Knowing your audience, defining who, what, where.
Hey there! Hope everyone is closing up another successful quarter despite all the volatility.
I wrote this post thinking about a recurring skill I see among my top performing colleagues: Storytelling.
Great programmers push amazing code. Outstanding Product Managers push thoughtful, cohesive narratives. As we ship, shape and sync product (thanks Lenny!) it's important to remember the glue that connects them all: At any given time you're taking in stories, weaving them together and writing new ones.
For simplicity's sake, let's first agree on what make good storytelling:
Making it personal and cohesive: clear definition of the protagonist. What does a day in the life of the protagonist look like? What challenges? What's the protagonists goal?
Engaging: Memorable stories are those that resonate, take interesting turns.
…and finally: Knowing your audience (relevant for shipping product as well)
Stories as an input
As a PM you're constantly dealing with a barrage of inputs. Stakeholder requests, running interviews with High (and low!) NPS users, combing through the data... the amount of data that flows in is never ending, and it's up to the PM to digest and connect them all into a new and cohesive storyline.
The stakeholders are submitting a story (vision), your clients are telling you theirs, engineering is worried about something… and all of this has to fit together with the story the business tells itself every quarter.
Stories as part of your process
We've taken in several different inputs and it's now time to create a new story that takes in each input. As a product manager you are constantly shipping communication. How well you can prioritize and find commonalities between the inputs is possibly the most important muscle you can develop.
At this stage you are essentially shaping your storyline as multi-dimensional art. You're taking in different stories, creating a cohesive narrative, and shifting emphasis on the protagonists, the challenges and goals.
Stories as an output
Taking that newly created storyline (business, vision, customer, strategy, engineering demands…) and now we have to be able to slice it in complexity. What's the best way to communicate this story to engineering? to marketing? to design?
As Product's champion it is your job to communicate well, and this means being able to know where to emphasize and where to skim according to your audience.
Know your audience, and adjust the story accordingly.
When I was a kid, our teacher brought over comic book panels and had us try and sort them in a way that made sense. This is essentially what we're doing all the time. We're trying to understand our user's story and find out how our product is going to fit in our user's life. It's important we are honest with ourselves the entire time, Fareed Mosavat has a great piece on this called Stop trying to make the user do things).
Much of your output is communication. Communicating as a story means you know your audience (who'll be consuming your narrative), the protagonist is, what their challenges are, where they are and where they want to go.
OKRs, PRDs, Customer Interview docs… these are all communication/story telling tools.
If we go down enough to first principles, everything in great communication is great storytelling.
As always, if any questions popped up feel free to reach out. I'd be happy to help!
🌍 Cool links from around the web
Regarding the “Doom and gloom” in tech:
How this ends - < 5 min read
Tightening the money supply + rising interest rates + ~13 year long bull run + outrageous rounds in 2021…. Seems like 18 months is the mostly commonly speculated timeframe until things get back to “normal”.
👩💻 Great Product posts
Casey’s Guide to Finding Product/Market Fit - ~15 mins
Casey is one my favorite minds in Product, and I recently powered through his excellent course on Product Strategy. In this article Casey goes through a recurring theme for every Product Manager doing 0-1 work: “What's the path to Product/Market Fit?". He gives a great rundown using by balancing two very opposing lenses. How much should we rely on vision vs market feedback?
Your product is a joke - ~5 min read
Wish I had written this :)
Amogh breaks down what makes successful improv comedy. Turns out it's a lot like building product. Touches really nicely on Casey's article posted above.
Want a killer product? Become more opinionated - 5 min read
Turns out you can unbundle large established products, opinionate and become a billion dollar company (see Notion, Airtable…).
A highly opinionated product is the secret to carving out space in the market.
3 ways to avoid a job change misstep - 5 mins
Been reading loads of these recently. Turns out there's a lot of answers to the famed interview question “We're almost out of time, do you have any questions for me?”
The Product Paradox - 5 mins listen
Ibrahim hits the nail in the head by describing product as a multiplier effect in a “cross functional cocktail”. Once again, empathy is key
🤯 Strange world
Inside Latin America’s Creator Economy: Rich in Influence, Poor in Cash - ~15 min read
Im always excited to read up on Julio's findings. I won't spoil this one for you, so I'll just hit you with the opening line:
14 hours and 40 minutes.
That’s the average daily media consumption in Latin America—the highest in the world, according to a recent GWI survey. In addition, Latin America tops the charts for internet usage: the average Brazilian spends more than 10 hours a day online (three hours longer than the global average). And 88 percent of Latin American internet users use social media, compared to 73 percent in North America.
An exciting time and place to build for the creator economy.
Grace Chi wrote a post with a similar vibe around Chinese Social Media. You can check it out here
Big Wind is the meanest firefighting tank you ever saw - < 10 min
The Soviet Union developed a really innovative way of fighting large fires. By bolting on MiG-15 jet engines and gigantic water nozzles, Big Wind could get dangerously close to large oil well fires and put them out. So close that each crew member got their own dead-man switch. 👀
Can growth continue? - 5 min read
Over the past centuries humanity has worried running out of farm land, oil, coal.. you name it. By flipping the concern for overpopulation into… underpopulation, Jason makes a compelling case for human innovation.
Shreyas’ excellent 11 tweet thread on how to evaluate a company based on their employees.
That's it for this edition 😉
What would you like to see more? less? Hit `Reply` with a specific question on product, growth or anything startup related and i'll be happy to offer my candid thoughts. 🚀