Good TV viewing for Product Managers

In general I tend to avoid watching too much TV. However there are a handful of programmes that are not only entertaining but also help stimulate the mind and can even help improve your performance as a Product Manager.
My first choice is Dragons Den. I’m always interested at the various business/product propositions that people come up with. But I’m even more interested at how they defend themselves as they are cross examined by the dragons on the content of their elevator pitches.

I’m always keen to listen to what Richard Farleigh has to say principally because of the amount of investment and his keen interest in young startup technology companies.

It seems to me that any entrepreneur planning to face the dragons or any product manager planning to pitch funding for a new product or feature should brain storm and come up with all the obvious – followed by all the possible questions that could be asked. It’s always a shame to see a potentially good idea get turned down because you didn’t have the answer to the few questions. Lets face it most questions asked are quite reasonable and the majority of them could have been predicted.

My second choice is ‘The Apprentice’. Apart from the negative traits in human character that emerge as a result of competing for the prize of a job with the master of entrepreneurial product development. The program identifies many character traits that would be of benefit to anyone aiming to be a successful Product Manager:

  • The ability to work in a team with people who may have their own agendas and/or a different end goal in mind.
  • The ability to tackle a range of tasks at a moments notice.

  • Leading with out authority.

  • Getting buy-in from those you work with.

  • Being held responsible for the actions or lack of actions of others

  • Having to think outside of the box and come up with a result with in tight deadlines.

  • Knowing that the competition is always close behind you or in front of you.

  • Being right or even winning is not always good enough – ask runner up of the last series Ruth Badger.

I hope no one reading this blog ever has to hear those infamous words "I'm out" or even worst still “You’re fired”.


  1. Hi Derek,

    Your blog and articles/reference material is very helpful and has been valuable in my professional development, so thanks for having this site!

    I was interested in watching the show 'Dragon's Den' however, I can't seem to find it on cable, we don't get the particular BBC channel I guess, I'm in US... I assume you are British? Do you have any advise on how I can catch some of these, where else I may find them? It seemed like an intriguing show.

    Thanks for your time!

  2. You can preview scenes from Dragon’s Den on the BBC website. .

  3. I'd recommend the Home Shopping Channel. A couple of hours (not easy, I know) spent watching this "sales orgie" really gives great insight into how the customer reacts to a value proposition. I imagine I am my customer and the HSC is my sales force.

    Trying to identify if there are real market needs behind the products or if they are just trying to flog a couple of containers of someting that arrived from China is fascinating.

    I'm sometimes impressed by some really well thought through concepts, and more often than not made to cringe by overpriced junk and a strong sales pitch.