Very close runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010 was Paul Gray. Paul Gray has spent ten years working in the entertainment, media and communications industries within Australia and Europe. Paul worked in both B2B and B2C roles for organizations including Disney, Foxtel, and British Telecom.
In consideration as The Best Product Person of 2010, I interviewed Paul about all aspects of Product Management, from his own career path, to advice, to trends he now sees emerging.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing portions of this interview. This week, let’s look at some of the best advice one can receive from an outstanding product person.
> What is the best career advice you received as you entered product management?
Most advice I’ve received regarding my career has been pretty much what you’d expect: Read, listen, learn. Challenge yourself. Ask why? Ask why not? But the best advice I received was from an old-hand, traditional sales director. He was looking at some collateral I’d prepared about a new product and he simply read out each feature then stared me in the eye and said “So what?” He challenged me to go beyond describing what the product was and to describe what it did for the customer. He focused me on experience and outcome driven product management. Even to this day, I still challenge myself when articulating information about products with the “So what?” test.
> What is the hardest lesson you learned as a product manager?
I’ve learnt that you can’t please everyone all of the time – and more importantly, you shouldn’t even try to do this. Part of effective product marketing and product management is properly identifying the customer that you’re seeking to serve. This should be as focused as possible – on a customer segment that has a clear problem, need or want. This segment also must be willing to pay for a solution and further, it shouldn’t be already well satisfied by competitors. Aiming too broadly, or ignoring competitive threats or the costs involved with solving a customer problem is a sure fire way to fail.
Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Paul Gray, Runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010, as well as other fascinating product people I met in this journey!
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