Catch Chad McAllister on the #PirateBroadcast™ - russjohns

Catch Chad McAllister on the #PirateBroadcast™

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Introduction 0:01
Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.

Russ Johns 0:20
I love the mornings we can jump up, jump in and start the #PirateBroadcast™. Today's another day, another adventure. Thank you so much for joining us. We are talking to Chad today. Chad, good morning. How are you?

Chad McAllister 0:37
Good morning. I'm doing well. I have had the October, now into November cough. So I'm sucking on cough drops here, but every day is getting better.

Russ Johns 0:47
Oh, fantastic. Hopefully, you'll heal quickly.

Chad McAllister 0:52
Thank you

Russ Johns 0:53
And not have to deal with it for years to come. So Chad, tell me, you are a podcaster, you're a professor, you're a very busy guy. You're kind of all over the place and doing great things. I wanted to find out...first of all, you've been podcasting for a while now.

Chad McAllister 1:17

Russ Johns 1:18
How long?

Chad McAllister 1:20
January will be six years. So once a week podcast, and we've published an episode every week.

Russ Johns 1:28

Chad McAllister 1:29
That's pretty good experience.

Russ Johns 1:31
Hats off to you. Applause, round of silent applause. If I had the sound effects going I'd put some on right now.

Chad McAllister 1:39
There you go.

Russ Johns 1:41
Well, what possessed you to start a podcast in the first place?

Chad McAllister 1:44
The podcast is about product management. We can talk more about that in a moment. These are the people in organizations that are responsible for creating new products, really understanding a customer's problem, getting insights about the job they're trying to get done, their needs, and then helping a team develop a solution for that, right. I've been in this product space, my entire professional career was originally electrical engineering student I got out, went to a system engineering company that turned into a software company and I kind of went along for the ride. At one point, in my wife's and my life, we thought it would be interesting to jump in a motorhome and drive around the US. Actually, we start thinking about this more seriously. We had done a little...we had a trailer. So we had done that. And we started taking longer trips on the trailer. One summer, we went out for an entire summer, I visited Yellowstone and around some national parks, that was great. So the next year, we thought, could we actually do a year? You know, yeah, maybe. And for us, we weren't 100% committed, we were going to enjoy being out on the road for a year, our kids were seven and 10 at the time, and we wanted to do it as a family, that we both had a very strong sense that we would regret not trying. So we made plans rented the house got a motorhome, a lot of the work I do is from the internet. So that made that possible to be able to do. So the two kids and my wife, we jumped in the motorhome and we ended up being on the road for one year and two weeks, drove 22,000 miles around.

Russ Johns 3:24

Chad McAllister 3:24
And one of the things I was doing along the way, I was still doing my teaching I do because most of that is online, with different universities, Boston University, but one thing I wanted to do along the way was interview people involved in innovation and developing products and sometimes owning businesses. So I set up some interviews in advance, and I was praying I would meet #interestingpeople and have these interesting encounters. That all happened, right? I had amazing discussions with people that I feel very, very blessed to have had. And my the time I was writing those interviews up as blog posts, my intent was maybe to synthesize that into a book when I got back. You know, life gets busy. I got back and the book never happened, but I was back about four months or so and just really missing those discussions. Also, part of my motivation was yes, I want to have interesting discussions, but I also wanted to bring the information to other product managers. I was just missing that, so I started thinking about, well, how can I continue doing that? Have these interesting discussions, bring that information to product managers and not be traveling on the road all the time? So the podcast was born. The interesting side story on that is, I have very little confidence in my own voice. Public speaking is still something that terrifies me and I have to work on. I was in speech therapy till I was in fifth or sixth grade, growing up from the time I started talking about that. So that was kind of little hurdle for me to think about, actually doing a podcast where this is recorded and people might be listening. I was good to work through that hurdle. I got some really good coaching. Andrew Warner that does mixergy was the first one. Of course, he's awesome. Mixergy is a great source for anyone interested in founder stories of companies. He does an excellent job interviewing. Then Alex Bloomberg, who started Gimlet, that Spotify picked up awhile ago. I don't know him personally, but he had a course on Creative Live that I did when I saw he was putting out...

Russ Johns 5:54
That was a great course.

Chad McAllister 5:56
Yep. So that was all helpful, right? That all added some confidence. I actually worked with a voiceover coach, as well, to just work on the voice aspect of it some. But anyhow, that was a probably longer story than you wanted. It started in a motorhome interviewing people in person, and writing about those stories, and then moved to a weekly podcast. And we're at what, as of today, I think 308 published episodes. The interesting thing is some of those interviews I did in the motorhome, they haven't made the podcast yet and they're getting harder to find on my blog, actually, but a lot of them have been written up.

Russ Johns 6:38
Oh, that's fantastic. You know, that brings up so many... I totally resonate with a lot of what you're saying, because I have had so many opportunities to...first of all, I was a musician. I did it on the opposite side of the equation, I was a musician, I traveled in a bus with six guys for probably two and a half years.

Chad McAllister 7:01
A lot of good stories there.

Russ Johns 7:03
There's a lot of good stories there and a lot of history. The other thing was that I really wanted to give you a shout out, applause for going through and pushing through the fear of speaking and opening up a podcast because for your audience, and the longevity that you put into it, Chad, it's an amazing body of work number one, and such a huge value for those that are in the industry. I want to talk about that a little bit. Also, I want to dive in a little bit deeper in this speech therapy, because there are times where I'm on the show and I'm just, you know, I stumble over my words at times, and I'm thinking faster than I'm talking and all of a sudden...there's not the... I'm not pausing, I'm just rambling. I'm thinking to myself, that's not really great content. However, it's practice for me, it's continuing to improve, it's continuing to do something and put something out there every day, even if it's not perfect. It's going out the door. How do you position yourself now that you've done over 300 episodes in six years of work? I mean, do you look back and say, this was a turning point? And are there moments like that, that you think about or things that you notice along the way today?

Chad McAllister 8:36
Yeah, there's been a few key things. The podcast has continued for two reasons, right? My #motivation is, yes, I get to have interesting discussions with #interestingpeople, so in one sense, I'm the kid in the candy store. I think sometimes listeners pick up on that. I'm just loving this discussion. The other other highly motivating reason, too, is I do want to enhance the product management community. When I encountered this discipline called product management, there were people around me that turned me on to information and resources. That was exceptionally valuable to start making some constructs and frameworks around all this. So I want to give back in that sense and just help the product management community and individual product managers improve their own work and improve their career possibilities. Along the way, when you first do this, you wonder how any of it's going, right? You might get some numbers about people downloading, listening, but that's about it. But then, after a while, I started getting the occasional email about people listening and finding it valuable. I was at a conference and someone came up to me and said that she had listened to every episode from the very beginning. I started running into some of these fans of the podcast and the information. Then I got an email from, I had a few of these, the first email I got was something like, you know, I've been in product management, but I haven't had an interview for a job. My first interview was terrible and I started listening to your podcasts, and really figured out a way to present myself much better. Or people that would email and say, you know, I've been wanting to get into product management, but I didn't really know what everything was about and your podcast has helped me understand it so much. Getting those messages back that this is actually offering value is a lot of #motivation to keep doing it.

Russ Johns 10:29
I know how I feel when I get those kind of messages. When you go to a conference, and you don't know anyone, and people come up to you and say, hey, I've been listening to your podcast, or watching you online, or we're connected, in some way, shape or form.

Chad McAllister 10:51
The last time I spoke at a conference, I just asked the question, does anyone listen to the Everyday Investor podcast? And about a third of the people in the room raise their hand and it's like, wow.

Russ Johns 11:07
I think we seldom understand what kind of impact we can actually make on the world, as an individual. I have been teaching and sharing this idea for years, and it's like you are the media, you have an opportunity to share your gifts with the world. Never before in the history of mankind that we know of, has this opportunity presented itself. So being out there, it takes a lot of courage and a lot of tenacity at times, because there's probably some days where you're thinking, ah, I might want to skip this week. It's like, no, I'm not gonna skip this week. So how do you navigate through those ups and downs in podcasting for six years?

Chad McAllister 12:03
It really goes back to the #motivation for me. Interesting discussions, and then wanting to bring value. I would feel like I was letting down people that listen, if there wasn't a new episode out each week. So we try to make sure that we haven't missed in six years, we've published something of quality each week. One thing to keep in mind, as you're talking about this, another milestone in my head, for people that might be listening and thinking about, I really want to have more influence on others, but I don't think I'm that person. I still really see myself as that person, I'm just trying to share some value. But there was a point when I was always the person that would go to Barnes and Noble back when we actually went to bookstores more and walk the stacks a little bit. I started moving over time, to more innovation and product management and business sections, and grab books, go to the little coffee shop at Barnes and Noble, sit there and look a little bit. I read a lot. I remember, there was a point where I started thinking, wow, what this author is saying is really good, but I think about this aspect a little bit differently. When I started recognizing that, I was thinking about things, maybe in a slightly different way. I thought, maybe there's some value and telling others about that perspective.

Russ Johns 13:32
Absolutely. For those that are in the audience or may be listening in the future, explain what product management is and the range of what that actually covers in the business world.

Chad McAllister 14:13
Absolutely, with my hat on these days, I teach courses on these topics at universities, and also help companies and individual product managers excel.

Russ Johns 14:23
You have a program that I'd like to mention, too.

Chad McAllister 14:25
Yeah, we can talk about that, too. But one of the courses is an MBA course on strategic product innovation. I'm always surprised how many students come to this course and say, I don't know the first thing about developing a product, right? Well, first, let's go to this course, so we can learn something new together. But all of us are product professionals. Because all of us have this ability of going to the store and looking at the products on the shelf, and somehow making a judgment about what we're going to buy. So when it comes to determining what products give us value, somehow we're good at that, we can judge that. We can experience the product and go, oh, this isn't what I was expecting. We can judge that it's not giving us the value that we wanted. So as consumers, we're all really good as product people in judging value, what product managers do is they try to create something of value for customers, right? So we're just on the other side of that doing exactly the same thing. Trying to understand your problem with some task you're trying to accomplish, some problem that you want solved, a job you're trying to get done, some unmet need that exists out there. Frankly, you might not even be truly aware of this unmet need. A lot of us that experienced the iPhone for the first time, it's like, we have smartphones already. What, yeah, my Blackberry. Right. And I was really fast on the BlackBerry with the little thumb, on the keyboard, whatever, yeah, it was awesome. Then the iPhone comes out, and we're like, ooh, that's pretty, that's really cool, right? So sometimes there's product people where we are going, hopefully, we are going deeper to understand some of these needs that people might not even quite be aware of, but they would appreciate if we delivered this new value to them. That's what product managers fundamentally are doing. They're trying to understand the problem that customers have, that's not being met yet. And then we're working with a team of, depending on whatever the problem is, maybe developers, engineers, manufacturers, marketing, sales, and together creating something to provide a solution that creates value for that customer.

Russ Johns 16:51
I love that ,Chad, and I love the fact that you said, we're all product managers at some level, we just don't have the awareness and we may not have the responsibility for creating project products out of nothing, so product market fit and marketing and product development, and you know, even software development, I guess, could have product managers. So the range is massive. We have a question from the community here. Mark, who has several podcasts, says, after 300 episodes, what does Chad wish he would have done differently in the beginning of his podcasting career? That's a great question, Mark.

Chad McAllister 17:43
Thanks for the jumping in. Great question, Mark.

Russ Johns 17:48
Thoughts, observations?

Chad McAllister 17:49
I think I stumbled into doing a lot of things right from the beginning, which was helpful. Not without any grand plan, right? Because there was no grand plan, it kind of evolves. But getting connected, and I don't believe he's doing this anymore, so it won't help to go look, but Andrew Warner, he put out once, hey, I'm gonna do this course on how to interview people. It was the first time he did it, got to meet him and work with him on that. that was exceptionally helpful to think about that. I had already been following mixergy, kind of as a model. so I did a lot of things that I just needed to do to even take the first step that helped. But I think the key thing that probably has evolved for me over the time, is being a little bit more comfortable. Just having the discussions, being self conscious about words, and stumbling on them and not using the right ones all the time, and not always pronouncing them correctly, when I do use them. And saying, um, like I just did, right? Just be a little more comfortable in my own skin about, okay, it's not gonna be as polished as I probably would like for it to be, but we're gonna have a good discussion, and we're gonna create value for people.

Russ Johns 19:08
Well, and I know that there are plenty of people out there that, at least for myself, I have producers, and I have people that support me, that give me clues that say, hey, Russ, you know, hold back on the "you knows." And can you just ask one question at a time? All of these things seem so trivial, yet so critical to making a great piece of content. It needs to be clear to understand and because I take this show, and I create a podcast from it and I create a transcription from it, it has to kind of evolve to multiple different outputs. So the better that I can produce it the first time, the more productive the second, the third time will be. So that's amazing.

Chad McAllister 20:09
You learn a lot in the process.

Russ Johns 20:11
Yeah, it's a process. It's a process. Howard also says, what a great Friday topic. How do you best balance an innovation on timing of what and when the market may need it? Which is a brilliant question, Howard. Howard, actually, is involved in products.

Chad McAllister 20:29
Thanks, Howard, for sitting in. Appreciate the question. First, we can't always get this right. So you know, the one thing is, we always need to be investigating problems that customers are having and how we can create new value for them. Some of those projects aren't going to be worth continuing forward, so we kind of place bets. Ideally, an organization should have a team that is doing that and working on new ideas periodically, and periodically vetting those to see which ones deserve added resources to keep moving forward or not. The other piece of that is I'm a big fan of trends. A lot of people know the tool of SWOT looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I always add an extra T, we should cover trends and opportunities and threats, but sometimes it gets left out. So I added an extra T just to highlight this, that trends impact a lot of what customers are receptive to, new problems that they're having, and things that may have died away. Like there was a company, what's their name? Market Scape. I think marketscape. What should be the sales logic of today that they should have, they should have been rolling the CRM market, the customer relationship management market. But at the time, this thing called SAS was happening Software as a Service, right? And they were coming out with a new, very good CRM solution. But it was under the model we had previously, kind of this will sell you the software up front, and we'll come install it and the big purchase up front

Russ Johns 22:03
Client server.

Chad McAllister 22:05
Yep, exactly and sales logic was catching on to the software as a service tread and saying, hey, we're going to build something that uses that model. Instead, it's all cloud based. We do things for you, we kind of leased you the software on a per user basis, it doesn't cost nearly as much up front. And marketscape is a name that we know it off, because they know that tread,

Russ Johns 22:28
it's not Salesforce at all.

Chad McAllister 22:31
Yeah. I think either you need to be doing this or have someone helping to do this. Be aware of the trends that are impacting your industry, the ones that are rising, and the ones that are declining.

Russ Johns 22:45
That's fantastic advice. I want to jump in and change directions here, because I want to make sure that we cover this. As busy as you are with the podcast and sharing this information, you're also teaching. You're a professor and then also you teach groups of individuals or organizations on product management and innovation. So that's a course that you have available and talk a little bit about that, Chad, and explain what problem you're solving and what solution you deliver.

Chad McAllister 23:21
Sure, I'll try to give a short story. So I came to product management through a professional organization. They're called pdma, the product development and Management Association. I've been around volunteer based organization for about 45 years now and they've been curating the what I would call the body of knowledge for product managers, these are the things that you should know. When I encountered this thing, before this time, I would have said, I'm a project manager developing products. Then I discovered there were these other disciplines I need to know about inside product management. That was exceptionally helpful for me. They have a professional certification. I studied for that with a group of people, because we were just kind of curious, what did they say about product management? We studied together to earn the certification to answer that question for ourselves. And it was so incredibly valuable. I had these big aha moments that they helped me connect information that I had left disconnected before. I just started helping others prepare for that certification, I just continued the study group process. And then Praxair, they they do gas. If you need oxygen or any kind of gas, they might see Praxair trucks going down the road some of the time carrying gas to people. One of the people in the study group had a similar experience that was super valuable and said can we come do something like that for the product managers at Praxair? So let's try it out. See how that works. We did that and ended up doing a group for their product managers. Once a year, as they brought on new product managers each year and really saw how it was helping them be better product managers and make better contributions to the organizations and help them be more innovative, and started offering that sort of group to other companies. So today in either the name but finally got a name a couple years ago, it's called the RPM experience the rapid product mastery experience. It's for a group of product managers, or maybe a product team that wants to improve their work individually as product managers and improve the work they do together and how they contribute to the organization. From the very beginning, it's been designed to be virtual. Now with so much remote working going on that works particularly well for people. It works really well for people that are geographically located in other parts. So most of these groups have people coming from multiple time zones. But pick a group of product managers and organization at all levels, we've had had senior directors and VPS, down to new product managers. Over the course of nine weeks, we meet for an hour and 15 minutes each week, just a zoom meeting or another web conference tool. And we're exploring together that body of knowledge that I first discovered from pdma, and is now updated every couple years, and helping them learn how to work together better, because they're sharing their own insights with each other in these groups, which almost never happens in the company. Writers tend to not talk to other product managers a lot. This gives us a chance to talk differently and learn from each other and share information to maybe break down some barriers or silos exist in the organization. They're all learning fundamental knowledge share, they're getting on the same page together, and wrestling with these concepts. Really taking ownership of how those concepts apply to the work they're doing. So we see real change coming about through these RPM groups. And I just love it, I just love seeing how people think about the information and apply it to their organization and speaking on themselves.

Russ Johns 27:07
It sounds as if and I would anticipate that by bringing these these product managers together in a in a course like this, it also spurs and the side effect would be better teamwork across the organization, because all of a sudden you're having conversations with individuals about a related subject. Everybody's talking and thinking along the same lines and all of a sudden, oh, I didn't realize that you were thinking that way. Now I can relate to you. That's a common thread that all of a sudden ties everyone together. So it's a huge value.

Chad McAllister 27:47
Yeah, it's surprising how often I hear, usually after five or six sessions, someone says, you know, what we're learning is great, but we never talk with each other like this. A lot of groups will continue on and do a brown bag, virtual lunch session, or if they're in person when they could be and, and continue once a week or once a month discussion, because they're learning so much from each other.

Russ Johns 28:14
Yeah, I recognize that so many times in with engineers in the past working with them. It's great to be able to have a conversation where they're not solving a problem immediately. I mean, it's not a crisis or anything like that, they can actually relax and have conversation with each other. It's so inviting, innovative in itself. So if anyone's out there that's looking forward to improving their team, improving their organization and their product management, definitely connect with Chad and get involved in that class because Chad's a phenomenal individual. I've known him for a little while no. and I highly recommend that you get engaged with that.

Chad McAllister 29:04
Thanks. So I just want to click the easy way to do that. The podcast is the Everyday Innovator and if you go to the, they'll find out about the RPM experience,

Russ Johns 29:17
All those links will be in the show notes as well. You can find that by tonight or later today at

Chad McAllister 29:27
You're very efficient. Russ.

Russ Johns 29:32
I just want to give a shout out to some of the individuals that have joined us today, Chad. Glenda is here, Mark has joined us, Pipe Dream Solution, Gabriel, Nick, Cathi Spooner is here. Thank you so much for being here, Cathi. Some of these are already pirates. Mike Baker's in the room. Kenyatta, you know Kenyatta. Glenda, and JD, Wendy. Wendy is in the room. Good morning pirates. Welcome Chad. Almost, Russ, yeah, she's almost here. So I just really appreciate the fact that we had this opportunity to connect and have this conversation, Chad. For everyone, I know you're on LinkedIn, you're on a few social media channels. So what channel do you like people to use to connect with you?

Chad McAllister 30:37
Yeah, LinkedIn is the best place. So my apologies if I haven't responded to your message recentlyI've been sick for about five weeks and I'm way behind on too many things. But LinkedIn is the place to go. And, Russ, if i can, I always conclude my podcast with asking the guest for an innovation quote. What I thought was so interesting just about your podcast and the work that you do, you know, podcast, sorry, pirate radio, the #PirateBroadcast™ syndicator. There's a great quote from Steve Jobs, I don't know if you're aware of it, where he said it's better to be a pirate than to be in the Navy. The context was it's better to have control, and maybe be a little bit of a rebel, but have control of what you're doing and not have the bureaucracy of the organization that doesn't let you do what you want to do. So pirate has some good history there.

Russ Johns 31:33
Absolutely, I believe that the pirates are a little out of the box. I actually had this meeting with a CIO. At one point in time in my career, they drew a box on a piece of paper and they said, Russ, this is us. Then he drew a circle on the outside, he said, this is you. We need you to get back in the box. So any any legacy advice that you want to leave with us today, Chad, before we sign off for the week?

Chad McAllister 32:07
Well, I just love the spirit of the work that you do, always encouraging others and looking on the bright side of things. I'm a person that tends to see the silver lining and in any given situation, even what we've been dealing with, with the pandemic, and there's going to be good innovation that comes out of this. People are being much more reflective than they often have the opportunity to be. There's some necessity, creating this need for innovation as well. So I'm very hopeful about the future and want to encourage others also.

Russ Johns 32:41
Yeah, fantastic, fantastic. And, as always, deep, thoughtful challenge always bring the best opportunities around. So thank you, Chad. As always, it's been a pleasure. I look forward to having a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend. For those that are listening, thank you so much. I really appreciate you, all the gratitude in the world and wish you all the best on your adventures. Also, as you know, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree and you #enjoytheday. Don't go away, Chad, take care.

Exit 33:27
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