This week on Product Love, I talked to Marty Duffy, VP of product at G2. G2 is is the world’s largest tech marketplace where businesses go to discover, review, and manage the technology they need to reach their potential. 

Marty says that he’s a generalist by nature. His strongest suit has always been leadership and problem-solving. The latter naturally drew him to product. 

On this week’s episode, we talked about how Marty hires at G2 (he even provides a homework example!), and how he builds a thriving environment for growth. 

Homework for Product Managers

For Marty, the ideal product manager is someone who is communicative and strategic. Product managers have to work cross-functionally, so it’s obvious that the role requires someone who can clearly communicate their needs to different groups. They also must possess business acumen. Product managers must understand every decision they make and how those decisions impact the business. Not only that, but they also need to have a hard-working attitude and get things done. Marty also mentions he looks for something called “PM essentials” — how mature the candidate is in their product management journey, and how many playbooks they’ve read.

When it comes to interviewing candidates, Marty’s a fan of giving out homework. Here’s a question he’d ask:

You’re a product manager at GoodReads. You’re in charge of tracking the daily active users and raising that number. How would you attack that goal? What information do you need to be successful? What would you do in your first 30-60-90 days? 

The right answer is always the one that reflects the PM’s thought process. Rather than listening to someone who immediately has a strong opinion or answer, he’d much rather hear candidates reveal how they would approach a problem. Marty is much more interested in product managers who say they’re curious about certain factors of the scenario, or how they would draw hypotheses and test from the information provided. Marty just wants to hear curiosity and an eagerness to solve problems — two undeniably important qualities for successful product managers.

Curating the Perfect Environment for Growth

Marty is fixated on building teams full of individuals that balance each other out. Rather than looking for a cookie-cutter product manager to fill his team, he’d opt for individuals who bring something different to the table. But no one is a perfect unicorn.

Instead, it’s about curating a product environment where people can thrive and learn from their weaknesses. That means creating an environment that facilitates strength building. There’s never going to be a PM who does everything perfectly across the board, so it’s up to the leaders to create balance. This means leaders need to audit their team for strengths and weaknesses. 

G2 has 70 product people. That breaks down into small squads of five to seven people. Overall, Marty has found that these individual squads run their pockets very solidly. However, they have to talk to a lot of different stakeholders. That amount of communication makes it hard to go faster, so Marty instituted a weekly meeting. During these meetings, squads can come in and get concise feedback from several different parties at one time and net out conflicts. This allows them to see any overlap or potential blockers.

Want to hear how G2 is tackling the B2B marketplace or how Marty thinks about continuous discovery? Check out the episode above. 

About the Author

Eric Boduch is the Chief Evangelist for Pendo. Previously, he served as the CEO of Brainstorm SMS Technologies LLC (dba SMaSh, Inc.) and was the co-founder and CEO of several other companies. Eric holds a Bachelor of Science from The School of Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a graduate of its Executive Management Program.