Episode 4: Driving Success in Your Startup

Episode 4

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In this episode, we explore the journey of becoming a successful product manager through Adam’s career transition from technical support to product management. Key insights include the necessity of embracing ambiguity, understanding people, and the significance of customer feedback, especially from those who are constructively critical. The discussion highlights the art of building products from scratch and the delicate balance of feature prioritization. Adam reflects on the lessons learned from prioritizing features that didn’t resonate with the market and emphasizes the importance of talking to less satisfied customers to gain valuable insights. The episode also delves into the strategic aspects of defining an ideal customer profile, the risks and rewards of joining a startup, and the complexities of transitioning from a single product to a multi-product company. Additionally, it covers the importance of storytelling and communication in product management, concluding with final thoughts on the subject.

Guest Bio

Adam began his career in medical device engineering and then moved in project and program management at Red Hat. After his time at Red Hat, he became a product manager at ServiceTrade where he was promoted to Director of Product Management. Ultimately, he decided to move out of product management and now leads the solutions architect team at ServiceTrade. In addition to being a product expert, he’s also an expert in the very fuel that product managers need — coffee! Adam roasts his own beans and puts as much drive and passion into coffee as he does in his work.

Connect with Adam on LinkedIn!

Key Points

00:00Introduction 00:52Episode Introduction 01:50Passing a difficult interview 03:19Skills needed for being a good product manager 03:58Adam’s journey from technical support to product management 07:58The importance of understanding people in product management 09:18The early days of ServiceTrade 10:05The risk and reward of joining a startup and how to hire early on 11:11Building 0-1 products 13:25Determining the prioritization of things to work on 14:10Talking to customers 16:41Determining which customers to not go after and defining your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) 19:24Making the transition from a single product company to a multiple product company 22:32On prioritizing features and building a roadmap 24:45What someone hiring a product manager should look for 28:00What led Adam out of product 29:09The importance of good storytelling and being able to talk to people at different levels 31:20The final question 32:09Episode wrap-up 35:04Outro

Call to Action

Let us know what your takeaways were — what comments made you think? What new thoughts did you have listening to the podcast?


“Product management is a lot of sitting comfortably with ambiguity and charting a ship’s course through real thick fog and just hoping that everyone on the ship trusts that we’re heading in the right direction and doesn’t mutiny.”

Adam Strong

“I see a lot of product managers set up these user meetings with the friendlies, the people that are really easy to talk to, the ones who really like what you’re doing. But in my experience, you get really weak feedback that way. I think the users that you need to talk to are the ones who are a little bit ticked off at you. They’re annoyed by you. They’ve got something to say, but they’re not just nitpicking. They’re actually rooting for you, they like what you’re doing for them with this product. They want it to be successful, but they are not happy. I think those are the ones that you have to talk to first. In my opinion, they’re your champions. Your product is going to live or die by their hands.”

Adam Strong

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Season 1Episode 4