Our Summer Series of podcasts is designed to introduce you to some of our most popular content and superstar PM professionals from the last six years. This episode focuses on making impactful products from one of the most popular episodes of Product Talk. Are you putting the customer first when designing products? Join product superstar Marty Cagan, founder of Silicon Valley Product Group, to learn about how product managers can put the customer first to build impactful products.
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On the job of a product manager
Marty believes that product manager is not a job for everyone. While the engineering tech lead and product designer jobs are demanding, he thinks product manager is the most demanding on the team.
“It’s required to have a very broad and deep understanding of all of these different aspects of the business and bring them all together for the team and bring that to the team. They’re not there to be the designer and to play the designer, you have a designer. They’re not there to be the engineers, of course, we have engineers. You’re there to actually bring these other dimensions of the business to the team so that the team together can make some great decisions.
That takes a lot of work. It takes really deep understanding of your actual customers. it takes deep understanding of the data that’s generated, very deep understanding of your industry, the relevant trends and the landscape. And it takes deep understanding of each aspect of your business that brings constraints.
On the most crucial skills to learn as a product manager
“Good product people can switch industries pretty quickly. It’s much harder to really know the skills of product management than to learn a particular domain. There’s a few exceptions to that, like in medical technology, for example, but for the most part, you don’t don’t focus on the domain, focus on the skills of product and being able to rapidly learn new domains, just like good engineers can rapidly learn new technologies.
On specific skills to focus on within product management
Within the framework of product management, Marty identified a handful of key skills that will drive both product success and career success.
“You have to really be good at understanding data, you have to really be good at getting to know customers, testing products, getting qualitative and quantitative feedback, understanding the techniques of product discovery, understanding how to apply technologies to solve new problems, understanding how to work with designers, how to work with stakeholders, how to work with engineers. These are typically much more difficult skills.
On evaluating your own performance as a product manager
Marty said job performance is usually a very objective measure.
“We’ll define a set of KPIs. Most many people use the OKR system to do this, but we’ll have a set of KPIs around referenceable customers; it might be around revenue; it might be around growth rates; it might be around the KPIs that you report to your board every quarter, but the job of the product team is of course to deliver on that.”
About the host
SC Moatti is a technology visionary, entrepreneur and investor. She is the founding partner of Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and Products That Count, one of the largest communities of product managers, leaders and founders in the world. Previously, she built products that billions of people use at Facebook, Nokia and Electronic Arts. She also serves on boards of both public and private companies, including mobile technology giant Opera Software (OPERA:Oslo). An award-winning bestselling author, Moatti frequently gives keynotes on business and technology, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and on NPR. She lectures at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she earned her MBA and has a Master of Science in electrical engineering. Andrew Chen, one of Uber's top executives, called SC “a genius at making mobile products people love.” For more information, visit scmoatti.com.