David Fradin Interview • Spice Catalyst & Apple’s Business Unit Manager

Zach:              Hi everybody Zach Miller here again and as you know I’m always looking out for the most incredible experts that I can get my hands on that we can learn and really zap the knowledge that’s inside their brains and make it ours. Because we know that when we have enough knowledge and power of what works and what is working, then obviously implementing it is a lot easier. Just like Tony Robbins always used to say, you just find someone who’s successful, you copy what they’re doing and you’ll have similar success.

So with that being said, I have with me today the President of Spice Catalyst, he is a business planning expert, he has real teaching skills in marketing, business planning, and strategy so much that his actual degree goes into a professor. He is at Menopal Global Academy and he is just rocking it right now. I want to introduce David Fradin. How is it going David?

David:             Great. Glad to be with you Zach.

Zach:              Awesome so first thing I want to really get involved with is what do you do for the audience that doesn’t know about you or you know just needs to learn a little bit. What do you do, how do you help people?

David:             Well the key thing for product success is a person that has the responsibilities of releasing what’s called Lisa Hewlett-Packard and that Apple is called a Product Manager. They’re the ones responsible for understanding what the customers want to do and then conveying that vision of what the product must do to the engineering team to come up with innovative ways and thought helping them get things done better and faster and with higher quality or with style. So my primary business is I teach product management and product marketing worldwide my largest client is Cisco, I’ve taught several thousand people worldwide ranging from the Bhaswati and Telecommunications Company, to the Capital One Bank, to others throughout the world.

The basis of those in-person workshops and courses, is a series of books that I’ve written. The first one was called building insanely great products which is about Amazon it’s the first of a series of three books, the next one is going to be Organizing and Managing Insanely Great Products. And then I have a series of seven books coming out from Wiley & Sons entitled The Foundations and The Successful Management of Products. The reason I called that is because most people don’t understand what a product manager does. But somebody or many people at any organization whether it’s an enterprise or a small start-up, are responsible primarily for a product’s success and I teach the things that can help or substantially increase the chances of success.

Zach:              So just both physical and digital these applications can go to anybody who’s looking to build their business and be able to output products at a great efficiency right?

David:             That’s correct type of product really doesn’t matter and in fact product is a tangible thing, it’s something that we could touch. A service is an intangible product something you cannot touch so this applies from hard products to soft services across the boards. All the basic principles of what it takes to have a successful product.

Zach:              Cool so I just wanted the audience to understand that that is a universal all these rules are applicable, it’s not that you have to be a big start-up company or that you have to be inside the information realm, you can simply be even an author, apply these ideas I’m sure and be able to expand your business especially when it comes in to different realms of expansion, how to build products like your book covers, how to create a really great product right?

David:             Exactly and I’ve had consultants like me take my courses or read my books that do the work books which gives them their business plan to implement their business. One lady who is a fashion designer and consultant, she’ll go in and take a look at a person’s closet and recommend what they should keep but not keep and they go out first to shopping trips but she needed a new way to build up a business, but like most entrepreneurs, like even most big companies, they leap right in and build the product and then they hope that they built a better mousetrap or the world would be the path to their door and there couldn’t be a bigger lie than that because if it doesn’t really do what the customer wants to do, and the customer doesn’t know about it, then it doesn’t matter how good your mouse trap is.

Zach:              Right exactly. I couldn’t agree anymore and in that same line, how did you get started in your industry and you know to the point of where you are today?

David:             Well I was a corporate PR at Hewlett-Packard and had always been interested in office automation and I handled Dave Packard’s from the founders personal PR when he was on the board for a few years, and I noticed that we didn’t have any word processing in the PR department. It was the only department of the company that knew how to type. So I found HP Slate with eternal word processor program, ran on a mini computer and I deployed it in the 32 person PR department and everybody loved it because the productivity went way up from the old way of using selectric typewriters and having your secretary retype and retype and retype, and that got me interested in this field of Product Management which HP developed and then has spread worldwide now building on the concept of a brand manager for Procter & Gamble dating back to 1932.

So I was able to move horizontally at product management which you can do in those days at HP, got into office systems product management then Apple recruited me to bring the market the very first hard disk drive on a personal computer was a fantastic little device it had an enormous five megabytes of storage and it only cost $3600 and nobody had any interest in it, why they would need all that space.

And so that launched my career at Apple as a product manager and though they noticed that I knew how to manage, so they asked me to take over the Apple three product line as a group product manager, and then because the company was using the wrong metrics, they tried to kill the product line with $20million worth of inventory and the president asked me what we should do about it and I said if you give me the authority commensurate with responsibility, we would sell and service this thing and he did, and we did, and we produced enough profits as a cash cow before the Boston Consulting Group even defined the concept of a cash cow to keep about a thousand to fifteen hundred Apple employees employed, including funding the development of a Macintosh.

Zach:             Wow, quite enormous history to say the least.

David:             That at 25 cents I still can’t get a cup of coffee at Starbucks [laughter].

Zach:              All right David, so that is just so absolutely amazing, just really the power that you had and the knowledge that you were able to apply and how it made something that was basically a failure in Apple’s eyes into like you said a cash cow, a profit machine… So when it comes to business, where do you see most people as in individuals and companies kind of failing?

David:             About 40% of all new products and services fail each year. According to a study I saw I think it was McKinsey or somebody else, the United States or the world spends about $1.6trillion every year in new product development and researching development. So that represents a waste of about a half a trillion to three quarters of a trillion dollars of worldwide resources that lead to product failure. And of course if the product fails, there’s no return on that investment. And I’ve narrowed down all of those failures into six T’s as to what it takes for product and service success, and they’re embodied in the name Spice Catalyst as a pneumonic spices.

So the first key is you’ve got to have a product market strategy. A strategy for your product in the market and that consists of 32 different component, most of which are skipped before the product is developed and taken to market and fail. The P stands for process, you need to have a repeatable mature process for your product management lifecycle so that you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. As one VP I was consulting with, he said they had five chronic years in the last few years, and without a process which they asked me to design for them, they had developed a culture of blame. Everybody pointed fingers at everybody else.

The ‘’I’’ is the information. Have the information available so people can make decisions in a timely manner rather than taking swag wild ass guesses or super wild ass guesses as to what the market is and where the market is, what they’re willing to pay and so forth or having available the right information at the right time. So that’s SPI, ‘’C’’ is customers and it’s more than customer centric and it’s more than just visionary customers that you could find them. Most customers can’t tell you what they want. In fact the story goes that Henry Ford once asked somebody if they wanted a car but of course in those days if you had the internet no one would have been buying keywords on car because nobody had ever heard of it before and everybody told allegedly in this urban myth, ‘’Henry no we don’t want a car, we want a faster horse.’’ It’s because he could have observed people running to meetings, riding horses as fast as they possibly can. They wanted a faster way to transport themselves and their goods from place to place. You got to ask the right question so you do that by understanding who is your customer and what they want to do and then you can roll those do’s. What do you want to do, when do you want to do, where do you want to do, why do you want to do, so forth into the jobs that they have to get done which is the type of stuff that totally already talks about; it is outcome based innovation work that says you innovate based upon the outcomes that your customers want to have. And if you do that, then it’s really easy to write the value proposition and this marketing materials and the sales pitch as to why people should buy the company or buy the product.

So that’s the ‘’C’’. The E is the employees. They have to have the competencies and the skillsets to get the job done and I’ve identified a hundred and thirty competencies that an organization must have whether it’s very very small, it’s a start-up, or as a major enterprise without which they are doomed to failure. And most organizations don’t do an evaluation of what competencies that they currently have or competencies that people have or what competencies they need to develop and lay that out in a plan  over time to make sure that they have the competencies necessary for product success. And the last thing is the systems and tools. The management of products, you need to have the visibility as to where the product is in its product life cycle. Where the latest version of the sales pitch is, where is the latest version of the marketing deck is, where’s the latest version of the personas that we’re developing for or selling for and have that available to the right people at the right time.

And unfortunately most of the tools on the market today whether it’s Google Docs or Microsoft Office are sort of like handing the Carpenter a screwdriver when he really needs a hammer.

Zach:              So if you were to start over today kind of from square one building your own business like a lot of entrepreneurs are in even the start-ups, what would be that first step forward? What would be that thing that you would move on?

David:             It’s actually two things. One is; understand what your customer wants to do and I talked about that earlier, translate that into innovation and design, customer oriented type of design which then gives you the value proposition and then roll that into the 32 parts of a product market strategy. Now that’s going to take a little bit of time or probably take at least a man month worth of actual sitting down and doing the work and most people don’t want to do that, maybe another month or two in their order to get the interviews and the observations together for the basic data collection to validate your assumptions and your concepts about the product is. It is not getting into a room and brainstorming up a new idea because it’s totally all right points out. In order for a product to be successful, you have to satisfy 15 unmet needs and if you run the numbers because it’s a factory kind of number, he says you got to come up with nearly fifteen million ideas within which there’ll be 15 unmet needs and it’ll take you probably not if any of our lifetimes combined longer to try to get rid of the bad ideas to find the good ones and the jewels in the rough that it would be to just go out and observe and then do your market research with your interviewing and surveying and looking at the big data and so forth.

That’s precisely what Proctor and Gamble has been doing what for well over a hundred years and that’s why that company is still around and every company that’s still around today has been doing that, the companies that are no longer here are about two thirds I think or so of an original fortune 500 list, those companies are gone it’s because they did not do what I just described.

Zach:              Wow that is the biggest look into why companies and people as individuals even fail. It’s all about like you said, kind of getting that customer avatar, understanding what the need is because like you said you can go out there, make 15 million new ideas, but how many of them are people actually going to find valuable to their lives intrinsically?

Well guys if you want to get David’s latest and best book, you can go to Zach-miller.com/david-fradin and again David’s website is spicecatalyst.com. All of that is on your screen. If you’re viewing this, if it’s in a podcast again one more time spicecatalyst.com you can go see all of David’s products, all of David’s courses, the books that he’s made, he has done an enormous amount. And there we have it also Building Insanely Great Products, awesome I just want to real quick zoom on up for everybody to see that, that is the newest book that David has written and if you want to learn about everything we’ve talked about in here, go check out David’s book, his courses, there is so much there for you to be virtually guaranteed to succeed.

It’s just a matter of knowing what you’re going into so that you can supply the demand that’s already there. We don’t have to make new markets guys, keep that in mind all the markets are there, they’re there for us to fish from well well overfed fish let me tell you. Thank you David for joining us, it’s been such a pleasure, I hope to talk to you very soon again.

David:             Glad to join you thanks.

Zach:              Bye-bye

David:             Bye-bye

Zach Miller

Author: Zach Miller

Hi, my name is Zach. I want to welcome you to my marketing laboratory. Yeah I know, it kinda looks like a blog, but there’s a reason for that.

So you’ve heard a little bit about me (hopefully all good), and you want to learn why I’m ‘the guy to follow’. And I don’t blame ya, I don’t follow a man till I know where he’s headin’ too.

So, who am I to tell you all these marketing marvels & secrets? Well, let me tell you I’m no genius – I’m actually a college drop out! But even with sub-par collegiate skills, I’ve made myself and others millions online.

Leave a Reply