Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:16
Once upon a time, there were 10s of 1000s of makers struggling every day they built for hours and hours but didn't chip and didn't earn enough income. One day, the no code wealth podcast came to help them find the way because of this, makers became founders and live the life they deserve. Because of this, founders live lives of abundance, freedom, and creativity. This is what I'm really all about. Hello, my name is Aziz and from being a poor boy born to a single mother in North Africa, to failing multiple startups, yet, learning a whole lot to barely escaping alive the war in Ukraine. Even living as an illegal immigrant. I've lost everything twice. And now, I'm rebuilding my life one more time. 1% a day sharing the wisdom of luminaries I've interviewed on this podcast from Google executives to Amazon, Microsoft, Forbes Technology Council, Harvard, Financial Times, and even a priest from the Vatican church. Everyone is welcome here. So let's begin. My guest today is Clement Kao. Clement is the founder of product teacher, a product management education company with the mission of creating accessible and effective resources for a global community of product managers, founders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Product teacher offers self paced courses, career coaching, corporate training, and other professional development services. And as an ex principal product manager, Clement has shaped 10 multimillion dollar b2b software products and dozens of smaller ones over the last five years at multiple startups. Columbian has also written 150 Plus product management best practice articles, and has been a featured speaker and writer for more than 100 different organizations. Clemen How are you today?
Clement Kao 2:43
I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for having me on.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 2:46
It's my privilege. It's my honor. And I'm really happy to explore your mind. So I will begin with this question which opens everything these days, what has been a topic that is on your mind a lot, or an insight that you have realized that you feel is important or a problem that you want to address and improve? That keeps on demanding your attention? thought and energy?
Clement Kao 3:16
Yeah, great question. So one of the things that is really important to me right now is the concept of scalability. And I think that really fits well with the no code movement. So one of the things that is very true, is many people want to become product managers. And especially due to the pandemic due to remote work, more and more people want to be able to jump into digital product management. But there aren't really great resources out there. And so a lot of people come to me to prepare for interviews, or to get resume reviews, etc. And the challenge is that I simply can't help everyone directly in terms of live one on one services. So something that I have been pushing myself to do is to digitize basically to create these no code versions of my coaching. So that that way people can access my knowledge and my expertise, even if I'm not there personally. Something that I've done, for example, is a lot of people want to know how exactly do I interview for product management roles at Google at Facebook at Amazon. And in the past, what I did was I would provide these live coaching sessions. But that wasn't scaling. And it wasn't fair to people who weren't in my timezone, right. If you were in Africa, if you were in Asia, if you're in Europe, you weren't able to get access to me on a schedule that would work for you. So what I did was I recorded my knowledge into these video courses into these exercises. And now people all over the world are able to access that knowledge and be a lot more successful in terms of being able to interview for these roles. So for me, something that I'm doing is I am actively identifying what are the core things that product managers need help with? How can I help them and first do that directly one on one in ways that don't scale but done, take these learnings, and use a variety of different maker platforms to then create the self paced versions. So that that way people can actually leverage these products instead of these live services, and be able to use that to accelerate their product management careers. So that's really what I'm currently focused on these days.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 5:17
I love this, I have so many questions. And I really, really salute your eloquence and preparation, because I noticed all the lifetime work that went into that. And I want to level with you and ask you some questions before we speak about project management that could be important for any person to who is looking for scalability and wants to learn from your experience, which is this, that creating courses is wonderful. At the same time, there is this push that it's you as a person, it's your personality, that is something that makes people buy your products and stay interested more than a short term. You know, there is the issue of being a one hit wonder where yes, you create your products. But then over time, people might think, well, you need to relaunch it for the 2023 version, and 2024 or whatever, so that people feel this updated, and it's relevant, or you become some kind of fascinating personality that people buy into the values you create, in the the exciting new projects you're working on. And therefore, they keep on buying your products and feeling they're relevant. How do you address this? Do you feel that you have enough of an audience that this is not an issue and you're playing? Like the percentages game? Or what is your approach so that you will not end up working as hard trying to keep your product staying relevant and selling them? As much as you used to do one on one in coaching?
Clement Kao 7:02
Yeah, great question. So something that was really valuable in my previous experience was before I found a product teacher to help people, I was already doing a lot of free mentorship. In the past, I was doing a lot of article writing in the past. And so as you mentioned in the introduction, I've written a lot about product management. I've done a lot of speaker events on product management. And so something that I've already been able to see over many years now is, what are the key things that actually matter a year over a year over a year? And what are the things that no longer makes sense? What are the things that fall out of favor. So something that I learned early on, is, for example, if you analyze the product strategy of a hot company, during that point in time, many times that analysis no longer makes sense in the future. So something that happened before was maybe four or five years ago, there is this notetaking app called Evernote. And at that point in time, people really, really loved Evernote. And they said, Wow, it's really growing in terms of its user base, we should learn how it drives product virality, we should learn how it drives really great user experiences. But today, Evernote is not doing so well. And so any analysis that was praising Evernote back then was not far centered enough to understand the shortfalls that it will fall into. However, if you look into the core first principles that they used, right, so better understanding what are the users actual needs, understanding the different processes that they have, understanding what previous tooling they used, and helping them migrate over. Those are all everlasting principles that will work no matter what type of product you're working on. And so for me, it really it's all about making sure that I provide evergreen content that will last the test of time. And so that means one, ensuring that all of my materials begin with first principles. So things that you're going to be able to leverage no matter what kind of product you're working on, then to making sure that I discuss different nuances. So in which cases, in which scenarios will you need to bend these principles so that they work in your specific situation. And then part three, I share about my own personal experiences, because those experiences are always relevant. People always want to know, hey, climate, how did you exactly do it? Right? No one wants to feel like, Oh, I'm getting all of this lecture stuff. And it feels really abstract. And it just doesn't apply to me. But when they hear exactly how you did it, when they hear how exactly you struggled through it, then it really resonates with them, and it lasts for the rest of their lives. So in terms of really making sure that the content that I'm creating is evergreen, and that really does solve people's pains, not just today, not just next year, but in five years, 10 years from now. It's really about designing thoughtfully upfront to make sure that exactly like you said that I don't run on the hamster wheel, that I'm not just making things and then I have to go back and make it again in six months. I have to go back and make it again in 12 months, right? It's really making sure that I deeply understand what is it that my audience needs, not just right now, but in the long run and then making sure that I really deeply addressed those pain points. I
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 10:00
think you, that's a wonderful answer and to dive a bit deeper into project management, and yes, there are people who are listening who are into that, but maybe some others will, it will be there. Something they've heard, they don't know what it is exactly can you share? What is project management? What are the tasks and duties and which traits will make someone a good product manager so that someone might listen and evaluate themselves and say, Wow, that sounds like me. I'm interested, I will go to learn more from Clemson than all that.
Clement Kao 10:40
Yeah, for sure. So first, I think something that's really helpful is just to differentiate between product manager and project manager. So a project manager doesn't necessarily have to work on technology, kind of the project manager, their goal is simply to look at, hey, I've got a particular initiative, how do I make sure that I deliver this initiative on time, high quality at low cost, and make sure that I don't cause any risks that I just delivered this very smoothly, right. And so you see a lot of project managers, and things like construction, or building houses, or marketing materials, right. So lots and lots of different ways to be a project manager. But my specialization is product management and a product manager, there are components of their work, that might contain a little bit of project management. But that's not really their core job, really, the core job of a product manager is to one deeply understand the pain points that their customers have. So that too, they can work alongside designers and engineers to figure out what it is that we should build to solve these pains, then three, work alongside marketing and business teams to make sure that we are able to sell and roll out and deploy the solutions at scale, so that that way, we can help the most people possible. So that's really Product Management. In a nutshell, it's really deeply understanding your customer, understanding what their pains are, and then looking for ways to solve those pains through software through design. So then that way the business can increase revenue, access new segments, and drive profits over the long run. And so more and more organizations are looking to hire product managers, something that they're very excited about. Because instead of having an IT project team, where you simply deliver a specification exactly as a client asks for it, when you do that, there's a lot of work that is wasted. There's a lot of customization that doesn't apply in different scenarios. But a product manager is going to assess well, okay, this customer wants these different things, they have these different attributes, but we're not going to deliver it exactly as they asked. And so we're gonna look for ways to solve that underlying pain in such a way where we can actually support all of these other different groups as well, right. And so then that unlocks the scalability. And so that's why product management is so important. Instead of someone having to deliver, you know, 12, or 15, different IT projects over and over again, with just minor tweaks each time and none of them actually operating together, a product manager is going to create something that's scalable, one time, it's going to take a little bit longer than delivering one or two projects. But it's going to be able to solve not just for these, you know, 15 or 20 different customers, but I'll continue to scale and grow into the next 100 into the next 1000. And so that's really the promise and power of product management. So that's why there's a lot of people who are really interested in this role. You got to look at ideas really deeply understand what are the pains that people have? And look at how do we bring this to life, and then grow it in a way that continues to serve people and unlock value over the long run?
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 13:42
Thank you, that sounds exactly like an entrepreneur, like the startup founder, and then the role and the whole team. So I'll ask you this, a lot of founders or people who should know how to be good product managers, they will create a product without really understanding the underlying pain. Maybe they don't even know how to do the research necessary in order to do that. And they create something that then they try to sell, because that's the only thing that will think as a solution to this problem, but end up wasting time, money, energy on everything on a product that has no demand. So for you, if you were to advise any entrepreneurs that maybe they should learn from you how to do product management and use that in their startups and in the way they approach their whole building, creation making and all that. What questions should they ask themselves in order in order to ascertain any need or pain in the market? How do they know If what the solution they're offering is useful enough or different enough? And how should they think so that they create something when at least there is a high probability and chance there is a demand for it, rather than guessing, wasting time and then launching something that gets no reception in the marketplace?
Clement Kao 15:20
Yeah, great observation. So you're exactly right. You know, if you build something that no one needs that no one really has a pain for, then you're going to spend all of this time and resources and energy, and you're not going to be able to spin up a successful business, right? It's just not going to sell. And so the very first thing that I tell any entrepreneur, any founder that I work with, is, if you want to capture value for yourself, you must first create value for others, right. And so it's really important that instead of worrying about, hey, you know, I really want to meet this particular sales target, or I really want to meet this particular profitability, or I want to have this large of a following on social media, no matter what goal it is that you're looking for First, identify, does someone actually have a pain? Is there some way that I can create value for others, because if I create value for them, they will want to create value for me, right, I have found that my work is something that they really appreciate. And so they want to back me, they want to support me, so I can do more for them. So one of the things that is incredibly valuable, is when you are trying to identify what is it that I should go build, many times something that's really helpful is to listen to folks around you, I know that everyone has, you know, these small specializations in life, where people will reach out and ask them, Hey, how do you do this particular thing? Or, hey, I really need help with this particular thing. And when you listen to Hey, these are the different struggles that people have, you're going to have these deeper insights of oh, okay, here is a pain that not just one person is having, but many people are having. So as an example, the reason why I created product teacher in the first place, is when I first became a product manager. To be completely honest, I didn't know what I was doing. At that point in time, I was a molecular cell biologist, what does a biologist have to do with trying to create software, it wasn't something that I was trained in. But as soon as I became a product manager, something very funny happened. Many people, especially people that I didn't know, start to reach out to me over email over LinkedIn to say, hey, Clement, congratulations on becoming a product manager. I want to be one, two, can you tell me how I can do that? Right. And so at that point in time, I didn't even realize that I had run into a business idea. I just said, Oh, okay, let me try to find ways that I can help you. Right. So first, let me get on the phone. Let me talk about your questions. And I started noticing that everyone had the same questions. So I started to pull together answers to these questions into these email templates that I said, Okay, well, these email templates, those are helpful, but only if people email me. And that's not really fair. Because what if you don't know who I am? What if you don't know how to reach out to me? So then I took these templates, and then I publish them online into articles. And then people really found these articles valuable. But what if you didn't know that you could read all of them together to quickly learn about product? So then I pulled all these articles together into a book. And so then people now buying this book to be able to quickly learn well, what is product? And other than the author's book? Well, what if I have specific questions, I want to ask, What if I really want to dive deep into this area? Oh, okay. Well, let me provide paid coaching, right? Well, oh, but what if I want to talk with your client? And I can't do that, because I'm in their timezone? Well, let me then put my knowledge into a course. So that that way, you can access my knowledge at any time, even if you're not talking to me live, right. And so you can see here, in my progression of the different things that I'm building, it's all about someone else's in pain, someone else reached out to ask me a question. And at that point in time, I didn't know how to help them. And so it's okay, let's find a solution for that pain. Let's try to make that work. Right. And so as you consider, what is the day I'm going to build, how am I going to earn money, focus a little bit less on earning money in the short run, and take a little bit more time to listen to all of the different questions that you're getting. Because you might find the seed of a really, really important idea. And even if you're currently working within a company, your colleagues have challenges all of the time. I think one of the things that was really interesting, back when I was working within a larger organization, is I saw that there were so many people who struggled, for example, as customer success managers, it was very difficult to understand, how is my particular customer doing versus what is their usage of the product, there were just so many things that didn't connect between the two. And so a product manager is currently building something in that specific space. Within that same company, there were others who had challenges around information security. And so we have product managers who have now gone and created their own businesses on let's solve the information security. There are other people who have challenges with how do we work with compliance teams, how do we make sure that we are regulated appropriately, while others have gone on and founded things in that space? So you might not realize it. But even right now, as you're working within an organization, or as you're with your friends, your family, everyone is in pain, everyone has something that they need help with. And so if you just take the time to listen, you might find the seed of an idea that is much more valuable than simply trying to earn the next dollar, so that you can pay your bills. And so really focus on what is the pain that other people are in? What are ways in which I can solve this pain, because by doing so, that's going to then have people reach out to you to want to purchase your product, rather than you trying to push your product onto them. Again, remember that you need to create value for others, before they're willing to give you value in return, they're not going to pay you money if it doesn't solve their pain. And so really focus on what is the challenge that they're struggling with? And how can I help. And I think that's really the core piece of advice that I have for any founder.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 20:47
That's wonderful advice. Thank you, Clement. And let's also speak since you're a teacher, about teaching and learning, there is an argument that a lot of people don't know how to learn. When you approach a subject, whether it's product management, let's say someone wants to learn and absorb and make it part of who they are, rather than reading mindlessly. And then really not absorbing much, what is your recommended best approach to learn, as well as when you're scaling and creating the courses and putting your best knowledge into them? How do you approach to teaching or even writing articles and all that in order to educate and make sure that people get something out of it rather than be confused by too much information overwhelmed, or they're just inter, like, into Earth? Entertain, but not getting the value that will change their lives?
Clement Kao 21:52
Yeah, great question. So let me tackle the first one. First, what is the most effective way to learn. So something that is just simply true, is different people have different ways of learning. Some people, they learn much better when they're listening. And so that's why podcasts are incredibly valuable. Other people learn a lot better when they read. And you know, that's me, for example, I'm personally not really good at listening to things. But I'm really great at reading things. Some other people really love to watch, they really want to see animation. And that's really important. Yet others want to be able to see diagrams, so static visuals that will help them grasp the subject. And yet others want to be able to do hands on work, to try to struggle through a problem themselves. And then that will then help them to absorb that information. And so something that's really important for any person who's trying to learn is to first take a step back and not ask, Well, how do I learn effectively in general, but to ask yourself specifically, where are the places where I've learned things really quickly in the past before? Like, what are the things that tie those pieces together? As an example, say that someone is trying to bake something for the first time, like, they want to be able to make a loaf of bread, or they want to make a cupcake. Sometimes reading a book is going to really help for particular kinds of people. Other people really want to see YouTube tutorials, and other people just want to try, I just, I'm gonna go try to make this loaf of bread. And once I fail, I'm gonna go back and do it again. And so something that's really helpful for each person is to take the time to reflect, look back on your previous experiences, and it doesn't have to be work, it can be fun things to remember the places where you learn the fastest, what are the things that really tie those experiences together? What are the factors that are common there, because that will give you hints into what kind of learner you are. And then we want to do is you don't want to set up yourself for success, you want to be able to tie in those factors into whatever it is that you're learning next. So some people, like they learn a little bit better if they have food. And so hey, you know, as I read through some particular article, each time I read through some amount, I'm going to reward myself with a small snack, that's totally fine. Other people want to be rewarded with exercise. So okay, go do that. Right. So really think about where are the places where I've learned super effectively in the past that were the things that I felt, I really, truly master the subject and reflect on that, and then use that to then consider how to learn the next time. Something that I get a lot is I work with a lot of college students, and something that they say is Clement, I just don't really want to study for class anymore. Like I really love product management, I really want to be a product manager, but I just cannot stand at the thought of having to go study for these tests that you know, I'm just not really interested in. And so sometimes really helpful is to find ways to tie that into what you actually care about, right? So okay, I get that you're not super interested in let's say, you're not really interested in politics, or you're not really interested in your current English literature, but you need to take this class to graduate so they become a product manager. Well, what if, instead of you trying to struggle through this topic and to do well on the test? Let's find ways to make this about product management. Right, so what if other students like you are also struggling to learn this information? What if you could create some sort of podcast? Or what if you create some sort, of course that teaches them about this? Or maybe not that maybe what if you can create some sort of tool that people can use to memorize this information, right? Or what if you can create some sort of quiz daughters that people can test themselves on this information. And so from there, that you'll get a lot more excited, they get a lot more engaged with the material, because now it's moving towards a goal that they actually care about. So another really important strategy is if you're trying to learn something that you know is important, but you don't really care about, find ways to tie it to something that you do care about. And that will really help you to tie your motivations together, so that you invest that time into learning. So that really addresses your first question of what is the best way to learn, it's to one, make sure they've got the right motivation for learning, right, you don't want to just force yourself to learn, it's very rare that you're going to make a lot of progress. But then to also not force yourself to do things that other people are doing it. Instead, think about what's really worked well for you. And then use that understanding of yourself to then drive your own learning. So that way, you're really engaged with the material, and so you can actually put it into practice. So that would be my advice for anyone who wants to be able to learn more effectively. And honestly, learning more effectively is probably the most important skill set in our current world. Because there are so many new businesses and industries coming up. There's so many different kinds of new customers appearing with huge different kinds of pains. There are new technologies all the time, there are new organizations all the time, right. So being able to learn is incredibly, incredibly important. So the second point on Hey, Clement, how do you take this information and put it into your materials so that way people can grasp it? The first thing that I do right is, as I mentioned before, when I am thinking about curriculum design, it's all about making sure that one, I provided those first principles, because I want people to have tools that they can use in any situation, right, I don't want to give someone this really, really specific tool that only does one thing. So as an example, in the kitchen, right, you probably have this lemon squeezer that helps you to squeeze juice out of a lemon. But then there's a lime squeezer, the only species does have a lime, and they have an orange squeezer and have a grapefruit squeezer. And those are not really effective, because now you have all these different tools that are cluttering your kitchen cabinet. Instead, if you just have a simple juicer that will work irrespective of the size of fruit, that will be a lot more effective. Right? So what I try to do is I try to think about what is the first principle what is the best practice in multiple situations for this particular problem area? And then how do you take this information? Right? You take this first practice of, for example, how do you create value for others and then capture for yourself? That's a first principle, but then in which scenarios? Are you going to want to think about how you bend that into a particular situation, right. So as an example, you can think about using this first principle to create a business, we can also use it to create a social media following, you can also use it to create an a new friend group or a new social group, you can use it to create an event or conference. So there are all these different ways in which you can use this first principle. Let's talk about the different scenarios they can put this person principle in, so that you're actually able to derive value from it. And then the third part is, as I mentioned, well, then how did I do it specifically? So as an example, let's say that I decided to create value to capture value is the principle that I'm trying to teach. And I said, Hey, one of the scenarios is you can run events like this. So let me tell you about my own experience. I personally did this pitch competition, where students were able to pitch their ideas to start up judges so that that way, they can learn how to practice the different skills. And so that was win win for everyone. Because students were now able to come together in groups really explore these ideas, be able to pitch and get these experiences with startups. And on the other side, the startup judges got access to all these really great ideas. And we're able to hire these students in for internships to eventually turn them into full time employees. So that's value created for everyone. And that created this really powerful event that was long lasting on my particular campus. That's kind of those are the three core pieces. And then the final part, then, is do an exercise, right? So really put that into practice in a way that you care about. So something that I challenge all of my learners is, here's an action that you should take right now. Right? As you take that action, I want you to reflect on what it is that you've learned so far. So that you can find not just, oh, I'm going to copy climate Exactly. But really think about these things are simply guidelines where I'm giving you a toolkit, but I'm not telling you the only one right way to use it. I want you to break what it is that I've taught you, I want you to bend it for yourself, right? So think critically about what I've presented to you and try to find ways in which it doesn't work for you, right? Those are actually really great learnings that you're going to want to know so that you can bring it into your specific situation. And so providing these exercises and challenges for my students is really important so that that way they can actually pull what they've learned into practice. Got it? Couple of repetitions. So that that way they've actually incorporated it into their lives. So that's really how I approach learning and teaching.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 30:07
I love that. That's absolutely clear. And I salute again in you all the hours you spend thinking, reflecting and optimizing your approach. So if people want to learn more, they want to understand, what do you do your website and all that? Can you speak about the courses you're offering? What are you working on nowadays, and which are the best links for people to follow for them to know more, and I'll make sure to write your website and the description.
Clement Kao 30:42
Yeah, for sure. Thank you. So my website is product teacher.com. So no dashes, no spaces, just product teacher.com. And so there, you can learn about all of the different self paced courses that we offer, as well as our one on one services. And you can also subscribe to our newsletter, where we provide all of these articles, these best practice essays, so you can use it to level up in the discipline of product. So that's really the best place to find the work that I'm doing in terms of some of the courses that we have. So one of them is preparing for the product management interview. And so that will really help you, if you're looking to break into this space. There's another one that is called succeeding as a junior product manager. And so that really is meant for people who have the PMO, but aren't really sure what to do before they onboard. Because there are a lot of big companies that don't necessarily have these onboarding programs for new product managers. And so I'm basically providing this external onboarding program, they'll help to orient you so that you succeed, as soon as you join on the job. There's a third course called the monthly product management masterclass, where I cover both hard skills and soft skills that product managers should know about, and implement them into their working lives. So those are kind of the core ones that I would highlight in terms of the courses, in terms of services, if you need help with your resume with your cover letter. If you need me to review your portfolio, or even just to look at the work that you're currently doing as a product manager, you can book time with me there. And I do my best to make sure that can support. So yeah, so those are all the things that I'm more than happy to offer, just in terms of the self paced courses, as well as services. And again, you know, something that I really personally believe in, is making product management easier for everyone, right, because there are so many people who want to become product managers. But there just aren't great resources out there yet. And so I'm dedicating myself to creating resources. And even if those aren't scalable, yet, something that I want to do and continue to invest in, is to leverage the various no code maker platforms around me so that I can turn them into these saleable products that people can then go use throughout the rest of their careers. So yeah, those are all the things I'm currently working
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 33:01
on. Thank you, Clement. It was my privilege, my honor. And this was a really enriching conversation. So I encourage everybody to go visit your website and I wish you a great day.
Clement Kao 33:16
Thank you so much. So so humbled, and so excited to be a part of the show today. Thank you