Product evangelist John Cutler on becoming a catalyst for change

There’s more to being a product evangelist than just advocating for a product. Today’s guest believes focusing on the work culture and systems surrounding the R&D org is just as important.

When people think about a product evangelist, they tend to think of someone who knows the product like the back of their hand, who sings its praises and leaves a trail of loyal fans anywhere they go. Someone whose job it is to create a cult surrounding a product. They’re not wrong, of course. But there’s more to the role than meets the eye. And that’s exactly why John Cutler is joining us today.

John isn’t your average product manager. In his twenties, he stumbled through a number of quirky jobs – from working in a kids TV show to touring the US with a van with friends and creating an obscure bartending video game – until eventually, he got into product management. He quickly realized that what drew him wasn’t necessarily the product org itself, but the systems surrounding it. He found himself wanting to lend a helping hand to anyone struggling, to nudge communication along if it needed a bit of facilitation, and advocate for better ways of working together. Today, he’s an active voice within the product management community and a product evangelist at the product analytics platform Amplitude, and it fits him like a glove.

For John, it doesn’t matter how good the product is if the systems around it are broken. It’s the product evangelist’s job to combine the knowledge of the role, the systems, and the product, and make sure all of these pieces work nicely together. It’s about solving difficult problems, asking the why’s, and exploring new ways of moving forward. As his Twitter bio reads, he quite likes “the beautiful mess of product development.”

In this episode, our own Product Manager Mathew Cropper sat down with John to chat about what it means to be a product evangelist and how product management can be a force of change within an organization.

Short on time? Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Don’t just push a way of doing things. Start with the why. Why does it matter for the business, for investors, for the community, or people on your team?
  • Focus on the solution, not the problem. It’s a lot easier for ideas to be well received if you bring up ways to improve X instead of trying to have everyone agree it’s a problem to begin with.
  • Get a lot of people and diverse perspectives involved earlier on, and then, depending on the nature of the work, decide which collaboration patterns make more sense going forward.
  • Customer success, support, and sales teams can be great allies in providing good insights or helping make higher-quality decisions. Putting together cross-functional groups can be a great way to work collaboratively and empower everyone to have an impact in the organization.
  • Today, it’s easy to have too much knowledge and not enough skill. It takes practice to go up the ladder, so, no matter where you work, figure out a way to get reps in.

If you enjoy our discussion, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube or grab the RSS feed in your player of choice. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.

Stumbling upon product management

Mathew Cropper: John, you’re very welcome to the show. We’re absolutely delighted to have you with us. Before we get into it, I’d love it if you could tell us a little bit about your journey up to this point. Because it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, right? You’ve worked everywhere, from Viacom to Nickelodeon.

John Cutler: Yeah. Kids’ television is a lot of fun to do. I’d be happy to. This spans a couple decades, but I spent my 20s playing music and trying to start various weird gigs and ventures. I actually had a bartending video game that was published by Simon & Schuster. It was a commercial flop. Still, to this day, there is a German bar owner who keeps a Windows 95 machine going just to play this game to teach his bartenders. So it lives on somehow.

“It’s a product nerd dream job because I basically get to talk to teams all day”

But yeah, I spent my 20s doing the music thing. And when you live in New York City, you have to obviously make some money. And so I started picking up freelance jobs at these big places like Nickelodeon, Viacom, investment banks. That was a crazy job – being in investment banks during the first dot-com boom and bust. You got to read all the investment papers as they came out. I settled down as time went on and started to get increasingly more focused on product management. Through a series of ad tech and what’s called “rich media”, I was trying to persuade people to buy things with interesting layouts for e-commerce, and then I gradually drifted into B2B SaaS as I moved along as a UX researcher and product manager.

So yeah, I lucked out. It was definitely a journey for me through all these paths. Now, I’m at a company called Amplitude. Amplitude focuses on helping teams build better products with product analytics, experimentation, and feature flagging. And it’s a product nerd dream job because I basically get to talk to teams all day. I think I spoke to 1500 product people last year in workshops, so I’m in the matrix right now, for lack of a better phrase.

Mathew: The one thing I absolutely love about product management is that there are so many non-traditional roots to getting into it. Thinking back to all of these roles that were outside of what we might now call product management, are there any big lessons that you learned from that time of your life that help you now when you’re thinking about Product?

“Being exposed to the ups and downs of businesses was certainly foundational. Even to this day, I never take anything for granted”

John: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you’ve been stuck in a van with six other men driving around the United States with tempers flaring and you have to be on stage, and then you have to clean up all the stuff, and half the people are a mess anyway… I was the responsible person who would collect the money afterward: “As long as John has the money, we’ll be good.” I was the de facto tour manager as things became a mess at various points. So you learn about collaborating with creative people, patience, and what it means to be on a team. I’d say that a band is kind of a team, through better or through worse. So one lesson of that is around teamwork.

I mentioned the bank thing was fascinating – being exposed to how a lot of businesses work and the ups and downs of businesses was certainly foundational. Even to this day, I never take anything for granted. I was very excited that Amplitude IPOed recently, but I’m always counting my blessings because I just know it could all fall apart. Amplitude is not going to fall apart, but you get what I’m saying. You get respect for the markets and how things work.

And then, with the work at Nickelodeon and Viacom and things like that: I remember working directly with Cyma Zarghami who, at the time, was the head of Nickelodeon, and in the hours leading up to what they called an “All-Hands presentation,” they did these things called “Upfront,” which is when they pitched their whole new deck and stuff for the year. And just watching a leader like that work and her care and attention to communication… She was there getting coffee for everyone and hanging out with the people doing PowerPoint. Getting to work with those leaders was really humbling, and you could see, “Wow, that leadership is something.” I’ll always remember that moment, just sitting in Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City before The Flaming Lips were going to open up our Upfront and see them as they’re tweaking the words on the slide as we did it. Those are some things that come to mind.

Democratizing knowledge

Mathew: Hearing you talk about working with creative folks and being around leaders that inspire you and stuff, my mind goes straight to your job title at the moment, product evangelist. I’m wondering, what is product evangelism in your eyes? Is it working with creative types? Is it the leadership thing? Is it a mix of all sorts?

John: Well, for me, product evangelism is about communicating trusted expertise and communicating with the practitioners out there in the world. And this takes various sorts. I mean, I don’t know what Intercom does for this at the moment, but for example, a lot of companies have developer relations teams, and I feel that that is a brand of product evangelism. It’s having a special set of expertise that lets you connect with the customers out in the world and think both about your product, and more broadly, about the challenges of that particular role. And so, at its core, product evangelism is about communication, advocacy for the product, and advocating ways of working.

“I was always the person wanting to advocate for better ways of working. Or I would always attract the change agents who wanted to try to change the org, too”

One thing I like to say about Amplitude is that once teams commit to a certain way of working, or at least commit to trying to get there, we’re at a very natural point. This will probably not make the salespeople at my company happy, but I think the product does a really good job of selling itself once teams commit to a certain way of working. I think evangelists and developer relations folks and other people are basically the pairing of knowledge of the ecosystem, knowledge of the role, knowledge of the product, and then just genuinely wanting to help people.

I would say that, as my career progressed, I went through a series of jobs that were challenging and I liked them, but I was always the person wanting to advocate for better ways of working. Or I would always attract the change agents who wanted to try to change the org, too. And now I get to do that professionally instead of being caught on the inside doing that. So it’s a real rush to be able to do that.

Mathew: That’s incredible. I know a lot from just seeing the stuff you publish – there’s the north star framework, the talk you did on thinking big, working small, which really resonates with a bunch of folks here at Intercom; one of our principles is to think big, start small, and learn fast. Does your role have a dual purpose to it? I’m guessing you do a bunch of one-to-one-type stuff, but it sounds like that idea of democratizing knowledge and making it available for everyone is really important to you as well.

“Someone will say, ‘Yeah, but does anyone do that in the real world?’ And I want to say, ‘Yeah. I just spoke to 20 of those teams in the last week'”

John: Oh, absolutely. And Amplitude has been so supportive. I mean, there’s not many people that’ll just be like, “Yeah, just tweet whatever you want to tweet.” I’m long past needing the thing in my Twitter bio that says, “These are my opinions only.” It’s already a mess. I mean, it’s such an overlap with the company, the product, and the space. So yeah, that’s one thing that came to mind with that question; I do believe strongly in giving and just putting stuff out there.

I have also really enjoyed being a full-time employee at companies and doing it or being very close to doing it and sharing that information. Twitter’s a great example – someone will say, “Yeah, but does anyone do that in the real world?” And I want to say, “Yeah. I just spoke to 20 of those teams in the last week. Yes, yes. This is really hard. Some people do a good job of it, and here’s what you can learn from it.” So there is a bit of that democratizing information. I think it’s challenging to get the perspective from across the industry about how things really work sometimes. So I do my best.

Being an agent of change

Mathew: One of the frequent conversations we have in the product team here at Intercom is, “Are we doing enough to share what we’re learning to help bring everyone along on the journey?” That kind of thing. If someone’s listening to this and they’re wondering, “Hey, what can I do within my own sphere of influence, in my universe, around sharing that knowledge and learning from others?” Are there any pro tips you’ve shared with others before that would be useful for someone like that?

John: Oh, I can talk about all the mistakes I’ve made. I mean, let’s start with some of the mistakes and what not to do. The first thing is to not become identified with the way. It’s very easy to pigeonhole people when they say, “We’ve got to do design sprints,” “We’ve got to use OKRs,” or “We’ve got to be more data-driven.” And it’s very easy to marginalize that person. If you don’t quite agree with them, it’s very easy to put them in a box. And second of all, frankly, it’s not great advocacy. You have to start with the “why.” Why does it matter for the business? Why does it matter for investors? Why does it matter for the community or people on your team?

“Don’t get caught up being the ‘way’ person. Really try to focus on why this matters for you when you’re doing it”

I was speaking with someone recently, and they’re like, “No one in my company wants to try anything I’m talking about.” And I said, “Well, why does it matter to you?” And they said, “Well, one, I’m bored. And two, I don’t like seeing people around me who have creativity and that creativity’s not being tapped into. And three, I really think we can do something easy here as a business.” And so I tried to nudge them towards, “Well, start there.” Those things are really important. Engaging the creative problem solvers in the business, the impact for the business in the long term… How are you going to do it, what are some ideas you have? I think that’s the most critical tip. Don’t get caught up being the “way” person. Really try to focus on why this matters.

And the second thing is that I think a lot of change agents and system-thinking types are a little hesitant about going in with a solution. They really want other people to agree that it’s a problem, agree and talk with them about it. And I got stuck in that a lot throughout my career. People would say, “Bring me solutions, not problems,” and that was my kryptonite because I would always say, “Well, how can I bring you solutions if we can’t agree on what the problem is?” And it didn’t quite compute to me until I saw some really good change agents that there is a fine balance to walk there. There’s an ability to walking in and say, “I heard what you said at the quarterly meeting about how important it is for this segment of customers to be successful, and it really got me curious about what we could do in product to impact that. I’d love to see X happen more, and I’ve thought of a couple options on ways we could do that,” list them, “but it would be important to me to get a group of smart people together and think of some ideas ourselves.” That’s so much more graceful.

I could go on and on about it because I’ve made all these mistakes, and I still make them to this day, although fewer of them, I think. Being a change agent internally is very difficult. I would end on that one thing that you have to get peace with yourself first. Why is this important to you? Are you bored? Do you feel unappreciated? Do you feel your expertise is not respected? That is hard stuff to grapple with, but you’ve got to start there. Because if you can’t come to peace with those things, everything you say is going to be tinged with that – people pick up on that. So you might as well lean into that if that’s where you’re going. You have to connect with yourself first.

“Change agents are people who become a catalyst for change in the organization, who want to help nudge things forward or advocate for other people who want to do that, too”

Mathew: That really resonates with me, absolutely. I’m curious, you’ve mentioned a couple of times the idea of change agents. For folks who are listening and wondering, what does that mean to you when you say that?

John: That kind of goes to getting to peace with yourself. I think some people are dialed in to want to improve things. For example, as someone who’s dialed in, when I see anyone in the org struggling or having trouble, I zero in on that really quickly. For whatever reason, everyone has their own stories about why we go into this. But in general, to me, change agents are people who become a catalyst for change in the organization, who want to help nudge things forward or advocate for other people who want to do that too. It’s not just the change agent with their own agenda. Sometimes, they just naturally pick up on the energy of other people and want to help that happen. So yeah, it’s a big topic. I think that change agents may even not be the right word. It’s just someone predisposed to wanting to nudge things forward. I think we’re all change agents at something in what we’re doing somewhere. Maybe we’re just all change agents in our own way.

Better ways of working together

Mathew: I love the idea that you allude to there which is that there are a couple of roles in this, like me as someone who wants to see a change or make a change happen, and then my manager potentially being an enabler for all of that. I know you’ve written a lot before on all kinds of different topics around that need to start together and work together. Often, we’re talking about that through solving a problem kind of lens, but it applies here as well, I think. What does starting together really mean for you, and what does good look like?

John: This is something I’ve been rattling on about for years now, and it started with just wanting to get more people together to tackle a problem. And then, it morphed into this starting together, and then I started saying, “Starting together, work together, finish together.” But the theme there is together. And I think what happens, especially during this trying time, is that there’s a tendency to be very nervous about getting people together. You might have one or two people try to figure out the problem and then craft it, and then they come together with another group of people, and then they add more onto it, and it goes along. And I think that, in general, my bias is to get more people involved earlier.

“When I talk about starting together, I am talking about getting more diverse perspectives in the room further upstream, allowing the space to be more divergent instead of convergent”

The big challenge, I think, is that it puts a lot of pressure on product managers and other folks to be great facilitators. You probably know who I’m talking about, but there was a person at Zendesk when we were there called Nishanth. And Nishanth had this rule that he would spend one hour per person prepping for meetings that were really important and bringing lots of people together. And when Nishanth told me that, I thought, “Oh my goodness, that means if we get 15 people together, you’re going to spend all this time prepping? 15 hours?” And he was really deliberate about it.

When I talk about starting together, I am talking about getting more diverse perspectives in the room further upstream, further when that problem is being shaped, allowing the space to be more divergent instead of convergent, not just bringing people together to agree on X, but bringing people to explore what even X should be. And it goes without saying, be interested in their thoughts on it. You need great facilitation, you need psychological safety, and you need a number of other things to make those activities work.

Mathew: The group I work in at Intercom has grown rapidly over the last few months. And the interesting thing we’ve been working through and thinking a lot about recently is: for complex work that we’re doing maybe across a team or two, what does being purposeful about collaboration look like? How are the right people involved at the right time? How do we not overwhelm people by having them too involved in all of the in-the-weeds things? Do you see a difference in how people approach this when they’re operating at a large scale versus in a three or four-person startup?

“What’s the nature of this work? What’s the shape of this work? And what collaboration patterns do we need to make it effective without biasing yourself one way or the other?”

John: Oh, absolutely. People imagine that it’s one thing or the other, but when you look at really high-performing teams, they make explicit working agreements around this stuff. And so you might see, for example, a group of 40 people gets together for one or two days, and then there’s an agreement to branch off, and small groups focusing on things together, and individuals focusing on things together. I think that the trick is not feeling like it has to be one way or the other all the time. If you’re facing some gnarly architectural problem that would really benefit from two or three people sitting and banging on a whiteboard for a whole day, “Okay. That sounds like a good idea.” Not everyone needs to be there, nor would it be fair to them to be there.

But at the same time, you might say, “Well, okay, these folks are going to sit down with the whiteboard for three to five hours. What data do they need to make great decisions? Ah, a broader group of people has that data. So let’s get the broader group of people together for a well-facilitated activity for an hour or two with the explicit agreement that that will get these architects going and doing what they need to do.” People often think they have to run product development the same way all the time, that they need to run all the sprints the same way, all the quarters the same way, and all of the goals the same way. And in reality, I’ve never met a team that was just working in one way on everything.

“If you diverge all the time, you’ll drive people crazy. If you converge too early, you run the risk of taking the life out of the effort”

There are many shapes of work. So what I would encourage people to do is just be very disciplined about thinking, What’s the nature of this work? What’s the shape of this work? And what collaboration patterns do we need to make it effective without biasing yourself one way to the other? If you diverge all the time, you’ll drive people crazy. If you converge too early, you run the risk of taking the life out of the effort and making it not very creative. This is the balancing act of creativity, and you have to dance with it. You have to take it in and not apply a cookie-cutter approach.

Mathew: One of the things that have been in my mind is this idea around folks being empowered to think that way. Because quite often, in all kinds of companies I’ve worked at, we give people blunt tools for things like, “Oh, define a DACI or a RACI of who’s responsible for which bits.” And it’s a very blunt tool because it stops you from thinking about those individual interactions and activities and thinking about what might be appropriate.

John: I know exactly what you mean. I mean, look, there’s nothing wrong with people coming up with these models for decisions or whatever. But I was amazed. I was chatting with a team, and they showed me some roles and responsibilities. I was looking at it, and I was like, “Oh, okay, this is interesting.” And then I asked them the question, “Hey, with this type of work, what information do you need to make good decisions at the right time and at the right pace?” And then they get started listing, listing, listing: “Well, we have to know if we’ve worked with that persona before. We have to know if this is a huge area of technical debt. We have to worry if this is touching a part of the architecture we don’t know about,” and on and on. What started out as a list of five roles and responsibilities turned into a list of 100 things they were taking into account for this effort. And so, instead of starting with RACI, they should have started with what a solid discussion would’ve been for that.

Seeing it through

Mathew: I want to jump back a little bit to something we talked about a second ago, which was the whole start together, work together, finish together. I’m curious about the “finish together” part. For a cross-functional product team, for example, what does that look like and why is it important?

John: I haven’t worked that one out. That’s the end of the triumvirate. What I was trying to get at with finish together is that you get this poor team that delivers something and then a poor marketing team is sitting there trying to market it. Or they’ve thrown it over the wall to someone else. When you’re bringing closure to an effort, you really need to think about what you’re bringing closure to. And there’s a little bit of loss associated when you finish something. There’s a little bit of letting go.

“How do you bring closure to efforts in a way that leaves people feeling satisfied or that they’ve had an impact?”

This is a really important thing to think about for teams where the team is stuck in this endless hamster wheel of shipping all these things and they never bring closure to the efforts. They never meet with the downstream teams that are responsible for marketing it or supporting it. That’s what I was trying to get at with finishing together. How do you bring closure to efforts in a way that leaves people feeling satisfied or like they’ve had an impact?

Mathew: Absolutely. Quite often, when we think about these topics, we think about the product and R&D teams, product managers, designers, engineers, product marketing. Do you have any thoughts on thinking beyond that to folks who might work in support, success, or outbound sales? What does starting together and working together mean when you think about that broader organizational dynamic?

John: This is an interesting one because, especially in SaaS, I tend to think of the whole company as the product. I know Intercom enables support folks and other folks to be amazing, but in some ways, your product is the epitome of that. You’re actually turning these people into part of the product in a very literal sense. It might be very utopian, but when I look at customer success or sales, I keep thinking, “Are they empowered to experiment on how they’re working? Do they set strategies and can they run experiments to do that?” The reality is that a lot of those teams are not as empowered as product folks. The designers and developers are the rock stars of the company. Meanwhile, all these customer success folks are out there day in, day out making customers successful. These teams could benefit from working this way, and they’re often not empowered to do that. I would love to see that change.

Product folks don’t know how good they have it sometimes. When we think about a cross-functional pod of people, it would be great to extend that further to a customer success pod, some kind of support pod, and a documentation pod. Although that’s not your full-time team, and it’d be hard to keep 60 people in your head at all times, I think the product team could lead the way in that sense of reaching out to those groups to think about what it really means to release and support something end-to-end. Those folks are capable of it and they don’t get to do it a lot. And they’re in the midst of it, churning out the dollars. We have to be empathetic to them.

“Most people, if they got a little bit of advanced notice, would welcome the idea of a cross-functional group”

Mathew: Absolutely. There’s this conflict in priorities that you might see in some companies where, as you say, somebody in sales, for example, is grinding it out, trying to hit the target for the month or the quarter, and then you’ve got some product team, R&D, reaching out and trying to steal some of their time to do what might be perceived as fluffy exploratory stuff. How have you seen people make that work in a good way?

John: I think it comes to being intentional. And again, back to great facilitation, batching things up, and doing a good activity around it, or getting people involved. I mean, I’m as bad as anyone with this. Just before this call, I tapped one of our customer success folks on the shoulder and said, “Hey, I’m working on this capability model. Can you just add a couple things?” I’m not great at this, I should have been more thoughtful and engaged those folks in a focused activity. And frankly, work with managers and other folks on their side to make sure everyone has this as a part of their job description. Most people, if they got a little bit of advanced notice, would welcome the idea of a cross-functional group. If you can figure out how to make it part of their job description for a period of time and then free yourself to do good facilitation and engage them in the activities, a little bit of forethought can go a long way, and discipline with facilitation can go a long way.

One thing a lot of folks in product don’t realize is that people in sales and customer success are always adapting their strategies. They’re always eager to understand personas better. You’d be surprised how often the goals of the two groups align, whether it’s about learning about personas, thinking about a strategy, or trying to figure out where there are friction points. If you can find the right moment and help carve it out as part of their day job, that’s the ultimate thing. Those folks are really busy. And they’re really smart, so you obviously want to work with them.

“Back to the thing of starting together and working with these other groups: Where can those folks help? Can they provide insights at the right time? Can they help make higher-quality decisions?”

Mathew: I remember you wrote about the product outcomes formula. I’m wondering if that is a useful tool to help people think about this stuff and work together in that way.

John: The product outcomes formula is pretty simple – our outcomes are a function of the breadth of the data we have, the usability of that data, the quality and rate of our insights, and the quality and rate of our action. And it’s basically saying that, at some point, you’ll have a constraint somewhere in that system. Some companies are swimming in data, but it’s not very usable. Some companies have usable data, but it’s pretty siloed and no one can get at it. Some companies have extremely skilled analysts and so the quality is high, but they can’t distribute data-informed decision making. Some companies are doing all of that, but they’re sitting in a mountain of technical debt and they can’t act at all. And other companies are shipping way faster than they learn. They’ve got the shipping thing down just fine, but their product decisions aren’t great as they’re going through.

Back to the thing of starting together and working with these other groups: Where can those folks help? Can they provide insights at the right time? Can they help make higher-quality decisions, which would mean getting closer to the problem? Fewer proxies is a good way to think of it. And I always tell teams to think the constraint will move around. That’s one of the challenging things about product and life in general. Once you’ve dialed in usable data, it pushes the constraint to the rate of insights. And once you’ve dialed that in, it pushes the constraint to the rate of action. And you’re always juggling between those.

Putting in the work

Mathew: Awesome. Is there any advice you’d give to anyone thinking about starting or moving up in their product management career?

John: Well, I think the general thing is you have to get your reps in, and this is one of the most challenging things for a lot of these really talented folks who are in organizations that don’t really have the “think big, work small” thing worked out. They’ll work for four years somewhere, and then they’ll try to get a job somewhere else, maybe a tech company they think they want to work at, and during the interview process, they will bomb. They’re looking for behaviors: “Can you walk us through some decisions, a strategy, what you did, and what the outcome was?” And they’ll say, “Well, I was actually dealing with so much dysfunction.” But you don’t say that in the interview, so you gasp a little bit and you think about it.

“Wherever you are, my advice is to figure out, at a level that’s realistic for your organization, a way to get those reps in”

The most important thing is that it doesn’t really matter where you’re working. You should make an effort or try, at least, to carve out some boundary where you can get the reps in. And the difference is phenomenal. You meet people who are like, “Well, over the last four years, I shipped two things. They took a year at a time,” or something. And then you meet people who are like, “Oh yeah, I can talk about 10 or 15 key product decisions and loops that we’ve made.” So wherever you are, my advice is to figure out, at a level that’s realistic for your organization, a way to get those reps in.

And this is why, frankly, I really like working in Amplitude because there are products that help at least make the measurement easier. It might seem dire at the moment, but I think you can carve out a place to get your reps in. And I mean full-cycle reps – from getting a sense of what’s going on to identifying a leverage point, to thinking about how you’ll intervene at that leverage point, and with who, and the persona to delivering something, and then reflecting on the outcomes, and then looping it back into the system. You have to get as many of those reps as possible to be better as a product manager.

“I tell them, ‘Look (…) You have way too much knowledge now not enough skill. So you need to figure out how to get loops in and get the reps into practice'”

In some ways, I feel guilty because I feel, at the moment, we’re swimming under a fire hose of product manager advice. There’s so much FOMO, and there are so many people thinking, “I’m never going to be good enough. I’m never going to be able to consume all these very pristine, three-point lists all the time.” I tell them, “Look, that’s because your rate of progress is also determined by your ability to practice. You have way too much knowledge and not enough skill. So you need to figure out how to get loops in and get the reps into practice.” It’s a tough thing in many cases, but that’s the advice I’ve been giving lately.

Mathew: That’s incredible advice. To bring the chat to a close, what’s next for you? Do you have any big plans or projects for this year? Any plans for a follow-up to Last Call?

John: Yeah, no plans for following up with Last Call at the moment. This year, at Amplitude, I’m working on a digital optimization capability model, which is not a maturity model, but it’s a way for teams to self-assess where they’re at in particular journeys – these types of more impact-focused journeys. And that’s exciting. It’s getting me in front of a lot of teams. Another big thing on my plate this year is that I think that the analytics world and the product world often get a little bit divided, and people will come in and say, “Well, what should we track?” It’s very disconnected. That’s one of my puzzles for this year; how to bring those together so we can talk more about the real world of measurement versus just this hypothetical dream state of analytics. So real-world product analytics is on my plate for this year, too.

Mathew: That’s awesome. And lastly, where can our listeners go to keep it with you and your work? Do you want to drop your socials?

John: Yeah. @JohnCutlefish on Twitter. As a parent, I’m usually up at 3:00 AM like, “Hey, how’s it going?” That’s pretty much the best way to keep track of things at the moment. I’m not a professional content creator, so I just use what’s easiest. And Twitter’s fairly easy. So yeah, connect with me there or on LinkedIn. And at Amplitude, we’re always eager to chat with people who are grappling with challenges around product and data and stuff. So you can reach me through the Amplitude apparatus just by reaching out to sales or support or something.

Mathew: That’s wonderful, John. I really enjoyed that chat today. Thank you so much for joining us and spending the time. It was really great to chat.

John: Yeah, my pleasure. This was a dream. It finally happened. No more 3:00 AM freakouts when I DM you about some problem I have, so this is great.

Mathew: You can still freak out at 3:00 AM. That’s all good.