168 episodes

Brought to you by Nils Davis, this podcast will help you become a better product manager, marketer, innovator, or entrepreneur. With thought provoking and action-oriented content - this podcast tackles problems ranging from finding and validating market problems, to creating innovative solutions, to taking those solutions to market. Simply put, it will help you move your skills - and your products - to the next level.

The Secrets of Product Management Podcast by Nils Davis Nils Davis

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 22 Ratings

Brought to you by Nils Davis, this podcast will help you become a better product manager, marketer, innovator, or entrepreneur. With thought provoking and action-oriented content - this podcast tackles problems ranging from finding and validating market problems, to creating innovative solutions, to taking those solutions to market. Simply put, it will help you move your skills - and your products - to the next level.

    158: Steve Johnson Shares His Wisdom

    158: Steve Johnson Shares His Wisdom

    Steve Johnson, OG product management thinker

    Steve Johnson is my guest on this week’s episode.

    I’m sure you know of him already. And if not, you will after this episode. He’s one of the OG product management thought leaders, especially in the software world.

    Many people got to know Steve during his long stint as a trainer for Pragmatic Marketing, which followed a career as a product manager, product marketing manager and product leader.

    He’s now running Product Growth Leaders, a community for product managers, and a training company. In his courses, including The Fundamentals of Managing Products, intensives such as The Product Launch Intensive, and assessments, he uses the Quartz Open Framework, a process framework for systematically managing and marketing products. Quartz is a non-proprietary model for product planning created by industry thought leaders, including the founders of Product Growth Leaders.

    In this episode

    Steve is renowned as a storyteller, and in this episode you’ll hear a lot of them, starting with how he learned what product management is and how it interfaces with other roles in the organization, especially sales and marketing.

    He’ll share the origins of his statement that agile has to some degree broken product management. And what he means by that.

    And we’ll talk about the different challenge that is leading product managers. And why so many companies struggle with that?

    I started by asking Steve about his origin story in product management, because, you see, he started his PM career in sales.

    Contacting Steve



    * Product Growth Leaders

    * Steve on LinkedIn

    * The Quartz Open Framework



    Support this podcast



    * The easiest and best way to support the podcast is to leave me a comment or question, drop a note or connection request to me on LinkedIn, or just send me an email at nils@nilsdavis.com.

    * You can also rate and review the podcast on Apple iTunes – that really helps others find it.

    * And you can just share the podcast directly with your product manager friends – they’ll probably really appreciate it!



    Steve Johnson, OG product management thinker

    Steve Johnson is my guest on this week’s episode.

    I’m sure you know of him already. And if not, you will after this episode. He’s one of the OG product management thought leaders, especially in the software world.

    Many people got to know Steve during his long stint as a trainer for Pragmatic Marketing, which followed a career as a product manager, product marketing manager and product leader.

    He’s now running Product Growth Leaders, a community for product managers, and a training company. In his courses, including a href="https://www.productgrowthleaders.com/offerings/fundamentals-of-managing-products" target="_blank"...

    • 42 min
    157: Looking Back, Leaping Forward: 2023 Retrospective

    157: Looking Back, Leaping Forward: 2023 Retrospective

    Looking Back, Leaping Forward: 2023 Retrospective

    In the last episode of 2024, I go through a retrospective of the show for 2023, and share some of my plans for 2024.

    A few stats, lessons learned, things that went well and went badly, and then a sneak peek into what I’m planning for 2024.

    2023 recap

    I released a total of 34 episodes, including seven reruns. Five of the episodes were interviews.

    I introduced some interesting new topics like anti-fragility and the PRD as the product bible. Both of those need more coverage in 2024!

    As well, of course, the show continued (and will continue) to hit on all the old favorites like storytelling, go to market, psychological safety and basic product management skills.

    Stats & achievements



    * My monthly downloads almost doubled since mid-2022.

    * The best month hit 2,481 downloads.

    * My most popular episode reached 320 downloads in the first 30 days.



    Challenges



    * Some of the usual suspects – consistency, content ideas, all that stuff. (It’s a creative endeavor, and so creative blocks are gonna happen, I don’t care who you are!)

    * And then there were indeed a few technical challenges, including one interview I recorded where half the recording disappeared at one point. Luckily, I was recording it with another tool as well, so I think I’ll be able to save it.

    * ChatGPT was not the helper I thought it would be (although it did contribute a lot to these show notes, based on the transcript of the episode).



    Looking ahead to 2024

    Expect a higher ratio of interviews in 2024. As I mentioned, I only did five interviews in 2023. I expect that to go way up. This is both to widen the content because (haha!) I don’t know everything. And also to widen the audience because a lot of folks have audiences that would be interested in what we do here on the podcast. And I want to get that out to them.

    I plan to explore the Descript tool further and ramp up the marketing side of the podcast.

    My goal for the year is 52 episodes, although not all new. I don’t know why this wouldn’t be possible.

    Content goals



    I will continue exploring go-to-market strategies, getting jobs, being mentally successful in product management. And some newer topics like AI (as I explore it for myself and report on what others are doing), the product bible concept, and anti-fragility, among other topics.

    I’ll be working on “filling the well” in 2024, to help me have more ideas and insights to share. I’ve set a personal goal to read 24 books in 2024, 1/2 fiction, 1/2 business/non-fiction. Currently I’m reading User Stories Applied, by Mike Cohn. I rag on user stories a lot, so I thought it would be a good idea to read one of the original guides on how to write and use them.

    Coaching episodes!



    In 2024 I will be introducing coaching episodes where you, my listeners, can participate for guidance and learning.

    Let me know if you’d like to get some coaching from me on some issue that you wouldn’t mind being shared to the world. It’ll be fun!

    (I love the way Dallas Travers uses coaching in her podcast “Coaches On A Mission.” Adam Scheuble is another master of this on his podcast “Podcasting Business School.”)

    Episodes I mentioned



    *

    Dan Balcauski on pricing in episodes 134 and 135.



    * Evading “product management gatekeepers” in episo...

    156: Chris Butler on Why Meetings Are Great And Other Projects

    156: Chris Butler on Why Meetings Are Great And Other Projects

    Welcome back Chris Butler!

    My guest on this episode is Chris Butler, whom we first heard from in episode 107! It’s great to have him back, sharing some of his new projects since we last talked 18 months ago.

    Chris is a self-described “chaotic good” product manager, as well as a prolific writer and speaker. His work focuses on helping product managers operate more effectively – helping teams make better, less biased decisions, and build new and innovative products. He has been a product leader at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Cognizant, KAYAK, and Waze. He created techniques like Empathy Mapping for the Machine, Animistic Design Mapping, and Confusion Mapping to create cross-team alignment while building AI products.

    I first met Chris in a product manager meetup, and then I happened to watch his amazing video on Adversarial Product Management, the topic of his previous appearance on this podcast.

    Some of what we cover in this episode:



    * Why meetings are actually good and other insights from the Uncertainty Project.

    * A new way to think about strategy

    * Concrete ways that AI might change our lives, and his futurist work with the Near Future Laboratory



    Links



    * Connect with Chris on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbu/

    * Check out the Uncertainty Project, which Chris co-founded.

    * The Near Future Laboratory, the inventor of “design fiction” and host of Chris’s “Employee Manual Design Fiction” project.

    * A playlist of 120(!) of Chris’s videos on YouTube, including Adversarial Product Management, The Future of Meetings, and Decoding Decision Making in Product Management.

    * We talked about complexity and complicatedness, using the Cynefin sense-making model. Worth watching this video series from Dave Snowden (inventor of Cynefin) to learn more.

    * Wardley Mapping: An Intro To Wardley Maps (by Simon Wardley), Learn Wardley Mapping.



    Welcome back Chris Butler!

    My guest on this episode is Chris Butler, whom we first heard from in episode 107! It’s great to have him back, sharing some of his new projects since we last talked 18 months ago.

    Chris is a self-described “chaotic good” product manager, as well as a prolific writer and speaker. His work focuses on helping product managers operate more effectively – helping teams make better, less biased decisions, and build new and innovative products. He has been a product leader at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Cognizant, KAYAK, and Waze. He created techniques like Empathy Mapping for the Machine, Animistic Design Mapping, and Confusion Mapping to create cross-team alignment while building AI products.

    I first met Chris in a product manager meetup,

    • 38 min
    323: The Secret Product Management Framework (Rerun)

    323: The Secret Product Management Framework (Rerun)

    This episode is a rerun of episode 323: The Secret Product Management Framework. Use that link to visit the show notes page.

    This episode is a rerun of episode 323: The Secret Product Management Framework. Use that link to visit the show notes page.

    • 22 min
    155: The PM’s Guide to Cognitive Biases

    155: The PM’s Guide to Cognitive Biases

    Product Manager’s Guide To Cognitive Biases

    That sounds funny, doesn’t it? I’m not giving you cognitive biases in this episode. I’m giving you information about cognitive biases so you can manage them better.

    What’s a cognitive bias? According to Wikipedia: “A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.”

    Cognitive biases lead to bad decision making and other bad, or at least, non-rational outcomes. Knowing about them can help us manage them, because we all have them, even if we think we don’t. (The name for that is the “Blind Spot Bias” – which makes our own cognitive biases invisible to us.)

    Links and resources



    * Julia Galef’s TED talk about Soldier Mindset and Scout Mindset, Why You Think You’re Right, Even If You’re Wrong.

    * Wikipedia articles on cognitive biases and the list of cognitive biases.

    * Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahnemann, Nobel Prize-winning researcher, with Amos Tversky, who established many of the ideas around cognitive biases.

    * Influence, by Robert Cialdini (and here’s a great podcast interview with him talking about the ideas in the book).

    * The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

    * More info about Dr. Semelweiss (the play by Mark Rylance) and Dr. Semelweiss (the person – Wikipedia article).



    Join my (free) weekly product management meetup

    Every Friday morning at 8am Pacific time I and whoever shows up talk about topics like the ones I share in the podcast. The conversation is a lot of fun and full of insights.

    If you’d like to join, go to the signup page at secretsofpm.com/meetup to get on the notification list and I’ll send you an email whenever we have one scheduled. I’d love to have you join.

     

    Product Manager’s Guide To Cognitive Biases

    That sounds funny, doesn’t it? I’m not giving you cognitive biases in this episode. I’m giving you information about cognitive biases so you can manage them better.

    What’s a cognitive bias? According to Wikipedia: “A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.”

    Cognitive biases lead to bad decision making and other bad, or at least, non-rational outcomes. Knowing about them can help us manage them, because we all have them, even if we think we don’t. (The name for that is the “Blind Spot Bias” – which makes our own cognitive biases invisible to us.)

    Links and resources



    * Julia Galef’s TED talk about Soldier Mindset and Scout Mindset, Why You Think You’re Right, Even If You’re Wrong.

    * Wikipedia articles on cognitive biases and the list...

    • 21 min
    154: Storytelling Deconstructed

    154: Storytelling Deconstructed

    Deconstructed storytelling can be your secret weapon

    I talk about “telling a story” and “using stories” all the time on this podcast.

    But I don’t mean sitting everyone around a campfire with a mug of hot chocolate and someone starting out “Once upon a time…”

    “Storytelling” often doesn’t mean literally “telling a story” in the context of product management. It means using components of a story in specific ways to achieve certain results. To get there, you need to be able to deconstruct your story (or your customer’s story), and then remix.

    In this episode, three examples of how using a component of a story can make a business presentation or a marketing campaign more persuasive, engaging, and effective.

    Apple iPod billboard example

    A whole story in one image. (And I didn’t mention in the episode, but they did it again – telling a story in an image – with their “Shot on iPhone” series of billboards.)



     

    Links



    * Previous episodes on storytelling:



    * In episode 70 I go on at length about using stories in your go to market processes.

    * Episode 71 continues the storytelling theme with “more proven secrets for brilliant storytelling.”

    * Episode 61 is all about reducing your prospect’s perception of risk during the sales process, by pre-handling objections using customer stories and other techniques.

    * 103: The Many Uses of A Customer Success Story





    * Want to attend the Secrets of Product Management bi-weekly meetup? Get on the notification list.



    Three things you can start doing today to put these ideas into practice



    If you are thinking about or presenting about a technical feature, figure out how to personalize the impact of that feature. Or its lack. And then find a picture to illustrate that. The next time you present about that feature, use the picture and tell the personalized story. You can also put the picture in a PRD or a feature spec.

    Remember that any problem has a personal impact, even a “business problem.” Someone will lose if that problem continues and isn’t solved. Conversely, someone will win if the problem is solved. And by win, I mean something important – like not getting fired! Or getting a promotion. When you’re doing discovery on one of these problems, make sure to ask questions that get at the personal impact. It could be as simple as asking, “How do you feel about that?” in the context of the problem. Or you could ask, “Is your job at risk if this problem keeps happening?” or “What happens to you and your colleagues if this problem isn’t fixed?”

    Start paying attention to great marketing around you, and see if you can find the stories. Find the way the problem and/or the transformation is encoded and personalized in the marketing. They might be one picture. It might be a great headline. Or a combination.



    What do you think?

    If you want to help me out, and more importantly, help other product managers find and enjoy this podcast, please subscribe on your podcast system of choice. And consider giving me a review on iTunes or “starring” the episode on your player. It helps other people find the podcast, and makes me a little happier as well. I might even read your review in an upcoming episode.

    If you have comments, questions, or complaints about this episode or the podcast, please leave a comment down below and I’ll get back to you immediately.

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

Dan Balcauski ,

Must listen

Nils gives you insight into Product in ways other podcasts don't. Love the format and the content. you’re guaranteed to walk away with value bombs.

Idea lady ,

Insightful!

Appreciate the insights to necessary skills, how to ‘fine tune’ the ones you have, (sometimes just from looking at it from another angle). Focused on outcomes and ‘what you can do today’, it offers you the chance to experiment with a small facet of product management per episode.

Kodis ,

Great for Product managers

Was recently turned onto this show by a colleague. I really enjoyed the recent episodes about “The Smart Sales Method” and the episodes talking about storytelling. Great stuff!

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