Avichal Garg

Product Manager at Facebook

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 15, 2016

Discussion

Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
Hi, I’m Avichal, Product Manager at Facebook. My teams work on building Profile, Local, Events products. I’ve been at Facebook for 3.5 years and have worked on a variety of other teams, such as News Feed and Platform. I’ve started and sold startups, am an angel investor, and started in product at Google where I worked on search, ads, and started Google Transit. I love the process of building something from nothing and have an unhealthy love for pizza.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Avichal! Facebook events is one of the best tools for passive discovery, so awesome work. 👏 Facebook is known for being experimental and moving quickly. What's the biggest surprise after working there for 3.5 years?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@rrhoover Thank you! Events is a big team effort across engineering, design, analytics, research, product, partnerships, marketing, and many more. It's pretty awesome to have been a part of getting the engine going 2.5 years ago and seeing how we've grown. Fun fact: The entire Spool team is still at Facebook and most of us work on Facebook Events now. The biggest surprise is how quickly the company is still able to move. I think "Move Fast" is so engrained in the DNA that every time we start to feel like we're slowing down, we find a way to scale better, build better tools, and re-think how we communicate to pick up the pace.
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@avichal How do you schedule and organize your day to ensure maximum productivity?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@iamcuan Great question. I've found that organizing by when I'm going to have the most energy is the best way to go. I tend to have high energy points early in the morning and then early in the evening. I try to get up around 6:30 and spend a few hours doing things that will require hard thought -- a strategy document, feedback on designs for a team, digging through data to understand what's happening. From 9-5 I'm in various meetings with teams, people on my team, other groups we're collaborating with, and working sessions. These are often mostly about helping other people think through things they need help on and I find 30 minute meetings, back to back can be every efficient to help unblock others to go solve hard problems. From 5-8ish I dig out from email and do some more deep thought sorts of work before shutting down for the day.
Hunter Horsley@hunter_horsley
@avichal_garg what time do you go to bed? Have you always been a morning person or have you trained yourself?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@hhorsley @iamcuan I usually go to sleep around midnight. I haven't always been a morning person...it took a little bit of training but I love it now.
Beats@officebeats · Product Manager, OutcomeHealth.com
@avichal_garg how did you train yourself to be more of a morning person?
Zach Cmiel@zach_cmiel · CEO, PoKoBros
What's your favorite book??
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@zach_cmiel So many great ones to choose from. A few come to mind that are worth reading and rereading: - The Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini - Self Reliance by Emerson (an essay really but so many quotable quotes) - Ender's Game - Siddhartha by Hesse - The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz - On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
Who are some of the people who have had the biggest impact on your life/career? (Stories, please!)
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@katesegrin Far too many people to name. Everything good that has happened in my life has been because of great people who have helped me along the way. One great story that comes to mind that I tell to entrepreneurs I work with: Marissa Mayer was my first manager at Google back in 2005. I was an APM (Associate Product Manager) and after graduating from the program was thinking about leaving to do a startup. She spent a lot of time with me helping me think through the decision, and left me with a nugget of wisdom when she said, "Startups are hard. But failing is harder. One of the hardest thing for smart, successful people like you is the failure. Because you will fail repeatedly when you do this startup. And then your company might fail altogether. And you might start another one and another one, and those might fail. The hardest part won't be leaving now to do it. The hardest part of it will be picking yourself up and trying against after you've failed a 100 times and believing the 101st time will be different. If you think you can do that, I support you. Go do it." She was absolutely right.
MoMo Zhou@momozhou · Communications @ Uber
@avichal_garg great answer, and great advice! thanks for sharing.
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
Best place to get pizza in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@katesegrin Arizmendi in the Mission. They make one kind of pizza per day, always vegetarian, sell it by the slice, and the crust is amazing. Sometimes I go up to SF from Palo Alto just to get a slice.
Ben Bregman@bregman90 · Data Scientist, Facebook
@avichal_garg @katesegrin So you werent just coming to visit me?? :(
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@bregman90 @katesegrin The more reasons to go to Arizmendi the better!
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
@avichal_garg @katesegrin the Mission is THE place to go for good food 🙌
Ricky Yean@rickyyean · CEO, UpbeatPR.com (formerly PRX.co)
@avichal_garg best reply ever
Laura Barganier@laura_barganier · PR and more at Day One Agency
@avichal what are some of your favorite sources for inspiration (outside of Facebook)? and did you make any resolutions for the year?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@laura_barganier I'm not really a resolutions person :) A lot of my inspiration comes from comedy. I think great comedians have a way of shining a light on obvious things and looking at them in a new way. So I spend a lot of hours every month going through YouTube looking for good standup comedy routines or looking back at great sets from some of the greats.
Laura Barganier@laura_barganier · PR and more at Day One Agency
@avichal_garg love this! any specific routine(s) you might recommend?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@laura_barganier Mitch Hedberg, comedic genius:
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@laura_barganier Right about 10 minutes in it feels like the crowd tips and gets it. I think the donut-receipt bit wins them over.
Jon Lax@jlax · Product Design Director Facebook
First question, How awesome is it working with Jon Lax? -- Follow up question, what is the one thing you tell PMs who are early in their career?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@jlax pretty awesome. I'd venture to say that he's probably my favorite Canadian Design Director in Building 20 at Facebook ;-) Too many PMs early in their careers tend to think their job is the make product decisions. Good PMs quickly realize their job is to help the right decisions get made.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
What are the most important tangible skills that aspiring product managers can teach themselves?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@andrewmettinger 1/ Humility - you are not Steve Jobs. Focus on helping people make the right decisions and not about whether you got the make the decision. 2/ Clear Communication - when there is more than one brain working on a problem, communication is often the bottleneck, so learn how to communicate clearly. 3/ EQ - why people do what they do (people using your products and people you work with) is as important as what they do
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @avichal What excites you about a company to invest in it? Any suggestions for a first time entrepreneur?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@neeeharika Hands down the early stage is about people. You can't teach things like tenacity or passion. If someone is smart enough (and really being smart enough is all it takes in my opinion) but wants to win badly enough, they will eventually win. Start with something you believe in, surround yourself with people who believe in you, and go.
Omar Hammouri@hammouriomg · Founder at Delegraph
Do social media apps need any special kind of support from any second party to succeed or its just like any other successful business ?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@hammouriomg I'm not sure I understand. What do you mean by second party?
Omar Hammouri@hammouriomg · Founder at Delegraph
@avichal_garg Thank you for your answer, I meant if social media business needs any kind of support from online business giants, or you can move as a startup and you can become huge.
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@hammouriomg I think you don't need support from an online business giants. Good luck!
Stewart Dennis@macgregordennis · Co-Founder, CEO of BitBounce & CredoEx
@avichal Hey Avichal! Hope you're doing well man. My question is, what's the biggest secret you know for creating great products?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@macgregordennis Hey! Great to see you here. Not sure if it's a secret but one of the things I think one of the biggest things founders (and often first time founders more than others) overlook is asking "why now?" There are a lot of smart people out there and odds are someone else already had saw the same problem you see. And they probably tried to solve that problem and failed. So if you're going to succeed with your product, what has changed in the world? There isn't always a great answer to this looking forward but often there is.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Thanks for doing this. What are the most important things you've learned about human behavior while at facebook?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@theo_dimarhos too many to list, but a few off the top of my head: 1/ teenage angst is a thing everywhere 2/ people are amazing at finding hacks in any system to do what they want 3/ we are not the typical person using FB
Avi Bitton@ajbitton
@avichal as a product manager in Facebook - what are some pain-points you notice in new product managers coming to Facebook? PS: Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which one would you recommend for an aspiring product manager?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@ajbitton Mentioned this one above but I think new PMs tend to think that they are responsible for making the decision or coming up with the solution. What separates the great PMs from the rest is their ability to identify the critical decision to be made, help frame up why that's the critical decision and how to think about the problem, then get a group of people to come up with the globally optimal solution.
Avi Bitton@ajbitton
@avichal_garg @ajbitton thanks for the insight!
Akshay Patel@mrakshaypatel · Product Manager
How is Product Management at a large company like FB different from your prior startup experience? Pros? Cons?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@mrakshaypatel I think in startups a lot of what you need to do is focus on how to build as quickly as possible with very limited resources, and what to build is obvious. In a big company, a lot of what you have is a well-staffed team so odds are that won't be your bottleneck, but you need to make sure to build the right things. So you spend a lot of time making sure you are solving the right problems.
Aren Sandersen@arensand · DevOps consulting
@avichal What advice to you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting to build their companies? Any take-aways from your previous startup experiences?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@arensand Too many to list/mention in one place, but a few in no particular order: - find a cofounder who has complementary skills, whom you trust, and who has the same long term goals as you - make sure you have a love for your users - find an unfair advantage so you can get your startup off the ground. Examples include a distribution channel that others won’t have access to, a patent that prevents others from competing easily, an exclusive partnership, etc. - have a clear answer for why you are the right team to solve this problem - keep burn low until you find product-market fit; it can take years. Odds are you will run out of energy so pace yourself. Once you hit product-market fit, you will need emotional energy to scale. - Seeking out press is usually not a good strategy. Try to stay off the radar until your success makes you impossible to ignore. - Find other founders and build a support system. Doing a startup is hard and other founders know what you’re going through. Help them and they will help you. - Be very careful with who you let invest in our company. 80-20 applies here too. 80% of your value will come from 20% of your investors, and 80% of your pain will come from 20% of your investors. - Hire more slowly than you think you need before you have product-market fit; hire far more quickly than you think you need after you have product-market fit - Most companies need to compromise in their early hiring and then upgrade talent later. No one is honest about it but everyone does it. - Companies become good at the thing that made them successful in the early days. A consumer company won't figure out enterprise one day. An enterprise company won't magically also build a consumer product later. This dna is almost impossible to change, so embrace it. many many others…
brittany walsh@brittanyawalsh
What life advice would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@brittanyawalsh spend more time with the people who matter to you (because they won't be around forever), spend less time worrying about whether things will work out (because they will)
Lauren Sachs@aurenlaypr · Senior Account Executive, Day One Agency
Besides Facebook, what are your favorite places to catch up on news? And why?
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@aurenlaypr Facebook and Hacker News basically cover it for me
Rahul Thathoo@thathoo · Engineering Lead, Woodworker
Hey @avichal! My question for you is: Are there any leadership principals that are dear to you and that you try to imbibe in day to day work/life?
Rahul Thathoo@thathoo · Engineering Lead, Woodworker
@avichal_garg @thathoo Thanks for the answer... I agree with it and knowing you IRL I know you adhere to it. Also, I clearly dont know how to spell principle.. :P
Avichal Garg@avichal_garg
@thathoo thanks :)
Vinish Garg@vingar · Co-founder @mystippi @ContentHug
Hey Avichal, the product design evolves considering the expectations and acceptance by the current users. Considering the huge user base of facebook, the stakes are extraordinarily high. How do you evaluate whether the design strategy is in the right direction?