TBPP2011: Chris Sarette on “Living in the Now”

TBPP2011_alt-abrv-114 What is quickly becoming tradition, we are kicking off the first series of the year looking at our most recent winner of The Best Product Person. Chris Sarette, The Best Product Person of 2011, is the estimable subject of this series. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a segments of a Q&A session I had with Chris — and lending some insight into why Chris truly is The Best Product Person of 2011.

In the now…

> Whose shoes would you like to walk in for a day? why?

I would love to see the world through the eyes of the industrial designers I get to work with. It fascinates me how they take everyday inspirations – something as nondescript as a bag of almonds – and pull beautiful shapes and functions out of them. Understanding the interactivity of proportions, textures, colors, and shapes as they do would be intriguing.

> What excites you about your current products?

With our Canvas Totes Series this holiday season, we aimed to reinvent what the public at large thinks a “cause bag” is, or is capable of being. We’ve been told that our machines, and our seamstresses, wouldn’t be able to work with leather – they did. Similarly, the prospect of setting up a screenprinting workshop in a remote area of the world was deemed lofty – and yet we have several hundred prints coming off the press on a weekly basis. I’m excited that we’re pushing the envelope of what people think this project should be capable of producing, and helping push a consumer’s expectations for African goods from craft to a durable and fashionable ware.

> What do you like most -and least – about being a product manager?

It’s easy to get frustrated at just about any step in a product’s evolution. Collaboration on design can get heated, when someone else is just as convinced as you are that another direction is better than what you have in mind. Then trying to match the particulars of a sample to the raw material factories in your knowledge base, while hitting the price points you need to hit, can leave you frazzled. To overcome all these obstacles, and then hit a snag in production because something like needles have suddenly become the scarcest commodity in Uganda, can leave you at your wit’s end. But while all these challenges are often the hardest part of being a product manager, the moment when you FINALLY get to check the box off next to any of these line items for a new product makes it all worth it. To finally carry around a bag that you helped bring to life, or better yet, to have someone compliment you on that bag you’re carrying around, is exhilarating.

Stay Tuned

Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Chris Sarette, The Best Product Person of 2011!

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring The Best Product Person of 2011, or any other of the upcoming product person interviews, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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TBPP2011: Chris Sarette on “Getting to Here”

TBPP2011_alt-abrv-114 What is quickly becoming tradition, we are kicking off the first series of the year looking at our most recent winner of The Best Product Person. Chris Sarette, The Best Product Person of 2011, is the estimable subject of this series. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a segments of a Q&A session I had with Chris — and lending some insight into why Chris truly is The Best Product Person of 2011.

Getting to here…

> What key people helped shape you into the product manager you are today?

I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on now with product development without the mentorship I’ve received from inCase co-founder Bobby Chang. Bobby’s contributions to the vision and rollout of the project I work on (Mend) have given me a more holistic view of product evolution, and the need to build excellence into every step.

> How did you decide to become a product manager?

My involvement with product development initially stemmed out of my love affair with numbers. I’ve always been the “numbers guy,” so the math that accompanies sourcing, production schedules, and sales strategies is very enticing. Eighteen months into this project, my passion for the quantitative side of the business has been complemented by a genuine satisfaction that comes from working in a hybrid creative/logistical space. Bringing a product from design, through sourcing and sampling, and to production is an extremely rewarding experience.

> What inspires you in your day-to-day work?

Anyone who’s involved with Mend doesn’t need to look very far for inspiration on a daily basis. Each of the 17 seamstresses we employ was at one time abducted by a rebel army operating in northern Uganda, and many of these women escaped the group carrying children fathered by their captors. Mend provides them with an opportunity to not only provide for their families, but to also transition from victim to community role model.

I’m also very lucky to work somewhere that produces amazing videos to tell our stories. More about my inspiration can be found in this 3-minute video: http://vimeo.com/31776405.

Stay Tuned

Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Chris Sarette, The Best Product Person of 2011!

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring The Best Product Person of 2011, or any other of the upcoming product person interviews, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn 
The Product Guy

Roadmapping, Liquid Fare and a Fantastic February!

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Thank you to everyone who made it to our latest record breaking roundtable meet-up of The Product Group at MTV Networks / Viacom, as well as to our sponsors, Balsamiq Studios, Sunshine Suites, and Ryma Technology Solutions.

IMG_1418 Over the course of the night a few of the highlights were…

IMG_1416Featured Product: Liquid Fare
exploring the product, its challenges and successes, from pivoting the bar scene to success in execution
(thanks to Jon Zanoff and the Liquid Fare Product Team)

Managing & Maintaining the Roadmap
from "what" to "how" to "when"

The Product Group meet-ups are an opportunity for Product People (managers, strategists, marketers, etc.) to come together to meet, interact, and network in a roundtable setting. It’s awesome to meet fellow Product People in a laid-back, conversational gathering.

If you are a Product Person and are interested in having your product featured or participating as a featured guest expert at an upcoming meetup of The Product Group, contact me (or email at jhorn (a-t.) tpgblog DoT com).

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our next meetup …

Thursday, February 2nd @ 7PM
RSVP Now!

And, stay tuned for more announcements about February’s Featured Product.

If you would like to attend our next meet-up, RSVP today or visit our group webpage at…

http://meetup.com/TheProductGroup

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

P.S. Interested in becoming a sponsor or host of The Product Group? contact me.

The Best Product Person of 2011 Announced!

TBPP2011_alt-abrv-114 On Wednesday, January 11th, the 2nd annual winner of The Best Product Person (TBPP) was announced at The Product Group!

Throughout the year, as nominations poured in, I was continually excited and amazed by the highly innovative and inspiring Product People spanning the realms from startup to Fortune 500, and from non-profit to consulting to physical goods producers. In the end, there were several truly outstanding finalists!

Chris-Sarette The Product Guy & The Product Group are very pleased to announce The Best Product Person of 2011 is Chris Sarette of Invisible Children!

From "number guy" to "product guy," Chris’ career has been a fruitful one. His "passion for the quantitative side of the business has been complemented by a genuine satisfaction that comes with working" with Mend and Invisible Children. He graduated from USC with an MA in Communication Management at the age of 21 and waived a position with a communication consulting firm to polish Invisible Children’s development strategy. Chris then initiated and directed the Schools for Schools program before transitioning into his current position as VP of Business Operations. He now manages IC’s core operations, including Technology, HR, Shipping, Office Management and Data Management. For more about Chris and one of his products, check out http://invisiblechildren.com/homepage .

Over the coming weeks we will be speaking with and learning more from Chris.

Thank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nominations for The Best Product Person of 2012 will begin in a few months. In the meantime, take a moment and congratulate this year’s, The Best Product Person of 2012: Chris Sarette. (tweet)

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn 
The Product Guy

About ‘The Best Product Person’

The Best Product Person (TBPP) is the leading international award honoring excellence in Product Management. Established in 2010, TBPP is awarded annually in association with The Product Guy (http://tpgblog.com) and The Product Group (http://meetup.com/theproductgroup).

TBPP Recognizes 1 person each year, invites them to speak and share their knowledge and experience with the larger product community. The nominations can be submitted by anyone. Over the course of the year, the various nominees are interviewed and the finalists narrowed down to: The Best Product Person of the year . The finalists are interviewed and evaluated for excellence in Product along the following lines… Becoming a Product Person, Your Product, Advice to Product People, and Future & Trends.

TBPP is both (1) the way the Product community gets together to recognize excellence amongst our ranks as well as (2) provide, to a large audience, insights into that excellence in a manner we can all learn from and leverage in our own Product journeys.

For more information about The Best Product Person award and past winners visit http://tpgblog.com/tbpp

About ‘The Product Group’

The Product Group is an opportunity for Product Managers, etc. to come together to meet, interact, and network. It’s an awesome way to meet fellow Product People in a laid-back, conversational environment within which sharing and learning can flourish and complement the knowledge base for all on a peer-to-peer basis. The NYC chapter of The Product Group meets the first Thursday of each month. If you are interested in a establishing chapter near you, please contact The Product Guy or The Product Group for more information. (http://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/ )

Happy New Year! Product Management in 2012

2012Happy New Year! The last year has seen many changes in the world of product management. Yet, with all these changes, we can all expect ever more exciting trends, processes, and, especially, products in 2012!

A Look Back

In 2011, many of the prevailing trends we experienced were…

  • Increased focus on process for innovation and ideation
  • API’s, relationships, modular innovation, integration. You are not a true product unless you have an API.
  • Decreasing use of the free service / product business model. Growing on free is no longer the best policy. You can actually create a viable, sustainable business by charging customers money. (omg)
  • The new form factor — the tablet. While it has been around for sometime, the tablet (specifically, the iPad) has had a profound affect on not just tablet design, but all product design and product-consumer expectations of interaction — more intuitive, more touchy.

The Coming Year

It’s always fun to attempt to predict the future. Based on my interactions with the product management community, the following are my predictions for the big trends of 2012.

  • Offline. There will be a broad-based movement back to enabling the offline application, powered by HTML5, from document management to media consumption.
  • Death of XML. XML is on the wane, and JSON’s time has come. With all of the frameworks that have been developed to extract, transform, and transport XML, there will be great entrepreneurial opportunities in 2012 tooling-up JSON.
  • The number of product management roles will continue to grow. However, they will be filled by more and more junior people. These positions will also focus much more on the tactical side of product management (vs. the strategic).
  • In demand skills of the product manager of 2012 (and beyond)…
    • Tech / programming. There will be increasing need for technical experience or programming skills for product manager roles (even UX centric ones).
    • Statistics. Establishing and gathering metrics will become increasingly central to what it means to be a product manager. You need to demonstrate your value and make smarter decisions. (One of the key drivers has been the growth of Lean Methodology.)
  • Customer driven roadmapping will gain increasing momentum. And, mirroring that trend, but inward facing, more company-wide integrated product management will be taking shape.

What’s next?

What are your predictions and expected trends for product management in 2012?

Enjoy & thanks to everyone who followed, read, and participated in The Product Guy blog and The Product Group, new and old, in 2011! We are going to have a supremely awesome 2012!!! See you there!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy