One of the questions I am asked by listeners is how do you become a product manager. For example, Melissa emailed me and said: “I’d like to hear more about transitioning to a product management role in software – getting yourself up to speed on the technical aspects that product managers needs to know to interact with developers.”
This came up more recently when I opened my IDEA Framework eCourse that teaches the essential base of knowledge for becoming a product leader and doubling your product success. Many people asked if this would help them get into product management and I told them that while they need the skills it teaches to be successful as a product manager, it is for existing product managers — ones with at least a year of experience, not ones transitioning or who are brand new to the role.
So, I contacted someone who specializes in helping people become product managers and to get grounded as a new product manager. He has trained thousands of people on these topics, including leading workshops at General Assembly, Stanford, and for other schools. He also worked as a software product manager at NASA, Apple, Ticketmaster, and Live Nation.
And, if you regularly listen to The Everyday Innovator, you’ll recognize him as a returning guest, having shared specific tips for how to prepare for a product management interview back in episode 67. His name is Charles Du and this is a discussion you will enjoy and find valuable if:
- you want to be a product manager, or
- are brand new to the role of product management, or
- you wish to do a better job mentoring product managers.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:
- What are the biggest myths of becoming a product manager?
- You need a technical background
- You need years of product management experience
- You need to be an industry expert to get hired
- What are the biggest mistakes that people make when they want to transition?
- They spend time learning the wrong skills
- They spend time on “scattered learning” (piece together stuff from blogs in the internet)
- They learn from the wrong people
- How do people transition into this field?
- Learn knowledge
- Gather experience
- Build brand
- How do you separate yourself from other candidates?
- Structured thinking
- Product portfolio
- Prep for the interview
Useful links for product managers:
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” -Steve Jobs
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.