Product Camp 2018 Recap

For the 2nd year in a row, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at Product Camp. Product Camp is an annual full-Saturday unconference for product managers organized by an amazing group of volunteers.

Content is provided by volunteers that pitch their topics at the beginning of the day. 20 sessions are offered in total.

Last year, I was voted in with Steve Youngblood to present The Art and Science of Product ManagementSlides from that presentation are posted here.

Prior to the Product Camp event date, participants are asked to submit written session proposals. On the morning of Product Camp, everyone who submitted a session proposal is asked to make a 30-second pitch about their proposed session. If a pitch goes over 30 seconds, Jason Brett fulfills his lifelong dream of blowing a loud air horn to end the pitch. After all of the pitches, all participants vote for their top sessions. The top 20 sessions are scheduled into 5 time slots with 4 simultaneous sessions. It is quite likely that at least 2 of the sessions you voted for will be scheduled at the same time, creating difficult decisions for participants. If you pitch a session, but are not selected, consider this a day full of learning opportunities; learning more about product management, and learning which sessions get voted in. I was honored to both present and attend sessions this year. If your session is voted in, you are to present your session according to the schedule as posted at 10:30 am, after the votes are tallied.

While it was tempting to present our very successful Art and Science of Product Management session again, Steve Youngblood and I wanted to create a brand new and timely session that would be of value for up and coming product managers. We looked at what we were currently working on, challenges, and opportunities. We found that in recent years, the traditional Product Requirements Document (PRD) has gone through an evolution with the introduction of Agile development. Our pitch topic for 2018 Product Camp was, "Creating Requirements: How to Launch a New Project with Limited Info, Time, and Money." We were honored to receive overwhelmingly enough votes to make our presentation. I recorded the full presentation and posted it below.

Next, I pitched a second session, “Behind the Scenes of Women in Wireless.”

Here's my 30-second pitch for Behind the Scenes of Women in Wireless:

Hi, my name is Caroline, last year I was the 1st female president of the Wireless Technology Forum. Now, I am co-founder of Women in Wireless, a group of women helping women. We went from nothing to monthly panel discussions and conducting STEM workshops teaching middle and high school girls how to build computers. Our sponsor has already spent over $100K for our STEM workshops. If you vote us in, we will give you a behind the scenes look at how and why we did it.

Behind the Scenes of Women in Wireless was a presentation followed by a panel discussion / Q&A with Janine Whiteman and Stephanie Foster. Watch the entire session below.

When I wasn't presenting, I had the pleasure of attending 3 other sessions from fellow Product Campers.

I attended David Eckhoff’s presentation on Negotiating as if Your Life Depends On It, How Teams around the World are tracking Assumptions Hypothesis from Alex Sherman, and played PowerPoint Karaoke with Jason Brett.

David Eckhoff won best presenter for his presentations on Negotiating as if your Life depends on It and How to Discover if customers will buy and use your product.

My favorite session was actually a presentation that I didn’t prepare for. Jason Brett combined Office Space with Who’s Line is it Anyway?, for an audience participation game called, PowerPoint Karaoke.

Jason Brett held the PowerPoint Karaoke session aka Who’s Line is it Anyway? Jason explained that early in his career, he had 1 hour to present a work colleague’s presentation. The feedback from his speech was along the lines of, “speaker seemed unprepared.” From that moment, Jason Brett vowed to think on his feet and help others do the same. Each participant had the opportunity to present 3-6 random slides, with no indication of the next slide. This was the office space version of Who’s Line Is It Anyway. People with improv experience had the advantage in this game. That was not me. I drew upon learning from Adam Sandler’s movie, “Go With It.”

I started my PPT Karaoke presentation by introducing myself and saying my presentation was about,…. Jason Brett flips to the first slide, a picture of a cat.

Since this was Product Management Camp, I had to think on my feet and tie in cats with Product. I said, “My presentation is about cats and why we need more cats in product management. In product management, we are cat herders, and thus we need more cats in product management.”

Next Slide. Man sleeping in a chair. I said, we can learn from our cats, work-life balance habits. Cats nap during the day, and so must product managers.

Next slide. Gorilla on a motorcycle driving down the highway. ”We’re driving down the path of our product roadmap dressed as a gorilla with our cat.”

Next slide simply stated “Healthy Habits” - “Cats have great healthy habits, they eat right, and exercise all of the time. We can learn from that.”

It didn’t matter what slide came up, I was determined to tie it back to why we need more cats in product management.

In the end, it was a day well spent full of learnings, content, and networking. Thank you to the amazing job by the volunteer Product Camp team including Hali Jewell, Nandita Thakur, Jason Brett, Alex Sherman, Janine Whiteman, Francisco Carbonell, and Ann Vu! Thank you to the Product Camp sponsors including Proficientz, Sirius Decisions, Home Depot, UserIQ, pendo, SalesLoft, UserVoice, genuent, General Assembly, Pragmatic Marketing, and Pivotal.