March 15, 2023

The Intersection of Customer Centricity and Data Centricity with Mike Cozart of Concreit

In this episode, Mike Cozart shares his journey in product management. From fintech and telecom to investment banking and venture capital, he’s seen it all. He explains how working at Amazon differs from smaller companies. Mike also dives deep into user interviews  and planning the roadmap. Finally, he comments on customer centricity, data centricity, and where they intersect.



Time Stamped Show Notes

Getting into product [01:26]

Changing roles within one company [01:34]

Prioritizing projects [03:27]

Bigger vs smaller companies [07:37]

Roadmap [11:24]

Data and customer centricity [17:40]

Advice for aspiring product leaders [27:30]



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Kayla: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning into Product Chats. On today's episode, I talk with Mike Cozart, who's the VP of Product at Concreit, and we talk about the intersection of customer centricity and data centricity, and also about being a power user of your product. So hope you enjoy the show and don't forget to leave us a review.

Hey Mike. Thanks so much for coming on today.

Mike: Thanks, Kayla. Pleasure to be here.

Kayla: So, in a minute or less, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Mike: Yeah. I started my career in finance in the tech, telecom focused investment banking and, and venture capital. Then I did that for about five. Years and then I transitioned to management roles with Amazon.

And after about four and a half years in, in various retail roles I transitioned to Axon and had the opportunity to lead their digital evidence management business. And Axon is the market leader for police body cameras. So that was a really interesting and sort of unexpected but great experience [00:01:00] scaling a business that was sort of small and emerging over another four and a half year period. Throughout that time between Amazon and Axon, I, I became a pretty active angel investor on the side and informally doing a little bit of advising. And so one of the things that I did, you know, the way I used my pandemic was to kind of go deeper in that area and then ultimately joined up with Concreit.

So I'm a VP of Product at Concrete, which is a real estate investing platform.

Kayla: Awesome. Well, let's actually take a step back and can you kind of tell us about like your journey and how you actually got into product and what that looks like?

Mike: Yeah. I sometimes call product the, the accidental career or the sort of the accidental role because it's sort of just developed sort of organically within the industry versus coming out of like academia.

So while at Venture you do just about everything. I worked at a small venture firm, so it was typically me and a partner, which meant that I did all the work. And you look at everything about a company, you don't look at like, you know, stock price of the public company. You look at the management team, the product, the market, the competitors, the technology – [00:02:00] everything.

But the one thing you don't do is operate the business. And so after a few years, I wanted to really try my hand and see if I could walk the walk in addition to talking to talk. That was what led to you know, business school and then my transition to Amazon. And one of the things that I was really trying to figure out was, well, I'm going to a company now, and in some ways there's risk in that because you don't know what an organization is like.

And I came across sort of this understanding of product management and I spent a good bit of time just reaching out to alumni or friends I can get in touch with and be like, hey, like your product manager, how'd you get into that? And what do you do? And so that, that was the emphasis I was looking for a role within a company where I would have, you know, I could be part of a larger company that obviously has its own, you know, successes or, or strategy.

But to, I wanted to go into a role where I felt like I could have enough autonomy, to have an impact that I could say like, hey, however the company did, I, I delivered these results. I had this positive impact. Cause I didn't want my, you know, career to go off track or for my contribution to get lost in the mix.

I think product management came [00:03:00] naturally as the thing that I was interested in because I had been working in, in sort of tech, telecom, communications and sort of, I've been a little bit of life lifelong kind of gadgety tryout products kind of guy. And so while at Amazon, I started in a business role, but Amazon being a large growing company there were opportunities to transition into product manager roles..

And so I did that with the video games team and then the wishlist team. And once I kind of established myself there, it attracted other product management opportunities which led me to where I am today.

Kayla: Awesome. Well on that, right, with kind of your, the work you put in at Amazon and attracting other companies. For people who are kind of looking to make that transition, like what piece of advice do you give to someone if they say, hey, I'm looking to transition, how do I make myself like, the most compelling candidate or what's really important that helped you move from Amazon?

Obviously Amazon has a name for itself, but besides that, like what helped you kind of transition and position yourself in that way?

Mike: I think within Amazon, and I think this goes for a lot [00:04:00] of companies, if you perform well in your role, people are open to letting you try other opportunities. So my career advice to anybody is whatever role you're in today, whether you like it or not, do a good job.

Because do a good job for yourself so that you'll open up new opportunities. People will respect you. And so consider it about, consider doing a good job. You know, not because some company you don't like, or the manager you don't like, do it for yourself. It will open up doors. So, in particularly joined bigger companies sorry, sorry.

Not bigger guys. Growing companies often have more open roles than people, and I think every company, whether they're specifically a software company or not, are starting to do open up product management roles. Even traditional businesses are finding they need a digital presence, right?

That might be a companion app to a physical product. It could be a standalone software product, could be an analog business going digital. So, find those businesses that maybe need that or, you know, or more importantly in my opinion, go to a growing business cuz you'll tend to have a better opportunity to find new [00:05:00] areas.

Tend to be, you know, get raises and things like that when a company's healthy. So that's kind of where I would find product management roles. Now how you position yourself I think can depend on where you're starting from. If you're an engineer, it's, you know, pretty easy to get into a product measure role cause you bring that technical experience.

It's actually one of the sort of things that I don't think is required. But you know, if you're an engineer, you're already sort of on a product team. We're working with a product manager in technology, so there's a lot of opportunities there. If you're a non-technical person and you're outside development team, I think there are areas like you know, customer success where you can demonstrate your knowledge of the customer.

I think say become a power user of the product too, so you can speak intelligently with your product manager that you're maybe reporting feedback to. If you are in, you know, marketing, try to get into a product marketing role, and then you can start to get involved with the messaging of the product and understand the customer needs and, and the features we're delivering and get in sync with a product manager on the strategy and how [00:06:00] he or she wants that to be messaged to the market.

So I think those things get you closer and they also allow you to exhibit certain skills that are critical to product manager, which is understanding the product, understanding the customer, understanding the value. So those are, those would be ways, depending on if you feel you need it or not.

If you're doing a career transition, business school is a great way to do it. It's how I did it. Business school, the way I see it is like if, if I were a finance guy applying for a product manager role, they'd be like, why are you doing this? Looks suspicious. But if you're in a business school people, they're like, yeah, of course you're looking for something new.

There's probably other certificate programs. Or university programs that you can do along those same lines that give you a little bit of credibility in terms of knowing the fundamental skills, that show some level of commitment that you've already, you know, put in your time and money to do it. Most of all, talk to people. You know, find product managers you can talk to, both the sort of line level product managers, but try to talk to like directors of product management, people that are hiring for product manager.

People that are, you know, do performance reviews of product managers as well.

Kayla: And I, I [00:07:00] think you bring up a great point, right, about talking to people. And this is a parallel in building product and in kind of searching for a new role, is always just talking, understanding your customer and understanding your customer can be like understanding the company, right?

And what they're looking for in the role. Or it could be in product where it's like, hey, let's understand our customer and what their challenge is. So I think you like bring up great points that are such parallels in product and job search. You have like, hey, go out and talk to people, right? Understand the customer and understand they want what they want.

Whether that customer is the company and the VP of product, or whether that comp that is the customer when you're actually building out a product.

So I wanna actually talk a little bit more about kind of the difference between Amazon and your current role, and how you like structure teams, and what those biggest differences are between working for this like huge company versus a smaller company.

Mike: Yeah. Where to begin? So there's, there's a lot of differences of course. I think one thing, one of the reasons I went to Amazon is because of their customer [00:08:00] centricity and, and data centricity, like their approach to managing their business was very different than most companies before them.

And, and I saw them as that next GE or IBM training ground for how to manage a modern business. And so I bring a lot of that to every company that I'm with. Maybe not in the same style as Amazon, but I, I still bring the, you know, the customer focus and the, you know, the data-driven approach. Things that are different.

It's obviously smaller and so there's a lot fewer layers, so. And there's a much smaller team. Resource constraints are very real and there aren't you know, resource constraints within your own team. But also, you know, at Amazon we had a team that had developed an internal AP testing tool. We have a team that runs search, and we have a team that does this and that.

And so, in the startup world, those end up being like third party libraries that you integrate, right? So it's a very different approach. And in terms of all the services you need to pay for and integrate with if you're doing a mobile app, you know, and to some degree with a web app. So that's one sort of [00:09:00] architectural difference with your product.

Similarly, you don't have the massive amount of data that, you know, Amazon is already collecting. So you need to put that system into place, start collecting data, start doing customer interviews. So I spend a good bit of my time doing that. There's, you know, a lot more unknowns, like as you're searching for product market fit as well.

With Amazon, the, it's a, it's a large and stable business, so largely what they're doing is incrementality and and they're not necessarily dramatically changing their business. You know, for us a new feature could be a dramatic change. We look at the customers that we're tracking from our marketing.

And, you know, just a different marketing campaign could cut our conversion rate in half or could double it . Like, it's very dramatic – the impacts of these changes that we're making as we try to find that right product market fit and things like that. So I think the days are less predictable, volatile and the trade-offs are, are very, very challenging.

And I think one of the surprising things is how slow a startup can feel at [00:10:00] times. And you might be working kind of furiously, but you don't necessarily see the impact. You'll see these daily fluctuations, but you don't necessarily see like the the great ramp up curve that everyone sees. And I think that's one story that is often missed, which is like a lot of times these fantastic startup unicorn stories had two or three years of like this before that. And I think that's something that, that, you know, we fight is, you know, oh, so-and-so did this in six months. Did they do it in six months or was it three years? And then they got on the, they raised funding and six months after that they did it? So, sort of randomly, it might be edited, but no, that's great.

You know, but that's the thing. And I'd say the other thing is, like roadmap decisions and strategic decisions are more fluid. And it's, it's one of other challenges given that, as things go out, they have an impact or don't. And it's always a question of like, should we be going further down this path, or is this far enough that we now need [00:11:00] to turn back? That's a lot harder to answer with a startup than, you know, with a, an established business.

Kayla: So off of that, I kind of wanna learn a bit more, kind of like your thinking around how you roadmap and Right. You have that risk, right? And that reward. It's a lot bigger of a risk and reward, I'm guessing, at a startup or at a smaller company cuz you don't know if it's gonna work and if it does work, you're like, we hit the jackpot, right?

If you get it perfect the first time. But like, tell me a bit more about how you roadmap and how you figure out what you're actually gonna build.

Mike: Yeah, so I start with like, what's the company strategy? And I think this is one moment of awareness I had a few years back that I think it probably takes every product manager a little time to get to, which is your roadmap should not be a list of features.

I mean, it will have features in it, but what it should be guided by is what's, where, where are we today and where do we want to get to? And constructing that picture of here's what I want our product or our business to look like in the future. Whether it's we will, you know, operate at [00:12:00] this, you know, efficiency level.

We will have this scalability. We will offer these features, and we then we want these features because we have this business goal or metric to achieve. And your roadmap should be, that's where the map part comes in, right? It's like, what's the path to get there? Whereas I think it's very natural at times to be like, oh, we wanna do this feature, we wanna do that feature.

Oh, we need to finish this work. This customer asks for that. Those could be the right things, they could be valid. But if you do that without considering, hey, here's where we are as a business and product and this is where we need to get to. Then you're less likely to achieve that. And your executives are a lot less likely to understand your roadmap or to buy into it.

And so that's something I started doing a ways back and I call it like a strategy map of like, okay, we have C level, you know, objective 1, 2, 3, I have product initiative 1, 2, 3. It'll lead to an outcome of this. And, you know, kind of get them to give me feedback on that. And then we break that down into the features. For a startup[00:13:00] you know, we're doing something similar and it's sort of like, okay, we need to nail some of our company goals. And this is where our own strategy is shifting a little bit, and particularly around the target, the market we want to target. And so, you know, we are, you know, discussing this new target market and you know, has a slightly different income level has, you know, and then there's things that, based on that, also change. We have some regulatory things that we want to do, like getting registered investment advisor status, and that allows us to open up a whole new feature set. That feature set is good for our product and service as it is, but it also brings us to parody with a lot of our competitors.

And so I, again, I'd say as product managers, you wanna know what your competition is doing. You shouldn't obsess over your competition because you're obviously trying to compete and be different from them. But, in this case, some of these are very, like, market requirements that we build. So in, in the investment world [00:14:00] your investor wants to know, you know, what their balance is.

They wanna have some projection of where their investment is going. They might wanna set some financial goals, they might want quarterly reports. These are pretty fundamental things, and that's what the REA status gets us. And so we have, you know, we need to achieve that and to achieve that, we have to deliver these features and do some regulatory work.

That's on our roadmap. We also have some things around the data. So we have been working on better data collection, but now we need to get better about all our various decisions. Everything from acquisition and attribution to usage to, you know, website, how our copy works. So we need to sort of invest in this data platform.

You know, we're using tools like segments as our sort of central hub of data events. And, you know, all these plug and play tools and third party tools are never quite plug and play. They always require investment. It's always the underestimation of, of these tools. It's like, ah, yeah, drop in the SDK and, and pay us 5,000 bucks a month.

And you're ready to go? Yeah. Yeah. You, you're ready to go. You can [00:15:00] log in. but yeah, you're not analyzing the downstream impacts of, you know, this event yet. That's gonna take a little bit of work to get that in place. And then there's, there's a few other things along there, but that's kind of where it's coming from.

It's like, okay, we, every team needs data, every, we need to be more measured and so we need to get this in to do that. You know, we need to hit these competitive benchmarks. That's why we need this REA status. We need a plan for product market fit. Like, okay, some of that's on the marketing side. Some of that's on the product side.

Some of it's on our customer success and support side. We hear, you know, expectations around how timely our, product should be, or transactions, how fast they should be. So we need to like build in, okay, we have hypothesis one, hypothesis two, hypothesis three on product market fit. Let's work that into a roadmap.

And, and those are things that we're, we're looking at, you know, product market fit and, you know, sort of data platform. And we're, we're also working on some, you know, how do we get the engineering, the actual architecture of the app itself? How do we make that something that is [00:16:00] easy to test and fast to deploy. Because, you know, apps in app stores are slow.

And there's a bunch of stuff that we're not gonna get to. That's a, that's the hardest part, I think also is, is what are you not gonna get to? What's cut from the list? There's always this temptation of like, oh, it's below the line, but we'll see if we can work it in. And I'm like, no, if it's not in, it's not in. Like, you have to be the definitive, you have to defend that.

You're like, no, it's not in. If we finish this other stuff, I'll happily do it.

Kayla: Mm-hmm.

Mike Cozart: But it is out. I don't want a meeting. We should have, we should dust and discuss it so that when we get to it, it'll be ready. Nope. Let's have that meeting when we're doing it. Stuff like that, that in a corporate environment you're like expected to entertain that sort of stuff.

But I think in a startup you can be more severe in your pushback.

Kayla: I think you bring up some great points, right? Like, first you talked about really aligning your, what you're building out to the company goals and always having that top of mind because I, I agree with you, right? At a startup, it's really easy to say, okay, we wanna make all our customers happy.

Let's build out these seven features. Right? But do those features [00:17:00] actually align with what you're trying to build out? Right? And then also, I think you just brought up another great point is the, the ability to say no. Right? Hey, you know what? Great idea. And I think this goes into like having alignment with teams and just having that trust of, hey, great idea, but this doesn't align with what we're working on.

And we have all these other big priorities that are getting us where we wanna go. But I wanna kind of hop back. Something you mentioned was kind of like customer centricity and data centricity. So kind of talk about like that intersection and how that works. Or maybe sometimes like, there are places where you can't use data to the full extent because that gets in some bias or something.

So let's talk a bit about data centricity and customer centricity and kind of that intersection.

Mike Cozart: Yeah, I think you need both. I think you need the qualitative and the quantitative, right? And you need the individual, like the, the rich context of an individual interview. But you also need the clarity of a larger sample set.

I believe in being data centric, [00:18:00] but I, I think sometimes that has led to the exclusion of customers and, and losing context. And sort of like, I can do it just by the numbers. I don't know why folks go that route. Maybe it's just sort of overconfidence in the data or just they don't know how to get to people.

So I interview customers on a weekly basis. Yeah, this week we had two customer interviews and actually two more that I, I just couldn't make. So we do regular customer interviews. Often it's general questions because we're a new product, we're, you know, how did you hear about us? I'm asking a lot of questions about like, why did they invest?

Like what got you interested? Were you looking for real estate or were you just looking for investments overall? Were you just browsing Instagram and you found this ad interesting? Whatever got you to click to look at it. What actually got you to put money in? What got you over the hump there to put money in?

What else are you putting money in? Those sort of questions. I want to understand their mindset. I wanna understand their decision making process. So my goal is to be able to think like my customer. And I kind of think of it like a method actor's approach. And so, you know, you do this enough times and then you [00:19:00] ask 'em, what do you like about Concreit?

What do you don't, what don't you like about it? What can we improve? And then usually towards the end of the conversation, and, you know, I have a list of questions, but then I, I also kind of let them guide the conversation. The old, the old adage of like, take what they give you, right? So if, if they're going down a certain path they're offering me something they wanna tell me about it.

So I, I'm gonna listen to them cuz that's important to them. And I'll ask follow up questions related to that. I'll often ask questions about what we plan to do and I'll say, what do you think about, you know, this feature, you know, what would get you to invest more money in sort of an open way, open ended way.

But I'll also say like, hey, we're thinking about adding this feature. And I've also learned to , try not to qualify. I think in natural conversation these days, we often like have these large lead ups that preface a question. It's, I think it's an interview skill to not do that. So just asking, why did you invest?

Not blah, blah, blah, blah. All the great reasons, da, da, da. Cuz you'll end up biasing them. I think on the same way I'll ask 'em about a feature, what do you think about that? But then I'll say, and I'll intentionally phrase it like, almost like a [00:20:00] friend would, which is, would you actually use it though?

Like I'll almost like try to nudge them to make it easy to say no. Versus like, do you like it? And they'd say yes. That doesn't mean they would use it. . And, and I'll even, and if they say the kind of hmm and ha, I'll, I'll sense the hesitation. I'll be like, I don't care if you say yes or no. In fact, if you say no, you'll save me the work, right?

I'll, I'd make it easy for them to know they're not gonna offend me. It's not my baby. The other thing is I will become a power user of my own app. So we'll talk to customers. I think one key thing that I kind of try to teach is not every customer is your target customer, and this comes back to road mapping and things you do and don't do and you wanna make customers happy.

But I'm gonna go quick aside. A product manager's role in my eyes is to deliver a, a business outcome by solving a customer need within engineering constraints. So I need to know if that customer need has the potential to deliver a business outcome. And can we do it in a cost effective engineering way? So some of those customer needs, we wanna, we wanna make them happy, so we [00:21:00] do them.

Some of 'em we can't do. And then some of 'em, this is for us, you know, we're trying to find the right market segment. Some of those folks delivering those feedback, they may not be the right customer segment. But what I try to teach is when you're interviewing customer, there's always something to learn.

You may not do what they ask you to do, but what's the takeaway you can get from them? You know, so for a lot of customers it's the timeliness of, of transfers and payments. You know, we use kind of three to five day ACH and we are a private fund and so there's actually a process of closing an investment.

So it can take up to two weeks. And that's incredibly fast for the traditional private real estate market. It's incredibly slow compared to the normal consumer app. So I often talk to people internally and say like, our customer benchmark is not traditional real estate. They never had access to it. Their benchmark is, you know, Robin Hood and stock trading apps to some degree.

It's also just banking and payment apps like PayPal and Venmo, you know, and in other respects it's e-commerce. I select something, I check out, I give you my credit card information, I get a confirmation. [00:22:00] Right? So that sort of speed is what they expect. Anyway those are sort of takeaways that I would have.

Back to customers. Back to customers that you're seeing data. Okay. So yes, I interview a lot of customers. I try to learn why they do things, not just what, so that I can understand their mindset. I then become a power user of my own app and try to lose myself in it at times.

I become a power user of a number of competitors apps and see what's really nice about those. And usually for young product managers, I, of that, that I'm managing, I'll often tell them, become a power user or beta user for an app that has nothing to do with work. Because you'll, when you use somebody else's app, you apply your personal consumer, you know, expectations to it.

And how quickly has every one of us opened an app or try to feature and in five seconds we've declared that it's crap. And I tell people like, I want you to have that moment of realization about what you just thought. And then try to imagine our customers are applying that same thing to our app. So [00:23:00] while you say this is acceptable, it's acceptable to you as a product manager cause it works and it shifts. Is it acceptable to your customer? That's a different question. And so that by being a power user of these other apps, you, you gain perspective on what experiences are out there, what you may be benchmarked against, and you'll probably find that somebody who does it better than you.

And then on the data side, you need to validate this stuff. So, okay, customer says this. Are they actually doing it? And I think that's one thing you were saying, like, how can I validate, like, oh, there's not an event for that in the app, but okay, well how, what could we use as a proxy? What could get, you know, or I have a brand new feature idea.

Is there any way we can kind of estimate, you know, the potential of this and you know, how many are doing this other feature already? You know, a good example is we have an auto invest feature that allows you to just set an amount that we automatically deduct from your bank account every month. Right?

I, we started tracking the, the, the creates of these, and that's, that's the good metric. And then I had the idea of like, well, hmm, I [00:24:00] don't see like our actual investment dollars going up that much and tying to this. And so I started tracking deletes and people don't usually like to track the, the downside metric, so I tracked deletes and I noticed some patterns there.

And they're, they're both too low cuz which weren't driving up volume. So I did an experiment which was, had a dashboard card that said, automate your savings. So if you didn't have an auto invest and you've been with us for 30 days, pop that up. Oh, lo and behold, a whole lot more people signed up. And so, you know, just visibility to the feature was poor.

It wasn't visible from the dashboard. Okay. So that's one thing that I now know and I'm gonna incorporate that into our next design. Now that I was looking at deletes and that we had a higher volume of ads, and I'm looking at deletes, unfortunately deletes were going up too. That's not so good. And so I noticed a few patterns.

One is I wondered like how many of these deletes and creates are related. So I looked at a funnel and ends up about 25 to 30% of people that delete, recreate within the same day. Well, that's all we let you do. Delete and create. We don't let you [00:25:00] edit. So perhaps we need an edit feature. And that'll be a better user experience.

And, you know, hopefully we maintain that 30% or more. Maybe some of those folks are deleting and not going to the trouble of creating because actually where you delete is in a different workflow for where you create. So there's a thing there that I did where you can now create right away from the delete patient.

So that probably helped incrementally as well. It went from 25 to 30%. So there's, there's things like this that used to be curious. But I think the way you get these curious ideas and curious questions is by being that power user, by thinking about your user. And so, you know, there's one that I'm looking at now is like, maybe we let them pause auto invest because we've gotten we talk to customers when they withdraw, and why do you withdraw?

And we'll get some like good answers. Not, most of 'em are not like, oh, we don't like Concreit, or we don't like the investment. Most of it's like, you know, I was saving money for a car. One was recently saving for a house. Another one had an unexpected, you know, health incident with his family. Other folks is like, stock market's down.

My stocks are hammered. I need to pull money from someplace else.[00:26:00] All real life reasons. These are not things that we, nothing we could have done would've stopped them from withdrawing. And they all say, hey, we would've come back. So, you know, being a power user of other features, I know that Peloton and YouTube TV allow you to pause your subscription. And I was like, well, maybe the 70% that are deleting and not coming back, maybe if we offer them the ability to pause so they, they deal with their issue temporarily, but then they still have the automation in place to restart them in three months.

Maybe we will have a better reactivation rate if we do that. So that's something I'm thinking about, right? And the reason I'm going to, you know, great detail on Auto Invest is it's a strategic feature. It's basically our SaaS feature, it's our recurring revenue feature. I might not go this deep on another feature but this one is directly tied to our goals of, you know, monthly active investors and dollars invested with us.

So that's why I'm thinking of all the things that could be going on here and, kind of rattling on but, what a good product manager should do is go through all these different scenarios and mindsets and needs.

Kayla: [00:27:00] So I think you touch on some really good things, right? Understanding the customer, being in, like being a power user of your product.

If you can, like I've worked at companies, I worked at a company where they did data science. There was no way I could be a power user. But if you have the ability to be a power user, try to understand that customer journey. And so I think that's something that's so important. Like you mentioned, also aligning back to company goals, making sure this aligns with company goals.

And so I think those are two things that are like really important as a product leader is to make sure that your team does that. So what's one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring product leader?

Mike Cozart: I get dozens. For me, I think it's coming back to like having the deep understanding of your customer. Qualitatively and quantitatively. Related to this is like this idea of a technical or a non-technical PM which is I think one of those sort of, you know, religious questions within product that is, I think a red herring.

You have an engineer, hopefully an engineering lead. They're the technical person on the team. I don't know that you need a product [00:28:00] manager to armchair quarterback them on technical questions. Engineers spend their days doing engineering work, so they need somebody to be up to date on the market, on on the nuances.

Great engineers will ask you detailed questions to your feature requests, right? And, you know, you need to be able to answer that. Executives will ask you detailed questions on what exactly this feature is. And, and how will this drive, you know, business outcomes. You know, this seems like, you know, hey, it's a great feature.

Seems like a delight thing, but like, you know, we're trying to drive revenue. So I think that's the number one thing. Some product managers, and this, this goes for like the whole kind of tech industry or pretty much every industry, even in finances, was a thing where you'd see finance people going to VC events, right?

And learning about pitch decks and, you know, best practices for purchase agreements and things like that. They're getting better at VC tasks. And product management. You know, hey, like to learn this framework, blah, blah, blah. Getting better at product management, cuz I always found that what made me better in my role, whether it was as a [00:29:00] VC, whether it was a, a GM at Amazon or a product manager here, was never my assigned role, like that's table stakes.

What made me better was understanding my industry, my customer, and diving into their world. And I think the whole tech industry learned this lesson. If you go back to like 2009, 10, every app was, hey, we're gonna stay in the app, in the digital world. We're not really gonna be in the industry. We're gonna be kind of arm's length in the industry, and then often pissed off the industry, right?

Because they were viewed as predatory or, you know, to the, to those industries. And certainly for anything in the physical world because that was too challenging or the tech wasn't there. But if you look at now you have, you know, apps that recognize they're part of an industry and they now have more physical world connections.

And I think those businesses, those products tend to be more successful. You know, you demonstrate that, you know, your customer and your industry and things like that. So I think that's critical to be a product manager. And it's, it's the thing that nobody else is doing. So that to me is what's gonna [00:30:00] differentiate. There's certainly other things to it. But that, that's, if I gotta have one, that's gonna be the one.

Kayla: Where can people connect with you?

Mike Cozart: You can shoot me an email. and concrete is spelled c o n c r e i t, like a reit. You can find me on LinkedIn as well. Just Mike Cozart. On LinkedIn. Those are the two best ways to get me.


Kayla: Well, thanks for coming on today.

Mike Cozart: Thank you, Kayla. It's a pleasure.

Kayla: Thanks again to Mike for joining us on today's episode of Product Chats. For more product management resources, head to and we'll see you next time.