Kaizen Newsletter #5 (06/25/2019)

How can copywriting help you become a better product manager

I'm in Boston this week for some product management training at the Pragmatic Institute.

I obviously got here earlier this weekend to spend some quality time with Nancy. Sunday was particularly awesome since we spent the day kayaking + axe throwing and finished the day at a nice Thai restaurant (what I got wasn't THAT great, but Nancy's meal was A+) and then some bubble tea for dessert!

ANYWAYS. So how can copywriting help you become a better product manager?

Well first, you have to understand what should be your top priority as a product manager. The sales team is accountable for revenue, the dev team is accountable for building things, the communication team is accountable for well communicating messages. But what is the product team accountable for? If you'd ask me this question on Sunday, my answer would've been "Well... we're accountable for the product?".

But what that doesn't mean anything. The product encompasses too many things.

What I learned yesterday is that the product team is accountable for identifying, clarifying and communicating market problems. Without knowing which problems your market has, how are you going to then decide which product to build? And what is the best way to identify market problems? That would be through market research.

Now let's pause here and talk about copywriting a bit. Now what is copywriting? Well it's definitely NOT related to copyright. Here is the definition of copywriting from google dictionary:

The activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material.

How I think about it is the act of selling, but through words. So how does copywriting tie in with product management? Well, I bought a few copywriting courses a year ago, and look at some of these screenshots that I took.

These screenshots were taken from two different copywriting courses and BOTH say (the first one is implicit) that market research is THE most important concept in copywriting. And it makes sense. You want to know who you are targeting, how they talk, what they like and dislike and most importantly what are their problems so that you can provide a solution to them.

This means that if I start doing copy, I am effectively improving my product management skills at the same time.

Now, on to the newsletter.

🏀 Sports

  • Both the NHL and the NBA drafts were happening this past week.

  • It was pretty exciting, since it was the first time I knew more than a handful of players in the NBA draft. There were SIX Canadians that were drafted which set an international record. I'm a bit sad that RJ Barrett landed to a poorly-run organization like the Knicks, but hopefully he can help them trend upwards from now on.

  • On the NHL side, I was really happy by the Habs 1st round pick, Cole Caufield. The kid is a scoring machine and will eventually propel the Habs towards the Stanley Cup. I mean look at his highlights.

  • PK Subban, one of my favourite hockey players got traded for PEANUTS to the NJ Devils. I admit he's coming from his worst season and also has a big cap-hit, but that's still very low for an arguably #1 defensemen. I guess that just means I'll have a Devils jersey soon 🤷‍♂️.

  • The kid I'm REALLY excited to see though is Kaapo Kakko. First of all what a name. Second of all, this kid is INSANE. We'll see how he does in his first NHL season, but he might be my new favourite player already.

  • Co-Streaming is the Future of Watching Sports and Events - If you're an avid gamer, then you've probably seen one of your favourite streamers sitting on his chair and re-broadcasting a particular event while providing his own thoughts and commentary. I'm a big Smash fan and most often prefer listening to Leffen or ZeRo re-broadcast a smash event that they're not attending and provide insights and commentary. Now imagine this but for the NBA or the NHL. Imagine watching Kobe Bryant giving you his thoughts on the NBA finals. Now THAT would be crazy.

  • Continuing on my NBA vs NHL marketing thread, here's another example of why the NBA is so much better. Peep both conversations and tell me which one feels more natural...


  • Creating a "Shadow Board" - "A lot of companies struggle with two apparently unrelated problems: disengaged younger workers and a weak response to changing market conditions. A few companies have tackled both problems at the same time by creating a “shadow board” — a group of non-executive employees that works with senior executives on strategic initiatives. The purpose? To leverage the younger groups’ insights and to diversify the perspectives that executives are exposed to."

  • The Death of the SaaS LTV/CAC - The future of SaaS is now trending towards bottoms up selling. Which basically means you sell to the end-user first (and not the business) and slowly you tackle upwards (so very small company, medium-sized company, bigger company and finally you tackle enterprise). This means that the old way of selling, pushing leads to get qualified by sales reps, is getting changed by iterating on landing pages and improving the product so that conversions are optimized. Which means ciao-bye to business development reps and account executives and say hi to product marketers. As a product manager working for a SaaS company, it's a good problem to think about when determining the product's future.

💸 Cryptocurrency

  • Facebook decided to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. I’m honestly not sure want to think about it yet. On one hand, it’s Facebook and it’s also backed by a tons of legit companies, so it can’t fail, right? At the same time, it’s Facebook, and they already have tons of your data and now you’re giving them even MORE? If you wanted to have a nice overview of what exactly this project is about, then you can check it out here.


  • Rick Rubin on the Peter Attia podcast - As I mentioned last week, I've been looking up music producers recently and stumbled on a podcast featuring Rick Rubin so decided to listen to it. And this was a LONG one. It's 3 hours long, so took me pretty much the whole week to listen to it (and to be honest, I'm not completely done yet). But it's worth it. I always heard how influential Rubin was, but it was cool to see how much he's done in the music industry. A few cool things I learned: he co-founded Def Jam, he was the DJ for the Beastie Boys, a few of his favourite albums that he didn't produce are D'Angelo's Voodoo (which he states is a perfect album), Forever Changes by Love and James Blake's first album.

🎧 Music

  • Smile - Brian Puspos - One of my favourite choreographers now turned R&B singer. His songs are usually hit or miss, but this was is definitely a banger. Been on repeat since he released it.

  • Skyfall ft. Ambré & Malik Ninety Five - Pell - Pell is super underrated, but I really like his style. Reminds me a bit of Taylor Bennett (in terms of style). He just release his new album and this was my favourite song out of it.

  • All Night ft. Juice WRLD - BTS - Ok so I usually don't like K-Pop, but I've been trying to give BTS a shot for the past few weeks. This is the first song that I would actually re-listen to, so I guess it's a good start? Obviously Juice WRLD makes it a lot easier to like, but the whole song is pretty good.

  • Untitled (How does it Feel) - D'Angelo - Yes I know, this is OLD, but I never knew who D'Angelo was, so it's new for me. This is PURE R&B and I love it. It's crazy cause I discovered this song listening to the Rick Rubin podcast (featured above) and this song was also in Always be my Maybe, which I also watched with Nancy this weekend

  • Mindy - Oh Mic! - I may be a bit biased, since I know him personally, but Oh Mic! just released a new song, so I had no choice but to feature it. If you ever loved Blink-182, then you'd definitely love this as well.

  • The 2019 XXL Freshman Class has been released. Especially excited to see YBN Cordae, Gunna and DaBaby.

🐦 Tweets

🙇‍♂️ Random Thoughts

  • Using this section to keep me accountable on my tweet game.

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to my fellow product manager Edward Chan who recommended taking the Product Management courses from Pragmatic Institute. It’s been amazing so far and hopefully tomorrow will be even better!

👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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If you see any cool articles, links, tweets, stories or podcasts that you think are interesting, feel free to share as well at alex@alexhughsam.com

See you next Tuesday!