Interview with David Topf, Chief Product Officer and Co-founder
Peers: Why are you passionate about your job?
David: There are a couple of reasons: firstly, I love product management, I enjoy building an awesome product that helps customers with their pains. So many different skills are needed to be a good product manager, it is simultaneously extremely challenging, but also interesting and fun.
With regards to Peers, founding a company with Elisa is a great pleasure. I love working with her as she is driven and extremely compassionate. We both have a similar sense of what it takes to do a great job and, in many aspects, we complement each other very well.
Lastly, the problem that Peers solves resonates with me. I worked at my father’s company, in the prototyping business. I saw the pain point there – technical employees are very good at what they do, but they are left behind with respect to digitalization, smart machines, improving processes etc. They fear industry 4.0, and I believe that the way to face that fear is to learn and constantly develop. Foreign companies are doing it way better than Germany. There are many countries where learning is part of everyday work-life. So, our solution is solving a real problem, which needs an urgent solutions, which motivates me even more.
Peers: What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
David: With regards to product management the most important advice I received is that testing and user feedback are crucial. Always listen to users, because they will guide you in perfecting the product. It’s so easy to skip this step or not take it serious, which is a fatal mistake.
Peers: What skills are needed for a product manager?
David: It is all about effective communication. Technical skills are nice to have, but not crucial. I have to communicate with different stakeholders in and outside the company and keep everyone updated. Give them the feeling that we are going in the right direction and everything is running correctly.
Peers: If you could meet any living person for dinner, who would you pick and why?
David: I would meet Bill Gates, or somebody like him, who is facing a beautiful problem of having a lot of money and does not know how to use it optimally to make the world a better place. It would be fascinating to hear his ideas and his take about it.
The other option would be to meet Dalai Lama, just to listen to him for hours. That would be the experience of a lifetime.
Peers: Which fictional character you relate to?
David: There is not one character that I relate to, but I know who I want to be when I am much older – Albus Dumbledore. He is unbelievably smart, also the coolest mentor and everybody loves him.
Peers: What’s your go-to productivity trick?
David: I don’t have one go-to trick. I would love to have one, but there is not just a single magic action that helps me. Working effectively is about realizing you have to get your things done and sometimes you just have to sit and do it. Also, everyone has a flow state when they are really productive and you can induce that by setting up your environment perfectly and work on tasks that help you with reaching such a state. But most of the time you have to get the things done wether you are in a flow state or not. Sometimes you might have the luxury to wait for it, but mostly you don’t. In this case, being passionate about the job you are doing helps a lot.