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Language and Authenticity is Product Management

Shawn Coots, Director of Product Management and Experience Strategy at Humana in Louisville, Kentucky, talks about his path from comic-book illustrator to product manager.


Shawn Coots began his career as a comic-book illustrator. Though he realized quickly the path wasn’t right for him, he took its lessons in communications and how to convey a story to his true calling in product management. It has served him well in his role as director of product management and experience strategy at Humana in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Whenever I can draw something or tell a story visually, it's a really easy way to communicate complex ideas to large swathes of stakeholders, because you can look at a cartoon and understand it might be easier than if I were to dive into some sort of technical explanation of how this server connects to the experience layer, or what have you,” Shawn says. 

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The ability to communicate is one of the most important qualities for success in product management, he believes. “The key strength of a good product manager, in my mind, has always been one of translation,” he adds. “You really are attempting to bring clarity to a lot of different groups, and therefore you have to understand the language or familiarity that they're comfortable with.”

Learn more about Shawn’s take on language, communication, authenticity — and jargon — as well his own ladder to product management leader, on this episode of This Is Product Management.

Here are the highlights: 

  • How to build language capability: 2:37
  • Bringing authenticity to work: 10:11
  • Shawn’s list of his most hated jargony buzzwords: 15:08
  • What Shawn looks for in a product manager: 20:07

Download the transcript of this episode here:


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