Our first episode is all about introductions. Introducing ourselves and what we each would like to get out of doing this podcast together, along with a few fun anecdotes (ceiling fan trauma, anyone?) from our hosts, Amber, Will, and Tammy.
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[00:00:00] Amber Hansford: Welcome to Product Outsiders. We’re not product managers, but we’re close.
In a world awash with MBAs and fancy suits, we’re the people standing on the outside, our sleeves rolled up, ready to get some ish done. We’re not product managers in the way you might think, but we’re passionate about solving real problems for real people in ways that actually create real value. So I guess that makes us product managers.
Whatever you call us, we’re passionate about building great collaborative teams that make great products together.
I’m Amber, I am a former front-end developer, former product manager, and now user experience manager. I keep my hands kind of in the mix with product management. And I’m also a huge proponent of design thinking.
[00:01:07] Will Sansbury: So I’m Will. I’ve been a tech writer, a web designer, a scrum master, a product manager. I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do inside of software development, I think, except QA testing. But what I’ve learned over the years is that there’s something absolutely magical about getting an awesome group of people together to solve real problems.
And so, you know, I kind of stumbled into the realm of product management out of that desire to find better ways to get good stuff out to people.
[00:01:38] Tammy Bulson: I’m Tammy, and I am an Agile coach by day, a writer by night, and I don’t have any practical product management experience. I’ve never held the role of a product owner or a product manager, but I have, like, an unquenchable curiosity about what makes people tick and how to get them all to work well together, to do awesome things like build great products. I’m a huge fan of the Agile methodology and the way we approach our work, and even our personal lives. Yes. I use a Kanban board when hosting big events at my home.
I am one of those people. And when I’m hanging with Amber and will I do a lot of Googling because they are super smart, and I’m usually the one running to keep up with their awesome brains. And I’m really looking forward to hanging out with y’all.
[00:02:31] Will Sansbury: And when she says “super smart,” she means obscure pop culture references.
[00:02:36] Amber Hansford: Very obscure pop culture references, which you’ll probably get a lot of on this podcast.
[00:02:43] Will Sansbury: Tammy, if it makes you feel any better, I have managed more than one home improvement project with the Kanban board.
[00:02:49] Tammy Bulson: Ah, you’re my people, Will.
[00:02:52] Amber Hansford: I have not. I will say that.
[00:02:56] Tammy Bulson: You’re missing out on things, Amber.
Yeah, I’m probably the only one that would look at it though.
[00:03:00] Will Sansbury: Oh, you think anybody in my family looked at my Kanban board for home improvement? No! It was mine and mine alone. Team of one.
[00:03:10] Amber Hansford: Well, I want to start us off, since this is our very first podcast, with what we really want to do with it. One of our many little taglines on our website is that we’re kind of bitter, so hey, podcast? Will, what do you want to do with this podcast?
[00:03:30] Will Sansbury: You mean, besides working out the bitterness?
I think for me, every company I’ve worked at, product management has been one of the most important and least effective roles out there, which has always surprised me. You know, it seems like such an important thing. If you can be excellent at product management, you can multiply the value of everyone around you.
And so I’m super excited about the idea of just exploring these topics of how to be better at product management, how to, how to help teams unlock their potential and deliver more. And I think we, you know, the three of us and the folks that we’re going to invite into our guest chair, we bring a perspective, that’s a little askew. And that diversity of thought I think is going to help us get at some interesting stuff.
[00:04:17] Amber Hansford: Did you just call a “screwy?”
[00:04:20] Will Sansbury: I said we were askew, but “screwy” works too.
[00:04:27] Amber Hansford: And Tammy, what do you want to do with this podcast?
[00:04:31] Tammy Bulson: Well, I, I just want to have fun. But besides that, and I heard that this is where the party’s at,
I want to teach people some easy-to-understand thinking around some of the basics. And really to grow our knowledge, right? That’s why there’s at least three of us here doing these podcasts, because we’re learning from each other, and hopefully all of you can learn from us.
I think it’s awesome that I know Amber, Will, and I believe in an empirical approach and that we’re all growing and sharpening our saws based on what we’re learning. I may or may not have a tattoo that says “inspect and adapt.” Okay, I really don’t have that tattoo.
I’d get a henna one. I would get a henna one. I would just say.
I think when people are building products, there’s so much noise and reporting and red tape that sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we’re building things for people. And if we do that, right, we can change people’s lives for the better. And in my opinion, that’s why we’re doing these podcasts.
[00:05:33] Will Sansbury: That’s awesome, Tammy, and I see that every day working with you. You know, you bring that perspective of “but who are we doing this for?” And keeping us grounded in that. That’s so awesome.
But Amber, what about you? What do you want to get out of this podcast?
[00:05:47] Amber Hansford: When I was in product and I worked at multiple big companies, everybody was saying that they were product-focused, product-led, but at the end of the day, as the product manager, I would still say to my team, “If we win, we all win. And if we fail, it’s all on my shoulders as product.” And that was not a healthy thing for me to say, let alone think. And I did that for years and years and years really, you know, coming to own moving out of that silly little Venn diagram that I am sure we will dig into on later podcasts about the sweet spot being product management in the middle. The problem with that Venn diagram is always that you can take away one of those bubbles and you can still have a Venn diagram. I’ve always leaned on the propeller approach.
If you take away a blade of a propeller, that plane’s not going to actually get in the air. It really is a team sport, and single ringable neck is an antiquated thought process. And yet I still see it everywhere and it really is, you know, it’s, everybody’s all in. To paraphrase my teenager at, as a tweens favorite movie “we’re all in this together.”
[00:07:15] Will Sansbury: Oh gosh. I was going to ask if you just High-School-Musical-ed us, but that makes me reveal that I know High School Musâ€”. Okay. Can we, can we clip this out, please?
[00:07:24] Amber Hansford: (singing) We’re all in this together.
Yes. I have that ingrained into my DNA for how many times my child watched that movie.
[00:07:33] Will Sansbury: Yeah, I love, I love your propeller analogy, Amber, because have you ever seen a ceiling fan?
That’s lost a blade.
[00:07:40] Amber Hansford: It’s not pretty.
[00:07:41] Will Sansbury: Man, when we moved into the house we’re in nowâ€”we bought this 1970s fixer-upper you know, but the whole HGTV worst house in the best neighborhood kind of approach. And I think it was probably the third or fourth night we were in the house. We heard the most God-awful clatter. And I got up and moved and went into our great room.
And the ceiling fan had thrown a blade so hard off that it was embedded into the wall. And the ceiling fan, that still had all but one blade, was doing this like wobble of death, going to kill everybody thing. I mean really, not so different for most corporate projects I’ve seen in my career. I think we all tend to end up living in that place of wobbling, trying so hard to make it work, but something’s missing. We just don’t know what.
[00:08:31] Tammy Bulson: I love that.
[00:08:33] Will Sansbury: I’m also now deathly afraid of ceiling fans as a result of that incident.
[00:08:43] Tammy Bulson: Ceiling fan trauma!
[00:08:44] Amber Hansford: You probably should not come over to my house with the vaulted ceiling and the, like twice as big as it should be ceiling fans.
[00:08:52] Will Sansbury: Oh, when you– you know the company big A S S ceiling fans? Have you ever seen those? They are like 18 feet across or something. Nightmares. Nightmares!
[00:09:07] Amber Hansford: I almost like to use that as an analogy, better than a plane not taking off, because you could actually have harm done to you from a ceiling fan blade. And I, I mean, when a project goes sideways, you can have harm come to you.
[00:09:26] Will Sansbury: Oh, who among us doesn’t have some scars?
[00:09:28] Amber Hansford: Oh, yeah. There’s enough PTSD to go around for a couple of seasons’ worth of this podcast from me at least.
[00:09:35] Will Sansbury: This is going to be fun, y’all. I really am looking forward to kind of stepping out of what we do working alongside each other every day to just think about the bigger picture of the industry we’re in, the discipline of product management.
And I think, I really do think we’ve got the opportunity to bring something really cool, a different perspective and bring some voices that are kind of adjacent to product but that can speak into what we need for product really to sing and to really work well. So this is gonna be awesome.
[00:10:07] Amber Hansford: So you’re saying there are more product outsiders out there.
[00:10:11] Will Sansbury: I think there are, I think there are. They have all sorts of titles. I’ve known some who are developers, some who are scrum masters, some who are testers, but really if you, if you really care about the thing you’re building and want it to be great for the people you’re building it for, I think that makes you a product outsider.
[00:10:29] Amber Hansford: I agree completely.
Well, thanks, y’all, again for tuning in for podcast zero for our brand new spanking fresh out of the oven podcast, Product Outsiders. If you’re looking to ask us a question, leave a comment, just check out what we’re going to be talking about and what we have talked about, check out our website at productoutsiders.com and subscribe anywhere that you get a podcast, then we, we will see you next time. Thanks.