General Skills to Succeed as a Product Manager

When I first decided I wanted to be a Product Manager, I was intimidated. Most Product Managers that I knew had some kind of technical background (Computer Science, Engineering, etc.,) and/or had an MBA. I have neither. And yet, I felt this natural fit with being a Product Manager. I knew that PMs were closer to the product, working with engineers and designers to build something. As a founder, I just know that I want to create and build something, but I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off, especially in a FAANG company. Today, I’m a Senior Product Manager in a FAANG company. The not-so-subtle truth: the only one that had doubts, was me. Everyone else around me took it for granted that I was a Product Manager leading Product Vision and Development – and that, in itself, has been the grand lesson.

I talk in more detail about the general skills that any Product Manager needs to excel, no matter their background, in this webinar with Product School. But for my own journey, I have learned to recognize my own capability to learn and excel as a Product Manager. The truth is, representation was one of the big helpers in me opening my eyes to my own skill. Mentoring was another major helper.

When I started to see PMs with non-technical education rise, I started to not feel alone and to actually believe that I could pull it off. I started seeing colleagues of mine, or PMs on LinkedIn working on a variety of companies and products who had majored in Business, Literature, Philosophy, Biology, etc. I would ask them if they would be open to chatting with me about their journey and how they got where they were. I then read books like Marty Cagan’s “Inspired” and “Empowered”, where he shares the stories of Product Managers he admires, none of which had an MBA (in Inspired), and came from different backgrounds (in both books). I started realizing two things: (1) I wasn’t alone, and (2) I can do this.

Now, when I interview Product Managers for open roles, some of them have non-tech backgrounds like mine. Some of them ask me if I think they would succeed since they don’t have the typical background (which, as a side note, asking your interviewer if they think you’ll be successful with your background is a bit weird, and depending on the interviewer, might make them pause about their consideration.) I know where they’re coming from. I now always answer, “I advise you not to feel intimidated. You have X years of experience growing and building things, it takes practice, and you can get there.”

“Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

If you are comparing Greta Thunberg with climate scientists, you’re missing the point

Climate change. A controversial subject, one that threatens friendships, family dinners and divides opinions as if it were a political topic. Sadly, it is a political topic, but just like a misplaced book in a huge library, climate change should be in the science aisle instead. You might think this is an off-topic post for my blog, especially given that I have not written a single word here since over two years ago. Strangely, this is related to marketing AND product. Read on.

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It is the objective that defines your metrics

Today I went to a mobile marketing event where three speakers talked about user activation and retention, mobile engagement, and mobile fraud. The speakers shared great insights on what is new and important in these fields. But what interested me most was a question asked during the Q&A session after the second speaker was done. It went something like this: “What are some of the new metrics you are looking at other than churn, retention, user acquisition, etc.?”

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How Unroll.me kept sending my e-mails to the trash can

The issue

As many of you out there I’m sure, at one point my inbox was being flooded with unrequited newsletters, promotions, and other alerts. I was spending way too much time trying to unsubscribe from all of them one at a time. Then, I found Unroll.me.

This great service “rolls up” all of your periodical e-mails in a single daily message. It also helps you unsubscribe from any other services that you’re not interested in. For almost two years, this had been the answer to at least 30 unread, unsolicited e-mails in my inbox by noon every day.

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Free Recommended Keyword Ranking Tool

Knowing how your keywords rank is not enough. It is also very necessary to know how your brand, client, site, or product comes up against competitors. MozPro gives you a great way to track up to three of your competitors. But what if you have more than three competitors or sites you want to track? More importantly, what if you want to see who else is ranking (a newcomer, an indirect competitor, etc.)?

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Understanding Your Conversion Attribution Model

Have you ever wondered why your AdWords or ad campaigns aren’t yielding any conversions? Or at least not as many as you’d like them to. You do the usual: you check keywords, tags, add negative keywords, fine tune your landing pages, but┬ástill conversions aren’t adding up. This frustration is more common than you think, but it is also a symptom of not looking at the big picture.

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When Growth Strategies Should be Outsourced

Where to begin? I’ve read dozens of business books on growth, startups, and product market fit. They all have been of great influence on how I perceive digital marketing to be, and the role it plays for businesses. But more importantly, experiencing first hand what marketing efforts can do for a startup or a business, has made me truly understand why outsourcing growth can be of great value for a company.

Growth Hacking seems to be yet another buzz word. In my view, it is just a trendy way to explain what businesses (digital & brick and mortar alike) have been doing – or trying to do- since Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”. After all, if you are a business owner, wouldn’t you want to actually grow your business? Yet throughout time we have gradually narrowed down or specialised our skill sets to come up with better results. That has given way for a bigger division of labor. You may be a business owner, but that does not mean you will excel in all of the tasks, skills, and knowledge required to build a profitable business; in fact, that’s the point, you shouldn’t be. You are trying to deliver value to your customers with your product or service, so focus on creating that value from the ground up. Thus “delegating” and “team work” become the key to your business’ success.

This delegation of tasks need not necessarily mean that you need to hire a great deal of people and do everything in-house. On a broader scale, that would defeat the purpose of delegating; you would be trying to do everything yourself, as a company. This can happen at any level of expertise or industry. So in order to decide which tasks should be done in-house and which should be outsourced, you should really put pen to paper, and define what you really are good at as a company: what exactly are you selling? Everything else, should be delegated or outsourced. Not only will this make you greater at what you do, but will also save you costs in the long run.

Growth Hacking can certainly be one of these outsourced tasks. There is an entire industry dedicated to help you grow your business. This doesn’t mean that you should forget about your marketing strategies at all, it just means that you are leveraging someone else’s expertise for your benefit. Of course, you should always find a company or a professional that understands your offering, delivers results, and maintains an open channel of communication with you. Remember, you are outsourcing your growth strategy, not alienating it, so communication with your growth hacker or marketer is of the utmost importance. The only way to know that for sure, is to go out and try their services.

Make sure to first check your own expectations, and goals. Are they realistic? What are your metrics of success? Find someone who gets them, and designs an actionable growth strategy for them. In the end, the successful scenario is one where you can focus 100% on your business, while someone is making sure it grows.

Original Post Published on LinkedIn