7 podcasts that will help you be a better product manager

on-the-air-sign-1024x484

I first began listening to podcasts in earnest two years ago, generally as part of my daily two hour commute. Unlike other forms of media, I like the fact that with podcasts, I can switch off from everything around me and just concentrate on really listening to (and absorbing) the episode I’m playing; of being fully present in that moment.

Podcasting allows me to use my commute time to learn more about the things I love; to explore new ways of thinking and ideas; and to see the world from many different perspectives.

While product management is just one of the podcast playlists you will find on my phone, it is one that I return to week in, week out, to refine, expand and add to my core skills as a product manager. I’ve put together a list of a few of my favourites. I hope you like them!

Design Your Thinking 

design your thinking

Hosted by Karthik Vijaykumar, Design Your Thinking brings together the worlds of design thinking and product management with Karthik interviewing leading product management and design managers (mostly from the United States). Karthik is skilled in helping weave a narrative and manages to draw out some interesting and relevant insights from his guests.

The Design Your Thinking website includes a summary of what you will learn in each podcast, additional resources relating to the guest and topics covered, making it easy to navigate and choose which podcast to add to your playlist.

This is HCD

this is hcd

This is HCD is aims to bring a shared vision and understanding between the people who contribute to the creation of services in the world.

It provides fortnightly content for product managers, service designers, user experience designers, user researchers, visual designers, interaction designers and user interface designers to name a few.

Hosted by Gerry Scullion and Adrienne Tan, and broadcast from Sydney, Australia, This is HCD is a much needed addition in the product management and design podcast landscape.

While a relatively new podcast series, This is HCD has already delivered – covering a range of sectors and elements of business and service design. These include applying design thinking to education; using ethnographic research to uncover customer needs as well as the difference between brand and icon design.

One of my favourite podcasts!

100PM

100PM is on a mission to interview 100 Product Managers from around the world – and fortunately for us, allows us to share that journey via their podcast.

Born out of a desire to bring a diverse range of perspectives to demystify and create a common understanding about the profession of product management, host Suzanne Abate, interviews a global cast of product management leaders.

“100 PM is as much a resource for students, career-changers and tech-lovers as it is for those of us who are already working in product management to know we’re not alone in our struggles.” – Suzanne Abate

Anecdotally Speaking 

Anecdotally Speaking podcast

Story telling, and the ability to convey concepts and ideas in an engaging way and with influence is a core skill for any product manager. In this Podcast, Shawn Callahan and  Mark Schenk use real life business stories to help listeners awaken the storyteller within.

Let’s face it, a core function of product management is the ability to influence and ‘sell’ the value of your ideas and propositions to key stakeholders, customers and backers. If you can’t communicate your idea effectively then you have a problem.

Anecdotally Speaking is a great podcast to help you craft your business and personal narrative and communicate your ideas with confidence.

Masters of Scale

Masters of Scale is an original podcast hosted by LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman showing how companies grow from zero to a gazillion. In this  series of podcasts, Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders.

Professionally produced, Masters of Scale keeps listeners engaged as guests tell stories of how they have disrupted the industries they work in and developed sustainable business ideas which they have successfully grown at scale (hence the title!).

Masters of Scale is the first media programme in the United States to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for guests.

We Need Another Meeting – A podcast about product

We Need Another Meeting is the brainchild of Josh Tolman and Kyle Jacobsen. Covering a wide range of product management, UX and design domains, We Need Another Meeting is a great resource for both beginner and experienced product managers alike.

In addition to covering core topics such as how to manage product prioritisation and scope creep, Josh and Kyle also address often neglected areas such as pricing and metrics.

Professional Pricing Society Podcast

pps

While pitched at pricing professionals, the PPS Pricing Podcast has some valuable insights and lessons for product managers, particularly on defining and creating value.

If you have ever struggled to define the value of your product within a business case or monetise your product idea, then this is a must add to your podcast playlist.

If you are looking for an alternative resource on pricing, then you might want to try Pricing Prophetsfounded by Australian Jon Manning. While not a regular podcast, the  there are a number of podcasts you can download from their learning centre.

What podcasts are you listening to?

 

If you are the one

 

if you are the one

Being a good Product Manager is not just about getting the job done.
I’ve been recruiting product managers for many years now. I’m a big believer in the value of diversity in my teams and have recruited many product analysts and product managers from non-product management backgrounds. For me in hiring, I look for attitude and skills as well as cultural fit. It’s about the value these can bring to my team and the opportunity for that person to both contribute to and grow within the role. I also want people in my team who are open to learning and new ideas.

I’ve debated with many the merits of recruiting ‘hard core’ product managers over those who have a passion for product but have other domain and career experience. I’ve hired both – depending on the needs of the team and the needs of the business at any given time.

Either way, it still surprises me how many candidates present at interview (both experienced and would-be product managers alike) with their own experience as their primary point of reference for the world of product management.

Let me give an example. I recently interviewed a product manager who was looking to join my team; to transition from a product role that was limited to BAU product management. She wanted to expand her experience and move to a role which offered both BAU product management as well as product design and development opportunities. During her second round interview, I asked her to outline her approach to product design and development.

“Well, I don’t really develop products, I just manage them”, she replied.

My response was to then ask her what framework or approach would she take if tasked with designing a product proposition for our business.

“Umm..maybe talk to Sales?”

Not a bad starting point and definitely a source of valuable insight, however not an answer which demonstrated her understanding of best practice product design.

My advice to anyone wanting to further their career or move into a role in which they have limited experience, is not to let that constrain you. Take the time to keep up to date with current debates and best practice in the field you are in or want to be in.

Had she done so, this candidate could have answered my question along the following lines:

“In my current role I don’t have the opportunity to develop product propositions. However, as part of my BAU management role, I have to assess product performance which means I actively monitor, analyse and understand how my products are peforming compared to key competitors and whether they are still delivering value to our customers. To inform this view I regularly talk to and observe customers, talk to sales and other channel owners such as our digital team. I am also very interested in exploring the jobs to be done framework in designing products.”

There are many fantastic resources available to product managers – both incumbent and aspiring. Whether you are an experienced product manager or someone just starting out on your product management journey, take the time to grow and learn; take inspiration and insight from other sectors, other product managers and people making a difference in the businesses they work in.

To start your journey of ‘exploration’ here are some of the people I regularly follow and resources I refer to:

Product Management and Innovation

Brainmates 

Mind the Product

Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup

Leading the Product, Australia’s National Product Management conference

Inventium and Founder, Dr Amantha Imber

 

Design

The Design Council UK 

Cass Sunstein, Professor at Harvard

The Science of Us, a playful look at human behaviour

Dr Dan Lockton

John Maeda

No one can afford to have their own experience as their single point of reference.  Whether you are already a product manager or looking to become one, to be truly effective and innovative you need to continuously grow and learn. Think of it as your own, personal continuous improvement program. Good luck – hopefully next time you go for your dream role, “you will be the one”!