Storytelling – A key product management skill

I’ve written before about the importance of storytelling skills for product managers. It’s the one skill that product management teams in India have not focused on much. While we test for analytical skills at academic qualifications, we don’t test for storytelling skills in product management interviews.

As I’m building my team, I’m really looking for the following skills in candidates:

How good are they at:

  1. Storytelling – Can they pitch their idea? Can they weave a cohesive story around their idea?
  2. Writing and speaking skills in English – A great product manager, who is hard to follow when speaking or in her written words, will not be able to lead very well nor motivate
  3. a team.
  4. Love for technology – can the candidates demonstrate a love for technology and a good understanding of SDLC, etc.

Going back to storytelling… here is a good post to help you pitch your ideas. I’m also linking to a couple of sites that have pitch decks from various startups that you can review to see how entrepreneurs pitch their ideas internally or to VCs.

I love Jack Dorsey’s presentation skills. This particular presentation at Stanfords scorner website is really engaging and inspiring. This is how we should aspire to tell stories


Best US companies to work for 2011 infographic

I saw this really amazingly done interactive infographic about the top companies to work in the US.

What’s great about this infographic is that its a really a presentation with excellent choices made for presenting a large data set. You can see what employees say about these companies. You can dig deep at each companies level to see what employees value about that company.. for example Google employees value free massages and catering.


Take a look



Austin Kleon at the HOW design conference

I see a lot of presentations in my profession. I give a lot of them too… so I’m hard to please. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Austin’s keynote presentation at the HOW design conference. He’s a terrific speaker and storyteller and I love good storytellers. He walked us through these 10 rules for creative people and a lot of them rang true for me as a product manager:

  1. Steal like an artist. (from the best and many at a time)
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. – you are never going to have it all figured out.
  3. Write the book you want to read.
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.

What I loved hearing was:

Steal from the best, surround yourself with the best. If you are the best person in the room, change the room. So.. as a product manager, unless you are working with smarter people, you are are not going to get any better at what you do. I guess this works for all disciplines and careers and not just product management. This made me wonder if I’m learning new things in my discipline or not. I don’t think I am. I have to make my career more exciting for me and seek new mentors.

Here’s more about Austin. He’s awesome and his story about Winston Smith and how it all came around many years later is beautiful. Everyone should be so lucky. Here’s the story:


2012 Internet Trends Update

Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers published their 2012 Internet Trends report in December 2012

Here are some highlights for India and the world.

Internet usage

  • #3 rank in terms of total number of Internet users by country but still only 11% penetration
    • 137 Million Internet users with 50% added in the last 4 years
    • 26% YoY growth
    • India has approx 25% of the total number of internet users in China and 60% of the US’ connected population
  • Global mobile traffic is 13% of total traffic
  • In India mobile internet traffic is higher than desktops since May 2012

Mobile ecosystem

  • 44M smartphone subscribers in India with this being only 4% of total mobile subscribers!
    • #5 in country rankings behind China, US, Japan & Brazil
  • iPad growth is 3x iPhone Android phone growth is 6x iPhone – clear leader
  • Only 1B smartphone users out of 5B total mobile phone users
  • 29%+ of US adults own a tablet or eReader
  • Mobile Apps and Ad Spending growing
    • 67% – Mobile app spend
    • 33% – Ad spend
  • 24% of online shopping in US on Black Friday on mobiles and tablets
    • iOS devices dominate this segment with 4:1 ratio over android for purchasing on mobile devices

Computing platform OS share

  • iOS + Android now at 45%
  • Windows – 35%
  • Tablet shipments exceed PC shipments in Q4:2010
  • This report is predicting stagnation of PC sales and continued increase in tablet sales until 2015. I dont agree with this entirely
  • Tablet install base to overtake PC is Q2:13
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica went out of print in 2012
  • Clouds…
  • Many kinds Inspiration sources – Pinterest
  • This one I absolutely dont agree with. To me pinterest has no appeal and I’m not sure creative professionals (designers) get all their inspiration from there. See: Behance and many others

Reimagination – Useful sites and new ideas

  • Gumroad – selling digital goods
  • Quirky – Collaborative product design
  • Smart devices – smartthings, lockitron
  • Coursera – I love it. Amazing courses.
  • Read slide 58 and then read it again.
  • Still shocks me that US residents spend 3hrs+ in front of a TV
  • US Debt is very high at 97% of GDP making it the 10th most indebted country in the world

Great presentation overall.