The Connie Kwan Hypothesis: Great Product Managers Influence with Storytelling

Connie Kwan is a storyteller and product executive and the founder of Product Maestro. With 15-years in Product Management, she’s led teams and shipped products at Atlassian, Microsoft, SunPower, Cypress and startups such as Carrot, and Sourcemap. Her company Product Maestro leverages theatre techniques to help growth-stage companies craft and deliver powerful stories about their products. In this episode of the Product Science Podcast, we talk about how to identify your speaker type and better communicate with your team to get more results.

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Questions We Explore in This Episode

The Connie Kwan Hypothesis: Great Product Managers Influence with StorytellingWhat was it like for Connie working in B2B sales with a technical background? What are the overlaps between selling to a highly technical audience and the customer discovery process in product management? What was product management like working in hardware with longer development cycles? What was it like working in a new industry like solar?

How did Connie get started developing software? What is a B corp? What did she learn from her software venture? Why is it so hard to sell to health insurers? What did she learn about customer research and the importance of actually bringing something to market?

Why do so many builders get intimidated at the prospect of talking to customers? How do you prepare for the hard conversations you need to have about your product?

What is it like building a product that acts as a platform for other businesses to thrive on? What was Connie’s experience working at Atlassian? What are the unique challenges of building and running a marketplace? How is building a platform like building a city? How did they build a government structure to get builders involved?

Why is your main job in product to influence? What has Connie learned about product management and communication from her love of theater? How do you identify your speaker type and use that to communicate better with your team?

Quotes From This Episode

It's all bread and butter now, but this is years ago when these concepts were in their infancy, and I definitely did not take an MVP approach with that product. I built out too much. I didn't talk to customers enough. - Connie Kwan Click To Tweet The tendency for everyone is to do what we can control, and building product you can control, you can put money into and control that. The customer sales cycle is a lot harder to control. - Connie Kwan Click To Tweet As a product manager, there's a lot of influencing work that one does even at the entry-level. Your main job is influence, really. - Connie Kwan Click To Tweet Having a framework around, okay, these are the types of people I'm likely to interact with, these are their care abouts, and these are different ways for me to engage them is very helpful. - Connie Kwan Click To Tweet


Holly Hester-Reilly: Hi, and welcome to the Product Science podcast where we’re helping startup founders and product leaders build high growth products, teams and companies through real conversations with people who have tried it and aren’t afraid to share lessons learned from their failures along the way.
Holly: I’m your host Holly Hester Reilly, founder and CEO of H2R Product Science.
Holly: This week on the product Science Podcast, I’m super excited to share with you Connie Kwan. Connie and I met through… I believe it was Rich Mironov, right?
Connie Kwan: Yes, that’s right.
Holly: Yeah. And once we first chatted, I have enjoyed getting to talk to you more and find out more about what you’re doing these days and how you’ve gotten here. So let’s share that with our listeners. Let’s start with a bit about how you got started in product management.
Connie: Sure. I started out in Silicon Valley here. I’m Canadian originally, and then I moved out here because of the weather in California. And I went into actually something called Product Marketing Engineering, it’s a semiconductor company, and they hired engineers to do the job of sales and pre-sales, because they were selling such technical products.
Connie: And product management wasn’t really a thing yet. This was about 15 years ago. And I slowly made my way into it, but my first job was actually explaining how products work to a technical audience for salespeople who would focus on closing the deal but don’t necessarily know the details of the products.
Connie: And I really like the intersection of working with very technical content, but then interfacing with more the business side of the business. And that led me down the path of product management when it started becoming more of a thing, because as a product manager, you get to be in the middle of all the pieces.
Connie: You get to understand the business side, you have to be able to speak to the technical side. You’re basically figuring out how to take technology to market, at least when you’re working in the technology sector for product management. And that really excited me.
Connie: I did my undergrad in Computer Engineering, so I know how to build, but then I think the connection of taking what you build and making those decisions around what’s worth building and connecting customers with solutions is what really excites me.
Connie: I’ve been very fortunate to get into product management and then have been in the fields across different industries since then.
Holly: Awesome. I know for me having been at some technical companies where we were doing B2B, we had a lot of technical people in sales, and I can imagine that. But I’m sure there’s a lot of product managers out there who spend most of their time in B2C and might not have such a good picture of that.
Holly: And so I’m curious if you could tell me a little bit what it was like going out in the field with salespeople and describing and helping them from a technical perspective. Did the consumers that you were talking to, or the clients that you were talking to care much about technical details?
Holly: What were some things that you learned when you were doing that?
Connie: These where B2B sales and we were selling to base station makers. This is back in when the cell phone was just starting to proliferate. And the makers of those base stations include like Ericsson, Nokia, they make the big machinery that gets installed to enable the cell service and they needed chips.
Connie: They needed the semiconductor chips to enable those big machines, and what we did was help them with understanding the differences of the different technologies. So we sold primarily to a very technical audience, and what was really fun about that work that I enjoyed and continue doing in product management is the customer discovery work.
Connie: You’re there, you’re talking to a customer, you’re learning about what they need and what are some of the objections to buying, and what are the next phase of what they would need. And so all of that gets brought back into the company.
Connie: I think for a long time, the industry was segmented were there is an internal team, and an external facing team, and you fall under marketing, and marketing would be the ones out there scouting and looking for insights on what to build next, and then bringing it back to the development team.
Connie: I think product management has evolved to become this role that ties those two pieces together, so you’re no longer just internal, or just external, you’re actually holding two sides together.
Connie: And I think visiting with customers and understanding their needs being a key part of what the product manager does, and that part’s really interesting to me.
Holly: Cool. So what was your first job where you actually had product management in the title?
Connie: I moved to product management within the same company actually, so it was a semi-conductor product. I moved also to the development side, and then shortly after that I moved to a solar company. So I did very short stint as a product manager for a semi-conductor product.
Connie: It’s hardware being what it is have very long development cycles, and so in terms of feature development and feature evolution is very slow, but then moving into solar, it was a new emergent field at the time, and there were a lot of new form factors that were being innovated for solar.
Connie: Solar was getting installed on… When they did developments for entire complexes, they would have these roof tiles that were embedded into the roof, and there was solar embedded in it. And there were these different inverter options that you can hook it up with.
Connie: The golden market was changing too like do you have a mom & pop install for you or is it a PG&E coming out and trying to do a big install for many homes or… So there was a lot of program evolution and product evolution happening.
Connie: And so it was an exciting time to be in product management there because of all the incentives around the world that are supporting green energy at the time, we were running out of silicon. Silicon prices shot through the roof because we need it so much silicon to make the solar cells and the people were hedging silicon prices.
Connie: So there was a huge demand all over the world and all these different form factors and product packaging, and pricing was being innovated that time.
Holly: Oh, that sounds so fascinating. And what happened next for you? Why did you move on from solar?
Connie: Solar sort of hit a wall around the economic downturn, 2009-ish, and a lot of subsidies disappeared for solar. And solar hasn’t quite reached… The aspiration for solar was that the government would subsidize a lot of the development until it became parody with gas and coal, with the non renewables.
Connie: And the reality is, policies are less stable than you would hope. When the money dried up, a lot of the money also dried up for subsidizing, because it wasn’t quite parody yet, and in fact, oil and gas still gets subsidy, so you’re in a field where you need subsidy even to meet them and then your competitor is still getting subsidy even though they’re already so cheap.
Connie: The dynamic just didn’t work out economically. So solar ended up being backseat. Wind actually took off pretty well because wind was a lower price point, but solar became a very niche thing where you would install in small installations.
Connie: There was aspirations to build like 50, 100 megawatt systems out in the deserts and have that all hook up. And some of those did get built, but a lot of that slowed down when the subsidies went away. So you still see solar installs right now on residential rooftops, but it became a much more constrained market.
Holly: That sounds frustrating. I know that you found your way into software, so tell me more about that journey.
Connie: I actually did a business degree in sustainable management. I’m personally very passionate about environmental and social justice. That’s why I went and worked in solar for a while, and wanted to do a degree that thinks about how to build a sustainable business.
Connie: And I learned a lot about structuring businesses that have triple bottom line. For example, there’s this concept of the B Corporation, so you might have heard about C Corp and S Corp, but there’s actually a benefit corp as well where you can bake the DNA of your core benefit into the company’s legal documents.
Connie: For example, Ben & Jerry’s, they are ice cream company in Vermont. They have a strong mission around community building and using good ingredients. And when they sold the company to a larger, I think it was Dreyer’s that they sold to, because they’re B Corp, the acquiring company had to maintain the community building and good ingredient’s aspect of their business.
Connie: They can’t just start substituting bad stuff into their product. And that’s really interesting because now you can build a company that you don’t have to worry about losing a soul, so to speak if changes happen.
Connie: So I did my MBA in Sustainable Management and tried a venture afterward in software to help people eat better by helping them cook more often. It was very early idea for its time. This was the time when people were given pedometers, like every employer was starting to give out pedometers. I don’t know if you remember this?
Holly: Yeah, I do.
Connie: Because the pedometers made people walk more and that’s healthier for the employee base, their competitions, all that stuff. And the ultimate holy grail for insurance in general is, just like car insurance, if you have a good track record, you’d get cheaper insurance.
Connie: If you have a good track record with maintaining your health and doing the right thing, eating right, exercising all that, I don’t see why I should get a lower health premium too, because I take better care of my health.
Connie: And this is strong incentive for the whole society to take better care of their health. So is not being big brother, is essentially working the system to benefit everyone. Like sick care is very expensive, wellness care is much better.
Connie: I was trying to work in that space and build a product that is the equivalent of a pedometer, but for food. And what I discovered in building that product was, food is very complicated, much more complicated than I initially anticipated.
Connie: This was 2009, 2010-ish. There wasn’t a lot of databases out there you can just grab data from. And so we have to build our own database of foods that were available in the world.
Holly: Yeah, it’s true.
Connie: So is a very long list, even if I should start with ingredients. Because what I ultimately wanted to do was allow people to choose a recipe, then cook that recipe, and then the data automatically fills in for what your consumption is on vegetable versus meat versus grain.
Connie: So I just drew a really simple graph, but to build that simple graph, I needed so much data. Data that had to be built into the app, but also data that I had to collect from the user. So this organization of data and data collection was a big problem to be solved.
Connie: Looking back now that I’m talking about it, if I was able to just solve that one problem of data collection from consumers around food, that itself is a product. And I think what I learned from that entrepreneurship journey is one, biting off a lot more than I can chew on the product side, but also I think being too weak on the go-to-market sales side.
Connie: There’s a lot of discussion around like Lean development and doing minimal viable products. This is all just bread and butter now, but we’re talking almost 10 years ago when some of those concepts are in the infancy, and I definitely did not take an MVP approach with that product.
Connie: I built out too much, I didn’t talk to customers enough, I didn’t have anyone strong in sales. I didn’t realize this, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was naive to think that I could sell into health insurers, but selling to health insurers is a two year journey.
Connie: And I got as far I think in about eight months, nine months. I got as far as talking to someone at Blue Shield who was the right contact and could run a pilot with a product like mine.
Connie: But it took me eight months to navigate to the right person. And that person was very excited. I got in, did a demo, they were very excited. They’re saying, “We could do this out in our Bakersfield location, and maybe we’ll run one with just our employees and see how it goes.”
Connie: So they were excited, and then they had a list of similar products to mind, like a list of 10 or 20. And they said, “Okay, we’re going to run three of these in our Bakersfield.” But they can’t run everything.
Connie: And so they said, “Okay, we’re not going to run yours this year, but come back next year and we’ll run yours next year.” And of course, in a life of a startup a year is ridiculous. So these are the things you figure out and it’s almost like if I were to do it over again, one, the idea is actually really early, and it may gain same traction as the product was strong enough.
Connie: And the mindset here was far enough along, Blue Shield being actually a leader, they’re like an innovator in the health insurance space actually because they’re based in California and all that.
Connie: But if I were to do it over again, I would start a conversation with Blue Shield while I still have my day job, and work that contact for two years because honestly… And I need at least three others besides Blue Shield, work first for three years, and then maybe I’ll have something worth building.
Connie: So I could not even build anything, but these are the lessons you learn the hard way of what it really means to have an MVP.
Holly: They really are, and you’re bringing back memories for me too because that’s around the same time that I was working in our startup. We had some of the same… Ours was B2C, so we didn’t have to do any big sales cycles, but we just focused on building much more than we focused on bringing it to market and shipping quick and learning, and all these things that these days we all know.
Holly: We think we know, but a lot of people still… We still all have to be practicing it. But yeah, a lot of us I think that do practice these things, it’s because we learned the hard way how much energy you could put into something that is going to need a lot more before it’s ready.
Holly: So you’ve learned a lot from that.
Connie: Yeah. The tendency for everyone is to do what we can control-
Holly: Yes.
Connie: … and building product you can control, you can put money into and control that. The customer sales cycle is a lot harder to control.
Holly: Yeah. I think that’s actually something that… I love that you put it that way because I come across that a lot, especially working with founders who are engineers, who have the ability to just sit down and write the code and build the thing.
Holly: That there’s a lot of times a tendency just… it’s comfortable that they know how to do that part, and sometimes it’s easier. And I’m not saying it’s easy, because building great software is a lot of hard work, but emotionally it might be easier to spend time building something that you have a good picture of how you’re going to make it happen, than it is to go out and test with customers and talk to them and put your ideas out there and give yourself the space for it to be potentially invalidated.
Connie: Great. There’s still a lot of fears in talking to customers. There’s the no control part. They could say no to it, they can really pick your idea apart. And then this sort is there’s no tangible progress. Doesn’t feel like tangible progress.
Connie: Because you can talk to 50 and likely if you’re doing a good job, then 40 of them are saying no anyway. They were the wrong doors to knock on the first place, but that feels like reverse progress rather than forward progress, even though it is forward progress.
Connie: I think there’s just a lot of emotional maybe self reflection and strength that you need to do this work because you’re getting a lot of nos.
Holly: So I know that you ended up at Atlassian, right?
Connie: I did, yeah.
Holly: Tell me a bit about that.
Connie: I actually took a tour at Microsoft too where we sold a news app, or built a news app rather, we sold advertising. We built the new app, got the people and eyeballs and then we sold advertising.
Connie: And that was interesting working with AP and Reuters and really big names in the news business to bring their digital presence to life on Microsoft platform. And then I spent some time at Atlassian where I headed the product team for the marketplace.
Connie: It was a two sided marketplace with third party products that are connected with JIRA and Confluence, and all the Atlassian products.
Connie: It was really fun for me because I like… I’m always leaning more towards partnerships and the more business side of it, of the product, rather than the deep like optimizing a specific funnel, and like the growth hacking side of the product management.
Connie: And then there’s the relationship and strategy, and talking to partners, and figuring out how to piece and price and package side of product management, and that side I feel that I tend to go towards.
Connie: And so this was a lot more of that because it’s hundreds of partners we gather every year, we went to Barcelona. I think they’ve settled on Barcelona, but it used to be in the U.S. that they would gather.
Connie: And it started out with a campfire out in Half Moon Bay, just everybody fit around a campfire. These are third parties that we build, and these can be anywhere from one to three guys in the garage, most often guys, or like a 20 person company that are building products that connect to JIRA and Confluence.
Connie: And we were out there in Half Moon Bay around the fire ring, and then each year that crowd would grow. And when I left Atlassian, there were I think… Gosh, that Barcelona trip was probably 3000 people-
Holly: Wow.
Connie: … at the event. These were all vendors or people thinking about building, or engineers who aren’t selling a product, but they list something for free, or they build something for themselves to scratch an itch and make their workflow better.
Connie: It was a very interesting time and it’s really powerful to see the network effect of having a product that’s really turning into a platform, and really enabling other businesses too to thrive on.
Connie: And of course, software is just proliferating, eating the world, so products that help people build software is just there’s competition, but there’s so much to build. So it’s just such a thriving, exciting community to be a part of.
Holly: And I think a lot of the things you just said are things that a lot of founders aspire to having their companies build, like it’s building software that’s a platform, and that other things are built on top of and having a growing ecosystem, and a two sided marketplace.
Holly: Can you tell us a little more about what it was like to be head of product for that? And what were some of the challenges that you faced in that environment and how did you deal with them?
Connie: One of the challenge of course is you’re actually running a bit of a city. If you think about any kind of marketplace, just going back, ancient Greece… I was in Greece and then we went to the ancient marketplace.
Connie: There were pillars and it’s just a big open plaza, and you had to imagine in your mind that everybody was bringing their wares, and their spices, and their wood, and their what have you, and they were selling them here.
Connie: And there were auction rooms where you can bring maybe your livestock, what have you, and there are rules around how you make that transaction, and then the house takes a cut. So this is the marketplace at the most medieval or primal, but it hasn’t really changed, that is what a marketplace is.
Connie: And we’re running a city, every city is basically a marketplace. They give you the issue premise for you to do business, they have taxes, they have rules around at what time you can open or close or what kind of stuff you can sell, and what kind of taxes you have to pay based on what you’re selling.
Connie: So there’s a lot of systems that are interesting to observe and draw creative juices from to build your own city. I think one of the biggest challenges with any city is civic engagement. The people in your city needs to feel like they should stay as part of the city, and not move away.
Connie: They want get involved, they want to help set those rules, they want to feel that those rules are fair for them. And so as the community grows, one thing that we built was an advisory council with the vendors so that we have this town hall type venue.
Connie: And we had rotating membership, so we had to figure out a structure, a governance structure basically that allowed our citizens who are transacting on our marketplace and paying us taxes essentially to feel that they are involved, and they continue to build their business here, and they can thrive here, and they can feel that it’s fair because you don’t want them moving out.
Connie: They can certainly move out. They have talent, they can build products. There’s other marketplaces, they can go to, other cities they can visit and be a part of. In fact, many of them, unlike if you live in a physical city, you can’t really go and live in two places at once, but in the digital world, you can.
Connie: You can have different distribution channels, you can actually be listed in one marketplace and another one. So how do you attract those tenants, those citizens into your ecosystem so that they are happy there and they continue to thrive there?
Holly: I love that you described it as running a city. I’ve actually been having a talk lately with my designer Mark about city planning and urban design, and how it relates to designing software. So I’m going to have to tell him to come check this out.
Connie: Cool.
Holly: Tell me, was it during your time there or afterwards? When did you start becoming really interested in the storytelling and the leadership, and communication, and develop your framework of storytelling archetypes that you have now?
Connie: I’m part of the Women In Product community out here in Silicon Valley, and I see that as a product manager, there’s a lot of influencing work that one does right from even at the entry level. Your main job is influence really. Influence communication and helping folks move in the same direction.
Connie: And there’s so much that is not taught around that in school, formal education, or even in the job. There’s not really any programs for helping people understand how influence works, and how different people receive information differently, but we’re all just figuring it out along the way.
Connie: We talked to a lot of people, a lot of conversations don’t work out, and then we learn over time. And to me that feels… And I can imagine… If I think back 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I would have really benefited myself from having a framework around how to think about who I interact with, how I interact with them, what kind of information they need, or what will most likely move the needle for them in a direction that allows me to bring the team together.
Connie: Because there’s a lot of conversations, whether it’s engineering not being on board with a certain direction, or there’s a lot of technical debt, and that’s a common arm wrestle. Working on technicall debt versus new features. How do you have that conversation that is constructive instead of destructive I guess, instead of being very aggressive with each other.
Connie: Or how do you say no to a CEO, or how do you say no to a customer? How do you communicate price changes with customers? Those are very tough conversations to have that product managers have almost every day.
Connie: And so having a framework around, okay, these are the types of people I’m likely to interact with, these are their care abouts, and these are different ways for me to engage them is very helpful.
Connie: I’ve always enjoyed theater and improv. I did it since high school, but realized early on that I don’t have the voice to be in a musical for reals. So it’s always been a hobby, but I find a lot of inspiration from that.
Connie: I met someone who helped me with some of my storytelling and speaking skills. He’s an actor and theater director, and so we sat down, we played around debating, created a framework for how to think about what are the different people that one interacts with, and how do they see the world?
Connie: What do they value? How do they like to interact with the world? And what do they want to receive? How do they want to receive that message when you interact with them? I think we all naturally do it. We all naturally know that we don’t interact with every person the same way, and someone might come in very energetic, and we pump up our energy to meet that.
Connie: But what I found is like having of this grid really helps me because I’m such a structured mind. It helps me think about what are the different dials I have to change my interaction.
Holly: I think that sounds incredibly useful, and there’s some parts of that that really resonate for me to where I wish I knew 15 years ago what I know now about communicating and everything. Do you think you could walk us through a little bit of it, or how do you introduce people to it when they’re first learning about it?
Connie: Yeah. We actually broke it down into six different archetypes, and we call them speaker archetypes. There’s ton of personality tests. If you’re a part of any team, you’re probably done like DISC, and StrengthsFinder, and 5 Dynamics, or what have you. A lot of those focus on interaction between team members and the relative strengths of them.
Connie: Whereas the speaker archetype focuses specifically on what stories you tend to tell about your experiences, and how do you tend to show up physically? Like your energy level, the language that you pick and your emotional drive, meaning do you tend to talk more about the emotions of the experience or the logic of the experience?
Connie: We broke it down into these four dimensions basically across the six archetypes and put together a quick quiz that you can take. In fact, you can go to if you’re curious about which one you are, and it tells you which one you tend to be. For example, I am a visionary speaker archetype.
Connie: That means for me that I tend to be logical, emotional. I’ll start on the logical side of the argument and then move towards the emotional. Steve Jobs is an example of someone who’s very visionary and he always starts with numbers.
Connie: He talks about the practicality of what the product launches or whatever is when he’s on stage, but he’s very good at also drawing on some of the emotion with the imagery that he brings and the word choices that he has.
Connie: And so I tend to do that too and I use energy as a way to draw on some of that emotion because I was trained as an engineer, and I was attracted to engineering, so like I’m actually pretty logical brain. And so I need to draw on some of the emotional side because I need to appeal to people who are more coming from the emotional side.
Connie: So I find that I do that by just elevating my energy, which has a side effect of feeling like it’s more emotional. And then I also tend to really like the journey of a quest. My preferred story, like I love watching Star Trek.
Connie: Star Trek was, we go on a journey, we discover the diverse, there’s a lot of ventures here, but there’s this goal of going out there and conquering the world, discovering the universe. I like that journey. If you tell me that we’re going to climb Mount Everest, you would get me to go with you if you talk a lot about the goal, the quest, how we get there, all that.
Connie: But if I was talking to a different speaker archetype, someone just right next to me in terms of emotional drive, what we call the wise neighbor, that person is much more attracted to the rags to riches story, which is the idea of… It’s like the Cinderella story is the story of the common everyday person suddenly hitting a bag.
Connie: And it’s the entrepreneurship journey like, oh, really scrappy, and then we became really big. That person is much more about… If I was to convince that person to come to Mount Everest with me, I can’t talk too much about the goal because that’s not… The goal is what you end up with, but it’s more about the journey for them, and it’s more about who’s coming, who’s coming on this journey.
Connie: What are some of the shenanigans that could happen along the way? Your everyday guy, they’re the person you grab a beer with, or grab a drink with, go see the ballgame with. They just come from a very different place in terms of priorities and values.
Connie: And so understanding all these different types of values. And none of them are wrong or right, they’re just how we script our own lives, this is the story I tell about myself all the time. Understanding all these different styles help you realize, oh, I can tell the story very differently.
Connie: Same story, but I can tell it from a different angle and that will allow me to connect with this person better.
Holly: That’s awesome. I definitely I’m thinking about different people and where they fall in there, and also Star Trek is like my favorite TV show ever, so I love that you shared that one.
Connie: You might also be visionary. You haven’t taken it yet, right? Or you did and it’s been a while?
Holly: I thought I did, but I don’t remember. Maybe I do need to take it.
Connie: I’m super curious which one you’ll be.
Holly: I should check it out. But I do get a lot of some of what you were describing as well, so that could be me. One of the things for me too is having sort of the handbook of how to talk to the others like how do I put this story for this person to care for, and how do I put this story for this person to care?
Holly: I think that’s so valuable for products leaders and founders to have in their toolkit that they can translate the story to motivate all the different audiences.
Connie: Exactly. One common, one that comes up for product managers that are working with tech teams, engineering teams, or even if you’re working with finance teams, you find a lot of professor types in those roles.
Connie: And this is the very logical person, this is your Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is your person who likes facts, details, has a moderate level of energy and they care a lot about knowledge acquisition.
Connie: Being able to dial back the energy, being able to vary the language, being able to talk about more of a journey and return type of journey, life journey makes it much more appealing to this personality.
Connie: You have the same story at the end of the day, the same product vision or product roadmap you want to convey, it’s just what do you lean on? What do you lean on? And when I coach some of the product managers I coach, we talk about, okay, what are the different inflections of what you’re talking about and how do you reorganize them in terms of order?
Connie: You don’t even have to make new material, it’s just like put this on the top. Start the meeting with this if you’re talking to the professor group, or start the meeting with this other one if you’re talking to evangelists, which tends to be sales people.
Connie: Start a meeting with this other thing because it’s all in your deck, it’s just don’t talk about the thing that’s going to put them to sleep first because then you just lose them. You have 10 seconds before they’re onto something else and pull out their phones.
Connie: How do you engage them quickly so that they’re with you?
Holly: That’s great. So I think last thing that I always like to ask is just if you have any final words of advice for product leaders or startup founders. What is the biggest message you want them to come away with?
Connie: If you haven’t started a business yet, I think realizing that it’s a long emotional journey is helpful. I think that’s something people don’t often realize that there’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road, and figure out your coping mechanism for the bumps is going to be your saving grace.
Connie: And whether that’s having a co-founder on the journey, or writing down the reason for doing it on the wall, like paint it on the wall, or having a mastermind group which is an idea that you brought up, which I love.
Connie: What is the mechanism for keeping you on the path through the bumps because that is going to be the first thing that kills the company. It’s not even going to be fundraising or product market fit, or anything else. It’s going to be motivation from the founding person, the founding team.
Connie: So what is that mechanism I think? It needs to get figured out early on.
Holly: Yes. Reminds me of the Weight Watchers’ slogan, “Keep your why close by.” Like, “Paint on the wall, keep it in your wallet, wherever you got to put it, keep your why close by.”
Connie: I like that.
Holly: Tell us again where people can go if they want to find you. I know you shared how to go take the Archetype Test. What was that URL, and then where else can they find you too?
Connie: If you’re curious about your speaker archetype, then go to, and itself is the rest of the information about what I’m working on. I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter as well, so feel free to reach out, and always interested in connecting with product leaders.
Holly: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Connie. It was really great to catch up and talk more about your journey and all the things you’ve been working on.
Connie: Likewise, thanks, Holly.
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