Episode summary

In this episode, Diego Sanchez takes Max Gayler through the trials and tribulations of the fast-paced product world that makes some companies, and break others. An adaptive mindset, fearless innovation, and attention to detail are essential when building a product that stands the test of time, and throughout his time as a founder, engineer, and product manager, Diego has amassed an incredible mindset that helps lead products to dominate categories and keep growing.

Who's our guest

Diego Sanchez has been a Senior Product Manager at Buffer for more than 3 years after helping to build the growth engine at Typeform. A believer in the power of technology and the new ways humans and computers can interact, Diego is self-starter who has founded his own businesses, worked his way up through the ranks and now helps lead one of the most exciting and unique brands around. Buffer is an audience growth tool used by some of the biggest brands in the world serving more than 140,000 users worldwide.


Max: Thank you so much for being here, Diego. I really, really appreciate your time. And I'm very, very excited to talk to you. I've been a really big fan of Buffer for a very long. And your ex-Typeform, I'm ex-Typeform. There's lots of things for us to talk about and dig into, and I really, I'm always following your philosophy on asynchronous work and remote working and being in a team that's growing while you're not in the same room.

And there's so many things for us to talk about, but I would love to just start off with very quickly, to hear your name, if you could tell everyone, your full name and your job role currently, and then we'll get into your story. 

Diego: Absolutely. Alright so hey everyone, and thanks for having me Max.

I really appreciate it. So my name is Diego, Diego Sanchez. I'm part of the product team at Buffer. And I work with a team that's focused on new product introduction. So yeah, it's been a fun, exciting couple years here at Buffer.

Max: So, yeah, that was gonna be my next question, if you could take me through, you don't need to go into too much detail, but an overview of your career. Maybe you can explain your CV a little bit.

Diego: Yeah, absolutely. So I got into tech when I was 19\. I was in university and I thought, okay, there's gotta be more to life than just commuting to work every day and working from a big office building. I thought it's kind of boring. That was kind of boring to me so I thought, is there something that I could do maybe in software that would allow me to work from anywhere in the world? Like I really dreamed of being able to just pick up my laptop and work from wherever. So at 19, I, I decided to get into tech. I didn't know anything about it. 

And I launched a website, back in the day. It was a really interesting experience. It was my first time doing anything in this space. And we made every single mistake in the book. It was just really, really interesting. And then a couple years later we had lots of learnings and we thought, okay, it's time to pivot, time to do something else. I had just graduated from university, I'm starting my masters and I thought, okay, I want to go all in on this. And I decided that - I was working from Columbia at the time - and I thought the ecosystem wasn't there. It was hard to raise capital, it was hard to meet other founders. Most people I talked to didn't really relate to the path that we had chosen, so I didn't find that I was getting the support I needed. So I thought, okay, I need to go to the place where this is happening, and we moved to San Francisco to get our startup off the ground.

We were trying to raise capital at the time, and with my co-founder, we ended up sleeping on a friend's couch. It was just a really interesting experience trying to get this startup off the ground. We ultimately failed, but that led me into product management, right?

So a couple years later I ended up at Typeform which was one of the startups that I really admired and loved and I thought, if I can be a part of this, it would be incredible. So I joined Typeform as a PM for the growth team originally but then I transitioned into just the product team.

Eventually I ended up developing new products at Typeform. So we had a team that was focused on bringing new products to life, which is something that I really enjoyed with this experience as a founder. Going from zero to one was something that was really appealing to me and I wanted to do that as part of an organization as well.

And then shortly after I joined Buffer where I've been for the past four years soon. So at Buffer I've been leading all sorts of new products, launching a product called Engage and launching StartPage, which is now used by thousands of creators around the world.

I've been mostly focused on launching new products and taking something from zero to market and that's been really interesting. That's a brief recap of my career. 

Max: That's so cool. It's not super common that someone would start off going, okay, I'm gonna make a company and I'm gonna go all out and I'm gonna go to San Francisco and I'm gonna make this happen. Do you ever look back at that thinking, I wish I'd kind of just worked my way up the ranks to a company, or are you happy with going straight in?

Diego: Oh I think if anything, I wish I would've done it earlier, or for longer. I think what was hard is that we ran out of money pretty quickly, and then I had to get a job. So I skipped a part because when I came back from San Francisco, I had to get a job and I was like alright, I gave this a go. If anything, I wish I could have been more mindful of our finances, so I could have kept trying for longer. I think that's the only thing that I would do differently, but not join a company so quickly.

I ended up working for a large, huge company which is Direct TV acquired by AT&T when I was there. So I did get a bit of that experience of working at a huge corporation and a big company which has a very different style, but it also teaches you a lot about communication and working at a much larger scale.

Direct TV Latin America had 9 million customers which is much larger than any startup that I had worked on or worked with before. So that was also an interesting lesson on scale, but I would've definitely have maybe waited a little bit longer to try to keep burn rate lower so I could keep trying for longer. 

Max: That's so interesting. There's so much to learn from that experience, and you say you spent some time in a really big company. I can imagine how tempting it was and  obviously that's why you did then move to a smaller company and something you can get your hands on more.

I would love to know when you joined Buffer, what was the state of the product and what were the intentions for you when you originally joined?

Diego: That's a great question. So, coming from Typeform I had experienced what it was like to work at a company that was raising capital, so when I joined, Typeform had closed it's series A and during the time when I was there, we raised our series B.

So I experienced what being at aventure backed company felt like and the type of growth and how, got a good idea of what that did to the company and what that kind of growth means in terms of number of employees and the growth targets that you set for the company. But I was really looking for a company that was following a different path after I left.

Typeform and Buffer is such a unique company in many ways, with our values and our approach to being profitable mostly, I think is one of the things that Buffer is highly committed to. If you read a little bit, (this is available in the Buffer's Open blog, by the way) but Buffer has bought out some of the early investors so that we can regain more control of the company. So what happened was that Buffer raised not a ton of capital at the beginning, nd has focused mostly on being profitable. So then it was in a position where it could buy out some of those investors, and we have not raised any money since.

So our growth is mostly from our own profits, so that means we have to be very diligent when launching new things and setting growth targets because we wanna be mindful of our runway and our finances as a company. So that's something I was more interested in learning as a next step in my career because ultimately, if you're gonna start a company, I wanna make sure I'm very diligent when it comes to the company's finances and the growth in this alternative route of maybe bootstrapping it or racing little or no capital if possible. So I thought that was one of the things that I found more appealing at the time. 

Max: How long did it take for you to help make that happen at Buffer? Because you've been there for nearly four years now. How far into your time there were you like, okay, we're doing this, this is happening?

Diego: So basically when I joined Buffer we were mostly known as a scheduling platform, as a scheduling tool. So Buffer had a core product, which was Buffer Publish and Analyze. But it was mostly when people thought about Buffer, they would think about a social media scheduling tool and to be fair, that still happens.

It's still something we've been trying to move away from. So one of the first challenges that I embarked on was launching Buffer Engage, which would help us shift that perception of, this is not just a publishing tool, this is more of a marketing suite. Because now you can publish content, but you can also engage with your audience. You can analyze your performance. So it was more of a suite of products and that was one of those first early missions that I embarked on. It was really interesting bringing this product to market. After that, we also realized we wanted to help small and medium size businesses and creators in ways that are not just related to social media, but beyond social as well. We really want to help people build a brand, build an audience, build a following, and we know how hard these things can be. An organic marketing requires a lot of dedication and we want to help these small and medium sized businesses. So I was really excited about that mission and vision.

And now what we've been doing with Start page and our new approach is basically going beyond just the scheduling tool and trying to broaden the way we serve small and medium sized businesses and creators. That has been the focus. So the product has evolved considerably since I joined. Like I said, when I started it was mostly a publishing scheduling tool and today we're more of this platform and we're even going earlier in the user journey, trying to focus on content generation and helping you. Come to Buffer, you need an idea for what to post, we've got you. You need assistance with turning this idea into a post, we can help. We'll even help you with AI. We'll help you do some of these things. These are some of the projects that we're working on with my team right now. You need some ideas for images or media that you can use for this post, perfect. You wanna also publish this to these other channels, you need to turn it into something else, we can help you with that. So it's this holistic vision that's going earlier in the user journey and helping people also come up with what to post and create that content so that you can engage with that audience in an authentic way. So that's a mission and something that I'm really excited about and that's how the product has been evolving. And for a team our size with no funding, it's a pretty interesting challenge. 

Max: So how many people are there in Buffer and then in the product team?

Diego: Buffer is a company of around 81/82 employees at the moment, so fairly small. The product team at the moment would be just four product managers.

Max: Wow.

Diego: So pretty small teams. One of the things we wanna do is we serve small businesses, so we also want to operate as a small business ourselves. So that's part of our focus. It's intentional.

Max: You guys do a great job of making it seem like you have a lot more than four product managers.

Diego Yeah, so the brand is well known to some extent, so I guess that really helps. It's ruthless prioritization. I think I've never experienced anything like this and we learn a lot as PMs here at Buffer when it comes to being ruthless with prioritization.

You have very small teams and we set a high bar when it comes to our goals. We compare ourselves to VC-backed companies that have a lot of funding, bigger teams, but I think we still focus on delivering and that has been really interesting for me. 

Max: Wow. So I want to talk about community shortly because this is something you're talking about and I'm super interested and I want to talk about your start page and everything. But I would love to talk and hear a bit about the internal workings of your product team. How are you operating and how are you prioritizing and how are you deciding what to tackle and knowing what's a realistic workload for your team even when you're remote?

Diego: That's a great point. So I guess it starts at the higher level with our product bets for the year. So we have a couple of strategic product bets that we're rallying behind as a team. And then we work very closely together across different teams to collaborate, make sure we are working towards these product bets, which are ultimately part of a product vision which I kind of hinted or alluded to earlier by saying, alright, we want to go from this place that you come to just schedule content that you wanna publish across channels, to actually a place where you can store some of those ideas. And we can help you transform some of those ideas into actual content that you can use across different channels or maybe adapted to each channel.

So that vision is what's driving us right now. And that's pretty hefty for even a year. It's maybe like a multi-year vision. So once we have these product bets in place it's on each individual team to work through like the priorities and define what we need to do to work towards these vision and this and these product bets.

You mentioned as a remote team. For instance, with my team, my team is all over the world. We are across different time zones. We have people in, you know, Argentina, Canada, Morocco, so we're all over the globe. There's another person in Amsterdam and I move around a little bit too, so sometimes I spend part of the year in Europe, another part of the year in the Americas. So I move across time zones too.

Max: Well done. That's really, really impressive. We can definitely start talking about remote work in just a second. But I would love to backtrack very quickly and hear about leveraging community, because I feel like product teams now more than ever are starting to become almost marketers in the way that people in teams need to drive the community and be responsible for the product and take ownership, and part of that ownership is leveraging and supporting all of the businesses around you. So I would love to hear exactly how, like you say, you're a small/medium business, but you want to support other small/medium businesses. And I would love to hear how you guys do that and using Start Page and bit about that.

Diego: Absolutely. So w today is used by is used by thousands of small businesses around the world and for us it's very important to stay close to these small and medium-sized businesses.

We have a discord where people who want to be more actively engaged with us and share feedback can do that directly. So that keeps us close to our customers and that's I think a really great tool or us as PMs to make sure we get feedback and we talk to these users. I think the other thing that's really important is that one of our values here at Buffer is default to transparency.

So we really, really lean on transparency as a great tool. A roadmap is public and people can comment there, share things, ask questions, so I guess this also keeps us close to our community and allows them to share ideas or requests. I think that keeps us really, really close to what people need and make sure we're evolving the product to meet those requirements for them. So I guess those are the two main things we do. And of course we also do customer interviews. I think that's also part of the work we do as PMs. Try to stay close to our users.

Max: Is that something you see enough other companies doing or is it something you saw other people doing and more inspired by? Or was it you know what, not enough companies and not enough product teams are being as user-centric enough?

Diego: I think it's getting better. Well, from my time at Typeform, I think most of us in the product team would do customer interviews. I think it's hard to build great products if you're not close to your community, if you're not close to the people that are using the product every day. I think that's really tricky. That's why it also helps to use your own product, to be a user yourself. I think that's also key. So that's something we encourage at Buffer as well. We all have our Start Page, we all try to use the Buffer suite of products. I think that's something we're encouraging more and more. It can be hard for some folks who are maybe more introverted or don't have like a huge social preference or an interest on putting themselves out there too much on social channels, but I think building great products is also understanding your own product and using it yourself.

When it comes to the community I think more companies need to embrace it. I think today a lot of companies tend to be maybe more inspired by a vision of the founders, or maybe it's more top down, the way they're building product, but I think it could be a mix of both. I think maybe if you had some sort of vision, then you need to share some prototypes, get some feedback from ID or from customers. Put something in their hands quickly and see if you were right or wrong, instead of spinning your wheels and thinking it's gonna change the world when you haven't even launched anything yet.

So right now, for instance, our focus is always, we have a hypothesis, let's see if we can put something in the hands of customers or maybe something we can test ourselves internally and then see how that's performing. So I guess that focus on getting lots of feedback and input from a community is absolutely key, and, I think that's gonna help the product evolve quite quickly.

That's a great move. I know so many companies are just trying to leverage their customers as much as possible, and I think one of the most exciting things is happening in product right now is things like everything you guys are working on. Start Page I think is a great example of okay, cool, how can we do this without it being cliche and how can we do this without it coming off extremely arrogant or extremely self-centered? I think it's a great way of like giving and taking it the same time, which is becoming incredibly important.

Diego: Absolutely. I think we try to always act on customer feedback quickly, because I think when users see that a product is evolving, especially like they've shared an idea or they stumbled across something that maybe felt that wasn't great, being able to act on that feedback quickly I think it encourages your audience to keep sharing more ideas for improvements. But if they see that the product never evolves or there's a form and they share ideas for something they'd like and it takes two years for it to ever get developed, hen people get discouraged. So I think it goes both ways. People will share lots of great feedback with you, but you need to also make sure you're listening or implementing that feedback or acting on it somehow. Of course with as PMs, we need to prioritize, we can't act on every piece of feedback we're given or every single request that comes in, but hopefully customers will see that the product is evolving and that will serve as an incentive for them to know that they can keep sharing their ideas with us.

Max: Great. I'm very interested in following it and seeing how it goes. And on that theme of alignment, we can definitely talk about remote work and how your Buffer team and how your team of PMs works across the world. I'd love to start with, you've been at Buffer for four years, but could you talk a little bit on their approach to remote work and distributed teams over the years and how it's changed?

Diego: To summarize, we've been leaning more and more on async communication to work effectively as a distributed team. I think that would be one of the key takeaways. The other one is that we lean a lot on transparency as well to make sure communication is effective as a distributed team as well. So I guess those two things are absolutely crucial for our success as a small, nimble company that's distributed, but that can have a high impact and can serve thousands of customers around the world. I think those two things are what a lot of us rely on.

Max: Did you decide those were the things through trial and error? Were there any moments where you were like, okay this approach to remote work doesn't work. We need to try something else.

Diego: We're always experimenting. Things like communication at Buffer has evolved tremendously as more tools become available, we're always doing trials and trying new things and seeing what works for us. There's also like some level of flexibility. We have some structures in place for the wider team communication, but also individual teams also have maybe different setups or different preferences. So I think there's a mix, where we have some tools in place for communication across the company and some rules around what to post when or where, how to communicate with each other at a company level. But individual teams also work out certain arrangements depending on where people are, what are their preferences. So I think it's a mix in that sense. And we have learned, what works and we've kept honing this and working on it over the years. If I think of the way we communicated with each other when I first joined Buffer, it's probably completely different to what we're doing today. It's a pretty stark, stark difference.

Max: That is pretty crazy. Was it fully remote when you joined originally? 

Diego: Buffer has always been a fully distributed company. I think it's one of the things that also inspired me because when I was at Typeform I was already doing a bit of remote work and I wanted to go deeper and be able to really become location independent, location agnostic, to be able to work from Asia or work from South America or wherever. I think at Buffer this has been part of our philosophy is that you should work from wherever you feel you're more productive. This is also aligned with this vision of you should work the way you feel you're more productive too. So some people might start their day very early, and that's perfect, that fits their schedule really well, while other people might start their day later, they have other things to do in the morning. We're not tracking hours, we just expect you to do the work.

At Buffer, we say we give flexibility but we expect like you to also do your best work here at Buffer. Buffer has always been a fully distributed company, has been a pioneer when it comes to remote work and I've learned a ton about how to work remotely effectively here.

Max: That's great. That's really good. I know we're out of time now, I just don't want to pull you away from any meetings. Do you have a meeting you need to go to?

Diego: No I can keep going

Max: You're able to keep going? I just wanna make sure I'm not taking any of your time away from meetings. So thank you very much, I appreciate it.

That's super, super interesting. I saw you guys were playing around with the possibility of even going as far as four day work weeks.

Diego: We've been doing four-day work weeks for I think two years now.

Max: Really? Wow.

Diego: So it started as an experiment and we realized we felt more productive. We realized that we could operate the business effectively this way, so we decided to keep going. I think we're one of the first companies to fully embrace the four day work week, and we've been doing it for I think almost two years now successfully.

Max: I would love to see some numbers on productivity from the before and after, because all you hear about is the four day work week means you work four great day, and I would love to know how closely you guys keep an eye on those efficiency numbers if they exist.

Diego: I don't know. I'm sure we've put out a report about this somewhere in our blog. I'm sure there's something out there. We did experiment with it at the beginning. For instance, we tried allowing teams to decide which day to take off. So there was a moment where, for instance, with my team, we were doing Wednesdays off, and I remember that felt really interesting and weird because it was like, you work Monday, you work Tuesday, it's already Tuesday and it feels like a Friday. I was ordering pizza on a Tuesday night and I was like, wait, my neighbors have to work tomorrow. It's super weird, you know? And then I would rest on Wednesday and then I would come back. It's Thursday, Friday, and then the weekend. So Thursday and Friday felt like nothing. So it was really interesting doing it on Wednesdays. But then we realized that if the whole company was doing different days, it became a little tricky because you didn't know who was off what day. So we agreed that we would all do it just one day, and we landed on Fridays. So that first experiment lasted just for a month or two, but we've been doing Fridays off for almost two years now.

Max: This is so exciting and so interesting to be in a team that's of a product that moves fast and you guys are constantly updating your products and like you said, one of the things you're mainly focused on is innovation and new products, and you're still able to make sure efficiency and productivity's never affected. You can work remotely and you can work across time zones and whatever day of the week and whatever time of the day, and it still works out.

Diego: Yeah, I think if anything we are seeing like a better shipping cadence lately. But that's because we really put our focus on shipping iteratively and working on what's the minimum unit of value that we can ship. So I think if anything I'm proud of the pace that we have more recently, and that's doing for the work weeks. I think we're humans, we're not robots, so I think we like that time off. That actually has a lot of benefits, right? Because the way we see it is the days you're working, you leave it all on the field. Our CEO Joel has expressed this before. We really come to work and we're fully present. We're doing our best work because we know that we have a longer weekend, we have Friday to do whatever. Anything pending that's on your mind that usually take up little bits of time here and there, what you don't see are the consequences of that, the toll that has on productivity later, during that day or even in that morning as you're thinking, oh, I have to do this in the afternoon, this and that. So I think we're really focused and we really give it all to those four days, because you really want to unplug and disconnect during the weekend and have a long weekend.

So it's been really fascinating and I do think it unlocks a ton of productivity and creativity too, because you come back fresh. You know that feeling at the weekends you're like, ah I wish the weekend had another day. Well with the four day work weeks you don't feel that way because really on Sunday you're fully rested I think. It's really, really powerful.

Max: That's a great point. It's something I've thought about a lot. It's something I've considered and you know, it's something I definitely do when I have those days off when I have a bank holiday weekend or a puente or  whatever it may be, and I will have those thoughts to myself. There are weeks where I find myself like wow I had a bit more of a deadline this week. It kind of kicked me in the ass a bit, I had to get some work done. So it's very interesting to know that in practice that does work.

Diego: Absolutely, definitely works. I think if you have clear focus and clear goals as a team then you'll be able to get it done. You'll be surprised. You're just squeezing that work in and we don't necessarily expect you to work longer hours just to have that day off. I think it's about having more focus time and you're doing better work. Honestly, I just think it's about better quality work that you're doing.

Max: I guess something that's very interesting, especially because you lean so much on asynchronous communication, like you said. I would love to know how you keep your personal flow going. How do you make sure that you're not being interrupted at work, but you make sure your team's aligned, you're having meetings when you have to have meetings, but then avoiding it when you can using asynchronous communication. I would love to hear a breakdown of how you guys approach protecting your work time

Diego: I think you've pretty much explained it very clearly. We are very protective of meeting times, because if it's not needed... I think was it Paul Graham, "a unnecessary evil". I think we, we avoid them. They are sometimes needed, and we're not shy if we need to hop in a call. I think some things are faster sometimes, especially in projects from zero to one or where you're aligning at the beginning, it's okay to have a couple of meetings there, but in general we do rely more heavily on async communication. Even if we're gonna have a meeting, I still rely on async communication because it just makes the meeting way more productive because I've shared all the context in advance. Before it used to be no meetings unless you have an agenda, right? Or clear topics for the meeting. I think the next iteration of that is no meetings if you haven't shared a video recording of you explaining what you need, and maybe like the prototype or whatever or what questions you have so people can maybe answer some of those asynchronously. Then during the call, you might even skip the call if it's no longer needed or you might have that call but it's more focused because everyone has all the context, everyone has seen the designs, people have gone back and forth a little bit in terms of the questions that everyone had. So the meeting is more about like any final points that you had to just work through together. It really leads to more effective meetings. We do very few meetings here at Buffer actually. I meet with my team, for instance, just once every week, and with the product team once per week. I think every, almost everything else happens asynchronously.

Max: Great. You are doing most of that through I'm guessing tools like Slack and you're messaging each other, but then I guess you're working a lot through Jira and maybe screen recording tools?

Diego: Yeah, we definitely rely on that mix there. We use Slack just to say hi every morning and it's more of a bonding tool to some extent. We have a water cooler channel. We have a channel where we share pics of our pets. So I think it's more about staying connected as a distributed team, I think Slack is a great tool for that. Then we also use Dropbox Paper for collaboration when it comes to something like working on a hypotheses and you're breaking something down. You're working on early user stories before you're even in Jira we might use something like Paper. Then we break things down and stories live in Jira. If I have any questions for engineers or if there's anything that's on my mind where I need their input, I might just record a short video for them and ask for their feedback. So I might be walking through some of the designs or some of the user stories and ask for their input. So I think these video collaboration tools are definitely very helpful there.

Max: See, I would love to hear what your kind of opinion is on a recent article and Shopify's approach. They're killing any meetings that are more than two people, and I'm assuming you will have seen this recently. I would love to know where you stand, because that is a very strong stance to take and I would love to hear how you feel about it. 

Diego: Oof that's a good one. I don't know. At Buffer, we like to lean more on values and less on strict rules. I think it's a small difference, but I think it can go a long way, right? So for instance, if you define rules, then you need to refine rules for absolutely everything. But what if you need a bunch of exceptions and things to consider if you create it less as a rule and more a value or a principle, I think it's a little easier, because I would've probably done that a little bit different and said, let's try to avoid meetings that are more than two people. Instead of making it a rule, I would make it more of a principle so people can operate that way and know that most of the times, they should avoid at all costs, these meetings that are two or more people. But sometimes if they're needed, well let's hop on and there's four of us, let's do it. But it's just a good reminder of how costly meetings can be in meeting time is not just because of the cost of having four people or more there and during that call, but also the opportunity costs of these people doing other things and the impact it has on their productivity, because if you know you have a meeting in 30 minutes, you're probably already thinking about this, so you're not as deep in your work as you should be. Then after the meeting, maybe you have some lingering thoughts and you're also like, it takes time to get back in your zone and find your groove.

I think meetings are definitely super expensive, so if anything, I think I appreciate it. I think I would probably probably agree with this. I would just maybe do a little different version of it where it's not as much as a rule, but more of a principle or a guiding principle.

Max: Yeah I think I feel very similar and it's something that we're definitely trying to always do, internally at Claap as well. It's so tempting to be the meeting killer and this kind of approach to marketing where we're like you don't need meetings, meetings are done, meetings are old. You need to be doing something else. But the truth is, the real way to empower product teams and any team is to give them the options right?

Diego: Yeah, absolutely. And you need to understand that you have different personalities and teams, people with different backgrounds. Maybe there's someone who's been doing meetings for 15/20 years, you need to understand that it's a change that is hard for some people, and that's okay.So if you wanna build an inclusive organization, you need to navigate these things. But I guess making it a rule, you put your foot in the ground, you're just basically enforcing that, making that change, forcing that change to happen faster. So that can be a good thing too, but I guess if you do it through a principle, you could probably get to the same result without it being so harsh for some people. But that's true. 

Max: That's a good way to look at it. Well I have so many more questions I could ask you, but just move on to the final section of the podcast. I would love to look towards the future and I would love to hear two things. My first question for you is, is there anything as a PM and as someone who's in the world of product that you think that you see certain trends in products, certain approaches to products that you think, wow, we're gonna be doing this in five years still, this is something we're gonna be doing? It could be AI, it could be Scrum, it could be Sprints, it could be anything. Is there anything you think, wow, this is an undying element of product?

Diego: I think that's a tough one because I am pretty bad at predictions. I guess I don't want to make a prediction, so I guess the one thing that I do see is a desire not just for - I'm gonna talk about product people, but this applies to the industry in general -  I think there's a strong desire for more freedom, more flexibility, to work from wherever, to move around. COVID has shown us that employees want this, and I think this is something that people want. And of course, who wouldn't want this? This elevates your life in so many ways if done correctly.

But on the other hand, I know many companies have struggled with being able to execute this because it means reinventing some of the ways you work as a company. It means maybe you need to do use different tools. Maybe you need to have different values for this to work correctly. Maybe you need to hire differently. There's so many maybes, there's so many different ifs and things to consider that the easiest thing is to say, let's go back to the office period. So I think the one trend that I do see clearly evolving, - I'm actually excited to see it happening more and more - is navigate this clash between what employees want and what companies need.

So I hope we can see more companies embrace remote work effectively so that they can be more productive, while being supportive of employees being able to work from wherever and wherever they feel more productive and they're happier. So this is the one trend I would like to see more of and love to see the evolution of different tools in this space.

Max: That's perfect. I think that's a really, really great point, especially the tools. There's a market now in accommodating and making people comfier and comfier working from home and more and more able to, kind of taking the power back and I've really enjoyed seeing it happen. And like you say, COVID is a double-edged sword, and kind of the reason why we're now able to live in this situation where people can have a bit more power. So I think that's a really, really well-put point. And for the last question, I would just love to hear about you. Is there anything, what do you want to be working on now? What's the most exciting thing for you to be working on in the world of product? What do you think is something that you want to be working on still for years to come?

Diego: That's... yeah... it's a tough one. Great question. I guess as a product person, and what really gets me going is knowing, thinking about the impact we can have. People who use our products. So that's why I'm very grateful for being a part of Buffer because I've been, an entrepreneur, founder myself. I know how hard it is to get a business off the ground and knowing that I can work on tools that are meant to help small and medium sized businesses is just very fulfilling. So I definitely want to keep working in this space where our focus is mostly on serving small, medium-sized businesses, creators.

I know how hard it is to get a startup off the ground so that's something that where I want to continue playing in and developing my skills as a product manager so I can serve these users better. That's where I see things evolving for me. Ultimately, I know there's a lot in the AI space as well that can unlock value for customers. I think navigating some of that is interesting because there's just so much that can get commoditized so quickly and there's a lot of things that maybe seem like a shiny object today. So really being able to look through that and think of ways that AI can really help us serve small and medium-sized businesses in the future is also something that I am excited about. Being mindful of not following a shiny object. So I guess it's that balance, right? Of thinking about the human element and the job to be done from a customer's perspective without trying to just follow AI because it's AI, you know? That's another interesting one that's maybe more recent.

Max: Yeah, it's the next step. The next step is actually contextualizing all of this tech we have and how to best use it, definitely. Amazing. Well, there's so many other things we could definitely talk about and I already know that in season two when we do this podcast, I'll be messaging you and reaching out again because I really, really wanna dig deeper into your brain and hear about your approach to UX and, everything product-related over at Buffer. Because like they said, like I'm a big fan. I do follow it quite a lot. It's been really, really insightful for me to hear you speak, so thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Diego: Thanks for having me. This was super fun.

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Cracking the collaboration code

Diego Sanchez
Senior Product Manager
Release date:

February 22, 2023

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