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The Stack Overflow Podcast

We sit down with Teresa Dietrich, Stack Overflow's new Chief Product Officer. Teresa, a CMU grad and tech industry veteran, shares a story from her time at AOL: the day three little dots emerged without warning and turned their network upside down.

What happens when millions of minimum byte packets start pinging off your network every few seconds? Bandwidth is a restriction most network engineers are familiar with. It's less often they have to think about packets per second. Teresa shares an awesome story of how a new feature for AOL Instant Messenger, AIM for you 90s nerds, turned up the heat on AOL's servers.

After regaling us with war stories from the days of dial-up internet, we chat about what the job of a chief product officer is today. At a place like Stack Overflow, how do you unite functional departments across the company - from marketing to sales to engineering? How do you figure out the right incentives, so that the data you're measuring against is aligned with the long term health of the company and the community?

"I don't focus on shipping, I focus on impact," Teresa told us. "That's where product management, engineering, and design come together. Product management is focused on value. Engineering is focused on quality, and design is focused on usability. If you think of that as Venn diagram, impact is where those three things overlap and happen."

Lastly, we chat about the incredible velocity with which new coding languages and development frameworks emerge in the tech industry. Teresa shares her philosophy for encouraging an engineering team to level up and learn new skills while ensuring that this kind of continuous evolution doesn't create a lot of friction for the overall organization.

"That which we measure, we incentivize towards," is one of her favorite sayings, and Teresa applies it to scoping an overall product roadmap for a company, including what tools, new and old, to use along the way.

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