Product Habits Workshop: April 20-21, 2016 San Francisco

"The Product Habits Workshop challenged me to think differently about designing solutions. It was a very interactive and informative workshop."

—Aisling Hassell, Global Head of CX, Airbnb

Product Habits Workshop: “Influence, storytelling and story-mapping”
April 20-21, 2016 | San Francisco

So, what’s the workshop, and who is it for?

This workshop is a practical, 2-day intensive that will teach PRODUCT MANAGERS how to use storytelling and story-mapping to effectively communicate. Through the product development process, it’s not just about delivering data – depending on the recipient, it might not mean anything – it’s about becoming a “meaning-maker” and then being able to externalize that thinking. PRODUCT MANAGERS will learn how to develop a user narrative, externalize their thinking to contribute to a shared understanding of a product and develop the shared understanding through storytelling and story-mapping to ultimately take the “great idea” all the way to production.

Date and Location

Wednesday, April 20 – Thursday, April 21, 2016
Day 1: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 from 8 am to 5:30 pm (Cocktail following session)
Day 2: Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 8 am to 5pm  (Meetup following the session)
San Francisco

Key Takeaways

  • You will acquire four easy, transformational tips for improving your stories.
  • You will improve the development of your narrative intelligence – and understanding the benefits of being able to recognize, gather, and share stories in support of innovation and collaboration.
  • You will leave with at least one well-developed story, and with ideas about with whom and how to share your story.
  • You will learn how to visualize your product from your user’s perspective by developing a story-map.
  • You will learn how to use a story-map to not only visualize the holes in your thinking but use it to process alternative use cases and options that might ultimately lead to a better product.

Presenters Include

  • Jeff Patton, expert and author of “User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product”
  • Thaler Pekar, communications and narrative expert and CEO of Thaler Pekar & Partners
  • Jana Eggers, CEO, Nara Logics, Inc.
  • Cathy Salit, CEO, Performance of a Lifetime

If this sounds like a valuable experience to you register now.

Or, if you’d like to learn more, keep reading!


“I really loved it. It was interactive and there were tangible takeaways I could use for my day to day job.”

—Lauren Antonelli, Director of Product, Evite

The workshop will focus on Storytelling (and how it’s an effective leadership tool) and Story-Mapping, as well as leadership session with a keynote given by Cathy Salit. Session descriptions below.

Session 1 – Story: What it is, Why it Matters, & How to Use it with Customers & Colleagues

What is story, and why does it work so well in engaging audiences and fostering understanding?

Led by Thaler Pekar, communications and narrative expert and CEO of Thaler Pekar & Partners, this segment discusses why the ability to identify, elicit, and share stories is the pressing requirement of modern leadership. Many leaders, however, are confounded by what makes a good story, and how and when to ask for, or share one. In this fast-paced, highly interactive program, you will explore how to find, develop, and share stories so as to deepen your engagement with both customers and colleagues.

Story: What it is, Why it Matters, & How to Use it with Clients & Colleagues defines story and why it matters to your customers–and to your career. You’ll experience how stories, unlike messages, invite conversation.

Session 2 – The Councils General Session

Attendees will sit in on the Councils General Sessions with companies that range from Apple to Warby Parker and will Include a keynote given by Cathy Salit on leadership.

Session 3 – Story-mapping

A story map is a simple way to visualize your product idea from your users’ perspective. Mapping your product’s story uses the same approach scriptwriters use to think through a movie or TV story idea. It’s fast, collaborative, and telling your product’s story helps you spot the holes in your thinking. Once created, a map lets you think through options and alternative ideas that will make your product better.

Led by story-mapping expert, and Chief Troublemaker, Jeff Patton of Jeff Patton & Associates, draws (literally) a comparison to how something as simple as written directions can go horribly wrong when you don’t get to what’s behind it and share the story. “We may believe we’re in agreement but it’s only when we tell it back and externalize our thinking, when we combine and refine, it develops this intangible state of shared understanding.”

You’ll learn story mapping by building a simple map collaboratively with others. You’ll learn how to use story maps to make sense of how users and customers do things today, and how they might do things better with your product. You’ll learn how to use story maps to drive Lean Startup style experimentation, as well as heads-down Agile software development.

Session 4 – Moderated Discussion and Deep Dive: the Connection between Storytelling and Story-mapping

Moderated by Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics, this segment explores why having a strong narrative is important for story-mapping through a moderated discussion between Jeff and Thaler. They will examine what each has learned from the other and how it relates. Most importantly, it will illustrate the disconnect that occurs between not knowing a customer and therefore not being able to tell their story and why it ultimately leads to failure, or a map with no story.

After the discussion, you will take one of two tracks, either a deep dive into “How to further develop your customer story” or a deep dive into Story-mapping and how it can be used in your current work.

TP_bwThaler Pekar is a leading voice in persuasive communication, leadership and multichannel storytelling, and organizational narrative. As an internationally sought-after strategist, speaker, and coach, Thaler directs entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 leaders, and philanthropists in breaking through a crowded marketplace and engaging audiences, increasing sales and income, and heightening visibility and influence.

Thaler is a visiting professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School Executive Masters in Communications Management. She is a Founding Member of the American College of Women’s Health Physicians. Thaler has studied at the Columbia University Medical Center Program in Narrative Medicine.

Thaler is a long-time resident of Hoboken, NJ, and a more recent resident of Unadilla, NY. Thaler always crosses the street to walk on the sunny side. And she has a cat named Truthiness.

"She is fun to work with and obviously bright but not ego driven. It has been a privilege to work with her each time we have hired her. What I love most about her is that much of what she does is value driven. She has a strong set of personal values that drive her life and for which I have great respect. Thaler is the real deal.”

—George Heinrichs, Founder of Intrado and now of Public Safety Ventures

JeffP_bwJeff Patton is the glue that connects good product management and strategy, lean user experience and agile delivery practices together. He has authored numerous articles, essays and, most recently, a book, “User Story Mapping.” An independent consultant with a unique teaching and speaking style, he uses hand-drawings and engaging storytelling to share his passion for product design.

Jeff has a long, involved history in product design. He has designed and developed software for the past 20 years on a wide variety of projects from online aircraft part ordering to electronic medical records. Jeff has focused on Agile approaches since working on an early Extreme Programming team in 2000. In particular, he has specialized in the application of user-centered design techniques to improve Agile requirements, planning, and products.

He lives in Park City, Utah where he snowboards, hikes and “tries” to keep up with his wife and two daughters.

“Working with Jeff is amazing. Jeff is doing the most innovative work I know of around release planning, agile interaction design, and putting requirements into context."

—Julias Shaw, Sr Software Engineer at mobi

cathy-salit-bodyCathy Rose Salit, CEO and co-founder of Performance of a Lifetime, has been shaking things up since she was 13. That’s when she began her career by dropping out of eighth grade and helping to start a progressive alternative school in an abandoned storefront in New York City. (Random House published a book — Starting Your Own High School — about the endeavor.) An accomplished social entrepreneur, actress, director, improvisational comic and singer, Cathy can be seen in the Castillo Theatre’s musical improv comedy show, The Proverbial Loons in New York City; in one of her signature interactive keynote presentations around the country; and in gyms throughout Manhattan honing her kick-boxing skills.

Who It’s For

The workshop is designed for:
Product Managers
Key Stakeholders in Product Development

Wednesday, April 20, 2016: Workshop (8am – 5:30pm)

  • Breakfast & Registration
  • Morning session: Storytelling to Influence
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon session: Attendees will join the Councils* General Session, including a keynote given by Cathy Salit and a mini-workshop on Creating a TED-worthy talk (*Detailed description below)
  • Cross-Council/Workshop Cocktails (5:30pm – 7pm)

Thursday, April 21, 2016: Workshop (8am – 5pm)

  • Breakfast
  • Morning session: Story-mapping
  • Afternoon session: Moderated discussion led by Phil Terry, followed by deep dive breakouts on either Storytelling or Story-mapping (guidance on track selection provided during discussion)
  • Unofficial Bar party: join your fellow PMs for a drink to discuss learnings and network (6-8pm)

"I liked the interactive aspects of the workshop - especially helpful to get practical experience. I'm looking forward to using the techniques in my design work."

—Sari Harris, User Experience Lead, TD Ameritrade

To ensure that everyone has the best opportunity to engage with the workshop leaders we are limiting the number of seats available. Last fall this event sold out quickly, make sure you get your tickets as soon as possible!

If you’d like to come, please register here:

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Collaborative Gain is a community of senior leaders—peers across a range of industries—who help each other lead innovation and customer-centric change.

Our primary service is the Collaborative Gain Councils founded by Phil Terry in 2002, then CEO of Creative Good, with other Internet pioneers like Marissa Mayer, then of Google, Elizabeth Peaslee, then head of product for Travelocity, and others.

Each council has 12-15 non-competing peers (i.e. Chief Product Officers and others) who make a commitment to helping their fellow members learn from their own mistakes and successes. Members come not to learn from third-party experts or consultants but from each other – smart, operating executives making key decisions everyday.