Francis Ford Coppola’s wisdom for product managers

“Arbiter of Focus”—that’s how David Lieb, who was the CEO of Bump & who now leads product for Google Photos—describes a PM’s job. Elsewhere I’ve heard, “What game are we playing, and how do we keep score?” In a similar vein, I found resonance in these remarks from Francis Ford Coppola:

Q. What is the one thing to keep in mind when making a film?

A. When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality. The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.

Here’s the rest of the interview.


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