Bo Ren

Product Manager at Facebook

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON June 27, 2016

Discussion

Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
My name is Bo Ren, a product manager at Facebook. I work on the reporting experience and content moderation on Facebook. Previously, I graduated from the Facebook Rotational Product Management program, working on feed, Instagram, and Facebook Notes. I came into product management by way of solar, energy efficiency, and fintech. I am both a writer and product manager. I write about nontraditional career pathing, applying behavioral science to building products, and fostering cognitive diversity in tech. I have written for Fast Company, Women 2.0, ThinkApps blog, and on Medium. I think the next generation of product managers will be a humanistic API between people problems and technology.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello Bo! Thanks for spending your Monday morning with us. I have a couple of questions for you 1) How does the recent audience gowth of Instagram (500 MM) affect how the product will be managed. What is the biggest change you see on the inside as a result of this super growth? 2) How did you transition from energy efficiency background to tech?
Anirudh Giri@anirudh_giri
@neeeharika intereting question!
Benjamin Bolland@benjaminbolland · New Business – Project A Ventures, Berli
Thanks for taking the time, Bo! Some questions that keep bothering me coming from a "one-PM-show" and thinking about the PM role in bigger companies: - How much influence do you actually have on the products your working on? - How many PMs are working with you on the same product / feature. - What's the usual PM - Dev ratio at FB? - What's the "standing" of PMs at FB?
Paul Thomson@thomsonaus · Customer Advocate at Buffer
Hi there, Bo! So excited for this Live Chat 🙌 What are you most proud of achieving in your role at Facebook?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@thomsonaus Hi Paul, I'm most proud of launching and growing Facebook Notes with @hellendag and @clowbrow. It was a passion project birthed out of a hackathon and then gained company wide support. We deprecated old Notes and launched a new Notes that was more polished, well designed, user-friendly and shareable in feed. What was most magical about working on Notes was the sense of self-actualization I got from working on a product I could emotionally connect with as a writer and PM. It was so great to work with a small team that was wholly passionate about the future of text on the web. We were all true believers in Notes, creating deeper, more meaningful expressions on the web.
Kalina Zografska@kzograf · Product fella @trygigster & @publitas
As one product manager to another, I was wondering your a typical calendar week looks like for you? :)
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@kzograf I wish I had a "typical day" but as a PM of multiple products you really have to be dynamic and responsive to your team's needs, which often means not having a set schedule or reevaluating how you're spending your time. I try to maintain some routine throughout my day so I have some sense of structure. I usually get up around 7am or 7:30am and take the 8am or 8:24am shuttle from SF to Menlo Park. To create some tranquility before a busy day, I meditate for about 10 mins using the Calm app. I check my emails and messages on the shuttle so I have caught up on my day's notifications. My commute is about 45 mins to 1 hour so I try to have some self time and get ready for the day on the shuttle. I get in to the office around 9am or 9:30am pending 101 traffic. I grab a quick bfast and write out my to-do list at my desk. I use the Bullet Journal (http://bulletjournal.com/) technique to plan out my day, upcoming, weeks, and future seasonal plans. I work with a cross-functional team with engineers in Menlo Park and London so I try to sync with our native London engineers once a week on Thursday mornings. I plan for scrum on Tuesday afternoon with my team. We have a weekly team update meeting on Thursdays where everyone can share what they have been working on that week. I try to post agenda items the night before on Wednesday night for our Thursday morning weekly meeting. The rest of my time is spent in 1:1s with our designer, engineers, engineer manager, researcher, data scientist, and my manager. I take cross-functional meetings often to support the rest of our Facebook product team's reporting needs. As you can tell, the life of a PM is not 100% structured as you have to remain responsive to changing needs. I also block out some work time if I am lucky at the end of the day for 1 hour so I can plan for the next day's meeting agendas. I usually take the 7pm or 8pm shuttle back to the city. It's a pretty long day with the commute so I don't get back until 8 or 9pm on week nights. Dat shuttle lyfe :P
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Hey, Bo! ELI5: What does a PM at Facebook do everyday?
Pushkar Garg@pushkar_garg
Hi Bo, Nice talking to you. My question for you is - What is everyday routine at Facebook as a PM? How dynamic is it?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@pushkar_garg Please see my response to Kalina's question above :)
Dhaval Chauhan@17haval · Full stack founder
Hey Bo Since your have written about "nontraditional career pathing", How is it relevant to working at Facebook ? Also what are your suggestions to new developers who want to work at Facebook
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@17haval Facebook is a great place to work. You in a way get branded and credentialized having worked for a successful big tech company. However, working for a place like Facebook is neither a necessary or sufficient to be successful. What matters is what you've built in your own time. I don't have much insight for new developers except to not let pedigree and the desire for a big brand company drive you.
Dhaval Chauhan@17haval · Full stack founder
@bosefina Thanks for the reply Have you referred someone in hiring process in the past, As we know hiring process is to a certain level is dependent on internal recommendation
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
How should the next generation of Product Managers aim to start their career? What the best path to take?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@ems_hodge I think the next generation of PMs need to have a firm understanding of humanity first. I know that sounds general but the best PMs I have learned from are the best read, well traveled, empathetic human beings out there. They have held a gamut of grueling, interesting, and unglamorous jobs. The next gen PM will be able to understand what users want through both science and gut instinct. To make a quantum leap as a PM you need to have had enough shitty experiences in life to make you relatable to anyone from all walks of life because the products you build are for the rest of the world.
Drew Moxon@moxon · Product, Facebook Messenger
@bosefina @ems_hodge 100%. A keen understanding of how your decisions will impact [someone, a group of people, a population, a society] is critical to making good products that positively affect humanity and solve a need well. Great answer Bo!
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Dear Bo, thank you for taking our questions today. Can you recommend any sources (e.g. websites, books, events, etc.) that you consult/follow in terms of behavioural science please?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@candriopoulos Hi Costas, for behavior science books I love to read Nir Eyal's writing (http://www.nirandfar.com/hooked), Dan Ariely, and Daniel Kahneman. My favorite behavioral science book is Nudge (https://www.amazon.com/Nudge-Imp...). It covers all the intangible biases we go through in our day to day lives like anchoring and upward comparisons in purchasing decisions.
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
@bosefina Dear Bo, thank you so much for your insightful answer.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Woohoo! If you had to swap lives with a tech ceo/founder for a week, who would it be and why?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@bentossell That's a hard one. There are so many awesome founders out there living interesting lives! The person who seems to be having the most fun doing social impact work is Leila Janah (http://www.leilajanah.com). She really lives her best life forward building Samasource and and Laxmi. I love her ability to connect with people, travel, live life curiously and remain authentic in her outlook on life. Like Leila, I'd love work on a social enterprise empowering women in impoverished areas through microfinance, economic empowerment, and art.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@bosefina @bentossell @leila_janah is awesome! For anyone who might have missed it, Leila also hosted a LIVE chat ealier this year - all her answers are here: https://www.producthunt.com/live... Super chat and well worth a read!
bonfues@bonfues
Hi Bo, could you share real-world examples of applying behavioural science to products 👻 and where I can learn more?
Alexa Meyer@alexakmeyer · Founder & CEO, Orchid
@bonfues I'm also super curious about this and would love hear how you've applied behavioral science and the outcomes you've realized as a result.
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@bonfues Hi Adrian, Opower is a great company that has built a product suite around Robert Cialdini's behavioral science research. The Opower home energy reports nudge people to consume less power through tapping into the comparing with the Joneses complex. https://www.ted.com/talks/alex_l... I think harnessing the power of behavioral science is based on identifying the main human levers for a product. Your product exists to help someone achieve a desired goal or outcome. What are you trying to help the user accomplish? For Facebook, it's about connecting you to your friends and family. For Instagram, it's about capturing your best moments. For SigFig, it's about making it easier to invest for everyone. For the Ethan app, it's about feeling less lonely. I think the behavioral science comes from understanding the people problems and desired end outcome from using your product. You product should help people get closer to accomplishing their desired behavior.
Aleksei Yim@aleksei_yim
Hi Bo! Thank you so much for giving up your time to help answer all our questions. My question to you: I am graduating this year in December with a bachelors in Business and Management. My original path was to get into the consulting industry and learn from people who are better than me. The idea of sitting behind a computer all day doesn't excite me and also I can't sit for longer than 2 hours (6+ hour flights are nightmares). My other plan was to get into Digital Media Agency (e.g. Vaynermedia) and again try to learn from people who know more than me and to be better. I love to interact with people, I love showing people around, helping people, giving them ideas, but I am unsure which career path to take to take me to success. As a product manager of Facebook! I was wondering if you could give me any work/life advice that you have learnt throughout your years to get yourself to where you are now. Thank you for your time to answer my question! Hope you have a great day and year! :) Best, Cabin!
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@aleksei_yim I would highly recommend you explore multiple paths before committing to one. The best career advice was from Hunter Walker from Homebrew Ventures. He said that smart and competent people will always face multiple choices in their life. What matters is making a decision within a set period of time. Your choices are always reversible if you find them to be suboptimal. You really need to be introspective about your own strengths and weaknesses. Good that you know that you can't be excited sitting behind a computer screen for a whole day. Going by that data point, I would recommend working in a more human centric environment that requires you to interact with different people. I think new digital media is an exciting space! No one has really cracked it well when it comes to monetization and business strategy. You could be that person! :) I've learned over 5 years in SF that your career path will be non-linear. Keep having conversations with smart people and great things will happen. The power of serendipitous conversations is huge. Hit people up on Twitter, write to them about what excited you, be genuine and ask for help. Good luck! :)
Aleksei Yim@aleksei_yim
@bosefina Thank you Bo! This was great, will take your advice to heart and fulfil them! Hope you have a wonderful week and again thank you so much for your time and help <3!
Adnan Sabanovic@adnanxteam · Web Developer, Thinker, Creator
Hi Bo, Thank you for your time! Can you please tell me about the process of validating new business ideas (in this case new products / features). What are the key steps that take you from an idea to going live? What is your main metric during that process? Thanks!
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@adnanxteam Most new products and features come from vehement discourse and debate. I think the best ideas are the ones that survive intense debate. I am a firm believer that friction yields progress. Most ideas for new products/features are not new. They have been floating around the ether within a company or team for a while. As a PM, I think my role is to be an editor and help winnow out the weak ideas from the strong ideas through questions and synthesizing disparate pieces of information. A couple of things I like to ask myself when evaluating new ideas: 1. How much impact will the idea yield? 2. How do I quantify that impact e.g. engagement metrics, growth, monetization? If I can't quantify it then what are some intangible markers for success i.e. user research, satisfaction survey, better design experience. 3. Will this idea survive the test of time? 4. Will this idea scale? 5. What would the failure state look like if we were to execute this idea poorly? 6. What would success look like? There is no silver bullet metric for testing out new ideas unfortunately. Most ideas come down to poor execution so I emphasize being tactical and practical when it comes down the building v1 of a product or feature. Get it out there early, test it with a small group, and get feedback. The best ideas are ones that last through vigorous testing and discourse. If you're idea is too precious to share with the rest of the world then it will probably not last.
@bosefina @adnanxteam love this answer and think #5 "What would the failure state look like if we were to execute this idea poorly?" is a super interesting way to reframe the challenge: it's kinda like "how can we ruin this great idea?" great way to increase execution awareness. Thanks for sharing :)
ozlem@ozlembilis
Hey Bo, thanks for taking time to doing this:) I was wondering your design process, how do you start one feature? what are the steps? what is the most effective way path for you? thank you
Paul Mikhaylenko@paulmklnko · CPO & Cofounder, PICR
What is the relationship of PM's to the role of a Creative Director? Thank you!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
If you had to hire someone to replace you, what skills, experiences and leadership qualities should that person bring to the table?
Judy Tran@tranjudyy · Digital Marketer
Hi Bo, Thank you for doing a Live Chat! I have so many questions for you but I will keep it short. How were you able to get into FRPM? I have been following the post on FB and I really want to be a part of the FB team and learn from the best. How was the program? Any advice for someone who wants get into FRPM? Currently doing digital marketing. Thank you once again!
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@tranjudyy Hi Judy, I applied through a friend who was going through the RPM program. We both happened to be from Portland! After working for three startups, I decided it was time for me to join a big company where I could receive the mentorship and resources to be a well rounded PM. I wrote about my interview process here: https://www.quora.com/What-shoul...
Judy Tran@tranjudyy · Digital Marketer
@bosefina thank you so much!!! I know this is out of the question but I have to ask, if you're up for a chat over coffee? I am visiting Cupertino in September and was wondering if you have some free time to hang and chat! 🙏🙏
Rodrigo Argumedo@rod_argumedo1 · Occasional Hunter
Hi Bo, What is your favorite part of being a product manager at Facebook? What was the biggest highlights during your time at FRPM program? Outside of Facebook, how do you manage your time on work and personal productivity?
Bo Ren@bosefina · Product Manager, Tumblr
@rod_argumedo1 I love how I am constantly challenged by the smartest people I have worked with. Facebook is a place that has really shaken up my assumptions on life and what makes a good product. You are never the smartest person in a room. I have against subscribed to the philosophy that you should be a small fish in a big pond. That is definitely the place at Facebook. The biggest highlight of my time at Facebook was going on the RPM research trip to Tel Aviv, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Tokyo. We got to meet with companies and startups from those countries to understand how products are built outside of Silicon Valley. It was so refreshing to get out of the Bay Area bubble and learn from other people! Outside of work, I enjoy yoga, writing, and traveling. I try to make enough time to recharge each weekend so I don't get burnt out. It's important to have "Me" time to fill your well.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Bo thanks so much for joining us today! What is the best thing about working at Facebook? What makes it different from other places your worked?