I generally speak about product strategy, startups, marketing, scaling a business, that type of thing. As a rule, I try to only speak about things where I have a unique perspective, and usually direct hands-on experience via Intercom. In conference circles this makes me rare. Because I have a full-time job, I'm not as well prepared as a circuit regular, but I hope that what I lack in preparation I make up for in directness and applicability. My talks are often a direct re-cap of how Intercom works, or how I do my job, the examples are all real and the stories aren't bent to fit a narrative arc. Put another way, if you want someone to give a polished presentation about how to run your company like Apple, there are many out there, but I'm not one. If you want someone to talk about lessons learned, mistakes made, and repurposable advice building a startup, I might be. Have a look below.
I've given about 100 talks in the past decade, all with the goal of spreading Intercom's thinking (and ulimately Intercom's products) around the industry. I don't schill our products. The logic behind Intercom's content marketing has always been that if you agree with our thinking, you'll agree with our software. It's worked so far. Below you'll find a select set of talks where the video is good quality and the material doesn't substantially overlap. If I'm missing one let me know.
Every product company that focusses on A/B tests, growth hacks, tips & tricks, to boost conversion are duping themselves. If you find a bright green button outperforms a dark green button to the tune of 0.05% and call that a win, you must be stuck for ways to impact your company. We have convinced ourselves that the extra 0.05% of people are so fickle about which project management app or helpdesk app they use that the button colour matters more than anything else. This whole world is a bad transposition of consumer linkbait tactics onto what is supposed to an important business decision. So this talk is about a different approach. What if you treated retention, not acquisition, as your real goal. I write about this idea a lot and there’s a summary of the talk, with slides, on the Intercom blog.
I started talking and writing about Product Market in 2010, and even back then there was plenty of literature out there. Over the following decade, there’s been an absolute tidal wave of new terms, frameworks, metrics, and more, and I think it’s fine to say “we’re good for advice on Product Market Fit folks”. This talk is about the other 90% of building a successful product, specifically what happens after Product-Market Fit. You can read a summary of this presentation on the Intercom blog.
The organiser asked me to speak about what’s it really like to start a company from a personal perspective, so that’s what I tried to do here. This is, to date, the only talk I’ve given just once, to a small crowd in Dublin.
It’s incredibly important that your product team is building the thing you’re selling, and also that your sales team is selling the thing you’re building. That sounds so horrendously stupid to say, but you’d be shocked at how often that simply mismatch destroys companies and cultures. That’s what this talk is about.
If you analyse any problem for long enough, it ends up sounding like a people problem. And it’s usually your fault. This talk is about how basically any founder with any degree of success will end up in a senior role they’re hilariously unqualified for, doing their absolute best to try to make it work, and usually, it’s the ability to work with people at scale that catches everyone out. Coverage of the tech industry alternates between “look at this 19 yr old dropout genius who build a $100M startup” to “check out this idiot 24yr old struggling to run a 400 person company” depending on what’s selling. Neither is true, they’re all learning on the job, never as good as the coverage says, never as bad either. Just people trying hard to not screw it up. This talk is mostly for them :)
If you’ve ever had a sniff of success you’ll know that what follows is the fear. Fear of failure, fear of pending irrelevance. The tech industry has very few museums, we simply tend to obliterate incumbents and move onwards. This talk is about coming to the realisation that your product is already history. To stay relevant you need to keep working on it, keep simplifying it, improving it, making it powerful, or whatever makes sense for you. I wrote this talk up for the Intercom blog too Your product is already obsolete