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Pragmatic Marketing

You Might Be a Product Manager If…

Since we at Pragmatic Marketing just released our 2010 Product Management Survey, the time is right to revist one of my favorite topics: You Might Be a Product Manager If…  In the spirit of the American comedian Jeff Foxworthy (“You Might Be a Redneck If…”), this year, product managers around the world contributed to the #YMBAPMI list over Twitter, LinkedIn, and this blog.  And the results were excellent.  So without further ado, I present the 2011 list:

You Might Be a Product Manager If…

  • … you count number of iPads, iPhone4s, and/or Droids you see traveling, and consider how that compares to your hometown. @cheubaum
  • …you have a #roadmap for Thanksgiving. #prodmgmt @barbaragnelson
  • …the bartender in the Admiral’s Club knows you by first name.
  • …you only buy clothing that has multiple use cases @austinogilvie
  • …time with family at holidays is rationed in FAB order? :) @johnpeltier
  • …you have “elite” status with >2 airlines and >3 hotel chains.
  • …you know how to skip straight to a certain slide # in PowerPoint without leaving presentation mode (hint: type the slide # and hit enter).
  • …your spouse can rattle off the kill points for each of your top competitors…
  • By virtue of my surname, I would like to bend this a bit…You might be a REDNECK product manager if you’ve ever looked at a piece of blue tarp and thought to yourself, “Now THERE is some great product packaging!”  – Jim Foxworthy
  • …you find yourself tackling home improvement projects in terms of buy, build or partner, “Should I do that myself? Should I outsource it? Or maybe I can just use someone else’s?” – Charity Mason
  • …you know how to challenge development’s first response of “that is not possible” or “that is not how users would use it” @gopalshenoy
  • …you can look at something and quickly Roadmap the next two releases.  – Ratul Shah
  • …you’ve plotted a strategy matrix for your love life.
  • …you look at common everyday products (think broom, backpack, stapler, etc.) and immediately think about what the requirements would be for the existing product and usability improvements for version 2.0, 3.0, etc. (Broom 3.0: knows when the floor needs to be swept, sweeps it, empties dustpan, puts itself back in the broom closet, plugs itself into the outlet to recharge.)  – Irina Doliov
  • …you refer to your kids as “release 1.0,” “release 2.0,” etc!
  • …you look at your child’s stuffed Eeyore toy, saw how the tail was attached and thought “wow, some product manager must have had to fight with engineering to get that extra feature”, and then wondered what the COGs impact was. – Christina Hausman
  • …you make all your personal decisions in Excel with multiple scenarios to go over with your wife.  – Kirk Sadler
  • …when trying to figure out how to use a new product you’re thinking, they must have missed the usability requirements.  – Lynn Sigler
  • …you ask your kids “what problem are you trying to solve?” when they ask for a new toy…
  • …you are an expert at herding cats @gopalshenoy
  • …you ask your spouse what they consider to be your distinctive competence. (credit: John Milburn)
  • .. you’ve set up individual buy-in meetings with each member of your family before making a big family vacation/purchase/etc decision and have them all do what you wanted them to do without any of them knowing it! – Melanie Curtiss
  • …you wish Amazon presented an ROI argument for buying Amazon Prime. :) – Jon Guild
  • …you are thinking about your own “customer requirements” as your kids pick out a new pet. – David Critchley
  • …you might be a Rural product manager if you stack rank your firewood. – Scott Overhill
  • …when awoken in the middle of the night, you roll over and mumble “It’s on the roadmap” – Mathew Lodge
  • …it’s dangerous to get between you and the white board – Mathew Lodge
  • …you realize that you can’t keep everybody happy and some decisions are just tough to make. It is normal. @annua
  • …u know that ever changing priorities is like the New Eng weather. If u don’t like it, just wait & it will soon change again. @gopalshenoy
  • …when 11 y/o wants a tree house, you ask “What are your requirements ?” @DigitalDon
  • …you discuss WHY you make each decision in your home remodeling project and use it to resolve stakeholder disagreements @sehlhorst
  • …you use the word ‘feasible’ when asked a yes or no question #prodmgmt @rattay
  • …you have a 100 to 1 ratio of ideas to resources and get interrupted every hour with new ideas to add to the list #prodmgmt @rattay
  • …you can stack rank your children.

Apologies if I missed anyone’s contribution, we had a lot of great entries this year!

Participate in the World’s Largest Product Management and Marketing Survey

Pragmatic Marketing is running our 11th annual “state-of-the-profession” survey for product management and marketing professionals. Completing the survey only takes a few minutes, and you’ll get valuable data on where you stack up against the rest of the product management community with regard to experience, salary and bonus, hours spent in meetings, emails sent and received, and time spent on strategic and tactical activities. Full results are typically published in January.

You can also see the results of past surveys.

Ride the Pipeline

Pipeline 2010If you’re a regular reader of this space, you know that I don’t write plug articles.  In fact, I regularly turn down authors and PR people who try to buy or bribe space here.  It’s not that this blog is a super-hot spot for eyeballs (it’s not), it’s that the people who come here are strong product leaders that others want to reach.  I respect that and try to honor your time by only writing about products or events I have personal experience with, like ProductCamp.  Today I am going to take a little bit of a flyer and get behind something new because I know the people involved and its potential to be great: Pipeline 2010.

Pipeline is a virtual conference about innovation, product development, and portfolio management best practices.  Like ProductCamp, it’s free to attend.  You attend from your computer and can view several different speakers on a variety of topics, including Chris Trimble, Braden Kelley, and my friend and fellow Pragmatic Marketing instructor John Milburn.  You can pick and choose from the topics you view and you’re not locked into a day and out for travel and other expenses.   It’s nice to see a corporate conference get smart about the reality of our budgets for travel and expenses in the current economy, and even better to see them picking up some un-conference principles like unstructured scheduling.  I will be interested to see if and how the virtual conference addresses the networking aspect – how do I interact with and meet the interesting people I would have met at the coffee station?  How do I corner a keynote speaker in the hallway after their talk to drill down on a point they made?  I’ll report back on these.

Planview is the company behind Pipeline 2010.  They are good people and have sponsored ProductCamp Austin for the past year, along with lending the wonderful Audrey Montgomery to the PCA planning team for logistics and volunteers.

Pipeline 2010 will be held online on November 10, 2010 from 8AM – 3PM CST, you can register here.

A Big Announcement!

For the past two years, I have worked in the software-as-a-service team at Dell, managing a team of product managers.  We’ve been plotting the strategy for Dell to make the transition from a hardware-based company to a mixed hardware/software/services company.  It’s been a fun, challenging, rewarding role.  Last week I accepted a new role, one that I am very excited to do and that will allow me to go out and hopefully meet more of you face-to-face.

Through involvement in events like ProductCamp, as well as mentoring and teaching product management in my own roles, I have learned that I enjoy and am good at the teaching side of the job.  For that reason, I’m excited to announce that I will be joining the creators of the world’s most popular product management and marketing training: Pragmatic Marketing!  I will be an instructor at Pragmatic Marketing, traveling the world helping product managers and marketers learn to be more effective.  If you have been to one of their seminars, or have implemented their framework at your company, you know that their message of being market-driven and empowering product managers is absolutely essential for success.

As a side effect of this change, you should start to see a few more posts in this space.  I will provide a lot of credit to Dell as a company for being very progressive about their blogger policy.  However, this blog became a victim of its own success, and enough people at Dell knew me and read this space that it became difficult to write, even when keeping situations semi-anonymous.  I now appreciate the CrankyPM that much more.

There are a lot of smart people at Pragmatic Marketing that you should be reading, I will list a few of them here:

ProductCamp Wrap-up, and Introducing ProductPotluck!

Another ProductCamp Austin has come and gone – Austin’s third.  If you haven’t participated in, or planned a ProductCamp in your city, there really are no excuses left.  ProductCamp has proven itself to be the ultimate grassroots gathering for Product Management, Product Marketing, and Marketing pros anywhere.  Austin’s third edition had a some valuable highlights:

  • Participation continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  The first PCA, we had 90 show up.  The second, 160.  The third – over 300!  In just over a year, we’ve experienced over 300%+ growth.  Many businesses would be envious of that kind of growth.
  • We’ve managed to maintain the spirit and character of the event as we grow it.  We do a post-camp survey after each event, and for the third consecutive time, our “customer sat” metrics were off the charts great.  98% of our participants would recommend ProductCamp to a peer.  For the third PCA in a row, we scored a perfect 100% on the question “Would you come to ProductCamp again?”  That is a testament to the team we’ve grown around this event.
  • Sponsorship is increasing.  We run ProductCamp on a shoestring budget – less than $10,000 not included donations such as venue.  In the beginning, we had a big sales job to get national level sponsors like AIPMM and Pragmatic Marketing interested.  Now, all of the major national product management sponsors are involved: Pragmatic, ZigZag, and Sequent Learning.  Local companies such as SolarWinds and AustinVentures are also taking notice.  SolarWinds used ProductCamp as a recruiting tool – it makes sense, since only the most motivated, passionate people are going to give up a Saturday to geek on on Product Management topics with their peers.
  • We’ve (re)validated Austin’s corner of the world.  Austin’s tech community has always perplexed me.  There are so many of us here, and we are so disconnected.  Austin doesn’t have the pulse that Silicon Valley has, and we definitely don’t have the density.  We do have passion and strong leaders in spades.  This third PCA proved that we can drive huge turnout here, and outside of the Valley can claim to put on the biggest ‘Camp.
  • ProductCamp is spawning leaders and building a critical mass.  We’ve built a great core team: people like Colleen Heubaum, Mark Suchanek, Bertrand Hazard, John Peltier, John Milburn, Roger Cauvin, and Scott Sehlhorst (and many others) have all contributed to the planning and execution of multiple ProductCamps.  This team makes me believe that we have established momentum.  It will be exciting to see the next generation of leaders step up, and the established team can work with them and mentor them to keep ProductCamp fresh and exciting.

Gaining critical mass has been a huge undertaking for ProductCamp Austin.  Setting up and tearing down the leadership for each event, twice per year, is a massive undertaking in manpower and logistics.  One consitent piece of feedback that we’ve heard from the ProductCamp participants is that they would like to continue the ProductCamp experience between the semi-annual ‘Camps.  In Austin, we don’t have a strong central Product Management and Marketing networking group like in other areas of the country.  That does not mean that we have to settle!

To fill the gaps between ProductCamps, the team that brought you ProductCamp Austin is introducing a new flavor of the ProductCamp experience: ProductPotluck Austin.  ProductPotluck is a mini-version of ProductCamp: instead of an all day event, it will be a happy hour plus a one hour session.  Instead of many topic areas and dozens of potential presentations, ProductPotluck will have 2 topic areas of focus, and a handful of potential presentations (or roundtables, panel discussions, or workshops).  Just like ProductCamp, ProductPotluck is by and for the participants – we will still have participants voting on which sessions make “the cut,” and the majority of sessions will be offered by the participants themselves (we’re leaving a little wiggle room to bring in distinguished guests, too).  We’ll cap the whole thing off by providing more time for drinking and networking, which is always popular.  As always, ProductPotluck is FREE; your only cost is your participation.

Austin’s first ProductPotluck will be October 21st, at the AT&T Conference Center near the University of Texas campus.

Happy Hour will be in Gabriel’s Cafe, which is located in the lower lobby (Level LL), to the north inside the University Avenue entrance.

ProductPotluck Sessions will be held in Classrooms 101 and 103.

Parking is available in the AT&T Center underground parking lot.  Pay for parking in Gabriel’s Café during Happy Hour and receive the $7 discounted rate.

1900 University Avenue
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 404-1900


5:30-6:30pm  Sign-in, Networking Happy Hour, Final Sessions Voting – Gabriel’s Café

6:45-8:00pm Marketing and Product Strategy Presentations – Classrooms 101 & 103

8:00pm -?? Networking Happy Hour – Gabriel’s Café

The two topics we will focus on this month are: Marketing and Product Strategy.

In true ProductCamp spirit, the participants determine which sessions are ultimately presented. Here’s how it will work: five Sessions have been submitted for voting consideration.  See the PPA wiki for detailed descriptions of each Session.


  • Applying buyer personas to marketing strategy – Mike Boudreaux
  • Top 10 Ways to Use Facebook to Promote your Business – Christopher Sherrod
  • Error 404: The Panel You Are Looking For Does Not Exist – Jonathan Gesinger, Alex Jones, Amanda McGuckin Hager, Jason Sugawa

Product Strategy

  • Help! I work for an engineer who knows nothing about Product Strategy – Jeffrey Eversmann
  • From customer centric design to customer centric marketing to customer centric companies (Enterprise 2.5?) – Andreas Voss

At the PPA October 21 meeting, the five sessions will “face off” during the 5:30-6:30pm networking Happy Hour in Gabriel’s Café.  Each participant will be given one vote to place on the session of their choice.  The top session in each category will be announced and will run in parallel in Classrooms 101 and 103.

To get all of the details, please go to the ProductPotluck wiki.  We’re looking forward to seeing you on the 21st!

Tuning Into Your Market

Last Month at ProductCamp, I had the privilege to work with some of the great team from Pragmatic Marketing, like Graham Joyce and John Milburn. They were kind enough to give me an advance copy of the new book from Craig Stull, Phil Myers, and David Meerman Scott entitled Tuned In. After reading it cover-to-cover, I can recommend it as a great resource and vehicle for the message that Pragmatic Marketing has carried for years.

The whole point of Tuned In is that there is a better way of developing products and services, and better products and services to be developed if only we listen to and understand our customers. This message will sound very familiar to anyone who has been to a Pragmatic Marketing training, or who has read their blogs. It is deceptively simple, and it sounds so easy – why wouldn’t you talk to your customers? Yet, most companies don’t.

Tuned In puts a wrapper around everything that Pragmatic Marketing teaches in their trainings, and David Meerman Scott’s message about how to talk with customers dovetails well with developing products that make sense.

My biggest beef with Pragmatic Marketing has always been that they are too theoretical, and that “the matrix” is academic. That theory means that you leave the training with a head full of good ideas about what you should be doing, but few ideas on how you should be doing it (e.g. connecting with customers, getting buy in from Executives, etc). My favorite part about Tuned In is that they start to break down these walls with some really great examples of putting the process to work “on the ground.”

Tuned In is not a how-to manual, but a good reference for you to refer to when you want to refresh what you learned. I’d also recommend handing it off to a skeptical Executive – my copy was just over 200 pages and I nearly finished it on a round-trip flight from Austin to Vegas, so you may be able to fit it within their attention span.

Some of the greatest ideas are great because they are obvious – or rather, they feel obvious after you’re exposed to them. The ideas presented in Tuned In are obvious and presented in such a “smack your forehead” way that makes you wonder why you didn’t tie them all together yourself. The mantra of know thy customer is real, is powerful, and is true. Reading Tuned In will get you re-energized, and it could be the spark that you need to get more budget, headcount, or political support – or more importantly, what helps you turn your product or company into a market winner.

On a side note, I’m going to try hard to keep Product Beautiful active over the next few months. I just started a new job and we have our first child coming any day now, so time for posting may be reduced. If any of you would like to guest blog on Product Beautiful, please drop me an email at to let me know – I’d love your help!

Announcing ProductCamp Austin!

ProductCamp AustinI’m happy to announce that we are going to be running Austin’s first ProductCamp. Much like BarCamp, ProductCamp is a collaborative, user run event, except where BarCamp is often focused around topics interesting to Developers, ProductCamp will be focused Product Management and Marketing topics.

ProductCamp Austin will happen on Saturday June 14th. Right now we are lining up sponsors and venues, and are focused on planning and execution. We need your help. No ProductCamp or BarCamp can be planned by one person. Thankfully I already have several people who have raised their hands as willing to step in and help shoulder the load, like John Milburn, Roger Cauvin and Rob Grady. If you’re interested in being on the planning team, please sign up for the Google Group. Developing…

Updated: ProductCamp is proud to be sponsored by: Austin Ventures, Pragmatic Marketing, NetStreams, St. Edwards University Professional Education Center, and the Association of International Product Marketing and Management.