SC Moatti is the managing partner at Mighty Capital, a venture capital firm, and founder of Products That Count, one of the world’s largest product manager networks. In this Path to PM post, SC and I discuss strategies for common PM interview questions, including how you would 10x growth at a company.
How did you first break into product management?
After earning a degree in electrical engineering and then an MBA from Stanford, I wanted to become an entrepreneur and was encouraged to first explore product management. I joined Siebel Systems as a product manager and built a career between starting companies and building products.
How did you get into teaching at Stanford?
After selling my last company, I worked for Facebook for a couple of years. During that time, I was invited to do some other things, one of which was to help mobilize Stanford’s curriculum. After leaving Facebook, I began teaching at Stanford — classes on customer acquisition, what makes a great product, and classes for executives who want to become early-stage investors or startup board members.
Tell us the story behind Products That Count.
During my time at Facebook, I was invited to write a book on what makes a great product. In the process of writing that book (which would become a bestseller), I realized that each head of product has an interesting perspective to share on “what makes a great product.” So I started Products That Count as a way for product managers to share ideas.
In this part of the interview, we’ll discuss some common interview questions. The first question is, what makes a great product?
I answer this question with the body-spirit-mind framework. A great product needs 1) to be beautiful – efficient with a wow factor. That’s the “body” component.
It needs 2) to be personalized to give us unique experiences. Tech products today are an extension of ourselves, and this is why privacy is so important. This is the “spirit” component.
It needs 3) to help us learn. This is the “mind” component.
You mentioned privacy. How do you see the balance between personalization and privacy? How would you think about that as a PM?
I think of privacy in terms of risk to individuals, corporations, and governments. As a society, we don’t want identity theft, so a great product needs to protect its users from identity theft. Also, as a society, even though we don’t like to admit it, we’re okay with corporations having our data to display better ads to us. Government is a gray area. We don’t want Big Brother using our data, but we also want protection from terrorist threats.
Here’s another common interview question. How do you 10X the growth at a company?
This question is an attempt to discover the interviewee’s natural tendencies—if they’re driven by numbers or are more of a creative person. But to achieve 10X growth at a company, you need a combination of a rational, scientific approach and a creative approach.
You first need to use tools to analyze your funnel. There are many ways to go about this, but you should pick a metric and then optimize the conversion of that metric within the funnel. That might give you a 30% increase.
Next, you bring in an outside-the-funnel approach, looking at how to have a perfect funnel with infinite conversion. Think: how do I reduce the depth of my funnel? An example is how Amazon suggests other, similar products to the one you’ve just purchased.
Then ask: how do I increase the width of my funnel? An excellent example of this is Zillow’s Zestimate tool. Tools like this can easily 5 or 10X your growth.
So I recommend combining the two approaches to drive meaningful growth. It should be an approach of alternating between thinking inside and outside the funnel.
What is the biggest challenge a product manager can face?
This is a question I recommend you ask the interviewer, because very often, a PM’s biggest challenges are internal. Ask questions about how things get done internally. What is the company’s culture? Is it data-driven? Is it more top-down? Is there much collaboration? Try to understand what you would be dealing with if you land the job.
What’s your favorite product and why?
My favorite product is Tinder. That’s where I met my husband.
Who is a product manager that you admire?
Just visit the Products That Count website. The About page has about 15 C-level and VP-level leaders in product in their respective organizations. They head chapters or host podcasts or write for us. They give their time to create an amazing product culture.
What books and/or resources to you recommend for aspiring product managers?
I recommend my own book, Mobilized, a bestseller on Amazon. It’s available in print, download, or audio.
Other influential books for me are Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, and Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, which is about understanding your customer and building something they want.
Learn more about SC Moatti at her website.
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