Two slides, every day. That’s how a former colleague and friend told me that he put together his annual strategic plan. When I asked him why, he said, “If I thought of having to create the entire presentation at once, I felt overwhelmed. But completing a few slides a day — that I could always handle.”
I did not learn how to be a product manager in school. I learned on the job and from others. My experience is that we all look for opportunities to deepen our understanding of best practices. That is what ambitious product managers do when seeking out one another — looking for wisdom, guidance, and advice.
Feature creep can be an uncomfortable reality for many product managers. It crept into my work when I was a product manager at a large company, navigating many product teams and several layers of management.
It is rare to sit in the presence of true genius. I had that privilege a few months ago when three recipients of the MacArthur Genius Grants discussed their work at an event held in Washington, DC. An audience member asked one of the fellows, a renowned author, to share how her grant changed the way she works. I was unprepared for her response.
I had an eye-opening conversation with someone last year. We were at a co-working space discussing the startup he worked for. Curious to learn more, I asked what compelled him to join. He paused for a moment while he thought about his answer.
My friend had a dilemma last year. He had just gone back to school full-time to complete his degree. He also sang in a band, worked a part-time job on the weekends, and was helping to plan two weddings simultaneously for his brother and best friend. Did I mention he was training for a marathon as well?
When was the last time you saw a formal product management internship? That’s because Product Managers rarely start their roles right out of college.
My friend made it big right out of college. At least she thought so at first. She had joined a global firm in a tough-to-snag sales role. The break rooms on each floor had mini-bars, ping pong tables, and bean bags. Vacation time was generous. And when my friend hit her sales targets, she earned work-sponsored holidays around the country.
He thought he was ready for venture capital and that they were ready for him. A founder since high school who had launched and sold a successful Spanish networking website, Juan Carlos Perez approached Silicon Valley investors with confidence last year. He and his co-founder, Jordan Knox, had an idea for a new productivity app aimed at college students.
In today’s fast-paced world, every business can benefit from a better way to manage change. Being able to quickly adapt is a competitive advantage, allowing companies to adjust to meet market needs. The key is to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new while maintaining morale, productivity, and company image.
Joining a startup is like being a kid all over again. And it’s probably why so many people want to be part of one. You’re free. Innovation and risk-taking is encouraged, you get a basic allowance, and you get to work with your brothers and sisters—because startups are like family. There is joy and dysfunction.
I asked my best friend, a talented lead software engineer at a mid-size company, “What’s the best part of your job?” He’s not the type of guy who’s prone to think about that stuff and he just mumbled something to make me go away. So I was surprised when I asked him, “What’s the least favorite part of your job?” and he quickly complained, “My product manager adds to our sprints after we’ve already set them…in the middle or even the end of them…and it happens every time!”