Changing careers to product management
By now, my assumption is that you have given your pivot into product management, some thought, per-chance even simulated your foray end to end. No surprises. I was you, in February 2010, with countless sleepless nights digging hundreds of product management blogs and resources.
Why Product Management? Was I aware it was called product management?
Served across 4–5 episodes, this series aims to help every person who is mostly tired of reading all the recycled and same content guides on “How to pivot into product management”. You’ll enjoy this series in the following format ;
- Succinct 10 year PM multi-territory journey overview with key scenarios.
2. My product management mistakes, so you do not have to go through them.
3. How I got into product management, complete with practicable steps on pivoting to products management and thriving as an outstanding product manager,
4. My carefully crafted workbook on how to land full time and contract PM roles — includes all inside tips and tricks on staying on top of the game.
BONUS — A focus group webinar and PM telegram group to track everyones progress in a results/output focused community + one on one access to product mentors.
Stick with me and stay strapped for this journey!!
The year is 2005, my 1st year in college, Computer Science Major and I had always wondered how stuff worked. From hatch-backed computers, to how Facebook, Flikr, Hi5 got millions of eyes. My head asked probing questions, who’s leading these teams? how do they know what to design next? the next launch plan? how did they figure what users liked?
I began to dig — From YouTube, to SourceForge, blogs, any leads to guide me home exposing the logic to handling all the moving parts, that would ship these products to end users like me.
I found a few skeletal leads. In 2005, not a lot of founders knew they were product managers. They barely chronicled, documented or even shared their creation journey, as their northstar (goal, target, key KPI) was to get the product across to as many users as possible, get feedback, and continue to iterate.
Next step was to get into the mind of the developers. Enters SourceForge — Like a full 40hour work week job, I majorly used SourceForge to extract and (legally) download thousand of website source-code, host them locally on my 17inch Packard-Bell PC running Windows Vista, to foray the design perspective of the founder/developer and spent very long hours interacting with the products.
This gave me the best shot at understanding design principles, the philosophies behind early stage design, feedback collection, customer usage, iterations, north stars, metrics and several logic that centered any product.
Few questions for you (Please feel free to reply in the comments) ;
a. What does product management mean to you? Without taking a cursory google search?
b. Do you ever wish you were in charge to decide the direction of those favorite services you love to use?
c. If you could, how likely are you to build a features shelf for your favorite Apps.
d. Who do you love the most, your customer or your shiny App?
Fast track to 2nd year, I had journeyed into Microsoft products, XP,Vista, Active directory, networking and other new technologies. I had written over 20 of those certifications whilst in college, just for knowledge sake. The idea was to dive deep enough to predict the future of these technologies and where they were headed, hence I moved quite swiftly with the times.
With every new product I could lay my hands on, I would naturally critique them, the amount of time it took me to login, good/bad user experience and generally how I perceived the product or service. This was meant for my use only. Between 2005–2009, I had critiqued over 30 products from dating apps, to enterprise services, to productivity tools, peer-to-peer services and co. I just had fun doing it.
I pivoted from product management (or so i thought) in my final year and took on web development in PHP/C# stacks. Biggest influence to this, was my quite consuming final year dissertation. This led me to explore a different aspect to design thinking from a developer perspective. Applying my dev. know-how and with the help of an old friend, I built 2 websites that drove 200,000+ unique visitors and also co-founded a successful certification training startup that trained over 200 students in its first 4 months. That startup died anyway :( .
I found my way back to the customer centric based side of things when I realized too much of my design principles as a developer was based on how i wanted the subscribers to interface with the products. That made me really guilty and I reverted to my old normal.
Anyone pivoting into products management must be ready to think like the customer , 99%, popularly referred to as empathy”.
Are you ready to take this jump? Here below are some lessons I believe every product manager should learn from the above ;
- Develop a product mindset for everything you do — Life is a product and everyday is an iteration. Every time you encounter a glitch in an app, gradually critique them and cohesively maintain that list.
2. You will need to write a lot. Product Managers do a lot of writing — from user requirements, to user stories, road maps, empathy maps and co. Writing is a great excuse to read.
3. You do not need to learn to learn a programming language — Based on my experience, I personally recommend that you learn basic SQL.
4. You must be open to learning widely about how products work and keeping abreast of how designs, data and market trends to understand how everything connects and enables one another.
Episode 2 will focus on — Paths into product management, product manager mistakes and how to avoid them and the most important skills to build.
TELEGRAM FOCUS GROUP
The Product Management Telegram group link will be shared in Episode 2. It features — Tens of PM tools, exclusive resources that has guided me on my 10 year product management journey, co-building simple products and guiding you through the entire lifecycle, critical thinking on improving existing products, access to other product mentors, and many more.
Please know that I am happy to read your comments with any questions you may have. I would be responding to them as well.
See you on the next post.