Adam is an experienced product manager who has held both individual and leadership roles over his product management career. After working in advertising technology and enterprise software for almost a decade, Adam transitioned to consumer products after a year-long stint as adviser to a dating app serving marginalized communities.
At Bombas, Adam works primarily on the backend infrastructure powering their eCommerce tools, including internal APIs, product data, and integrations between different systems. The deeply technical nature of the role is in keeping with Adam's inquisitive nature and drive to find the most interesting questions that can be answered with technology. In a world increasingly powered by algorithms, he strives to maintain the human element even when building products that aren't specifically user-facing.
Prior to product management, Adam worked in sales for several years, where he cultivated a passion for solving customer problems. Prior to that, he was a professional musician and teacher for 8 years, learning to empathise with students and clients hiring his band for their wedding or special event.
Adam is mainly known for blending technical knowledge and strictly quantitative insights with qualitative, experiential, and anecdotal customer problems to craft interesting questions that form the basis for his and his team’s product vision and strategy. As comfortable in a database as he is with a customer interview, Adam loves cutting to the heart of the problems facing the end users of his work.
Having built deep relationships with some of the world’s biggest media companies while building tools for their advertising teams to generate revenue without becoming subservient to Google and Facebook, Adam was moved to find a consumer product after working with Feeld and seeing firsthand how impactful real-world products can be on underserved and marginalised communities.
While Adam would love to be known as the world’s premier heavy metal guitar player, he will absolutely be thrilled if he ends up known for helping Bombas sell more socks, underwear, and t-shirts, primarily so Bombas can deliver more of the same to folks in need!
Adam screams into the void with sarcasm and Simpsons references on Twitter, @descopemore. He can also be counted on for a half-decent tweet once every 3 weeks.
If you stop being curious, you will stop trying to find the most interesting questions to answer. If you stop finding interesting questions, you’ll stop finding actual problems. And problem solving is the core of Product Management. While there are dozens of reasons folks go into product, I like to think that every single one has problem solving as its kernel. Yes, we want to make an impact and yes, we want to drive value for the business. Some of us want to build the next Stripe, and others want to simply make a bunch of money by joining the next unicorn. But the heart of product management is pushing teams to solve the big problems facing your customers and facing your business (which may be very, very different!). If you don’t do that, you won’t experience the dizzying highs that come when you pin down a problem, prioritise it properly, and get it solved at exactly the right time for your customers.
Do stuff that you’re bad at.
Pick up a new language (programming or otherwise). Explore what it takes to become a hip-hop dancer, especially if you’ve never danced in your life. Are you an accomplished guitarist? Awesome - go learn flamenco, or jazz, or whatever style you’ve never tried before.
Nothing is quite as humbling as being bad at something. The worse you are, the more humbling it is. And humility is key as a product manager. You win when the team wins, and even though product managers absorb most of the blame when the team loses, that’s perfectly fine for you because you’re humble, it rolls off your back, and you move on to the next problem carrying with you the learnings from the failure. If you want to be an army of one, write the code yourself.
And by the way, do you know who else is bad at things? Beginner students. And why do beginner students persevere? Because they’re curious. Stay curious by doing stuff that you’re bad at.
Data is awesome. Always bring data to conversations with stakeholders. If you don’t have data, go get it. If you can’t go get it, or it doesn’t exist, make a bet.
Sometimes you have to make a bet. It may not (ok, it WILL not) always work out, and sometimes you’ll lose. Sometimes you’ll lose big. And you’ll own that loss. Because you do stuff you’re bad at, you’re humble and curious. Because you’re humble and curious, you’ll learn from that loss. And the next time you don’t have data, and you can’t get the data, you’ll have a better foundation on which to make another bet. Life is more fun when you bet, and so is product management.
Just make sure you can explain to your stakeholders why the bet was sound. Ultimately, even if you have all the data in the world, sometimes the house just cleans you out.
Huge shout out to Annie Duke for teaching me this via her books.