5 Minutes to read
Fabrice des Mazery, CPO at Thiga & Co-founder at La Product Conference
Learning Inspiration 🌈 #53
Fabrice des Mazery is Chief Product Officer at Thiga, the pioneering consulting firm in Product Management & Product Design. Fabrice is also the co-founder of La Product Conference. La Product Conference is the main Product community in France and also the organizer of the annual meeting for “inventive and ambitious Product People to connect, share their experiences, and find the best ways to transform their ideas into reality.” Fabrice started in Product when he crashed his first company. Since then, he started two other companies that he successfully sold. Fabrice led the Product & Growth Department at Deezer, a French unicorn.
Today, he passes on what he has learned about Product by helping others build their own.
Who are the people who inspire you the most?
Pierre Gagnaire: A chef who holds sixteen Michelin stars with three for his main restaurant, self-named, on Rue Balzac in Paris. He inspires me because I see myself in him. I discovered him, several years ago, by chance because I love to cook and I found many similarities between product and the kitchen. I find myself in him because he values emotion above everything else.
He says that he is not the greatest technician, but an inventor, looking towards tomorrow without forgetting about yesterday.
This is the line that I have always followed on the Product side: giving people an experience, for which they are willing to pay. I try to develop products like Gagnaire develops restaurants, keeping the most important in his kitchen: the human relationship, taking care of people, and making them grow.
What are your favorite books?
Orson Scott Card’s Ender Game. This is my favorite book. Since I was thirteen, I have reread it many times. It’s a science-fiction book starring a child, Ender, who finds himself with adult responsibilities. It focuses on the psychology of relationships and battle and the ability to defy established rules to innovate. For many personal reasons, I see myself in Ender, even though he is much more talented than me! I wouldn’t recommend the film adaptations, which left out everything that made the book enjoyable.
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity by Alan Cooper
After my first entrepreneurial failure, I wanted to understand what I had missed. So, I threw myself into books. The Inmates is the first user experience book I’ve read, and it’s thanks to Alan Cooper that I figured out my biggest mistake – failing to understand the difference between buyers and users.
Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan, “the Pope” of Product Management. I read it over ten years ago when the job of digital Product Manager was unknown in France. It was by reading Inspired that I realized that what I was doing was a REAL job!
What are your favorite podcast episodes, and why?
I listen to a lot of podcasts when commuting to work. It’s my learning routine – walking and listening to a podcast.
My favorites are:
- This is Product Management: The guests are some of the brightest minds from various disciplines that power modern product teams.
- Your Undivided Attention on digital ethics.
- Go for Broke: It’s about dotcoms, those bubble-era startups that exploded while in full flight.
How do you remember what you learn 🧠?
I write! Whenever there’s something I’m interested in, I write about it in Evernote. This is my bible. I’m an author, speaker, blogger, and coach, so I feed off the content and the thoughts that inspire me.
Transmitting my learnings to others works perfectly because it forces me to clearly explain concepts to others that are sometimes dense and convoluted. This is the ultimate test; you only really understand if you can teach someone!
What would you tell the 18 years old version of yourself 👼 ?
I would tell him, “stop your bullshit” (laughs). I was lost at the time. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and no paths inspired me. I was as philosophical as I was a scientist. It was incredibly stressful! But looking back, I would tell him mostly that it’s okay. It was because my eighteen-year-old self could not find a path that I was forced to explore and invent one for myself. Then, I realize that it had a name: Product Management. This is how I became happy!
What is the most important thing you learn over the last 12 months?
Tough question! I exclude Covid because I am fed up with the word “resilience.” I’ve learned to apply something that is often said in the product world, which is, “If you’re proud of what you’ve done, you’ve already gone too far.” I agreed to submit my first book in March 2020, which was not the best timing (Covid). I knew it wasn’t perfect; it was read and then rejected. But I did! I’m glad I managed not to be self-critical and live my life to the fullest. And I got back to work on a new version.
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year 💪?
The biggest challenge was writing this book. The second challenge was agreeing to write a second one on “Responsible Product Management.” I apply product -logic to the book. I have chosen to write it “live.” Everyone can freely see what has already been written on a Notion page. It starts raising awareness right away, instead of waiting two years for everything to be over. Now, I take responsibility for the imperfections!
If you were stuck alone on an island and allowed to bring one item, what would it be 🏝?
A notebook because I need to imagine, write, and draw! However, I’m going to be in trouble once there is no more blank paper. A magic slate would be ideal, so I know there is no need for a battery, no need for paper; it’s inexhaustible.
One last word 😊
I am delighted to see that in Product Management, the possibilities for learning have developed incredibly in the space of a few years. There are more and more books, communities, events, and podcasts. Today, someone who wants a career in Product Management has enough resources to learn all their life. I’m terribly happy about it, and it’s an incredible privilege to be able to participate in my small way.
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