Make the most of your product career

How do you make the most of your product career? You could ingratiate yourself to an all star product leader and ride their coattails to fame and fortune. You could spend every waking hour at the office and steal the occasional cat nap under your desk. You could, but there are plenty of product people who would discourage such behavior. Here are five product people’s more effective suggestions for being the best product person you can be, not including our favorite — be the person who brings the donuts.

Letter to a junior product manager. Product Managers lead a team effort to ship great products. It’s not an easy role, and there are plenty of misconceptions out there. Therese Stowell wrote a letter to a junior product manager to relate some of the lessons she’s learned during her time in this profession. So whether you’re new to product management or not, there’s something you can take away from this post.

(via @pivotal)

The surprising skills that help you succeed in your product management career as you get more senior. “Why do some people’s careers grow quickly while others trudge along? If you’re ambitious, what can you do beyond just being good at your job?” Jackie Bavaro shares some non-obvious things she’s learned to help you succeed in your product management career, both in her own career and in the careers of her reports.

(via @jackiebo)

Why do we forget that product management is a tough career? “Product management is harder and more subtle than it appears on the outside.” People often assume that product managers call the shots, decide what to build, and operate unilaterally. Rik Higham reminds us that product management is a tough career. “It’s so much more than deciding what to build. It’s so much more than telling people what to do. It’s so much broader than people expect.”

(via @rikhigham)

10 skills every product manager needs. “As a product manager, you have one of the most important jobs on your team. From product concept to launch to growth, you’re responsible for devising strategies that ensure your product stands out from competitors and solves the immediate and long-term problems of your target audience. This is no small feat, which is why you need specific skills to be an effective manager. These skills are crucial to not only helping you be as successful as possible but also ensuring that you consistently deliver and grow stellar products.” Ty Magnin shares 10 essential skills you’ll need to ace to be a standout product manager.

(via @tymagnin)

What it takes to become a great product manager. Julia Austin suggests you should consider three primary factors when you evaluate a product management role: core competencies, emotional intelligence (EQ), and company fit. The best PMs Julia has worked with “have mastered the core competencies, have a high EQ, and work for the right company for them. Beyond shipping new features on a regular cadence and keeping the peace between engineering and the design team, the best PMs create products with strong user adoption that have exponential revenue growth and perhaps even disrupt an industry.”

(via @austinfish)

Kent McDonald
kentjmcdonald@gmail.com

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has IT and product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent currently practices his craft for a leading agriscience company and provides just in time resources for product owners and business analysts at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.