A visit from Marty Cagan

Back in February this year, we were lucky enough to have Marty Cagan, widely recognized as the primary thought leader for technology product management and the founder of the Silicon Valley Product Group, visit Trade Me to discuss all things product management. Here Suhel Mangera, Product Manager at Trade Me, talks about Marty's visit. 

Earlier this year, Marty Cagan was in the country running a two day workshop on building great products that customers love in Wellington. Our local Mind the Product organiser Andrew Tokeley (Tokes) managed to convince him to do a presentation to a few of the Trade Me crew after his workshops. Thankfully, Marty said yes and we were lucky enough to host him in our Wellington office. We had a massive turn out with well over 100 people coming along to hear Marty talk.

Why did so many people turn up?

Marty is a legend in the product management space and has a over 20 years experience leading products departments at companies like eBay, AOL, Netscape, Continuus and HP. His book Inspired: How to create products customer love on product management is a fantastic read and consistently makes the top reading lists for aspiring product managers (check out these links: one, two, three, four and five for example). In fact, I found out about Marty through a book recommendation in our internal mentoring program for aspiring product managers.

In his talk, Marty talked about a range of things (too many to list here, you should watch the video). My favourite bit was when he discussed how developers and product managers should be working more closely together, especially during the problem discovery phase. This could involve getting developers and testers closer to your customers to hear directly from them to create customer intimacy and empathy. This understanding, along with their technical knowledge, often leads to more valuable products and enriching experiences for your customers.

This is the ultimate goal of all great products. We call this Customer Aroha at Trade Me and it’s one of our four company values, so it resonated deeply with me.  I’ve implemented this in our product development team with great success and both customers and team find it useful to talk directly.

There were many more anecdotes from Amazon, Google, Apple, Disney and few other companies, including why roadmaps don’t always work and what to do about them. Luckily we recorded the talk so aspiring and current PM geeks that couldn’t make the event or others that want to revisit the talk can do so. Check out the video now!

Special thanks to Tokes for arranging this with Marty, to Alex Smith for sorting out the venue and recording gear, Tim Nunn, Jono Elkin, Christian Linnell, Sophia Bishop, James Buchanan and many more for helping run the event. Also, a special thanks to Bal Valentine for helping with video post processing.