The essence of product management | Christian Idiodi (SVPG)

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Dec 21 2023 • 1 hr 33 mins

Christian Idiodi is a partner at Silicon Valley Product Group. After a long product career and founding multiple companies, Christian now spends his time working closely with product leaders at companies big and small to implement and improve their discipline of product management. In today’s episode, we discuss:

• Why there’s often a negative perception of product managers, and how we can fix this

• The four attributes of a product manager’s job: value, usability, viability, and feasibility

• The power of finding reference customers

• How Christian developed a process for high-volume hiring to help companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks

• Tactical tips for coaching, building relationships, and building trust as a leader

Brought to you by Jira Product Discovery—Atlassian’s new prioritization and roadmapping tool built for product teams | Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security | Teal—Your personal career growth platform

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In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Christian’s background

(03:56) The negative perception of product managers

(07:58) How to become a PM people want to work with

(11:30) The definition of a product manager

(14:46) Where new PMs fail

(16:59) Reference customers: what they are and why they are so important

(24:05) A quick summary of how to build a product that people want and love

(26:44) How to determine product-market fit

(29:54) The benefits of this approach

(34:11) Real examples of using reference customers

(40:06) Doing things that don’t scale

(48:40) How to get better at coaching and build trust with leaders

(55:53) The fastest way to build trust

(01:00:01) What to do in the absence of good coaching

(01:02:51) How to get into product management

(01:04:16) The pitfalls of early promotions

(01:11:11) How to train someone for a promotion before giving the promotion

(01:13:30) How to find a good coach

(01:14:40) Christian’s product work in Africa

(01:21:22) The importance of passion and empathy in product work

(01:22:54) Lightning round


• Marty Cagan on LinkedIn:

• The nature of product | Marty Cagan, Silicon Valley Product Group:

• Silicon Valley Product Group:

• Enhanced Product Discovery by SVPG Partner Christian Idiodi at Lean Product Meetup:

• Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve:

• Stripe:

• Building a culture of excellence | David Singleton (CTO of Stripe):

• Building beautiful products with Stripe’s Head of Design | Katie Dill (Stripe, Airbnb, Lyft):

• Rippling:

• Snagajob:

• Howard Schultz on LinkedIn:

• Tesla portable charger:

• Innovate Africa Foundation:

• Inspire Africa Conference:

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love:

Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products:

Transformed: Moving to the Product Operating Model:

Succession on HBO:

Billions on Showtime:

• Real sports app:

Production and marketing by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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