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ProductCamp Rules the World!

What started as an interesting idea, then grew into a wave, has now become a tsunami: ProductCamp is changing product management and marketing everywhere.  In just the first few months of 2011, there are ProductCamps scheduled in Austin, Vancouver, Atlanta, Boston, Silicon Valley, London, Dallas, and more.  ProductCamp has now spread to four continents (S. America, Africa, and Antarctica, we’re waiting on you).  If you live near a major metropolitan area, chances are there will be a ProductCamp near you.  Anyone in a product management role is officially out of excuses for missing one of these events.

ProductCamp is winning because it solves a real problem for product managers: we have traditionally poor access to “our people:”  people that do jobs like ours, think like us, and run into similar issues.  Most product managers know their peer product managers at their current company, and the dozen or so people they’ve met throughout their career.  If you’re lucky, your city has a local organizing group for product management and marketing, but these groups have spotty coverage and are of various quality.  If you don’t have access to this group, you’re forced to look elsewhere to network and learn.

On the other hand, if you are highly experienced, or have recently done something unique and want to share that experience with the world, your options are also limited.  You can start a blog – but writing isn’t everyone’s forte.  You might get invited to speak at a local marketing meeting…only to find that the audience is made up of more traditional brand management or marketing communications people who aren’t interested in what you are doing in product management.

ProductCamp solves both the consumer and the producer problem by bringing both parties together under the same roof.  Mixed in with solid networking and you get a volatile concoction of interesting people and insightful sessions that bubbles with energy for a day.  The kicker: it’s 100% free to the participants (for most camps).  ProductCamps around the world are now riding this formula to success.  We’re on the precipice of a golden age for product management, where our luminaries will be uplifted by our peers and companies will have a chance to recruit from the clear cream of the crop.

The best product management and marketing talent tend to show up at ProductCamps, for a few simple reasons.  First, the best people are interested in networking and learning from their peers.  Second, great product managers are often great presenters, and rarely get a chance to show their stuff to people who “get it,” and care.  You will find some amazing presentations from product managers and marketers at ProductCamp.  Third, people who suck at their jobs or just want to skate by generally aren’t interested in burning up a Saturday (when most camps are held) talking with other people about their jobs.  No one comes to ProductCamp because their boss made them do it.

Recently I had a chance to participate in both the inaugural Rocky Mountain ProductCamp and ProductCamp Austin 6.  Both were great experiences and I made dozens of new contacts and learned a lot.  Each camp brought new ideas to the table and showed how the ProductCamp template is evolving and changing.  For example: ProductCamp Austin is now on it’s sixth edition.  Rocky Mountain ProductCamp (RMPC) was on its first.  The organizing committee for RMPC had traveled to Austin for PCA5 and borrowed heavily from the Austin template: in-person voting, best session award, sponsorship levels.  RMPC also had new ideas, such as online streaming of certain sessions, which Austin duplicated.  Each event had its own local flavor, and received rave reviews from their participants.

At both RMPC and PCA6 I was selected by the voters to present in a session I titled “The Product Management X-Factor: How to be a Rock Star Product Manager.”  The idea behind this topic is that there is a set of personality traits and skills that are inherited and learned, which some product managers have figured out how to use in order to become more effective in their careers.  I was fortunate enough to win “Best Session” in Denver and “Best Session Runner Up” in Austin.  I will do some more in-depth posts on this topic later; what was interesting for this post was the level of engagement and involvement the crowds in both Austin and Denver.  I have received dozens of requests for follow-up and additional information based on two presentations.  If you are doing something interesting and want to interact with people on it, there is literally no where else you can go to hit such a targeted group of people.

The bottom line is: if you want to be a thought leader in product management today, you need to present in front of your peers at a ProductCamp.  It will be one of the most intense, but rewarding experiences of your career.  Hit me up in the comments or by email if you want some tips on how to make an effective ProductCamp presentation.

Hibernating an Idea

If you’re a type-A person, you believe that you can do anything.  If you’re innovative and entrepreneurial, and are crazy enough to believe you have the idea and drive to change the world in the form of a company, you might even qualify as insane.  However, there comes a time where you need to shut down an idea, even if you think it is still good, because you can’t make the time or energy to see it through.  That time for me is now.

Earlier this year I wrote a little about a project that I had started on the side, which I called Leaf.  Leaf is a project I’ve had in my mind for several years, and continued to change it and develop it, even banging out a little code, until my wife finally said “if this idea is eating you up, you need to get serious about it or kill it.”  So I did – after thinking about it for a long time, I eventually hooked up with Kevin Koym and his team at TechRanch Austin, a local tech incubator.

TechRanch was running an 8-week crash course at the time called “Employee to Entrepreneur (now called Venture Forth).”  The premise of the class was how do you go from idea to implementation and make the move from being an employee to running your own business.  Each of the dozen or so people in the class had different ideas and were at different stages of development.  The class was eye opening: I was doing it wrong.  We all gravitate towards our comfort zone, and in my case I was trying to scratch an itch myself and write my own code, not following my own advice and being the President of my product (or company, for that matter).  Most startups don’t make it past the idea phase, let alone get funded, and I was falling into that trap.  After the idea phase, most companies fail to focus enough – the second trap I fell into.  I can’t lavish enough praise on the TechRanch team, they know what they are doing and if you’re in the Central Texas area I encourage you to become a rancher – they have lots of free and low-cost options for you to engage with their community.

I invested a good deal of time and money in hatching an alpha version of my idea as an experiment to see if it had legs.  To get out of my own way I even hired an (excellent) prototyper in Ninth Yard to build it for me so I could focus on the product management.  Damon (my developer) would tell you that he probably thought I was crazy because most entrepreneurs don’t come to the first meeting sporting wireframes and database maps.  I did.

We had an intense period of time where we had the idea under development, going through revisions and ultimately unveiling it at ProductCamp Austin.  That created some controversy, but ended up for the best.  The idea had some traction and a couple hundred people got online and tried it out.  I ended up learning a ton and have a list a mile long of what needs to change, both in the product and the positioning.  Unfortunately, that list is as far as those ideas will probably go.

Effective immediately, I’m mothballing Leaf .  I’ve found that with two kids and a new role, I have a time deficit.   Leaf might be something someday…or not, odds are against it.  It’s easy to be envious of the 20-year old zillionaires that had “obvious” ideas and got there first.  However, I’m not envious (OK, maybe a little), because I learned a ton in my failure.  “The Idea” is necessary but not sufficient for success.  That is one of those sayings that seems obvious from the outside but when you’re holding the idea that you think will change The World it rings hollow.  Execution, talent, and quick traction are equally if not more important than your idea – because rarely will your idea end up as you originally envisioned it.

If you tried out Leaf during its brief lifetime, thanks!  Hopefully some day it will return, more tightly focused and helping you do something you need.   Until then, it is in hibernation.

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.

Too Hot for TV! BANNED from ProductCamp!

We recently completed Austin’s fourth ProductCamp about 10 days ago.  I’m always humbled by the PCA planning team and the volunteers that step up to make ProductCamp Austin awesome.  Because of ProductCamp Austin, many other leaders in other cities have been inspired to make a camp happen in their own city, and we’ve helped at least a dozen other camps get off the ground.  Many people have approached me over the last few events to tell me that they consider Austin to be the best ProductCamp they’ve ever participated in.

PCA Spring had about 200 people participate and about 40 sessions offered for 30 available slots.  The voting in the morning went really well, and for the first time, we rolled out a mobile version of the schedule that people could pull up on their iPhones so we could reduce the mob around the schedule wall after the intro session.  The feedback on that app was very positive and it really helped.  Thanks again to Common Sense for developing it!  As usual, we had sessions on every product management and product marketing topic imaginable, from product strategy to social networking to product marketing.  My friend and colleague Josh Duncan won Best Presenter for his topic “Start with the Story.”  I even offered a session about my new venture, Leaf: more on that in a second.

By all accounts, PCA was another big success.  We’re doing the post-camp survey now, but over the past 3 camps we’ve run, over 99% of the respondents say that they would come back to ProductCamp again and that they would recommend ProductCamp to a peer.  Many people also remarked to me and to the planning team that the quality of the sessions was very high at this ProductCamp, relative to past camps.  Big kudos to Tom Evans for heading up the sessions team and recruiting great session leaders.

There has been a lot of drama recently surrounding ProductCamp.  I generated some controversy with my session “Leaf is Launching.”  Leaf is a social productivity tool that I am creating on my own, outside of my day job.  In the weeks before ProductCamp, I hired a developer to create a prototype and get it to a beta state so that I could launch it at ProductCamp.  My hope was to spend the first half of the session explaining the app, what problem it solved, and why I was doing it, and offer it (free) for use by a potential target audience.  Then to spend the second half discussing potential marketing avenues and strategies on a tight budget, to “crowdsource” the marketing.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it came across, and the fault is completely mine.  About 10 minutes in, one lady raised her hand and said that she felt like she was being “pitched” to, a strict no-no at ProductCamp.  I stumbled through the rest and ended up with a session that didn’t meet my expectations for excellence and I’m sure didn’t meet the desires of the people who came and participated.  For that I’m sorry.  I talked with a lot of people after the fact, trying to gauge how people perceived the session: was it a collaborative discussion, or was it a pitch?  The general themes of the people that I talked to were:

  • It was only half-a-pitch but if you had positioned it differently it would have been a non-issue
  • Yes it was a pitch but I like you personally so I didn’t take offense
  • Yes it was a pitch but I like the idea of that type of session and would like to see more in the future

As my old boss used to tell me, in Marketing, perception is reality.  So, it was a pitch, and that means that I broke the rules of presenting at ProductCamp.  Being a session leader at PCA is a privilege.  At the last PCA, we had around thirty session slots and almost sixty sessions offered!  That means that half of the people who prepared content went home without the opportunity to present.  It’s not good enough that I’ve built up enough goodwill that people might be willing to give me a pass.  Because I’m the founder of PCA, it’s even more important that I avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  If I can get away with pitching my own venture, how can I lead a team with a straight face to tell other presenters that they’re not allowed to do the same?

For all these reasons, I am banning myself for 1 year from offering a session at any ProductCamp Austin event (PCA, ProductPotluck, ProductParty).  I think that’s fair and is what I’d suggest for someone else that offered a pitch and was contrite and promised not to do it again.  If you don’t think that’s severe enough, feel free to leave your comment below.  This is painful; if you know me you’ll know that I’ve presented at each of the last four PCAs and that I love doing it.  I’ll continue to do the welcoming, but won’t be doing new sessions until Spring 2011.

In happier news, tonight we had our post-PCA wrapup, which is also our planning kickoff for PCA Fall 2010.  PCA Fall will be held on Aug 7th, 2010 at the AT&T Center.  We’re throwing down the gauntlet to Silicon Valley, and are going to claim the title of largest ProductCamp in the world!  It will be a tall order for little Austin to attract 550+ participants, but I believe we can do it!  Dallas, Houston, San Antonio – we need your help!

The PCA planning team is an amazing group.  We have had a consistent core team of about 10 people for the last year that have built up a great amount of institutional knowledge about what it takes to put on a ProductCamp event.  As a result of the excitement that PCA Spring just created, we about doubled the size of the planning team with interested new members.  If you’d like to join up, we’re happy to have you, just hop on the GoogleGroup and introduce yourself.  We will have in-person planning get-togethers roughly monthly.  I am really looking forward to seeing you contribute and influence the shape of ProductCamp Austin to come.


I meant to update this post a long time ago.  After talking with many of the people involved, I revised my self-imposed ban from “1 year” to “1 ProductCamp Austin.”  The net difference is about a month and a half in calander time.  If I had kept it at one year, I would have missed two PCA’s and the calander time missed would have been more like 18 months at least.  I believe that missing the opportunity to present at PCA Fall 2010, which was one of the largest ProductCamps in history anywhere, served the purpose and point that I was trying to make with my self-imposed exile: that no one is bigger than ProductCamp, even the founder/president.  Especially the founder/president.

ProductCamp remains stubbornly a “no-pitch” zone, and will remain so.  If you have a session like mine, which you believe may toe the edge of acceptability, I recommend strongly that you consult with the Sessions lead for your ProductCamp.  In Austin, that person is Tom Evans, and you can reach him at  Thanks!

ProductCamp Austin Spring 2010

ProductCamp Austin is back again! If you are or can get to Austin on March 27, 2010, we would love for you to join us at the AT&T Conference Center for Austin’s 4th ProductCamp. Keep reading for why this one will be our best yet…

First, the AT&T Conference Center are some amazing digs. This is probably the nicest place to ever host an unconference…probably too nice. The juxtaposition of our Winter 2009 camp (held in a trio of 40 year old TV studios) and this one will be interesting to watch. Also, the attached AT&T hotel is pitching in and donating a free weekend night’s stay to some lucky participant, by random draw.

Once again, our sponsors have stepped up to make things interesting. 280Group is busting onto the Austin scene in a big way in conjunction with PCA planning team member Tom Evans and his business Lûcrum Marketing. Pragmatic Marketing and ZigZag Marketing will be there, as always. Planview is a first time sponsor and will be bringing their newest product aimed at Product Managers, and even give away a copy, plus discount codes for everyone else!

The sessions and networking are the main reason that people keep coming back. Over three ProductCamps, we’ve achieved over 98% of participants answering “yes” to the questions “would you come back to ProductCamp” and “would you recommend ProductCamp to a peer?” This high customer satisfaction is why our local community loves to come out – in droves. Last time, we had over 500 sign up and over 300 participate. This time we are limited by our venue and won’t be able to hold more than 300 or so, so register today and reserve your space. It’s free of course.

Sessions are being actively submitted, and if you’re on the fence, just do it. Presenting at ProductCamp is a fun experience. These are “your people” and it is a great opportunity to practice your presentation and facilitation skills in front of friends in a collaborative, low pressure environment. Everyone is rooting for you. Session types include traditional presentations, round tables, panel discussions, workshops, and more. There are plenty of fun ways to contribute, and if you need ideas, please reach out.

We encourage participation for everyone as their “ticket to entry” to ProductCamp. If running a session isn’t your thing, let us know. There are lots of way to participate, such as being a volunteer. We always need people to take a bigger, more active roll in the advance planning, so join our planning team and raise your hand when called.

Finally, we will have a ProductCamp first – I am going to launch my new venture and product, Leaf. It is a social productivity tool that I’ll expand on in a separate post, and will open for a private beta in my session at ProductCamp. This session will be fun and collaborative, and everyone who comes will get a beta login. I can’t wait to meet you there.

Join us on March 27 and help us keep the ProductCamp community in Austin vibrant! Find me to say hi, I’ll be in the green shirt with a leaf on it.

Also check out:

ProductCamp Austin Twitter

ProductParty Austin

By now, many of you have been to ProductCamps in or around your city.  The ProductCamp brand has exploded – there have now been ProductCamps in well over a dozen U.S. cities, at least 3 countries, and 2 continents!  ProductCamp is an exciting, fun event that everyone should participate in, at least once.  As great as ProductCamp is, we have found some needs in the market that ProductCamp can’t meet effectively.

ProductCamp is a fairly large endeavour.  Participants give up a Saturday to learn from each other, to teach, and to network.  It’s a big investment.  We’ve settled on a twice per year schedule for ProductCamp Austin, and that seems to fit our community.  Austin is unique in that unlike the Bay Area, we do not have a strong Product Management and Marketing group to facilitate other face to face meetings.  ProductCamp is filling that need.

The first way is with ProductPotluck, which we introduced a little over a month ago.  ProductPotluck is a mini version of ProductCamp.  It is held on an evening, has only one session slot with two sessions to choose from, and is paired with a happy hour for networking.  It’s a low time commitment way to get the community together.

The second way we’re filling the need is with ProductParty.  ProductParty is a networking and fun event from the ProductCamp planning team, just focused on networking.  We’re going to get together at the AT&T center and have a few drinks, and some fun activities that will make you laugh, prime your creative juices, and help us get to know each other.  Get ready…for the Product Manager SMACKDOWN.

For the Product Manager Smackdown, we will get four teams of product managers and present them with a “mystery product.”  The PM’s will have 10 minutes to evaluate this “product” and then 5 minutes to deliver their best product pitch to the judges.  It will be funny, creative, and irreverent.

ProductParty will be held on Wed Dec 2, 2009 from 6-9PM, at Gabriel’s Bar at the AT&T Center next to the UT campus.

We hope that we’ll see you tomorrow night!  For all of the details, hit the ProductParty Austin page.

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!

ProductCamp Austin Summer 2009

ProductCamp Austin Summer 2009

ProductCamp, the free unconference for marketing and product management, is teaming with the McCombs School of Business to return to Austin for its Summer edition!  ProductCamp is a must-go event for marketing and product management professionals.  ProductCamp is a free, collaborative,  gathering for interesting, smart people to network and learn from one another.  ProductCamps have been held in Silicon Valley, Austin, Boston, New York City, Toronto, Atlanta, with more in the planning stages.  This is Austin’s third ProductCamp, and will be one of the largest in the country.  If you are in Austin, or can get here, ProductCamp will be well worth your time.

ProductCamp Overview

If you’ve never been to a ProductCamp before, you’ll need to wrap your brain around a few new concepts.  First, ProductCamp is an unconference, meaning that everyone participates in some way.  For some people, that means offering a traditional lecture style 1-hour session on a relevant topic.  For others, it might mean being on a discussion panel, facilitating a roundtable, participating in a workshop, helping with planning, volunteering for venue setup, doing marketing activities, or managing the budget.  At ProductCamp, there are no attendees, only participants. Second, there is no direct monetary cost for ProductCamp to the participants.  The only cost is your investment in time and effort.  Third, the trappings of a traditional conference are gone.  There is no keynote speech, no thinly veiled sales pitches, and very little B.S.  As a peer-to-peer event, ProductCampers bring their very best stuff – and we keep each other on our toes.  ProductCamp is sponsored by corporations who enjoy supporting the marketing and product management communities, and often offer sessions of their own.

How ProductCamp Works

The first thing you do is register.  You’ll fill out a form asking you how you want to participate and what topic areas are the most interesting to you.  Next, check out the ProductCamp Austin website, and list of sessions offered by people like you.  Based on what you marked, you’ll be contacted by one of the ProductCamp Austin planning team leads to get your help.  For people interested in Marketing, you’ll post about ProductCamp Austin to your blog, or retweet @PCAustin‘s tweets.  You’ll receive several emails over the next few weeks from the PCA Planning Team, and on the day of, you’ll stumble out of bed early on a Saturday to come to the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas for your first ProductCamp experience.

When you walk up for registration, you’ll receive a badge, some goodies, and three small stickers.  A volunteer will take you to a wall where all of the sessions being offered by your peers are listed; there may be dozens of them.  You’ll be asked to “vote” by placing your three stickers under the three sessions that interest you the most.  This helps the PCA Planning Team understand the interests of the group and assemble the schedule.  When you’re done, you can grab a coffee and head into the auditorium for the Intro session.

In the intro, I will explain to you what ProductCamp is all about, and we’ll play some icebreakers to set the tone for the day.  Soon, the schedule will be done and posted on the website and on the walls, and you’ll go to sessions throughout the day, stopping just to grab one of the box lunches we provide.

At 3PM, everyone gets back together for a quick closing session.  Then we head to the bar to burn through any extra budget we might have!

During the day, expect to network with a ton of people.  You’ll meet product managers, product marketers, social media experts, marketing greybeards, executives, startup junkies, big company people, developers, agile experts, finance and ops people, and everyone in between.  You may leave with a stack of business cards, and should bring a stack of your own to give away!

ProductCamp Austin Details

When: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where: The University Teaching Center (UTC) at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin (map)

Who: Anyone willing to participate!

How: Register Now! (space is limited)

Cost: FREE!

To learn more: ProductCamp Austin, Follow ProductCamp Austin on Twitter, ProductCamp Austin on Facebook

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

You Might Be a Product Manager If…

It’s time for the 2009 edition of Product Beautiful’s semi-annual “You Might Be a Product Manager If…” list.   Please add your own in the comments below.

You might be a Product Manager if:

  1. You’ve created a roadmap through 2015
  2. You can’t remember working less than 70 hours a week
  3. You’ve lost your hair (if you haven’t consider yourself warned!)
  4. At your annual customer summit, you stay late to setup and test products for the next day while Sales runs up a historic bar tab
  5. You used to be a programmer but were too extroverted
  6. You used to be a salesperson but were too introverted
  7. You use customer interview techniques with your spouse to discover the root cause of their problems so you can build a “solution” (”That’s interesting…tell me more!”<smack>)
  8. You wake up at night worried about getting your product’s feature-set right or hitting your ship date
  9. You find competitive and win-loss analysis fun (ugh, I can’t believe I just realized I find those things fun)
  10. You walk through the store and look at products thinking “what problem does that solve?”
  11. You do a SWOT analysis before making any major purchase
  12. The last thing you do before you go to bed and the first thing you do when you wake up is to check your email
  13. You’ve ever written “The System Shall…
  14. You never have less than five #1 priorities
  15. You’ve sat behind the one-way mirror at a focus group
  16. One or more of the following groups is pissed at you: Sales, Development, QA, Tech Support, Marketing, or Operations. Special bonus if you get all at once.
  17. You enjoy writing requirements that constrain easy way out from the Programmer.
  18. You’ve actually learned how to herd cats.
  19. You own an iPhone.
  20. You wonder how the iPhone product manager prioritized all the possible features.
  21. You wonder how many engineering hours it took to create a new feature in your favorite web app.
  22. You try to envision the next 3 design updates for any product you see.
  23. You think in Use Cases.
  24. You’re always looking for an alternative flow of events.
  25. You can’t live without OmniGraffle or Visio.
  26. You had to reset expectations with management, customers, engineering, and finance.
  27. You had to produce a WW product forecast for sales since they are too busy to do it.
  28. You enjoy watching “How It’s Made.
  29. You plan “features” for your children and have a “roadmap” for their skill growth
  30. Your wedding included a powerpoint presentation.
  31. Major life events require a MS Project file.
  32. You get “phantom buzzing” in your pocket when you forget your Blackberry.
  33. You’ve talked to more customers in the last month than all of your executives combined.
  34. Your marketing person said “you’re technical…explain this to me like I was 10.” then, “…now like I was 3…”
  35. You know what all of these are: MRD, PRD, BRD, Functional Spec, sprint, scrum, CAB, spiff.
  36. Your favorite question is “why?”
  37. Your favorite application is Excel.
  38. You’ve built your own product P&L template in Excel to save time.
  39. You’ve used your P&L template across multiple companies.
  40. You know what the “analyst dance” is, and you’re definitely a PM if you’ve done it.
  41. You know what your customer is going to say before they say it.
  42. Your spouse knows who your 3 biggest competitors are by name.
  43. You’ve flown on every major (and some minor) airline this year.
  44. You’ve used Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook to connect with a customer.
  45. You’ve dreamt about competitive kill sheets.
  46. You’ve been to ProductCamp
  47. You’re the one your CEO comes to when he/she really wants to know how things are going.
  48. “They” remembered your revenue commitment but not your product’s funding.
  49. Everyone thinks they do a part of your job.
  50. You’ve ever had to explain to a founder or executive why customers don’t want their great new idea.
  51. You’ve been asked for the revenue impact of deleting a single feature.
  52. You’ve been held accountable for Development’s schedule slips.
  53. You’ve been the person that everyone brings the hard questions to at the trade show booth.
  54. Caffeine is one of your primary food groups.
  55. You spend more time with your development counterpart than your spouse.
  56. You write a blog about Product Management…gulp!

Special thanks to my twitter friends: @joshua_d, @imusicmash, @chriscummings01 for contributing to this list!  You can follow me on Twitter, too.  Happy New Year!