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What differentiates the highest-performing product teams | John Cutler (Amplitude, The Beautiful Mess)

What differentiates the highest-performing product teams | John Cutler (Amplitude, The Beautiful Mess)

John Cutler writes the popular and beloved product newsletter The Beautiful Mess. For many years, he was a Product Evangelist at Amplitude, which led him to meeting and working with a large number of product teams around the world. Through this role, he gained unique insight into how the best product teams operate. In today’s episode, John reflects on leaving his role at Amplitude, and explains the attributes that the top 1% of product teams share. We also go deep into some of his favorite frameworks and discuss the best way to apply these frameworks to your work. We also unpack skills like product sense and product mindset, and what he’s planning in his new role at Toast.

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

Find the full transcript here: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/what-differentiates-the-highest-performing-product-teams-john-cutler-amplitude-the-beautiful-mess/#transcript

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Where to find John Cutler:

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

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

• Newsletter: https://cutlefish.substack.com/

Where to find Lenny:

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

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

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


• Amplitude: https://amplitude.com/

• The North Star Playbook: https://info.amplitude.com/north-star-playbook

• Craig Daniel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/craigmdaniel/

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Working-Backwards-Insights-Stories-Secrets/dp/1250267595

• AppFolio: https://www.appfolio.com/

• High Leverage Product Evangelism: https://cutlefish.substack.com/p/high-leverage-product-evangelism

• Satya Nadella on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/satyanadella/

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business: https://www.amazon.com/Culture-Map-Breaking-Invisible-Boundaries/dp/1610392507

• Innovation Labs: https://innovationlabs.com/

• BEES: https://mybeesapp.com/

• Marty Cagan on Lenny’s Podcast: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/the-nature-of-product-marty-cagan#details

Sooner Safer Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility: https://www.amazon.com/Sooner-Safer-Happier-Patterns-Antipatterns/dp/1942788916

• Teresa Torres on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teresatorres/

• Andrew Huberman on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hubermanlab/?hl=en

• TBM 49/52: Pyramid of Leadership Self/Other Awareness: https://cutlefish.substack.com/p/tbm-4952-pyramid-of-leadership-selfother

• ChatGPT: https://chat.openai.com/chat

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business: https://www.amazon.com/How-Measure-Anything-Intangibles-Business-ebook/dp/B00INUYS2U

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations: https://www.amazon.com/Accelerate-Software-Performing-Technology-Organizations/dp/1942788339

User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product: https://www.amazon.com/User-Story-Mapping-Discover-Product/dp/B08TZGKKF2

Build with Maggie Crowley podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/build-with-maggie-crowley/id1445050691

One Knight in Product podcast: https://www.oneknightinproduct.com/index.html#page-top

Sunny Bunnies on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81286920

Booba on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81011059

• Toast: https://pos.toasttab.com/

• Drift: https://www.drift.com/

John’s list of high-performing people worth following:

• Dr. Cat Hicks (@grimalkina) https://www.linkedin.com/in/drcathicks/ 

• Stephanie Leue https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanie-leue/

• Amy Edmondson (@AmyCEdmondson) https://www.linkedin.com/in/amedmondson/

• Dominica DeGrandis (@dominicad) https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominicadeg/

• Courtney Kissler https://www.linkedin.com/in/courtney-kissler-0930681/

• Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinawodtke/

• Matthew Skelton https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewskelton/

• Heidi Helfand (@heidihelfand): https://www.linkedin.com/in/heidihelfand/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) What is a product evangelist? John’s unique role at Amplitude

(05:50) John’s reflections and feelings on leaving Amplitude

(17:28) What John’s doing next

(18:52) John’s newsletter: The Beautiful Mess

(27:49) What do the top 1% of product teams have in common?

(40:08) Different ways companies are successful, and why anyone can improve

(45:55) Investing in people vs. investing in processes

(48:49) The importance of culture and values

(49:59) Global company cultures: the individualist vs. the collectivist  

(55:55) Why it’s hard to make changes in large companies

(58:49) How to view frameworks

(1:01:02) The spectrum of performance in big and small companies

(1:05:27) Examples of high-performing people who work outside of Silicon Valley

(1:09:02) The skill of product management

(1:11:35) The value of learning a bit about everything

(1:13:46) Why do people often underestimate the loops available at their company

(1:16:20) Chronic vs. acute issues at companies

(1:18:07) Unpacking the skills behind product sense and product mindset

(1:20:44) A place for people without the traditional meritocracy mindset

(1:22:38) John’s writing process and what he plans on writing about next

(1:27:52) How to use ChatGPT for learning and levity

(1:31:56) Lightning Round

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