Mike Behind the Mic is Product Management

After interviewing 249 thought leaders and executives, Mike Fishbein finally sits down to be interviewed himself. Anuraag Verma, the new host of This is Product Management, asks Mike how he’s applied the lessons he’s learned from past guests to his work and career.

When Mike Fishbein started This is Product Management, alongside Alpha’s now-VP of Product Nis Frome, they had almost no idea what they were doing.

Five years ago, Alpha was a new startup. Mike was consulting for the company. There was no budget for podcasts. And there certainly wasn’t an audience. But based on customer surveys and conversations, Alpha knew a pain point needed to be solved in the nascent field of product management, particularly around experimentation and rapid consumer feedback.

“People didn’t really know what product management was. We identified a need for educational resources, and we thought podcasting would be an interesting medium,” Mike says. “We didn’t know for sure that it would work. Would people consume these resources? Is podcasting the right medium? Very few companies had started a podcast at this time.”

Rather than invest heavily in marketing or production resources, they built the podcast from scratch, relying on experimentation, guest promotion, and listener feedback.

“We recorded three episodes and put them on a landing page on Alpha’s website. We did some promotion, some people in our network shared it, fortunately. And that was it, really. It turned out that the data we had gathered, that people were really craving some resources around product management, turned out to be true beyond the sample that we initially talked to. People were really excited to listen and to share,” Mike says.

From those first three episodes to episode 250, Mike relentlessly iterated to identify and solve listener problems. And it paid off. This is Product Management has been downloaded 2.5 million times and counts 20,000 weekly listeners among its audience. 

“The podcast was an experiment, and it was an interesting opportunity to take what guests talked about and actually apply those lessons to building up the podcast,” Mike says. “I think the key was that we had a pretty well-designed experiment from the start.”

And Mike, who joined Alpha as a consultant, has worn many hats over the years, including content marketer and director of demand generation. But it’s his role as the face of the podcast, and, arguably, product management, that has been perhaps his most influential.

As he moves on to new opportunities, he has some advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps and start something new.

“It's really a long grind. There's going to be failures and ups and downs. It takes a lot of consistency in order to see results,” Mike says. “Beyond that, just enjoy the process, enjoy the process of learning. If it's building a product or a podcast, have a genuine curiosity in who you're building for and what their needs are, what they care about, or what gets them excited.”

In this episode, you’ll learn about experimentation, iteration, and career growth.

Here are the highlights: 

  • How Mike found his way to product management (1:38)
  • Mike’s stories of how the podcast got started and how it grew (2:47)
  • The evolution of product management since the podcast's first episode 5 years ago (7:31)
  • How Mike has incorporated the principles of product management into his life (10:05)
  • Advice for trying something new and experimenting in your career (15:30)

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