Space Aliens Are Among Us, Your Product Roadmap is Realistic and Other Lies You Believe

Johnny Austin


LeadingEng West Coast Oct 2023

About Me

The Office

It's me, Johnny 👋🏾

Some Experience

  • 17 Years of product and tech experience (10 in leadership)
  • Sr. Director, Product @ Best Egg
  • Former CTO @ Till
  • Former Director of Engineering @ Mapbox
  • Two acquisition exits
  • Built products and services that have reached millions of end users
  • Managed globally distributed teams across 5 timezones
  • Non-profit boards/for-profit board of advisors
  • Someone once paid me money for a jQuery plugin

Quick Disclaimer

Yes, you're the exception. But...

Types of Lies

The Bold Faced Lie

The Betrayal

The Delusion

"People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

- Steve Jobs

Assume you're not Steve Jobs.

What Happened?

(Some of) The Lies

Bold faced lie, betrayal or delusion?

I can hit my headcount target for next quarter.

Higher HC != Increase in productivity

We need to build to cover all possible use-cases.

Be forward looking, not future-proofing.

We need to refactor.

Quantify the impact.

We'll pay down that tech debt later.


If we focus on growth today, we'll find a way to get to profitability later.

ZIRP thinking is so over.

No one will pay for this.

They'll pay for value.

Streaming Prices

Why do we tell these lies?

We're not going to stop.





By Johnny Ray Austin