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This is the where product managers learn to be product masters. Product masters are the leaders of products in organizations and this episode is a very special one as I have not one but three guests who are all on their way to becoming product masters. This episode came about with the help of one of my customers — Soren — who is in my IDEA Framework eCourse, which teaches the essential base of skills that lead to being a product master. We were discussing topics for this podcast and he shared how he would love to hear from other millennial product managers. He said that the experts I often interview provide valuable insights for him, but that he would also like to hear from product managers who are younger in their career and still figuring out what it means to be a product manager.
I not only thought that was a great idea but knowing Soren, I also thought he would be a great guest to share advice from his experience. He found two other young product managers so we could have a variety of experiences to learn from.
They are each in their 20’s and have been working as a product manager for 6 months to about 3 years.
Both new and more experienced product managers should listen to this discussion as there is something for all of us. Specifically, younger product managers will learn:
- Challenges product managers must deal with,
- Tips for improving your effectiveness, and
- The one thing each of the guests wish they knew about product management sooner in their careers.
For experienced product managers, please listen carefully to what motivates and frustrates these younger product managers and how you could be a mentor to other product managers, also helping them become product masters.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed – given the richness of the panel discussion, this summary is sparse. The discussion really needs to be listened to.
- What was your motivation for working in product management? The opportunity to be creative along with the ability to deliver what you want to create value for customers. The responsibility was appealing. It’s more of an abstract challenge and allows me to be more of a big-picture thinker. The creative freedom drew me in. I enjoy taking an idea from its start and seeing it through to its finish in the form of a product. Being a product manager means never being bored – there are always new things to do and learn.
- What frustrates you about the role of product manager? It’s challenging to define my role at times – what am I really? The work can vary a good deal. It’s also difficult to know what I should be spending my time on and knowing what is important from day to day. Finding my place in the organization and gaining the influence I need are other challenges. I have to develop my influence with the executive team.
- What is one thing you have learned that has improved your product work? It was important to understand that product descriptions and requirements from various stakeholders are not always accurate and need to be carefully validated. Also, as most products fail to meet their objectives, you can’t fall in love with your product. Instead, love the problem, but not the product. You also have to develop good business knowledge and learn how to manage stakeholders. And maybe most important, get a mentor who can help you with understanding not only product management but also the business.
- What would you tell a new product manager that you wish you had known when you started as a product manager?
- Protect your time; share your big ideas with others; start small; show rather than tell.
- Don’t be shy, ask for feedback; it is a collaborative role and your job is to be the guide.
- Figure out early what your role actually is and what executives expect; learn to spend your time wisely.
- Follow your natural inclination and make something happen.
Useful links for product managers:
- Linkfire, the company where each of the product managers works
- Soren Furh’s LinkedIn profile.
- Ievgeniia Pavliuchyk’s LinkedIn profile.
- Halgir Winther Nagata’s LinkedIn profile
“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.