Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
The happiness and pain of product management | Noam Lovinsky (Grammarly, Facebook, YouTube, Thumbtack)

The happiness and pain of product management | Noam Lovinsky (Grammarly, Facebook, YouTube, Thumbtack)


No transcript...

Brought to you by:

Whimsical—The iterative product workspace
Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security.
LinkedIn Ads—Reach professionals and drive results for your business

Noam Lovinsky has had a distinguished career in product, leaving an indelible mark at Facebook, YouTube, Thumbtack, and currently as the chief product officer at Grammarly. At Facebook, Noam helped establish the New Product Experimentation team; at Thumbtack, he was chief product officer; and at YouTube, he was one of the early product leaders overseeing the consumer experience. In our conversation, we discuss:

  • Challenges and lessons from reviving growth at YouTube and Thumbtack

  • Lessons from building Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team

  • Insights into Grammarly’s success

  • Knowing when it’s time to kill your project

  • Why diversifying your growth channels is critical

  • The power of visioning and storytelling in shaping product strategy

  • How to create space for innovation at large companies

  • The resilience and motivation of Grammarly’s team in Ukraine

Some takeaways:

  1. Knowing when to kill a project is just as valuable as knowing when to start one. Noam’s example at YouTube shows that reallocating resources away from a draining project, even if it risks your own position, can lead to team success and open new impactful opportunities.

  2. The best product managers keep an eye out for potentially successful situations and snap them up. Find projects that are high-impact and career-additive.

  3. Noam has a minimal online presence. He serves as a great example that you don’t have to conform to the trend of constantly posting online, tweeting, or engaging heavily on platforms like LinkedIn to be successful.

  4. Failing is painful but necessary for personal and professional growth. Putting yourself in challenging positions can hurt in the short term but may also accelerate your career.

  5. Diversifying growth channels will help prepare you for potential disruptions. In the case of Thumbtack, reevaluating their approach to market segmentation and adopting a broader targeting strategy proved crucial. Learn to adapt and evolve strategies to match changing business needs, even if past approaches were successful.

  6. In a large organization like Facebook, where scaling is a primary focus, having a team dedicated to small 0-to-1 projects is crucial for innovation. The process, even if it doesn’t lead to the next blockbuster product, can bring valuable insights and improvements to the organization as a whole.

  7. Establishing a 0-to-1 incubator within a large organization requires mirroring startup incentives: effective goal-setting, longer time horizons, and potential ownership of the upside, addressing adverse selection in recruitment.

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

Find the full transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/the-happiness-and-pain-of-product-management-noam-lovinsky-grammarly-facebook-youtube-thumbtac/

Where to find Noam Lovinsky:

• X: https://twitter.com/noaml

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

Where to find Lenny:

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

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

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

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Noam’s background

(04:18) Noam’s lack of online presence

(08:06) Lessons from YouTube: advocating for what’s best for yourself and the team

(14:31) Prioritizing what’s best for the business

(19:37) Knowing when it’s time to kill a project

(21:47) Lessons from Thumbtack: diversifying growth channels and overcoming challenges

(26:24) How Thumbtack turned growth around

(31:44) Building Airbnb’s instant booking feature

(35:28) Lessons from Thumbtack: team collaboration and product strategy

(38:38) Lessons from Facebook: building the New Product Experimentation team

(40:43) The importance of starting small and building community density

(46:07) Advice for building a startup within a startup

(48:52) Having an incentive system

(49:34) Lessons from Grammarly: adapting to changing user needs and building for the masses

(54:20) The scrappiness and profitability of Grammarly

(56:56) The resilience and motivation of the Grammarly team in Ukraine

(59:08) General career advice

(01:01:02) When to pull back

(01:02:58) Closing thoughts

(01:03:56) Lightning round


• Substack: https://substack.com/

• Hunter Walk on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterwalk/

• The rituals of great teams | Shishir Mehrotra of Coda, YouTube, Microsoft: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/the-rituals-of-great-teams-shishir-mehrotra-coda-youtube-microsoft/

• Salar Kamangar on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/salar-kamangar-5a059712/

• Grammarly: https://www.grammarly.com/

• Thumbtack: https://www.thumbtack.com/

• FRED on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/FRED

• How Airbnb Proved That Storytelling Is the Most Important Skill in Design: https://www.inc.com/yazin-akkawi/the-surprising-technique-airbnb-uses-to-better-sell-an-experience.html

• Google+: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google%2B

• Marco Zappacosta on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcozappacosta/

• Bryan Schreier on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanschreier/

• Whitney Steele on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneydsteele/

• David Shein on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidshein/

• The magic of thinking big, by Lenny Rachitsky: https://www.mindtheproduct.com/the-magic-of-thinking-big-by-lenny-rachitsky/

• What Seven Years at Airbnb Taught Me About Building a Business: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/what-seven-years-at-airbnb-taught

• New apps, new experiences: NPE Team, from Facebook: https://tech.facebook.com/engineering/2019/7/npe-team-from-facebook/

• The Origin Story of the BRC Trash Fence: https://journal.burningman.org/2016/05/black-rock-city/leaving-no-trace/the-origin-story-of-the-brc-trash-fence/

• Nike opens high-tech research and innovation lab: https://www.just-style.com/news/nike-opens-high-tech-research-and-innovation-lab/

• ChatGPT: https://chat.openai.com/

• Microsoft Copilot: https://copilot.microsoft.com/

• How to grow a subscription business | Yuriy Timen (Grammarly, Canva, Airtable): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-to-grow-a-subscription-business-yuriy-timen-grammarly-canva-airtable/

• “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”: https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/the-cave-you-fear-to-enter-holds-the-treasure-you-seek-d624e28c3848

Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making: https://www.amazon.com/Build-Unorthodox-Guide-Making-Things/dp/0063046067

For All Mankind on AppleTV+: https://tv.apple.com/us/show/for-all-mankind/umc.cmc.6wsi780sz5tdbqcf11k76mkp7

Fargo TV series on Hulu: https://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/fargo

• Arc browser: https://arc.net/

• Competing with giants: An inside look at how The Browser Company builds product | Josh Miller (CEO): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/competing-with-giants-an-inside-look-at-how-the-browser-company-builds-product-josh-miller-ceo/

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.

1 Comment
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.