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Lessons From The Product Punk Who Revolutionised Popular Music

Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers
Hello fellow punks! 
Welcome to the 12 of you who have signed up for this since the last issue. It’s great to have you on board. Hopefully you’ll stick with me while I figure out what this newsletter is all about.
Here’s this week’s issue ⬇️

It will be mine, oh yes...
In 1954, a saxophone-playing engineer changed the face of popular music forever with an electric guitar he couldn’t even play. 
Here are 5 lessons every product manager can learn from Leo Fender and the birth of the Stratocaster.
You don’t have to dogfood your own product
Despite his name being synonymous with the evolution of the electric guitar, Leo Fender never learned to play. 
Legend has it he couldn’t even tune one, but that didn’t stop him revolutionising the way guitars were designed, built and played. 
You need to have a deep understanding of your market, and your customers
Even though he wasn’t a player, Fender had an intimate knowledge of the challenges facing guitarists in the early 1950s. 
Spending at least a quarter of his working day just talking to musicians meant Fender could build an instrument with the needs of its users at its very heart. 
Solving the problem comes first
Unlike his rivals at Gibson and Gretch, whose electric instruments echoed their old designs, Fender brought a first principles approach to the Stratocaster. 
Instead of just thinking about electrification, Fender focused on the fundamental question of how to improve the experience of guitar playing for the musician. 
When you’ve got a great idea, go with it until it’s proven wrong
Fender’s long-standing colleague George Fullerton said, “If he had an idea to try something, the only way you’d ever change him would be to prove that what he had would not work.”.
Many of Fender’s most important innovations stemmed from ideas he wouldn’t let go of. 
If you love what you do, it’ll never feel like work
The day before his death in 1991 at the age of 81, Leo Fender had been at his workbench doing exactly what he loved.
If you care deeply about the problem you’re solving it’ll never be a chore.
What I've been reading 📚
Tron is more than just a cult sci-fi movie. Forty years after its release, its cinematic representation of our digital future was extraordinarily prescient.
This article digs into the making of the movie and how it anticipated the moral issues we’re now faving with AI, privacy, and the dominance of big tech 🎬
One of the biggest challenges for any product manager without a computer science degrees is how to become technical enough so you don’t feel like an imposter in conversations from your engineers.
This excellent how-to post from Technically‘s Justin Gage provides a step-by-step guide to levelling up your technical skills 🧰
How do I get more technical? - by Justin - Technically
Since Facebook launched its News Feed in 2006, our consumption of online content has been dominated by the never-ending scroll. But are there better alternatives?
This post from New_Public examines some of the ways we could improve social media and online news 🗞
🤔 What comes after the social feed? - New_ Public
What I've been writing ✍️
Having more things to do than you’ve got time to do them is a continuous source of stress for product managers.
Here are some of the tactics that have helped me get in control of my calendar and my todo list 🗓
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Essential time management tactics for busy product managers:
That’s it! 
See you next week (probably). 
The Punk PM 
P.S. Feel free to share this with anyone else you think would find it interesting.
I’m still playing around with ideas for content and format for this newsletter, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and shoot me an email with ways you think I can make it better.
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Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers @tobiasrogers

Product management musings from your favourite Punk PM

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