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Making an impact through authenticity and curiosity | Ami Vora (CPO at Faire, ex-WhatsApp, FB, IG)

Making an impact through authenticity and curiosity | Ami Vora (CPO at Faire, ex-WhatsApp, FB, IG)


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Ami Vora is the Chief Product Officer of Faire, which connects independent retailers and brands around the world. Before Faire, Ami spent over 15 years at Meta, including as VP of Product and Design for WhatsApp (2B+ users), VP of Product for Facebook’s ads system (now $130B of annual revenue), and director at Instagram. She began her career working on developer tools at Microsoft. In our conversation, we discuss:

  • Why execution eats strategy for breakfast

  • Using metaphor to rally teams around one shared goal

  • How to build cross-functional relationships

  • “Dinosaur brain,” “Toddler soccer,” and the “hill climbing” metaphors

  • A tactic for handling disagreement

  • Tips for working well with product-minded founders as a product leader

  • The story of Ami’s incredible 15-year journey from temp to VP at Meta

  • Much more

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.

Some takeaways:

  1. Execution eats strategy for breakfast: While strategy is undeniably valuable for guiding direction and setting goals, it’s the execution—the tangible implementation of those plans—that truly drives success. Without strong execution, even the best strategies can’t succeed. This means being willing to get your hands dirty, to tackle the mundane and sometimes tedious aspects of the work that lead to real results. Successful execution allows you to learn from both your triumphs and your setbacks, enabling you to refine and improve your strategy over time.

  2. When handling high-stakes product reviews with executives (who are so inundated with information that they can't go deep on all of it, aka "dinosaur brain"), focus on distilling complex information into concise, actionable recommendations. By doing so, you not only clarify your recommendation but also empower execs to offer useful context, patterns, or insights at the right altitude.

  3. When having a disagreement, use phrases like “Fascinating! You have to tell me more about why you think that” to show a genuine interest in learning. While everyone loves being right, delivering the best outcome is what truly matters. Put your ego aside, embrace curiosity, and collaborate to broaden your perspective and information set.

  4. Use the “hill climb” metaphor to remind your team that moving from a local to a global optimum is like traversing hills and valleys. Imagine your product roadmap like climbing a mountain range, with your current solution being a local peak. Reaching the global optimum or the summit requires leaving your comfortable vantage on an arduous journey to explore other hills and valleys. Trying to play it safe by staying put means forfeiting your shot at reaching the global maximum. Use this analogy to remind your team that achieving the best outcome demands risk-taking and perseverance through challenges. Embrace these hurdles as crucial steps toward success, knowing each stride brings you closer to the summit.

  5. Feedback for women in leadership roles often comes with added layers of personal critique about style rather than just content. Learning to interpret this feedback and deciding how to respond is crucial. It’s okay to filter feedback and decide whether it aligns with your values and goals.

Where to find Ami Vora:

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amvora/

• Substack: https://amivora.substack.com/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Ami’s background

(02:00) The myth of perfection in success

(07:55) Emotionally connecting with the job 

(09:55) Embracing curiosity in moments of challenge 

(13:16) Thinking in feedback loops

(17:17) The “dinosaur brain” metaphor in product reviews

(20:20) Strategies for conducting effective product reviews

(26:33) Using metaphors and imagery to communicate your vision

(29:35) The power of having a shared narrative

(31:55) WhatsApp: an example of metaphor in action

(34:44) Emulating people that inspire you

(36:19) WhatsApp video calling

(37:35) Why execution is greater than strategy

(41:36) Time allotment for strategy vs. execution 

(45:10) How to become a better strategic thinker 

(47:59) The intricacies of implementing feedback

(51:53) Being a female leader in tech

(55:13) Advice for young women in tech

(56:07) Setting goals and aligning incentives

(01:01:40) Acknowledging hard truths

(01:05:46) Lessons from transitioning to Faire

(01:08:40) The importance of a good CPO/CEO relationship

(01:11:17) Vetting heads of product and maintaining customer focus

(01:12:40) How Ami went from intern to leading major products at Meta

(01:14:53) The one thing you should do to be successful in product

(01:17:25) Lightning round


• Faire: https://www.faire.com/

• Making Meta | Andrew “Boz” Bosworth (CTO): https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/making-meta-andrew-boz-bosworth-cto

•  Community Wisdom: AMA with Dan Hockenmaier + Facilitating a roadmap session, structuring product teams, navigating an acquisition, companies not needing PMs anymore, and much more: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/making-meta-andrew-boz-bosworth-cto

• Developing a growth model + marketplace growth strategy | Dan Hockenmaier (Faire, Thumbtack, Reforge): https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/developing-a-growth-model-marketplace

• Dan Hockenmaier’s website: https://www.danhock.com/

• On Reviews: https://boz.com/articles/reviews

• Finding a global optimum always feels like a hill climb: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/amvora_finding-a-global-optimum-always-feels-like-activity-7074776143882588161-jhyy/

• Dolores Park: https://sfrecpark.org/892/Mission-Dolores-Park

• Rob Goldman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robgoldman/

• Execution eats strategy for breakfast, but execution without strategy leads to burnout: https://rationalpm.substack.com/p/execution-eats-strategy-for-breakfast

• The goal of a “strategy” is to change our own team’s behavior: https://amivora.substack.com/p/the-goal-of-a-strategy-is-to-change

• The paths to power: How to grow your influence and advance your career | Jeffrey Pfeffer (author of 7 Rules of Power, professor at Stanford GSB): https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/the-paths-to-power-jeffrey-pfeffer

• Path to Power course outline: https://jeffreypfeffer.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Pfeffer-OB377-Course-Outline-2018.pdf

• Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?: https://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey

• Max Rhodes on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/max-rhodes/

• Coupa Coffee: https://www.coupacafe.com/

• Brandee Barker on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandeedbarker/

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Yes-Dance-Stand-Person/dp/1476777128 

• How to tell better stories | Matthew Dicks (Storyworthy): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-to-tell-better-stories-matthew-dicks-storyworthy/

• A life of yes: Matthew Dicks at TEDxSomerville: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3TaQFcaMk4

The Office on Peacock: https://www.peacocktv.com/stream-tv/the-office

30 Rock on Peacock: https://www.peacocktv.com/watch-online/tv/30-rock/6240863759978157112

• Dall-E-2: https://openai.com/index/dall-e-2/

• ChatGPT: https://chatgpt.com

• Fellow kettles: https://fellowproducts.com/products/stagg-ekg-electric-pour-over-kettle

• TikTok’s “Roman Empire” Meme, Explained: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danidiplacido/2023/09/21/tiktoks-roman-empire-meme-explained/

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.