DiscoverLenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | CareerAn inside look at how CNN builds product | Upasna Gautam
An inside look at how CNN builds product | Upasna Gautam

An inside look at how CNN builds product | Upasna Gautam

Update: 2023-02-231


Brought to you by Amplitude—Build better products: | OneSchema—Import CSV data 10x faster: | Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security:

Upasna Gautam is a product manager at CNN Digital, where she works closely with editorial staff and journalists to build their internal content management system. She is also a longtime meditation coach and a board member of the News Product Alliance. In today’s episode, we delve into how product teams are structured and operate at CNN, how CNN uses OKRs and roadmaps, and the unique challenges and opportunities in designing a digital product for journalists. Upasna also shares a story about her team’s product saving the day during the 2020 elections and gives listeners a free mini lesson on meditation.

Find the full transcript here:

Where to find Upasna Gautam:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:

• Website:

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:


• Insight Timer:

• News Product Alliance:

Mindfulness in Plain English:

How to Win Friends & Influence People:

• The New Product Development Game:

The Mandalorian on Disney+:

Ted Lasso on AppleTV+:

Everything Everywhere All at Once on Showtime:

Andor on Disney+:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00 ) Upasna’s background

(03:13 ) How Upasna’s meditation background helps her thrive in the chaotic world of product at CNN

(08:55 ) How PMs at CNN build in buffer time and create backup plans when breaking news hits 

(10:26 ) How the product team works with editorial staff and journalists at CNN

(15:22 ) The product org structure at CNN Digital 

(19:02 ) OKRs at CNN

(20:10 ) How CNN’s product teams do long-term planning

(21:37 ) Why Upasna involves the tech lead in all product discovery/product review meetings

(23:51 ) How to boost morale with remote teams

(27:39 ) Balancing maintenance with building new stuff

(29:21 ) The time went down in 2020 and the new platform saved the day

(31:21 ) How the product team rehearses breaking news

(34:22 ) The superpowers Upasna and her team have cultivated

(35:50 ) Why meditation and honing your communication skills help you excel as a PM

(42:01 ) How to get started on the path of meditation

(44:39 ) The work News Product Alliance is doing and how to get involved

(51:54 ) Lightning round

Production and marketing by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at
In Channel
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store








Sleep Timer


End of Episode

5 Minutes

10 Minutes

15 Minutes

30 Minutes

45 Minutes

60 Minutes

120 Minutes

An inside look at how CNN builds product | Upasna Gautam

An inside look at how CNN builds product | Upasna Gautam

Lenny Rachitsky