Ryan Johnson has over 15+ years of diverse product development leadership experience in early-stage startups and Fortune 100 companies. As CallRail's Chief Product Officer, he leverages his passion for developing best-in-class products to solve real-world problems.

We recently caught up with Ryan to hear how his time with PLA has shaped his PLG journey. Here’s what he had to say:


I was looking to get more involved in product communities. At CallRail, we are a PLG company, so it seemed off the bat that PLA would be a great fit. I regularly work with an executive coach who works with product and tech executives. I asked him if he or other product leaders he coaches had suggestions. PLA was mentioned several times, which was a big endorsement and driver to my joining the community.

Honestly, I love the events. I’ve attended three consecutive PLA CPO Conferences. I learned so much from these events. They provide an outside perspective, which is so valuable. The diverse group of product leaders that PLA can get together is impressive, both with who is speaking and who is attending. The events and content are top-notch.


Discussions with other CPOs and product leaders are so insightful. It’s a smaller pool of people than you think, where I find we often know mutual people in product. Discussions about the challenges other product leaders encounter and how they solve them are so useful. 

Additionally, I love to follow the conversations happening in the PLA Slack channels. I feel I learn something new almost weekly about a unique product topic, product, or challenge that others face in the industry.


I would say there are three main sources that are helpful. The first is the events, but onsite and remotely with recorded sessions. Second is the Slack community, as rich conversations are happening about product all the time. Finally, the CPO Space is also great, with fantastic content regarding the challenges that CPOs face.


I have built up new connections, specifically at the CPO conferences I have attended. I’ll also make the occasional new connection in the Slack community.

The biggest impact on my professional growth is getting great outside perspectives on what's happening in product management organizations today. There is so much information out there, but hearing what other product leaders are doing and what the results are is super helpful in my professional growth. It’s allowed me to try new things that maybe I wouldn’t have if I didn’t learn about the pros and cons of doing so.

Overcoming challenges

One of the speakers at a previous CPO Conference had a presentation about not messing up your AI/ML project. This was before the recent developments with ChatGPT, but it is still profoundly important. The biggest takeaway was don’t try to do everything; start small. Other company leaders may push you into taking on way too much. It helped validate some of the things I was saying with the C-Suite. I had a data point to say we need to start small, as here are some examples of biting off more than you can chew.


I try to chime in and provide my perspective on interesting topics/discussions in the community's Slack channel. I spoke at the PLA CPO Summit in San Francisco on Sept 19th. I also did a fireside chat on “Customer-Centric CPOs - creating a product with the end user in mind.”

The community is curious, respectful, and helpful. From what I can see, no one comes in with a chip on their shoulder. They come in with an open mind, ready to learn from others.


PLA is a great community where the focus is so relevant. I also enjoy other professional networks, but since PLA is 100% product-focused, it fills a big void for me.

If you want to learn from the best in the product community, join PLA. You will find its community to be very welcoming and helpful. You can see a passion from the community members for the product craft and a sharing/learning mentality. If you are a seasoned CPO or a brand-new product manager, I guarantee you will learn something valuable by joining the PLA community