How to Build Hardware Products by Former Motorola VP of Product
Welcome to the product podcast byproduct school. Here's a preview of today's talk. When you're dealing with hardware products. And they're not only Harvard as I said, there's hardware software for cloud services, apps nowadays, also to go and so on right. Learn to simplify the problem as an engineer when I was growing up. Everybody would be proud that this already difficult problem, right? And how difficult problems and how smart they were that this all this. Awesome. Awesome challenging problem as a product manager. I hate that. I want to solve all the simple stuff. Right. There is no you should take pride in having success in the product rather than solving most difficult problem than nobody cares about rates that this is a different mindset. Embrace simplicity. Ask yourself. The question is this difficult thing really worth doing rates or anytime? Somebody says I'm doing this thing for the first time this is so difficult. You should really step back and ask the question is it worth doing it? Your flag should be going up as a product manager. Okay. This is a risk if this guy saw smarty saying nobody else's done, this it automatically. There's a pretty high risk here. In this podcast. We teach our listeners valuable lessons about product management and transform them into thinking like a product manager we teach product management coding, data analytics and blockchain fourteen campuses worldwide, including San Francisco, New York and Seattle, you can find more information at product school dot com. Join our slack community of twenty five thousand professionals to network and stay tuned for upcoming events. So I'll tell you how I came up with this this little title for this. There was a partner in Boston who I shall not name, and they used to do a hardware consultancy and when I would walk into their offices right in the front. They had this little plaque that said hardware is hard. Rate. I said. Boy, this is not true. Right. You know, you're scaring people away. Right. So I said, let's go figure out a way to make hardware product soft or like kind of easy, right? And so I said, okay, we need to go do something. And this is where I started kind of going through my head s to. Why hardwood is different how to make hardware? Really easy. Right. So that's what I've been. Working. In my career. So and before we get into. Hardwood, and how hardware products at different than software products, and how you manage them differently. I think it's really important to understand what product management is at the end. Right. You know, when I was starting out my career for most of my kids. There was no such thing as product managers, right? There really wasn't all the companies that I worked at there was no by the title product manager. Right. It was just engineers, and that's it and some product marketing people. And that's all what they used to do and somewhere along the line people figured out. Whatever engineers would design wasn't sufficient in the marketplace. Right. Functionality was kind of the lowest common denominator that you needed to succeed. But you had to go way beyond that right to really have a hit product. And that's how I think really product management at least in hardware product, and the kind of products and consumer electronics that I have been building all started. And so what I call product management in. My view is really about owning the product. What I mean by owning the product. I mean owning the outcomes of product, right? If if the product is successful, then you have to make sure you share the success with everybody who contributed to the product. If it bombs, unfortunately, which a lot of products, do then is the product manager's job to own up to it and say, you know, what I screwed up rate. That's really what it is. And you have to be willing to sign up for that kind of job where you can spread the good stuff and take responsibility for all the not so good stuff that happens. Right. You really have to own up. To the overall success? And by the way, you have to know all everything that goes into making a product successful. Right. So it's not just hey, I'm an engineer now. I'm an engineer. I'm a salesperson. I am a marketing person. I am doing everything. Right. I have to have a good enough knowledge and understanding of everything right? And. And this is the reason why I tell everybody. You know, product management is not something that is taught in school. Really if you go to MIT or Stanford, and you can do a PHD you still have no idea how to build a product and bring it to market, right? Putting a box of cereal on the shelf. I can tell you from experience is way more difficult than doing a PHD at MIT rate. I don't know about any MIT PHD's, but I killed I tell it to them as well. It is actually putting a box of seal on the shelf is way more difficult because you don't learn it anywhere, right? It is extremely extremely difficult. You're going to have to use kills. That nobody ever taught you right? You're going to have to learn a lot of this. And there's no other way other than experience rate and having gone through the process of few times, I'm going to learn the hard way. And this is the reason why when I heard of product school, I was so happy that least there is somebody who is willing to impart the knowledge and the experience, right and telling training people shooting than wealth of knowledge that exists how to go Bill products. Right. And by the way, every product here that you will see has an interesting story behind the these are all products that I have built I have some samples to that. I'm very happy to share. But the stories behind them are actually very interesting, and they're all examples of the success took a lot of product management. In fact, how these products what he would conceived had a lot to do with. Really with product management at the end a lot of the innovation that happened was in product management rather than jeering rate. So we will come back to some of these. And I'll tell you stories on these as as time permits so before I get going, right? You know, let me tell you how I got into product management because I think that's an. An interesting story. So I I still consider myself. A geek, I'm a geek, I love to geeky stuff. And when I was at Motorola, I had this little skunkworks project going on right? Which is I was involved in very early before, you know, when I was still in school in doing WI fi rate know before it was called by. So I always had this. I was doing cellular now I still had a little affinity towards doing by and on my with my little team of two or three people. I'm working on this. Hey, I would be cool to voice over IP or wifi. This is like twenty years ago. Right. People said, this is a piece of crap noble. You could never do this technically it will never work. Right. So we filed maybe a dozen patents. We said I wouldn't built a prototype and said, yeah, look at works. And by the way, it's actually pretty cool. So one of our senior peas I convinced him. Hey, this is very cool. Maybe it can be a product so Sanjay. You know, what your geek? You really don't understand anything about selling this thing. Let me go. Find you somebody who understands business to work with you. So let's go make a product, right? So. He he goes the asks. He spent six months looking to find somebody who's gonna work with Sanjay to go. Bring this phone with by voice over IP to market guess what happened? Right. So I have this thing and in those days about twenty years ago. Right people are spending billions of dollars buying spectrum. And they look at this. Why fi stuff which is free and you're going to do free calls. Like, are you guys? Crazy. No chance right. No chance. We're going to ever let you do anything like this. In fact, they became openly hostile right? All of these friends at all these carriers in the US who I knew very well right in at very senior levels. They look at me and Sunday you our biggest enemy here right now rate. We're not touching this. We're going to kill this thing right here right now, we're going to fill it out. We're gonna figure it out. So none of the business guys wanna touch a work with me. So. My boss's boss comes to me and says sandy after six months of trying very hard to find somebody. Signed. I can't find anybody who's willing to work with you and risk their careers to do this with you because they have no business. There's no chance not only. They don't believe in this. They're going to actively be like killing this product. So you had to society. Okay. There's only one option, right? There's nobody who's willing to work with you. Because of you because of all this other stuff that you doing there's only two options. I have either kill this thing or you can go run the business yourself in go, do whatever you feel like, right? So I thought about it for a second and say, no, you know, Bill just give it to me. Let me try my hand at it. Right. I'm a geek, I tried this. And I said, you know, what let me go figure something out. So that was my first thing. Learning to take technology and make it into a product. Right. And they were rent to any school. I never had any training nothing. Right. I just got thrown into the deep end with a long rope that I thought was I was going to hang myself with at the end, right? That's what everybody talk is going to happen. So this is the world's first phone with voice over IP and wifi. This is about eighteen years old four now, maybe seventeen right? And the first phone in the US that actually was running Lennox and Java so precursor to Android, really, Android. You know, a lot of Android came out of here. So we'll I I'm happy to pass this around probably doesn't even pyre power up anymore. But this is my favorite phone because this is my first my first product, right? So we'll come to this in a second. But let me share with you by philosophy of product management. Right. I told you I didn't go into any school. So I just made this up as I was based on my experience, right? For any product to be Wayel right for you to succeed as a product manager. There are three things that you have to always balance. Right. And you have a line. The study one of them is not balanced. You are in trouble. Since I'm a geek, I'll start with the feasability right feasability. What I mean by feasability is technically. It's doable. Right. You're trying to do something that you're not violating fundamental laws of physics, or it's not going to kill people and all of this other stuff that can happen. Right. So it has to be technically feasible. But being technically feasible doesn't mean it's a good fraud act to do great. The next thing you have to worry about and you can do this in any order doesn't matter is. Somebody has to want it. Right. If nobody wants this product, maybe technically feasible who the heck cares about it. Right. It's not worth doing if. Nobody cares about it. Nobody wants it. Right. So you have to worry about what I call Meads needs of your customer needs of your partners, whatever other needs requirements in the marketplace that you have there has to be some demand somewhere, if you really strongly believe you can actually try and create demand to but you have to solve that piece. Right. But that it self is having a need, and, you know, being feasible to do doesn't necessarily mean you still have a product. What is the most important job in business? Yeah. Exactly. You have to make money, right? Business exists to make money. If you can't make a business. I'm not interested in it to be honest to right? I'm in the business of making money. We should remember this. Right. This is why a product managers biggest job is to make some money for the business. So you better figure out a way to get some return rate. You have to make some money. What it means is you can make money by selling it for more than what it took to create it. Right. It's pretty simple stuff. So this is the triangle that you have to balance, right? You have to be able to make money, right? So. You have to be able to make money you have to be able to build it and somebody has to want it and all three of none of this. One one is not more important. The other all three of them are equally equally important. If you have enjoyed the episode so far checkout are upcoming live events at product school dot com slash events. Use the promo code product podcast in all caps to get a free ticket to the next event in your city. So what did I have? What did I do? How did this thing? You wouldn't come to life than raid? So the first thing that I did was I'm scratching my head and saying, okay. So certainly every customer that my business talks to this early. Don't want it, right. I think the consumers wanted that was at least putting myself in the shoe of consumer who doesn't like free who wants to pay money to a carrier, right? Nobody wants to right? So I think I can create some demand. But I just don't know how to make any money and do anything. So I scratched my head a little bit. And I realized you know, what maybe there are some people who don't own spectrum who may want something like this. Right. So guess what? I did. I went to all the cable companies, right? Comcast and cable vision all these companies who want to offer mobility who want to offer. You know, smart cool looking devices rather than those crappy old phones, right? And you say, look, you can have this thing in by the way, it can be a really cool service that you have and your offering some Wieser AP stuff already right at your home. You can have a form factor that looks like this, by the way, it can also have cellular in it. And they said, you know, what? Yeah. This is cool. I'm willing to pay something. Right. So I actually created a model where I could satisfy the need, but I have to go through a different channel to sell my product, right? Who are going to? And these guys have the money who can allow me to sell a few million of these. I can make some real money. Right. So that's the important thing about here is really you have to balance all three at the if you don't balance all three of them, which is the technical feasibility, which is the first challenge at least from my background, right? Having a consumer need customers have to want. It. Right. It's very difficult to get a customer to spend one hundred dollars out of their pocket. It's way more difficult than most people realize, right? Just because something is cool. Nobody spent one hundred dollars on it. And then you have to be able to to make money. And by the way, that this part is actually not just specific to hardware, by the way. It's the same principles apply. This kind of pry, call it by product management one one right hardware-software any product you build it better. Meet it better. Learn how to balance these three requirements, right? That is absolutely the fundamental part. Okay. Very good. We'll come back to product management in a second. But this is an important lesson that I learned, you know, and certainly. A geek like me this was a little bit of a revelation rate, which is. Doing the job right there. A whole set of different behaviors that you have to exit to succeed, right? And one of the most important skills that I would end courage, all if you become really really good at is learning how to sell. Right. You know, people think if your business car salesperson or sales engineer or sales, whatever only then you need to learn sales. Right. This was again, one of those that I had in my head to write like seals is beneath me. No, no, no, no, no, no. You're very apart. You don't realize right. Every person is always selling something great. What you may be selling different. What you're expecting in return may be something different. But it is. You're always every day, you're selling something, right? And engineer is selling his idea. He's looking for acceptance rate a product manager's job if you break down is all about selling. Right. He's selling an idea of vision of his product to engineers, tell selling his vision of a product to his CFO or the CEO why this could make money selling the concept or the product that he wants to build to consumers, and he's going to sell it very differently. In fact, this is probably the most important job of a product manager. He is selling a lot of different people with a lot of different expertise. He's going to have to learn to talk a lot of different languages very quickly. Right. How you sell to an engineer, and why do you motivate an engineering team to build a product for you is different than go talk to the. Right or go talk to somebody who's actually going to buy this product or go talk to the distributor. Go talk to the channel. Why should a retailer stock this product and put it on their shelf rate? It's a product manager's job to manage this entire product. So what I would really encourage everybody. Right. Never lucite of this fact that. Learning how to sell. Is a good thing. Right. We all better get really really good at and you we can all be very good at selling by though, you just have to realize what are you selling really asked the question. What am I selling today when you go to work in the morning think about what are the two things are going to be selling into whom and how best to sell it to that person having that clarity in your head is extremely important for success? Right. So it's a very very important skill and something that everybody needs to know it. But for a product manager, you will not be able to do your job. Well, until you learn how to become a really really good salesperson and learn to sell it to different people with very different motivations at the end. Right. So extremely extremely important. And I say it is an absolutely necessary skills, not sufficient you can still fail. But if you don't. Know how to sell you will never succeed. Right. So this is like in my geeky, wait necessary, but not sufficient condition, right? Where are you? Good. Okay. So now, let's talk about what makes hardware different. Right. And a lot of you know, there are lots of books and lots of stuff that you will hear about product managing software products. Right. And when I look at it and say, okay, why can't I apply all of the same principles that I learned to managing hardware? By default. You should always. Yes. You can apply. Everything that you've learned. Right. That's that is where you should start from. And then you can say, okay. What makes hardware different than software, and how do I adjust what I know? Great. So here are a few things that make hardware a little bit different. I'm not saying it's difficult. It just a little bit different. Once you understand what the differences are Yuna how to manage those. Right. So don't let anybody tell you hardware is hard. No hardware is just Dolittle different. Maybe. Right. So the first thing is. Everybody. Now knows right. Nobody's doing waterfall product of maybe building airplane or you're sending a rocket to Mars or something, right? We're all doing it right of product of right? And that's what we do in hardware to nowadays. Great. So I have never done a waterfall for any hardware in my twenty plus years building product Ray, what is different in hardware, though. Which is from software is eat it ration- takes time. Right software interational. I don't know. How often do you in your experts you bills? You could be doing them every day. You could be doing them every week. Right. I don't see anybody who doesn't do a Bill at least a full Bill every week is doing software. Right. When you're doing hardware. You don't do an iteration every week. And the reason why you don't want to do it ration- every week is it takes time. You're going to have to build new housing. You're going to have to Bill boards, and you're going to have to do some surface. Mount Bill PCB's and all of this other stuff it takes time. Right. And even if you could do them. Very often or every week. Sometimes I've had to do that. They get very expensive very fast rate because you need a whole man if some kind of manufacturing line, you need twenty people to sit down assembles does a whole bunch of other stuff now in the last few years. Some things have improved by the way. Now, I can do three D printing that wasn't necessarily away lable fifteen years ago. Right. So some of my mechanical and ide- form factor. Prototyping has become a whole lot easier than it used to be. But still I think until we have some fundamental innovation happen, you can rest assured that look hardware iterations are going to take longer. And their way more expensive. Right. A typical iterating. I will tell you. If you're going to build in the US probably about four weeks, that's the fastest you'll be able to do for any kind of mass production. If you go have to go to Asia, you probably six weeks, right? Because just building something is not sufficient, then you also have to test it and do all this other stuff. Right. So it takes time before you can have good feedback. And now, I know what I what I need to do differently. Right. The other part, which is different is manufacturing and supply chain. Right. When you're building software replicating pieces of code is very easy. Right. It can happen instantly. If I have one rigid, and I have to build a thousand. There's no machine that knows how to replicate them in like, two seconds. Right. It may take you. You're not have enough parts. You would not have components. You've been not have you find out or you run out microprocessors memory or even a little screw. That is missing stops. You from building a product. Right. So that's another level of complexity just manufacturing supply chain cost all of those things become issues. That software doesn't have to deal with. Right. So you have to really plan for all of this stuff up front, right? And understand how it's going to impact. How you're managing your processes the other part that. Maybe a little bit uniquely challenging for hardware is regulatory and safety concerns right software. Yes. You have this GDP stuff. Now, you have to worry about it. There are some things you have to worry about. But for hardware. It goes through the roof. You're worried about Kenna kid eat some of these parts can kid pull some stuff out will if you have a radio in it you need to get certification. Sees you know, there's no lead in the paint, no harmful chemicals here. It doesn't catch fire. The so many different things that you have to deal with every country. You sell is going to have its own regulations rate. This is just what we have to deal with. Don't get intimidated by it. It's all relatively simple. You just gotta plan. You just have to know. Right. Getting your arms around the problem is what is the most important. Don't let it be also prizes. A we before you're launching. Oh, I didn't get approvals to sell this product in India and. I have all my advertising agency and everybody already and to go, right? You can't do that. Great and regulatory and safety concerns are. Landmines that a lot of people forget, and by the way, some of the stuff you don't realize to actually build a product and you test and say, you know, what emissions are not meeting rights radio missions are too high. It's going to interfere with my radio TV or wifi. And I can't launch it Ray. So you really have to mitigate all of those risks early in the process. This is what makes hardware different, but it can be all planned for and then. You should always remember hardware products. Almost always at least. I haven't built a Harvard pride in a long time, which didn't have some foreign where and software and cloud and all of this other stuff to go with it. Right. So in the end a product is this full system rather than I built my PCB, and I built some stuff and I'm good rate. So don't think in a hardware product manager doesn't understand all of the other stuff. Absolutely. You have to understand your job is to the overall success of the product. Right. You have to learn how to do the whole thing. Okay. That was before you even launch it. What happens once you launch it? And this is where I say hardware is probably the most challenging one. When you're building hardware in today's world. You only have one opportunity to get this thing, right? Right. Once you ship a device, you can't change its color. Right. You can't change its form factor. You can't change and say, Oops, I forgot to put a micro USB on this. Or I put some something small, right? Something could be really really small nothing. You can do about it. It's all gone. You built a million of these or whatever and. You cannot update them software. Right. You have a software you find a bug in it. You can have a update roll around the next morning, and everybody's happy. Right. You can do live AB testing, Google and Facebook and all these guys are doing in hardwood. You can't do this thing in the field. You have to have a different level of confidence. When you launch the product, right? You can't have one hundred million flavors of everything you got to decide. What other things are going to do? And how you're going to do this. Right. And then. Anytime you build hardware, and this is what scares everybody, by the way. Is inventory in software when you build software. There is no inventory, right? You know, you can do replication of code on the fly, and you can ship it on the internet and everybody has it right? When you're building hardware. You got plan for it. You gotta decide how much I'm gonna built how many parks of my going to buy right, and too little if you build a little then you got a customer demand that he can't satisfy leaving money on the table right business wants to do this. You build too much. The problem is even worse. I've had situations where you have ten million dollars in venture sitting in a warehouse and saying scratching what am I going to do with this rate? The fourth time you as a product manager has to deal with it emotionally. You got ten million dollars of something sitting in a warehouse. And you say holy cow. I can't ship this, right? You're going to have a sleepless night, and you better get learn how to get comfortable with that. Right. Because if you can get comfortable with it, you won't be able to figure out how to deal with that situation. Right. The stress is just going to kill you. Right. So it's very difficult. It's very difficult. This is these are really the the challenges of you can try and mitigate it, right? This is why you can do or the air update for four on most of these products. Now. Right. That helps it can fix bucks. The worst thing that can happen is right, which has happened to me once by the way, which is you launch a product and the government or somebody comes and says, you know, what? You're going to have to recall there is a problem. Right. You all heard of recalls right recalls are the ugliest ugliest situation that you can ever imagine. When you're building a hardware product that government says or somebody says, you know, what are you decide yourself? There's a bug consumers really unhappy about this. And you're going to have to recall, it, just please the risk is so high that you have to say bring it all back. I'm gonna it's it's a it hurts your brand name. It hurts your bottom line turps, your own personal reputation hurts everything right? Nobody's going to be happy. So the threshold that you have to think through a product manager says, you know, what I'm ready to launch this product. Right. That's a lot of burden if you just sit back and just think about it. Right. A week before maybe the night before the product is going to officially launch. And you're gonna stand on stage, and you're gonna show this beautiful piece off and everything. You have to make a decision is this product ready or not right? And this is not a five ten dollar hundred thousand dollar decision. Usually, it is we're talking millions and millions of dollars, right, depending on the scale. It's not for the week of heart rate. And I've had to make decisions. Right. And you know, I'm gonna tell you another secret, by the way, no product, the hardware software that I know has ever launched where you can say there are no bugs in this thing. Right. There's not one product that I've ever done that. I believe nobody's ever learned that you can say with certainty that there are zero bugs in it. Every product in my experiences, sit down the day before you launch or the week before you launch with your quality team and say, okay, tell me all the bike that there are on this list. Right. And they're going to walk me through signs every got twenty bugs in this thing, and this whole laundry list of stuff and you as a product manager. Has to decide to a launch it. We're not launch it. Right. If you launch it. And it has real problems. You got a face, right? If you don't launch it your CFO saying, okay, sandy where is the product. There's all this money and revenue and margin that we were expecting, and it's on our books and the whole market and the street is expecting it. Where is it? Right. This like no-win situation. So you really got to make these tough calls as Challah product manager that nobody else's job. It's a product manager's job to figure out. What is he or she going to do at that point in time? And this is what makes hardware different, right? It's the little stuff that makes hardware difference. Not literally becomes big. It just requires you to have a different level of maturity and confidence in the product that you're gonna launch right? And for this reason, you have to put processes in place where you can get validation of your product before you launch it. Right. So one of the things that at least. That I do is. We talked about iterating, right? I've never launched a hardware product without doing at least three iterations rate. And by the way, if you if you say my product is perfect and the fourth iteration, then I said, there's something wrong with the process because that means you're not taking enough risk in that product. Right. So simple that you could get it. Right. And the force is probably not worth doing. Right. So I at least every product that. I do I would say you should plan for three to rations, right? The first duration is I'm building. I have a vision of my product, I kind of wrote down a product requirements, document, whatever and I build it the engineers go build it. Right. And they India's most of the time will say Sunday. This is how we spent the feature and we built it. Whether somebody needs it or wanted a different situation. They'll just say this was the spec, and I built this and they're very happy. Great. So the force ration- is to just say can the engineers build what they said they were going to build a what you told them to build, right? And I let what I call engineers do their engineering testing on it, right? Can they at least built to what for spec doubt on a piece of paper rate? I never give that engineering Bill to a customer ever rate. One of the things that I learned in hardware is is easy to tell a customer the product doesn't work than to give somebody half working something because then trying to tell why it doesn't work and all of this stuff is such a big mess. They will just they were not trust you. It's easier to tell them it doesn't work, and I'm not ready to give it to you. And they'll be fine with it. Maybe they want me to happy, but you can manage it but managing half working product or a half working sample is looking for a disaster. Right. So never do that. The four situation is always, hey, look, this is for my own internal testing. And we're going to do it that way, right? Me if I'm running January as well. I would get one or two samples to see how it's doing what additional feedback that I can get. But again, this is just kind of in the family at that stage. Right. The next generation that I build is something that I say an I insist on. Let's give it to some people who don't have an emotional attachment to this product rate. You know, me and my junior team. They all are emotionally had this is our baby, right? We're never going to call it ugly. It's important to have some people tell you, you know, what this is wrong. This is wrong. And this could be better. And this other could be better. Right. It's good to get this independent feedback. Because if you wait till the end, and he launched this thing is could get really ugly, very fast. So better to get feedback. Earlier other than after you spend the millions and millions of dollars. Right. So you let it out you give it to some people who don't believe in the product give it to your friends or family, right? I've always given a lot of the price. I was in consumer electronics. I give it to my kids and say, go use it, right? Just don't go put a picture of it on the Instagram or something else, but you can go use it and tell me what you think and my son is sitting there smiling. Right and kids have given me the ugliest feedback raid. My wife has given me feedback my engine. Here's families have given us feedback that you say, you know, what why did I not think of this right because they are not attached. They're not thinking of it from the way, you think the right? But that's my easiest way for me to really get consumer feedback in whatever little science experiment that I can create. And you sit down with all of that feedback. Good and bad and ugly. And then a product managers job is to go proud is it right? And said these three things can be done these five things can't be done. If I can't do these five things do I still launch this product or do? I just kill this product. Great. I've actually I've had cases where I kill the product based on the user feedback that we got. And we said, you know, it's not what launching it. You're just waiting. It's a recipe for disaster. Waiting to happen. Great go back to the drawing board. It's better to do it. Go back to the drawing board. Then rather than launch it and then lose ten fifteen twenty thirty million dollars. And then have to reengineer it in any case, you waste time, you waste money and. You're kind of in a snake and ladder game. Right. You're back to square one again. So these are all the things that you really have to have to worry about. Okay. So I'll tell you what I have learnt. In my years. And there's a lot of learning. I could go on for like hours on the stuff rate. When you're dealing with hardware products. And they're not only hardware as I said. There's hardware software for cloud services, apps nowadays, also to go and so on right. Learn to simplify the problem as an engineer when I was growing up, right? Everybody would be proud that the solve difficult problem. Right. And how difficult the problem is. And how smart they were this all this. Awesome. Awesome challenging problem as a product manager. I hate that. I wanna solve all the simple stuff. Right. There is no you should take pride in having success in the product rather than solving most difficult problem that nobody cares about rates. This is a different mindset. Embrace simplicity. Ask yourself. The question is this difficult thing really worth doing rates or anytime? Somebody says I'm doing this thing for the first time this is so difficult. You should really step back and ask the question. Is it worth doing it? Your flag should be going up as a product manager. Okay. This is a risk if this guy saw smarty saying nobody else's done. This. It automatically. There's a pretty high riskier great. So you should you should start hearing things differently as a product manager. And engineer is very proud. He's telling you, look, I'm going to do this. Awesome. Awesome job that nobody else's that were done as a product manager. I am freaking out at this point. Right. So your job is to simplify solve the problems. Not in a difficult way the easiest way possible, right? That is by far the most important thing as a product manager. Embrace simplicity. Make it simple. There is nothing. Challenging about making a problem more difficult than it needs to be right? And this also includes by the when you're building a product, especially in hardware, right or even software when you go by it's in a box. The buck and only have three things on it rate. So instead of having twenty features. That you don't even have space to advertise educate a customer about who needs them. Get all of those out right saved them for the future. Just do three things. Right. And tell the world about it. And you'll be able to sell more rather than all the other stuff right again. That's part of the simplification really understanding. What are you looking to do when you how are you going to sell this product think about it that way and then go, right? So go back to the needs and returns. And feasability thing. What does the consumer one only two or three things that they want only two or three things? I can tell them. Right. Go back to the same thing. The other thing which I like to do is. And this is a way sometimes to achieve simplification, though, I been bit by at once in my life, which is modular is. Right. Learn to break a big problem into smaller chunks that you hope and pray their independent, right? So this is again where a good product magic and said, this is independent of most of you know, I can have team work on this independently of the other team, right? Create smaller chunks of problems that are solved rather than have this one big massive thing that can overwhelm even the best of teams, right? Learn how to do that. It's extremely important. You know, so one of the things that worked very well for me except one time I got bit is when you're building a product like this. I can separate my electrical design from mechanical design, right? The form factor. The ideas long as I know how much space I need. And so on I can send the team to work on that independently right color and shape and finish. And a lot of this stuff can be done independently of the electrical design except one product, which is my favorite one. I'll show it to you guys is these were the first headsets. This is a product accurate that I did not watch by the way. Right. I killed it. The literally like the evening before it was going to launch rate. These were headsets that are actually in the market now, not this from other vendors where you put this in your in your ear, and it also measures heart rate from your ears. Right. Have heaven you try those headsets? So this is about I did this product I would say about ten years ago. Right. So nobody had done this thing. And I'm like, yeah. I can do this thing. And I made the mistake of seeing I can separate. Eight mechanical from my phone where designed. Right. Bad mistake because how this headset fits in your ear and how? It is going to interact with your skin, which is where you get your heart rate from and you need to run all your former algorithms to get the heart rate. Those two were absolutely could not have been separated, right? The entire team. And I took responsibility for we're not smart enough to have recognize early enough. So you build this thing, and you have your phone, and it doesn't work to the level of accuracy that. We had set out to meet, right? So it's a subjective decision. Do you launch something that works? Good ninety five percent of the time. Or do you one thousand nine percent of the time? Ray? It's a subject to that. It doesn't work it work. But does it work good enough rate? Is this something that you can be proud of at the end. I have always looked at products that I have launched a very personal myopic standpoint. My going to be proud to have my name associated with this product. Right. And if I said, no. This is not what I want to be known for. The new just take your lumps and push it in your pocket and say nobody else's gonna see the light of nobody else. Going gonna see this product. Right. It's a very personal decision. And I want every product manager to think that way, right? Don't put the ball in somebody else's court. Hey, can I put the moral Brannon know each individual is their own brand name, right? Each product manager needs to own their product. They need to say is this good enough for them. Does it meet their on expectations of the product. They're going to launch right in hindsight. By the way. We probably should have launched this. Right. Ten years later. I I would be. I would say I made a mistake we probably should have longed because given the technology off even after Volusia over the last ten years. It hasn't become any substantially better. Right. But again, you know, when you are or early in the game. You're the forest one you're gonna make some mistakes. And you're you're going to have to live with this. Right. So to me, I keep this as an example in my pocket all the time because it makes you humble every now, and then you've ever done great things. But things like this. Right. You know? These are subjective calls you have to make right? The other thing which I learned. Is what I call just in time decision making. And what I mean by just in time decision making is we all wanna make decision. Probably going to say I'm gonna make all these decisions today. Right. And I always try to bring some comments that, you know, what do you really need to make this decision today or could it be could wait another week or a month or two months? You really have to ask this question. Do not make decisions prematurely. Right. Because when it comes time to make a decision, you may have more data every decision has a probability of being wrong. The only way you can improve the odds of it being right? You can collect some additional data to help you in making that decision. Now, I'm not saying don't make a decision. Absolutely never be afraid of making a decision. But make sure that. You understand that this decision should not be postponed? Or can you make half a decision today, and I can postpone the other half of the decision making. But I have more information great as a product manager. You have to improve your odds of success one of the ways in which you can improve your success is postponing making decisions that don't need to get made. Right. It does not mean that I've advocating procrastination, right? I'm not doing that. I wanna make a decision, but I wanna make the decision. Absolutely. The last point in time. I can actually make it. Right. So every decision has the right time. And this is why having good program managers who are very different than product managers program managers schedule people, right? Those people will help you understand. What is your needs to get made win? Right. Have a good solid program manager to work with you to help you understand what needs to get decided at what point in time. Right. And sometimes, you know, you can even argue with pro program and say, you know, what I can postpone this decision. I can make eighty percent of it now and the remaining twenty percent I can postpone making that right? So just in time decision. Making is extremely important. And. A product manager, right? You have to get used to being uncomfortable. Right. If you don't like stress, and you run away from stress don't be a product manager because you're going to have your living by definition, you're seeking uncertaiunity radio taking a lot of risk as I said every day, right? You have to enjoy being uncomfortable rate. You have to enjoy going to work. So you know, what I don't know. What's going to come hit me today? Right. I may have some surprises for me. And I will guarantee you surprises every day, you're doing product management, not everything nothing goes per plant. When you're building a product nothing will go to a plan. Right. You know, the I do the same great into battle. And the all the battle plans are kind of blown up, right? Same thing happens when you're building a product, you have a nice planet program gives you a nice big and chart and all this other stuff and the fours day ingenious are working on it. And you start sharing it with customers. All of that goes haywire. Right. So you really have to learn. To keep calm. Even all of this stuff is happening around you. Right. So you have to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Right butterflies in the stomach and people screaming at you. And all of this other stuff just get comfortable with it because people are going to read your body language. And when when I'm stressed I may five other people's treasure on me. And then the entire team comes to a standstill. Right. So you really can't do that. That is something that's extremely important. And the last part is you got to enjoy the spotlight rate whether good or bad, right? You as a product manager on the product you on the outcomes as I said when what that means you're going to have the spotlight on you wherever you go. There's going to be this little spotlight on you running behind you right everywhere. Something goes wrong. Everybody's gonna know Sanjay messed it up. Right. And then everybody's when the product is successful, the after learn to make sure you acknowledge and reward and appreciate all the people who helped you make that way rate. There's an engineering team. There's a sales team. There's a supply chain team all of those people, of course, are critical people a product manager doesn't difficultly how all of these people reporting to this person. So you really because you want to build another use the same team to do something else. Right. So you have to learn to share the good but absorb all the batch stuff right to take all the lumps and kind of share all the good stuff with with everybody. You really have to become good at doing that. Right. You can't offer as a product manager will never offer offer excuses as to why something didn't go right or why something is delayed. A why something whatever happened? Right. You can't just have to own it and move on. And so you have to really be able to drive in that and be love the spotlight. If you are the one who runs away hide under the table when stuff happens, then you should think what is this really for me. Right. But it's a very fulfilling job, by the way, product management is by far the most satisfying, at least for me when you see a product that you engineer on the shelf, right or you can go see it on Amazon, the thrill that you get right? Is absolutely amazing. I tell people there's no high like seeing a product that you built on the shelf someplace right that your kids can buy you can go to your parents. They can go buy it. You can see strangers on the street use it. You know? I was surprised I was at Costco yesterday. Right. This is another one of those products. I built this is more than ten years old now. Right. And even yesterday, I see one of the Costco, employees wearing this headset. Right. Which was amazing to me writing. This is one of actually one of the first bluetooth headset that actually had a case, and I can tell you how we came up with this idea for case, it was all product management driven rather than engineering driven. And I noticed it writing this guy. I can't even buy this product anymore. But he's wearing it. Right. And it made my day. He'll look somebody's still using my product, which is which is awesome. Right. That you have to appreciate an enjoy. That you made a difference at the end. I learned a lot. I learned nothing from a book because none of these books existed like, you know, twenty years ago when I started doing this. But there's a lot of good books out there today that you can read where you can learn from other people's wisdom that they have learnt right? There are experiences. Go read the stuff. But I've also learned there's only one way to really learn it reading books great rate. But there's only one way to learn. Which is. By doing it yet. That's the only way you're going to learn tennis by sitting watching YouTube, videos or reading the theory of tennis. No, if you don't go to the court and hit some body never gonna learn it, right? Right. You know, Andre Agassi's, dad. I heard was like made him hit three thousand balls every day. Right. You need to practice practice practice. So if you think you're going to become a product manager by reading books or listening to somebody or me giving you advice. No. The only way you're going to do it and become good at it is by actually doing it. Right. So practice it product management is one of those things engineering, you can learn by reading a book, and you can learn some theory product management. There's no chance you gotta go and do it. You gotta go out there and put yourself out there practice, do it. Learn makes mistakes bloody nose every now and then and. That's how you're gonna go. Right. You know, I call product management is like baseball. Right. You know? Not everything that you do will be successful. Not every time. A better goes into the Battersby. He's gonna hit a home run rate. If you can hit a couple every now, and then that's probably good rate. And docks. The mindset that you need to have is if I don't do this. If I don't get down and get my hands dirty. You will never succeed rate. So do it make yourself one hundred will put yourself in situations, which are inherently uncomfortable. And and you'll become good at it at the end. It's like most other things in life. If you do it often enough, you'll get really good at it. Right. But this is one of those things where I really strongly believe it's the expedience that matters having done it multiple times every time you do something. You learn iterative you understand what went wrong. What went right? And improve. Right. Let me tell you about this product, actually, which is really let me go back a little bit. Right. So this product was designed when bluetooth headsets were only used by men largely right? And so when we're looking and seeing how many are we going to sell we realize we're not selling to half the world rate. My total market addressable market is only have because only selling it to men. Not women rate. Women are waiting jewelry women are doing everything. They don't want this bluetooth headset on their right? And the other thing is men have pocket where they can put the bluetooth headset. Women typically don't have pockets, right? They have a parse and they put this person. They can't find it. So we created this cool little jewel box rate where you can put your product in you create something that is actually not even visible. It can hide. Beneath the hair, and by the way, still works, right? If you hide it have been in inside, the ear, the hair someplace and the microphones don't work. That's a big problem. Right. Then why? Yeah. Right. So and that's how we came up with this, right? In fact, the test was relaunched this product eleven years ago, roughly two products one was this product, which is low and features. But had this cool case the battery charging thing in there, and you can, you know, nice jewel case that I had so many friends Sunday. My wife is asking for this gonna have one can have resource in. This was the hottest selling heads a ten years ago. Roughly when we designed it because of the force of its kind and. We had another one with like four microphones, and all this crazy noise. Cancellation stuff, and blah, blah, blah. This product, you wonder what had less futures or so that product by two one, right? So just says the job of a product manager. If you let engineers do it. They would have just kept putting more and more features. No, we need to do a different level of thing. I'm gonna do the easy stuff. I don't need this four microphone stuff and all the former stuff just give me a simple case, right? Where I can put this thing night as a small battery. So I can charge it. It's more comfortable because it's not very heavy all of this other stuff right now. This has become everybody has it. This is the other thing. This is another interesting product by the tell you. So this is I couldn't I have one at home. I couldn't find it today. This was a product everybody probably knows what this thing is today. Yeah. It's a power Bank. Right. But this was done in two thousand five. Right. And in those days in a Motorola was. We were just coming out of our razor. Remember the Motorola razor? How many of you? Remember that phone? Yeah. So awesome. Awesome product right and selling replacement batteries for that phone was about one hundred twenty million dollar business for mantra just replacement batteries. Ray? And there comes the smartphone. Right. Just about that timeframe. After that. And we're looking at this and saying whoops. This entire one hundred and twenty million dollar businesses going. Going away. Right. Nobody wants to placement batteries. These batteries are not replaceable because these are getting built, right? So me as a product manager for that business of selling replacement batteries. I only two options I don't have a job, and I get trashed by my CFO, and my CEO or I go figure out something else. Right. And we said we stood back for a second. Okay. My razor used to last a week without a battery getting recharge my smartphone last today. Okay. So even if I don't need a replacement battery the need for battery is not gone away. Right. What product do we create to serve that each which we know is there, right? This is when we came up. There was no battery Bank in the world at that point in time. This what we came up. And we said, you know, what this is what people need. I just need to put battery in little case and sell it to people can chart their battery in the phone that they. Replace with something from the outside. Right. The number of people used to carry two batteries one in their backs. When the battery runs out on the razor. They would just swap the battery and there you go, right? So again, this is not a product that engineers did right? This is a product that. I call it. Consumer driven innovation that product managers have to drive in the organization, they really have to see. Okay. Who am I selling to what am I selling? What is their need? The need was very simple guys. I need my phone charged. All the time. Right previously. I used to have spare batteries now I need to have something else. Right after that. It's relatively straightforward to build this. Right. And by the with this product is great because retailers love it. It's such a simple thing. It never comes back rate. So you can sell a product has great margin. You take a dollar battery nitty sell it for fifty and everybody's happy. Everybody's making a lot of money on this. Right. So anyways, product manager, right? You know, what I tell? Now, even though I started out as a geek. And I always tell people now I'll really like to think of what does the consumer want? Right. And then we will go figure out aligning the rest of the stars. But I think understanding what a consumer is willing to pay for stock from their typically makes for a more successful business rather than looking to have this technology. Now, let me go figure out what to do with it. And who to sell it to? Right. Maybe I will work through to the other side. There's no drawn right way. By the way rate. It happens enough products that come from technology. I enough products that come from consumer need I or there enough products that come from. I know I can make some money doing this. So let me go do this. Right. And then I can go make the other stuff aligned thanks for listening to the product podcast. If you like this episode, don't forget to leave us a review on itunes. If you wanna know more about our courses and next courts visit product school dot com. Stay tuned for the next episode to learn more about the secrets in product management.