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  • JJ Rorie

"The Product Industry": Have We Gone Too Far?


Episode 074

In this great conversation with Beks Yelland, we delve into the ins and outs of "product tech" and the "product industry" and its evolving impact on product teams and product managers.


As product management has become more visible and popular, there are more and more tools, resources, frameworks, and more being thrust upon product managers. Has it become too much?


Beks sheds light on the best ways to steer clear of unnecessary complexities, adopt a mission-driven approach, and manage stakeholder relationships.


 

SHOW NOTES:


Connect with Beks:


Resources:



Product Tank London talk: How to engage with your org




Brene Brown Dare to Lead



Episode Transcript:


SUMMARY KEYWORDS

product, navigate, product manager, leader, easier, talk, jj, management, decisions, people, methodologies, years, customer, engage, career, relationship, working, organization, team, advice



Intro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest): 00:03

Welcome to Product Voices a podcast where we share valuable insights and useful resources. To help us all be great in product management. Visit the show's website to access the resources discussed on the show, find more information on our fabulous guests, or to submit your product management question to be answered on our special q&a episodes. That's all at product voices.com. And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform. Now, here's our host, JJ Rorie, CEO of great product management.


JJ 00:35

Hello, and welcome to product voices, it's gonna be a great conversation. Today, I'm with Beks Yelland. And give her a proper intro in just a moment. But we are going to be talking about product tech, the industry that has cropped up around that, really what this means for us as product teams and product managers, what it is, what it will become, what it should become. And also a little bit about the complications that it could bring to the product management craft. Now there are lots of tools out there that help product managers and product teams do their jobs better. And those are all, you know, very valuable. Like any product out there, if it helps solve a customer need and meets a customer problem. That's a wonderful thing, right. But just like any other product or product group or product portfolio, it can become too much. And sometimes there may be an argument that it tends to complicate the matter and make it a little bit more difficult to navigate as a product manager product team. So we're gonna be talking all about that. So with me today, as I said as Beks Yelland she's been in the product domain since before product was even a thing outside of FMCG, nearly losing the will to live with pages and pages of functional, non functional and atomic requirements documents before agile came across the pond to change our lives forever. Yes, we all are grateful for that. Since then, she spent 23 years navigating various industries always looking to be on the cutting edge of either change or technological advancements most recently finding our happy place in climate tech leading product at Aramco, who are market leaders in driving and enabling the clean energy transition with a mission to achieve zero carbon electricity grid worldwide. That's an amazing mission. I love that you're working there, Beks thank you so much for joining me to talk about this.


Beks 02:31

It's a pleasure, JJ. I'm really happy to be here.


JJ 02:34

Let's just set the stage set the context there. Tell me about when you talk about the product industry and product tech. What do you mean by that? What are those terms mean to you?


Beks 02:45

So for me, the world of product and the product discipline has changed hugely, I think six Well, significantly. So in the last 10 years more than it really did in the first 10 years that I've been involved with it. So back in my first 10 years of being a product person, we like you said, we were writing really long word documents, we were being we were responsible for defining what the product was and working with the tech teams to deliver something over a pretty waterfall process. Then agile came along, we started moving with a huge amount of speed and velocity, we were able to respond more quickly to business demands and the world that we lived in changed almost overnight. But the problem that we found ourselves in because we then became very closely coupled with design and technology. And we spent a lot of time justifying why we were needed. Why do you need product, you don't cut code, you don't design you don't produce UI, what is your value? And so whilst we didn't go to a ski resort and have a weekend of defining what our manifesto was, we collectively agreed, I think it's fair to say that we needed to have some definitions of what it is we do and why we add value. And we began that journey to a to an extent collectively agreeing, you know, there were certainly thought leaders right from the beginning with Martin Erickson doing the Venn diagram of what is a product manager and you know, making it really clear that we operate in that space between, you know, two or three or four different aspects of the organization and sometimes you see it with the customer instead, etc. But the point being is that we're the cog in the wheel with the people that hold it all together and we're expected to understand all the aspects of the needs of a product and the business needs for product and the customer needs for a product etc. And I think what happened once we got that collective understanding and had a collective voice, is that methodologies toolkits, ways of working definitions, theories around how we should work became commonplace, which is fine because we were trying again still to have one voice


Beks 05:00

Have a an approach that was consistent. And we started to share things more widely and become create a product community. And I think if you fast forward 10 years from from that inflection point, you then get to the stage we're in now where people are making businesses out of product management, they are making a career out of Product Management. And that is fantastic. And I support it. But I think what's happened in this product tech evolution is a lot of people who are day to day product managers can't keep up. It's a lot of change. It's a lot of content. Have you read this book? Have you read this article? Do you follow this thought leader? Do you listen to this podcast, etc, etc. And sometimes it's incredibly hard to keep up navigate, you certainly can't be across all of it, that would be impossible. And I think the pressure that's coming from that part of our lives, or product tech industry, let's call it and the pressure of our roles, because I think we're again, because of what's happening in the macro economic climate climate, seeing a change in the acceptance, again, of investing in disciplines that maybe can be seen as ancillary. You know, I've been unfortunate to be a part of mass redundancies in startups over the years, and most recently, the biggest coal was in the people team. Seen as ancillary, you know, the support and well being and facilitation of the people in the business is not seen as being the most important. And product, unfortunately, sometimes also gets seen as ancillary. And so we now have people still having to justify their roles, we have people fighting to get back into roles, there's a huge number of people looking to get jobs at the moment. And I think that amount of pressure, and that amount of noise. Amongst all of those other challenges, I just want to call it out and say enough, is enough. I just don't know what I mean by that, as in enough is enough. And as in our own decisions on how we let it affect us, because you can't stop people wanting to make a career out of it. And I applaud it, you're there to help facilitate coach, improve the life of product managers all over the world. But I think the way that we have this sort of perfect view of what a product manager can be, we have a puristic view of where our process should be and our methodologies. And those don't always apply in reality. And that's the pressure, specifically, that I feel pretty passionate about saying, Please stop. It's really easy to define a new process and a methodology and say, Look at me, I've defined this way of thinking.


Beks 07:15

But if it doesn't genuinely help people day to day navigate complicated problems, and pressures, is that the right thing to do, and for people just to stop and think about the pressure that they're putting on real people real lives. I feel that sounds quite emotional. And I guess I mean it to because I've seen it a lot with a lot of my mentees that I'm fortunate to have a relationship with at the moment, that this pressure isn't a good thing. I think pressure sometimes can be a good thing, it's driving us forward, it's, you know, it's we're looking to be better at our jobs. And that's fantastic. But if it's putting pressure in that we can't handle day to day, if we're losing the will to live over a complicated prioritization rubric, and we don't know how to engage with our stakeholders, and a simple trade off decision would be better. How is it helpful that someone's come up with another prioritization rubric? In to add into the mess? I'm totally with you on that. And, you know, it's interesting, because I love the history that you gave us there. Because that's, I think, and I think you would agree probably that that's part of the big reason why we've become this, right, we've become this big engine, if you will, of product management because it's so visible, because we've evolved so much so quickly, relatively speaking. And now everybody wants to be in product and, which is, again, a wonderful thing. It's it's great that, that there's some visibility there, but there's still a little bit of, of organizational ketchup to be done, like you said, sometimes, organizations and quite often organizations don't really understand what product is or what it should be. Right. And so they can be the scapegoat, in many cases.


JJ 09:23

You know, it's interesting, that you talk about and I've talked to a lot of folks about this is one of the beauty. One of the beauties of product management is that we're on this continuous learning journey. It keeps things interesting, we're always, you know, for the most part engaged in learning something else. I mean, that can be a very good thing. It can also be like, overwhelming, like, Good Lord, are we ever there? Is there a there there? Right. I mean, can we ever get to the point where we just know things and we don't have to keep changing and evolving and learning and you know, and I don't mean get stagnant but just you know, it's a overwhelming to think that we're always improving. And, you know, one of the things that, you know, you mentioned kind of the the next rubric, the next prioritization matrix, the next whatever, you know, no organization looks exactly like the next organization when it comes to product management. Of course, there are some similarities. And of course, there are, you know, some some commonalities that they they embrace. But at the end of the day, they all prioritize a little bit differently, they use a different framework, they have a different risk aversion level, different culture, you know, and so one product manager who thinks they know it all going to the next organization in their career, they're gonna have to learn something else, right. And that in itself can become overwhelming.


JJ 10:44

So I like I want to dig a little bit into something you said, because I think I think a lot of people will, or this conversation will resonate with a lot of people. But you know, how, how do we start to turn the corner without necessarily changing the entire, you know, trend, because that may not happen or be possible. But you mentioned something about just like, just make a trade off decision or something like that. And that seems like a practical piece of advice. So tell me a little bit about where you've seen some ways in your own career and with your mentees, and with your, your team, where it can, it could go down an overwhelming path. And instead, we took kind of this other, this other path that allowed us to kind of stay the course and not get so deep in the weeds any any examples of some practical things that you've seen work.


Beks 11:39

I think the reason why it's hard is because we've overcomplicated. And we've overcomplicated because of what we talked about around defining what we do,justifying our role. And in my opinion, and from what I've seen, more often than not, if we overcomplicate our process, we alienate ourselves from the rest of the org, because we make it too hard to engage with us. So I've often unfortunately been the unhappy recipient of comments such as from marketing, I don't need to go buy a product, I've hired some maybe testing specialists, I just go straight to the squad sales have had a conversation with the customer. They just want to check with the team how big a deal it would be, if they built that feature for that customer is easier than going by product. And they don't really understand the Product Funnel the triage process anyway. So they just go straight to the team because they know the people in the team CEO C suite come up with the next great idea for how they're going to deliver the next big sexy product, sort of evolution in their organization. What Why bother product, I just want to validate with the tech team if it's feasible. And we see this time and time again. And I don't think that I'm alone in experiencing those types of types of circumnavigations that happen. And there's a reason for it. Like I said, we don't make it easy for people to engage with us sometimes and what we need to do and the way we can turn the corner, as you say, without trying to say that the whole product tech industry needs to have a revamp, because I don't think that's necessarily the case, I think what we need to do is empower ourselves and empower product people who need our help to be empowered to be more pragmatic in how they consume that advice, and how they deal with those frameworks and methodologies. You create the rules to break them you create the rules to evolve and use them to best fit the situation are in. So we use the example of a simple trade off decisions, you do this or this. That's one simple way that you can navigate something that could be over complicated. You're trying to understand what a customer needs and how you navigate that path. And that's more complicated, obviously an enterprise with the complexity of those sizes of entities and you've got decision makers, buyers, users, influencers etc. And it's not as easy as maybe a DTC or b2c could be how do you navigate that? Just start talking to people don't overthink it. Just get out there. Don't stay in your ivory tower ruminating over how you're going to engage with customers and understand what customers need and how you engage with the commercial team to navigate your customer base. Just start talking to people just an uncomplicated and stop overthinking in order to be more active.


Beks 14:38

I think the other thing, JJ, to finish my thought on where we could start to turn the corner is how we've become almost obsessed with data driving decisions. Now I was a massive fan of this, you know changing in our world. You know, I don't know eight nine years ago where the data lake started being too talked about, although maybe it was before then, you know, I was at HSBC at the time, and I was running around Bluefin, which was where the digital solutions team sat rather than at Canary Wharf, trying to find the data team that I'd heard tell had arrived in our in our building to find out where they were and what they could do to help me because I absolutely believe that data should be driving decisions. Because at the time we were doing anecdotal, ad hoc tests was a handful, like 10s of people, five in Hong Kong, five in UK to validate our new designs or our new features or our workflows. And I knew that wasn't right. And I wanted something better, as we all did. But then possibly, again, we've gone too far, because we don't feel emboldened to make decisions based on our gut instinct of what is right, what is the right thing we need to do?


JJ 15:46

And lots of product, people rely on data to drive decision because they either aren't empowered to make decisions. Or they don't feel confident, or that kind of leads me to my next question for you. I mean, first of all, I love that we're talking about this overcomplicating product management, it's something that I preach all the time, because, yes, it's a complex world that we live in. Yes, it's, it's, you know, complicated in terms of multiple stakeholders and lots of different contexts that we have to, you know, connect the dots on. And it can be a complicated role, but we don't do it justice by overcomplicating it with so many different things, right. And so and your last point about kind of, you know, making it making it easier, if you will, or, you know, not doing things to to exacerbate the problem, leads me to my question about product leaders and what they can do in this realm. So, so, you know, you mentioned the, the fact that a lot of organizations don't really understand what product management should be or could be. And a lot of times product managers, product leaders take on the additional responsibility of being that champion, being that educator of what product management can be, well, as a product manager, you don't have a lot of that you have very little authority, right? And so yes, you can influence others by trying to educate them, but really, that should come from the product leader, right? The product leader should be the champion of the function of product management, and make sure that his or her peers, and the rest of the organization are kind of on board with what it should be and what it shouldn't be. Right. So have you seen some organizations yourself, you know, including leading product teams, or other product leaders, that have navigated this fairly well and have, at the same time, cemented the idea of what product management is, while still not making it so complicated that they that we all don't have the confidence to just go talk to our stakeholders to just go do things? Have you seen leaders or your self again, kind of navigate that? Well, and any advice there?


Beks 18:10

Yeah, so about two and a bit years ago, I sort of found myself I guess, at the midpoint of my career, sort of 20 Somethings. Fingers crossed, not a whole 20 is to go, no, no, because I don't want to have to work until the actual end of my working, working. But rarely do I want to continue navigating these complex organizations, spending most of my time, negotiating, controlling, chasing discovering where people sit under rocks doing strange, random things that you didn't even know they did. That wasn't my happy place. And so, you know, the reason why, when you asked me to say like, you know, how do I describe myself, I talk about my happy place in climate tech, because, yes, it's going back to some small startup environment, which again, is good. But for me, it wasn't just about it being startup, it was about it being mission driven. And so I think it's far easier. And I'm not saying all of us now need to work in a mission driven organization, in order to be good at our job, but I do know from firsthand experience, how much easier it is to do our job, and to focus the mind and to focus our effort and focus our team's effort. And when you have an undoubtable mission that everybody understands and there isn't any confusion over what that is, you know, we are trying to save the planet in this way or we are trying to offer a you know, a mental health or physical health solution for a particular problem, whatever it might be. It really helps you know, what you're trying to achieve. And therefore, when you're having conversations around, what should we do, how should we do it? How do we engage with certain people? How do we talk to Customers, what do we need to understand about customers, I've found that it makes some of those weird, complicated rabbit holes that we sometimes go down, easier to avoid. Because you don't get caught up in the bullshit as much as you might do otherwise, because you're so focused on the outcome you're trying to achieve. So part of that is the mission, part of it is the startup mentality around, it's much easier to do a thing or change a thing. So for example, recently, we were doing the last throes of what are we doing in q3, we've got not enough teams to do all the things we want to do. We've all found ourselves there before it's a repeating pattern, I had a moment of clarity in terms of what we should be doing what we shouldn't be doing. Because as Steve Jobs always said, not knowing what you're not going to do is just as important as what you do. And that is a repeating mantra that I keep going on about in terms of our company's strategy and what our big bets are on what we're going to do and what we're going to not do. And it occurred to me, I wasn't doing a similar thing in product and tech, making those big bold decisions and facilitating those big bold decisions. And so I just turned around to my boss, who happens to be the CTO and my colleague, and said, Let's not do that. Let's just do discovery on that. And let's only do those two things. And they're like, that makes total sense. Let's do it, checked it with a few of my teammates, everybody was aligned. That's the decision, it was as easy as that. And are sitting there about a day later going, Wow, that would have been so much harder. In X Company Y company, then the amount of controlling the amount of PowerPoint presentations to have done just to get through that decision. So I don't think there's an easy answer. But I think being pragmatic, being bold, being focused on the outcome you're trying to achieve, it really helps you sort the wheat from the chaff. Now, I don't know why I say that phrase, JJ, because I don't actually know what wheat and chaff is, but I'm pretty sure the wheats, the good stuff, and the chaff the bad stuff.


JJ 22:10

So I actually write about that in my book. And I use that that saying, and I did, I did a lot of research on it, because I wanted to use it in the right way. I've I've said it my whole life. And then I was like, Okay, I'm writing it in a book forever. Should I actually make sure so you used it, right? That's awesome. Well, I love that. And actually, it's such good advice for leaders, obviously, who can say, You know what, let's not do this, let's do that, talk to a few of their peers, and get it done. But it's also good advice for product managers, even if you have to do a little bit more few more steps, it's still good advice. Like, let's focus on this and not that that's a really, really good, a good piece of advice. And then the mission driven is just really awesome. And even if it's not, again, like a mission driven organization, something you're passionate about, I mean, every every product should help some person or some business or some thing, do something better. Right, you can find some passion in that. Right. And so I love that advice. I think that's important.


JJ 23:16

My kind of next question or follow on question to that is, in addition to, to some of those, you know, pieces of advice or things that people can do, what other key messages insights advice would you give to those who are struggling with the pressure of keeping up with the latest trends and, you know, learning a new, you know, tool to do our job better? Or just the general noise? That's, you know, around product management today?


Beks 23:46

I think. So one of the things I say to my mentees when they're trying to figure out the next stage of their career, or how to navigate organizational challenge or something like that is to treat your career as though it's a product. And I think lots of us have said that over the years. You know, for me, that's certainly not something that I think I'm the only one who advises, but I think what we don't always do is treat the way that we navigate the organization, how we figure out how to partner with the right stakeholders around the business, how we engage with all the different parts of the org. So I refer to the Venn diagram that Martin Erickson did back in, I think it was 2018 2019 for mine the product and it was, you know, three circles it was event and there were three things in it and you know, that that made sense. The way that I reflect on how our world has evolved is I I've created this sort of Daisy diagram that I've used in a few talks where you know, we were here Venn diagram in the middle this you know, with a little arrow pointing you're here now we're here. We've got Product Marketing Product Design got engineer we got sales and marketing customer service commercial boards investors data set Finance, finance, product analytics, the C suite, customers, users, etc, etc. And it goes on and it goes on and it goes on. And we're so involved day to day with pretty much every aspect of the org in pricing and positioning in how we deliver our go to market strategy, etc, etc, analyzing the data, putting that data to good use making sure we're optimizing our funnels, whatever it might be.


Beks 25:26

I think if we apply the same methodology of being the product manager of our career to how we're Product Manager of our job, and how we navigate and engage and manage within our organization, it might help. So being really organized in who your stakeholders are and what they do and what they need, what's their agenda? What do they know, what do they not know? What do they need to happen next, and just being thinking about that as a workflow. And you're just managing that workflow in the same way as you would manage your workflow in your UX or a customer trying to achieve an outcome in the fewest clicks. Like, why not do that in the way that you're engaging with your stakeholders and just take the pain away for each of them focus on what the pain points are in the relationship. More often than not, in recent years, I've seen a clash predominant between product and commercial, and you know, the vying agendas that you have in terms of what we're trying to sell what we're trying to build, you can't sell what we're building. Now you can sell what we built already. And you know, all of those types of things that are just again, these repeating patterns that you see in many places, but then figure out how you can engage with them, figure out what the drumbeat between the tools looks like and manage that in a pragmatic way. And don't get caught up in methodologies or frameworks that tell you how to do it from a heuristic point of view, just think about the actual humans, the actual people that you need to build a relationship with. And bring it back to that human level. You know, all of us work in organizations that have humans in it. Humans with pressures humans with outside lives, humans with personalities, humans, who sometimes understand what product is humans who've never worked with product before. And you can't expect everybody understands when you come in and use this terminology, I'm working with people who've never worked in a software world before. And when you say the word MVP, they still think most valuable player. And I haven't even heard MVP as most valuable player for about 15 years. And I was like, Oh, that takes me back. When I remember that we were re you know, re appropriating the MVP acronym. You know, so not everybody is where we are not everyone's done what we've done. So for me, when I talk about the key success criteria of a good product manager, and certainly when I'm hiring, for example, it doesn't matter how good you are at the doing the due, it doesn't matter how good you are at explaining or understanding or to your head around complicated tech, if you are a bad communicator. And if you don't prove that you have been able to and can build good relationships, good, solid, sustainable relationships, I'm not going to hire you. And I'll struggle if I've inherited someone like that as well, because it's a key success criteria to a product person doing their job, well, they need to take people along the ride with them, they need to buy into what you're trying to do for the business for the product for the customer. And if you can't do that, by interacting with people at a human level, and building those relationships, and communicating clearly what you're trying to achieve, or what your vision might be, you'll lose them.


Beks 28:39

So all of these frameworks that are causing the noise and the anxiety and the pressure, I think they're frameworks for a reason, because it's not a list of things to do, it's not a to do list, none of them are presenting as a to do list yet. I think sometimes we use frameworks as a, you know, sequential to do lists, Do this, do this, do this, do this. Be more bold, to make gut decisions?


JJ 29:03

I love that advice. And I just I couldn't, I literally couldn't agree more on on all of that. I mean, that's, it's some of the keys to what I tried to teach and both, you know, through through university and through my corporate clients, it's, yeah, you know, there's, there's stuff that we have to do. There are processes that we need to know there's, there's technical acumen, if you will, that we have to have but none of it matters if we can't communicate and we can't build relationships and, and, and make, you know, good judgment calls during during, you know, good and bad times. And I love what you talked about in terms of the specifically the relationships with stakeholders. You know, we're all after the same thing. Generally speaking, we all want successful products. We all want to be successful in our career, whether we're salespeople or finance people or product people, and we come to come across you know, or from different pursuits. directives and, you know, we have our own incentives etc. But you know, if we go into it with a, or from a place of, you know, good intention and learning their perspective, then we're setting ourselves up better, right? We're not the only ones that have the right answer. And so yes, we may get, you know, frustrated with the salespeople selling things we don't have yet. But they're frustrated with us, because they, for whatever reason, don't think they can sell what we do have. So we've got to get to the bottom of that, right. And so I love the kind of approaching it at the human level, because that's at the end of the day, we're all just humans trying to do the best job we we can. And generally speaking after the same thing, and if we start from that place it it makes it a little bit easier. Not always easier, but sometimes easier. And we're always going to have that that one favorite relationship that we just can't, can't crack. But my final question for you, which which I ask all of my, all of my guests, and I know you've got some, some resources yourself, I've loved the the writings and talks that you've done. So we'll link to those, but mentioned those as well. And, and anything else that you think's important. So what resources would you recommend to product folks specifically about this, or any other kind of learning and knowledge, knowledge building resources?


Beks 31:22

So I think the things that inspire me, JJ are more people and the principles that they hold true to, in the way they talk and the things that they write in the way that they talk and present out. So, you know, Brene Brown's, dare to lead is a book that, I wouldn't say it changed my life, but it made me laugh. It made me before, you know, I think points it probably made me cry a little bit. Because she, she speaks about, you know, the core of the challenge of being a leader and really finding what's true about you and not being scared to be that person. And I think you can apply that whether you're a leader and product manager is focusing on the things that are important. And I think the human aspect again, and then Christine Lagarde, oh my goodness, I mean, if I saw her I'd put in her she would probably be you know, when people say like, if you see your, you know, a celebrity that you would like, lose your shit over, she would probably be that person for me,


JJ 32:20

You would fan girl.


Beks 32:21

I would Yes, I would lose my shit. She is just phenomenal. She and the reason she's phenomenal isn't because of what she's necessarily achieved. You know, she was an MP France, she's, you know, now sorry, if people don't know who she is, she's the president of the Central Bank of Europe, man's world beyond beyond, right? You know, I've worked in banking, but I wouldn't even begin to think what it's like working for a central bank, let alone that one, surrounded constantly by, you know, white old men, who have a views of how the world should be in views of how leadership should be. And we've grown up seeing leadership being a certain way. And I think, again, as a female product leader, finding out who how to be an authentic female leader in a tech world is tricky, because you look to male leaders in that space and see how they are. And what Christine talks about is our right to lead from love, I guess, you know, she she says, If your loved you can love if you're confident you can give confidence. And she she talks so authentically around the challenges that he we have as humans and how it's okay to lean in to what I have been told in the past, and I kid you not on the softer side, the softer skills of overlap of leadership and line management, as in the people side, and I've got told I was over indexing on them by one line manager once and I look back on that. And I accepted that at the time, Scott, okay, and I need to be a bit more focused on metrics. And, you know, making sure that people are, you know, adhering to the rules or delivering or reporting in a certain way. And I was like, fuck that. I'm responsible for this person's career. I'm the custodian of their career while I'm their line manager. And what that means to me is it doesn't mean that I'm telling them what to do. It means I'm helping the end of that relationship look better than the beginning. If they reflect on their time working with me, and they can talk about things they've learned and find out and discover skills that they haven't really nurtured, really leaning into the things that they're stronger at and not reprimanding them or pointing out the things that they're not so good at and telling them where their opportunities are to improve constantly, but focusing in on the things they're good at. That's a good outcome. And so, if you want to be a good product manager, if you want to be a good product leader, don't just look to product leaders for insight and inspiration into how to be abetter person, a better leader, a better manager of people.


JJ 35:03

Any other product communities out there that that mean a lot to you and that you've seen do some good work?


Beks 35:09

Well, you, JJ, I might as well mentioned the wonderful product mind.


JJ 35:14

I love the product, mind community, it is great.


Beks 35:16

So Graham and Jacs founded this last year, I believe. And when I wrote an article about this whole product tech and the noise and the impact, it's got on product, people's mental health and well being. And it obviously struck a nerve with Graham who reached out to me and we connected on LinkedIn. And we had a couple of discussions and one thing led to another and they invited me to actually join the leadership of the community, which I've since done and we're focusing on really ramping up our our content strategy and the themes that we want to talk about and engagement of the, of the community. And we are, we believe the only product community focused on mental health and well being of product professionals globally, it's free, I have very strong views about paid for communities, we've talked about that before, JJ. We don't charge people to join, it's predominantly a Slack based where you can chat to and give peer to peer advice. But there's going to be more to come in terms of events, podcasts, you know, focusing on what the members need, needs are and making sure that we're delivering into those needs, we're going to be looking at DNI challenges of diversity in the workplace, specifically in product where you're expected to just be on constantly and be able to present at the drop of a hat, you know, have to argue with the CEO, no matter what his or her conclusions are, and just be feisty or strong or robust in every situation. And not every product person has that inherent confidence in assurity. And that's good. Like, I always look to hire and put diversity of thought into a team. And so I applaud that, and I would look for it. But that means that you then need to give people the ability to step out of their comfort zone and give them the support that they need when they're doing that. And the one thing we focus on in the product mind is exactly that, making sure people know, have tools that they can lean on if they've got certain struggles or certain aspects of their role that they're struggling with. So they can share, peer to peer in a safe space. So please feel free to join that community, if you feel that you would benefit from it. We're also looking for partners and thought leaders in certain areas and certain challenges as well at the moment. So if you feel like you could come and be a part of our community and become a thought leader in that space, we would welcome you also, that's amazing. Well, we'll definitely provide links there. That's product mind community again, can't can't out it enough.


JJ 37:53

I love it. It's amazing. And as you said, it's just something that I think we all need. It's such a valuable resource to be able to talk to peers, and just commiserate. And you know, this is this is a hard job. And yes, we can do some things to you know, make it less complicated, or at least not add to the complication. Yes, we can do some things to, you know, make it a little bit easier for us. But the truth is, it is a hard job. And it will continue to be a difficult job, a very rewarding wonderful job, but a difficult job. And so anything that we can do to you know, just have a sounding board and a safe place for for us as we're going through it, the goods and the bads I think is great. So product, mind communities a wonderful place for that. And again, we'll we'll add add links to that as well as to the other awesome resources that you mentioned. So Beks Yelland, this has just been such a fun conversation. I've loved it. I always love talking to you always get some great insights. So thank you again for joining me, and sharing your wisdom and your insights.


Beks 39:01

It was an absolute pleasure. Thanks, JJ.


JJ 39:04

And thank you all for joining us on product voices. Hope to see you on the next episode.


Outro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest): 39:09

Thank you for listening to product voices hosted by JJ Rorie. To find more information on our guests resources discussed during the episode or to submit a question for our q&a episodes, visit the show's website product voices.com And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform.

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