Jul 23 • 1HR 26M

The 10 traits of great PMs, how AI will impact your product, and Slack’s product development process | Noah Weiss (Slack, Foursquare, Google)

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Lenny Rachitsky
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.
Episode details

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Noah Weiss is Chief Product Officer at Slack, where he leads all aspects of the product organization, including the self-service SMB business, the team that launched Huddles and Clips, and the search and machine-learning teams. Prior to Slack, Noah served as SVP of Product at Foursquare. He started his career at Google, leading the structured data search team and working on display ads. In today’s episode, we explore:

• The top 10 traits of great PMs

• How “complaint storms” helped Slack teams foster empathy

• How Slack’s product team is approaching AI

• “Comprehension desirability” and other key factors leading to Slack’s success

• Why you should be customer-aware but not customer-obsessed

• Important areas of growth for both new PMs and senior PMs

Curious to learn more about Slack? You can try Slack Pro and get 50% off using this link.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/the-10-traits-of-great-pms-how-ai-will-impact-your-product-and-slacks-product-development-process/

Where to find Noah Weiss:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/noah_weiss

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

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

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

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Noah’s background

(04:22) Noah’s advice on new parenthood

(07:23) Lessons learned from leading product at Foursquare

(11:33) Advice for working with strongly opinionated founders

(14:14) Thinking of involvement on a U-shaped curve

(16:53) Principles at Slack

(19:32) Implementing ML, AI, and LLMs in meaningful ways

(25:11) How Slack structures AI teams

(26:59) Complaint storms and how they help foster empathy

(30:01) Slack’s approach to prioritization 

(32:26) How delight is baked into the DNA of Slack

(34:41) How Slack thinks about competition 

(38:04) Building a culture that takes big bets

(41:40) Rituals at Slack

(44:51) How Slack unlocked new levers of growth and revived their self-serve business

(52:01) Slack’s early success and the factors that made them successful 

(58:08) Slack’s pilot programs for testing new features

(1:02:03) Noah’s famous blog post: “The 10 Traits of Great Product Managers”

(1:10:15) Book recommendations to improve your writing

(1:12:30) Managing up and the importance of data fluency

(1:14:54) The most important skills to improve as an early-career PM and as a senior PM

(1:17:16) Lightning round


• Emily Oster: https://emilyoster.net/

• Dennis Crowley: https://denniscrowley.com/

• Stewart Butterfield on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stewart

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Think-Revisited-Usability/dp/0321965515

• Gustav Söderström on Lenny’s Podcast: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/lessons-from-scaling-spotify-the-science-of-product-taking-risky-bets-and-how-ai-is-already-impacting-the-future-of-music-gustav-soderstrom-co-president-cpo-and-cto-at-spotify/

• Seth Godin: https://seths.blog/

• Noah’s blog post on the 10 traits of great PMs: https://medium.com/@noah_weiss/10-traits-of-great-pms-a7776cd3d9cd

• Five Dangerous Myths about Product Management: https://medium.com/@noah_weiss/five-dangerous-myths-about-product-management-d1d852ed02a2

• Paul Graham: http://paulgraham.com/

• Ben Horowitz on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bhorowitz

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Memoir-Craft-Stephen-King/dp/1982159375

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction: https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Well-Classic-Guide-Nonfiction/dp/0060891548

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: And Other Tough-Love Truths to Make You a Better Writer: https://www.amazon.com/Nobody-Wants-Read-Your-Tough-Love/dp/1936891492

Several Short Sentences About Writing: https://www.amazon.com/Several-Short-Sentences-About-Writing/dp/0307279413

• Paige Costello on Twitter: https://twitter.com/paigenow

Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs: https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Selection-Inside-Apples-Process/dp/1250194466

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail: https://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Dilemma-Technologies-Management-Innovation/dp/1633691780

Radical Candor: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Revised-Kim-Scott/dp/1250258405

Leadership: In Turbulent Times: https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Turbulent-Doris-Kearns-Goodwin/dp/1476795924

Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession

The Bear on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/series/the-bear-05eb6a8e-90ed-4947-8c0b-e6536cbddd5f

• Nanit: https://www.nanit.com/

• Snoo: https://www.happiestbaby.com/products/snoo-smart-bassinet

• Uppababy: https://uppababy.com/

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.