Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

By Lenny Rachitsky

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Lenny Rachitsky interviews world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.


Episode Date
Teresa Torres on how to interview customers, automating continuous discovery, the opportunity solution tree framework, making the case for user research, common interviewing mistakes, and much more
Teresa Torres is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and coach. She teaches a structured and sustainable system for continuous discovery that helps product teams infuse their daily product decisions with customer input. She’s coached hundreds of teams at companies of all sizes, from early-stage startups to global enterprises, in a variety of industries. She has taught over 11,000 product people discovery skills through the Product Talk Academy and hundreds through her coaching practice, and is the author of Continuous Discovery Habits.

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Persona: https://withpersona.com/lenny

• Dovetail: https://dovetailapp.com/lenny

• Stytch: https://stytch.com/

In this episode, we cover:

[3:37] How Teresa is in the top 5 people in the world who’s helped the most PMs.

[5:25] What is the “opportunity solution tree framework”?

[8:19] What’s an example of an opportunity solution tree, for Netflix?

[14:17] Why do we usually approach opportunity finding wrong?

[18:10] What should you do if your company is a feature factory?

[21:00] What is continuous discovery, and why is it so important?

[23:13] What do you do if your leaders tell you there’s no time for user research?

[25:55] How can you automate weekly conversations with customers?

[29:04] How do you stay unbiased as a PM about a potential solution?

[31:23] Should a PM have more say over other functions?

[35:33] What are Teresa’s best tips for how to interview customers?

[39:57] What’s the most common mistake people make while interviewing customers?

[40:25] How does discovery change as your company grows?

[43:27] When should you do user research and when should you run an experiment?

Where to find Teresa:

• Product Talk: https://www.producttalk.org/

• Opportunity solution tree: https://www.producttalk.org/opportunity-solution-tree/

Continuous Discovery Habits: https://www.amazon.com/Continuous-Discovery-Habits-Discover-Products/dp/1736633309

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teresatorres/

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/ttorres

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 30, 2022
Brandon Chu on building product at Shopify, how writing changed the trajectory of his career, the habits that make you a great PM, pros and cons of being a platform PM, how Shopify got through Covid
Brandon Chu is VP of Product at Shopify, where he leads the app platform ecosystem, new initiatives group, and M&A investments. Brandon helped scale Shopify’s PM team from five to hundreds, and worked his way up from an IC Senior PM. Prior to Shopify, he was a Director of PM at FreshBooks and, before that, a founder. Brandon might be best known for his writing on the art and science of product management as part of a collection on Medium he calls “The Black Box of Product Management.”

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Stytch: https://stytch.com/

• Persona: https://withpersona.com/lenny

• PostHog: https://posthog.com/lenny

In this episode, we cover:

1) Brandon’s path to VP of Product at Shopify.

2) What has Brandon found to be the most important skill set for super-successful PMs?

3) What is it like to build product at Shopify?

4) How did Shopify adjust after the shock to e-commerce during Covid?

5) How did Shopify build a one-click team offsite flight/hotel/activity booking platform?

6) How did Brandon motivate himself to start, and keep, writing?

7) As a PM, why is writing one of the highest-ROI uses of your time?

8) What’s Brandon’s favorite piece of writing?

9) What are the biggest surprises, pros, and cons about being a platform PM?

Where to find Brandon:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/brandonmchu

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandonmchu/

• Brandon’s writing: https://blackboxofpm.com/

Making Good Decisions as a Product Manager: https://blackboxofpm.com/making-good-decisions-as-a-product-manager-c66ddacc9e2b

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 27, 2022
Elena Verna on how B2B growth is changing, product-led growth, product-led sales, why you should go freemium not trial, what features to make free, and much more
Elena Verna has led growth at some of today’s most successful B2B businesses, including Miro as CMO, Surveymonkey as SVP of Growth, and now at Amplitude as interim Head of Growth. She’s also worked closely with over a dozen companies on growth and product strategy, including companies like MongoDB, Clockwise, and Netlify (where she sits on the board of directors). Elena is undoubtedly one of the smartest people on growth strategy in the world.

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Persona: https://withpersona.com/lenny

• Stytch: https://stytch.com/

• PostHog: https://posthog.com/lenny

In this episode, we cover:

1) How did Elena go from an analyst at Safeway to Head of Product at Amplitude?

2) What’s changing in B2B growth?

3) What exactly is “product-led growth,” and how can you apply it at every stage of growth?

4) How is PLG already transforming itself?

5) Why do you need to be both product-led and sales-led?

6) Why does PLG often get crushed when you move upmarket, and how do you avoid this?

7) What it looks like when your PLG motion is dying.

8) Why product-led is the future of sales.

9) Why is freemium the way to go, over trial?

10) Why should you hire internally for your first growth hire?

Where to find Elena:

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elenaverna

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/elenaverna

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 23, 2022
Gibson Biddle on his DHM product strategy framework, GEM roadmap prioritization framework, 5 Netflix strategy mini case studies, building a personal board of directors, and much more
Before getting into teaching full-time, Gibson Biddle was VP of Product at Netflix and CPO at Chegg (a textbook rental and homework help company). He now spends his days speaking, writing, and hosting workshops on product leadership, strategy, and culture. There are very few people in the world who’ve worked with, and had an impact on, more product managers.

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Flatfile: flatfile.com/lenny

• Coda: coda.io/lenny

• PostHog: posthog.com/lenny

In this episode, we cover:

1) Gibson’s career path to VP of Product at Netflix, CPO at Chegg, and eventually teaching full-time.

2) The DHM model: The 3 factors of a product strategy for consumer companies, how you can apply it to your product strategy, and how Gibson used this model for decisions made at Netflix.

3) Five mini case studies of the DHM model that could be applied to Netflix’s strategy.

4) The GEM prioritization model: What are the 3 areas a company can optimize on? What is the fundamental misalignment that destroys startups? 

5) How could you start building your product strategy muscle, even when you’re only two weeks into your new role?

6) Building your personal board of directors.

7) What does it take to become a CPO someday?

8) What specifics in a daily routine separate a good product manager from a great product manager?

9) What’s the one piece of advice Gibson has for product managers in their early career?

Where to find Gibson:

• Ask Gib Product Newsletter: https://askgibs.substack.com/

• Gibson’s baby website: www.gibsonbiddle.com

• Intro to product strategy: https://gibsonbiddle.medium.com/intro-to-product-strategy-60bdf72b17e3

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 20, 2022
Jackie Bavaro on getting better at product strategy, what exactly is strategy, PM pitfalls to avoid, advancing your career, getting into management, and much more
Jackie Bavaro is the author of the best-selling books Cracking the PM Interview and Cracking the PM Career. She was most recently at Asana, where she joined as its first product manager and later became the head of product. Earlier in her career, Jackie was a PM at Google and Microsoft, where she worked on high-impact products such as Google Search and Microsoft SharePoint.

In this episode, we cover:

1. How did Jackie become head of product at Asana? Start writing the best-selling PM books on interviews and the career ladder?

2. How and why to find a product coach.

3. What are the downsides of being a manager? How do you know if you want to go into management?

4. Can you stay an IC vs. becoming a manager?

5. What is “strategy”? What are the 3 components of a strategy?

6. What makes a good/bad strategy?

7. What are some ways to get better at strategy?

8. When should you start to invest in building your strategy muscle?

9. What are signs that your strategy is off?

10. What’s Jackie’s best piece of career advice?

11. Why is it smart to join a big company?

12. What are some of the most common mistakes PMs make early in their career?

13. What is the one thing Jackie thinks every PM should do regardless of their level?

Where to find Jackie:

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jackiebo 

- Books: Cracking the PM Interview and Cracking the PM Career: https://amzn.to/3If6X9U

- Medium: ​​https://jackiebo.medium.com


- Jackie’s book rec: Getting Things Done, by David Allen

- Current favorite app, Paprika: https://www.paprikaapp.com

- Favorite Twitter: https://twitter.com/hels 

- PEARL framework: https://jackiebo.medium.com/interview-tips-for-senior-pms-2424f7b7c967

- Eigenquestions: https://coda.io/@shishir/eigenquestions-the-art-of-framing-problems

Thank you to our amazing sponsors:

Flatfile: www.flatfile.com/lenny

Amplitude: www.amplitude.com

PostHog: www.posthog.com/lenny

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 16, 2022
Gokul Rajaram on designing your product development process, when and how to hire your first PM, a playbook for hiring leaders, getting ahead in you career, how to get started angel investing, more
Gokul Rajaram serves on the executive team at DoorDash, where he leads the Caviar product line. Previously he worked at Square, where he was also on the executive team and led a number of key product lines, and as a product director at Facebook, where he helped the company transition its advertising business to become mobile-first. Earlier in his career, Gokul was a product director for Google AdSense, where he helped launch the product and grow it into a substantial portion of Google’s business.

Gokul also serves on the boards of Coinbase, Pinterest, and The Trade Desk and is a prolific angel investor, having invested in companies like Airtable, Khatabook, and 100+ more.

In this episode, you will learn:

1. How to navigate your next career

- What should you focus on in order to improve your optionality?

- What should you consider as you look for your next career adventure?

- Why join winners in a space?

- Why should people entering the workforce join mid-stage companies?

- Why there are many paths to success.

2. How to build a product development process at early-stage companies

- What does the best product development process typically look like at different company stages? 

- What are some common pitfalls when building these processes?

3. Hiring PMs

- When should you hire your first PM? What should you look for?

- When should you wait longer to hire a PM?

- What’s the number one secret for hiring a product leader, regardless of industry? 

- How much time should you allocate for hiring as a founder?

- How might job titles impact your company’s work culture?

4. How to start angel investing 

- How did Gokul start investing in startups? What would he have done differently?

- What does he look for in a startup pitch? 

- How much time should you spend as a part-time investor? 

- How do you find deals as a new investor?

Where to find Gokul:

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/gokulr 


- Gokul’s current favorite app, Coinbase Wallet: https://www.coinbase.com/wallet 

- Favorite book, Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works: https://rogerlmartin.com/lets-read/playing-to-win 

- TED talk: TEDxConcordia - Lenny Rachitsky - Losing Serendipity 

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

Amplitude: https://amplitude.com/

Flatfile: https://flatfile.com/Lenny

• Productboard: https://Productboard.com/

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 13, 2022
April Dunford on product positioning, segmentation, and optimizing your sales process
April Dunford is the author of the best-selling book Obviously Awesome, a definitive guide to product positioning. She spent 25 years leading marketing, product, and sales teams and now runs her own consulting firm, helping companies of all shapes and sizes nail their positioning. April has worked hands-on with over 200 companies on positioning, including Google, IBM, Postman, and Epic Games.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn:

1. How does April define positioning?

2. How do you assess if your product’s positioning is weak? And strong?

3. What are some examples of great products with weak positioning?

4. What are the essential five steps to figuring out your product’s positioning?

5. What is the difference between positioning vs. messaging vs. branding?

6. What’s the difference between segmentation and persona?

7. When should you bring in a professional? 

8. Is it essential for a company to always figure out a differentiator and be different?

9. How does this concept help you nail sales for enterprise software?

Where to find April:

Website: https://aprildunford.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aprildunford 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprildunford 

Book: Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It 

April’s guest post: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/positioning

Thank you to our sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Amplitude: https://amplitude.com/

• Flatfile: https://flatfile.com/Lenny

• Productboard: https://Productboard.com/

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 09, 2022
Shreyas Doshi on pre-mortems, the LNO framework, the three levels of product work, why most execution problems are strategy problems, and ROI vs. opportunity cost thinking
Shreyas Doshi is a treasure trove of knowledge and tactical insights on product, strategy, psychology, leadership, and life. Over the course of his career, he’s PM’d at Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and Stripe, where he joined as its fourth product manager, later becoming Stripe’s first PM manager and helping define and grow its product management function (from ~5 to more than 50 people). Since leaving Stripe, Shreyas has amassed a huge Twitter following in large part thanks to consistent sharing of high-quality insights on the art of product management.

In this episode, we’ll explore five big ideas from Shreyas Doshi:

1) How to predict and prevent problems with pre-mortems

How did pre-mortem meetings impact the culture at Stripe?

What are the best practices in running a pre-mortem meeting?

2) How to prioritize your time with the LNO framework

What is the LNO framework? How did it change the way Shreyas went about his day?

What is the two-step tactic you can apply to overcome procrastination on important tasks? 

3) The three levels of product work

What are the three levels of product work? Which level should you optimize for?

How might these product work levels cause conflict or influence your company culture?

4) Most execution problems are not really execution problems 

What are the common types of problems hiding behind the execution label? 

What are the two traits you need to identify a fake execution problem?

5) Why ROI thinking is detrimental to product planning

What is the pitfall of ROI thinking?

What is opportunity-cost thinking and how can you apply it?


Coda template: https://coda.io/@shreyas/pre-mortems-how-a-stripe-product-manager-predicts-prevents-probl

Pre-mortems: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1221257568510603264

LNO framework: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1492345184171945984

Three levels of product work: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1370248637842812936

Execution problems: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1427116991274307588

Opportunity-cost thinking: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1409726218438549514

High agency: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1276956836856393728

Where to find Shreyas:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shreyas

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreyasdoshi/

Our amazing sponsors:

Coda: https://coda.io/lenny

Productboard: https://www.productboard.com/

Sprig: https://sprig.com/lenny

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 07, 2022
Julie Zhuo on accelerating your career, impostor syndrome, writing, building product sense, using intuition vs. data, hiring designers, and moving into management
Julie Zhuo is the co-founder of Sundial, a company that helps builders make meaningful use of data to fulfill their mission. With over 400K followers across social media, she is one of the most influential leaders in product design, and product thinking broadly.

Julie started her career at Facebook as a product designer and eventually led teams of 100+ designers as the VP of Design. Her experience leading at Facebook motivated her to publish the Wall Street Journal best seller The Making of a Manager in 2019. On the side, Julie shared her thoughts on technology, design, and leadership in The Looking Glass, the blog that inspired Lenny’s Newsletter.

In this episode, you will learn about:

1) The making of a VP

How did Julie find her way to product design? 

How did she navigate through impostor syndrome given the growing responsibilities as Facebook rapidly scaled? 

What are the challenges she faces as she transitions from VP to founder? 

2) The impact and habit of writing

What goals was Julie able to achieve through writing?

What did she do to build a habit of writing?

Does she think tweeting is better than blogging?

3) How to develop product sense and make better design decisions

What are the three tried-and-true steps to develop product sense?

When do you choose intuition over data?

What’s the secret to facilitating great product/design review meetings?

3) How to take your first steps into management

What can you do to unblock your path to become a manager?

What’s the must-know trick in competing for design talent?

Where to find Julie:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-zhuo/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/joulee

Sundial: sundial.so

Book: The Making of a Manager, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079WNPRL2/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

Substack: https://lg.substack.com/

Medium: https://medium.com/the-year-of-the-looking-glass

Our amazing sponsors:

Amplitude: https://amplitude.com/

Productboard: https://www.productboard.com/

Sprig: https://sprig.com/lenny

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 07, 2022
Welcome to my new podcast!
Welcome to the very first episode of Lenny’s Podcast!

Every week, Lenny Rachitsky will interview world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Jun 05, 2022