3 Things I Heard at Women in Product 2017

Vanessa Garber
3 min readSep 23, 2017


By @womenpm

Ever been in a room with 1,500 female Product Managers? Well, neither had I until this past Tuesday at the San Jose Convention Center where Women in Product held their 2nd annual WIP conference. The day was jam packed with amazing speakers, keynotes, panels, and networking. It was pretty darned inspirational. While there is a lot I would like to share about the conference, there are 3 quips I jotted down in my notes that seem worth sharing.

1. Use every part of the buffalo.

Slide from WIP2017 Lightening Talks

When thinking about making your product design“mobile first”, teams often assume they are going to design for desktop second. However, phones offer UX options that computers don’t like the accelerometer, camera, and accurate motion tracking.

WeChat (a China-based messaging app, and so much more) has a feature that they call “Shake Shake”. This allows users to shake their phone, and connect with other WeChat users who shake their devices nearby. This is truly a mobile first concept. I’m not sure that this would translate well to a laptop, nor is it intended to.

Takeaway: If you are going to design for mobile, make sure you use every part of the phone in your product thinking.

2. Every interaction is like giving out a Costco sample of yourself.

When Carol Isozaki took to the stage to share her advice on leadership impact and influence, I was surprised to hear her start with snacking analogies, which I 100% support.

She asked the audience if any of us had ever tried a Costco sample, hated it, but still purchased the larger package. The answer was unanimously “no”. She told us to think of every interaction we have with our teams, mentors, managers, and stakeholders as Costco samples of ourselves.

Takeaway: If you only have this one small interaction to represent who you are, you should plan whenever possible for moments to make you look amazing.

3. What people problems are we trying to solve? Not, what company problems are we trying to solve.

Slide by Julie Zhuo

Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook, makes sure to always ask, “What people problem are we trying to solve?” when making products.

She mentioned that products should solve people problems, not company problems. If we are busy addressing business concerns, like revenue and retention, we are not focused on making something that users need and want to interact with.

These problems that our product solve should be human, simple, and straightforward. They should get at the Why.

Takeaway: We, as product managers, should talk about human problems more with our stakeholders and clients.

Do you think Women in Product is a super cool organization? Me too! Check out what they are up to at http://www.womenpm.org/.



Vanessa Garber

Geek, Philosophy Nerd, Hiker, Women in Product Chapter Lead and Product Innovation Leader on Sabbatical