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Crafting a compelling product vision | Ebi Atawodi (YouTube, Netflix, Uber)

I do not believe in being liked. I believe in being loved, right? And that's a very different thing. When i said this once in a meeting, people were like yes, right? But it took me a while in reading a lot of books to come to a definition of love and love is the choice to extend yourself for the spiritual growth of oneself or another, right? It's very big, lofty and whatever, but you're literally extending yourself for somebody else or yourself, self-love, right? And that's love. And when you are extending yourself, you're not nice.

It's not always nice or like, it sometimes is having hard conversations. It's knowing that, oh, there's a human, they know i care about them. So when the feedback is coming like raw, they know that it's in their best interest because i've shown enough times that i genuinely care about the person behind the role. Today my guest is ebi atawodi. Ab is director of product management at youtube overseeing the creator experience. Previously, she was director of product management at netflix and head of product for uber wallet, checkout, pay, and financial products at uber. Ebi shares the most tactical advice i've ever heard on how to develop a vision for your product, along with a bunch of very concrete ways to communicate your vision to your teammates and to executives. We also dig into the craft of product management and how to get better at it. Along with what ebi's learned about creating a strong product culture on your team and across the company. Ebi is such a wonderful human and clearly an amazing product leader, and i'm excited for you to get to learn from her. With that, i bring you ebi atawodi after a short word from our sponsors.

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And so here we are. I want to start by talking about vision. Every product manager i've ever worked with and managed vision has always been this development area for every single one. It's always this like, "you need to get better at crafting a vision, telling your story.". It's also this very powerful tool. The product managers have to align teams to be more successful in the products they're building. And you have a really neat way of thinking about a framework for developing a vision and then telling the story. What are elements of a good vision for a product or even a company? I think the first piece is that you absolutely need to have one, to start by saying that. Regardless of what level you are in the company. So people say, "oh, i'm just a junior pm.".

Whatever level, there is some micro macro vision that you need to have. Because essentially if you got on a plane and the pilot was like, "i don't really know where we're going, but i'm a really good pilot. The company needs to fly 400 flights this year. So i'm trying to make that happen, but trust me, we'l get there might be turbulence, i'm not sure.". You probably would be thinking twice about staying on that flight, right? What happens is you get on there, it's like, "our destination is miami.". Maybe i'm dreaming of beaches, "and it's going to be 24 degrees when we get there.".

And he always paints or she paints this image of the destination. And that's the vision not to be confused with the mission, which is we want to fly people where they're going safe. That's not it's like a picture. So that's the start. I want to just delineate between vision and everything else that people think vision is. So really i think there are a couple of key elements. The first one is it needs to be lofty. So it needs to be something that feels it almost scares you in an exciting way, right? Like, oh, my god, this is something i can get up every morning. And if we did that, goddamn. But at the same time, it needs to be realistic and attainable, so it cannot feel so pie in the sky that it feels so out of reach, right? And of course, there are leaders and people who have really big visions and they see beyond the rest of us, but that's not most people. Most people, it needs to feel within reach. And then i think the key thing is it needs to kind of be in a vacuum from the limitations of today because the whole point of going to the future and saying, time traveled five years out is to say, "okay, i've come back to tell you what we need to fix in order to get there.

Or i've come back to tell you what we need to put in place now so that we will get there, right?". And so you have this kind of three components and if those come together and they are grounded of course, in a problem that people are excited about, you've got your vision. And how that vision manifests really depends on what you want to do. There're simple ones you can do, they're big ones you can do. But those are the core pieces in my mind. Can you just summarize them again and are some examples you can share if here's a really good vision that it hits on these, and then if you have another example of a bad vision, that would be really helpful? So four things. So it has to be lofty, it has to be realistic, it has to be devoid of any tech or limitations of today, and it has to be grounded in a very clear and potent problem.

User problem. Awesome. And then, yeah, are there any examples either from places you've worked or visions? Absolutely. What i particularly love, so a lot of my product thinking and my product chops and craft, i really owe to uber. So when i think about things, there's something really magical there. And one of our values at the time was making magic. So i met the word magic all the time, but so mission, push a button, get a ride, transportation as reliable as running water. I used to be in nigeria, that tagline did not scale because water was not that reliable in nigeria. So they went for a slightly more inclusive version, which is reliable transport, sanitation everywhere and for everyone, right? So that's the mission. That doesn't really tell me what the image looks like when i get there, but that's like when i wake up every day, i'm like, "why do i work in this company?".

It's that make transportation reliable everywhere for everyone. And i'l talk maybe later about how that came to we were able to use that to actually challenge the then ceo travis kalanick. The vision was a world where you get to this continuous trip so that you do not need parking. Because cities, 25% of the average city is parking spaces. You're in san francisco, you'l see buildings, just floors just for parking, right? You'l have basements just for parking. In a world where we have housing problems, we have ridiculous prices for rents. Just imagine if you could free up all of those spaces for all kinds of things, right? Homes, restaurants, you name it. Parties, warehouse parties especially, they have the best.

That was the vision. You could kind of see it, right? You're like, "oh, i could see a world.". I mean, i live in amsterdam, i have a bicycle, i can see it every other day. They're getting rid of cars and actually converting the parking lots on the street into communal gardens, right? So it's not crazy. It's attainable. But now doing that for the whole world, what does that look like? And that's how things like uber pool came in where in a world where the average car has 1.5 people in it, we can maximize that and then we can get this connected trip where the car is just moving and then maybe the car is autonomous, so you don't actually have to drive that car, and so it just doesn't need to stop.

I guess, it needs to charge at some point. But so that's it. I think that's a really good vision. I think one that's lofty and i dance between whether it's attainable or not, is elon musk saying, "we're going to get to mars.". He believes it. He believes it so much that sometimes i'm like, "i guess, we're going to mars.". But then there was the other one of, oh, we want a car that's electric and we want that car to be beautiful so that we will get to a car that's accessible to everyone. And that's kind of followed through. So. Yeah,. I mean, the beautiful things about visions is that it helps you decide it. Is that a work do i care about this problem? Is it something i want to do? And then you can take it or leave it. I think with the lofty slash attainable balance, i think that elon musk is an interesting example where it may feel impossible, but as an inspirational leader, you almost convince people that it is possible through your confidence and your being in the details, helping people see maybe there's a path. So i think there's an interesting opportunity there to be a leader. Yeah. Absolutely. You've mentioned this kind of difference between mission and vision a couple of times. It'd be cool maybe just to can you summarize that again, just like what is the difference between vision and mission in your mind? I'l use it an analogy. Let's say we want to go hike. We want to go up to mount everest. The vision would be once we're up there, me describing the picture of what we're going to see, we're going to get there, we're going to look around, we'l be the himalayas, be beautiful, we'l be above the clouds, probably out of breath. That's the vision. It's like i fast-forward into the future, i hold time and i'm in that place. And i'm describing the picture, right? And so a city without parking, you can see that, right?

And we've all watched sci-fi movies. You can see mars, red planet. So that's the vision and then the mission is the purpose of why we're doing that. We're going to do this to demonstrate that we're able to do it and making sure that we both get there together. It's a very simplistic one, but i'm just giving that's the purpose. We're doing it because we want to prove to ourselves that we can summit mount everest, which i will not be doing anytime soon, and we're doing it to prove to ourselves something that we can do it and we're capable, and we will do that by making sure that we look out for each other. Because you can get to mount everest and not have all the people with you, right? That's a team bonding challenge that i've done once upon a time. It's actually very intricate and interesting.

So that's your vision. And then the mission is the purpose and some set of guiding principles as to what will allow you to achieve that vision. That's really handy. So simple way to think about i'm just taking notes as you're talking. And i totally agree with this. The mission is essentially the why and why you exist and the purpose for your team slash company and the vision the word vision almost tells you what it is. It's what it looks like when you get there. Awesome. So that's exactly how i think about it actually. I have this post that i'l link to in the show notes that talks through mission and vision strategy. I'l give a bunch more examples real quick. Just again, i pulled it up as you're chatting just for folks to have more examples. So a couple of mission examples real quick.

At ted, their mission is to spread ideas. They're around to spread ideas. Stripe's mission increased the gdp of the internet. Ikea's mission created better everyday life for the many people. So i think that's exactly what you're talking about. They're like the purpose, why do we exist? And then visions. So microsoft's vision, a computer on every desk and in every home. Very much like what does it look like when we've achieved it? Tesla create the most compelling car company of the 21st century. It's kind of in between, but i think that's close. Lyft, a world where cities feel small again, where transportation and tech bring people together instead of a apart. How sweet. So that's one where it's very warm and fuzzy and i love it.

Maybe this is my uber, but you can see a computer on every desk. That's what i mean by it has to be realistic. Yeah. Awesome. So what is a vision concretely as a document in your experience? So we've talked about vision so far, mostly as this tagline, like a sentence, is that usually all you need when you're thinking about a vision, your experience? Do you often suggest going further into dock-deck, storyboards along those lines? So i have a very simplistic framework. I actually don't know who put it together at uber, but i see as well, one of the most powerful skills of a product manager is storytelling, right? Because you look at generation after generation after generation, what people pass on as stories, they're not numbers, they're not stats, it's stories. And actually when you blend stories with numbers, so if you do numbers alone or numbers with stories or stories alone, the gap is so wide in stories alone.

So it's not metrics blended with stories. It's a story, just a pure story. This doesn't mean don't be analytical. So one of the very simplistic tools that i've used, and i use it as well right now at google, when my team ships the product, i'l put the vision in there to remind what the vision was that they set out to do, right? And it's once upon a time, write the problem and then write something and then write something, and then one day something happened. And as a result, the state of the world where we're trying to be. It's very simplistic, but in its simplicity of the magic because you are like, "i'm a pm, i'm trying to solve problems.". Once upon a time, where were we?

Right? It's like what is the thing that we're trying to solve? So i'l give you a simplistic one. I know the team didn't do this for shorts, but the shorts team at youtube. Once upon a time, youtube was fun and people had cat videos and zoo and all of that. And then one day it became this really polished thing and a lot of people were producing really polished, very one hour content. And then because of that, a lot of people felt maybe i couldn't create because i can't tell a one-hour story. And because of that, people decided, okay, i'm just going to watch and consume and not create. And then one day, we launch shorts, 60 seconds, and because of that, anyone can now express themselves again and bring back the joy and magic of youtube.

So it's very simplistic. I'm just using that into the teams who built this. I know this is not your vision, i'm just giving it a story. But i remember this when we did it for uber as well, we were talking about the loyalty for drivers and some would have this framework and i thought, holy cow, this is it. So that's a very simplistic version. You can go one step up. The one i like to do, and i know that amazon does this a lot, but as i write i write an article. I'l write in the headline because if the vision has come to pass, right? And it's gone well, someone's going to be writing hopefully some sexy headline about the thing that you've built. So i go to the future and i write the headline i would see. And i write the subtitle, just that, and i'l actually use the i'l it into the page of techcrunch or something just so it looks realistic. And i'l put that in the deck just to kind of like, this is where we want to be. And then if i really want to go deep, then i'l write the rest of the article, right?

So that's a very simplistic one. Let's stick another version. One that i used, and i show that in a lot of my talks is, i was trying to tell a story when i was at uber and i was like, "okay, words are amazing, but a picture tells a thousand words, right?". So i wrote out the thing and i worked with my design partner at the time, and he literally took out a pencil and drew the future. And the vision i was trying to show was this world where you could walk into any store, any bodega, mom-and-pop shop, wherever you are in the world, and actually top up your uber balance, right? So even if you don't have a credit card and you have cash, you can also experience this cashless, seamless uber experience and that can scale all over the world.

And he literally drew a bodega or does it look like a kiosk, like the ones in nigeria in my country, you have like a . And then he drew that and you had the person with cash and a receipt just showing your top-up was successful. And we built that product. Not exactly in that way, but we built that product. Sorry, for another day or maybe for later, but that's the story. It took four years to build it, but that image got people so excited about, oh, it's possible. I can see that. This is awesome. So essentially these are three ways to communicate your vision. The first is this kind of mad libs approach, which is really simple. So the framework and is there something we can link people to you that where you talk further, kind of have this template? Okay, cool. Okay, cool. So in the show notes, you'l find a little template that you can plug and play here, but the idea is once upon a time, blank and then blank. And because of that blank and one day something happened, and that's essentially the vision is like what happened, the big change that you're going to create. And then as a result of the thing that happened, how did you leave people feeling? What did you change in the world? What's the dent in the universe that you made? Can you just share this mad libs real quick again, just like what's the framework real quick? Once upon a time, the thing that happened, then one day. And you can actually put the date in 2026. And because of that and because of that. And i usually like to end it with, and finally, this was the last thing you left the world with. Beautiful. It's interesting, it kind of follows the hero's journey a little bit where it's like, here's today's world and then here's a problem that you ran into and this challenge you had to overcome. And then here's how we've defeated the foe. And then here we are back in our default world again. Okay, so that's one path. The other path is to write, working backwards approach, write an article.

I think the press release is to me, it's dumb to write a press release. No one reads press releases anymore. So i like that you think of it as a techcrunch article. Yes. Is there something you remember where you did that actually with a product? Like you wrote an article of a product you were launching? At uber, we were talking about cars, then it was like, well push a button, get a ride. It could be push a button, go anywhere. And so, one of the things i started talking about and this was the beauty of uber, it allowed you kind of challenge the status quo. I started pushing this idea of if we need to have this more multimodal trip where i could take a ride a bicycle or a scooter, then i get to the train station, buy my ticket, scan in. Then from there i go into an uber maybe then i come out and the other end. And i get a scooter, whatever that is. It's this connected single trip. And the reason i was doing that was i was a platform pm and surprise, i always say platform pms, you have to be an order of magnitude even more stronger i think at vision setting because you have to build the foundations of stuff you don't even know is coming. So i would do these exercises with my partner teams to figure out, even if they don't know it, force a vision out of them just to say, "is this where we are going?".

Because then as somebody building the commerce infrastructure for uber, i need to know when i need to build if that is a scenario that's actually going to happen. And we were also thinking about this world where you could tap to pay with your uber phone. So there were all these crazy ideas and i wrote a headline of uber really wants to replace your i put it as your clipper card in san francisco. Because i wanted my san francisco buddies to relate to what i was saying. So i was like, "uber is now replacing your clipper card. All you need is your phone and the app.".

And i wrote it out. And we didn't go and build that product, but we built the payments and commerce infrastructure for the team that did. And we were very involved at the beginning when it was getting kicked off of how does this look in a world where you can use your uber to pay for transport? You can do that today. So. Yeah,. That's a real life example. And that was an article that you ended up writing of what the announcement would look like or is that using this? Okay, awesome. It was the article framework. So it was truly the new york times headline. Even had their logo and then i had the subtitle and later on over time i wrote the actual article, the whole thing. But i started first with that just to kind of provoke a response. And what did you see as the impact of having that? What kind of benefits did you see having this article that you could pass around?

Do you have any memories of like, wow, that was really helpful here? It's two things. So you'l hear me say product management is clarity and conviction. And in writing the headline, you have to focus. Headline is not like it's not a prd, right? It's a headline. So when i've done this, what is the impact of this going to be? What's the feeling people with? And it forces you to get to that clarity of, okay, we solved this problem. This is actually going to be the painkiller that we're solving. And then they translate that pain dealer into, they have a headache, they no longer have a headache. Do you know what i mean? So i think it breaks clarity.

So for me, as the pm i'm like, this is why i'm saying this is important. Then you have the subtitled. So they'l usually have the headline and i'm like, sub bit. They've just launched a way to something, and you have to write that as well. What is the thing we're launching and is that realistic? And then using that to kind of socialize the idea to say, "this actually could work, right?". And i didn't go off and build it. Somebody else went and did it, but we had already thought about it and bit that into our platform vision of we need to be able to support these different kinds of ways to pay. There's another interesting one that you're going to go to. The third one, which is write the story. Write the article that someone else will write or visualize it, right?

And the visualize it, two things actually happened. One a year and a half ago, in a strategy session i was running at youtube, i. The strategy session i was running at youtube, i actually took a screenshot of the google play store. I mean, i use an iphone, but i worked at google, so i was trying to be. So i took the google play store. And then i created rounded rectangles, just blank rectangles, four panels. And then i printed that out. And i gave everyone a sheet. And i said, "if we solve these problems, we solve all these problems that we've identified, what would be the screenshots?". You know when you go on the app store, it has the make money or express yourself, what are we trying to say and what is the mock, the hero mock, the marquee mock that we're showing? And then again, it forces people to,. Oh goodness, we can't show everything, so it's got to be three or four things that land the big rocks that will solve this problem. Right? So everyone did theirs. And then we talked about it and what was interesting is you'l find two or three that everyone comes up with if you've done a good job of telling a story around the problems. And it actually quite beautiful to see. So that's a very simplistic visualization that's not like a beautiful sketch or video. I really like that as just a reminder that when you're even the article approach of announcing the thing instead of the traditional press release or even a tech wrench article, it's where will people find out about the thing you've built, and then use that as a way to frame what you've done. So in your case, it's like the app store. They're going to see this update in the app store. Let's just see what that would look like as we announce it in the app store.

Could end up being a tweet, could end up being podcasts. There's all these different channels. So i think that gives people more ways of telling the story. If it's not going to be a press release. Then yeah, so you talked about this third approach of mocking up essentially the vision. I always feel like if you have a designer helping you craft your vision, it's such a unfair advantage. So definitely try to a rope a designer in to help you tell a story. Absolutely. Because just one design is going to, like you said, worth a thousand words, as they say. The thing though is i feel like it's an easy cop out to be like, "oh, but my design team doesn't have resources.". So i'm like, "no, that's not an excuse. Start drawing it with your hands in the app store.". Still tell the story because the story, you should be able to tell this. I'm obsessed with steve jobs. He would say, "tell the story without slides.". Right? So that mocking it up is just so you can actually bring that narrative and tell that story. And do an app store or sketch it out or use little rectangles to show low fidelity mocks. Do not use, i don't have a designer, to be the excuse for why you don't bring it to life. And often the designer sees it and like, "this sucks. I'm going to make it better.". Exactly. So that's exactly what i did. I sketched this thing once and i gave it to a designer. It was literally post-it notes and they were like, "okay, i see where you're going and it's exciting. I have some cycles, i'l spin it up.". They spun up a lo-fi one, loved it, and i'm like, "actually, i'm just going to make it pretty.". Then they made it pretty.

And we got there. I mean now i'm a director, so i have a bit more agency with resources, but i was like a l-four pm, not even a senior pm when i did my first vision exercise. Okay, this is awesome because i think it's really vague, this idea of i need to develop a vision, and i think you've shared some incredibly tactical clear steps you can take. I also want to talk about how to actually develop the vision. I think you have kind of this step-by-step approach. Is that right? M-hmm. Okay, awesome. So before we get to that, just again reminding people what we just talked about, which is just like here's all these ways of framing your vision, and there's a lot of ways to do it. It's not like you need to make a beautiful deck that you can just write it out. You could write a press release, you could write a tweet or you could get a designer help you mock it up or just mock it up yourself.

Awesome. Okay, so let's talk about your suggestions of how to actually go about developing and figuring out the vision for your product. Yeah. There are three pieces if you think about it. So one is what i call empathize. The second is create. So we spend a lot of time talking about create, the middle piece. Another's evangelize. And so i empathize with the customer, the problem. I put myself in their shoes. I really get a visual understanding of what those problems are. I'l talk about it in a second the tactical way i have done that across uber, netflix, and google in a way that scales. Then the create piece where it's okay, now we've solved this problem. What does the world look like? That's the vision we've just been talking about. And then finally, evangelize. So i find just especially as you get more senior, the life cycle of a product or a group of products gets wider and wider and wider. And so i set out a vision, for example at youtube last year that was called vision 2026. And only this year, a year and a half later, are we now at a stage where it's actually going into the planning cycle. We've actually finished all the things were already in progress. We're actually now funding some of the big rocks that get us there. So there's a bit of patience that comes with it. And i think some people just give up when they get to the stage because you're going to meet a lot of naysayers. That one person's like, "but there's no way the engineering is ever going to solve.". There's always going to be those people which is why i said you need to come up with a vision that's in a vacuum of the technical limitations because the limitations of today might not be the limitations of tomorrow.

So going back to the empathize, one of my peers at work uses this word, he says, "you need to do understand work.". And what is understand work? It's crazy to me the number of pms who never go through their products and go through the unless of course you're the onboarding pm, but actually go through the onboarding flow. Because we're all in this state of using the product. But actually, that first step where i don't have the product, what does that look like? I have multiple variations of accounts on youtube. I have multiple accounts on instagram. I have multiple accounts on tiktok where i'm just using the product just like how does it manifest? What do i like?

What's going well? I had this thing with uber. I had uber, i had other partner apps, i would look at them and payment services, empathize comes very easily if you dog food and then cat food. Dog food, meaning using your own product, absolutely a must. Cat food using your competitors or other people in the landscape's products. So that's one piece. The other piece is obviously research, but research is an interesting one because i think you use research. I think research is rich when it's giving you foundational problems that are a couple of cycles out, obviously depending on the level of research you're doing. But your researcher, if you think about the product cycle, research is ahead, and then ux, and then you go into building, it's like in that phase. And so i find too many people lean into and, "let's go test it, let's go do some research.". It's like, dude, you're a human. Look at the products. Would you use that? You built some intuition from just exposing yourself to really good products. Every time you pick up your phone, what is it about the apps that you love? Do you think about that? Oh, i open up my phone. I love spotify. I also love youtube music, but i really love spotify for my music.

I've used it for years and i'm like, okay, what is it about this new thing that just rolled that i love? And i try to articulate that. So there's that piece, but then the tactical thing that i almost make every pm on my team do i call it top 10 things you should know. It's a living document. So in my org right now i've got quite a number of pms and for each of those pms in this living google doc, it's like go slash studio problems, they literally put 10 things, like 10 problems you should know. And you revise it. Every quarter you update it and they're separate. So it's like a living set of problems. And they could be qualitative, they could be quantitative, they could be tech debt. They should be tech debt. These are just known problems with the product that everyone was aware of? Correct. Okay. Awesome. You kind of farm for the problems. So you keep that doc going. And so i first started this at uber on the money team and i called it money problems, more money, more problems because i do fundamentally believe we should bring joy into everything we try to do, so have fun with it. So more money, more problems. And essentially, it was in partnership with my data scientist partners that he had a team of product analysts and data scientists and they would pair up with my pms and we would have the ux team, the uxr team, the data team, and the product managers, and engineering get together and actually look at their problems. So that living document means that for me, if i go around at least my minus one, not just for me but my engineering partner's minus ones, and my design partner's minus ones, and we chat them and say, "what are the top five problems for studio?". They should all have the same answer. This says i've done my job because then we all know the problems. You can debate them. You can discuss them. You can have sessions where you revise and review them. But we do that and then we go into a room and for example at uber, i literally printed them on cards and i put them on tables, scattered the groups and had people discuss and vote the ones that is the most painful because then you see the whole thing.

So that's the empathize bit. I'm spending a lot of time on this because i can't tell you how many times the clarity of the problem, going back to clarity and conviction, is missing and that problem is kind of like the north star. Everything's going on, but there's a north star that doesn't move. Before you move on, there's so much there i just want to touch on that are really interesting insights. One is just this point you're making of when you're trying to develop a vision or thinking about the next step, you should be way ahead of that. You have this doc that you've been working on and consistently update and it's there way ahead of time. It's not like cool, next year's coming up, let's start from scratch and figure out what the vision is long-term. Two is there's this quote that i think patrick hollison tweeted that i always think about in these discussions where a lot of people think of user research. It's like user research, often people think of user research, you do user research and that tells you what to do. And he made this point, no, it should be user research updates your mental model of your customer and what they need and the problems they're having, the stock that you're writing, and then that mental model informs what to build. And so i think that's a big difference and it connects with what you also said of you should trust your gut and judgment. A lot of people discount as a pm like i should have no opinions. I'm just going to listen to what data and research is telling me. I'm not going to try to bias the team, but something i've learned more and more over time is just you should really trust your gut and your instincts exactly like you said. If i could put all the research into bard or chatgpt and it could spit out a prd, then you haven't done your job. So basically i maybe panicked my team.

I came in, i'm like, gen ai, everybody's talking about all the stuff that you do with creating content, but what i want you to think about is what is the value add you bring that i can't just put into an ai right now and say, "tell me the big thing based on this research that exists.". So i've never heard that quote from patrick hollison, but i agree. It's spot on. And i think this is where when you think about the qualities of a product manager, i think there are four pillars, product sense, leadership, execution promise, and technical ability. And it's not product logic. It's product sense.. It's a feeling, right? It's a sense of what is right and that the exposure to products and the curiosity will refine that sense over time. And i think that's the thing that people undervalue a lot. It's like you start program managing and just spitting out what engineering said we can't do and ux said they could do and you become this. That's not the job. The job is clarity and bringing this kind of context really to the set of problems that are being solved and you're curing them together. That's the key there. It's like you're curating those problems together. And one of the challenges i find as a pm is convincing people of your gut instinct of why this is right. But i think that loops back to the power of vision and helping everyone align, like here's why we exist and here's where we're going and here's what i'm sensing is probably an opportunity.

Okay, so just to summarize some of the tips you've shared on this empathize step. One is basically user research, but i think even more importantly, use it to inform your understanding of the problem the users are running into and their needs and things like that. What else did you talk about? Oh, use the product. Actually be a user of the product. In your case it'd be like upload youtube videos. Yeah. Is there anything else? Okay, there's this doc that you shared. That's awesome. So just basically a running document of known problems our users have with our product. Correct.

And when you start getting to the strategic lens, so you have a set of problems, what i sometimes will do is especially if you're, for example a platform pm, pms generally have lots of stakeholders, there'l be a marketing team that's asking for something or an operations team that's like our market needs this. I'l sometimes bring them in at the beginning of the strategy session and give them a template, 10 things you should know. So you use my framework to give me 10 problems. Because if you say, "come present," they'l do like 50 slides. No, that's just 10 things you should know and stack rank them. So i put the work on you now to give me some color. I hear from marketing, comm, support, research, content strategy. Actually had that in my last strategy session where it was the most mind-blowing 10 things you should know. One of them was like the average reading age of an american is 1 years old. And so you start to think of, oh my god, all the text we have, maybe we should use images or a video or whatever.

So bringing this sort multifaceted view of the problems and then you do the work of sandpapering down to the core thing. And then you have the final 10. So that would be the tactical if you want to take it to a more strategic lens. That's how i'd run the first day of my strategy session is usually insights. I'l usually do three days, insights, strategy, then big rocks. And the insights piece is this where we go deep into the problems and i use this template of 10 things you should know, and then we come out with the final list of 10 things you should know, like a consolidated list. I really like this additional tip you just shared of as you're trying to develop a vision for a team is bring in stakeholders and use this framework to help them crystallize here's the most important things to me from the product and things that i think are big opportunities. And then essentially, now you've got buy-in from stakeholders of hey, at least they've heard me and they understand and then here's what they came up with. And then i could be like, "no, but what about this thing?". That at least gives you a way to bring everyone together and understand how the process is going.

Okay, so this week of work you just shared, so can you just talk a bit more about this? Is this you leading the team through an exercise to develop a vision and a strategy? Correct. Got it. And so you said the first three days are aligning and fully understanding and immersing yourself in insights? I usually have strategy sessions of three days. I've tried to do it in two days. That is the absolute limit because i think you need to create white space for just the magic to happen. But i usually use a framework that it's literally what i call the narrative structure.

So when we get into the conviction part, the clarity is the problems to solve. The conviction is the narrative. The framing of that conviction is insights, strategy, big rocks. So the insights day is just focused on understand work, these five problems, actually using the app, doing teardowns of other apps. It's just like a day of understanding. So the google design, they ask the experts. In a way i've given the experts a template, that's what i'm doing basically. And then the second day is where we now go into the strategy of all the problems we've seen, the 10, which are the ones we want to focus on in which order? And who's in these meetings? I always have four folks. So it would be depending on the level of the strategy, it usually be product, my engineering partner, my design partner, and research. Got it. So it's the leaders of the team. The leaders of the team. And depending on the org, i'l bring in data science because at google we have a more shared data science resource.

So i'l usually invite them as one of the partners. Come tell 10 things you should know. So they'l say, "we need to do more instrumentation," or whatever. But you hit on the fantastic point which i was going to connect later, which is when you get to the evangelized stage, humans love to know you heard them. So imagine it's like you did all the work of bringing them together to say, "hey, tell me 10 things.". You've asked the questions, you've come back and said, "here's the strategy that we're going to focus on and here's the vision.". And that last stage where you evangelize becomes so much easier because it's like how did you arrive at this vision? That goes away or like, but you guys didn't solve in that. It's like we heard you and then we parse them into these 10 and everybody agreed with these 10 and therefore that's why we came up with this solution. So let's segue to the evangelize step, which i think i always talk about. I always think about the seinfeld me of when he is trying to get a car reservation where he shows up and they don't have his car and they're like, "we have your reservation, we just don't have your car.".

And he's like, "that's the most important part of the reservation. You take the reservation, but you don't keep the reservation. That's the most important part.". So i think to me it's always like you have this vision, you have amazing roadmap strategy, but if no one even knows it or hears it, that's the most important part. So i think it's super important to understand this. So i'd love to hear your advice on just how to successfully evangelize and share this vision that you've come up with. In terms of evangelizing, i think about three concentric circles. So the core of your vision is your team. And i want to make sure my team understands the vision because i'm basically saying, "get on this boat, we're sailing to the vision of the bermuda or some island," and i describe this beautiful island. They kind of have to be bought in and have conviction that they want to get there to actually sail on that boat together. And so the team is the biggest part and it's the whole team.

It's not like just the pms are the vision. We're just the designers are the vision. I will literally first start with each of the folks that were in the room. We will basically bring our teams together and present an app. So for example, the one we did last year, we presented to what we call studio leads, which are essentially the triads for each of the product team, pm, engineering, and design for each of the product teams, and just presented it out. And i had multiple. We had the first one. Then i had one in my pm weekly, presented it again then, "hey folks, still any questions?". Because people are still it's percolating.

It's like the tea bag. It's oozing out. They're trying to understand it and they're trying to stress test it. And what i also do is i write the output of the workshop. So i'l always write the output. These are the insights we came out with. Here's the ones upon a time framework. Here's the strategy. Here are the big rocks and a vision is coming. And then we'l do the vision and say, "but this is the vision of where we're going if we do all these things.". And that will be a living document, comments, open for comments, no edit, not view only, comments because you want anyone to leave comments in there and just feel they have a say. You don't have to respond to all of them. You don't have to resolve all of them, but just if you put rocks in a washing machine, they polish each other. I like this friction. I always like, i go into the forest, i cut a piece of wood, and our job together is to polish it down to the beautiful danish furniture.

So it's okay to have that friction to do that for a bit. And then once the team has kind of gotten to a place, i'm not trying to get anyone to a hundred percent certainty, i'm trying to get you just on the ride. They will come, right? Then i kind of go to this next layer, which is the stakeholders, those people that came in and their teams and their managers go to them and sort of get them brought in to the vision as well. And they'l also bring perspectives, right? You're missing this piece. We have a lot of engineering. Support tickets will blow up if you do this thing. What does that look like? You guys haven't solved the thing we need to do today. You're talking about something five years out. You're going to get all the variations of feedback.

That's okay. The core that people have bought into that story. And it's okay to have all the. And then finally, once you've got the feedback from stakeholders, you then go to leadership, and leadership really as high as possible. So when i was at uber and i was like an l-five, l-six, i had visions going all the way. I mean i had a fantastic leader. He put me on stage at an all hands to present the vision. And we were like one wallet, all uber experiences. And then we have this vision of a world where uber eats, it could be trains, it could be whatever. And you have this one uber wallet that can be used for all of them.

And we had mocks of what that looked like. So go as big as possible. Go big. Let people tell you to pull back. Let your manager use lasso and pull you back. Go as much as possible. So i go to leadership and then i have leadership, i have to find that story as much as possible. So those are the three concentric circles. Core team, the people who will actually build this thing, stakeholders, the people that need to be bought in for this thing to be successful because they play a part, and adjacent teams because as we're building this thing, it might mean that we tell you no for one of your requests or something, and then finally leadership. It's hard. It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of time. Do you do this for yearly planning? Do you do this for future 2026 vision? Do you do this for quarterly plans? What's kind of the scale of vision that you invest this time into? We go back to the four parts of the vision we . If a vision is something that's coming next year, write a newsletter. Write the newsletter, the headline article version or do the mock. When you are really getting into a vision, you're talking about something that almost feels attainable, but realistic, so it's a long-term thing. And so you do the work and you take that time because you know that the rewards when you get everyone rowing in the same direction will mean a lot more velocity.

And the ripple, i talked about evangelizing within the company, it's everything. When i start talking to a candidate, i say, "hey, my team's mission is expression meets connection, our vision is this.". Then their eyes are like, you can see the twinkle. And so the ripple effect of this thing is just broad and big. My edge partner was just hiring for a role and in the job description, she opened it first with our team mission. And it was like we have these short links at google, so it's like google slash studio vision. People get excited just seeing it. So it's really this evergreen thing that is, we're talking four, five years. It's not the next six months. It's the next six months, do the tweet. Do the tweet. Okay, awesome. I think that's very clarifying. And so is this something you encourage your pms to do is just always be working on this vision for the next, say, five years? Invest this time kind of in the background as you're shipping things every day, every quarter, to make sure people understand where it's going long term.

And then it's like this one-off exercise that maybe you repeat every year too. I think if you have to repeat the vision every year, you have not created a good vision. You haven't done the work. So i'l give you an example of the one at uber. What we kept doing was we would bring more fidelity to actually parts of the vision. So we had a low fidelity mark, more higher, and higher. Then at one point-. Right. We had a at ohio. Then at one point we did a sizzle reel and actually had, if this thing is live.

But we're not creating multiple visions. Remember all the things you read. A desk on every table. It's not like every year it's changing. Or going to mars. It's not every year. It's something that it's you literally rinse and repeat. So the vision is something that is evergreen and lasts in my mind at least three years. However, and i'm talking about pms from l4 all the way to l7 in my team, which is from a junior pm, senior pm all the way to gpms in my org, all have a variation of a vision.

That's a three-year thing. Now when they're going into a micro-visions that's like a macro-vision where maybe they're solving a small problem. Then they'l just do a mock of what that thing looks like next year and then in that mock, they'l present, "this is the mock of what we think it should look like.". That is a vision. It's a micro-vision but it is a vision. So do that. And that's the thing they used to say, "hey, leadership, this is the problem statement. Here's what we think how might we solve this big problem and here's what we think it looks like when we ship it.". That's a mini-vision. What i'm talking about is this macro-vision, but you actually can have the micro ones along the way. Awesome. That is really helpful. By the way, i really like that phrase, "how might we.". I find that extremely useful in communicating. Almost a vision, basically, just how might we solve this problem? Just that phrase alone is a really there's this concept one of the pms i worked with used called fertile questions. When you ask someone a fertile question that leads to discussion and a really good way to create a fertile question is how might we get more people to engage with youtube analytics?

It leads to lot of good brainstorm ideas. So good micro tip right there that we can include. This episode is brought to you by wix studio. Your agency has just landed a dream client and you already have big ideas for the website but do you have the tools to bring your ambitious vision to life? Let me tell you about wix studio, the new platform that lets agencies deliver exceptional client sites with maximum efficiency. How? First, let's talk about advanced design capabilities. With wix studio, you can build unique layouts with a revolutionary grid experience and watch as elements scale proportionally by default. No-code animations at sparks of delight while adding custom css gives total design control. Bring ambitious client projects to life with any industry with a fully integrated suite of business solutions from e-commerce to events, bookings and more.

And extend the capabilities even further with hundreds of apis and integrations. You know what else? The workflows just make sense. There's the built-in ai tools, the on-canvas collaborating, a centralized workspace, the reuse of assets across sites, the seamless client handover, and that's not all. Find out more at So i want to move on to craft but before we do that, is there anything else that you think would be helpful for folks to leave with in terms of getting better at vision? Say someone's got a development opportunity of get better at vision. Which of these things you've shared do you think would be maybe something they could start working on? Is it craft this five-year vision? Is it pick one of these three ways to communicate it? Is it change the way they're empathizing to inform the vision? I'l give a 1.5. I think it's, number one, it baffles me, and i'm somebody who came into product. I don't have a product management career. I came into product. And i've done that now at uber and netflix and google and it still baffles me the number of people where when i say, "tell me the top problems that keep you up at night," and then rambling. I'm like, "what are we talking about? Why are we rambling?". This is literally the thing that you come to work. This is the thing that should excite you.

So i cannot overemphasize this importance of top 10 things but you don't need to start with 10. I start with 10 and actually i always end up with top three. So in every deck, i'l have three things. Three numbers or four numbers. We just got a new chief product officer at youtube because neal mohan is now the ceo, when i did my presentation to her, the opening sign is four things you should know. With these four numbers and four insights. So she walks away with that information now. So it needs to be visceral and crisp and clear. And then from that, just for yourself, have fun with it. Take out a post-it note and sketch, if you were to solve this problem, what it looks like. Just start there. Right? Just start there. And then if you can at least convince yourself, i don't so much care about the deck. The deck helps, absolutely. Or the pictures in the box. If you can tell the story of this is a problem and this is the world i see, imagine a world, that in itself is already you evangelizing the vision. Amazing. That is so helpful. So essentially, make this list of the biggest problems that your users have with your product and i think you also include infrastructure, tech, debt issues, maybe internal problems too. Yeah. Awesome. I just want to know this list for every company now. Just what are their biggest problems? I wonder what they're struggling with. Right? Okay. By the way, the infrastructure piece, i know it's a nugget on the side but infrastructure is the product. Period. People are like, "oh, tech debt.". I'm like, "yeah, it's a product debt.". I cannot build a skyscraper on a shaky foundation. So it is your problem too. It's not for the engineer to be barging on the door and be like, "oh, there's a problem.".

So that's the other one i'l just call out. That in itself is problem as well. You're speaking to the heart of every engineer listening. I know. Okay, and then the other tip was sketch the solution. Just do a post-it, draw it out, see how it feels. I think just people don't realize just the power of, "oh, i have to actually think about what this will look like and not just paint this very fuzzy picture of what it might be.". Amazing. I feel like this is the most tactical and practical segment of advice on how to get better at vision. I'm so excited to get this out and for folks to have things that they actually do to get better at vision. I feel like this could be the whole podcast but you have more awesome stuff to share so i want to keep going. We're going to keep you here, extract as much content as we can out of your brain.

So you touched on this phrase that you like to use for describing what is the craft of product management, succinctly describing the craft of product management. And i know there's many layers deep in this concept but just to start, what is this phrase and framework you think of to describe what is product management craft? What is the job of pm, basically? So i use, i want to say clarity and conviction. And that's what product management is. You bring clarity and you have conviction. So you find a lot of time, we've just talked about a number of things. All of those things, what they're doing is bringing clarity. And that clarity especially for the problem. So even when, i'l just give you a little tactical thing. I noticed there's some pms who will send an email and i read the email, i'm like, "what do you want me to do?

Is this an fyi? Are you saying there's a problem? Do you want me to help?". So just even something as simple as that. Because as pms, we're constantly influencing by bringing clarity. So the clarity, all the stuff we just talked about, coming up with a list of problems, really trying to understand what customers care about. All you're doing is bringing clarity so that when you're in a room and someone is going off and doing actually we don't need that research. I feel like we all know that's a problem. We don't need that research. Instead of doing foundational research, let's do ux validation when the time comes.

That's the kind of clarity you can break that saves cycles. So that's the clarity piece. And if you think when you think about what clarity is, you define clarity. It's this transparency. It's the simplicity of understanding. That's what the word is. It's removing all, it's sifting out all the stuff that's polluting the core thing. That's how i think of clarity. And the tactical thing that i use to bring that clarity is the framework i talked about which is the narrative, insights, strategy, big rocks. It brings clarity to why we're doing what we're doing, how we're going to do it and what we're going to do. And i spend time talking and i can spend time talking about all this. But we talked about the workshop to do that. And i actually have, and one of my old ems who you've actually had on the podcast talks about this a lot. People have fancy decks.

That's great. Clarity comes when you write. So i made them write two-page documents. I'l let you go up to four, maybe. But two page documents with insights, your strategy or i use the word approach sometimes and then the big rocks. And the big rocks are not a laundry list of 20 things because if i asked you to make me a cocktail, you would put ice in first. Then you would pour the drink. You would not put the drink and then put the ice or it will splash and it's messy and that's how an endless roadmap looks to me. So it's like 3, 4, 5 things that anyone can remember that are the biggest things that if we land, this gets us closer to solving the problems. Then every other little thing is around. You can fill that around. That's the sand around the big rocks. So let's just actually double click on this little framework that you're sharing of insight strategy, the big rocks. This is essentially what you ask your teams to share as their strategy, as their plan, essentially. The high level plan, it's not yet a roadmap strategy. Do you think of this just as vision and strategy as this document? This is not vision. This is not telling us what the world will look like if we solve the problem.

That's the vision. This is actually bringing clarity to the narrative of why we exist. So if you were a company, and i always use these, i feel like we can solve a lot of problems in life if we found a parallel in the world. And the parallel i just look for is if this was a startup. And you wanted to tell people why you exist and why they should invest in you, which is why you're doing this pm, what is the big problem you solve as a company? What's the strategy and what are the things you're going to deliver that would end up in the headlines that are coming in the future that you need money for?

You're telling investors, "i'm going to build these things, i need money to do these things.". That's what this is. It's just the narrative. And i think one of the simplest things a pm can have is this narrative that when people come to you and be like, "hey, you see all these emails, introduction, meet this person.". And the pm are like, "oh, i want to set up a time to understand what you do.". I'm like, "nope. Go to slash my narrative, read it. Then when we set up the time, let me know if you have questions.". And guess what? A lot of calls will fall off just from that. Or when someone comes into the team and they're like, "hat are we about?".

Onboarding, here's the narrative. So that's the narrative and that's the one that you refresh periodically so that you can refresh every quarter and refresh every six months because you're adjusting to what's happening in the world, what the problems are. That's a narrative. One last question just so folks get a sense of where this fits into all their work. Does this come before defining the vision and then the roadmap? Where does this fit in terms of vision and roadmap in terms of the process? So the document is evergreen and updated. I'm a big fan of evergreen documents because you create this mental thing where everybody just knows, link whatever the short link is, whatever you use in your company, they remember it and that's the link and that's where i go or they know what the name is to search for the document. It's like how we all know good pm, bad pm. It's lived for the test of time. So i believe in evergreen documents. Update the existing document or do a versioning of the doc, like 2022 version, 2023 version, whatever that is.

So typically the narrative will happen before as you go into planning. So just my team right now, we've just gone through a planning cycle. Now i already had a vision for the team, but basically each team, they took the overarching vision and said, "okay, let's now bring that to life for our area.". They had a set of problems, they had their strategy, approach we called it, and then they have the big rocks. And everyone wrote the two pager. So we wrote this two page document. And then they circled around, the partners, the engineering teams and got feedback. And that's what they then used to then build out the roadmap. Then they built out the roadmap and said, "okay, based on that, this is what the roadmap looks like of unpacking those big rocks a little bit more.". And usually what the rule we gave was, if you have less than three engineers on a problem, consolidate. More than three, it needs . So then you have the roadmap, it's just a google sheet with a list of things and the resources assigned to it, and that's when we start to see, okay, where are you blocked? You have enough ux, you have enough this, it's a bit more tactical. And then you have your roadmap. But then after you've done the inside strategy, the big rocks or the roadmap, you can in parallel or after say, "okay, let's take a week off. Spend time in a room and shape the vision.". Or "let's take a day off.". I've once done one a day, the sketches i talked about. We literally locked ourselves in a room. At uber, we had no meeting wednesday. Google and youtube, we have no meeting friday. And i said, just block your no meeting friday. The next one we're going to get in the room, we're going to whiteboard.

We literally posted notes and the designer of course was like, "this thing is ugly," and then made a pre. And that was the vision. The vision, i remember seeing so many docs at uber with literally slides from my doc saying, " we agree with this vision and so therefore we're going to build this thing in our team to support it.". And that's great. I feel influencing. And i'm seeing it right now at youtube as well, where teams are like, "oh, i've seen that vision," and they'l refer to it. "i saw your studio vision on slide five when you talked about this is what we did with it.". So that's how i would do it. Oh man, i feel like there's so many directions i want to go. You have so many nuggets of wisdom. But i'm going to get back on track. So you have this framework of what a great pm is, clarity. Let's talk about conviction. What does that actually look like? We already spoke about conviction. So conviction is the vision. M. Where you basically very succinctly tell here's where we're going and here's why we're doing this. So definition of conviction is a feeling of what you think the way the world should be. It's a feeling. It is not certainty. It is not absolute. It is not perfect. But it's a feeling of, i feel like this is the right thing to do. And that's what we're seeing when we talk about product sense. It's building this feeling of what you think is right so you bring that to life. And so everything we just talked about is literally you converting the conviction from your head into something that people can consume. And that's the conviction, clarity, narrative, vision, conviction. So this is specifically the craft or product management. If you want to get better at the craft of building great products, these are the two areas i imagine you point your pms to get clear on things and then have more is it more conviction?

Is it clear conviction? How do you think about the skill of getting better at conviction? If you have conviction and it's not clear, then you don't have conviction, quite frankly. If you're like, "i think maybe we should, there are five things we should solve.". I'm like, "then you don't have conviction.". So i'l sometimes stress test. And i'm like, "what if i took away all your resources and you only had five, which is the one you're going to build?". I do all these draconian things that just force clarity. So then the conviction will come out and it's like, "yeah, but i'm uncomfortable.". I'm like, "okay, so the thing that's making your uncomfortable, go spend time, go spend your research, go spend your cycles on getting higher certainty on that conviction," rather than chasing four things because we're, i don't want to use the word lazy, but too scared to pick a lane. So don't peanut butter. Nobody does anything well by peanut buttering resources, spreading them thin. So that's the conviction. I'l sometimes have someone come to me and say, "we have these two scenarios," and there'l be a document and there'l usually be the typical pros and cons of the options. I'm like, "let's say we weren't in the room as the leadership team," which is the one the team wants to get behind. Then you'l sometimes see the team hasn't even done the work between themselves talking. I'm like, "no. You need to go do the work.". And if you have gotten to a point where you have conviction, but there is some risk, then let's talk about the risk that you need by help mitigating or help solving because that's too easy to come to me and be like, "oh, here's a and b. you do the work and tell me which you one to pick.". No way. No, that's not going to make you a better pm. Go figure out why you can't stand by a. So the core to conviction is pick what you think is right. That seems like the core of it. Clarity is being very clear about what you've learned and where you think things are going and then conviction is pick your battle. Here's where we think we need to invest. Right. I like the word battle. Clarity is seeing that you are committed to actually fighting this war in the first place, right? There are lots of other things you can fight. This is the fight you're fighting in and why. And the conviction is how and the way you see the world if you win that battle.

Great. Okay, so you gave a talk on product culture and how the company culture informs and it changes the way the product is built. So you worked at three very different cultures that i'm aware of, uber, netflix, and google. All very different companies. I guess maybe just as a broad question, what did you see about the culture of the company due to change the way product is built? You think about what uber has done in the world and you think about where we are now where it's almost so natural to bring out your phone and the car turns up with someone you do not know that you get into and trust them to take you where you're going. If you fast forwarded to when my grandmother was alive, she would've thought you were crazy. So just think of all the pieces that had to come together for that to work.

And it was a super hands-on, zoom out, zoom in. We say boardroom to streets. You could roll up your sleeves and go in the streets and then go to boardroom, operations team, that really went into the fabric of a city and tried to convert that mission into what the manifestation is in the city. And i started at uber as a gm before i became a pm. So i firsthand experienced that. I got my job, there were seven cars on the road and i had to figure it out in a country where there's no reliable running water, we want to do reliable transport. So what does that look like when drivers don't have a mobile phone? We didn't have . So there's this big piece of the operations and what uber basically did was we're going to work very hard to get the right people in seats. We're going to give them complete autonomy. And the magic that just came out of that is the reason that uber exists and that infrastructure is very much what has allowed a lot of the gig economy actually thrive.

Setting up these playbooks, trying things, learning, sharing with each other was a very big part of the culture. Now, over time, i call this the monolithic culture. There was a culture. And the culture of ever went back and said, "hold on, let's revisit this. Does it still serve us? Has the context changed? What are the parts that we need to improve, evolve?". Because here's the thing, if you don't intentionally evolve the culture, it will evolve without you. So culture is always going to evolve. That's just the way humans are. And the culture are the norms and beliefs. And beliefs and norms change. That's how humans are. So i always say, "what are the good behaviors that you reward and the bad behaviors that you condone?". And if you're not going back to revisit that, then the culture just moves on and then the company's out playing catch-up or it moves on in the way you don't want it to.

And then the world is like, "oh my god, uber. Delete uber," which actually happened. I lived it's very sad to wake up and know that you're doing the right thing for the world and see that 400,000 people have deleted your app just because of a miscommunication, really. So this is a really big piece of uber. The spin there on the autonomy was one of the cultural values was the principle of confrontation and toe stepping. And this is codified in the value system. It's like, forget about levels, step on toes if you believe it's the right thing for the business. And i talk all the time about the story of cash, where travis kalanick was against cash. By the way, i think up until he left uber, he was against cash. But he believed in data and he believed in principle confrontation. And he was like, "go test it out.".

And we tested it out and it did well. And that's why cash exists on uber. Because the culture enabled that. So i've talked about how it evolves and also the of uber. You go to netflix where it started as a monolithic culture. It came out of, "oh, we went through this experience where we had to cut the org down and we left these sets of people and they were performing just as well and had the same output and the same joy. Hey, what did we do right here? Let's distill this down and distill it down into this no-rules framework of responsibility of highly aligned, loosely coupled a few of these tenants at netflix. But i saw in my time, my very short time at netflix when i left netflix to go to youtube, i saw the culture evolve in a very short space of time. There was a very high degree of intentionality to evolving the culture. What does it mean to entertain the world? Let's evolve, let's discuss, let's change. And so again, going into the product, when i joined netflix, there was a whole value of the product would not ever be advertising video on demand. It's subscription video on demand because we believe if we, and it was a strong belief. It was a belief system. And then over time, there were debates and debates. I was a part of a lot of conversations around access. In a world where more people are on their mobile phone, do not have a tv screen, might not have a credit card, do we want to entertain the world or do we want to entertain some people in some places? Sounds familiar, right? This is what we also had at uber. Do we want to offer uber to the world or just some people in some places who have credit cards?

So i saw that conversation go back and forth and the company allowed a structured way of having these debates. So you would typically be encouraged to write down things. Write your argument but ultimately it's lenny's decision. And it's funny when the buck stops with you, how the whole thing flips on its head. You'd think it would be chaos. It's actually not. You actually saw people go a lot more methodically around, okay, i need to make sure. I remember when we talked about conviction earlier, we said, how do you get the firmness in your conviction? I saw people do that work. Be like, okay, i'm at 95%. Can i get to 9%? What would i need to do that? And because the buck stops with you, right? In a world where people can sign up to multimillion dollar deals. So without any approval, it's actually quite liberating but it's the liberation that's frightening. So you saw this and this intentionality involving the culture and now going back to subscription video on demand, because you would write things down and people kept debating and pushing and pushing, there's now advertising on netflix. That's a culture that allows the product. Right? That's a culture that allows the product to sort of evolve and change tenets. And then you see google where it's very much just this, i sort of use this story of two little fish swimming in the water and the old fish goes past them and says, "hey, how's the water?". And they're like, "good.". And then they swim along and they go, "what's water?". That's a little bit of what you get and it's like, we have this respect the user, respect the opportunity, respect each other, and that's all you get.

That's it. That's it. What is googling? You know it when you see it, but what is googling? And so it allows for when you have this, what i call, the microcultures, where the culture within youtube is different from the culture within cloud is different from the one in photos, different from the one in maps. You actually hear people say, "oh, they came from search because they have a culture in search, which if you say you're going to deliver two basis points, you're delivering two basis points, right? And there's a different culture and assistant where it's like, "oh, experiment and try things and so on.". So the culture almost becomes, it almost feels like a city, right? So i'm in amsterdam and there's a culture in de pijp and there's a culture in amsterdam-noord, where all the hipsters are, and there's a culture in west, right? It's the same in san francisco. There's a culture if you're in the mission and you're in all of those things. So essentially what you then end up with is these microcultures, but then there is this looser macro culture that allows the flex of the culture so it manifests in different ways.

And what that means for the product is, you end up with a company like google, where one side of the business is building something like cloud, another part's building something that's heavily data-centric, another part's building something very human. Give everyone a voice, show them the world. That's youtube, right? And you were able to do that because the culture allows that flex. When you think of uber versus lyft and then there's airbnb versus there's this company wimdu that was one of their main competitors. There's these german guys. It's interesting. In the case of uber, they're very aggressive versus lyft was nice brand. But in the case of airbnb was the very nice culture and brand and wimdu was extremely aggressive, just very hardcore. And it's interesting in some markets, maybe you win going really hard and aggressive and just like another uber value, i think was, find your red line. Yeah, exactly. Just find your limit and get there, and that's where you're going to work. And then in hospitality, maybe there's an advantage to being an airbnb where it's more warm and fuzzy.

So that's interesting, that depending on the market, maybe a different culture has a bigger opportunity to win. Never thought of it that way before. What i saw that was interesting about uber was there was a core that was very monolithic about, this is the culture and you hired people from all walks of life that live and breathe that culture, but there was a lot of magic that came out of a culture that also had the city at the core. So celebrate cities was one of the core things, and customer obsessed was another value. So if you're customer obsessed and the culture says celebrate cities, then you know what? Maybe when we do ice cream in nigeria, we're going to put this spin on it. We do uber ice cream in san francisco, we're going to put that spin on it. So there's also this element of like, i could nice isn't the word i would use, but it was very accessible to anyone because it met them where they were. The product met them where they were. And i think that opened the roads for no other company has been able to create ride sharing at that kind of scale.

It's very region by region and i think it's because of that. I think one of the other interesting things about culture is every team also has its own culture and part of pm and a pm leader's job is to create that culture and create good vibes and be a recent guest, put it, you're the emotional center of the team. Is there anything you do on your teams to create that culture to make sure everyone's feeling good and excited and create good vibes? So i actually spent time with both my vp and my peers, my engineering and design partners, and we have a little acronym called bem, because it's brian, ebi, matilde. And i kind joke, i'm like, "bem.". So bem got together and created a cult. We discussed the culture that we wanted to have on the team because indeed, it's how do you work?

And by the way, just fun fact, the reason i ended up at netflix and got obsessed about netflix actually, was when i was at uber and we started all this evolving beyond this what we call uber 1.0. So i'm very uber 1.0. I joined uber as employee number 1024. It's a very different uber. As the culture was going out and in a way, in my mind, losing a little bit of the conviction that the other one had and becoming kind of like a catchall. It's pivoted in the right way now, but it kind of swung the other way. I actually had my product marketing partner, his wife worked at netflix and so he sends me the netflix culture memo.

To your point, i created a culture of netflix within my team at uber. And so the values that actually i have carried through, kind of go back to those. I do believe in this freedom or responsibility. I will give you freedom, but with that comes responsibility. That means the buck stops with you. We had a similar one at uber, which was, owner, not a renter. Speaking of airbnb. Yeah. Owner, not a renter. How would you act if this house was yours versus when you rent, right? And so it's that buck stops with you, kind of mentality.

Then there's this other one that i really think about which is, there's an informed captain. And so, i'm in too many conversations where i'm like, "who is on the hook for this decision? Who cares if this decision is made?". It's not like six people with consensus. Who is the person? And i'm very big on people on count . A lot of people are like, "well, but there are five of us.". And i'm like, "no. There's one person who owns this decision and that's the person that we're going to empower to get all the context, get all the input, to make the decision.". Right? And it's like the rapid model where you end up with the decider. And then, i think one for me, and this is just something i'm very passionate about, i'm a black woman. I think a lot about how i show up in the workspace. And for me, something that's so crucial is i say vulnerability is your strength, right? And so we're all human. We're all fantastically flawed in many ways. And so i really fundamentally believe in this whole, who's the human behind the role and how's that human doing?

And i don't optimize for being liked to be very. And it sounds very harsh. I do not believe in being liked. That's ebi. I believe in being loved, right? And that's a very different thing. And when i said this once in a meeting, people were like yes. Right? But it took me a while and reading a lot of books to come to a definition of love, and love is the choice to extend yourself for the spiritual growth of oneself or another. Right? It's very big and lofty and whatever, but you're literally extending yourself for somebody else or yourself, self-love. Right? And that's love. And when you're extending yourself, you're not nice.

It's not always nice or like. It's sometimes is having hard conversations. It's knowing that, "oh, there's a human.". Matilde, my engineering partner or brian, my engineering partner, whoever those are, they know i care about them. So when the feedback is coming like raw, they know that it's in their best interest because i've shown them enough times that i genuinely care about the person behind the role. I feel like that brings the most powerful thing a team has. You'l see teams just tactically, they'l write a prd, they'l send the prd outside to the world, right? To the other partners and i'm like, "have you spoken to the other pms on your team? Have they read it? Because actually, it might help you write a better prd.". And so in my team now, we have our email distro. Gmail allows you to do the plus thing, plus prd, and just ship your prd, even when it's getting date. And people will just help you shape it because we all care about each other. So it's a very, i know fuzzy and whatnot, but i do really believe in this thing of, if we get back to the core of humanity and there's a human behind the role and they have goals and aspirations, and if you care and love them, the rest of it will follow.

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