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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Companies can benefit from allowing individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to challenge assumptions and approach problems from a new perspective, leading to creativity, growth, and ultimately, successful teams and products.
  2. Melissa Tan believes in hiring first principles thinkers and focusing on growth loops, referral programs, and word-of-mouth marketing. Strong teams and a focus on B2B growth are crucial for success in scaling companies.
  3. To succeed in freemium product led growth, hire humble and collaborative individuals who prioritize problem-solving and teamwork. Make hiring and recruiting a part of company culture and train everyone to close top talent. Focus on execution and go-to-market strategy, and consider when to lean into sales based on the intuitiveness of the onboarding process and viral component. Dropbox's success was attributed to hiring the right talent, focused execution, and a clear go-to-market strategy.
  4. Simplify product onboarding and invest in career development for high-performing teams. Clear measurement of success for individual growth and impact. Consider the interaction between consumer and B2B segments for seamless user experience.
  5. As a leader, it's important to prioritize your team's growth and development through direct feedback, guidance, and support. By investing in their talents, you'll foster a more loyal and invested team, leading to greater success.
  6. Look for managers who have a reputation for mentoring and seek opportunities where your success is tied to theirs. Build relationships and seek mentorship to ensure career growth within the company.
  7. When building a team, prioritize finding individuals with strong management and talent development skills, establish organic mentor relationships, and maintain a focus on clear goals and metrics to drive success. As a leader, prioritize managing and developing your team's talent.
  8. To build delightful user experiences, cultivate a culture of impact and teamwork, instil a sense of ownership, define individual scopes, prioritize results-oriented problem-solving, and infuse fun to maintain a positive outlook in high-pressure environments.
  9. Leaders with an ownership mentality think creatively and take accountability for their team's success. Encouraging collaboration sets the tone for a team-first culture, while delegation and time-management help balance workload and avoid burnout.
  10. Develop a growth mindset in your team and give feedback with clear expectations and achievable goals. Investing in the person helps to develop their potential and extends beyond the workplace.
  11. When hiring a product manager, analyze their critical thinking, growth mindset, and communication abilities. Incorporating a live problem-solving and presentation component, providing feedback, and testing for different competencies can help you identify the right candidate.
  12. Presentations are an opportunity for companies to understand a candidate's approach to a problem and see how comfortable they are with the product. The substance of the presentation matters more than the slides.
  13. To ensure growth, strategize pricing and packaging from the start, learn from data and customers, experiment right-sized hypotheses, and integrate growth teams with others for feedback.
  14. By implementing the flying formation and DACI method, teams can establish clear roles and responsibilities, avoid confusion, and enhance collaboration. Additionally, it's crucial to determine revenue ownership and invest in growth to build a successful team.
  15. To build a successful growth team, focus on identifying your ideal customer profile and achieving product market fit. Hire someone with expertise in key channels and prioritize activation, pricing, and packaging. Ensure your first growth hire is a first principles thinker and is passionate about growth.
  16. When hiring a new team member for leadership, assess the existing context and team skillset. Consider advisors for knowledge gaps and trial period to assess fit. Use first principles thinking to create mental models based on context.
  17. First principles thinking encourages curiosity, personal frameworks, and questioning assumptions. Developing people is important, leading to innovations. Shoutouts to team members increase motivation. Recommended books for personal growth are Leaders Eat Last and The Untethered Soul.
  18. Effective communication, collaborative preparation, utilizing AI and tools, implementing clear decision-making processes, and being open to learning from others are all fundamental elements for building successful working relationships in any business setting.

📝 Podcast Summary

Embracing first principles thinking for innovation in companies

First principles thinking can lead to innovation in companies by bringing in smart people with no prior experience in a role. This allows them to think outside the box and figure things out from scratch, leading to unique and innovative solutions. Melissa Tan's experience at Dropbox shows that giving people the opportunity to challenge assumptions and approach problems from a fresh perspective can yield valuable results. This highlights the importance of embracing diversity and giving people with different backgrounds and experiences a chance to thrive in new roles. Companies that promote a culture of first principles thinking can foster creativity and growth, ultimately leading to more successful products and teams.

From Webflow to Scaling Growth: The Journey of Melissa Tan

Melissa Tan is transitioning from Webflow to advising early stage companies on scaling growth. She has worked with companies across different stages and focuses on go-to-market strategy and optimizing the funnel. She is a strong believer in hiring and finding first principles thinkers who can create their own framework around problem-solving. At Dropbox, she worked on their growth and helped build their initial product growth and self-serve team for Dropbox business. Dropbox's success can be attributed to their hiring strategy and focus on growth loops, referral programs, and word-of-mouth marketing. However, their B2B side faced challenges which Box did better. Building high-performance teams and high-performance growth teams are two topics that Melissa is passionate about.

The Importance of Hiring and Recruiting in Product Led Growth

Hiring humble and collaborative individuals with a focus on problem-solving and teamwork can lead to innovative ideas in freemium product led growth. Execution, focus, and early clarification of go-to-market strategy are also crucial for success. Hiring and recruiting should be infused into company culture and everyone should be trained on how to sell the company and roles to close top talent. When considering when to lean into sales for a product-led product, it depends on the intuitiveness of the onboarding process and whether or not there is a viral component. Dropbox's success in freemium product led growth was due to a combination of hiring the right talent, focused execution, and clear go-to-market strategy.

Strategies for Combining Enterprise and Product-led Approaches

Starting with a product-led approach and then moving towards enterprise is a common trend in many companies. However, some companies may be initially more suited to an enterprise sales motion. Regardless of the approach, it's crucial to invest in making the product simpler to onboard and accessible to end-users. To build high-performing teams, leaders must deeply care about people and invest in their career development while also being results-oriented. Success should be measured clearly for each individual team member to achieve both impact and personal growth. Understanding how consumer and B2B segments fit together is also crucial for creating a seamless user experience.

Investing in Your Team's Development Leads to Greater Success

As a leader, it is important to care about your team members' growth and development, and to support them in achieving their goals. This includes giving direct feedback and guidance, even if it may be uncomfortable. It is crucial to restate your intention and to offer your own help and support in the process. Developing talent internally is also important, as it leads to a more invested and loyal team. Investing time and effort in developing your team members can lead to great outcomes and ultimately benefit the success of your team and company.

Developing talent within the company for smoother scaling

Developing talent within the company is a smoother transition when scaling a company, and it helps de-risk the situation. Look for jobs with managers who have a reputation for mentoring, developing people, and have brought people from other companies. During interviews, ask about management philosophy, and how they think about your career path. Look for opportunities where your success will be tied to your manager's success. Build relationships with other people in the company and proactively seek mentorship and guidance from them, or external advisors. Ask questions during interviews to get a sense of how they think about developing their employees.

Tips for Building a High-Performing Team

When hiring a new team member, it's important to ask them about their management and talent development skills, as well as their thoughts on career path for this role. It's also helpful to ask other people who have worked with them about their management style. When looking for a mentor, it's better to establish an organic relationship by seeking advice occasionally rather than asking someone to be your mentor. To build a high-performing team, it's important to have clear goals and a mission, with a focus on metrics and leading indicators that drive success. As a team leader, you must understand the importance of managing talent and developing their skills.

The Importance of Building Delightful User Experiences through a Culture of Impact, Performance, and Teamwork

Building delightful user experiences is the mission behind product monetization. Creating a culture of impact, performance, and teamwork, as well as instilling a sense of ownership among team members, are all important components of this process. Defining individual scopes and encouraging a results-oriented approach to problem-solving are two ways to develop such ownership mentality. Additionally, prioritizing fun and infusing it into the work culture is crucial to maintain a positive outlook in high-pressure environments. By focusing on these principles, teams can work collaboratively towards achieving their goals and delivering valuable results for users.

Building a Team-First Culture with an Ownership Mentality

Having an ownership mentality means not feeling disempowered by challenges and instead thinking creatively about options. It also means leading by example and taking accountability as a leader. To create a team-first culture, managers need to set the tone and encourage collaboration, even if it doesn't directly impact performance metrics. Leading by example and showing a willingness to support other teams can establish a culture of collaboration. It's important to strike a balance between taking on too much work and knowing your limits, and setting specific timelines or delegating tasks to others can help with this.

Finding Balance in Developing Talent while Managing Responsibilities.

It is important to find a balance between helping others and being focused on your own responsibilities. Overcommitment can lead to dropping important tasks. When developing talent, it is important to find a good mutual fit and look for folks with a growth mindset. Managers should set clear expectations and help their team members secure early wins. Giving feedback along the way and providing visibility can help develop individuals in their roles. Ultimately, developing talent is a lifelong journey and should extend beyond the workplace, creating friendships and opportunities for continued learning and growth. It all comes down to caring a lot about the individual as a person.

Tips for Hiring a Successful Product Manager

When hiring product managers, it's important to look for critical thinking skills, a growth mindset, and the ability to communicate with stakeholders. The interview process should include a live problem-solving component to assess their approach and questions, as well as a presentation component to test prepared thinking and communication skills. Giving feedback during the interview process can provide insight into how the candidate takes and incorporates feedback, and also signals what it will be like to work with them. The sequence of the interview process typically begins with a hiring manager screen with live problem-solving, followed by testing for different competencies with different team members, and ends with a presentation and possible conversation on other areas.

The Importance of Presentations in the Interview Process

During the interview process, candidates are often required to prepare a presentation about a problem they would be working on if hired. The company gives them about a week to create the presentation, with a clear instruction not to exceed a certain number of slides, usually 30. The substance of the presentation matters more than the slides. Candidates are expected to share their approach to the problem, not the context of the company. The presentation is an opportunity for the company to understand how the candidate thinks and problem solves, giving them feedback on their approach, and seeing how comfortable they are with the product. The preparation call with the company helps set the candidate up for success in creating a presentation and gives them a taste of what it would be like to work with the company.

The Importance of Strategic Thinking in Growth

Having a sense of the big picture and being strategic about go-to market strategy, pricing, and packaging from the start are crucial for growth. Learn from data, talk to customers, and start experiments based on your own data. Right-size your experiments and have clear hypotheses to avoid redoing whole things without knowing why they fail. Growth should infuse in the company, and the ideal way to work is to have growth teams work with other teams in a flying formation, where feedback from growth to other teams can inform the product roadmap, and PMs can be more growth-oriented too. Flying formation means how teams work together across the companies.

Understanding the Flying Formation and DACI Method for Improved Team Collaboration

The flying formation is a framework that helps teams determine different roles on a project or area. The DACI (Driver, Accountable, Contributor, Informed) method shows who is driving the project, who is accountable and is often the final decision maker, and who is contributing or needs to be informed. This helps teams avoid confusion on who the decision maker is, especially when there are many teams involved. Operating rhythms, such as weekly meetings and quarterly planning, are added to the flying formation for clarity on what is happening at what point. Revenue ownership varies by company, where product growth teams own revenue in most cases. It is important to determine how growth starts at a company to know how to invest in growth and build a team around it.

Building your first growth team - steps to success

When building an initial growth team, companies should focus on finding their ideal customer profile and attaining product market fit. All team members should be thinking about growth at this point. After reaching product market fit, the first growth hire should be someone who understands one or two channels well, ideally the channels where the company thinks they will find traction. This person will act as a portfolio manager, testing different things out at scale and ensuring quality signups. Early on, activation and pricing and packaging should also be areas of focus. The profile of the first growth hire depends on the makeup of the team and how much interest they have in growth, but it's important for them to be a first principles thinker.

Hiring for Leadership Team: Tips and Considerations

When hiring for a leadership team, it is important to consider the context and current team's skillset. An advisor can guide a new hire and a growth marketer should be analytical and creative, with less emphasis on expertise. Hiring for paid marketing or product growth should occur later on in the company's growth. When considering an advisor, ensure there is a knowledge gap on the team and set up a trial period before committing to a longer engagement. First principles thinking involves creating a mental model based on context rather than using a set framework or formula.

The Power of First Principles Thinking in Creating Culture.

First principles thinking is all about asking questions, creating personal frameworks, and leading with curiosity. It is a critical thinking way that is important to create a culture. Melissa Tan's aha moment came when she was at Dropbox and saw how unconventional people on their sales team led to innovation. She also highlighted the importance of developing people, giving shoutouts to her team members, and recommends books like Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek and The Untethered Soul. Her favorite recent TV show is Winning Time on HBO.

Tips for Building Stronger Working Relationships in Business Settings

Building a good working relationship through effective communication is key in any business setting. Taking the time to prepare and refine presentations together can help teams get a sense for what it's like to work with each other. Incorporating AI into products, like ChatGPT, can also greatly enhance productivity and efficiency. Using tools like Webflow's university videos and Figma to Webflow plugin can simplify processes and make learning new tools easier. Additionally, having a clear decision-making process, like using DACI, can help teams work together effectively. Lastly, being open to discussions and learning from others can greatly benefit personal and professional growth.