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This Month in Product Talks: October

By Isabella Reynolds
Product Talks Recap October

After a really successful September, this month in Product Talks only got better!

October had 6 Product Talks held around the globe, bringing everyone back together again to share their passion for Product Management and inviting new Product lovers to join the community.

The topics this month ranged from the Five Immutable Truths about Great Product Managers, Creating Purposeful Professional Development Strategies to an amazing event designed for those wanting to get their First Role And Thrive In Product Management.

Here’s a quick recap and highlights of some of our events.

Product Talks Sydney

Why Language Really Matters

with Andi Mastrosavas

At the end of September, Product Talks Sydney, hosted by Emily Chen and Marco Tebaldi, invited Andi Mastrosavas to share a talk on ‘Why Language Really Matters!’.

Language shapes our perceptions, embeds stereotypes, assumptions, biases, and contextualises meaning. The language we choose to use, whether consciously or unconsciously, defines our reality and affects mutual understanding. From user to human to equity-centered, how you build your product changes the outcomes – for everyone.

This Product Talk discussed the transition from User-Centric to Human-Centric to Equity-Centric frameworks for product design and development. If you were unable to make this meetup or want to reflect on your learnings from a month ago, Andi shared a summary of her talk, highlighting the main takeaways:

“That subtle word change does more than simply centre a practice’s activities, it fundamentally shapes the lifecycle of product development and the outcomes for businesses, customers, and society more broadly.

The frameworks we choose to use when designing and developing products have consequences. They generate specific outcomes both positive and negative, intended and unintended. And these outcomes are often an artifact of the language used to describe the practice.

Language has far-reaching social and political implications. It shapes our perceptions, embeds stereotypes, assumptions, biases, and contextualizes meaning. Language frames our understanding of the world. Language matters because it shapes outcomes.

Equity Centred Design as a framework sets out to achieve more equitable outcomes. As an extension of the Human Centred Design framework, it reimagines design thinking to promote equity, between people, and the planet.”

“Language has far-reaching social and political implications. It shapes our perceptions, embeds stereotypes, assumptions, biases, and contextualizes meaning.”

Product Talks New York

The Five Immutable Truths About Great Product Managers

with JJ Rorie

Throughout October, Product Talks New York, hosted by Martin North and Sandeep Gondekar, invited the one and only JJ Rorie, thought-leader and practitioner, to share ‘The Five Immutable Truths About Great Product Managers’.

As JJ stated, “Each truth in isolation is not groundbreaking….it’s how they interact and form a solid foundation from which GREAT Product Managers pull to navigate the chaotic world in which they work.” For those that missed the talk or would love a refresher, here’s what it takes to be considered a GREAT Product Manager:

  1. Have exceptionally high customer intelligence.
  2. Are experts at building relationships.
  3. Are master communicators.
  4. Are good businesspeople.
  5. Are fanatical about prioritising their time and actions.

It takes a lot more than just an individual Product Manager, or as JJ states “a person passionate and crazy enough to take on the coolest, most difficult role in the organisation”, to champion product development. According to Truth Number 2, as a Product Manager, “you got to find your champions, you got to find the people who believe in you and believe in the product vision, those are the ones who are going to help you along the way.” A Product Manager becomes stronger when they have supportive people championing their vision.

There were a lot of powerful insights JJ shared on the topic that resonated with the Product community. Some of the most notable quotes to mention are:

Wherever you fall, just kind of make yourself a development plan. That’s what great Product Managers do. They create a roadmap, and think this is what I’m going to work on now, this is what I am going to work on next, this is what I’m going to work out in the future. Because this is ultimately going to build their skill set on this journey.”

“Give yourself time, give yourself grace, be patient with yourself, you can’t be anJJ Speaking expert at everything. Certainly not at all at once, so if you do want to improve some of these skills and some of these truths, you need to start to make them your own truths.”

Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity

One of our hosts, Martin North, shared with us his main takeaway after spending time with JJ;

While Product Management is always changing, there are some things about being a Product Manager that is immutable. Next time I find myself adrift, being swept along by the currents, I’m going to remind myself of JJ’s 5 truths, and use those as my anchor.“

Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”

How Product Managers Can Create A Purposeful Professional Development Strategy?

with Steven Haines

Across 2 weeks in October, Product Talks New York welcomed Steven Haines to present his insights on ‘How Product Managers Can Create A Purposeful Professional Development Strategy?’. Imagine your own “Product Management Career Index (PMCI)”! Well, attendees walked away from this event knowing how to use Steve’s never seen before or heard, five-step model to embrace and begin working on establishing a strategic context for their career, a measuring system and personal SWOT analysis tips.

Steven summarises it as,

”A data-driven tracking tool for you. It is just like you’re collecting, for example, market information and financial data about your product, you are also collecting that data about yourself.
Then you have to synthesize all of that stuff, we sometimes use a SWOT analysis, asking yourself What am I good at? Where do I start? What and who’s coming after me? And what should I do about it?
This gives us that pivot so that we can figure out what we should be doing next; what’s that vision, where do I see myself in a couple of years, and what perception of myself do I need to create.”

Steven GraphWe loved how Steven beautifully started the session by asking the attendees to envision the following scenario:

“You know when you encounter something and you fall down, you pick yourself up and start again, you have to just keep going. And you have to wonder why did you do this, how did this happen, why did I fall? Did I fail? Well, you know when you’re a pilot or a lawyer or surgeon, you’ve had a huge amount of academic and flight simulator experience. The learning reduces their failure.

I’ll tell you when you’re flying in that plane through wind shear, you want somebody when you’re in the passenger seat, who knows how to handle that plane. And your bosses want you to fly that plane. And so it’s really important for you to think about these things when we talk about strategic planning. Because that’s really what we’re about, we’re talking about strategic planning for your career.”

Product Management, like being a pilot, isn’t as simple as reading books, it takes experience and strategic planning. It takes someone to share what they have learnt and for you to then take those insights and build them into your own strategy. Documenting progress, managing your own work and setting your own path ahead are all necessary to be a better Product Manager.

Some of our most memorable quotes from the session are:

“If you understand the attributes that are most desirable in your company, you can begin to work on those things to create visibility.”

“You’re in charge of you. ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF! No one will take your career as seriously as you”

”You need evidence. Keep track of your portfolio of accomplishments. Show. Your. Stuff. Bosses come and go. You need to have that evidence. ”

“Treat your career like a product. Manage it.”

“If we want to set course for a new vision, we need a vision and goals.”

“Treat your career like a product. Manage it.”

Product Talks Singapore

Get Your First Role And Thrive In Product Management

With Kelly Gibbs, Sneha Barman, Ysabelle Torres, Conny Lim, Jun Leong and Hannah Harbord

On Friday, October 15th, the Product Community in Singapore came together to celebrate the Product Management profession. We wanted to support folks to become Product Managers in Singapore and our panel addressed the audience about getting their first Product role and thriving in the role. Over 120 attendees joined us online with 3 amazing main speakers, Kelly Gibbs, Sneha Barman and Ysabelle Torres, sharing their journey’s into Product Management and 3 recruiters, Conny Lim, Jun Leong and Hannah Harbord, sharing their knowledge of the recruitment scene in Singapore. It was definitely an evening of learning, fun and lots of networking, with many attendees giving us raving feedback.

One of the attendees said;

Thank you everyone for being so approachable. It’s really nice to have an online session with lots of friendly engagement!! (very few zoom events I’ve attended are ever like this!)”

70% of the attendees stated that they aren’t Product Managers yet – which showed that there is a huge demand in this market to learn about this industry from other like-minded folks. This was an exciting opportunity to give them the much-needed advice and insights into the role of a Product Manager. We all come to product from a different path and perspective, and this couldn’t be more evident amongst our panellists. All our speakers stumbled into Product Management completely differently. Sneha Barman, for instance, had a really uplifting story. She didn’t even know she was in Product when she started out because her title was “Mechanical Design Engineer”. She was given a hairbrush to improve, and it was through the process of talking to her users, and developing this hairbrush, that she realised she was involved in Product Development, not just engineering. Kelly Gibbs was a librarian and it took her 5 years to get into a Product Management role but she had the grit and determination to “learn one bit at a time and then build from there”. Ysabelle, on the other hand, left University after an internship to go straight into a Product role. She has a love of learning about customers and said that her network was her main mentor throughout this process to get into the industry.

As a Product Manager, it is important to be human-centric and to get your hands dirty. “Make your own website. Make your product from scratch. Learn the whole product life cycle.” And then the magic will begin….. because that first moment someone tests your product, “you are nervous. You get this rush! It is unforgettable!”

We loved the authenticity and enthusiasm not only from our speakers and recruiters but our attendees. The attendees got stuck, deep in conversation, engaging with everyone and asking the right questions to get a Product Management role. As we grow the community of product professionals, we intend to introduce more networking, mentorship, and training opportunities for the community to develop deeper skills and build capabilities. Singapore’s small geographical size allows us to form new relationships in a close-knit cosmopolitan community that can interact frequently outside of events.

One thing, in particular, became evident during this event. WE DEFINITELY NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE KELLY, YSABELLE AND SNEHA CHAMPIONING PRODUCT MANAGEMENT !!

For this reason, over the next few months, there will be 2 more upcoming Product Talks Singapore events and exciting sharing. Please spread the word to your networks to invite other Product Professionals to join the community. This includes anyone working on products including product managers, product developers, software developers, UI/UX developers, product marketers etc.

“Learn one bit at a time and then build from there”.

We can’t wait to see you at the next event! For now, check out the people who make this all possible, our sponsors!

Mixpanel

We are delighted to announce that Product Talks Sydney has been sponsored by Mixpanel.

Mixpanel helps companies measure what matters, make decisions fast, and build better products through data. With Mixpanel, Product Managers can take control of their product data, with self-serve analytics to understand why people convert, engage and retain to improve their user experience.

Mixpanel is sponsoring Product Talks Sydney meetups to connect with Product Managers who are practicing or discovering product analytics and will be joining us as a speaker in the coming months to share more about the topic. For a limited time, Mixpanel is offering Product Talks Sydney members $3,000 in Mixpanel credits to get started.

IMDA

Over the next 5 months, Leading The Product, in partnership with IMDA, will be bringing a series of Product Talk events to Singapore.

IMDA develops and regulates the converging Infocomm and media sectors in a holistic way, creating a dynamic and exciting sector filled with opportunities for growth, through an emphasis on talent, research, innovation and enterprise. As a statutory board in the Singapore government, it seeks to deepen regulatory capabilities for a converged Infocomm media.

The biggest Product event of the season is coming back to APAC on 18 May, 2022. Get your tickets early and save.