Tag Archives: Mark Zuckerberg

Product Guy – hear your friends

basset shutterstock 600pxSome people hear but don’t really listen. That’s bad and can feel disrespectful. But for great product making, even bigger risk is a Product Guy that listens but doesn’t really hear.

Intelligent people blessed with great memorization skills, high career motivation and access to modern training courses can be trained to become extremely good ‘literal listeners’. Like the Stepford wives, they maintain eye contact, address you by your first name, bake in your words to their sentences, hold back from being negative or combative, suggest constructive actions, and make a great summary at the end. In short, they really make you feel like they ‘get’ you.

Except that absolutely nothing in their thinking, values, behaviors or actions really changes because of what you say.

That ‘sales push mode’ can be really dangerous. Because sometimes the only important takeaway from the customer feedback is that the consumer pretty much hates everything in the product, even if she never said those exact words, and even if only one (by the way, highly fixable) feature was transcripted as an epic fail.

All feedback matters, but some matters more. The Product Guy should especially hear out people with a vested interest with them. Those friends (Note: I am using the zuckerbergian definition of the word) can be voluntary pilot users, soulmate colleagues from other teams, or sales guys whose own success is dependent on the competitiveness of the product. Apart from the signs of Stockholm Syndrome in distressed times (“I am held hostage to loving this product, because it is my only way out of this mess”), it is these people who can be counted on to take the extra time to go beyond the quick & easy, anecdotal, literal comments, and tell how they truly feel.

And then, as counterintuitive as it sounds, sometimes three words (“I hear you”) and doing something differently is a better answer than a detailed, well-rehearsed point-by-point rebuttal.


Happened in the previous episodes of Product Guy series:

Stay tuned for the next episode: Product guy – eat a lot of dogfood


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Product guy – dream living other people’s lives

shutterstock_95792512 dreaming 600pxDoes Product Guy need to be of the target audience? Can a bald guy sell shampoo? Does the baby food product manager need to wear a bib at breakfast? But on the other hand, should golf companies only hire lousy golfers as product managers to ensure they really know how their hacker customers feel after pulling two identical hooks to the wrong fairway?

Tough ones. No wonder that in the post-Steve Jobs era, there is no clear-cut answer to this eternal question that was perhaps the most asked one, when I collected input for this Product Guy series.

What matters is the passion for the product and the people who use it. That passion can come from within one’s own life, but interestingly, it can equally arise from having the imagination and the curiosity about other people’s lives (note: If this feels too creepy or outer space now, take a breather and read something tangible, like Facebook Graph API documentation)

So when the life is too short to develop a new skill – like a consistent golf swing – Product Guy should focus on trying to understand how it feels for those who have it.

The ultimate stage of dreaming to live other people’s lives is what happened to Jesse Eisenberg. He went to see basketball in London Olympics and was introduced in the TV broadcast as Mark Zuckerberg. And he probably can’t code at all.

For the record, I am so rooting for Ashton Kutcher to be able to pull off the same.


Happened in the previous episodes of Product Guy series:

Stay tuned for the next episode: Product guy – understand your levers


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