The Marty Cagan Hypothesis: Extraordinary Products Are Built by Empowered Product Teams

This week on the Product Science Podcast, we’re back with a new interview with Marty Cagan, founder of the Silicon Valley Product Group, to talk about his new book, EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products.

In this episode of the Product Science Podcast, we learn what lead him to write a new book, and why many business leaders underestimate the results they can get out of the team they already have by working in a new way.

Subscribe for the full episode on Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and more. Love what you hear? Leave us a review, it means a lot.

Resources

Questions We Explore in This Episode

The Marty Cagan Hypothesis: Extraordinary Products Are Built by Empowered Product TeamsHow did the release of a second edition of Inspired lead Marty to write Empowered? What conversations did he have with business leaders and what didn’t they understand? What was the tip of the iceberg? How is a book similar to the old days of shipping shrink-wrapped software? What is the main thing preventing business leaders from running more empowered teams?

How do you create an environment where people can do good work? What does Marty tell business leaders to show them that their team can be good enough to work in a different way? How do you identify a good product strategy and what are the common elements? What are some red flags Marty has seen? What happens when your strategy is simple pleasing as many stakeholders as you can?

How do you give your product strategy to your team in a way that empowers them instead of turning them into just a feature team building things from a list? How do you use OKRs the way they were intended to be used? Why is it so hard for leaders to hand off problems to their teams? Why are businesses still carrying baggage from the industrial revolution on how teams should be led?

What mantra has been with Netflix since the beginning? How do you lead with context, not control? What is team topology and why is there not much written about it? What is the difference between empowerment and autonomy? What does Marty mean when he says that you’re trying to optimize for empowerment? How do you know know when your teams are highly aligned but loosely coupled?

What are some best practices for creating an empowered architecture? Why does Marty’s book spotlight product leaders, and what does he mean by that? Why is it so important to Marty that people know what it’s like to work with a great product leader? Why is it so important for people to understand the importance of coaching if you’re a product leader?

Quotes From This Episode

As a product leader, your job is to provide an environment where people can do good work. Click To Tweet If your business is driven by innovation, command and control management is the antithesis of what we want and need. Click To Tweet As a leader, don't tell people what to do in a command and control sense, don't hand them that solution. Tell them the context, tell them the problem...that's the information they need in order to come up with the best solution. Click To Tweet

Transcription

Holly Hester-Reilly: Hi, and welcome to the Product Science Podcast, where we’re helping startup founders and products leaders build high growth products, teams, and companies through real conversations with people who’ve tried it, and aren’t afraid to share lessons learned from their failures along the way. I’m your host, Holly Hester-Reilly, founder and CEO of H2R Product Science.
This week on the Product Science Podcast I’m excited to share another conversation with Marty Cagan. Marty’s new book, Empowered, has just come out, and I wanted to hear more about the story behind book, and the topics that are in it. So welcome, Marty.
Marty Cagen: Thanks very much, Holly.
Holly Hester-Reilly: So I’m sure our listeners already know who you are, and they’ve heard about your journey before, because you’ve been on the podcast before, but let’s talk a bit about the story of this book. What led to you writing Empowered?
Marty Cagen: Yeah, sure. Well, officially the work started two years ago, it was a two year effort, but what had happened was three years ago the second edition of Inspired came out.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: The first edition was basically just in the smaller tech community, but the second edition of Inspired was distributed by a big publisher in New York, and the result was it went a lot further than the first edition. And of course, product had grown in that 10 years. And that was great, of course, lots more people exposed to the ideas, lots more people telling me now they understand what product is and they love this, the problem was very early I started hearing from teams that they wanted to work the way it’s described, good teams work, but there they weren’t allowed to. Sometimes they were literally prevented, but more often their company didn’t really have a place. They don’t really even have a place for product discovery in general.
The way they work was they are handed roadmaps, and they’re told just, “Design the features, implement the features as fast as you can.” And of course that’s not discovery, that is a little bit of design, that’s a lot of coding, and it kind of misses the point of making sure that product comes up with a solution that really works, it’s valuable, usable, feasible, viable. And I started meeting with the leaders of those companies and asking them, “You said you want to work like the best companies, you do realize that’s not how they work, so let’s try to understand why and what it would take.
And I started realizing what was really going on is while Inspired talked about the best practices for teams, there really wasn’t anything out there that talked about how leaders at good companies work and need to work.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And when I looked at how they were doing the job of ‘product leadership,’ really in their case just managing these feature teams, versus what a good product leader does at a good product company, the difference was so dramatic that I realized, well, this may even need a book. I was thinking originally some articles, which I started by writing some articles, and they resonated, that was the good part, but what it really did was it exposed the tip of the iceberg, really, that they didn’t really even know what product vision was, let alone how to do it. They didn’t know really anything about product strategy, and most of them had no product strategy, they were just trying to please as many stakeholders as possible. They didn’t know anything about team typology, how do we structure our product teams to meet the needs?
They were basically just kind of going with what they’ve had for a long time, dealing with technical debt, they just were sort of stumbling along on that front, and they certainly didn’t know how to assign work in a way to their teams that let their teams be empowered to solve those problems.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: So I was looking at this realizing, oh my gosh, that’s not this big a problem, that is this big a problem. And I had to decide, I remember I did a talk at Mind the product Hamburg two years ago< and I did an MVP of what this concept would be to see how it resonated. Because this is a big topic, and I got a lot of feedback that people are like, “We don’t know this stuff, we need help with this stuff.” So I got to work, which, unfortunately books are massive projects, and they’re old school projects. You ship a physical thing, and you can’t change it, so they very much reminds me of the old days of shipping shrink wrap software. But yeah, it’s two years later and it finally came out, so that’s where we’re at.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. I think that one of the things in there that you said that I’m the most curious about is, when you were earlier on in the journey towards this book, and you were asking the people you were meeting, or the product leaders you were meeting, if they had an idea that they were not working like the best product companies, and did they see that? Did they see that? How many of them saw that? And what was that like?
Marty Cagen: Yeah, it’s really amazing to me. Almost all of them did see it, and one of the things that’s funny is there’s all these books that are out there, that I think are very good by the way, really good, that make the argument for empowered teams. And they’re aimed at CEOs, they’re like Turn the Ship Around, if you’ve ever seen that one, or Team of Teams, around special forces in the military, or the brand newest one that I love is from the co-founder of Netflix, Reed Hasting, No Rules Rules. But there’s all these books then make the argument that if you really want to get the talent of your people, work like Google, work like Amazon, and most of the time they not only knew of that, but they had read at least a few of them and liked them. But when I asked, “Okay, then what’s the problem?” Well, the problem is they didn’t trust their teams.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: They felt that they don’t have the caliber people that other companies do, that the good companies do. Which is explicitly why I chose the subtitle I did on the book Empowered, which is Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products, because that was the missing piece of the puzzle that I think that so many of those leaders didn’t know. They thought, unless you hire these rockstar type, they have to come from MIT or Stanford. Of course that is not the case at any of those companies. They might have been at Google for their first few hires, but not at scale, not for a long time.
And so what I point out to them is, “No, they have the same people. In fact in many times, I’ve been introducing people from companies like yours, where they’re not happy, into those companies and see how great they could do.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And so to me it was very clear it wasn’t about that, it was about how they were using their people, the environment that they were providing. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is Bill Campbell, Coach Bill Campbell’s quote about the job of leaders is to realize there’s a greatness in everyone and to provide an environment where that greatness can shine. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what he’s basically saying. And he literally coached Bezos, and Steve Jobs, and Larry and Sergey on exactly that point, your job is to provide an environment where people can do good work.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: In fact, I ended up dedicating the book to Bill Campbell because so many of the principles that I found in the best companies were really coming from him.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. That really resonates with me, I’m sure a lot of people have this, but I have my own times where I went into a new company and I talked to the leaders and I said, “Why are you working in this way?” And they’d be like, “Our people aren’t good enough for us to do it that way,” and I was like, “What do you mean? They’re not going to be if you don’t give them a chance.” So what are some of the first things that you do, so say you’re talking to some of these people who think their people weren’t good enough to do it this way, how do you start to show them that that’s not the problem?
Marty Cagen: Well, first of all I like to show them the backstory on products that they are impressed with. So one of the tools I use a lot is I know a lot of the teams, and I know a lot of the backstories, like, okay, how they came up with this product. Because they do acknowledge the products are great, but to them it’s like a black box of all these super, super scientists, or something behind the scenes. And so you show them more behind the scenes, and then you show them, “Okay, let’s look at the product strategy they had, and let’s compare that to what you have, and you can start to see how they’re getting so much more out of their people than you are.”
So I find that works well, especially because each leader seems to have, there’s a few companies that they respect, and if I can figure out who those companies are, and they’re usually a consistently innovative company, and I share more of their philosophy, more their mantras, so that they can relate to that. But usually it’s not that hard to get them to the point where they can at least be willing to try it, at least try it with a team or two. But there’s more, then I start telling them, “You need to really make sure you have the leaders in place that can make sure these people know how to do these jobs.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: We talk about the role of coaching and staffing. Changing a company from working in the conventional ways to the ways really good companies work is a big journey, that’s non-trivial. The root of the issue may be the leader’s lack of trust, but the fix for the issue is it impacts the leaders, it starts with the leader.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, and it takes a long time. It’s not something they can just change in a week.
Marty Cagen: Exactly.
Holly Hester-Reilly: So tell me more, you mentioned product strategy and having them look at how the companies they admire, how their product strategy works, and then look at their own. What are the components, or how do you identify a good product strategy? What do you expect to see?
Marty Cagen: Yeah, and in fact I ended up, I’ve had some examples that I’ve used for a while that really seem to resonate, I ended up putting in the book, in fact, even though, I hesitate to shine a light on bad companies. It’s easier to talk about good companies than bad ones by name. But there is a very well-documented ‘product strategy’ from a company you probably remember, Pandora. Pandora was a music service, one of the early ones, and there’s a whole story about, I think they made a huge mistake going public with just a few engineers, and a lot of that was the root of the issue. But they published their product strategy, and if you looked at it for even 30 seconds you realize it’s not a product strategy at all. Their whole strategy was try to please as many stakeholders as possible.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And they didn’t even really tackle that. So what they did is they just basically let the stakeholders, he gave him funny money and let them buy features. And anyway I’m like, “Okay, look at that. That may be more blatant than you have, but it’s the same thing.” That’s all they’re doing is just their feature teams, they’re trying to please as many stakeholders as possible, and you notice there’s no real innovation at all.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Marty Cagen: And even more to the point, you could argue because they had such a small investment in engineers and product in general, that they needed to be especially smart in how they used those people.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely.
Marty Cagen: And so that’s an argument for a very good product strategy, not the absence of a product strategy. And that’s what so many companies do. Now most of them don’t play silly games with funny money to kind of allocate the features, but they essentially are letting stakeholders, there’s some allocation, and they do as many features as they can, and they are sorry they can’t please everybody. And then I contrast that for them with, “Now let’s look at a real product strategy, the way a good product company works.” They know they can’t do everything so they make some hard decisions around focus. What are the things that really matter?
So at your stage of the company with a lot of startups I’m like, “You need to realize the only thing that matters is product market fit right now.” You don’t have it, and so you are thrashing trying to do 50 different things and making progress on none of them.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Marty Cagen: So first part of product strategy is focus. Then I’m like, “Okay, so then you focus on product market fit, but what do you do?” Well now you need to get serious. This is where product leaders earn their money, we need to look for insights. Those insights can come from the data, that’s the most common example, they can come from talking to your customers, they can come from new enabling technology, they can come from industry analysts and the competitive landscape, but you need to decide how are you going to really zero in on the levers that will make the difference for your product?
And then of course you have to turn that into work. Any product strategy turns into execution, and that is the problems that need to be solved. And then you want to assign those problems to product teams in a way that is empowering and not command and control. So if you just hand them a list of features, that’s command and control, you’re telling them, this is the solution, whether or not they agree or not, build this.
And so we talk about the alternative and yeah, product strategy is right in the thick of it, that is right where everything comes together, so I do spend a lot of time on product strategy. It’s also true, that was the area of the book I was most hesitant to talk about in the book because for the last 20 years I had felt that product strategy was something I had to do face-to-face, one-on-one with the product leaders, with a whiteboard, with their dashboard of their data. And so I didn’t know if I’d be able to describe how product strategy is done in a general enough way that it could be done by anybody.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And so that was one of the hardest parts of the book to write, but I felt pretty good about how that came out, because a lot of product leaders that I really respect, for those that don’t know that listen, you are one of them, you know that, but your listeners may not know that, I wanted to see, did it make sense to them, and seemed to go pretty well.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. I think product strategy is one of the absolute most important things that I see missing from so many companies that I work with, and so many products managers that I talk to that come to me and they’re like, “My product leader just asked me to build these features, and there’s no strategy to it.” And it’s such a shame to see so many products people working in that environment. I always tell them to step up and if they’re not seeing it, start crafting what they think it should be, form an opinion on it. Even if you’re not yet at a place where you expect that opinion to be heard, you should start forming that, and it’s all about the focus, people try to do too many things.
So you named a lot of things in there that are really important. So obviously there was a lot to coming up with a good product strategy, but then you also mentioned giving that product strategy to the teams in a way that empowers them rather than just turning them into feature teams and telling them, build this. What are some of the techniques that you use for that?
Marty Cagen: Well, let’s say in your product strategy that you come out of the product strategy and the big, let’s just say the big thing you’ve got to really fix is the onboarding process for your product. Okay, that’s one of a few really big problems that have to be fixed in order for the whole thing to work well. And company to have good unit economics, let’s say. And so there’s really fundamentally two ways you can do that. One way is the leader, or whoever, says, “Okay, we need to fix onboarding, I know what to do. Here are the 10 things you need to do.” And that’s basically a roadmap. It might be coming from the product leader instead of the stakeholders, but it’s still a roadmap of features and projects. And teams can do it, and some percentage of those will probably help, but most won’t, and the teams certainly won’t feel ownership of it because they’re not, they don’t have ownership.
On another hand the good way, and ironically, the way OKR’s were intended to be used, is that you say, “Okay, here’s the problem,” you go to one or more teams, product teams, there’s no reason you can’t assign a hard problem to multiple teams, that’s often what good companies do, but you go to one or more teams and say, “Okay, we need you to focus on the onboarding problem. It’s not good today. It takes 40 days on average for a customer and onboard, that’s not scalable for us, and our customers aren’t happy. The way we measure this is how long it takes, and maybe also something like churn rate, or something else. And so what we need you to do is look at that problem, and as a team figure out the best way you think to solve that problem. And that’s your problem. This quarter, tell us what you can do, maybe this quarter you can make it from 40 days down to 30 days, you tell us, but that’s the problem we need you to really own.”
And then the team looks at all the data, they look at all the customer, they talk to customers, hopefully they watch them interact, and then they’re like, “Yeah, we’re going to work on this problem, we’ve got lots of ideas.” We’re not sure, of course, if they’re honest. They’ll say, “We’re not sure exactly which ideas will work, but we know that ultimately our job is to improve that onboarding.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, yeah. That resonates so well, I literally just went through that experience of a leader wanting to hand over, “Let’s decide what needs to be built, and these are the things.” And then being like, “Oh, let’s give the team the problem.” I guess to those of us who’ve worked in an environment where teams are given the problem, it seems surprising that it’s so hard for leaders to do that. Do you have any insights as to why it’s so hard for leaders to work that way?
Marty Cagen: Yeah, I mean, at this point. The classic way over the last 100 years, I’m not even sure when it started, is command and control. It’s been the style, that’s sort of the industrial revolution, was all sort of built on the backs of a command and control management style. And honestly, it’s still, I meet people that just graduate business school, and they don’t say, “Oh, I was trained in command and control,” but they’ve been indoctrinated in command and control, they’ve been brainwashed into this model. And so you have to say, “That is not the only way to work, that is not even the good way to work.”
Now you could argue that if you’re a manufacturing company and you’re trying to consistently deliver 1 million of the identical things every day, okay, I don’t know enough about that world to say, but that’s where it came from, that’s where the mindset came from. But I can’t tell you if your business is driven by innovation, this is the antithesis of what we want and need.
I mention the book that just came out recently by Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix, called No Rules Rules, which is kind of a provocative title, but they’re describing how Netflix was built on a culture of empowerment. It is like, set the dial all the way to 10, on one to 10 in terms of empowerment, because it really is a spectrum. And in the book, they talk about a mantra that’s been at Netflix from the beginning. It was credited to Leslie Kilgore, you may remember she was one of the early executives at Netflix, and still on their board. But anyway, the mantra is, lead with context, not control. And I loved that mantra, just resonated perfectly with me. Nobody I know at Netflix had told me that mantra before, so that was new for me.
but I loved it because yeah, that’s short for, don’t tell people what to do in a command and control sense, don’t hand them that solution. Tell them the context, tell them the problem, tell them the data we have. Like, what’s the unit economics on this product. Tell them the challenges, tell them the constraints out there. That gives them the information they need in order to come up with the best solution to this problem. And they try extremely hard, you could argue the entire company was built around optimizing for empowered teams. And I also find it just personally fascinating to watch how that model has then migrated and applied to creating content. Netflix has done incredibly well, which many people thought, of course, “Oh they know how to do technology, but they have no idea how to create a film or a series.” But of course they do, it has worked remarkably well.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yes, yeah. That book, I’ve heard other people recommend it to me just in the past week, so I’m definitely going to read it. Yeah. So one of the other things that you mentioned earlier on that I wanted to dive a little deeper into is team topology, because I think that’s something that there’s not enough content and writing out there on, it’s kind of hard for people to get info. Tell me more about that.
Marty Cagen: Yeah, and the reason there’s not much written on it, because it’s a really complicated topic, that’s why. And it’s also one of those topics that is not purely a product topic, it spans product and technology. In fact, the only way I know to do a good team topology is when you get the engineering leaders together with the product leaders and they solve this together, because it’s sort of by definition where those come together. And of course what this really is is a non-issue if you’re a very early stage startup, if you’ve got less than a dozen engineers, then basically the company equals the product team, you’re done.
But once you start growing, once you get 20, 30, but then especially when you get hundreds of engineers and now you have 40, 50, 100 product teams, now the question of how do you break up that work so that every team feels ownership of something meaningful, and they feel also largely autonomous, autonomy is a little different than empowerment. Empowerment says you are able to figure out the best way to solve the problem, autonomy says you have the resources and the skills you need on your team in order to do whatever you need to do. And of course, at scale nobody has full autonomy, just like nobody really has full empowerment in the sense that we don’t get to change the business purpose, we don’t get to change the pricing usually, things like that. So we all have constraints. That’s fine, what we’re trying to do is optimize for empowerment.
So we’re trying to minimize dependencies, we’re trying to maximize autonomy. We’re trying to align teams with customers, we’re trying to align teams with parts of the business. So there are all these factors, the biggest factor I didn’t even mention yet, the biggest factor for team typology is usually, well really two. Number one is the vision, the where you’re trying to end up. So if you don’t have a typology that helps you get there, it’s going to get in the way of you getting there.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And then the second one, which is also a derivative of the vision, is the architecture, because of course the architecture plays a tremendously outsized role in team typology, because architecture either enables teams to have the level of, well, another famous principle around team typology you’ve probably heard is highly aligned loosely coupled. That’s what we want with product teams, we want them highly aligned so that we are all going in exactly the same direction, but we’re also not so tied to each other.
Team typology’s one of those things that’s really easy to see when you have a bad one. If every team complains to you that even making a small change requires working with all the other teams, and nobody is really able to feel ownership of anything, we’re all just a small… this is what I hear from so many companies that don’t have a intentional team topology, they say that “We’re just a little cog in a giant wheel, we don’t really own anything meaningful, we’re like one little step in a user journey, and we can’t really impact anything.” That’s not a good topology.
But the architecture, the architecture implies where the dependencies are, teams end up either fighting an architecture or aligning with an architecture. And so that’s why we really need those engineers there, because they know the architecture, and they influence the architecture, and we can align the architecture with our team’s needs. And that’s really where we get a good team typology from. There’s no perfect team typology, just like there’s no perfect 100% autonomy at scale, but there are some really good practices. And in the book I share a lot of best practices in order to end up with a highly empowered set of teams.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. So it sounds like it’s a lot about trade-offs, a lot of, you know.
Marty Cagen: It’s all about trade-offs, absolutely. But intelligent trade-offs, and that’s where you really do need your engineering counterparts with you.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. One of the other things that was different in this book is you shared stories of product leaders and their, like in Inspired you shared stories of product managers, but in this case, the product leaders come from different disciplines. Tell me about that.
Marty Cagen: Yeah, I wanted to show… this is the thing about the tech industry. It’s really, in many cases, a cult of personality. Everybody knows the founders, everybody knows the CEOs, they get all this attention, and I’ve always been more interested in the people behind these products, always been more interested. The engineers, the designers, and the product managers, especially product managers, they’re just not seen, the attention goes to the seniors. But I also think that’s true with most of the leaders as well, product leaders. And so I wanted to shine a light on good product leaders. And when I say product leaders, I mean the managers and leaders of product management, product design, engineering, and the company.
So I ended up picking eight product leaders, two that lead design, two that lead engineering, two that lead product, and two the lead companies. And I’ve known them all, and I think they’re all really good examples of what we look for in a leader, somebody who really cares, and shows this every day, how much they care about staffing and coaching their people, especially coaching. And I wanted to show that, in great companies, these leaders, this is really what they’re good at. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, which is true with product and design, and even engineering today, they come from many different backgrounds, but they all are the kind of people that really know how to develop teams. They know the power of teams, they’re secure enough in their own contribution that they’re not afraid to shine a light on the team, which of course, as you know, there’s a lot of egos in our industry, and a lot of them, that gets in the way of their ability to be a good leader.
So yeah, I wanted to shine a light on some great leaders, and fortunately I know a lot of them, and there are a lot of really good leaders. And I wanted people to know not just how good companies work, but what it’s like to work for one of these people, because that’s what, of course, I’m hoping.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, I love that. And I think that there’s so many great people in the industry that don’t get the attention and that we don’t hear their stories enough, or we don’t hear enough about how they do their jobs, and we can learn so much from them. So it’s one of the things I hope to do with this podcast, it’s all about finding people that, maybe we haven’t heard from all of them yet, and it’s fantastic to hear new stories.
Marty Cagen: Yeah. Well I would encourage any of those eight leaders that I profile in the book would be a great person for your podcast.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. I think I will definitely be getting more of them on here. So I know we just have a couple of minutes left, are there other topics in the book that you really want a chance to share with our listeners?
Marty Cagen: Well, we talked about a lot of them. The product leadership, the leaders and managers of these areas, these are hard jobs. These really are hard jobs, and a lot of people that have not played this role, they are pretty surprised when you describe what they’re really responsible for, because the difference, I mean it’s not like they weren’t working hard hours or anything, but the what they do during their day is so different. In fact, when I tell first level managers that more than 50%, at least 50% of their time should be on coaching their people they’re like, “Oh my gosh, it’s not even in my top three right now.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marty Cagen: And so they’re often like, “What do I do? I mean, I don’t understand how I’m going to get from here to there, there’s a big difference.” And really this is the key difference. For your individual contributors on the teams, it often does require them raising their game, but it’s still the job, same job. But for the leaders, it’s really a very different role they’re playing for their company, and need to play.
So I do try to acknowledge that it’s a very hard job, and that it’s not, one of the other things I try to point out is if you think your job is to please everybody, you won’t really like this job. It’s not about that. Now you should be very transparent, you don’t want to be arbitrary, you don’t want to be viewed as some dictator. You are being very open about how you make decisions about the transparency of the data, about why you’re focusing on certain areas, but fundamentally there are a lot of choices that have to be made by these leaders in order to move the needle on the important things.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s so much not pleasing people, you really have to have a strong spine, I think.
Marty Cagen: Yeah, there’s a great quote, I didn’t put this in the book, but there’s a great Steve Jobs quote about this, which is, “If you want to please people don’t be a product leader, sell ice cream.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yes, that makes sense. Awesome. Well, this has been a pleasure, I’m so excited about the book being out, and if people want to find you or the books, where should they go?
Marty Cagen: Well, sure. The book is available now everywhere, hardback, audio, and Kindle, just their favorite retailers. SVPG.com is our website, and lots of free content. I mean, all the content is free, and we are constantly writing our latest thoughts in there. And I’m on Twitter @Cagen.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Mm-hmm (affirmative), awesome. Great, well thank you so much for your time, I’m really glad we got a chance to talk about the book.
Marty Cagen: Thank you very much, Holly.
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