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Be a Great
Product
Leader
Adam Nash, VP of Product & Growth,
@Dropbox, @adamnash
“There’s a thin line
between being a hero
and being a memory.”
World Class Product
• This all started with a conversation I had with Reid
Hoffman in 2007.
• Most people start or join new companies because they
think “we can do better this time.” They come to build a
company.
• These are the top lessons I’ve personally gained over the
past two decades about product management for
modern consumer software.
Prioritization: Three Buckets
• Metrics Movers

These pay the bills. In the end, software that doesn’t
justify itself will lose the ability to fund itself.
• Customer Requests

If you don’t listen to customers, they will lose faith and
eventually hate you.
• Delight

If you don’t delight customers, you won’t inspire passion
and loyalty in your users.
It’s About the Whole Product
• Can’t we find features that have all three? No.
• Metrics movers are rarely requested or delightful.
• Customer requests rarely move metrics or delight people.
• Delight features rarely move metrics & by definition, are
not requested.
• Great products, however, combine all three.
Find the Heat
• There are two ways to boost engagement: lower friction
or increasing desire.
• Software teams love to focus on the first, and rarely dive
into the second.
• Exceptional experiences depend on capturing the real
nuances of human interaction.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk
About Emotion
• Heat is a placeholder term for emotions that drive action,
both positive and negative. Emotion. Passion. Desire.
• What strong emotions drive the actions in your products?
• Look for “Magic Moments.”
Simple is Hard
• It’s true in design, metrics, prioritization, and strategy.
• We all fear the fate of Microsoft Office.
• What’s the one thing you want the user to do?
• What’s the job your customers are hiring you to do?
• The great gift of mobile-first design.
Einstein’s Razor
• Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Dropbox
Spaces
• Dropbox Spaces is the
evolution of the shared
folder, an experience
that brings the “smart
workspace” to life
Dropbox
Spaces
• Dropbox users value
the simplicity of the
service
Dropbox
Spaces
• Spaces allows
Dropbox to bring new
features to the
foreground, revealed
elegantly when users
add metadata to a
folder
• Software teams tend to focus
extensively on their users.
• They spend increasingly little time
on people who don’t use their
products.
Obsess About
Your Non-Users
• You have more non-users than
users.
• Your brand is often determined by
the way your product touches
non-users.
Growth Comes
from Your
Non-Users
• Common Product Questions:
• Should we build this?
• When should we build this?
• How should should we build this?
Solve the
Product Maze
Backwards
• Teams will debate “should” when
the question really is “when.”
• Thinking backwards from the
future helps.
• Visualize success in five years. If
you have the feature at that point,
you are just debating when.

• Debating when is critical, but it
tends to be a more objective
discussion than “if.”
Think Backwards
from the Future
Know Your Superpower
• Software is a team sport.
• Each function brings something critical & deserves respect.
• Every function has a superpower when it comes to decisions.
• Product - the power to frame the discussion w/ strategy & metrics.
• Design - the power of visualization of possible choices.
• Engineering - the power to show what is possible.
• These powers require hard work & specialization.
Final Thoughts
We can be our own
harshest critics.
Products are never
done.
Behavior matters. 

Values matter.
We are always learning,
and our customers are
always changing.
Be a Great
Product Leader
“Fate rarely calls upon us
at a moment
of our choosing.”
Be A Great Product Leader (Amplify, Oct 2019)

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Be A Great Product Leader (Amplify, Oct 2019)

  • 1.
  • 2. Be a Great Product Leader Adam Nash, VP of Product & Growth, @Dropbox, @adamnash
  • 3. “There’s a thin line between being a hero and being a memory.”
  • 4. World Class Product • This all started with a conversation I had with Reid Hoffman in 2007. • Most people start or join new companies because they think “we can do better this time.” They come to build a company. • These are the top lessons I’ve personally gained over the past two decades about product management for modern consumer software.
  • 5. Prioritization: Three Buckets • Metrics Movers
 These pay the bills. In the end, software that doesn’t justify itself will lose the ability to fund itself. • Customer Requests
 If you don’t listen to customers, they will lose faith and eventually hate you. • Delight
 If you don’t delight customers, you won’t inspire passion and loyalty in your users.
  • 6. It’s About the Whole Product • Can’t we find features that have all three? No. • Metrics movers are rarely requested or delightful. • Customer requests rarely move metrics or delight people. • Delight features rarely move metrics & by definition, are not requested. • Great products, however, combine all three.
  • 7. Find the Heat • There are two ways to boost engagement: lower friction or increasing desire. • Software teams love to focus on the first, and rarely dive into the second. • Exceptional experiences depend on capturing the real nuances of human interaction.
  • 8. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Emotion • Heat is a placeholder term for emotions that drive action, both positive and negative. Emotion. Passion. Desire. • What strong emotions drive the actions in your products? • Look for “Magic Moments.”
  • 9. Simple is Hard • It’s true in design, metrics, prioritization, and strategy. • We all fear the fate of Microsoft Office. • What’s the one thing you want the user to do? • What’s the job your customers are hiring you to do? • The great gift of mobile-first design.
  • 10. Einstein’s Razor • Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
  • 11. Dropbox Spaces • Dropbox Spaces is the evolution of the shared folder, an experience that brings the “smart workspace” to life
  • 12. Dropbox Spaces • Dropbox users value the simplicity of the service
  • 13. Dropbox Spaces • Spaces allows Dropbox to bring new features to the foreground, revealed elegantly when users add metadata to a folder
  • 14. • Software teams tend to focus extensively on their users. • They spend increasingly little time on people who don’t use their products. Obsess About Your Non-Users
  • 15. • You have more non-users than users. • Your brand is often determined by the way your product touches non-users. Growth Comes from Your Non-Users
  • 16. • Common Product Questions: • Should we build this? • When should we build this? • How should should we build this? Solve the Product Maze Backwards • Teams will debate “should” when the question really is “when.”
  • 17. • Thinking backwards from the future helps. • Visualize success in five years. If you have the feature at that point, you are just debating when.
 • Debating when is critical, but it tends to be a more objective discussion than “if.” Think Backwards from the Future
  • 18. Know Your Superpower • Software is a team sport. • Each function brings something critical & deserves respect. • Every function has a superpower when it comes to decisions. • Product - the power to frame the discussion w/ strategy & metrics. • Design - the power of visualization of possible choices. • Engineering - the power to show what is possible. • These powers require hard work & specialization.
  • 19. Final Thoughts We can be our own harshest critics. Products are never done. Behavior matters. 
 Values matter. We are always learning, and our customers are always changing.
  • 21. “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.”