Stories of Great Product Managers

Marty Cagan is one of the great Product Management Gurus. His book Inspired is the bible of product managers. Product Management is a field with lots of advice and best practices but light on practical examples. In this talk, Behind Every Great Product (summary here), Marty shows what how great product managers deliver great products. He gives 6 examples of product managers who embody the art and science of Product Management.

Product Management is really about two things: defining what you want the product to be and then executing against it. Jeff Bezos says it’s about being “stubborn on vision and flexible on the details.”

Marty tells the story of 6 great product leaders who are stubborn on vision and flexible on details. They all see a huge opportunity, run into unexpected challenges and manage to come out of it with flying colors.

Take, for example, the story of Kate Arnold. In 1999, Kate was a Product Manager at Netflix. At the time, Netflix was renting DVDs by mail. They were being pummeled by Blockbuster, the industry’s 800 pound gorilla. Kate worked to move Netflix to its first subscription model. While the model worked great, it created a problem because now everyone wanted to borrow the newest (and expensive to Netflix) movies, putting Netflix in the red. So Kate needed to convince people to watch some older movies. She created classic features like recommendations and queuing that got people to watch a mix of both old and new movies they loved, making them happy and allowing Netflix to stay profitable.