Video: What is Product Management?
Slides: What is Product Management?
In January I was invited to the UserTesting Sales Kick-Off in Napa Valley to give a keynote on product management. This was a far more foundational talk compared to many I've given in the past, really trying to establish what the role is all about for those just starting to get familiar with it.
I set out to address three key questions in this session:
1) Where do product managers fit in the R&D organization?
2) What do product managers do?
3) How do product management roles differ?
Listen on: Mixergy | iTunes
I got a chance to sit down with the famed Andrew Warner of Mixergy, who's shared the startup stories of over 1000+ entrepreneurs in podcasts and videos. In this candid interview we cover everything from my entrepreneurial roots, my first two startups, as well as the story of my current startup, Notejoy.
I've had the opportunity to mentor a breadth of product managers through the years as well as entrepreneurs through my work as an advisor to early-stage startups. And in doing so I've spent countless hours working through product challenges, startup challenges, and everything in between. As I work more closely with each individual, their guard starts to come down, they start to open up, and ultimately become willing to share some of their biggest challenges, uncertainties, and fears holding them back.
What's been fascinating to learn is just how many folks struggle with self-confidence. As well as how many suffer from deep-rooted imposter syndrome. This effects so many of us, including folks who are regularly perceived as successful. And this certainly isn't just a female issue. While it flies in the face of the Silicon Valley stereotype of founders having some of the biggest egos out there, I've seen the opposite to be true and think these issues are some of the most pernicious affecting folks from realizing their full potential.
Listen on: Growth Everywhere | iTunes | Google Play | Spotify
Ada and I recently sat down with Eric Siu for a discussion on the Growth Everywhere podcast, a podcast focused on sharing the stories of entrepreneurs to help the next generation of entrepreneurs thrive.
We talked about where the idea for Notejoy, our most recent startup, came from and how we set out to solve the problems that we experienced first hand as leaders at LinkedIn and SurveyMonkey. We talked about some of the initial challenges we've had along the way as well as some of the new customer segments we discovered have been great for Notejoy. We go on to cover some of the growth channels that have been successful for us.
We then dived into the more personal side of Notejoy, talking about what it's like to build Notejoy as a husband & wife team and how we manage to keep each other productive and sane, leveraging personal & professional OKRs as well as daily standups!
If any of this sounds interesting to you, do check out the podcast.
Product management is fundamentally a leadership role in that you are ultimately responsible for leading a product development team to deliver a compelling product that resonates with your customers. The vast majority of what I've personally learned about leadership comes from Jeff Weiner, who I watched lead LinkedIn as CEO over the 4 years I spent there. He singlehandedly transformed leadership in my mind from an amorphous set of soft skills to a specific set of tactics that you could execute to successfully lead an organization.
One of the most important lessons I took away from Jeff was the need to define your company's core, all the way from your vision to your values. It’s not enough to have an ambitious vision because unless that vision translates into how you manage your company on a day-to-day basis, that vision will never be realized. I saw Jeff operationalize this advice on a daily basis, whether it was repeating the mission, vision, and operating priorities every bi-weekly all hands, speaking to specific values in weekly leadership meeting discussions, and more.
I've found one of the best ways for product teams to make this advice actionable is by articulating your products design principles. Great product managers start by defining an ambitious vision of how the world will be a better place if they succeed. They then go on to develop a strategy by which their product will ultimately dominate the market. But then the team's real work begins: designing the actual product, validating your assumptions, executing to deliver the product, and rinsing and repeating to continue to validate and iterate on the offering. Too often the design/execution phases lose sight of the vision and strategy that was so painstakingly put together in the first place and they thus often lose their value. By translating your vision and strategy into a set of specific product design principles and then leveraging them throughout the design/execution phases, you can avoid this fate.