Spreading PM cheer via memes, balancing your time as a PM & lightly holding onto your opinions
Hello! So yeah, it's been a while. Sorry about that. Holidays, life & work got in the way, but I'm back with some bits and bobs that will hopefully make up for it. I'll do my best to do better!
Shining a light on product management one meme at a time
No one was more surprised than I was when I posted my Pulp Fiction meme to LinkedIn and it got 2 million views. I started getting DMs from friends & former colleagues saying it was all over their Slack channel. Fame! Fortune? To be honest, the biggest impact was trying to get over the number of notifications and connection requests!
I've long been a fan of memes as a way to make serious points about product management in a humorous way. I'm actually going to give a talk about this at Product Elevation in November. Different types of content resonate with different types of people and there's more than one way to get into their brains. And also, it's funny!
I need to gather these together, but here are two that did well.
New podcast episodes about optimism, IoT, recruitment and the real role of product managers
So yeah, there have been 4 whole podcast episodes since the last newsletter. Time to start catching up on any you missed! Here's the list, and one key takeaway from each:
Episode 140: The Role of Product Management on Truly Agile Development Teams with infamously outspoken Twitter agilist Allen Holub.
Product managers do essential work that developers won't do if left to their own devices, but it's important that they're part of the development team, that they're not a silo, they aren't the boss or decision maker for the team & they aren't a replacement for the customer.
Episode 139 - Banishing Cynicism and Empowering Yourself as a Product Leader with product executive and up-and-coming TikTokker Claire Vo.
Optimism trumps cynicism every time. Just because work can be hard doesn't mean you should have a negative mindset. It's important to be realistic & critical but mix this with a sense of optimism, "how might we" attitude and empower yourself as a product manager or leader.
Episode 138: From Product Leadership to CEO and Saving the World from Stupid Smart Stuff with former Wikimedian and current IoT startup founder Yana Welinder.
Fundraising for IoT was hard, even more so because she's a woman. Many investors have been burned by hardware projects and people want to knock you down. Also, not everyone is Adam Neumann - underrepresented founders can barely raise off the back of successes, let alone failures.
Episode 137 - Closing the Gender Pay Gap and Hiring Diverse Product Teams with long-time product executive recruiter Chris Mason from Intelligent People.
Women are still getting paid less than men but it's getting better slowly. To help this, Chris recommends withholding your current package in the interview - concentrate on what you WANT not what you HAD (to stop hirers pulling a fast one if they think they can get you cheap).
The Importance of Balance in Product Management
I've been experimenting with different formats of Twitter content to try to cut through the noise, even though I'm as tired as everyone is with the amount of engagement-farming content out there. It's like someone's sold a pack of templates to all the (mainly) tech bros out there.
But sometimes you have to become what you hate to get ahead. I put this thread together as a riff on the old "WW2 planes and bullet holes" trope about survivorship bias. I did think it was interesting to pull this together though and it went down well enough.
The core message is that, to be an effective product manager, you need to keep yourself as close to the centre as possible and not double down only on your areas of strength. I like to refer to this tendency as gravitating toward your Area of Most Competence. It can kill your credibility across the business if you're just seen as an extension of one team.
Of course, it's pretty embarrassing to then remember that I'd made the same point in a Medium post 2 years ago.
A strong quadrant, strongly held
I love quadrants so much that I should probably work for McKinsey. Here's my take on "strong opinions lightly held":
I've genuinely worked with people that fit all of these patterns. Identifying poor behaviours is the first step towards fixing them (and remember, the poor behaviours might be your behaviours!).
That's all folks
Again, sorry for the gap - I'll do better! But also, maybe it was a blessed relief? Do let me know with the reaction buttons whether you liked this issue or not, and please share it with your product friends & family.