Driving Product Growth with Customer Interviews in 20 days

Guest Post by: Jeffrey Owens (Mentee, Session 4, The Product Mentor) [Paired with Mentor, Chris Butler]

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In the startup mindset of move fast and break things (thanks Mark Zuckerberg), often times customer interviews and getting to know how users interact with your application fall behind. At SpotHero, we have recently graduated from the “startup” product style of push as many things through as possible to a more mature and calculated product lifecycle. Product vision, no longer determined by emotion, rather derived from sound metrics – is executed through the product roadmap, with clear and measurable goals in mind.

Determining what goes into your product roadmap to execute on this vision can be boiled down to two things: quantitative and qualitative research. From a planning perspective, quantitative research and feedback is pretty straight-forward – note: I didn’t say easy. Ensure all correct funnels and events are being tracked, analyze, and pull out key trends (to over-simplify).

The “art” of determining the product roadmap comes through qualitative research. Being able to pull the pain, motivations, problems and reasonings behind every user interaction in the application and finding tangible solutions to these problems is both critical and challenging.

Knowing minimal amounts of what was involved in customer interviews and gathering qualitative feedback, Chris Butler, my mentor and friend pointed me toward the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) methodology. If you’re not familiar you can find it here: JTBD Interview Structure

Like Newton’s first law of motion – an object at rest will stay at rest – often the hardest part is finding where to start, and then actually starting. Personally, I have found it easiest to put together a quick project (product) plan that lays out clear goals with target dates, helping me reach towards a goal. The 20 day plan begins here:

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Day 1: Create User Segments

Creating users segments is the act of defining groups of customers that use your application, usually based on purchasing behaviors. After much deliberation, I eventually narrowed down my user segments from 6 to a more manageable 3. The process was simple – find the majority users and optimize for them. I found the other segments I created were around edge cases, which ultimately would be uncovered in talking to the primary users.

  1. Segment 1 – Users who have purchased monthly parking through SpotHero and still parked

  2. Segment 2 – Users who purchased monthly parking through SpotHero and cancelled

  3. Segment 3 – Considered purchasing, but didn’t

  4. Segment 4 – Users who started purchasing monthly through SpotHero and decided to stop

  5. Segment 5 – Users who are thinking of purchasing monthly parking, don’t know about SpotHero

  6. Segment 6 – People who buy enough daily parking to make the switch to monthly parking make sense

Day 2-3: Communication Plans for Segments

  1. Segment 1 – Pull list of users from database and offer customers $30 off future monthly purchase in order to have a 15-20 minute conversation with us.

  2. Segment 2 – Pull list of users from database and offer customers a $25 amazon gift card in exchange for a 15-20 minute conversation with us.

  3. Segment 3 – Using our analytics tool find users who dropped off in our sales funnel before purchasing, and reach out offering a $25 amazon gift card to have a 15-20 minute conversation with us.

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Day 4: Determining Budget

Of all the things, this one was the most unclear to me. I wasn’t sure how to get the conversation started, and when I did, it never really went anywhere. To resolve this, I did three things

  1. Pulled numbers on the impact of monthly parking for the company’s GMV

    1. This shows the value of reaching out to customers and justifies the cost for providing credit or some sort of gift card.

  2. Determine how many users I needed to talk to in order to reach qualitative significance

    1. 4-7 users per segment will get you all the information you need. Usually after 1-2 conversations, any glaring needs become apparent. Conversations 3-7 confirm and provide additional insights.

  3. Proposed number value of how much each outreach would cost

    1. Segment 1 – $30 in monthly credit

    2. Segment 2 – $25 Amazon gift card

    3. Recording Software – $10

    4. Total Budget – $395

Day 5-7: Scripts for Interviews

Simultaneously with budgeting, I started building the scripts for the customer interviews using the recommended JTBD framework. The general framework I followed was:

  1. Introductions – get to know the customer’s background

  2. Point-of-Purchase – bring them back to the moment they purchased

  3. Finding first thought – what made they want to make the purchase

  4. Building Considerations – what were all the options they explored to solve the problem

  5. Searching – what was their experience looking for monthly parking with us

  6. Booking – what was their experience like when booking

  7. Post-Purchase – what was their experience after purchasing parking with us

    1. Cancellation Recap (if applicable) – what caused them to cancel their reservation

  8. General Questions – allow them to give feedback and ask questions

Day 7-17: Getting People on the Phone

Getting people on the phone was easier than I thought – once there was an incentive. I had originally tried outreach to customers to get on the phone without an incentive, and did not get a single person to email back. Once I introduced and incentive, I was amazed by how many people want to talk for $30 off parking/$25 dollar Amazon gift card. Beyond the expected cancellations and rescheduling, I was able to get my goal of 5-7 users per segment.

Recording the Interviews

Image result for recordingFirst thing to lay out – record your interviews! I cannot iterate this enough. Not only can others in the organization listen to these interviews, but taking notes during the conversation takes away from the interview and makes the interview very choppy as you scramble to write down everything the customer says.

During the interview, I found it was good to stick to the script as overall architecture and gave good reference points to go back to, but the most useful product information came from the tangents or stories that occurred only through natural conversation. The script should act as a guide, not the thing you read to customers, get their response and move on. Don’t be afraid to go into rabbit holes or pry a little more. Know when you’ve gone too far, and reference back to your script to bring the conversation back.

Day 18-19: Reviewing Feedback and Building Roadmap

By the 2nd conversation you’ll notice hints of trends and by the 3rd or 4th conversation you will be able to confirm. Even if you product is “flawless” – which it isn’t – customers (or all to often, investors) will find issues with it. The key is to listen for their problems and not their solutions. Chris taught me a great prioritization technique through questions:

  1. How much time do users spend on this problem or trying to solve this problem?

  2. How frequent do users run into this problem?

  3. What’s the impact of this problem?

  4. Will this problem stop users from using your product?

  5. Would a solution for this problem drastically change consumer behavior?

Answering these questions helps you put an apples-to-apples comparison against all the feedback you get from customers. A good equation for determining priority (higher the number, the higher the priority):

# times occurs * seconds it takes customer to solve + 100 if deters user = significance

The output will give you a list of problems in priority. You still need to determine if these can be solved with or without product solutions.

Wrapping it up

As you’re looking at your product roadmap, it’s important to make sure those solutions being built to achieve this roadmap are being built for the users of your product. I DO NOT promote the product roadmap being a list of static features that solves the problems. Rather, the roadmap should be a nimble document that lists out the problems you plan to solve for customers in priority order.

Customer needs change, and what you think is the most important today, will not be the same importance 1 month out, certainly not 3 months out. Set expectations within your organization that the product culture and roadmap will be to solve the biggest problems currently facing your customers. I challenge you to go no further than 3 months out and to always be gathering customer feedback both quantitative and qualitative to make a product that best solves your customer’s current problems.

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Afterward

With all the above being said – we don’t work in a vacuum. Things come up, priorities change, and ultimately leads to many reasons why it won’t get done or can’t get done in 20 days.

Here are some things that got in the way for me, and how I worked around it.

Focus

Depending on your product culture, you may have more than one product you are focusing on. In my case it shifted many times throughout the twenty day period – our internal admin tool, monthly focus on web, external admin tool for parking operators to bugs and general run-the-business type features.

Key is to keep laser focus. It’s ok to miss a couple days, but similar to working out; the more days you miss, the harder it is to return. Be transparent with others in your organization about what you are doing, and don’t be afraid to tell people no or not right now. Make sure you are clear on the why and benefits what you are doing brings to the company.

Priorities

This was probably the hardest part for me. One week I was focusing on one tool, the next another. Each of them shifting in priority based on our internal and external needs. Each had its weight of being top priority.

We’re product managers for a reason – we can decipher the important from the unimportant (and hopefully everything in between). Only one thing can be top priority. Make sure if something is bumping it off top priority, it truly is top priority. Working on one-off projects that come up – i.e. fires or must-have features – generally don’t lead to moving the needle. Ask yourself if you’re firefighting or product managing. Avoid the former when at all possible.

Resources

This is a fun one. You go out, do all your research, and you hit a wall because there aren’t enough design resources, engineering resources, data science resource, whatever resources… you get the point.

Don’t let this stop you, and should certainly not be an excuse. Do what you can to get it to the point where you could hand it off, and if it never makes it there – that means there were other priorities that took it’s place. If this is your top priority, make it the top priority of your teams to get it done.

Remember, as the product manager, you represent the customers needs in every decision you make. The best way to arm yourself with what the customers are currently facing is to get in front of them and have a conversation. This not only builds brand loyalty, but ensures that your product will be solving real problems. You have the power to get in front of them – if you don’t, someone else will.

About Jeffrey Owens
JeffOwensProduct artisan, aspiring Entrepreneur; adventure and travel connoisseur. Jeff Owens is on a quest. Reach out to learn more.

 

 

 

More About The Product Mentor
TPM-Short3-Logo4The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Management Mentors and Mentees around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…

Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Each Session of the program runs for 6 months with paired individuals…

  • Conducting regular 1-on-1 mentor-mentee chats
  • Sharing experiences with the larger Product community
  • Participating in live-streamed product management lessons and Q&A
  • Mentors and Mentees sharing their product management knowledge with the broader community

Sign up to be a Mentor today & join an elite group of product management leaders!

Check out the Mentors & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Best Thing About Being a Product Manager

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Out of the hundreds of nominations, and amazing finalists, the 7th annual winner of The Best Product Person is … Chris Butler.

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 and The Product Group.

Take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (tweet)

In the now…

> What do you like most about being a product manager?

I really love research like contextual inquiry. In the process of being in someone’s environment we learn so much about what they need and want from something. Their anxieties and joys while performing their job. Riding around in a truck with people from the gas station repair group for PwC was one of these experiences. Helping a host run the front of house for a night is another.

More to Come

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

Thank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nomination period for The Best Product Person of 2017 has begun!  Nominate your pick for The Best Product Person right now!

http://TheBestProductPerson.com

And, don’t forget, take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (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. And, if you are the first to submit the winning nominee, you too will be rewarded  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 https://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. (https://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/ )

From FOMO to NPS & AllTheRooms!

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Nominate a great product manager you know today @ http://TheBestProductPerson.com !
Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel @
http://tpg.li/subscribe-tpg

Thank you to everyone who made it to our latest roundtable meet-up of The Product Group at Digital Ocean, as well as to our other sponsors, Yext, BKLYN and many more.

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

Featured Product: AllTheRooms
exploring the product, its challenges and successes, from FOMO to NPS

The Failure of Tools
from KISS Metrics to Recording Devices

 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, May 4th @ 7PM
RSVP Now!  

Stay tuned for more announcements about February’s Featured Product, JW Player.

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Please submit your nominations for 2017’s great product management candidates @ http://TheBestProductPerson.com !

Learn more @ http://tpglog.com/tbpp

tpj-logo-w_lkwAnd, don’t forget to check out our new job board exclusively dedicated to Product jobs!Visit  http://TheProductJobs.com and happy hunting!
TPM-Short3-Logo4If you are interested in being a Product Mentor or seeking Product Management Mentorship…

Visit http://TheProductMentor.com and
Sign-up today!

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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

Business Development vs. Product Management

In a recent live stream from one of our mentors of The Product Mentor, Chris Butler, lead a conversation around “Business Development vs. Product Management”.  We are always looking for more product mentors from all around the world.  Signup to be a Mentor Today!

View the live stream…

 

About The Product Mentor

The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…

Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Each Session of the program runs for 6 months with paired individuals…

  • Conducting regular 1-on-1 mentor-mentee chats
  • Sharing experiences with the larger Product community
  • Participating in live-streamed product management lessons and Q&A

Signup to be a Mentor Today!

Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.

Meet the mentors…

PictureJordan Bergtraum
VP Product Management, ServiceChannel

Jordan is a Management level, revenue-driven, B2B SaaS Product Management and Project Management leader. He grows revenue and adoption, and ensures product by turning business problems into profitable, simple, easy-to-use solutions
Jordan works closely with his market, executives, and internal subject matter experts to develop roadmaps, and communicate these roadmaps internally and with clients. He translates complex business problems into solutions that are easily consumed by engineering, marketing and sales. Jordan has enterprise Software-as-a-Service experience within the facilities management, legal and pharmaceutical verticals, having most recently worked at ServiceChannel, Epiq Systems and Medidata Solutions.
Jordan has a BS in Biology from Union College and an MBA & MS in Information Systems from Boston University’s School of Management. Jordan lives in Manhattan and in his spare time likes to play soccer.

PictureLadislav Bartos
Chief Product Officer, UVIC Ltd.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci
Ladislav believes that success is in simplicity that’s why his aim is to help companies to make complex products simple for users. He lives in London, currently working as Product Manager at Gumtree.com, an Ebay company, previously led product at international startups and large organisations. Ladislav focuses on user centric product development, especially on brand, usability and revenue product challenges. He is passionate about Lean and Agile Product management, innovative business models and business and product strategies.

Dustin-Levy_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Dustin Levy
Director of Product Management, Gentex Corporation

Dustin Levy is a Director of Product Management at Gentex Corporation—the leading supplier of high-performance flight equipment for military, law enforcement, and rescue aircrew worldwide.  In this position, Dustin’s primary responsibilities include product portfolio management, new product introduction and product line strategy deployment. Prior to joining Gentex, he was a Senior Product Manager at Smiths Detection and in that role launched several new chemical identification solutions into the global security market. During his career, Dustin’s research efforts have been supported by fellowships from the National Research Council and National Institutes of Health and include a track record of several new product innovations, patents and publications. Dustin is a graduate of the doctoral program in Physical Chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the MBA program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Paul-Hurwitz_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Paul Hurwitz
Director of Active Analytics, ActiveHealth Management

Paul Hurwitz is Director of Active Analytics at ActiveHealth Management, a Healthagen Company and subsidiary of Aetna. He is responsible for the strategic roadmap and execution of the Active Analytics product suite, which is focused on providing standalone clinical analytic solutions and business intelligence modules to internal users and the payer/provider customer base.   Paul is an experienced product management professional with over 15 years of experience in technology management and 10 years in product management.  Prior to joining ActiveHealth, he led a cross-functional team at Medidata Solutions working on life sciences software for the design and optimization of clinical trials.  Prior to Medidata, Paul led product management and was head of technology at Centage Corporation, a budgeting and financial forecasting software company in Natick, MA. Paul is a member of the Boston Product Management Association, Boston CTO Club, the Boston-NY CTO HIT Club, co-founder of the Boston Jewish Outdoors Club and product management consultant. He is a graduate of Yeshiva University’s Syms School of Business with a degree in Marketing.

Amanda-Ralph_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Amanda Ralph
Product Management Consultant

Amanda is an experienced product management leader with over 20 years of experience in product portfolio management and innovation generating significant revenue and market share growth. In a career spanning a range of corporate and not for profit sectors within Australia and the Pacific Islands, Amanda has championed organisations to embrace product and service innovation opportunities.
In her most recent role, Amanda spearheaded the Corporate and Overseas portfolios for Australia’s largest private health insurer, Medibank.  Amanda is passionate about customer led product design and in product prototyping to deliver best in market products and customer outcomes.
Amanda has a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Arts (Asian Studies) from Monash University. She is a University of Melbourne Asialink Leadership Fellow and Asia Education Foundation Literacy Ambassador. Amanda lives in Melbourne with her family and in her spare time likes to explore all things cooking related (with a dose of the gym thrown in to try and work it all off!)

Vikas-Batra_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Vikas Batra
Product Management Leader, Alcatel-Lucent

Vikas has over 15 years of experience in Telecom/IT industry with over 10 years in the field of Product Management. Vikas started his career as software developer with Siemens.    After doing IT consulting for some time he moved into Product Management at Lucent Technologies and held various roles developing and launching multiple telecom software and hardware products.  He led a large, multi-location product team in developing a new mobile technology that provides voice (VoIP) and data services over Satellite to phones of size comparable to traditional cellular phones.
Currently, Vikas is a Product Management Leader at Alcatel-Lucent bringing 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi capable Small Cells to marketplace.
Vikas did his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems from XLRI  Jamshedpur, India.  He did his Bachelors of Engineering (Honors) in Electronics and Communications from Delhi Technological Institute (formerly Delhi College of Engineering) Delhi , India.

Jonathan-Berg_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thu[1]Jonathan Berg
Director of Product Management, Schoology

Jonathan is Director of Product Management at Schoology, a fast growing startup in education technology, and he is excited about how technology is unleashing the future of education. Prior to Schoology Jonathan held a variety of product roles in web and mobile. From head of product at an early stage startup to managing global web properties at American Express, his career has taken him to the UK, France and back to New York.
A hands on product leader, Jonathan relishes close collaboration with design and engineering teams. When digging into a new challenge, he starts by establishing a long range product vision, then ruthlessly prioritizes opportunities and features to find the sweet spot between customer needs and business strategy.
When he’s not building products, Jonathan enjoys rediscovering suburban life with his wife and two kids.

Felix-Sargent_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thu[2]Felix Sargent
Product Manager, Bloomberg

Felix works at Bloomberg as a Product Manager for their Corporate Compliance suite. Having been a support person out of college, he transitioned into operations, then programming, then into Product Management. He finds the diverse background helps him communicate effectively to build good software. When he’s not doing product management, he trains for long distance cycling, and dreams of opening a tiki bar.

Krishna-Madhuvarsu_thumb2_thumb_thumKrishna Madhuvarsu
Director of Product Strategy, Oracle Inc.

Krishna enjoys creating new products and works at the intersection of the technology, design and strategy. Krishna believes in “Mobile and Social eating the world” and helps enterprise customers to make use of technology to increase their productivity. Krishna spent several years in building Platforms and brought scalability to several products. Previously, he started his career as a software engineer in embedded systems and moved to application software before venturing into Product Management. Krishna has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing. Krishna is an author, enjoys writing blogs and tutorials on anything technology.

Ian-Moulton_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Ian Multon
Product Manager, TouchTunes Interactive Networks

Ian Moulton has over 10 years of experience in digital product management. He began his product work at Broadcast Interactive Media, where he launched a video publishing platform for broadcast news sites. He later joined the Associated Press, where he managed AP’s Online Video Network, as well as AP’s YouTube channel. Ian is currently a product manager at TouchTunes, where he led a design engagement and development effort to create a new user interface for over 60,000 digital jukeboxes. Ian loves capturing learnings from users, even when they are proving him wrong. Ian has a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University. When not doing product management Ian enjoys playing the guitar, hiking and mountain biking.

Addi-Regev_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb_Addi Regev
Director of Product, Outbrain

A passionate customer advocate and result-driven executor with deep mobile expertise, Addi is leading teams in creating consumer and business digital products, for startups and Fortune-500 companies alike, for more than a decade.  In her current role, as Director of Product at Outbrain, Addi is re-imagining a content-marketing platform. Previously Addi was theProduct Manager behind the redesign of the American Express mobile apps and before that she managed a startup that focused on mobile marketing and content delivery. She also provided strategic advice to Fortune-500 companies as a Management Consultant. Addi started her career trying her hand in customer support, QA, project, sales and marketing management before finding her passion in product management in startups that focused on mobile and its application in business settings. Addi holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Occupational Therapy from Tel Aviv University.

Marc-Wendell_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Marc Wendell
Director of Product Management, Worldnow

Marc Wendell currently is Director of Product Management at Worldnow where he oversees day-to-day product development and product strategy.  Prior to Worldnow, Marc held a number of senior-level roles in product development were he facilitated the execution of a number of different products across a broad spectrum of industry verticals. His expertise includes product development and customer experience across various platform experiences. His industry experience includes media, start-ups, publishing, financial services, interactive agencies, tier 1 research intensive academic institutions and the stock media industry.

James-Alexander_thumb2_thumb_thumb_t[2]James Alexander
Founder and Head of Product, Vizibility

James builds products and services which delight customers and differentiate companies. He recently sold his third start-up, Vizibility, an enterprise-class digital business card solution. Vizibility is a SaaS delivered service in the mobile wallet ecosystem and received outstanding reviews and recognition, including 4 stars by PC Magazine. As a successful technology entrepreneur of three start-ups (with two exits), and as a product management executive at Adobe for seven years, he has led cross-functional teams through every stage of the product life cycle. James has held responsibility for $100M+ productportfolios and managed both small teams and large organizations. He has worked on four continents and localized products and services for 27 countries. James holds an MBA from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and has been awarded 12 patents.

6339473[1]Nis Frome
Content and Product, Alpha UX

Nis handles content / product for Alpha UX to help Fortune 500 product teams generate user insights throughout the product lifecycle. His articles have been published in Forbes, UX Mag, and Content Marketing Institute.

4133095[1]Chris Butler
Product Management Consultant

Chris has over 15 years of experience in leading product, BD and strategy. His product experience includes lead and director positions at Horizons Digital Group, Complete Seating (founder), Dash Navigation and Microsoft. He has also held BD roles (with product responsibilities) at KAYAK, Waze and Zvents. He graduated from Boston University with a Computer Systems Engineering degree.

7613672[1]Marc Abraham
Senior Product Manager, NotOnTheHighstreet.com

Starting his career as a corporate lawyer, Marc made the transition into digital technology, initially as a project manager and then as product manager. Marc has been managing products for the last 5 years, working on a range of successful digital products/services, at companies such as 7digital, carwow, YouView and currently at notonthehighstreet.com. He also works closely with organisers of ProductTank events in over 25 countries to ensure deliver the highest quality events for a global community of product people.

3510997[1]Sarah Varki
Product Owner, Sonicbids

Sarah is passionate about making people’s lives easier, faster & better with technology. After completing a BA in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology at UC Berkeley, Sarah’s introduction to product management began with Intuit’s Rotational Program. With a few more companies under her belt and earning her MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, she has worked on over 25 products in various stages of the product lifecycle across almost every industries. When not leading product at Sonicbids, she fosters kittens, tries to find new mixology spots, enjoys boxing, and travels as much as she can (29 countries and counting!).

2876091[1]Cameo Doran
VP of Product & Project Management

Bennett Morrison heads product management for SecurityScorecard. Bennett has a wide-ranging background in product management, marketing, and strategy. Prior to SecurityScorecard, Bennett managed Software-as-a-Service products for Oracle and Collective[i]. Prior to that, he was Director of Strategy at American Express OPEN where he worked on strategic planning and marketing. He holds a BA from New York University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

7149578[1]Rishi Kumar
Senior Product Manager, TEN: The Enthusiast Network

Rishi Kumar is currently a Senior Product Manager at TEN: The Enthusiast Network, the world’s premier network of action/outdoor brands such as GrindTV, SURFER Magazine and SLAM Magazine. With almost 10 years of digital media experience, he has a proven record of building compelling online consumer experiences and launching major consumer-facing, content driven websites.
He has been instrumental in transforming The Enthusiast Network into a leading digital media publisher. He helped develop GrindTV.com into the #1 action and outdoor sports website in the world, was awarded 6 UI patents for client work with MSN, and led the Ozzie-winning redesign of SurferMag.com.
Rishi holds an MBA from The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.

9450291[1]Melissa Hatter
EVP of Product and Client Services, Frankly Media

Melissa Hatter is the EVP of Client services and Product at Frankly Media (formerly Worldnow)– a media technology company that serves the broadcast television industry.  Her focus in on developing client inputs within a SaaS strategic roadmap process. Prior to Worldnow, she held senior account management roles at UGO Networks and the NBC Television Network.   Melissa won an Addy Award for Excellence in Interactive Media from the Tri-State Advertising & Marketing Association.

3720893[1]Jen Bornstein
Product Manager, Attract TV, TouchTunes Interactive Networks

Jenn got her break into the digital industry back in 2005 when her boss walked into the office and asked her to ‘figure out this whole digital download thing.’ Since then she’s worked for a ton of premier media and tech companies including CBS, Nielsen, Direct TV and most recently TouchTunes.
Starting as a project manager and GM eventually working her way over to becoming a product lead after realizing that ‘Dagnabbit! I’m a product person!’. Jenn has not looked back since.
Recently at TouchTunes, she has been leading the social TV program, focusing on both understanding the way device users multitask and the idea that a true Second Screen experience can be done. She’d like to thank Kanban & Agile development for all of their support.

3701639[1]Vasu Vadlamudi
Product Management Consultant

Vasu is a product leader with over 9 years of experience in B2C startups and business strategy. Previously, he lived in San Francisco and ran product at Delectable, a venture-backed wine technology startup. As a Director of Product at Zynga, Vasu led the pod that increased FarmVille’s revenue 10x, created CastleVille’s product management organization, and ran the entire company’s Central Product team. Vasu got his start as a consultant with Bain and a BA in economics from Harvard. Currently he advises startups on product strategy, process, and analytics.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Worst Thing About Being a Product Manager (and making it better)

make-sure-you-arent-using-one-of-the-worst-passwords-of-2013[1]

Out of the hundreds of nominations, and amazing finalists, the 7th annual winner of The Best Product Person is … Chris Butler.

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 and The Product Group.

Take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (tweet)

In the now…

> What do you like least about being a product manager?

My least favorite thing that can fall to product managers are status updates/reports. They can be good when the right expectations are set. However, most of the time the people compiling them need to play a game of poker with the people that are asking for them on how much detail is too much or too little. No one ever seems really happy about status reports. I am not sure that after the first couple most people read them.

More to Come

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

Thank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nomination period for The Best Product Person of 2017 has begun!  Nominate your pick for The Best Product Person right now!

http://TheBestProductPerson.com

And, don’t forget, take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (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. And, if you are the first to submit the winning nominee, you too will be rewarded  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 https://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. (https://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/ )

How to transition from a Product Manager to a Product Leader

Guest Post by: Avinash Bajaj (Mentee, Session 4, The Product Mentor) [Paired with Mentor, Nis Frome]

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So, you did whatever it took to become a Product Manager. Either you stumbled your way into product management, or you planned your way through. Whatever the case maybe, you are here now. You have done it.

Now, how do you transition yourself from a product guy to the product guy in your organization? How do you get others to respect the area that you love? How do you grow yourself and shape the organization around a product culture to make it more sustainable, more scalable and more efficient?

That is where I was – I was the first Product Manager in my organization, and now I have managed to carve a new Product Management discipline/department in the organizational structure.

Below are some of the takeaways of the experience that can hopefully help others who are at a similar transition phase of their lives:

(*Note: These are my personal experiences. These certainly do not mean this is the only way to follow, but hopefully these can help give guidelines on how some actions worked for me)

1.Challenge the Status Quo

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If you want to become a Product Leader, act like one, NOW! When you are a Product Manager, your product is your business. But as a Product Leader, everything is your business. Just because things are a certain way doesn’t mean they should be. Ask questions – lots of them. Challenge assumptions and theories. Be bullish and aggressive in proposing product ideas, but at the same time, be stable and dependable to execute on those ideas. Don’t go into the position looking specifically to change everything. Give it a chance and try to understand why the ‘established’ practices exist. But don’t be afraid to challenge them and reconfigure them.

2.Be Entrepreneurial

entrepreneurial-growth-in-greener-industries-caption-image[1]I heard somewhere that great Product Leaders make great Entrepreneurs. I don’t know if that is true, but what has been true in my case is the attitude of “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission”. As product managers, we often need to, have to, take decisions. But as Product Leaders, your decisions matter a lot more. There is more on the line. So we cannot be afraid to take hard calls if needed, and we have to be able to stand our ground and back ourselves when such a time comes.

Another aspect that is equally important for Product Leaders is the tendency to almost “walk” into chaotic, conventionally troublesome situations – that could mean standing up for a Product Manager colleague and taking the heat if something goes wrong, or, taking responsibility to solve a problem which you just became aware of, something that does not strictly lie within your product roadmap/portfolio.

3. Delegate and Support

As a Leader, you don’t have to take all decisions, in fact please don’t take all decisions. Learn to accept that people closest to certain topics are best to take those decisions. Your job is to lead and support those decisions – you don’t have to know 100% on the topic but you need to know enough to support the business case around those decisions. There is a reason you work with experts in areas that are not your expertise. As PMs you naturally learn to do this on a smaller scale, but as a product leader, you have to learn to inspire and teach PMs to get this awareness early on.

About Avinash Bajaj
AvinashBajajSean Echevarria is Head of Products by day and passionate about making a difference in the field of education.

 

 

 

More About The Product Mentor
TPM-Short3-Logo4The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Management Mentors and Mentees around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…

Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Each Session of the program runs for 6 months with paired individuals…

  • Conducting regular 1-on-1 mentor-mentee chats
  • Sharing experiences with the larger Product community
  • Participating in live-streamed product management lessons and Q&A
  • Mentors and Mentees sharing their product management knowledge with the broader community

Sign up to be a Mentor today & join an elite group of product management leaders!

Check out the Mentors & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Getting Excited About Your Product

Out of the hundreds of nominations, and amazing finalists, the 7th annual winner of The Best Product Person is … Chris Butler.

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 and The Product Group.

Take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (tweet)

In the now…

> What excites you about your current products?

One project we are working on at Philosophie is for PricewaterhouseCooper and Google. It is focused on field service operations, aka gas station repair people. It would seem to be very simple in how they work, but there is an important and complex way that everyone comes together to provide high service to their customers. It involves a lot of people to get a job done right with the highest customer service that the organization holds so high.

They have a challenge of moving from a regional, family based business to national player. We believe that technology will enable the team to keep that type of coordination without sacrificing the great customer service focused organization.

More to Come

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

Thank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nomination period for The Best Product Person of 2017 has begun!  Nominate your pick for The Best Product Person right now!

http://TheBestProductPerson.com

And, don’t forget, take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (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. And, if you are the first to submit the winning nominee, you too will be rewarded  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 https://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. (https://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/ )

A Designer’s Perspective on Working with Product Managers

Guest Post by: David Pasztor

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A product manager just stopped by the desk of the designer on a lazy Thursday afternoon. The designer showed him something, and they started discussing a new feature’s design loudly. The manager used wide gestures to show where he wanted to move certain elements. The developers sitting nearby just watched the show for the first time, but after a while they stood up to join the party one by one. Soon the whole team was standing behind the designer’s screen shouting new ideas and tips about the layout, the colors, the icons, the fonts and everything else. The designer just took a deep breath and hid his face behind his hands. He thought it will be an easy Thursday.

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I’ve been in this situation while I worked with various product teams as a designer. I also know how much effort these team put into finding out how to work with developers. Unfortunately design is a completely different world and what works with devs does not work with designers. So after growing our design team at UX studio from 2 to 20 people, I share my learnings with you about how to work with designers.

How to give designers tasks and keep them motivated?

Just like engineers, designers are also problem solvers. We like to get painful user problems to solve. You can ask me to change the color somewhere or put a button on a screen, and I will probably do that, but I really like to get challenging problems where I can do my research build prototypes, do user tests, and come up with a solution that will raise our product to the next level. So give designers bigger challenges like: “We should redesign the sign up flow to decrease drop-offs” or “add a new reporting module to this business app, so users can easily present their results”.

Designers and UX researchers will be motivated if you give them important product issues to solve. Frame them from the user’s perspective, and tell them why the given problem is worth it to be solved.

Also give them free hand with the solution and enough time to go through their process. Many people think design is just a quick task before development, which is not true in many cases.

When you give them a task, the best designers will always ask back instantly “why?”. Not because they don’t trust your judgment, but because they will ask for every small detail and background information that will help them during the design process.

What to expect from a design team?

Designers can help product people a lot. Let’s take a look at all the things we can do to make your life easier.

The role of design is to build a bridge between humans and technology, so a design team’s most important goal is to get to know your customers really well. That’s why we have UX researchers working besides designers, because good design needs a lot of research. The design team has to bring new insights from your customers all the time. They have to know and communicate what are their pains and needs. The design team should also deliver insights from your products or prototypes. They have to tell you what people understand (or don’t understand) in your product, where do they get stuck, and what are the annoying usability issues. This is essential to design a product that works well.

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Agile development doesn’t just mean faster turnarounds and sprints. In an agile product team everyone is aware of the customer’s problem we solve, and everyone can make decision and react on issues. Design workshops, like persona, jobs-to-be-done or customer journey workshops can help the team to get a better understanding of customer’s pains and needs. These workshops are fun, and they are also useful to align the team and get everyone on the same page. You can expect your design team to facilitate these workshops when you start developing a new product or reach a bigger milestone.

Designers can help with validating new feature or product ideas. The best designers always adjust the sophistication of their work to the given design phase. When they work on a new feature, they start with paper sketches to communicate ideas quickly, then they do clickable prototypes to test different solutions with real users. These are low-fidelity materials, the goal is to get feedback quickly. But when time comes to development designer can also create pixel-perfect, detailed UI design plans.

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Designers are not the genius artist types any more, like you see on Mad Men. The best designers are not the ones who create one concept and push it through the whole team with a cool presentation. The best designers always explore many different solutions for a problem and share them with the team. They can tell you what are the advantages and disadvantages of each one. They also share research and test results, and they let the team choose the best direction together.

Designers has to work well with developers. The truth is noone likes to read written documentations, so the final UI design and the clickable wireframes are the best specifications for any software feature. As they say, an image worth thousand words, and a prototype worth thousand meetings. It is just easier to understand and can save you from many misunderstandings. The best designers also use tools like Zapier or Avocode to help coders to get the necessary parameters from the design files.

What do designers expect from a product manager?

It’s a no-brainer, but the most important thing a good product manager can give to its team is clear goals. We have to know the vision we have behind the product, which means who do we design it for and what problems do we solve with it? Besides the long-term goals, a simple, high-level roadmap is also good, to communicate the most important areas we have to cover to achieve our goals. The goals and the roadmap has to be crystal clear to everyone in the team, not just designers.

Design takes place in the early-phase of the product development, when we still have many open questions. So unfortunately it is difficult (if not impossible) to predict the time certain design tasks will need. Sometimes we just need a few iterations, sometimes a lot more. Don’t expect designers to do perfect job for the first time, no one can. Let them do their design rounds, as many as they need. One more week of design is not a big cost for a feature that will serve your customers for years.

Designers and researcher will ask you to access existing customers. Give them the chance to visit or talk to real customers. It is impossible to design for someone who you’ve never met. Designers are usually very good in communication and empathy, so you don’t have to worry, they won’t bite your precious clients.

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The design team will also need access to usage statistics. Sometimes it is enough to share your analytics tools, but in some other cases they will have questions you can’t answer with these, so a database expert will have to help them and dig into raw data.

Design is not just a task you give out to your designers, it will need your active participation. First of all, be available on online and offline channels, because designers will have many questions while they work. You will also have to attend design meetings. In our UX minimum checklist we propose week-long design sprints with a design meeting every week, where the product manager and someone from the developers are there. Designers will also do workshops time to time where product people, or sometimes the whole product team has to attend.

Designers will also ask for feedback frequently. Feedback is essential part of design, so please spend some time with it. Designers are used to getting feedback from many different people, so you don’t have to be too polite, honesty is more important. You are welcome to tell your concerns, but you also have to highlight the things you like. The best is to use the 3+3 formula: tell the 3 things you like in the design and the 3 areas you would improve. The best designers will always ask you why you like or not like certain things. This is a very important question, because it will help them to understand your thoughts and step forward. So if you want to give good feedback tell designers why you love or hate something. If it is hard to describe your thoughts by words, you can still look for other good or bad examples on the internet. Saying “I miss the wow effect from this website” will not really help the designers. Show them an other site that has the “wow effect”, and they will understand better what you mean.

I hope these tips will help you to work together with your beloved designers and UX researchers. Just treat them well, and they will do an enormous job to make your product successful. If you want to learn more about UX you can also download our ebook: a product manager’s guide to UX design.

About the Author

david-pasztor.jpgDavid Pasztor designs digital products for more than 10 years. He is the founder of UX studio, a 20-person user experience company in Budapest. They have Berlin, London and US-based startups within their clients, as well as international brands like HBO. David also teaches design on his own design course, and he was invited as guest lecturer to various universities

Rapid Prototyping for Product Managers

In a recent live stream from one of our mentors of The Product Mentor, Nis Frome, lead a conversation around “Rapid Prototyping”.  We are always looking for more product mentors from all around the world.  Signup to be a Mentor Today!

View the live stream…

 

About The Product Mentor

The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…

Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Each Session of the program runs for 6 months with paired individuals…

  • Conducting regular 1-on-1 mentor-mentee chats
  • Sharing experiences with the larger Product community
  • Participating in live-streamed product management lessons and Q&A

Signup to be a Mentor Today!

Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.

Meet the mentors…

PictureJordan Bergtraum
VP Product Management, ServiceChannel

Jordan is a Management level, revenue-driven, B2B SaaS Product Management and Project Management leader. He grows revenue and adoption, and ensures product by turning business problems into profitable, simple, easy-to-use solutions
Jordan works closely with his market, executives, and internal subject matter experts to develop roadmaps, and communicate these roadmaps internally and with clients. He translates complex business problems into solutions that are easily consumed by engineering, marketing and sales. Jordan has enterprise Software-as-a-Service experience within the facilities management, legal and pharmaceutical verticals, having most recently worked at ServiceChannel, Epiq Systems and Medidata Solutions.
Jordan has a BS in Biology from Union College and an MBA & MS in Information Systems from Boston University’s School of Management. Jordan lives in Manhattan and in his spare time likes to play soccer.

PictureLadislav Bartos
Chief Product Officer, UVIC Ltd.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci
Ladislav believes that success is in simplicity that’s why his aim is to help companies to make complex products simple for users. He lives in London, currently working as Product Manager at Gumtree.com, an Ebay company, previously led product at international startups and large organisations. Ladislav focuses on user centric product development, especially on brand, usability and revenue product challenges. He is passionate about Lean and Agile Product management, innovative business models and business and product strategies.

Dustin-Levy_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Dustin Levy
Director of Product Management, Gentex Corporation

Dustin Levy is a Director of Product Management at Gentex Corporation—the leading supplier of high-performance flight equipment for military, law enforcement, and rescue aircrew worldwide.  In this position, Dustin’s primary responsibilities include product portfolio management, new product introduction and product line strategy deployment. Prior to joining Gentex, he was a Senior Product Manager at Smiths Detection and in that role launched several new chemical identification solutions into the global security market. During his career, Dustin’s research efforts have been supported by fellowships from the National Research Council and National Institutes of Health and include a track record of several new product innovations, patents and publications. Dustin is a graduate of the doctoral program in Physical Chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the MBA program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Paul-Hurwitz_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Paul Hurwitz
Director of Active Analytics, ActiveHealth Management

Paul Hurwitz is Director of Active Analytics at ActiveHealth Management, a Healthagen Company and subsidiary of Aetna. He is responsible for the strategic roadmap and execution of the Active Analytics product suite, which is focused on providing standalone clinical analytic solutions and business intelligence modules to internal users and the payer/provider customer base.   Paul is an experienced product management professional with over 15 years of experience in technology management and 10 years in product management.  Prior to joining ActiveHealth, he led a cross-functional team at Medidata Solutions working on life sciences software for the design and optimization of clinical trials.  Prior to Medidata, Paul led product management and was head of technology at Centage Corporation, a budgeting and financial forecasting software company in Natick, MA. Paul is a member of the Boston Product Management Association, Boston CTO Club, the Boston-NY CTO HIT Club, co-founder of the Boston Jewish Outdoors Club and product management consultant. He is a graduate of Yeshiva University’s Syms School of Business with a degree in Marketing.

Amanda-Ralph_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Amanda Ralph
Product Management Consultant

Amanda is an experienced product management leader with over 20 years of experience in product portfolio management and innovation generating significant revenue and market share growth. In a career spanning a range of corporate and not for profit sectors within Australia and the Pacific Islands, Amanda has championed organisations to embrace product and service innovation opportunities.
In her most recent role, Amanda spearheaded the Corporate and Overseas portfolios for Australia’s largest private health insurer, Medibank.  Amanda is passionate about customer led product design and in product prototyping to deliver best in market products and customer outcomes.
Amanda has a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Arts (Asian Studies) from Monash University. She is a University of Melbourne Asialink Leadership Fellow and Asia Education Foundation Literacy Ambassador. Amanda lives in Melbourne with her family and in her spare time likes to explore all things cooking related (with a dose of the gym thrown in to try and work it all off!)

Vikas-Batra_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Vikas Batra
Product Management Leader, Alcatel-Lucent

Vikas has over 15 years of experience in Telecom/IT industry with over 10 years in the field of Product Management. Vikas started his career as software developer with Siemens.    After doing IT consulting for some time he moved into Product Management at Lucent Technologies and held various roles developing and launching multiple telecom software and hardware products.  He led a large, multi-location product team in developing a new mobile technology that provides voice (VoIP) and data services over Satellite to phones of size comparable to traditional cellular phones.
Currently, Vikas is a Product Management Leader at Alcatel-Lucent bringing 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi capable Small Cells to marketplace.
Vikas did his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems from XLRI  Jamshedpur, India.  He did his Bachelors of Engineering (Honors) in Electronics and Communications from Delhi Technological Institute (formerly Delhi College of Engineering) Delhi , India.

Jonathan-Berg_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thu[1]Jonathan Berg
Director of Product Management, Schoology

Jonathan is Director of Product Management at Schoology, a fast growing startup in education technology, and he is excited about how technology is unleashing the future of education. Prior to Schoology Jonathan held a variety of product roles in web and mobile. From head of product at an early stage startup to managing global web properties at American Express, his career has taken him to the UK, France and back to New York.
A hands on product leader, Jonathan relishes close collaboration with design and engineering teams. When digging into a new challenge, he starts by establishing a long range product vision, then ruthlessly prioritizes opportunities and features to find the sweet spot between customer needs and business strategy.
When he’s not building products, Jonathan enjoys rediscovering suburban life with his wife and two kids.

Felix-Sargent_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thu[2]Felix Sargent
Product Manager, Bloomberg

Felix works at Bloomberg as a Product Manager for their Corporate Compliance suite. Having been a support person out of college, he transitioned into operations, then programming, then into Product Management. He finds the diverse background helps him communicate effectively to build good software. When he’s not doing product management, he trains for long distance cycling, and dreams of opening a tiki bar.

Krishna-Madhuvarsu_thumb2_thumb_thumKrishna Madhuvarsu
Director of Product Strategy, Oracle Inc.

Krishna enjoys creating new products and works at the intersection of the technology, design and strategy. Krishna believes in “Mobile and Social eating the world” and helps enterprise customers to make use of technology to increase their productivity. Krishna spent several years in building Platforms and brought scalability to several products. Previously, he started his career as a software engineer in embedded systems and moved to application software before venturing into Product Management. Krishna has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing. Krishna is an author, enjoys writing blogs and tutorials on anything technology.

Ian-Moulton_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]Ian Multon
Product Manager, TouchTunes Interactive Networks

Ian Moulton has over 10 years of experience in digital product management. He began his product work at Broadcast Interactive Media, where he launched a video publishing platform for broadcast news sites. He later joined the Associated Press, where he managed AP’s Online Video Network, as well as AP’s YouTube channel. Ian is currently a product manager at TouchTunes, where he led a design engagement and development effort to create a new user interface for over 60,000 digital jukeboxes. Ian loves capturing learnings from users, even when they are proving him wrong. Ian has a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University. When not doing product management Ian enjoys playing the guitar, hiking and mountain biking.

Addi-Regev_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb_Addi Regev
Director of Product, Outbrain

A passionate customer advocate and result-driven executor with deep mobile expertise, Addi is leading teams in creating consumer and business digital products, for startups and Fortune-500 companies alike, for more than a decade.  In her current role, as Director of Product at Outbrain, Addi is re-imagining a content-marketing platform. Previously Addi was theProduct Manager behind the redesign of the American Express mobile apps and before that she managed a startup that focused on mobile marketing and content delivery. She also provided strategic advice to Fortune-500 companies as a Management Consultant. Addi started her career trying her hand in customer support, QA, project, sales and marketing management before finding her passion in product management in startups that focused on mobile and its application in business settings. Addi holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Occupational Therapy from Tel Aviv University.

Marc-Wendell_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum[1]Marc Wendell
Director of Product Management, Worldnow

Marc Wendell currently is Director of Product Management at Worldnow where he oversees day-to-day product development and product strategy.  Prior to Worldnow, Marc held a number of senior-level roles in product development were he facilitated the execution of a number of different products across a broad spectrum of industry verticals. His expertise includes product development and customer experience across various platform experiences. His industry experience includes media, start-ups, publishing, financial services, interactive agencies, tier 1 research intensive academic institutions and the stock media industry.

James-Alexander_thumb2_thumb_thumb_t[2]James Alexander
Founder and Head of Product, Vizibility

James builds products and services which delight customers and differentiate companies. He recently sold his third start-up, Vizibility, an enterprise-class digital business card solution. Vizibility is a SaaS delivered service in the mobile wallet ecosystem and received outstanding reviews and recognition, including 4 stars by PC Magazine. As a successful technology entrepreneur of three start-ups (with two exits), and as a product management executive at Adobe for seven years, he has led cross-functional teams through every stage of the product life cycle. James has held responsibility for $100M+ productportfolios and managed both small teams and large organizations. He has worked on four continents and localized products and services for 27 countries. James holds an MBA from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and has been awarded 12 patents.

6339473[1]Nis Frome
Content and Product, Alpha UX

Nis handles content / product for Alpha UX to help Fortune 500 product teams generate user insights throughout the product lifecycle. His articles have been published in Forbes, UX Mag, and Content Marketing Institute.

4133095[1]Chris Butler
Product Management Consultant

Chris has over 15 years of experience in leading product, BD and strategy. His product experience includes lead and director positions at Horizons Digital Group, Complete Seating (founder), Dash Navigation and Microsoft. He has also held BD roles (with product responsibilities) at KAYAK, Waze and Zvents. He graduated from Boston University with a Computer Systems Engineering degree.

7613672[1]Marc Abraham
Senior Product Manager, NotOnTheHighstreet.com

Starting his career as a corporate lawyer, Marc made the transition into digital technology, initially as a project manager and then as product manager. Marc has been managing products for the last 5 years, working on a range of successful digital products/services, at companies such as 7digital, carwow, YouView and currently at notonthehighstreet.com. He also works closely with organisers of ProductTank events in over 25 countries to ensure deliver the highest quality events for a global community of product people.

3510997[1]Sarah Varki
Product Owner, Sonicbids

Sarah is passionate about making people’s lives easier, faster & better with technology. After completing a BA in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology at UC Berkeley, Sarah’s introduction to product management began with Intuit’s Rotational Program. With a few more companies under her belt and earning her MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, she has worked on over 25 products in various stages of the product lifecycle across almost every industries. When not leading product at Sonicbids, she fosters kittens, tries to find new mixology spots, enjoys boxing, and travels as much as she can (29 countries and counting!).

2876091[1]Cameo Doran
VP of Product & Project Management

Bennett Morrison heads product management for SecurityScorecard. Bennett has a wide-ranging background in product management, marketing, and strategy. Prior to SecurityScorecard, Bennett managed Software-as-a-Service products for Oracle and Collective[i]. Prior to that, he was Director of Strategy at American Express OPEN where he worked on strategic planning and marketing. He holds a BA from New York University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

7149578[1]Rishi Kumar
Senior Product Manager, TEN: The Enthusiast Network

Rishi Kumar is currently a Senior Product Manager at TEN: The Enthusiast Network, the world’s premier network of action/outdoor brands such as GrindTV, SURFER Magazine and SLAM Magazine. With almost 10 years of digital media experience, he has a proven record of building compelling online consumer experiences and launching major consumer-facing, content driven websites.
He has been instrumental in transforming The Enthusiast Network into a leading digital media publisher. He helped develop GrindTV.com into the #1 action and outdoor sports website in the world, was awarded 6 UI patents for client work with MSN, and led the Ozzie-winning redesign of SurferMag.com.
Rishi holds an MBA from The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.

9450291[1]Melissa Hatter
EVP of Product and Client Services, Frankly Media

Melissa Hatter is the EVP of Client services and Product at Frankly Media (formerly Worldnow)– a media technology company that serves the broadcast television industry.  Her focus in on developing client inputs within a SaaS strategic roadmap process. Prior to Worldnow, she held senior account management roles at UGO Networks and the NBC Television Network.   Melissa won an Addy Award for Excellence in Interactive Media from the Tri-State Advertising & Marketing Association.

3720893[1]Jen Bornstein
Product Manager, Attract TV, TouchTunes Interactive Networks

Jenn got her break into the digital industry back in 2005 when her boss walked into the office and asked her to ‘figure out this whole digital download thing.’ Since then she’s worked for a ton of premier media and tech companies including CBS, Nielsen, Direct TV and most recently TouchTunes.
Starting as a project manager and GM eventually working her way over to becoming a product lead after realizing that ‘Dagnabbit! I’m a product person!’. Jenn has not looked back since.
Recently at TouchTunes, she has been leading the social TV program, focusing on both understanding the way device users multitask and the idea that a true Second Screen experience can be done. She’d like to thank Kanban & Agile development for all of their support. 

3701639[1]Vasu Vadlamudi
Product Management Consultant

Vasu is a product leader with over 9 years of experience in B2C startups and business strategy. Previously, he lived in San Francisco and ran product at Delectable, a venture-backed wine technology startup. As a Director of Product at Zynga, Vasu led the pod that increased FarmVille’s revenue 10x, created CastleVille’s product management organization, and ran the entire company’s Central Product team. Vasu got his start as a consultant with Bain and a BA in economics from Harvard. Currently he advises startups on product strategy, process, and analytics.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Product Management Insights – Walking in Another’s Shoes

Out of the hundreds of nominations, and amazing finalists, the 7th annual winner of The Best Product Person is … Chris Butler.

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 and The Product Group.

Take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (tweet)

In the now…

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

Emergency response planners, like Adam Davidson from the the UN, that respond to situations where people are in dire need of help. I heard a podcast on Slate about his work responding to the ebola emergency.

Not only is his job life or death, but he has to figure out how to help people with limited resources that are half way across the world. He has to make tough choices and needs to make the hardest prioritization calls known.

More to Come

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

Thank you to everyone who participated, nominated, interviewed, AND passed on the word! The nomination period for The Best Product Person of 2017 has begun!  Nominate your pick for The Best Product Person right now!

http://TheBestProductPerson.com

And, don’t forget, take a moment and congratulate The Best Product Person of 2016: Chris Butler. (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. And, if you are the first to submit the winning nominee, you too will be rewarded  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 https://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. (https://tpgblog.com/theproductgroup/ )