11 Lessons I’ve Learnt from Dave Wascha’s ‘Product Management in 25 mins’ Talk

dave wascha product management talk

When getting into product management as a career, it is possible to feel lost as a result of all the information available online and the numerous courses that sometimes get confusing.

As an aspiring Product Manager (PM), learning from those that went before us into this beautiful space is the ideal way to get started.

Dave Wascha has been a product manager for over 20 years. He says he got into this career when Apple was still a failing computer company and Mark Zuckerberg was only 13 years old. Quite an amount of experience don’t you think? He is currently Chief Product Officer at Zoopla.

I got the opportunity to tune in to a talk he made back in 2017 – Hail YouTube – and learnt really good lessons that I will take into this product management exploration.

I wanted to share those with you below:

1. Listen to customers

To avoid designing things that no one wants, listen to your customers well.

Don’t listen to customer’s solutions – they are not the best source of solutions. Listen to them to understand the problems they are facing then come up with solutions.

2. Watch the competition

When the competition releases new features, the feedback they get from their customers is a good source of understanding the customer’s problems.

Learn from the instant feedback, comments and reviews that your compeition is getting.

3. Don’t watch the competition

Do not focus on what the competition is doing.

Ask yourself if what the competition is doing will make your customer’s life easier. Tip – it won’t.

Your customers are talking to you about what will make their lives easier, listen to them; not the competition.

4. Get paid

Will customers pay for the new feature you are working on?

Make sure that people are seeing enough value in what you are building to pay for it.

5. Don’t worry too much about getting paid

If you are always chasing money with your product, you miss the chance to connect with your customers in a truly emotional way.

Always worry about building trust with your customers. Do the things that make them trust your product and brand without necessarily earning you money.

For example, making it possible for customers to freeze their cards and know they won’t be charged if they are not using your service. Make it possible for them to unfreeze it too.

Another example, make your customer smile with little effort in either copywriting, onboarding, etc. When people smile, they connect.

There is no ROI on making customers smile. No money to be made; but lots of connecting.

6. Speed up

Take action faster. There is a huge cost in delay or inaction.

Putting off making decisions destroys value.

The shelf-life of the features we ship is limited and the longer we take to go to market, the less value they have.

7. Say No

The CEO comes to you and asks for one feature for one customer, say No.

8. Stop saying No

Don’t say no for the wrong reasons. Understand why you are saying no.

When it is sensible and reasonable, say yes.

9. Don’t be a visionary

Products don’t need visionaries, they need product managers who are obsessed with solving customers’ problems.

The bottom-line, you are not Elon Musk; please sit down, haha.

10. Don’t confuse yourself with your customer

What you want does not matter. The customer’s problems matter.

You ≠ Customer

11. Be dumb

You don’t know anything – best assume that.

Have the capacity to be dumb.

Have the ability to look at things from the eyes of the customer.

If you would like to listen to the full talk, check it out here.

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