The Best Product Management Conferences’ Talks Through the Years

Product management conferences allow us to step back from the office and connect with people for a fresh perspective.

Enter 2020.

The pandemic is challenging everyone to re-imagine how we all interact. By pivoting to a virtual product management conference format we’re still able to connect with peers and tap into new ideas.

In fact, an online format makes access easy. This means more people can enjoy professional growth via cost-effective conferences and talks. For the introverts among us, being able to take part from the comfort of home is an unexpected cherry on top. Take that, pandemic!

Regardless of format, inspiring talks have an incredible power to stick with us. To return us to our work with renewed curiosity and energy.

We’ve curated some thought-provoking presentations for product managers. The pandemic pivot has made access easier than ever, so tune in and keep learning.

8 Best Talks from Product Management Conferences Through the Years

1. Ken Norton: Please Make Yourself Uncomfortable

Ken Norton’s talk from Mind the Product San Francisco 2016 couldn’t be more relevant today. Norton delves into the importance of making yourself uncomfortable and giving your team space to take risks—because that’s how innovation truly takes place.

Please Make Yourself Uncomfortable by Ken Norton at Mind the Product San Francisco 2016 from Mind the Product on Vimeo.

2. Dian Rosanti: Product Management in the Time of Corona 

In her Mind the Product APAC 2020 talk, Dian Rosanti, describes how she and her team set themselves up for success during the COVID crisis. Key points of the discussion include reacting to uncertainty, how to stay effective while distributed and taking care of yourself during the unprecedented times of a worldwide pandemic.

“From re-evaluating objectives and how to stay effective, to staying organized and practicing gratitude, Dian left the audience feeling ready to take on the world. In fact, it would be fair to say she blew us away with some of the simple, yet amazing, things she’s doing to cope – starting with some intense calendar management!”

Note: A Mind the Product membership is required to access Rosanti’s complete talk.

3. Matt LeMay: Incomplete by Design

In this Mind the Product Digital keynote, Matt LeMay, product management coach and consultant and author of Agile for Everybody: Creating Fast, Flexible, and Customer-First Organizations and Product Management in Practice, explains how adopting the Incomplete By Design framework and constraining ourselves to “One Page, One Hour,” can transform an organization’s approach to comments and conversation. He also discusses the “importance of recognizing and resolving a fundamental tension product people face when seeking individual recognition.”

Note: A Mind the Product membership is required to access LeMay’s complete talk.

4. Dominic Price: Leadership Through Uncertainty

In this forthcoming Atlassian Team Tour 2020, Dominic Price will discuss how “2020 has taught us that our future is not predetermined or written waiting for us to arrive. We create it every day.”

Listen in as Price shares insights on the leaders who are thriving in this current environment fraught with uncertainty and what we can learn about the next normal of work practices and leadership.

Registration is free for this Atlassian Team Tour session scheduled for November 9, 2020. Price’s talk will also be available on-demand after the live event.

Jim Semick, Founder and Chief Strategist of ProductPlan, on uncertainty:

“The fear we all feel from uncertainty – and the feeling that we can control it – can cloud our thinking. We tend to overestimate our ability to control events – and this feeling that we can control a situation is an illusion. If we can stop for a moment and change our thinking that we’re not in as much control as we think, and surrender to it, we’re more likely to succeed because we’re open to change and opportunities we wouldn’t see otherwise.”

Read Jim’s tips for PMs for embracing uncertainty. 

5. Fareed Mosavat: Be a Director, Not a Manager

In this keynote from Mind the Product San Francisco, Fareed Mosavat, shares early career lessons on creativity from Pixar. Mosavat asserts that to be a great product leader, you need to focus on being a product director rather than a product manager.

“Product managers want to spec out everything, but shouldn’t. Over specificity stifles creativity. Product managers will have greater success collaborating with their team if they reframe their identity as product director, rather than a product manager.”

Note: A Mind the Product membership is required to access Mosavat’s complete talk.

6. Jason Fried: A Discussion on Ideas

This INDUSTRY: The Product Conference talk features Jason Fried, co-founder, and CEO of Basecamp. Fried discusses the processes for ideation that he and his team use at Basecamp to launch products that so many worldwide use and love―with an unbelievably lean team, considering the scope and scale of its products.

Note: An INDUSTRY membership is required to access this digital content.

7. Teresa Torres: Becoming a Successful Continuous Discover Team

In this 2018 INDUSTRY talk, Teresa Torres, product discovery coach at Product Talk More, discusses how “teams are moving toward a truly cross-functional product team model where the teams that develop the product (i.e., product manager, designers, software engineers) are the ones responsible for doing their own discovery. They do their own user research, conduct their own experiments, and synthesize what they are learning week over week to support their daily product decisions.”

8. Gibson Biddle: Hacking Your Product Career

In this talk from ProductCon 2020 by Gibson Biddle, former Netflix VP of Product explores how “‘Hacking Your Career means embracing the idea that each of us is a product. We need to experiment with how to package and position ourselves, to form career hypotheses, and then build feedback systems to evaluate our career progress.”

9 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Virtual Talk

Getting the most out of your product management confereces image

Connecting to a virtual product management conference has never been easier, but it may not feel entirely familiar with your first time. To maximize your learning and engagement, consider these tips:

For Live Virtual Conferences and Talks

  1. RSVP in advance (even if the ticket is free)—space can still be limited on virtual events
  2. Add the event to your calendar
  3. Let your team know you’ll be unavailable
  4. Show up early and be ready to learn
  5. Reach out to other attendees and the speaker (either by chat using the conference platform or on social media)

For All Virtual Opportunities

  1. Grab a notebook, pen, and beverage of choice
  2. Turn off notifications on all your devices to minimize distractions
  3. Tune in from your remote workspace
  4. Stay focused on the event—resist the urge to multitask

Want to explore more product management events? Here are a few of our favorite product management conferences.

Stay connected and keep on learning by joining these online communities for Product Managers.