March 7, 2023

Increasing NPS As A Product Manager with Amanda Laferriere of C2FO

When Amanda was getting her Master’s in engineering, she felt product management calling her. She just didn’t know the name of it yet. She gravitated towards a role where she could lead people, processes, tech, and marketing.

Since then, she’s boosted NPS from 30 to 71, built a community, hired a diverse team, and learned how to retain top talent. She’s sharing all of that in our latest Product Chats episode!



Time Stamped Show Notes

Getting into product [00:59]

Interviewing customers [01:56]

Deciding when to fail [06:16]

Eliminating the fear of failure [07:08]

Measuring NPS from beginning to end [09:43]

Building a community [17:14]

Diversity [19:11]

Retaining talent [27:45] 

Advice for aspiring product leaders  [29:05]

Top product management books [30:06]



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Kayla: [00:00:00] On today's episode, I talked to Amanda Laferriere, who is the head of product at C2FO. We dive into increasing your NPS and about listening to your customers and increasing diversity at your organization. So hope you enjoy this episode.

Hey, Amanda, great to have you. How are you doing?

Amanda: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.

Kayla: Awesome. So in a minute or less, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Amanda: Yeah, of course. My name's Amanda Laferriere. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, and I work for a startup called C2FO. I'm the head of product there and I'm fortunate enough to get to manage the voice of customer, user experience, and product team there.

And ultimately, at the end of the day, we're just trying to create world class experiences and really move the needle for giving working capital out to businesses.

Kayla: [00:01:00] Awesome. And then can you tell me a little bit how you got into product?

Amanda: That's kind of the million dollar question, isn't it? And we always laugh at product that everybody comes from a lot of different angles.

Personally I have a master's in engineering on the industrial engineering side, but I really gravitated to this role many, many years ago by gravitating to roles where it was leading people, processes, tech, marketing. Anything that was really cross-functional in nature. About 10 years ago I fell to a FinTech where I started building up the product management discipline.

And we really kind of self-taught back then. And now there's lots of degrees and curriculum and programs. Back then you kind of fell into it just with the love of marketing and, and business innovation. We, we are kind of students in my shop of user-centric design or kind of the Google methodology of design thinking.

And so that's, that's the way we lead, but it's really been kind of self-taught over the last, I'd say, decade.

Kayla: Awesome. And then when you talk about this like [00:02:00] user-centric design, like what are you thinking about when you're really putting this at the focus of your product?

Amanda: So when you're really thinking about it from a user-centric design, you, don't start with solutions or a lot of times we have talked in our shop about, let's not, let's not get starry-eyed about revenue, right?

It's really easy to say, if I build this thing, there will be 10 million dollars of revenue that follows it. We really look at problems and we say, you know, this is what our users are seeing. We get close to them, we talk to them, and if we can, we get on site with them and say like, what are the biggest problems that you're seeing?

Or, one question I like to ask them is what keeps you up at night? And then we really look at are there any unmet needs here? Like do we have the right to win in this space? And we'll go do some market research or will sometimes even do a design sprint. And come out with a prototype. With that prototype, we'll go set it in front of users and say like, is this interesting to you?

Do you understand it? Is this something that you would use? If we start getting a lot of signals where revenue seems to line up and users seem to want it and it's meeting an unmet need, then that's a lot of times when we'll [00:03:00] prioritize that or, we'll spin up a team and kind of go look to build that and, and go move on that.

Kayla: And when you say like you are interviewing these customers, what do you feel is like an a big enough group of customers to really get a pulse? Or are you just interviewing your biggest customers, or what does that look like?

Amanda: Well, and this is fundamentally, and I'm I'm sure most listening to this will agree when you're doing qualitative research, right?

Which is my favorite style of research because I think surveys, they can be good in terms of mass responses, but they can be bad in terms of, really biased in terms of how you author them or what questions you ask or, honestly, the understanding that the end user has. When we do qualitative research, to be candid, if you really know the persona that you're talking about and you know the, the people that you're talking to, it can take as little as eight to 12 you know, interviews to start seeing a pattern or start seeing if you're validating something that should be solved. The problem is a lot of times in business we like to see hundreds or thousands, and we don't always need to see that, especially if we're putting prototypes together [00:04:00] and we're putting kind of clickable ways for users to work with that. We can get a lot of feedback with dozens of people instead of getting hundreds or thousands.

Kayla: And so with that, when you kind of are interviewing these users and then kind of to validate it after you've built something out, how do you do that? Do you do surveys or more research, or what does that look like?

Amanda: I mean, we have an awesome user experience team, so that's, now it's a luxury. In the old days it was sometimes myself or a friend doing the testing of it ourselves.

But we will put clickable prototypes and do moderated or unmoderated studies with, generally I prefer moderated ones because you can go a little bit deeper. You kind of see how the user's doing. That's just my preference. And so that's what we have the teams do now. And it's really actually been quite effective.

Me personally, I always feel like if I had a dollar for every time I, I didn't guess user, you know, behavior correctly, I'd be retired. Usually we get see that by, you know, making mistakes. And I think the, the, the key we really try to impress on [00:05:00] people is it's great to fail in that stage, right? Because if we put a prototype together, we've just done a design sprint together, and users aren't liking it or they don't like it we haven't laid a single line of code.

Right? The most expensive way to test is to go build something and then find out you don't have product market fit.

Kayla: Yeah

Amanda: And one of the things I'm actually really proud of is, when we designed our new product, which I know we'll talk about later with the net promoter score. Our first user experience test – people hated it. Like they just absolutely preferred the old product over what we had come up with. But we would take their feedback and we would iterate on it, and then eventually we had a winner. And sometimes you gotta scrap it and start over. We just felt like we'd missed the mark. And so, I think the better thing is, like, we didn't put developers through things.

We didn't build things. We moved really light and moved really lean. We had a cross-functional team do that. We can go out and validate that very quickly.

Kayla: I think kind of to echo what you're saying, right, is just really listening to your customers and what they want, and putting your customers at the center of your product, and rather than kind of sitting in a room, right, and saying, I think our customers want this.

You're actually [00:06:00] going out in the field and validating that.

Amanda: That's exactly right.

Kayla: And on the subject of failing, right? How do you decide how quickly to fail? And like when is that point where you say, okay, this has kind of failed. Let's move on. Like how do you know what the right timing is or what that looks like?

Amanda: That again is a million dollar question, right? I, I would say you wanna fail as fast as possible.

Kayla: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: And you wanna build teams where the safety is there so that the teams feel like they can fail and fail quick.

Kayla: Yep.

Amanda: There's some really good literature out there not to promote books, but one's, one's my favorite called Loon shots.

Where it talks about most major inventors have three false fails before they actually get their product out there. So you do have to be careful is like, is this really a fail or is it a false fail? But the product I talked about earlier was a false fail because we had a good idea, we were directionally right, but we had to iterate on it a little bit more until it became a winning idea.

So my whole thing is fail fast, bring a team together, don't value committee, like value, people kind of pushing the needle. Value people taking that feedback and [00:07:00] decide whether you can iterate on the idea or whether you have to scrap it all together. And that, that is just a gray line that I don't know that there's a one size fit all answer for any product that you're doing.

Kayla: And so with that, right, you said make your team feel comfortable to fail. Like as a leader, how do you kind of create that place where your team feels comfortable to fail and not having a fear of failure?

Amanda: I mean, the one thing I always try to do is, is show them when I fail myself, right? So, I've always made it a practice to say like, man, I have that way wrong.

Or , I really would've thought that, or give them the space to test or try something. Give them the rope, right? Whether you agree with it or not. So you might, you know, dissent a little bit. And, and part of what we really practice at C2FO is, dissent and commit, right? So, like, you know, I'm not sure I agree with that.

But I'm willing to commit to this. Go ahead and try. Especially when you're talking about prototypes and mockups and testing. I mean, the, the cost of failing is really pretty light, so, I always worry less about that than when we, when you make the decision to go build something and now you've got [00:08:00] software and motion and you're maintaining it, that starts getting very expensive.

So we wanna make sure that we fail a lot less in that, in that space. But even then, if we fail , we fail. We do a retro, we talk about it and we talk about how not to do it again, and then we move past it without a lot of blaming. Right? I think blaming or making people feel bad is the key there.

Kayla: Agreed. And with that, like retro, do you have a framework around it? So you have like a scoring, or how do you know that something failed and then what do you put in place to not fail again, I guess in that way?

Amanda: Unfortunately, usage or revenue are usually the two pieces. You make a product and put it out there. And you have crickets.

Kayla: Yep.

Amanda: You know, you either have to double down and make sure not to have crickets, or else you have to decide like, okay, well that was a good idea.

And then again, the retro is, you know, a lot like we do in, in sprint retros, where it's , what should we have continued doing? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing? And kind of looking at that product. And sometimes what we should stop doing is the product in general, right? And that's gotta be ok.

We've, we've, we've certainly done that at [00:09:00] C2FO a few times we're, we're not, no matter how much you try to future proof yourself against some of that stuff, you're always gonna do that. So that's okay. we just try to do it as little as possible, especially as a startup. And I don't know how many startup folks are gonna be on this call, but you just can't afford to fail that many times.

You know, we just have to be a lot more precise. You don't have all the revenue coming in the world. You have burn downs and you have, you know, investors and things of that nature. You wanna make sure that you really minimize that or minimize those focus busters and really hit the target.

Kayla: Yeah, and I think what like right, what you're talking about is it's okay to fail when you haven't built that product out yet or you haven't made those developments because it's a lot less costly to like engineering and you're not actually spend engineering time.

You're just able to kind of ideate. And I guess since we're talking about the voice of the customer, can you tell me a little bit around NPS and kind of what you've been doing at C2FO?

Amanda: Yeah, it's kind of fun. Like our journey in NPS started a few years ago, and honestly I just said, hey, this is really important to me.

I'm gonna start measuring it. And [00:10:00] so we did, and we took a couple quarters just to see what our baseline measurement was. And we got a lot of scrutiny. You know, some people said, I just don't believe in the NPS. And they would send me articles about whether the NPS was legitimate or not.

And, you know, it's fair, it's all fair criticism, right? We started the, the key is, is like if it's important, you should measure it. And for me, customer satisfaction was important, so we started measuring it. I think NPS is nice cuz it's a fairly simplistic score. It's an easy formula, it's easy to measure, but the, the goal is in the comments of it.

So we just started pointing through the comments of it and listening, and responding to that. And by doing that, what we started finding is that we could materially raise that net promoter score. And so one of the things I'm probably most proud of at the company is that a few years ago, when we started measuring that our overall score was, you know, right around the high forties, early fifties, which is still a best in class score, right? But with our small to mid-size businesses, it was as low as a 19 to 30. And we continued [00:11:00] to work on it and listen to it and respond to it and respond to the highest themes that we saw. And the next thing you know this last quarter, I'm practicing that we came out with the 71 and our goal for 2022 is a 75.

And this is a world class score that many people can't get. But we got there literally by listening to customers and responding to what they needed, and sometimes designing products or solutions that they asked for, or sometimes designing products or solutions, which are the hardest ones, the ones they didn't ask for, but all of a sudden they're like, oh, I don't know how I, how I operated without this before, right? And then all of a sudden when you start having a world class score, everybody steps to the table and says, oh, net, net promoter score. You know, that's a, that's a pretty cool way to measure, you know, satisfaction. And, and now it's just become our mantra. It's now one of our formal KPIs.

It's now one of our OKRs as we talk about it around the exec table. And there's an incredible amount of buy-in because people have seen not only the lift in NPS, but now we're starting to measure the lifting financials. And it's tremendous. Right?

Kayla: So with that, like what tools are you using? How are [00:12:00] you kind of measuring this success? Obviously revenue is a factor, but what are other things that you look at? Let's say there's someone who's listening to this who says, NPS and increasing our NPSs score is, or increasing our NPS is something that's really important to us this year. Where do they even start?

Amanda: I mean, that's one great thing is there's so many cool product tools out there, as you know clearly.

Kayla: Yes.

Amanda: That can measure these things, so it's, you know, pick your tool. And there are plenty of tools that can do it. For us, we put a tool in app and we made a very consistent time once a quarter that we continue to ask our people to, to rate us, right? And sometimes we get some false scores in it.

People, you know, will say oh, I think the user responded to that in here. But more, it's, it's about consistency and finding the right place in that customer journey and coming back and measuring that with frequency and then bringing back that information and radiating and sharing it. So that's where we started.

We do it right after the person participates, once a quarter. We do it consistently all the time in the app. And then we take that feedback and append it back and we start analyzing it and looking at those. So [00:13:00] that's the way that we've done it. Again, I think that the goal is in the qualitative.

it takes a little bit of work if you're starting out and you don't have some of the really sophisticated journey analytic tools, etc , but you can start looking at it and saying like, oh, I'm seeing these five things emerge. How do I dive down into that problem or that unmet need and go see if I can address it and then continue to measure it, especially as you're releasing some of those features.

Kayla: And with that measurement, I know it's like, you can basically, you're like picking up on what the customers are saying.

Are you using other tools in that like. So obviously it's starting, like listening to your customers using a tool for NPS, right? And then you have to analyze it and what are like, what are you measuring as success? How have you at C2FO said, yes, this means exact success. Like without giving away too much, right?

Amanda: We actually didn't start with looking at financial metrics for a while. We've been at this now for a few years, and really it was all about a little bit of trust. We believe as, as our suppliers love us more, as our [00:14:00] customers love us more, that those things will come, but we focus less on that and more about doing the right thing.

And that's one thing I would tell people is play the long game. You will never go wrong when your customers love you in a world class way, right?

Kayla: Yeah.

Amanda: Get the best in class if you're not there, but you'll never go wrong when they love you in a world class way. You will see that, I promise, in loyalty and in revenue, and transacting right?

So what we focused on more was what are the themes that we keep consistently seeing? For example, with ours, ease of use was always at the top. Ease of use will traditionally be at the top, right? Because people don't always love FinTech software, things of that nature and personally I think in FinTech, the bar is set really low.

As long as it's functional, people are willing to use it. And we said we want it to be super functional, but also intuitive and really beautiful, and we think we can do that. And I like to think that we have. So when we see ease of use start becoming the number one thing that promoters say and we start seeing it dial down from the detractors, that for us, was a success.

Right? So we started picking off some of those that we saw [00:15:00] in each of those. The second thing that we did that I find was really helpful, we never let a detractors score go unanswered, right? Because one of the number one things that you can do is you still have a chance to turn your detractors into at least a neutral, if not a positive.

So we set up an instant slack channel at our company, and our customer service team got really into it, our sales team. So every time we get a promoter, people are cheering all the way down to developers. If you get it to where your engineering and developers are cheering when they see a promoter score come in, and reading that qualitative feedback, you have won in my opinion. But even better is we never let a detractor score come in that is not answered to or even a passive.

And so we started responding to those. Now as we're evolving, we can take all those scores and we ingest them into our analytics tools like our analytics dashboards, and we can start marrying those against attrition and revenue and some of these other things that we start seeing really awesome results, which are the obvious reaction to putting the right foundation in place.

Kayla: So it seems like a part of this, right, is [00:16:00] listening to your customers and responding to them and making them feel heard. So besides NPS, is there any other way that you make your customers feel heard or let them know that you care?

Amanda: Yeah. So, another one that we're doing is we're always reaching out to customers either with, from our sales team, every customer in our one, one differentiator that we have at C2FO is every customer is assigned to a, an personal advisor, right?

So they have a lot of relationship there. That makes us a little bit different. It is a little bit expensive, but that is one thing that we have done that customer seem to really like.

The other thing is we're regularly, our voice of customer team and our UX and our product teams are reaching out just to interview.

We reach out, we interview, find out what they're, what they're doing, what are they up to, what are they hearing, what are trends? And then two other things that we do to that are a little bit more push or pull – one, we like to do webinars and education where we can invite our suppliers to the table to learn about something, but also to ask questions and to comment, let 'em know that we're listening.

And then on the other side, it's setting up those customer advisory boards so that we pull some of those folks in, we [00:17:00] take their feedback, we talk about new products or features that are coming, and just overall let them meet each other. That is an area that I'd like to double down and do more in. And an area that we're gonna be flexing our muscle more in the upcoming years to see if we can continue building that community.

Kayla: So with that community, like how do you wanna build that community? Or how are you gonna, is it more webinars or is it more in person events, or what does that look like?

Amanda: I know that's, it's, it's . I think Covid for one, put a little bit of a damper on all of it, right? If Amanda could do her dream, we would have regional events where we bring buyers and suppliers together because we have a great responsibility in our company to introduce them and create more commerce.

One unmet need we get asked all the time by our suppliers is, I wish you could introduce me to more of your buyers, cuz we, we do business with Amazon, Costco, all the bigs, right? Especially our diverse businesses. And so one of the things we're doing right now is how do we set a goal to introduce six diverse businesses to new buyers so that they can grow their business?.

And then if we can [00:18:00] do, you know, six, can we do 60? Can we do 600? And I think when you start getting into that, that starts being more regional events or conferences or live events where they can relationship build together. Webinars is clearly one. That's a cheap and easy one. If people aren't doing that, you should do that just in the name of education.

And there we're looking for opportunities to even take suppliers and teach other suppliers about things. Because a lot of business owners don't frankly know things about finance. Maybe they're excellent at bugs and I don't know, I dunno what excellent at bugs, but they dunno how to run their accounting systems or their marketing, right?

And so they can share together. I think the long-term goal is to have a digital community that we can bring people together and connect either in terms of commerce and winning more business or just in terms of sharing information. But I think the easy one is to start with webinars and education and then, and advisory boards and to grow into more localized in-person events and, and grow towards a, a, a larger technical community.

Kayla: I think that's like exactly what you're [00:19:00] saying, right? Creating a community, connecting people, showing you care, and really fostering this. I think that's like the future is being able to connect your customers and really, allow for that.

So switching gears, I wanna talk about diversity. I know this is something that's near and dear to your heart, so tell me a little bit about kind of why it's important to you and kind of what you've done at C2FO to promote diversity?

Amanda: Yeah, it's really important to me and I think any leading edge, especially software company that wants to win, needs to have diverse players at the table just to make sure that the thought, the diversity, the creativity, the backgrounds are there.

And that's not always natural in the tech community cuz the tech community can tend to lean honestly fairly white male. And so getting to make sure that we have gender diversity, sexual diversity, ethnic diversity, religious diversity frankly, diversity in terms of where people grow up with? Did they grow up in the Midwest or did they grow up internationally?

These types of things really change the [00:20:00] breadth and the decision making and the outcomes that happen in the team. So for me personally, I'm a mom of two scout and Jacks they're three and five, and I've been married to my wife for about, oh gosh, I have to do the math, seven years here, And, and I sit on our project equity team that our founder put together specifically designed to look out for the diversity needs of the company.

And I, and I feel very proud to represent the LGBT side of the house. I'm also very active in the local chamber and I'm an LGBTBE certifier. And so it's really important to me that we not only represent diverse groups, especially in tech, but across the org. But our businesses are diverse, right?

And one of the things that we're proud of is that we materially fund more diverse businesses in our marketplace. That just goes to show of our commitment to lifting these businesses up. We've got many e and i markets that are kicking off across the board because the, the finance community is just more geared and biased not towards diverse businesses, right?

So that's a big part of what I do at the company in [00:21:00] building my teams. It's really important to me that those teams are also diverse. And so I'm just super proud when I look at our engineering teams and our product teams of how far we've come. We've got trans trans members on the team now that are some of the most incredible minds that we've ever had.

We've got LGBT, we've got black, we've got female, right? And we continue to just kind of push the bounds and, and, and ask in order to do that. Ask to ask to hire more diverse and, and to try to lift those teams up. We've had to first make sure that we have a diverse slate of people to hire at the company, right?

Which means we're out in the community networking and we're out looking for opportunities to bring in more diverse candidates to the table. But then second is sometimes we have to slow down the hiring process, which isn't always easy. You have a turnover in a position, or you have a growth position, you've got goals to hit.

You're always going to get a less diverse candidate come to the table faster. And you have to sometimes hold and wait and look a little bit harder in order to really level that playing field. But as we've done [00:22:00] that more and more, it's easy because when you have more diversity on the team, diverse people recommend more diverse people, and it starts building and it starts growing.

The other thing that we had to do to start with is just to have data. We started measuring how much diversity did we have and at what layers of the organization, how diverse was the exec team, how diverse was leadership, and then how diverse was the team? And we found that the further you went up the org chart, the less diverse we got. Especially, black employees or you know, sometimes female, right? The one thing I'm really proud of and then I'll put a pin in it and stop is one thing I've been realizing as an LGBT leader is oftentimes we're not counted, right? When you say things like an M B E business, it may not always include LGBT.

And I think sometimes that's because we've been too silent. And when you're silent, you're not represented. And so I noticed that, as we were reporting at the exec level, we said, hey, we've only got two diverse people on the C2FO exec team, and they're both Asian. And so we need to do more with Hispanic and and black.

Right? And I said, time [00:23:00] out. We've got two lesbians on the exec table. We need to start counting that in terms of diversity, that matters, right? You can't say that the only diversity that we have on there is Asian when you've got LGBT sitting on the table. So we're actually now starting to ask that question, are you non-binary?

Are you female? Are you male? You don't have to answer, but we ask it, right? Because asking it and collecting is the first start. Same thing with ethnicity. And now we're starting to do the next thing too, which is, you know, are you LGBT? Again, you don't have to answer it, but the more folks answer it, the more we can report on it. The more we can report on it, the more we can make sure that those players have a seat at the table.

Kayla: So I think that's really cool what you talk about, right, is using the data to actually make decisions, right? And just being more aware that it's not right. We usually think about like ethnicity or gender rather than there's other factors that come into play with diversity. And so I, I would say like when you are hiring, what are you looking for to create a diverse team? Is this in the interview? Is this the, in the application? Like what are kind of those [00:24:00] factors that you look for to make sure, besides the data, right, you have the data, but what are you looking for on an application specifically to say, yes, this person would help create more of a diverse community or diverse team?

Amanda: I mean, it's such a great question and, and that's actually where the problem starts, right? Is that a lot of diversity gets screened out by the resume. Because people have unconscious bias or maybe that really awesome diverse player steps to the table who doesn't have an Ivy League background or some of the experience.

So first, our HR team has started doing more with screening to make sure that we don't screen that diversity out at, at the, at the first start. I think, you know, we'll get better in that area because it is about giving a diverse slate. Second is we always make sure that there's a diverse panel that's interviewing so that, when there's a diverse panel, these things are heard and, and received and and taken in differently.

And then we can go evaluate whether we think the folks have all the skills that we need to fit the role or whether we think we can mentor the ones that they don't have. But by doing those three steps [00:25:00] we generally do a much better job of making sure that we're funneling really qualified, diverse people through.

When we first started talking about this, we had a lot of fear. People said, you're gonna hire just for diversity and not qualifications. I, I personally don't know why that makes any sense. All of us are held to financial goals. Like, I think that's, that's the fear where people don't wanna talk about some of this stuff, right?

But if you're doing that good screening process and making sure you have the diverse slate and making sure you have a diverse group that's interviewing, and then making sure that they've got the right qualifications, you're gonna start hiring a more diverse group of people for your roles. And then I think the key is slowing down and making sure that you take the time.

To, to really make sure that you give diverse candidates the chance to come to the table.

Kayla: And I think it's really valid what you talk about, right? There's been kind of the shift in tech about someone doesn't even need a college degree always, or like we wanna hire more people from different backgrounds. And it doesn't always make sense to hire someone with this highest degree of [00:26:00] education because maybe there's someone who's more qualified and would bring more diversity to the team.

And it's less about this person got a diploma from Yale and more about what can they bring to the team? What experience do they have, what background do they have?

Amanda: Yeah, there's a book called Grit, if you haven't read it, and one that we talk a lot about. And then Grit, it's, it's assessing how much grit does that player have, because a lot of times those that have overcome all of these situations, that is as valuable or more as what school that they attended.


Kayla: Yeah.

Amanda: Let's try and kind of measure that grit and look at that and respect and value that grit as much as you might respect and value lots of experience or, you know, maybe lots of education or an Ivy League education.

Kayla: Yeah. And I think it's about the skillset versus the experience in some cases, right?

Because you can teach someone and maybe you wanna teach them how to do things at C2FO, right? Maybe it's less about, oh, you've had 20 years of product management, but hey, I see that you've had less, but you're, you have a more diverse background. And I see in [00:27:00] your skillset that I think it's also hard on a resume to see that skillset, right?

It's in the interview, it's about experience and about them sharing that instead.

Amanda: That's right. And then once you get all of that right, you know, then it really becomes about how do you retain that player.

Kayla: Yep.

Amanda: Because a lot of times we say we wanna hire diversity, but when they show up at the exec table, or they show up at the table, they present themselves differently or they communicate differently.

Right? We then sometimes fall back to wanting to have what we know, you know, is successful. That may be not a very diverse approach. And so it's, it's about not just hiring right, but keeping the space safe and open so that when you hire diverse, you respect the diversity in, in terms of how they present or bring ideas to the table or the work ethic as well too.

Kayla: And with retaining talent, like what is the top thing that you think about when you're trying to retain this talent? Obviously, like you've put in a lot of effort. Everyone's thinking about hiring nowadays or has been. Like what is that top thing that you think about when you're thinking, I need to [00:28:00] retain these people on my team, and I've done the work hiring them, but what do you do to kind of focus on keeping them around?

Amanda: I mean, first you've gotta give them enough empowerment and space to go feel like they're an owner of the work and they're, and they're building things and things that they can be proud of, right? Second, especially in a product and tech team, we tend to overanalyze and criticize ourselves to death, right?

And so making sure that you celebrate. We talk about that a lot. Are we celebrating enough or are we backing up? It shouldn't be artificial. But it, it should, there should be a lot of opportunity if you're raising your NPS, for example, up to 71 to celebrate what you did along the way to really do that.

The last one that I think is really cool that we have a new chief people officer at the table who's helping us with job architecture. It's just creating paths. Getting more structured about what is a product manager versus a senior product manager versus a principal, and how do you know if somebody's progressing along those paths and how do you honor that in terms of pay and responsibility and, and kind of showing them a path.

I think a [00:29:00] lot of times you lose good people because you haven't paved a good path, and they feel like they have to go find that elsewhere.

Kayla: So on that path progression of people who are currently product managers, what is one piece of advice you would give to them as they grow in their careers and progress?

Amanda: Yeah, I think know, know where you wanna end up and then start positioning what you read, what you do, who you network with around that. So for example if you wanna be the chief product officer, what is, what does a chief product officer do? How do they spend their time? What do they do? So you may not be able to dedicate a hundred percent of your time.

But what does it look like if you dedicate 10 or 20% of your time? How does that person dress? How do they act? Do they radiate curiosity? Are they humble? Are they, you know, are they out networking in the, in the industry? What are they reading? You know, start absorbing some of that information. But even still, I think many product managers sort of see a linear site up to, let's say a, a head of product or a chief product officer.

Do you wanna be the CEO? Right? Like, what does growth look for you? Set your sight on that. [00:30:00] Set a vision board if you like a vision board, and then start setting goals for yourself along the way that really start progressing towards that role.

Kayla: So something you've talked about, and this is gonna be the last point before we close out, but you've talked about books a lot, and so for an aspiring product leader, what is your top one or two books that you would recommend they read.

Amanda: I mean, the two that I always recommend I was, I'm a big Christensen fan, Clay Christensen. He's, he's recently passed, but he, he wrote a book called Competing Against Luck that I think is, is one of the more interesting. Obviously everybody loves to read the lean agile books. But you could pick those up anywhere.

But Competing Against Luck are probably one of my favorite. And then Loon Shots, so moonshots, but with l like looney bin is one that really talks about innovation and how companies innovate and what to look for and what some of the traps are. And I think if you, if you can kind of put your brain around how to creatively help a company innovate using, you know, just paying attention to, frankly, user behavior, user questions, or kind of what's going on in the [00:31:00] industry, you'll never go wrong.

Kayla: Awesome. And then if people wanna connect with you or find you, where do they find you?

Amanda: Well, I don't know. LinkedIn, I guess is a good one. I, I'm usually pretty generous about responding to things.

I also love to mentor aspiring product managers. So I'm often having virtual coffee, especially with young female product managers. I, I feel an ownership to help get more female or LGBT a seat at the table. But LinkedIn's probably the best one to look me up.

Kayla: Awesome. Well, it was great chatting with you today and thanks for coming on.

Amanda: Yeah, thank you for having me. It was really a pleasure and uh, I really enjoyed this, so hopefully it was helpful.

Kayla: Wanted to send a quick thank you to Amanda for joining us today. If you wanna learn more, listen to other episodes and subscribe. And if you want some extra product resources, feel free to head over to our website,, and check out the blog.