Product Management Essentials: Start Your Career Right With This Collection

A Product Manager’s basket of skills and responsibilities are so large that sometimes it isn’t immediately obvious to the beginner as to the multiple facets of Product Management. Well, if you’re one of the confused starter lot, or a professional who is feeling a bit lost then you’ve come to the right place.

product-manager-collection

In this collection, you will find a set of curated videos and takeaways that will cover Product Management introduction for dummies to the typical career path for a PM, and even Product Dev best practices (aside, NextBigWhat Academy also runs Product Management Course enabling you to get most practical hands-on knowledge on product management).

So sit back and get ready to learn from some top minds in the field.

Make sure to either bookmark this post and use it as reference as we will continue to expand this collection going forward.

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1. What Do Product Managers Actually Do?

What do Product Managers actually do? And by that, I mean what actual work does a PM do?

In an incredibly thorough introduction to the world of Product Management, Josh Elman of Greylock Partners, who has also worked at Twitter, Facebook Connect, LinkedIn and more, provides a detailed walkthrough of the same.

Key Takeaways:

Broad responsibilities of a Product Manager:

--> Define the market & customer.

--> Launch timing, sales and marketing collateral.

--> Define the problem and value proposition.

--> Competitors, products & capabilities

--> Define the requirements and roadmap.

--> Internal/External stakeholder communication.

--> Product evangelist and champion.

On the team:

--> You are not a ‘CEO of the product’. You’re a team leader.

--> Set the cadence.

--> Brainstorm effectively.

--> Manage product operations.

Shipping > Perfection:

--> Helping your team only matters if you ship the right product to the users.

--> Providing clear criteria for launch readiness.

--> Make the difficult tradeoffs.

--> Prioritize ruthlessly.

Key Points:

--> The Product IS NEVER FINISHED.

--> There is no right product…but there is a right way to be a Product Manager.

--> Effective Product Managers simply help their team move forward.

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2. Product Management for Dummies | Ben Sampson

Ben Sampson, VP of Product Management at Outsell, Inc., provides an entertaining, short and useful introduction to Product Management for newbies. Going over the typical path that leads many to Product Management, his talk at Biz Talks Chico identifies the typical responsibilities of Product Managers and what it takes to be a good one.

Key Takeaways:

What does Product Management consist of:

--> Business Development

--> User Experience

--> Research Design

--> Managing Developers & Designers

--> Sales & Marketing

--> Testing/Surveying

--> Repeat ^

Typical day in the life of a Product Manager:

--> Morning Stand-up

--> Sales Development

--> UX/UI Design

--> Product Research

--> Development Check-in

--> Documentation/Writing

--> Future Planning

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3. Basic Engg Skills Product Managers Need

In this enjoyable video, Boris Paillard, the CEO of Le Wagon, gives Product Managers a useful talk on the basic tech skills that they should possess, which includes understanding the technical pitch of a product, creating a mockup and the DB scheme. Sometimes non-technical Product Managers are overwhelmed by technical aspects, however, as this video shows, it is an important element of Product Management to familiarize yourself with them.

Key Takeaways:

--> Four simple steps: a. Product Pitch (vision) -> b. Mockup (design) -> c. DB Scheme (architecture) -> d. User Stories (features)

--> Product Pitch: a. Target: Who are my customers? -> b. Pain: What do they suffer from? -> c. Solution: How do I answer their need?

--> User Stories: Look at your product from the user perspective in this manner – “As a ………., I can ………..”

--> DB Scheme: Familiarize yourself with SQL databases and creating a basic architecture for them to store user data.

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4. How to Use an MBA in a Product Management Career – Ramsey Pryor

How useful is an MBA for a Product Manager? Is it even necessary? You will find varying opinions across the industry on the subject.

While some believe that it equips Product Managers with the nitty-gritties of management, there are also those who deem it unnecessary. Richard Pryor, an experienced internet Product Manager shares his experience of having an MBA and making it work as a PM.

Key Takeaways:

--> The idea that a Product Manager is akin to being the CEO of a product, and hence an MBA helps you with managing that microcosm.

--> An MBA gives you a broad scope of skills i.e accounts, operations, negotiation etc. that are useful in Product Management as you will be working on varied activities that will require drawing from all of that knowledge.

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5. 20 Years of Product Management in 25 Minutes by Dave Wascha

Dave Wascha, a Product Manager with over 20 years of experience, shares the biggest learnings of his long career condensed into a lovely 25 minute talk at Mind The Product. It covers customers, competition, vision and much more from key concepts to fundamentals that perhaps escape many even after having gained a lot of experience.

--> Key Takeaways:

--> Listen to customers.

--> But, don’t listen to customers always.

--> Keep an eye on the competition.

--> But, don’t obsess over the competition.

--> Be a thief. Take inspiration but don’t steal.

--> Get paid.

--> Stop worrying about getting paid. Some things may not result in improved returns but are worth doing for your customers.

--> Speed up execution.

--> Learn to say no.

--> Don’t be a visionary.

--> Don’t confuse yourself with your customer.

--> Be dumb. Don’t lose that (customer-centric) child in you.

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6. 7 Important Skills For A Product Manager

In this video of a Google Ventures/Greylock Partners event in San Francisco featuring Johanna Wright, Craig Walker, and Adam Nash, the PM skill set is talked about and experienced PMs offer their views.

Key Takeaways:

1. Familiarize yourself with the technical aspects, so you know what is possible or not possible.

2. Vision & Leadership are important to work with engineers.

3. Software is a team sport, so get used to dealing with disagreements.

4. Worry about everything. From small things like FAQs to PR & Marketing.

5. Know your product and the users really, really well.

6. Be tenacious. Your ideas may be rejected, but stick by them and continue motivating the team.

7. Collaboration and partnership with tech team is extremely crucial so develop a good rapport.

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7. A Product Manager’s First 90 Days: What all should you do (and not do)?

A Product Manager has to deal with a whole host of responsibilities from the moment he/she joins a firm. The ideal timeline for the first 90 days has been nicely articulated in this video by Todd Birzer of Kevolve Product Management. 

Starting from initial market research to working with the development team, here are the key takeaways:

--> Learn – via Ethnographic Research and Competitor Analysis.

--> Strategy – Create Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that are important.

--> New Product Development – Build Discovery and Delivery process and Development Buckets with Engineers and Designers.

--> Initial Pricing Analysis.

--> Build Credibility.

--> Create Early Wins.

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8. What is the Product Manager career path?

In this video, Ben Miller of ProductPlan provides a great intro to the career path for most Product Management roles in firms across the world. Since the role has come into much greater spotlight from relative obscurity due to the rise of tech firms over the last decade, the typical path is still unknown to many.

The typical career path for a Product Manager is:

--> Associate Product Manager

--> Product Manager

--> Senior Product Manager

--> Director of Product

--> VP of Product

--> Chief Product Officer

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9. Product Development Best Practices by Michael Smith

Michael Smith, a Product Manager for Ads at Google in London, spoke at Campus on Product Development best practices and the most important things for a Product Manager to focus on during the period.

Key Takeaways:

What’s most important?

--> Users

--> Understanding the market

--> Usage info

--> Good reviews

--> Ship by dates

--> Beating the competition

--> Network effects

--> Long-term metrics

--> Short-term metrics

--> “Sometimes you build the product. Sometimes you build the product that helps you build the product.”

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