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Scaling Up - Products, Startups, and Teams



Episode 069

What if you could unlock secrets to managing product scale-ups without falling into common pitfalls or inviting burnout? This episode, we bring you just that, with our expert guest, Marissa Fong. With a decade of experience under her belt, Marissa shares her unique insights from her journey across various industries. Listen in as we discuss strategies, processes, and skills necessary for successful scale-ups, and navigate the complex world of product management.




 

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Episode Transcript:


Intro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest)

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 ProductVoices.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: 0:37

Hello and welcome to Product Voices. You know, scale up is a very distinct phase in a company's growth. It's when a company has outgrown the startup phase. They've achieved some level of success and growth, but they're now ready for more scalable growth, more mature growth, if you will, and more mature structured organization. So we talk a lot about startups, we talk a lot about mature companies, but the scale up phase is unique and requires unique approaches. So today's episode is all about how to successfully scale up Scale up startups, scale up products and scale up teams. My guest is an expert on this, so I'm really, really excited to talk to her. Marissa Fong is a scale up product leader with over a decade of experience energizing teams to deliver products and experiences in health tech and fintech across SaaS, b2b2c and B2C. She's currently the VP of product at Stocktwits, a social fintech based in New York City. Her interests include community building, permaculture, kitten fostering my favorite travel and yoga. Marissa, thank you so much for joining me.


Marissa 1:48

Thanks for having me.

JJ 1:51

I want to talk all about your kittens and forget about product management for a day. No, i'm just kidding, but maybe we should put pictures of your kittens on the show notes. Maybe that would be good. Okay, sorry, you tapped into my crazy cat lady. Okay, so I gave a little bit of an introduction there, but I'd love to have you tell everyone a little bit more about your journey in product. I love your past and what you've done, so tell us a little bit more about your journey.

Marissa 2:20

Yeah, it was definitely a winding and definitely a discovery. So I started consulting essentially an urban planning consulting and then just really tried lots of different consulting from management consulting to brand strategy and something was really missing. And I realized kind of late that essentially I love the strategy and working on big business problems and with different stakeholders, but that to really make effective change I really need to own the strategy and the execution. And this I learned at a company called Booz Allen Hamilton, because they had a really strong arm in strategy but then they also had team members work directly with clients to really work on large scale implementations. And that's when the seed was planted about working on technology product management, because previously it really wasn't a role that was available and then it emerged with a lot of the change in technology and in innovation, and so from that I made a very conscious decision to transition into product management, found out that American Express was a company that took people with consulting backgrounds and really learned, i would say, more formal product management from a CPG perspective there And I eventually ended up leading a portfolio of products and travel. That's when I realized that there's a lot of innovation opportunity in startups and it was a different model, and so at that point I pivoted and really started my career in startups, working from a variety of early stage startups and health tech to different startups in more of the payments and fintech, and I saw a lot of the challenges and couldn't really understand why there were challenges and scale ups in startups. But then I really realized there were just kind of a lot of factors that were known, but then also a lot of factors and dynamics that really were unspoken, and I was able to learn that through my time with Insight Partners. I'm working with a really great mentor I'm Shelley Perry but really understand there's a lot of dynamics within and outside of startups that can be challenging And that scale is really important to enabling startups to succeed and also to grow. And so since then I've been able to take a lot of those learnings and I was able to scale products and teams within my last two roles at Teachable And then also now at Stocktwits, leading product and design.

JJ 4:41

That's awesome And I love your background because it's so varied in size of company and product management and bold and great products. At its core very core is similar across different phases of a country company's maturity, but there are lots of nuances and you've seen that, and so that's why I'm so excited to talk to you about this because, again, mx is very different than some of the startups and scale-ups that you've worked at, but you've gotten to see them all and you've gotten to work with lots of companies, places like Booth's etc. So that's why I love your background. So I appreciate you kind of walking through that because I think that gives a little bit more context. So obviously you've had a lot of experience in scale-ups. Where do you think companies and product teams make the most mistakes when it comes to that specific scale-up phase of the business and the product? Are there common pitfalls that you've seen to watch out for?


Marissa 5:44

Yeah, yeah. So generally I think what I've seen in the different startups and also you know, luckily, just having worked with Insight is that scale-ups generally have really unique and challenging circumstances, some of which are unique to the actual startup itself and then some of which are pretty common within the scale-up dynamics. So generally, the ways scale-ups are defined are companies that are experiencing a period of hyper growth. They've got funding to grow and they've generally found product market fit and are starting to reach, you know, incrementally and exponential kind of periods of growth. And so with that, generally these startups are starting out, you know, kind of small in terms of number of people. Generally there aren't as many processes in place and sometimes I would say maybe there's not even clear expectations, especially around what growth really looks like. And so with that, the unique circumstances are, really one is really starting to establish foundations for expectations and, more importantly, i think, time period for expectations, because you know things change and we're seeing that with our current economy where you know growth at all costs may be maybe not necessarily the way to go, given there's a focus on efficiency, and so one is really aligning expectations but also periods, especially when runway is a consideration. The other is then really figuring out the processes that are needed at one point in time and then really executing it, and executing it with the right amount of process but also the right teams And you know that is really important because sometimes there is a need to have more efficiency. but also this well-oiled machine, especially delivery machine, where you're trying to hit targets and trying to make sure that there's value added on a regular basis. And I would say, like one of the big third things to really look out for in terms of common pit balls and unique circumstances to address is really continuously evolving and tweaking and having ways of measurement, because there really is no way to know whether a company is succeeding if you don't have those key metrics. and that really is an investment in terms of, you know, laying down processes to collect the data, but also review the data and then use it to continue to drive change.

JJ 7:59

You know I love this because it just brings to the forefront that you know what made a startup successful isn't necessarily going to get them to the next phase, and so I think that may be a very hard transition for a lot of companies. right, a startup culture and what they've done to get to product market fit and, you know, to get to their growth is not necessarily what's going to get them past scale up or through scale up and then past. you know past that. I also love what you mentioned about the changing right and evolving, and our economy right now is a good example. Like sometimes you're in this, you know certain part of your company or status of your company or phase of your company and you need to take a step back and look and change a little bit, and I think that's important and probably a little bit hard for folks who have built a startup into the scale up framework.


Marissa 8:59

I would say Yeah yeah, one thing that I've noticed, which I think is interesting and it doesn't necessarily help happen as much in health tech, but some of the more, i think, b2c oriented startups is usually in a super early stage. Companies need to pivot and maybe work on growth hacking tactics to drive growth And at a scale up phase, there's so much going on that if there's a lack of focus, there can be a choke point and the inability to execute. Additionally, that gets exacerbated sometimes with lack of coordination, communication, because early on and I've seen this at startups I worked in it's really easy to slack someone and say, hey, i need this, and things get moving. But in a period of hyper growth, there's so much going on that without clear communication and communication channels and processes, things can get very hectic and it becomes a barrier to speed And oftentimes the decrease in speed and the choke points are really big inhibitors to growth. And I've seen that and I would say one of the things that I've been lucky to be able to do in some of my roles is really to unstuck companies and teams, because that happens a lot is where you're just seeing maybe a little to no velocity, the inability to get out value added features and just a lot of chaos, and that becomes really the barrier, a big barrier to scale ups, in addition to maybe like lack of focus and not knowing where to go. Yeah, makes total sense.

JJ 10:25

So I want to ask you about something, and we hear about this a lot. We certainly those of us in products experience it a lot, unfortunately. But I'm curious to see or hear your perspective about this, as it specifically goes to kind of this part of a company's environment and growth phase, if you will. So we talk about. we feel a lot of burnout in product management, you know, unfortunately, it's just a very difficult job and and it's a rewarding job and most of us love it for the most part, but there are some environments that aren't so aren't really set up. well, frankly, there are times in any role, any product management role, but it just gets really, really difficult and burnout is. burnout is real. burnout is something that we experience and I would imagine it's probably even, you know, maybe maybe more prevalent in scale ups, or at least that environment you know kind of sets itself up for that, because there's a lot of pressure not only to continue growing but to set those new processes and those new expectations and maybe you know experience that decrease in velocity etc. etc. So I can imagine there's a lot of pressure when a company gets into the scale up phase. So when you couple those things, product management just being difficult, with burnout being, you know, something we experience, and then that kind of added level of pressure. Are you seeing that? do you see companies and you know individual people going through this kind of burnout and scale ups and have you seen companies that succeed in trying to help in this in this area?

Marissa 12:11

Oh yeah, no, definitely. So one of the interesting things is, you know, i had the opportunity to teach product management And one of my students actually came up to me and told me that he thought product management was a thankless job And that stuck with me and when I used it in different trainings people would always chuckle. And there's just so many elements of why burnout is so persistent, because we're seeing it And I know your product, women and product, but they're just threads all over about product managers who are burned out, that are leaving. They're becoming coaches and advisors And it's a problem And I think at some point there needs to be a conversation to figure out. Maybe you know where this, this role, is going as and as part of the industry, and really how it can evolve. But you know, i see that there's a couple of things that's probably driving the burnout. So one is, product management is not defined And it's a very contextual role And we often and I think you and I have talked about this we've often let know that founders don't know what you know product managers role is and you know different team members may not know. So that's one is really expectation setting for what the role is within a certain organization And then secondly, for that organization in a point in time, because you know, at a scale up, usually a product manager is in execution mode And those are skills that are more highly, i would say, valued or highly needed, because you're just trying to get things done and resources are scarce. And then, when it gets to maybe larger companies, it becomes maybe more strategy, maybe a little bit of go to market, maybe partnerships or P&L, and definitely a little bit more alignment. And those are things that I did when I was at American Express. Only, you know a portfolio products, and so there's different expectations that often changes and sometimes those expectations aren't clear. Or, you know, oftentimes I've seen this actually in a couple of places is the expectations are too high without the training and the enablement for the PMs, because in a early stage startup you generally have product managers that may not have had formal training and may not have the processes, and then there's this expectation to have them or develop them without the enablement or the coaching. So that's another thing which is unfortunate, which is why I think training is a big, big part of it. And then I would say another piece of the burnout is it's just a very isolating role in that there's, you know, being the hub and hub and spoke model. There's a lot of expectations set on product, but a lot of the skills that are required or that's really valuable and product is really a lot of the soft skills, like the communications, like the alignment and a lot of those things may be out of a product managers control, but the product managers, you know, is really the one that is subjected to most of these dynamics And so, you know, given all of these factors, it contributes to, i think, a lot of the challenges within the role that sometimes you kind of have to be lucky to find the right fit for, for your skillsets as a product manager and for what you're looking for at that point in time.

JJ 15:24

I agree with all of that so much. I think it's it's just such a again, a challenging role. But when you couple that with the, you know, the lack of clarity of others around you, especially leadership, it just really lends itself to a thankless job, which is which is really scary thought. but but it's not right. It truly can be one of the most impactful roles in any organization. So I'm such a big believer in what you said, in, you know, teaching organizations what product management is and should be, and especially the training of of product folks that you you ask to sit in the seat to to, you know, allow them the educational opportunities to learn how to do it. And this I never mean this to be a shameless plug, But your point but maybe it is your point about some skills being so integral is the whole reason I wrote my book. it is the whole reason I, you know, infuse communication and relationship building and judgment and all of those things into every training that I do for corporate teams. I mean it's it shouldn't be an afterthought, it is the role, right. I mean it should infuse everything that we do And so, but not enough organizations do that right and give their, their teams that, that opportunity. So I love that. I love that perspective that you have. you know, to be very clear, burnout is not just a scale up issue. It is an issue across product management And we as a, as a community, certainly should continue to have these conversations about what we can do to ensure that the environment around product management is conducive to innovation and, you know very healthy cultures and healthy individuals. So I appreciate you taking a bit of a detour to talk about that, because I think it's it's really, really important. So so I want to get back to a little bit of the kind of more tactical part of scale ups and early stage and that sort of thing. So you mentioned before and I want to dig a little bit into what early stage founders and CEOs of these types of companies can do or consider for product management that will make not only the company successful but also make that culture in that environment successful, because they're in a unique place and they may not need everything that a big, huge, major company needs, or or They may need to act differently. But what are some considerations of those early stage founder CEOs for product management specifically?

Marissa 18:05

Yeah,I love that you bring this up because I think sometimes early stage founders and CEOs don't know what they want from a product manager and also maybe At what stage for for the type of product management And there's been a lot of, i think, podcasts and literature about this but sometimes bring in a You know a product manager that may be more fit for a later stage, too early. So I think one of the interesting things that you brought up is is really, um, you know, along the lines of burnout is, you know, i think there's a lot of value in product managers and it's not necessarily quantified. So I've seen maybe one or two studies about you know, the value that having good product management really brings to startups and And there's been attempts to quantify that. But it really is a huge need to to really Formalize and bring in proper product management, especially early on, because it sets the foundation for for growth later. And I say this because Generally what happens is maybe you have a very early stage founder or CEO And they're looking for someone to execute against the vision and that works in very early stage. But as you're scaling, you're going to need processes and organizations to really drive against exponential growth, because there is that generally a rule of 40, with in growth stage that in certain targets And growth metrics that these companies are trying to meet Alongside you know certain expectations for business growth.

JJ 19:30

So tell me what the rule of 40 is.


Marissa 19:32

Oh yeah. So the rule of 40 is just, you notice general sort of metric, um that usually scale-ups that have, you know, taken investor funds are generally trying to reach Some sort of combination, or you know, um, some sort of metric of 40%, either growth and or growth, or EBITDA, or 40% EBITDA, and it really is about it's this, it's just general metric of growth, like I said, and and and. It's different by company or investor group. But you know, that's why I talk about time frames and really the scale-up phase, because you get into trouble when you're really not meeting those Expectations as a company And that's why the scale is so important.


JJ

Got it, thanks.


Marissa

Yeah, yeah and and so I think that's where there's this. There's also this you know, this danger sometimes that Early stage founders may think they have product market fit and are driving towards growth, but but necessarily defending against it, and so there's a lot of that's where the measurement comes in. There's a lot of really kind of trying to figure out where you are today as a startup and then where you're going and then continue to tweak, um, i would say, you know, allocation of investment from maybe existing products to new products, um, trying to figure out how to drive growth in existing products, trying to, you know, defend your moat, um. And then alongside that, then there's all this organizational change and process change on top of that Um, and so that's where there's just, there's just, you know, a lot of considerations. So where where, um, i would say, a lot of early stage founders and CEOs really needed to think about when they are, you know, thinking about product is Really figuring out, i would say like a couple of things, maybe around like five kind of big things. But one is what is the role of product at that point in time and how is it going to evolve? and and then to really thinking about how product and partner with the rest of the organization And really thinking about how product is either going to drive growth and our support growth, because it is different by domain sometimes And then product should be really engaged to prioritize against the business goals, align the business vision And then really setting up a lot of the processes to, you know, really think about like user needs because generally It's not just about business needs to really start the product planning and, more importantly, to really ensure that they're the Communication vehicles for what is happening today and what's going out the door and what other teams need to be executing against. And so you know that really is a big thing is really the expectation setting and how product is going to partner and really how Part product is really collaborating to really, you know, plan and execute against business goals and user goals.


JJ 22:00

Makes a lot of sense and especially I can just kind of tying it all together, right. I mean some of the startups. I have a little bit more experience in More mature companies than than true kind of startups, but of course I've worked with some as well and it just tends to be That that lack of clarity, right, because someone the CEO, co-founder group had this great vision for the company in the first place and and just a little bit of Kind of disconnect, if you will. So I love kind of aligning with the business vision and user needs and processes and Involving the product group in that. I think is really important. So love that advice. I want to talk specifically now about kind of some differences in Being a product manager and some of these companies at different phases of their growth. So so is there a difference in being a product manager at a startup versus a scale up, versus a mature, established company?

Marissa 22:54

Yeah, yeah, so I would say I mean there's there's definitely a lot of differences and usually it's based on, you know, i would say, life cycle of a product, where the timeframes are, you know, industry, but generally for a very, very early stage I'd say, seed stage, company And startup, it's really execution focused, very tactical, a lot of maybe like testing and learning and trying to get things out The door within a scale up, there's there's such a need to be adaptable and to communicate and the Scott and a lot of soft skills, but generally very execution focused and a bias for action. And those are key needs because, you know, generally for a scale up, there's a lot of change, resources or scarce Maybe there's you know, investment, funding, but there are very aggressive goals And so there's just a lot of things that are happening where Product managers will need to execute but be highly, you know, focused on on Action and communication and really alignment of expectations. And then, generally for more established companies, because there there are established products with maybe longer timeframes and set processes, it really is about alignment on more probably strategy and Maybe other other roles or responsibilities, like P&L ownership, like go-to-market and Kind of other functions, and I say that you know it also differs by level. So you know, if you're an a PM earlier in your career, maybe you're doing Activities that are more product owner like especially at bigger companies versus the product strategy. It really does differ by role, by company, but but generally those are are the dynamics and the roles of responsibilities.

JJ 24:38

That makes sense And and I love that we kind of chatted about that because you've got experience in Various companies and I work with with product managers across all Our levels of companies and phases of companies and maturity of companies, and while the core, if you will, a product management May be the same, there's a lot of differences in those environments and so it's important for product managers moving from one to the other or Interviewing at one, just to kind of understand what's what's going to happen there or what's likely to happen, based on, based on the organization. But, to your point, every organization slightly different. So one of the beauties of product management and one of the frustrating things about product management is it looks a little different across every company that you go to, which it which, you know, some of us love, some of us hate. I would like it to be a little closer to. You know they're, they're actually being a little bit more commonality, but You know it is one of those functions that you got a lot of moving parts, so it's hard to do that, i guess. My next question Let's get into kind of specific Skill sets I'd love to hear your thoughts on. You know that the skill sets, the toolbox needed by product managers that are working in scale ups.

Marissa 25:55

Yeah, yeah. So I would say there's generally, you know, probably about five that I would think are our big Skill sets, and generally there's their soft skills. So one of the the big things that I look for, especially when I'm hiring product managers, is really humility and curiosity, because you know, a lot of times, especially in super early stage startups, where we really don't maybe know where the market is or you know What the product market fit could be, it really is about learning and really understanding that there are going to be mistakes that are made, especially with experimentation, being able to Continue to ask questions, to validate and to continue to also learn from people around you, because that's how we we grow and have a growth mindset. So, you know, the first is definitely around humility and curiosity. The second is communication, because generally expectations are unclear, especially when things are changing so quickly and people are doing a lot of different things at the same time, and so communication is two-way and it's about, i would say, product managers who can, you know, work synchronously and asynchronously. I'm asking lots of questions, confirming expectations, really working across the board to to get an understanding, especially with different stakeholders, and Also clearly communicating, you know, plans for what's happening to get Different requirements and or user needs to really collaborate, and so the communication pieces is really important. The third is really a sense of urgency, and this is interesting because, you know, generally when I've seen larger companies, there isn't this need to sometimes drive towards results at such a quick cadence, and part of it is due to runway, part of it is due to goals. But really having that sense of urgency and really thinking, hey, you know, tomorrow could be the last day for your startup, so how do you make the impact today And how do you drive for that impact? Or how do you make change And that's especially important in healthcare, which is something I'm passionate about in health tech is how do you drive change for people who really need it and who may need this for their health and for their wellbeing? And I would say that a fourth piece, which is a bias for action, because there's a sense of urgency, but can you actually use it to do something? And you know there's something that I also share with my director ports is if something takes five minutes, just do it? Or, as you're talking to someone, can you take notes and use that as a point to turn something into an artifact. Take the learnings or take the discussion, turn it into an artifact, so it's like little pieces of that. That's a bias for action because you're really pushing something along. And that becomes really important when a startup, when you have maybe 10 people like my first startup was about 10 people one person's action drives so much for the whole company. And I would say the last and the fifth thing, which is kind of a long lines of you know literally and curiosity, is really the eagerness to learn and the ability to learn quickly, because usually what's happening is one person's learning and the ability to share learnings really does create an impact and a ripple effect across the whole company. And this I saw when I was in health tech company is you know, what we learned in the field from you know our partners in the field ended up being something that we can then turn around to feature sets that then, you know, really then created the foundation for other value-added needs that can then really exponentially create value for the product, for our users and for the business.

JJ 29:26

I'm curious if there are particular industries that seem to maybe be doing it better or lend themselves to, you know, kind of a better environment for scale ups. I love your background. You've got a unique background in kind of the intersection of health tech and fintech, which I think is just fascinating and will continue to be fascinating, around innovation and really making an impact on the world. So anything we've learned from those sectors or anything else about particular industries that may be, you know, doing this better, setting themselves up better for scaling up.

Marissa 29:59

Yeah, i'm not really sure if there are industries that are setting themselves up for it, but there's been. I mean, for me, just from an interest perspective, there's been a lot of very, very recent work from A16Z on the intersection of health tech and fintech And there's a lot of opportunities within the space. And that's been really exciting because these tend to be highly regulated industries where there's a lot of compliance and you know there's a lot of, i would say, needs to really address, i would say, requirements that could be barriers to speed and to maybe a lot of large scale change. And so what's interesting here is, in these particular industries for scale ups, there's just so much opportunity to say how can we create that innovation, but not only create the innovation but drive towards really improving users' needs and also drive business value. And this is especially the case in health tech because there's, you know, it's a $4 trillion industry where I would say, in the US especially, there's been, you know, a lot of, I would say, a lot of costs, but not necessarily improvements and outcomes, and where there's really that opportunity for product management here is really starting to drive the incremental change on a micro level to then really create that larger change in aggregate And so usually for product. Here it's really about understanding and appreciating the complexities of the system and compliance And then for product managers that are, you know, in their roles, to really figure out how do they then drive the incremental value and change within their products and their companies.

JJ 31:36

Yeah, I love that And, as you know, my I have a bit of a financial services and health tech background as well, So I love the intersection of those two, but I also just love your kind of view, or lens, into this. I think all of that is really really important stuff. And, just on a side note, I'm really excited about what's happening with health tech and even payments and fintech as well. I think again, not to get all you know mushy, but I think it's really gonna change the world and make people's lives a lot better. So a lot of really neat stuff happening right now.

Marissa 32:14

Yeah, i was really excited. I had the opportunity to work on a direct to consumer experience where we enabled payments either partial or unhaul with insurance coverage, and so it's interesting how something that seems so incremental, you know, at the intersection of two different industries, can really be huge when we think about it from a user experience standpoint. And that's what's really exciting is some of these things seem like they could be kind of basic or why don't they happen? And now I think that there's much more awareness than there's also now the technology and the change within the industries to make little things like that happen.

JJ 32:53

That can really really be huge for, you know, ultimately the customer or the patient, the user at the end of the day, Right, absolutely, and it's also a good learning point for product managers out there because you know we sometimes get mired in our own detail, in our own little bubble and, you know, focus on our own products, our own industry. But there's so much happening across users, right, and just kind of think of ourselves as consumers or patients or you know, customers and that experience And there's so many different quote unquote industries or product groups that can work together to make things, you know, better for all of us. So anyway, again, i love talking to you because I always kind of take it off of course a little bit, because I just love our conversations. But as I get back to my final question, which is just kind of final advice or other advice you would give to product folks in scale-ups or even potentially looking at taking a job in a scale-up, what advice would you give to those folks?

Marissa 33:56

Yeah, so scale-ups aren't for everyone. There's a high degree of change and certainty and chaos And you know, sometimes I think, especially for product managers who want to get to maybe a certain title or a certain place in their careers, it may not be the you know, straightened narrow path. So there are considerations there. So you know, i would say you know a couple of things I would kind of advise is, generally I try to advise product folks who are thinking about a scale-up is maybe at minimum is, you know, understand what the differences are with, you know, a larger startup And it may be helpful to get maybe some experience at a larger startup or a larger established company just to understand the foundations. So that's, you know, the first is really understanding the foundations and maybe the differences and the expectations. Secondly, soft skills are often more important, specifically around execution, and I would advise that there's, you know, some self-awareness around the soft skills that you and I talked about and really being, you know, thoughtful about what it takes to develop those soft skills And a way of doing that is really, you know, learning from different various team members, really kind of maybe doing some self-treating, whether it's reading your book or, you know, going to trainings, is really understanding how to develop those soft skills on the job and outside the job. The third is and I would say I would offer this to kind of like all product managers is really building a personal board of advisors and mentors, because scale-ups are really hard and there's an element of ambiguity within each role and organization And sometimes it just helps to have a sounding board and people to commiserate with who will understand the challenges and nuances. And this goes in line with you and I talking about burnout. But you know, it's just, it's not a clear path, and so it's helpful sometimes to get somebody who really is in the role and who understands And these can be peer mentors or people outside the company, but generally should include, i would say, practitioners, so actual product managers who are actually doing the product. You know and I say this because it's a little bit different than maybe a coach or somebody who is an influencer where it really helps to have someone who is really in it and really understand the nuances and the day-to-day and that product management is highly contextual and then taking those learnings and then applying them. And then I would say, like the fourth and last thing is maybe sometimes getting you know, first a few, i would say, quote, quote hard skills. So one thing that's completely underrated that I've noticed within product and frankly that is, you know, especially required in highly regulated industries like health tech and Vintech is project planning and execution and being able to understand risk, watchouts and dependencies and how to escalate that, because when you're driving towards the results you really need to be able to, you know, have some level of predictability and be able to present the trade-offs in a way that makes sense to stakeholders in a highly chaotic view. And so you know, having a few of those quote, quote hard skills in your toolbox and that's where you get that from maybe a larger company can really then help with the scale-up dynamics.

JJ 37:00

I love all of that advice, so so important. This has been such a great conversation, so thank you so much for joining me. I just love our chats and so glad that we could do this in a formal way and record it for all. So thank you so much for officially sharing all of your wisdom. It's been a wonderful conversation and I've enjoyed it a lot. Thank you so much for joining me.

Marissa 37:24

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it and had a lot of fun.

JJ 37:27

And thank you all for listening to Product Voices. Hope to see you on the next episode.

Intro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest) 37:32

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, productvoicescom, and be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform.

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