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100 Product Managers Interview with Michael Sparks from XO Group

Mar 13, 2018

Episode 49: “No Idea is Worthwhile on a Whiteboard” with Michael Sparks, XO Group

By: Suzanne Abate @suzanneabate

Michael Sparks relocated to New York City from Silicon Valley to be closer to his fiance. That he ended up working as Product Manager at The Knot - the world's leading online wedding planner - is just happy coincidence.

The Knot is one of several "life's moments" products owned by XO Group - a decades old company currently enjoying growth and an incredible culture of product mindset (much of it attributable to the leadership contribution of Brent Tworetzky, who recently left the company to join InVision).

Michael is an avid disciple of "User Science," that unique blend of qualitative and quantitative research that provides product managers with a practical framework for consistently gathering and analyzing user feedback.

Sparks tells me this from XO's 25th floor office, as we enjoy sweeping views of Manhattan in winter. We joke that the weather isn't actually that much worse than the unpredictable precipitation of San Francisco. Together we contemplate the misnomer that is "minimum viable product," and a clever reframing of the idea called "minimum viable experiments."

We exchange favorite product management sound bites and talk about how to avoid getting stuck in project manager tasks, organizing teams around problems (not products), and advice for mastering quantitative inquiry.

Hit play below to hear the full conversation and meet Michael Sparks.


XO Group - What We Do Matters

Through its family of brands — The Knot, The Nest, The Bump, GigMasters and How He Asked — XO Group inspires, informs and cheers on its community as they move through life’s most amazing (and stressful!) milestones. From the proposal, to creating a home and starting a family together, XO Group is there for every step of the journey.

100 Product Managers began with a mission to interview one hundred active product managers in Los Angeles - from startups to enterprise. We didn't realize we were also pioneering the web's first consolidated and comprehensive resource for product management topics.