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Keval Desai, currently a partner at Interwest, recently shared some words of wisdom for building profitable companies and being a successful product manager, drawing from his past experiences as a founder, VP of Product, and Google PM. Check out the last video of our three-part series — and read Keval’s seven tips below.

Watch Part 1: What Makes Optimizely Great: PM Confessions
Watch Part 2: Product Managers Should be Like Odo from Star Trek
Watch Episode 1 with Gokul Rajaram, the ‘Godfather of Adsense’

For Companies:
Identify new markets by identifying daily habits.
Think about where to go and identify big markets by daily habits — how people spend their time — and potential disruption around those activities.

Bridge the gap.
In traditional B2C companies, the user is the buyer. In most B2B transactions, the user is not the buyer and, as a result, there’s often a huge disconnect between what the money is spent on and what users actually want. With the consumerization of enterprise software, successful B2B companies are able to bridge the gap between consumer and buyer.

Create a culture that allows failure.
When a project fails, don’t throw everything out the door. Take the good things that worked and carry them on to the next project. Accepting failure is part of doing business.

For Product Managers:
Channel Odo.
Product managers should be adaptable, like Odo from Star Trek, and take on a shape based on the needs of the hour. Good product managers adjust their own priorities and projects based on the company, the products, and how effective the team around them is.

Don’t end up a camel.
Effective product managers focus on what they do best and where they can best serve their product and company. When product managers try to take on too much with limited resources, they resemble a camel. Product managers should aim to be “best of breed” — either horses or elephants, but not the in-between, the “camel” that doesn’t end up providing any value.

Speak many languages.
Be able to speak code. Be able to speak PowerPoint. Be able to speak benefits, not features. It’s hugely beneficial for a product manager to have a technical background, so they can communicate effectively with the engineering team. But not all product managers have to be engineers; the important thing is for a product manager to provide value and not just become another layer or simply a Powerpoint jockey.

Maintain a balance between vision and arrogance
In order to challenge the status quo, product managers often have a grand vision and can see a state of the world that doesn’t exist today. The vision should be a motivator to innovate, but when the market indicates that the vision isn’t right and product managers keep persisting, their arrogance can cost a lot in terms of opportunity and resources.

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Posted by on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.


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