We all know we have to learn to crawl before we can walk, and the same concept can be applied to careers.
One of Product School’s lead instructors, Mohammad Musa, who also happens to be Lead Product Manager at Google, speaks about this very well.
Mohammad started teaching at Product School back in March, where he was helping groups of aspiring product managers get their foot in the door. Soon after finishing a recent course, he shared some insights on overcoming challenges and growing in product management. “Before teaching this course,” he noted, “I did not think too much about how hard it can be to switch into product management. Now that I understand more about the challenges my students are facing trying to break into the field, it got me to reflect over my own path and the things that I have done right or wrong along the way.”
After working with several students, replying to several questions and doing some coaching, he wrote, “I realized that it all boiled down to small behaviors that made a big difference for me over time.” The takeaways from this exercise turned out to be applicable to job growth in general, not exclusive to product management.
Here is an except of a note along with a handful of concrete useful behaviors that benefited him over time:
“To differentiate yourself and grow in your career, you really have to continue making small investments over a long period of time to reap the rewards. Quoting one of my mentors, ‘You got to crawl, walk, then run.’”
- Practice public speaking as much as you can
- Maintain a blog, or write on Medium or LinkedIN (about topics of interest, passions, or companies that interest you). This goes a long way in making you more visible and credible.
- Get out of your comfort zone (PMs need to spend a lot of time talking to people they don’t know, uncovering pain points and digging deeper, these are not things that we are born with. It’s uncomfortable and you need to force yourself to do it).
- Ask for it. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Sometimes, all it takes is just asking. If you have a position or company in mind and you know someone there, ask them. Up to you what to ask, just learn more and build on top of any knowledge gained to improve your next question and so on.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. Just a sample of small behaviors that made a big difference for me. We would love to hear others’ thoughts on their own growth path and what small investments paid off large dividends for them.