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#36: Hubert Palan, Founder and CEO of Productboard — the challenges of scaling leadership, tactics for fundraising, and finding a work/life balance


Hubert is the founder and CEO of, a platform for strategic product design and management headquartered in San Francisco, California. Prior to Productboard, Hubert was the Vice President of Product Management at GoodData, where he managed GoodData’s disruptive platform business, built the whole front-end product management and UX team from the ground up, and established and embodied modern principles of user experience design. Hubert also once worked in management consulting as well as trained 20 national park managers in Vietnam on marketing and strategy.

In our conversation, filmed live at Web Summit in Portugal, Hubert dives into the challenges of scaling leadership, which include the conversations you need to have when an executive is unable to scale, the tactics he uses for fundraising, which helped Productboard become a unicorn, and how he finds a work/life balance.

Tune in and learn!

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Key highlights in this episode

  • Hubert’s company; Productboard (02:15)
  • Definition of empathy (04:08) 
  • How empathy helps leaders scale a company (05:23)
  • How Hubert developed the skill of giving negative feedback (07:08) 
  • The biggest challenge faced by Founders & CEOs of fast-growing companies (12:35)
  • Markers that show that an executive will not be able to scale and the kind of conversations you should have with executives to identify their ability to scale (15:58) 
  • The strategies Hubert uses to fundraise successfully (22:37)
  • Why is it necessary to perform due diligence on investors? (29:00) 
  • How he conducts due diligence on investors (30:00)
  • Hubert’s mood meter; why he built it and how he uses it (32:33)
  • How he maintains a work-life balance (39:08) 
  • His greatest strength and the weakness he is working on (43:26)
  • What Hubert wishes he had known earlier on his journey (45:11)
  • His advice for other founders as they embark on their journey to grow into leaders (47:38)


Notable Quotes 

  • “If as a leader you want to help others to grow, you do that by giving them feedback that is negative.” (06:10)  
  • “Leadership isn’t a natural act.” (06:52) 
  • “The fact that it doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you have that intuition that you don’t want to do it, it’s almost the signal that you should do it.” (08:44) 
  • “Business is the number one responsibility of the leaders.” (10:59) 
  • “Good investors evaluate the ability to execute and scale different scale setups early on.” (28:22) 


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