Inspiration

Episode 52 with Guest David Wang

Hosted by Sean Flaherty & Paul Gebel

0
Also Listen On
Listen Now
About David Wang
Product Momentum guest David Wang
David Wang
ProductGo

David Wang is a global product leader with 15+ years of experience building products for start-ups and coaching corporates in Australia. Currently, David is the Founder of ProductGo – an online school advancing the art of Product Management in the APAC region.

Before starting Product Tree, David was the Head of Product for SocietyOne - a Fintech start-up raised over $70M. David is also a Distinguished Lecturer in General Assembly for Product Management, where he taught over 3,000+ students globally.

In his spare time, he runs a book summary site 5minuteknowledge.com and he is also a top writer for a product publication with over 1 million readers globally. Read more from David on his blog or website.

If you’ve never done product before, the journey can be super-scary. So many questions: Do I have what it takes? Is this the career I want for myself? What type of PM do I want to be? Where am I in my career product life cycle?

Worry no more.

In this episode of ITX’s Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul are joined by ProductGo co-founder, David Wang. David is a true champion of product managers around the world – especially if you’re just breaking into the field. In our conversation, he outlines a prescribed path for product management newcomers who may not have a PM degree but who do have a passion for “creating things that can change the world.”

Our initial connection with David arrived compliments of podcast guest, Adrienne Tan.

David’s own path to product management took him 5 years “just to know what I was doing, and another 5 years just doing the job,” he says. “But what I realized was that everything I learned [about product management] can be categorized into one of these three areas: mindset, process, and tools.”

Once he started thinking about product management through that three-part lens, it helped him make sense of all the information he had read and practiced, he added.

David also realized that as our knowledge grows and technology evolves, the same happens to the mindsets, processes, and tools that once guided our thinking. Avoid tying yourself to one mindset or process or toolbox, he cautions. Part of learning product management is understanding that it is a repeatable, almost cyclical process.

“We can add mindsets to our mindset category and get rid of others over time. Tools and processes come and go. So as a PM, that realization has actually helped me learn management much faster.”

In this pod, David shares what he means by “much faster.” He lays out a prescribed 12- to 18-month plan for what onboarding to a product career might look like and involve. But don’t be in a rush to make it happen, he advises.

“It takes time for that mindset to change, and product managers are really hired for their mindsets, not so much on their certifications.”

Listen in to hear David’s thoughts on: where ideas come from, the power of the Growth mindset, and what he means by your “origin story.” Knowing your origin story will help to remove any doubts about whether and where you belong in your PM role.


Sean [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to the Product Momentum Podcast. This is a podcast intended to entertain, educate, celebrate, and give a little back to the product leadership community.

Paul [00:01:48] Hey, Sean, how you doing today?

Sean [00:01:49] I’m doing great, Paul. I’m excited about having David on.

Paul [00:01:53] David is such an interesting thinker. He’s a great teacher and he’s got fantastic organizational thinking that I think a lot of the industry hasn’t even caught up to yet.

Sean [00:02:01] Yeah, and he’s doing so many things in the land down under to move this whole industry forward. It’s just, he’s a gem.

Paul [00:02:07] Yeah. When you read his bio, he’s got a lot of irons in the fire and I’m really stoked that he took the time to share some thoughts with us today.

Sean [00:02:15] Let’s get after it.

Paul [00:02:16] Let’s get after it.

Paul [00:02:20] Well hello and welcome to the podcast. Today, we are excited to be joined by David Wang. David’s a global product leader with more than 15 years of experience building products for startups, coaching corporates in Australia… Currently, David is the founder of ProductSchool.org, an online school advancing the art of product management in the APEC region. Before starting Product Tree, David was the head of Product for Society One, a fintech startup, raising over 70 million dollars. David is also a distinguished lecturer in General Assembly for product management, where he taught over 3000 students globally. In his spare time, he runs a book summary site, FiveMinuteKnowledge.com, and he is also a top tier writer for Product Publication with over one million readers globally. David, you’re a busy guy. Thanks for taking the time to join us today.

David [00:03:00] Thank you. It’s my pleasure. Always keen to talk about product management, Paul.

Paul [00:03:04] I know you are. And first, you’ve set an audacious goal that you shared with us and I want to give you a chance to lead off with that because I found it inspiring when you shared it with me the first time. You’ve talked about breaking into product as a career. You’ve written, you’ve spoken a ton, but you’ve set a goal of helping others, two thousand to be exact, break into their own PM position. Why that number and what led you to set that kind of a goal for yourself?

David [00:03:30] Yeah, look, as a product manager, we always need, like, metrics to measure our success, right? So two thousand, I thought if I can do, say, you know, two hundred people a year and in a couple of years, I’ll get to two thousand. And it’s a journey. And I think this is something that I am very passionate about because I broke into product management straight after university and I’ve been doing this role for 15 years. And it’s the first role, and it’s the only role and I loved it. And every aspect of product management, it’s about, like, creating things that can actually change the world. There isn’t a lot of roles in an organization that can do that or you play a part in that. But product is one of those roles that can actually do that. And it’s had a lot of high impact in my life and I’m hoping to get more people into the industry as well so we can all create world-class products and hopefully we can play a little bit in changing the world. So that’s the motivation of this.

Paul [00:03:25] Amazing. And I’ve heard you speak. I want to hear in your own words, just for the sake of our listeners, tell us a little bit about some of the frameworks that you peg people towards when they’re talking about breaking in. It’s not always a straightforward path. You know, many of us in product careers come from many various backgrounds. Few of us have product management degrees hanging on our walls, right.

David [00:04:49] Yeah.

Paul [00:04:49] What are some of the ideas that you shared with people to think about setting as goals for themselves for where they’re at and to prevent sort of getting overwhelmed because there’s so much that you can learn.

David [00:04:59] Yeah. So the same thing with me, when I started to learn PM, I took about five years just to know what I was doing and probably another five years after to just really doing the job. And there wasn’t any formal training back in the days. So I’d go to conferences. We started a product camp in Sydney and I learned a lot from that, and then I read all the books around product. But the more I read and the more I hear and the more I listen to different podcasts, just so many frameworks. And I started to take notes. So I set myself a goal. I spent a whole year reading every single product management book that I could get my hands on and then 50 plus books later, I reviewed my notes and I saw that, oh, actually, everything that I’ve learned can be categorized into one of these three areas.

David [00:05:47] Is it like a mindset that someone talks about, is it a perspective that people take? Or is it a process that I follow, like Build Merge and Learn, or is it like a tool? Like Lean Canvas, right, you can actually fill out the Lean Canvas and use it as a tool to help you validate. So everything that I’ve sort of learned, I could just group into these three areas. So I started to learn product management that way and it’s helped me so much to make sense of all the information that I read. So that’s the first part.

David [00:06:12] And the second part is, I realized that mindsets and processes and tools come and go. Like now is like the Lean mindset. Back in the days was the Quality mindset, who knows what’s going to happen in the future. We talk about AI, right. So that’s another set of mindsets in a different world. And I realized that, OK, well, this is actually a repeatable process that we can probably add mindsets to a mindset category and get rid of it over time, and tools and things come and go, and as a PM, that’s actually helped me learn management much faster.

David [00:06:42] And then I started to teach at General Assembly and I have the same questions for my students. And they’re like, “Dave, how do I make sense of everything? Like GA teaches you one framework, but then I learned from someone else. They teach you a different framework.” Then I said, “well, follow these three things: mindset process, and tools.” And learning it this way allowed my students to accelerate their learning and really make sense of everything in the product world. So, yeah, so that’s why I really like this framework and that’s the way I teach as well. I always talk about mindset, process, and tools.

Sean [00:07:12] So what do you think are the most important mindsets for product managers to really master?

David [00:07:17] I think for the current landscape, the Lean mindset is just the number one thing. So reducing waste, testing out hypotheses, approaching product development like a scientific test, that’s very important in this day and age because of the startup world, and innovation that’s happening right now. So that’s super important. That’s the number one thing. The second thing is the design mindset, really looking at design from a way that, design is there to solve a problem for the customer and it should be part of everything that you do and you look beyond just the product. And then Brian de Haaff’s book, Lovability, talks about the total product experience, right. So the complete product experience, the CPE. And that’s how design is really changing the way that we see product. So, yeah, I think those are the two key mindsets, Lean mindset and design thinking.

Paul [00:08:06] Sean, you brought up the focus that I was going towards. I appreciate you sort of narrowing in on that because I’m a digital hoarder. I don’t know about you, but I see articles on Medium and I snatch them up, and I save things, and I think I’m going to get around to processing them and it’s very difficult to keep all these things straight. But the way that I’ve seen David share this kind of Process, Mindset, Tool function, it really helps me categorize what I can focus on and what we can teach the team to go forward with.

Sean [00:08:34] Right. There’s so much out there, right Paul. Just, there’s so much content, there’s so much learning that we’re experiencing. It’s like an explosive time to be in the product space right now. It’s exciting for sure.

Paul [00:08:45] Absolutely. So for somebody looking from the outside in, David, it can be daunting. And if you’re not in a product track right now and if you’ve given yourself the grace of a year to give yourself an onramp and you’re not holding yourself to some kind of artificial timeline that’s super immediate, what can someone start to chunk out in a month or two and then in three to four and then sort of later on, six to 12 months, to start to look at what an onboarding to a product career might look like?

David [00:09:15] That’s a very good question, Paul. So I think it depends on where you are in the journey and if you’re working inside a product company or not. But let’s take someone that is brand new who’s never done product before. So I highly recommend you, for the first one or two months, just go out and understand what is product management. So don’t invest too much in a course just yet. You will in the future, but just not just yet. Go to product meetups, go read a book by Marty Cagan called Inspired. I’m sure everyone’s heard about that book. It’s like the Bible in the industry, but also meet product people and see if this is the right role for you. And watch videos on YouTube. There’s a lot of free content, read up posts on Medium, and that would give you a perspective to see, “OK, well, is this the type of role that I’d like to get myself in?”.

David [00:09:59] And then from the second to third months, buy some very cheap Udemy courses and, you know, you can go to my website, ProductSchool.org, and sign for the fifty-dollar-a-month self-paced course, or you can go to Coursera and take a very simple, few hundred dollar course. And then what you will do is you’ll be able to learn the end-to-end process. You’ll be able to get a little bit of feeling to see, OK, well, this is what a product manager does on a day-to-day and this is what they do. And also in the first two or three months is go to hackathons and play the role of the product manager. And also, you know, network with PM’s and take them out for coffees. That’s what I suggest for the first three months just to see if the role is right for you and what’s the process like.

David [00:10:38] And once you decide that, “OK, great, awesome, this is the role that I really want to invest my career in,” and, you know, to be frank, product is not a role for everyone. But once you decide it, go find some formal training, and that’s where you should invest into courses because doing the training is going to accelerate the learning path. Yes, you can learn it by yourself, but there’s going to be a lot of mistakes and failures so you need someone professional to train you to say, “oh, great,” get that quick feedback, learn from them, and there’s a lot of courses available already by a bunch of other players. And that’s going to take you from a week to like ten weeks. I recommend doing things a bit longer because it takes time for that mindset to change and product managers are really hired by their mindsets, not so much on their certifications. And that’s going to be the next three to six months’ journey.

David [00:11:25] Once you’ve done that, the next six to 12-month journey, it’s about getting the experience. Don’t worry about titles just yet. Don’t worry about the industry just yet. Don’t worry about the company just yet. Get experience, and you get experience from various different places. So go help out start-ups, because I know startups who love help on PM. And because you have the training, you can apply that. If you jump the guns too quickly, then you’re going to be helping the wrong things. Go to hackathons even more. Put those in your portfolio. Start a side project using the skills and the framework that you’ve learned. And most of the time the courses that you take will probably ask you to create a side project already, so you can continue with that side project, or even just play a part within a team that’s already building something and learn the product mindset that way.

David [00:12:11] And that’s your focus for the next six to 12 months. Get experience, and if you can get the experience, it will make it so much easier when you have the interview with your hiring manager and goes, “oh, what have you done?” “Oh, great. I’ve done all this stuff. I’ve built a side business, helped the startup. I was a PM at this hackathon,” and that would make the conversation much, much easier. And from there, get the title, and the title means getting into an immediate product role that you are comfortable with. So if you’re from a tech background, go for tech PM. If you’re from a design background, design PM, and so on. Get the title and then you can change industry and then you can become world-class after that. So yeah, that’s basically the journey from one to 12 months.

Paul [00:12:52] Totally agree. I’ve seen that play out a dozen times and it definitely resonates with all the different paths. Sean, what do you think about that mindset piece? I see you thinking there, what’s on your mind?

Sean [00:13:01] I’m hearing another underlying mindset that you know I preach all the time, Paul, about growth. And I think in this industry, and I’m hearing you talk about it, David, like, if you don’t have a growth mindset, this is not the industry for you. Like, this whole role is about figuring out how to make our way in the face of all these unknowns. And it plays into Lean and it plays into design thinking for sure, but there’s an independent mindset about growth that we all need to have and we need to approach building our teams like that, building our products with a growth mindset, just setting ourselves up to be able to adapt and learn.

David [00:13:34] Absolutely, Sean. I completely agree. Growth mindset is the foundation of any product manager, but in fact any professional, right?

Sean [00:13:41] For sure. Especially in this field, though.

David [00:13:43] Especially in this field. Absolutely. Because you constantly have to grow, right. Because if product’s not growing, then why are you here as a product manager? Yeah.

Sean [00:13:52] So I want to pull on the thread to unravel the story about mindsets, processes, and tools. You have them set up as categories, which I think works really well in terms of what Paul said, like, “Hey, we’re coming across all this knowledge, how do we sort it so that we can start to prioritize it?” But I actually think there’s a hierarchy to those three things. What do you think about that?

David [00:14:12] Yes, there is. Mindset, process, and tools is something that kicks off once you know what the problem that you’re solving is. So throughout the product lifecycle, we go through many phases like discovery, delivery, growth, and then maturity, right. Those usually are the phases that a product lifecycle goes through. So as a PM, you need to understand, “where am I right now in my product lifecycle? Am I discovering a product or am I growing a product or am I delivering a product?” Once you know where you are, then that kicks off the engine of mindset, process, and tools. Once you know that, “hey, I am in the discovery phase of the product lifecycle, what type of mindset do I need to take when I am going through a discovery phase?” Oh, well, validation, growth mindset, understanding hypotheses. And then you pick a process from one of the many books that you might read or the podcasts that you might come across or the blog posts that you might come across. And then at the end, you select the right tools. Tools would generally fit into the process if you select it well, and the tools would generally fit into the mindset. But don’t ever start with the tools, because tools brings a completely different set of contexts. That’s the thing that confuses a lot of PMs.

Sean [00:15:21] For sure, and one of the posts that I read when I was internet stalking you, getting ready for the podcast here, you talked about the diversity of need, like companies have different needs for different types of PMs and different skills. Like, I love what you said. You have to start with the problem first and then figure out, “what are the skills I’m going to need to be able to be most successful in that role?” Or, “who else can I maybe pull in that has better skills than me in that specific domain?” Like figuring that out, that’s one of our key jobs, right?

David [00:15:49] Yes, absolutely, Sean. And the problem as well, figuring the need is very company-dependent. And as a PM, I was very lucky to work across different types of organizations from startups to scale-ups to corporate. And I struggle a lot to figure out, “what type of PM am I and how can I make myself more valuable in these companies?” My wife is also a product manager too, and she’s complaining about her job. She’s like, “ah, you know, we’re such a project-driven company,” and she’s working in big corporate. And I worked at a startup and I’m like, “well, not really, the job of PM is not around that.” And it bothered me a lot. I’m like, “why does this happen in organizations?”.

David [00:16:24] And I came up with this philosophy, which is, well, it comes from the funding model of the business. And what does that mean? That she’s working in corporate, her funding model comes from shareholders, comes from the public market, comes from institutional banks that look after your superannuation and my superannuation. They need reliability and they need predictability. And as a result, they command a different type of company and they command a different type of managers and they command a different type of product managers. And that’s why, you know, in corporate you need that type of PMs. While as the start-up, the money comes from VCs and they’re happy to make a few bets. And as a result, the management’s different, the company’s different, and they require different sets of PMs. And that’s where the mindset, process, and tools comes in really handy, is understanding what context you’re in and that gives you a different type of mindset too. So you might want to read a book around VCs if you’re working in a startup and you might want to read a book around keeping a company in a flow state if you work in corporate. And if you’re at a scale-up, then you’re somewhere in the middle.

Paul [00:17:27] Yeah, the adolescence. I think the type of breakouts that you’ve described in the funding model is one way to classify, but you’ve actually done some other work in helping us understand this taxonomy of the product world in terms of, not all product managers are created equal, but they don’t all need to be equal, right? The design product manager doesn’t need to know as much analytics. The analytics [PM] doesn’t need to know product marketing. And these types of specializations are starting to crop up as sort of super specializations within the product world. And I wonder, could you share some of the thinking that you’ve done around how to know what kind of product manager you might best be fit for?

David [00:18:06] Yeah. I think, as a PM, it depends on where you are in your career. If you’re very early on, find an area that you’re extremely good at. So be a specialist, right, so design, tech, project management. If you come from a business analyst background, then a business-focused PM. Start in that area and be an expert in that. And once you do that, then you can branch out into other areas as well of PM. If you’re from a business background, then you want to learn, say, like the tech side of PM. From a design background, then you want to learn the business side of PM. But don’t overwhelm yourself with too much just yet. And I know there’s a lot of roles out there that might make us feel uncertain about like, “am I a growth PM or am I not?” Don’t worry about that. Think of it from a, “what am I really good at and what can I do to work in this company?”

David [00:18:53] And I talk a lot about the thing in my classes and we called it the origin story, like, what is your origin story for this company that you want to apply for? For example, for me, I am very good in, say, tech companies and finance companies, given my background. But I would be a terrible consulting-side PM because I’ve never done consulting, and my origin story won’t line up to that. And that’s OK. But I’ll be a very great finance product manager or a very good startup product manager because that’s what I’m really good at. And I will learn the consulting side over my years.

Sean [00:19:25] Alright, I am going to go sideways again and go back to one of your posts from like five months ago. And it kind of plays into our theme here for new product leaders and thinking about ideas and where ideas come from. And I think your post was about this misconception that it’s the product leader’s idea to come up with all the ideas.

David [00:19:44] Yes.

Sean [00:19:44] Right? And there’s a lot of that in the industry. Like, we’re thought of as, “Hey, these are the guys that are going to come up with the ideas and make this product great.” We know from experience, Paul, you can talk to this as well, right, that’s not the way it works. Like ideas come from every corner of the universe. And really, where the special skillset lies, in my eyes, is in the product leader’s ability to herd the cats and prioritize appropriately. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on that because you had some good ones in that post, so I thought I’d try to pull them back out of you.

David [00:20:13] Completely agree, Sean. It’s like, the ideas don’t come from the product team. The product team, all they do is to help the company focus. That’s their job: focus on the right things to build and avoid the things that they shouldn’t be building. That’s the point of actually any function in the company, but especially in product, because product is about investment and there’s opportunity cost in every decision that we make.

Sean [00:20:35] We’re too close to the product, too, right? We’re like so close to the product that we have all of the biases. Like all of them.

David [00:20:42] Yeah, we do. We do. And even our ideas are not the best ideas too, right, like even when we’re thinking about, “we should be doing this,” at the end of the day, no idea is a good idea until there’s a customer buying it. That’s the whole measure of success. It doesn’t matter if your CEO came up with the product or I’ve come up with the product idea or, else someone else, like a customer, came up with the product idea. If no one’s paying for it, it’s not a good idea. So our job is to really help us focus on the right things. And Marty Cagan and everyone else talk about these small bets, right, making bets into these product ideas. And that’s what we should really do, is like, “OK, well, how can we understand what is the idea that has the highest impact with the fastest speed?” That’s the point of the product team is figuring out the right ideas to focus on.

David [00:21:29] But what does that mean? Speed and impact. And the more iterations that you can do for your product, the better it’s going to be and the more customers you’re going to gain. And the whole point of the game, whether it be on the corporate or start-up, just don’t run out of funding before you find the market fit. And the more iterations that you do, the better it gets. And that’s the way I see the world is like, there is really no shortcuts to building a good product. You have to do the reps. You have to do the iterations, and that’s the only way you do it. And ideas are your films for you to have more reps. And we do a good job in product discovery and validation to make sure these are the right things to follow, but no one knows until the end. So that’s why ideas can come from anywhere and anyone can give ideas and we should manage it just like any product backlog.

Paul [00:22:16] Absolutely. Yeah, Sean, I’m really glad that you took us there because I was going to actually bring out something that we talked about in a team training that we had very recently here, where I think one of the key learnings that we tried to share was that we talk about user stories in the context of Scrum and what it means to verbalize something in the context of as an X, I want to Y so that Z. That’s sort of the industry framework, we’re all pretty much familiar with it. But the reason that we steward the conversations towards this value that we’re creating for users is not because it’s some magic formula or it does anything better than a PRD in a waterfall setting, but it helps create this placeholder for a conversation. And our job isn’t to document all the details. Our job is to create psychological safety for that conversation to happen. The thing that we’re managing is that honesty with ourselves about what it is we’re trying to accomplish in the world and then allowing the team to have the creativity and the technical expertise applied in that direction. And we’ve talked a lot about the product and the user and the value creation. But how do we lead a team? How do we position ourselves as product leaders within this group of people; designers, developers, architects, who are trying to accomplish this thing? Because it’s us that they look to, right?

David [00:23:35] Yeah, and I think as a good PM, and you pick this up over the years, you quickly realize that the culture starts with you. We can talk about product culture, we can talk about all that stuff. We can go find a product-driven company. At the end of the day, it starts with you. You’re there to create a safety for people to communicate their ideas. And that’s why I preach this idea backlog. And I know not everyone agrees with that. But the idea of the backlog is just saying that we hear what you say and we actively go look at these ideas and prioritize them and we do it. Then the culture of transparency, being open and honest about debating ideas, removing our ego in a safe space, and also the growth mindset, right, what Sean mentioned. But all this comes from the product leader, and it’s not easy keeping these things on the back of your mind with every decision that you make. But these are the different mindsets that you should really pick up as you are leading the team.

David [00:24:29] So, yeah, so like to be a really good leader, at the foundation is like you have to know that the culture comes from you. And if you consistently make thoughtful decisions based on quantitative and qualitative data, consistently be open and talk to your team and be blunt about certain things that don’t work, but also helping people break down ideas as well. And ideas, the way that I look at it is they’re like a Play-Doh. Often the problem and the solution and the goals are jumbled up together. And that’s what great product people do. They pull apart the Play-Doh. They’re like, “what’s the problem that we’re solving? We go validate that. What’s the solution that we’re solving? Let’s go validate that. And is this even the right goal that we should be solving? Let’s go validate that.” And by doing that and consistently displaying those types of cultures, that’s going to create a very strong team within any product function.

Sean [00:25:19] I love the Play-Doh analogy. I’m going to sum up what you just said, see if this sounds right. We’re there to create a safe environment for the team with transparency and authenticity so that we encourage the hard questions, and that’s the only way to curate the best possible products.

David [00:25:35] Yeah, I completely agree. Absolutely. And hard questions are hard right now, but it won’t be in three weeks’ time when you’re building something. We’ve got to think, like, the long term as well. Like iterations, product lifecycle. And it’s OK to have hard conversations now because tomorrow you’re going to meet again and you’re going to be fine. And then two weeks later, you’re going to meet again. You’re going to be fine.

Paul [00:25:56] Yeah.

David [00:25:56] So don’t shy away from the hard conversations. But as long as you approach it from, “I want to solve a problem for our customers,” and, you know, approaching from the right mindset, then I think that’s fine. And that bothered me a lot when I was a young PM. I was very afraid to tell developers that, “oh, you’re going down a rabbit hole, or you’ve built something that we shouldn’t be building,” and I was like afraid of hurt their feelings. And I was afraid to challenge my senior stakeholders around, like, “Is this even the right goal that we should be focused on?” and I would just accept it, and then four weeks later, we’d deliver something that doesn’t work and that’s why the conversation early on, you just save a lot of the pain.

Paul [00:26:31] Yeah. You know, you kind of surprised me there. You sparked a moment, almost an origin story like you mentioned before. Coincidentally, both Sean and I served in the U.S. Navy and one of the first lessons I learned when I reported to my very first ship as a very young ensign was a quote by Admiral Jim Stavridis, head of the Division Officers Handbook. It doesn’t matter if you had a bad night’s sleep, no night’s sleep because you were on watch, when you stand in front of your sailors in the morning for morning quarters, you set the tone. You have to pack all the baggage away, you have to pack all your preconceptions away. And what you shared a moment ago about, you are the culture, really just struck a chord. It took me back 20 years ago and it just kind of connected all the dots all at once. I hope you don’t mind me sharing. As we’re wrapping up, I wanted to ask one more question and it’s something we ask of all our guests on the pod. How do you define innovation?

David [00:27:20] Hmm. That’s a tough question. It depends. So the way I see it is customer problems don’t change. It’s the technology and behavior that changes. So it’s really rare that we have come up with a new customer problem. Even now, with COVID, like, our communication doesn’t change. But innovation comes from being on top of the changes in customer behavior, moving from offline to online, moving from mobile to A.I., and then technology, that always changes. So innovations come from being extremely clear about the problem, keeping on top of technology trends, and keeping on top of the behavioral changes. And that’s where innovation can come from. And that’s how I define it.

Sean [00:28:02] It’s a good answer. I like that. So you recommended two books in the course of this podcast, Lovability by Robert Holden and Inspired by Marty Cagan.

David [00:28:11] Yes. Oh, it’s Lovability by Brian de Haaff.

Sean [00:28:14] Oh, de Haaff. OK.

David [00:28:15] The founder of Aha!.

Sean [00:28:17] Oh, all right. Are there any other books that you’d recommend?

David [00:28:20] Yeah, that’s a really good book called Team Topologies, which is a great book that talks about how you structure a very good team. And this is very important for leaders to look at it. Just basically to answer this question for you, there’s no perfect way to structure a team. It all depends on how your business is. But Team Topology gives you the framework to figure out, “what’s the right structure for my team?”.

Paul [00:28:41] Excellent.

David [00:28:42] So, yeah, that’s a very, very good book. And also a non-product book, probably Growth Mindset. That’s one of the best books I’ve read.

Sean [00:28:49] Carol Dweck?

Paul [00:28:50] Yes, that’s right.

Sean [00:28:51] Big fan.

David [00:28:52] I highly recommend that book.

Paul [00:28:53] Absolutely. Well, David, we can’t wrap up without giving props to Adrienne Tan. Without her connection to the pod and inviting us to Brainmates’ conference, Leading the Product, I never would have heard you speak and had the excitement to pick your brain a bit. So I really appreciate that connection and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your insight to product leaders and prospective product leaders.

David [00:29:14] Yeah.

Sean [00:29:15] I got one more question for you before we wrap up. I just want to know what you’re going to be up to next. Like what’s on the horizon for you? What are the things you’re working on these days?

David [00:29:22] I’m very keen to democratize product knowledge for the world because I think that’s a skill set that would really change the world. And that’s what I’m working on now. My website, productschool.org, I want to democratize that and write a lot on Medium and do a lot of free webinars and free classes just to help the community. That’s the short term goal and see where this will take us.

Sean [00:29:43] Well, thank you for the great work you’re doing in the industry, and thank you for spending this time with us and investing in the community.

David [00:29:48] Yeah. Thanks, Sean. Thanks, Paul.

Paul [00:29:51] Cheers.

David [00:29:51] Cheers. Thank you.

Paul [00:29:55] Well, that’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get, so please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world, just like you’re doing. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next episode.