’ll always have somewhat imperfect data no matter how much user research you do, no matter how many ways you dissect your A/B test results. Being able to make well-informed decisions so you and the team can move forward quickly and learn about your assumptions is so important.
What Resources Would You Recommend for Product Managers?
A bit of a classic, but Silicon Valley Product Group, is something that I come back to time and again.
This isn’t really product-specific, but I’m a big fan of How I Built This. I find it inspiring to hear how successful people saw an opportunity and built a team, a product, and a brand to address it.