What lessons can product leaders learn from scaling multiple product businesses? In this episode of Product Talk hosted by Sid Shaik, Temporal Technologies Fmr. COO Charles Zedlewski speaks on his career in product management and lessons learned from scaling multiple product businesses. Charles shares insights on becoming a successful PM without a technical background, emphasizing the importance of building technical depth over time. He discusses philosophies for collaborating closely with engineering teams and getting the “soul of the product” to live in their hearts. Charles also talks about his experience scaling Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution and lessons from launching new features. Overall, the discussion provides perspectives on product growth strategies, frameworks for conceptualizing customer journeys, and approaches to partnerships between organizations.

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Show Notes

  1. Build technical depth over time by starting in business applications and taking engineering roles.
  2. Prioritize partnership with engineering above all other responsibilities.
  3. Understand how to get the “soul of the product” to live in engineers’ hearts.
  4. Hadoop’s novel ideas challenged database assumptions.
  5. Leverage brute force parallelism over technical sophistication.
  6. Evolve an open source project into an enterprise-ready platform.
  7. Differentiate thoughtfully without adding undue complexity.
  8. Consider growth vectors like breadth vs. depth.
  9. Emphasize organizational leadership skills for product managers.
  10. Seek senior product managers who can collaborate broadly.
  11. Launch features carefully based on intended use cases.
  12. Learn from stories of early product teams.
  13. Tailor approaches to individual situations over rigid frameworks.
  14. Design user-driven journeys with optional sales involvement.
  15. Insert sales selectively based on customer needs.
  16. Focus on personal growth over control in customer experiences.
  17. Consider AI, data platforms, and new database architectures.
  18. Admire thoughtful products like DataDog and LanceDB.
  19. Connect with inspirational founders for insights.
  20. Continually reinvent products as domains and needs change.

About the speaker
Charles Zedlewski Self-employed, Helping builders Member

Charles is a business and product leader with 20 years of experience building, advising and investing in category-defining platform companies. Most recently Charles served as Chief Operating Officer at Temporal Technologies, the leader in durable execution systems where he built and led all the company’s go-to-market and product functions while creating the category and launching the commercial product. In less than 3 years Temporal grew its users, customers, revenues and value by 20-100 times. Prior to Temporal Technologies, Charles spent nearly 10 years building Cloudera first as the product leader and subsequently as general manager for Cloudera’s 3 high growth business units. As the longest serving member of the leadership team, Charles helped Cloudera grow from a pre-product startup with less than $10 million in funding to a multi-product public company with $800 million in ARR. Charles has advised or invested in other notable platform companies and investors including Airbyte, Baseten, Huggingface, Streamsets and Y Combinator. Charles has an undergraduate degree from Carleton College and a master’s from MIT and lives in San Francisco with his wife, two children and their Mexican street dog Miso.

About the host
Sid Shaik Cloudera, Head of Product, Private Cloud Data Services

Sid is a seasoned Product Leader in the Data Platforms domain. At present, he runs Product at Cloudera for its fastest growing product line, Private Cloud Data Services. Prior to Cloudera, he co-founded a Silicon Valley startup-- Performance Sherpa; his company built performance engineering workflow automation for databases and middleware. Prior to those roles, he worked at Yahoo!, Qubole, Asterdata and Oracle in various Product and Engineering roles. As a Product Manager, Sid loves the creative process of discovering, defining and solving meaningful technology problems in large markets and enjoys scaling product businesses. In his down time, he enjoys taking his kids to soccer practice, he practices yoga, and advises startups.

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