BTU #43 – Todd Pringle: General Manager at Stitcher, and a history of Product Management

“Many Product Managers – most of them, actually – don’t have anyone directly working for them. They work with everybody and yet are the owner – and that’s a really interesting role. One of the things that I found useful in the military that I translated was: I found – personally – that getting things done, even in the military where it is more hierarchical, that treating people as peers and as experts in their area; that motivating them to get things done without using your direct authority over them was the best way to get things done. And that skill set really translates well to Product Management. ”
 – Todd Pringle

Todd Pringle General Manager and Vice President of Product at Stitcher – the podcasting app that many of you are use to listen to this podcast, and was acquired by Midroll. Todd started out at UCLA, after which he served in the Navy for 4 years as part of the Supply Corps. After his transition out of the military, Todd attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business. After this he held a variety of Product Management roles – at Netscape and AOL in the early 2000s, and then eBay, AirPlay and then a company called Yoono. Todd also holds two US Patents

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • An overview of the role of General Manager & VP of Product
  • How the role of Product Manager has changed over the last 15 years
  • How Todd would approach the Product Manager role if he were starting over again today
  • Indications that you may enjoy Product Management, and signs you might dislike it
  • An overview of Todd’s career in Product Management since business school
  • Advice on the decision between joining a startup vs. a more established company
  • Things you can do right now to start building a skill set to be a Product Manager
  • And much, much more…

iTurnes Beyond the UniformStitcher Beyond the Uniform

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Links

  • Todd’s Company – Stitcher – is my favorite app for listening to podcasts

Show Notes

  • 2:24 – Todd’s background
  • 3:26 – An overview of the role of General Manager & VP of Product
  • 5:39 – The General Manger role on a day-to-day basis
  • 7:12 – What drew Todd to the Product Manager role after business school
  • 11:00 – How the role of Product Manager has changed over the last 15 years
  • 12:45 – How Todd would approach the Product Manager role if he were starting over again today
  • 15:12 – Indications that you may enjoy Product Management, and signs you might dislike it
  • 17:40 – How leadership has differed outside of the military vs. inside the military
  • 19:15 – An overview of Todd’s career in Product Management since business school
  • 24:18 – Advice on the decision between joining a startup vs. a more established company
  • 27:52 – Things you can do right now to start building a skill set to be a Product Manager
  • 29:55 – Habits that have helped – and hurt – veterans in the civilian world
  • 33:29 – How to know when to move on from one company – or role – to the next
  • 36:36 – How Todd approached the Reserves
  • 39:09 – An overview of Todd’s company, Stitcher
  • 43:11 – Some of Todd’s favorite podcasts
  • 44:53 – Final words of wisdom from Todd