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Growth Explained by Facebook’s Core Product Manager

Yaron Fidler from Facebook shares his keys to growth.

 

What is growth? Why is growth important to the product? Is it just about the financial benefit? Is it more important to gain more users or to keep the old ones happy? To keep the company blooming, the product needs to be pushed the right direction. Understanding growth is vital for the process.

 

 

Yaron Fidler is Facebook’s Core Product Manager. He started as a data engineer before moving to Product Management and now has nearly nine years of experience managing global data operations, the Internet industry and leading teams. At Facebook, he worked on growth for a year and a half. At the moment he is working on ads. Before joining the Facebook team, he was employed by Ebay. He worked under different titles mainly focusing on SEO and structured data.

 

Why growth?

In the recent event, he talked about the key points about growth and why it is important. For every existing company, the purpose of its existence is to do well and to grow. Growth answers whether there is product market fit for the product or not.

Many people would think that the main reason for growing is profit. However, Yaron says that it’s not the case. For non-profit companies, the purpose is to grow their market and to get more users, not to gain more money. Uber is a great example of this. The company is not making profit but it’s growing all the time to new countries.

 

 

Choose the right growth metric for the product

For every product, there should be one growth metric set to reflect the product market fit and to show future financial outcomes. That metric is chosen at the earliest state possible, and it shouldn’t be changed unless for some reason it is the wrong one. It can be challenging identifying the metric at first but once done the company should stick with it.

For Facebook, for example, the growth metric is the amount of daily or monthly users. Each month they can see in their data exactly how the number of those users increased or decreased. They can discover, not only how many people joined that month and how many stopped using it, but also how many active users, people that use the product more than once a month, they have.

For other companies, of course, the metrics are different. For Ebay, for example, the growth metric is about the gross merchandise value. For them, it’s not about the number of users or the amount of money they make but instead how much money goes through their product. They need buyers as well as sellers, and their product connects these two groups.

 

Create the required data for growth

Growth accounting, according to Yaron, consists of three types of user profiles. In the first group are the new users. They are the ones that have just discovered the product and have started to use it. The second group includes resurrected users that haven’t used the product in a while but have returned now. The users that have stopped using the product altogether create the last group.

With these three factors, Yaron creates a formula for measuring growth easily. The formula counts together the amount of new users and the resurrected users. After adding the two together the number of users that stopped using the product is deducted. This formula creates clear data about the users in percentages that can be used later for evaluation. “Growth products must be data-driven,” Yaron says. “Companies that manage to grow massively, like Facebook and Google, are companies that are very data-driven.”

 

 

How to get users and keep them?

The goal, however, is not only getting more users but also to get the already existing users to come back and to use the product again. Yaron lists different tools and tactics that will help companies to get more people discover their product, to convince those people to use the product and to keep the active users coming back.

The things that will help products get discovered are, for example, SEO, Google ads and invites. For converting the people the most important thing is to remove friction and concentrate on the product’s layout. Already active users, on the other hand, want to find value in the product and to keep getting new user experiences. “Users already using the product have found value in it, and they’re easier to retain. What is difficult is acquiring a new one.”

 

 

Growth is about balancing between trying to keep the old users but at the same time acquiring new ones. Nobody thought when Facebook came out that it would reach 1 billion users some day. Now its goal is to get 2 billion. Growth can be surprising but when it’s done well it creates super companies.

 

 

 

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The Thing about A/B tests – To Learn or To Ship?

There is no such thing as good or bad idea. In the beginning, there are simply ideas. To find out if those ideas would work in the future they need to be A/B tested but what is A/B testing? What is the difference between “to ship” and “to learn” testing? What do Product Managers have to keep in mind when doing A/B testing? Anna Marie Clifton from Yammer will answer these questions.

 

 

Anna Marie Clifton is the Product Manager for Yammer and also the co-host for the Clearly Product Book Club Podcast that comes out monthly. She started by managing a gallery in New York City but later switched to Product Management. Yammer is a collaboration tool that was acquired by Microsoft in 2012. It is a data-driven company which is one of the things that has made it strong over the years. Anna Marie has been doing projects on iOS, Android, The Web and is currently leading the notifications initiative and working on some algorithms and search based projects.

In the recent Webinar she talked about what A/B testing is, how to do it effectively and the best things you can do as Product Manager when it comes to completing the tests. “A/B testing, also called split testing, is in its simplest form a statistically valid way to go about seeing how good or bad the future ideas are. In A/B testing the idea is to release two different versions of a feature to a random set of users and then to measure what those users do relative to each other. To complete it you need thousands of users doing that particular thing in order to split test the idea.”

“The thing that is extremely important is that the two large groups have alternate versions of the feature at the same time. The reason for this is that there are a number of things that can happen that are out of the person’s control. However, you want to do your best in trying to control those factors. To avoid any bias based on the time series event, it has to happen at the same time with randomly selected users and in large sample sizes.”

She talked about two fundamental types of A/B testing which are “to ship” or “to learn.” “A Product Manager should try to determine which type of test they’re working on as soon as possible in the development process so that they can use that to make the trade-off calls and drive development faster. The purpose behind “to ship” type of testing is that they usually fix something or they are done for product completeness.”

On the other hand, the “to learn” type of test might not be a complete experience at all. “It might be only a front-end test without any back-end connected to it. Once the test type has been decided, the baseline for how to make trade-off calls needs to be established. As a Product Manager, you want to make sure that when you’ve decided the test type, you communicate it clearly to your engineers and designers and that you’re making decisions that are backed up by what you’re planning to do.”

 

 

“The best thing a Product Manager can do for his team during A/B testing to make people move faster is to remove ambiguity and help clear the path for the team to work. In A/B testing environments, people are normally testing twice as many things as they ever end up shipping. On average you can expect four or five of your tests to fail for every four or five tests that succeed which is a high percentage of tests that you expect to lose. They are expected to be bad ideas on purpose because you are working on new creative and innovative ideas. However, you can’t always run tests “to learn.” At times you have to run tests and ship it if it wins and move on.”

She also gives Product Managers a pro tip when she says that they should keep in mind what their main objective is in the company. “Even though you might feel like you’re doing a lot of unnecessary “to learn” testing or iteration your engineers and designers don’t think so. They think about, for example, the technical debt and visual inconsistencies which are what you should think about as well but don’t forget that the most important thing for you as a Product Manager is to keep the company afloat and that is really what the team is tasked to do.”

 

Questions from viewers:

 

What do you typically do when there are no definitive results from your test?

There’s almost never a very clear-cut case. You follow which metrics move on the global level, and those will be your top-line metrics. At the end of the test, you’ll see which metrics moved on and which didn’t. Typically they move very little and they’re very hard to affect which is why they are your top-line metrics.

Secondly, you’re looking at the local metrics. There can also be a mismatch meaning that the local metrics are doing what the global metrics were expected to do and if that doesn’t create growth you need to stop it. It grows into a lively conversation trying to define why the metrics moved in that particular way. From those little changes the Product Manager has to make direct conclusions and decide which way the project will move.

 

How do you overcome the challenge of explaining a product that’s not yet built?

I haven’t done a lot of this in the past year and a half but a Product Manager has to be capable of storytelling about data to tie the results together and to be able to tell how the metrics moved when they changed so little. Therefore, a Product Manager needs to be able to do a little storytelling about the product itself as well. A good point to start with, would be figuring out who you’re communicating with, understand what the product would mean to them and what their needs are.

 

You mentioned that for A/B testing you should really have thousands of users. Do you have any recommendations for Product Managers with 10 to 30 enterprise clients as opposed to thousands of consumers?

One of the things about Yammer is that we’re an enterprise product. We don’t test on enterprise clients, but instead, we test on their users. For example you may have 10 to 30 enterprises with several hundred or several thousand end-users each and you can carry out tests on these end-users. You don’t have to do it on the network level.

At Yammer most of the things that we test, we can isolate user-to-user. If you don’t have thousands of end-users that you can test in the A/B way then there’s also a lot of customer driven development that you can do.

 

What are your thoughts about using session replay tools when doing A/B testing?

We don’t do a lot of sessions at Yammer so what I think you’re probably asking is, how to map out the number of users that do things and in what order they do them. The reason why we don’t do many sessions is because session tracking is complicated. At Yammer we’ve built our core metrics to be robust enough that we don’t need to measure sessions to find out why people are doing something.

As mentioned earlier, it’s the Product Manager’s job to tie together the global metrics and the local metrics but session tracking is a layer between the two and it can confuse them. It’s also technically difficult to perform and I wouldn’t rely on it. There are third-party tools that can do that for you but they tend to be broad definitions, and you don’t have direct control over what the experience will be like for the user.

 

How do you prioritize features that should go in an A/B test? I understand it’s mostly about prioritizing and not related to A/B test but what feature types have you found that have worked for an A/B test?

I’ll give an example. We have a project based on being able to edit posts and we are testing with end-users in big networks. If you imagine that one user created a post and then edited the post afterward, and another user that was not in the experiment and doesn’t have the possibility to edit posts or see edited posts went to see it, they would only ever see the first version of this post. However, the first person would think that everyone can see his edited post. This would break the user experience across the board. This is one of the situations you have to keep in mind and then decide whether you want the users to be able to interact with each other or does the feature need to be available for everyone.

 

 

 

Can you share your advice or insights for those that are aspiring Product Managers and want to break into the field?

Before I was a Product Manager I was managing an art gallery and knew that product management was what I wanted to do but I didn’t have the background to do it. I want to be very encouraging because when you change careers you’re going to get more rejections than you ever get acceptance. Be emotionally prepared to be rejected and don’t take it personally. You have to handle that because even when you get a job you will get a lot of rejection from the customers, engineers and designers. The best way to get into it is to do it on the side working with someone building a little project. You need to be hanging out with people who are making those kinds of things. There are a lot of free tools available that you can use to help you.

 

 

Also, check out our upcoming Webinar with SC Moatti, bestselling author of Mobilized and a technology visionary here: [Webinar] Reinventing You: How to Build a Brand While Job Hopping

 

Live Chat with Former VP of Product at Spotify

If you want to get into product management, the best way to learn is to ask questions. Ask as often as possible. That’s why we’ve started weekly AMA sessions in our Slack Community for aspiring product managers or current PM’s who are curious about the processes of others. 

This past week we had the chance to ask any question imaginable about product management to one of the most influential PM’s in the industry, Shiva Rajaraman, a product guru who has worked as:

– VP of Product at Spotify

– Director of Product Management at Google

– Senior Product Manager at Twitter

– Senior Product Manager at YouTube

 

Shiva Rajaraman PS Talk

Shiva Rajaraman during his talk at Product School New York.

 

We chatted about everything from finding key metrics, overcoming the biggest product launch challenges, to the most sought after skills for a future product manager. Take a look below:

 

Product Management Skills & Qualifications:

What do you think are the minimum core qualifications or competencies (academically speaking) on both the technical and management side to be a successful software PM?


1) Be technically/analytically competent in something.  That may be financial modeling or design; chemical engineering or CS. A lot of what we do in product management requires you to be adept in data analysis and especially interpretation of data so being weak there is a non-starter.

2) “Management” side – I prefer great storytellers and succinct communicators. For example, I and my peers often employ interviews that involve delivering a presentation to a group.  Those present in the room may critique the underlying assumptions or go in a bit deeper to get to your underlying rationale for a decision or how you framed the options. Accordingly, you need to be great at explaining things and keeping your cool while you answer smart (and often not so smart questions).  

Beyond that, it’s helpful to have end-to-end responsibility for a major project, company, volunteer gig, whatever where you were the accountable decision maker, and you were also the most passionate stakeholder.  That doesn’t have to be in a professional capacity, but it’s helpful to have experience, where you had to run the show.

 

What qualities in a Software Engineer do you need to be a good product manager and what qualities he/she needs to develop?  Also, how can he/she make a smooth transition to product manager role?

Generally for new PMs here are some tips:  

1) Understand a clear story about “what success looks like” for your entire company

2) Start to understand how you would measure that and how your product or area impacts that directly

3) Focus on having the most impact against that top level goal – don’t get too caught up in tons of details – be the person that steps back and says are we on the right path or not?

4) be objective and own it – if your team or your tactics aren’t having an impact be the voice of reason that you should revisit your hypothesis or try a new approach

 

I often hear from other PMs that you don’t have to “know” code to be PM, however, in my experience as a Web Producer, it’s often very helpful to at least know how to read code (i.e., speaking with developers, troubleshooting your product, etc). How would you balance this skills?

The analogy for me is a building architect vs. someone who handles construction. You want to have a good sense as a PM what are the limits.  Sometimes it’s physics or the speed of light.  Sometimes it’s just that there are design/engineering norms you should understand.  So what I ask is that PMs do a 1 day “understand the stack” as they get started on new efforts.  They should be technical enough to comprehend what that means w/o having to code.  The risk at times with being too technical is that you really become a tactical project manager vs. helping to set vision and progress against that vision – that is usually where people fall short.

 

On preparing for a career in product management:

What would you recommend to a new PM to learn good behaviors/habits who is working on a small/young product team at a startup?

Great habit is to look at what other people are launching and shipping and ask yourself, what do you think they thought they were doing and what would success look like them?  10K people using the feature to do what?  Have more engagement for a type of user? Attract a new type of user?  In other words, reverse engineer their goal and how they counter-position against the norm.  The world is a series of experiments going on at any time simultaneously. Start guessing what they are trying to test or achieve.

 

What advice would you give to a traditional project manager looking to move into a more software/technical product management role?

Project management gives you the attention to detail that is a potential foundation for Product Management but one of the best things you can do is to start understanding (or helping formulate) the “why behind the what” which is key for product awesomeness. In many cases, you can start to make that a part of the stories or briefs behind your projects and you as a project manager can remind teams to measure or talk about goals or progress against goals that were part of the “why”. That’s great practice to make the transition clean.

 

Spotify Headphones

 

Insights from past work at Spotify

What was the most important thing you kept in mind while building the Spotify app?

Overall, a lot of what we do in product during a growth phase is balancing differentiation (getting people into the funnel) with retention (engaging people in ways that make them come back). Differentiation at Spotify or YouTube was often about differentiated content experiences (unique creators only on YouTube, unique content such as the behind the lyrics Genius cards associated with top tracks, or unique use cases such as using Spotify to keep you on pace for a run with music that is synced to a specific beat). Engagement is often about personalization (Discover Weekly or Daily Mix on Spotify or taste-based recommendations on YouTube)

 

Here we use the Spotify model of Tribes/Squads/Chapters/Guilds/etc., where does `customer/user journey` fits in this “feature centric” structure? How does Spotify deal with it (besides having the Glue team)?

Tribes own missions at Spotify and must own clear customer/user journeys. Used this model at YouTube as well where you have a series of constituent-oriented groups  – Viewer, Creator, etc. that have multiple teams within them. The value of constituent-oriented groups is that you ensure you have a champion for a clear user types/journeys in addition to good organizations beneath them to ideate and execute on various goals. Over time you may not need “customer-oriented” organization structures as various teams stay focused on end-to-end tasks and appreciate multiple points of view as they mature.  However, often it’s helpful to do this when you have an imbalance in attention or perspective you need to correct.

 

Decision making & development processes:

I am a big believer in agile and lean but have never done agile at the scale as at Spotify. What sort of challenges a Product Manager faces with agile culture in large scale, how do you deal with them?

Agile important but great to have missions that are org wide.

Good recipe for product excellence overall:

1) Craft missions that everyone in org believes in and tie to company goals

2) Don’t let everyone solve the same mission but ensure anyone who owns a mission can act in any way to make an impact – don’t silo them to a specific code base, platform, or feature/view set. Otherwise, they will try to solve the goal but only with resources at disposal, or only by exerting pixels they can control.

3) Organize agile teams around missions – they inherit goals but can focus on unique tactics. However, you don’t really want a bunch of teams coming up with a cacophony of goals.  Companies need to have priorities. Similarly, you don’t want a lot of top-down “here’s what you need to do” – that stifles innovation.

4) Finally, if you don’t have clear goals and each team invents their own goals you have a disaster so remember to spend time ensuring people understand the goals and if need be pin those goals up and over-emphasize them at all hands and in written or video communication.



How quickly do you turn customer feedback into feature requests? Do you have a process in place for placing this information to be reviewed and then determined if a change of action in Product Roadmap is needed?

Who can make these decisions? 

Key thing is to focus on those top level goals and missions.  If people have clear missions/goals (increase retention X%), then you need less top-down approval.  People can demonstrate that they are moving the needle against that mission. If you are sloppy with creating true missions and goals against them you need a lot more oversight which gets frustrating for everyone involved.

 

How do you find a balance between building features vs. building technology?

Goes hand in hand. Think about YouTube – sometimes you have a set of features that are about rights management – that is what Content ID was in the early days.  Just protect copyright.  But you start to realize this is a much more interesting capability not just a set of rights tools.  You are scanning 150 years of video every day and matching it with massive sets of video that have been ingested before. That is a capability built on scalable, revolutionary technology.  A good lesson is to ask yourself, “when I am building this feature do I need or am I also building a great capability?”  and if the answer is yes, ask yourself what other features could you support.  If the investment in tech gives you option value to launch many more cool and impactful features core or complementary to your mission, you have a good idea you might want to invest in the tech and not just bolt on a feature.  Content ID at YouTube. AWS at Amazon. On-demand delivery of anything at Uber.

 

 

Challenges on the job:

What are biggest challenges during the launch of a new product that you have encountered and how you resolved?

Everything you thought you knew ahead of the launch is typically thrown out the day you launch 🙂 The key thing is to remember (I know I sound like a broken record) is what you were trying to accomplish. Now you have real data.  So you want to go deep and understand what happened in actuality given you had a hypothesis that led you to build something.

a) You launched something new – do you people like your proposition? Do they understand it?  Are you attracting the people you thought you were? Do they try it out?

b) Assuming you have a great group you’ve attracted, and they are now using the product, start understanding how they use it (you may be surprised overtime) and live and breathe the lowlights and highlights. # of Tweets is not a metric you want to stick with for too long as fun as it is watching that timeline post-launch. Specifically, understand what usage correlates with retention – e.g. what do people who stick around 30 days after launch do in your product? And/or understand what tasks does someone complete and what to they never touch?

c) Step back after a month or so and ask yourself, “did any of my assumptions leading to this product change?” for the better? for the worse?  anything new you should act on? anything obvious you need to tweak?  Learn what worked but also question your fundamentals – maybe you have learned something exceptional you need to act on for good or for bad.

What were some of the challenges you faced becoming a PM? Did you become a PM at a company you’d already been working at?

Biggest challenge I faced being a PM was often being in situations where I didn’t have a lot of context.  I didn’t see the biggest picture and assumed someone had one but I didn’t ask.  The other challenge was finding some space to make my own bets. They didn’t have to be big ones, but I was happiest when I could also have my own canvas to try something out, however, minor and increasingly that grew in scope.  This challenge is often a tradeoff – you won’t be the source of all the great ideas your company should pursue.  However, finding some headspace and time to try new things is key to learning and feeling 100% utilized.

 

Best practices:

Many people talk about creating value, not features. But in practice, people usually focus on features. How do you manage that?

Remember you are trying to achieve a result.  Features are a way to get there and typically in our world getting that result does involve shipping something 🙂  It’s important to stay focused on that result, but great PMs can’t be too abstract. I love PMs who obsess about the details of flows, logic, content/community, etc. but I also want to make sure you at some point you ask yourself: hey? Is this working? Why not?  Do we need to tweak the feature or go back to the root of the decision tree and try again? If that means you should move on to new ideas, all good. Better to learn that fast.  

How do you increase trust with the rest of the people in the company, whether stakeholders or devs, to help you with your product vision or any changes that you want to voice?

Cat T-shirts!  

Seriously, it’s important to have cultural bonds with people – hang out and get to know each other – don’t just meet for the first time when you are negotiating a roadmap.  At YouTube, we had the whole Creator Product, and Engineering team go make videos for example with the participation of xfn peers in content management/licensing/etc. We also had them interface directly with creators for a few days and understand their pain points.  I’m not the biggest believer in empathy for the sake of it. However, understanding someone’s life around your product gives you great context.  At Spotify, the team that built a great product for runners brought treadmills into the office. Ultimately, the best incarnation of this is to think of your “team” as not just product, design, engineering but also marketing, content, and support (+more).  Define your teams from day 1 with this mentality, and you’ll bridge the org quickly.

 

 

On Roadmapping:

How far into the future did you dare to look with your product roadmap? and How often did you work on product strategy?

I like to look at goals at least 6 months to a year out. For product roadmaps and associated tactics to achieve those goals, I like to stay within 6 months. So put another way, maybe you want to hit $100M in revenue a year from now. You’d plan several efforts/bets over several cycles to get there, ideally all less than 6 months in duration to prove their efficacy (e.g. a roadmap). Truly hard things take more time so those are maybe exceptions, but for the most part you should have a healthy stack of things that let you launch and learn.  Also, I’ve received great advice from my mentors to focus first on the “biggest” things – e.g. don’t fill up your glass with little pebbles; fill it up with big rocks and then squeeze in the pebbles. In other words, look at next 6 months and think about your biggest efforts you need to try and then squeeze in around that if you can. Ultimately your job as a PM is to manage a portfolio of lower risk and higher risk efforts that affect your key goals as a company. Make sure you don’t fill that portfolio solely with obvious but low impact efforts.

 

 

On Metrics:

Which is more important- user data from analytics or direct feedback from users?

It’s not either/or and given there are a few questions on research let me try to summarize a few thoughts:

1) Direct feedback is often great for first impressions. It’s hard to understand, especially for new users, why those who leave or bounce quickly do so.  I believe this is the stage you just need to ask questions:  what is this app about? What does it let you do? Do you know how to do it? Show me?  You will lose a lot of users because they don’t get past screen 1 or day 1. You live or die by those first impressions.  Logs won’t tell you much – ask them what was their impression in lab studies, in-app surveys, and/or various other research methods that involve direct feedback.

2) Instrumented behavior is great in cases where you have usage and you want to correlate that w/ levels of engagement, degree of churn, etc.  Even if someone *tells* you they love the app you want to see if they actually use it and/or in many cases find out what usage correlates most with retention. This part is hard to do with in person or diary based user studies.  People aren’t always great at describing what they really do or what they will do. They tend to be very good at articulating whether they love/hate something (perceived value) and whether they understand something (cognition of what they can do) but what they actually do is often best done through direct instrumentation.

 

What are most important metrics you suggest product owners to always keep eyes on?

A few questions on metrics so I’ll group some answers here.

1) Ultimately a lot of apps or services are about engagement (time spent) and/or tasks completed (jobs done).  I would first understand your top level metric and make sure things add up to that.

2) WARNING!  Don’t just measure what is easy to measure. That is the biggest trap. Proxies are fine but only if they truly map to the higher level metric. For example, at YouTube “views” are not the same as “watch time”. You can game a bunch of clicks but it’s hard to keep people watching.  Remember to focus on the true measure of your service’s quality.  Similarly, page visits aren’t equivalent to things bought.  Maybe you only link to commerce activity but that doesn’t mean you can get away without measuring it – you need to find a real proxy.  It’s easy to get people to open up a screen. You can make it bigger, flashier, or just make it the easiest thing to click on everywhere. You have to measure the ROI of every pixel so spend time understanding what your goal function really is and how to instrument it and/or the best true proxy.

3) Once you have your high-level metric, break it down.  For example, engagement time is often about # of users (growth/marketing acquisition), # of visits per user (things you help them do or experience and levers to get them back), time spent per visit (better experiences and more things to do when your users come back).  Each of these components may be what you truly act on.  But always ensure these roll up cleanly to your top level goal so you can keep an eye on one metric cannibalizing another and/or you can ensure you understand how much impact that lever truly has.

4) Often this is very very obvious and should be obvious because these goals map to easily understood behavior. Sometimes, however, you realize it’s not. On some services, for example, engagement may not matter as you might pay for something and just keep paying even if you don’t use it.  However, you likely still need to work on things to get users to come back (differentiated experiences, content, access to data, etc) which ties to user acquisition.  In some cases, it is about engagement but it’s very crowded so you need to spend a lot of time with motifs, emails, or re-engagement marketing to get people into a ritual and until it’s cemented into their habits it’s all or nothing. Tactics vary tremendously by product and service even if the goals are simple.

Ultimately, your metrics should map to staple goals for your company. If they aren’t common sense linkages you may have an issue or you many have complicated things a bit too much with your cleverness 🙂

 

 

Final thoughts for breaking into product:

1) If right out the gate it’s tough to land immediately in a PM role, find a role where you can interact with product and offer unique insights that help product managers succeed and no matter what help craft hypotheses jointly with your product partners.

2) Find a domain you love and learn more about what’s going on there and live and breathe more than just product. Understand the underlying problems people are trying to solve and what assumptions are being destroyed.  Note: I generally believe that PMs are generalists and great ones can work in many domains. But to start off or bridge into a role, having a good grasp and passion for a vertical helps make you an essential complement and often is key to developing great products though you can’t be brainwashed into thinking established assumptions are immutable.

3) Get great with data. Be the one person someone can go to who can slice and dice like it ain’t no thang and also make wise, objective interpretations.  Work with your peers to ensure you get feedback on whether your interpretations are glib or meaningful. It’s not something that is automatic on day 1 – you need discipline and feedback. Critical thought is important.  Every Time you think you’ve found a defense for something or a key insight step back and then take yourself down.  Ask how you would disprove your theory and what data would do that.  Bulletproof yourself or get help.
4) Finally, care about design. Guard every pixel, care about the UX. You won’t be designing every pixel but you should feel confident with basic patterns and be a strong custodian. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything…but you should be the person who understands that every element has a price tag in terms of user complexity or option value to do something else.

 

 

The 30 Minutes that Can Make or Break your Day

It’s easy to get to your workspace, grab a coffee and jump on your computer to start checking emails, respond to a few and work on those “5-minute” tasks. However, after an hour flies by, many quickly realize this is not the most productive way to set yourself up to get shit done.

 

Get shit done

 

We wanted to pull together insights on how to do more with your morning. This week we reached out to all the Product Managers in our Slack Community to see how they spend the first 30 minutes at their desk. Which sparked a conversation on best practices and tools to get your day started right.

 

First 30 minutes of your day?

As long as nothing went wrong the night before. partyparrotHope nothing broke

 

Seriously though, let’s talk about staying organized and setting the right goals. 

 

Review the breakdown of your tasks

Then practice “Ruthless Prioritization” – Robert

There are tons of product management tools to help you stay organized. Whiteboards are a great way to organize yourself and make sure you don’t miss anything that’s urgent, needs planning or you need to follow up on. Trello is another way to stay on top of things; you can add lists and cards with color-coded labels, which keep you on track. They are easy to check every morning so you can outline your day. 

Ruthless Prioritization

 

 

Make sure your list is clear and concise

For you and your team

Along with prioritizing your day, it’s important to make sure your team is on the same page. So once you’ve reviewed your calendars, check out what you have on the roadmap for your team. One of the common strategies we see from the most productive product managers is breaking down tasks by the size of the project. This is a huge tip and will make your life much easier, and keep you and your team accountable per project, every time.

 

Task breakdown

 

 

Tackle the biggest project first

It’s often better to get the most intimidating project done right away in the morning. Once you have your priorities set, and your team ready to go, taking on the largest task, or “eating the biggest frog first” allows you the time make sure it gets done on schedule. Then you can more easily adapt to any emergencies or last minute meetings or requests.

 

Start with something creative

Another way to kick start the day is by jumping into a task that gets your inspiration flowing. Take the time to tackle a design project, outline some ideas, thoughts, writings, or even take the time to read sites or blogs that motivate your innovative side.

 

Take a quick look on Product Hunt

One of the most popular platforms in product and love by product managers all over the world is Product Hunt.  If you’re not familiar with it yet, click over to their site immediately. It’s full of product launches, ideas, projects and reviews from people who are passionate about building things that bring customer delight.

 

 

Prepare the night before

By the end of the day, tasks that need to get done the next day are usually still fresh in your mind. It’s a great idea to start your tomorrow, today. As Daniel and Larry mention, in 5 minutes, you can have a quick list already

 

 

Want to join the conversation in Slack? Meet thousands of current and aspiring product managers, hear about new tools, advice on getting the job and chat about all things product management. Get your invite to the community.

 

 

 

Product Management Events February 2017

This February we have more amazing Product Management events coming up for everyone. There’s a great mix of “Ask me anything” events featuring speakers from Spotify, Netflix, Uber and Facebook just to mention a few.

 

Product Management Events February  2017

 

Check out all our events for February below:

 

New York

Wednesday, February 1st

Product Management Happy Hour

Host: Product School team

Drinks are on us! If you are an aspiring Product Manager, come to chat and drink with the Product School team, instructors and students.

 

Wednesday, February 8th

Sr. Product Manager at Betterment: How to Design Products for Your Customers

Speaker: Courtney Caccavo, Senior Product Manager at Betterment

Ever wondered what goes behind great products like Betterment, Meetup.com, and Priceline? Join us for a session with Courtney Caccavo, a product specialist, to explore the different sides of the consumer-brand relationship to understand the discrepancies between what brands communicate and what consumers take away from that messaging.

 

Wednesday, February 15th

Senior PM At Condé Nast Entertainment Talks: The Product Manager’s Skill Set

Speaker: Ryan Harper, Senior Product Manager at Condé Nast Entertainment

Ever wonder about the products that drive major media companies like Condé Nast (The New Yorker, Vogue, Pitchfork, WIRED), iHeartMedia (iHeartRadio), and WebMD? Join us for a session with Ryan Harper, a Senior Product Manager at Condé Nast Entertainment, who has also worked as a product manager at iHeartRadio and WebMD.

 

Thursday, February 16th

Intro to Coding for Non-Coders

Host: Product School Instructors

Whether you work alongside developers or you’re just curious what coding is all about, this workshop will open your eyes to a new world. We’ll foster “coder empathy” by going over the 3 pillars of web development; front end, back end, and cloud-side Code Deployment. Then comes the fun part: we’ll get our hands dirty by writing some code together!

 

Wednesday, February 22nd

How to Become a Product Manager “Ask Me Anything” with Sr. PM at Spotify

Speaker: Ashok, Senior Product Manager at Spotify

Would you like to get a job as a Product Manager? Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a Product Manager.

 

Thursday, February 23rd

Coding for Managers Info Session/Ask Me Anything

Host: Product School Instructors

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Thinking about learning Code to amp up your career? Then don’t miss this free event to learn why coding is not just for software engineers. Get a chance to ask any questions you might have on learning Code as a manager.

 

San Francisco

Wednesday,  February 1st

“Ask Me Anything” With A Netflix Product Manager

Host: Stephanie Tsai, Product Manager at Netflix

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager in the valley? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Stephanie Tsai, Product Manager at Netflix.

 

Wednesday, February 8th

“Ask Me Anything” with Former Box Product Manager

Host: Jeremy Glassenberg, Former Product Manager at Box

This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every product related question you’ve ever had, with Jeremy Glassenberg, Lead Product School Instructor.

 

Wednesday,  February 15th

“Ask Me Anything” with Salesforce’s Director of Product Management

Host: Kanishka Maheshwari, Senior Product Manager at Salesforce

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager in the valley?This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Kanishka Maheshwari, Senior Product Manager at Salesforce.

 

Wednesday, February 22nd

Uber Group PM Talks: How To Crack The PM Interview

Speaker: Randy Edgar, Group Product Manager at Uber

Struggling to make your way into Product Management with no success? Join us with Uber Group PM, Randy Edgar to get an insider insight and learn more on how to ace the PM interview. We’ll discuss what companies are looking for during Product Manager interviews, the signals they are trying to uncover and tips and tricks to ace the interview.

 

Santa Clara

Wednesday,  February 1st

Lead Product School Instructor Talks: How To Crack The PM Interview

Speaker: Fred Radford, Lead Instructor at Product School

Join us with four-time lead Product School instructor and 8×8 PM, Fred Radford, to get an insider insight and learn more on how to ace the PM interview. We’ll discuss what companies are looking for during Product Manager interviews, the signals they are trying to uncover and tips and tricks to ace the interview.

 

Wednesday, February 8th

Growth Explained by Facebook’s Core Product Manager

Speaker: Yaron Fidler, Facebook’s Core Product Manager

Understanding your users and how they discover and adopt your products is very important in building a product. Join Facebook’s Core Product Manager, Yaron Fidler, as he discusses tactical techiques in gaining and retaining a strong user base.

 

Wednesday, February 15th

“Ask Me Anything” with Product School’s Lead Instructor & Google Product Manager

Host: Jamal Eason, Lead Instructor at Product School and Google Product Manager

This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Jamal Eason, Lead Instructor at Product School and Google Product Manager. He will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door.

 

Wednesday,  February 22nd

“Ask Me Anything” with Product School’s Lead Instructor & Facebook’s Product Manager

Host: Inbal Reichman Cohen, Lead Instructor at Product School and Facebook’s Product Manager

This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Inbal Reichman Cohen, Lead Instructor at Product School and Facebook’s Product Manager. She will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM.

 

Downtown Los Angeles

Thursday, February 9th

Getting To Product Market Fit Quickly

Speaker: Krishen Kotecha, different Product Management roles at Pixar, Nike and Fox

This workshop marries the best practices from product strategy with those of fast and efficient delivery. You’ll learn how analyze the scale of an opportunity, highlight areas of ignorance or ambiguity, as well as confirm the viability of your model.

 

Thursday, February 16th

Coding For Non-Coders Workshop

Host: Product School Instructors

Whether you work alongside developers or you’re just curious what coding is all about, this workshop will open your eyes to a new world. We’ll foster “coder empathy” by going over the 3 pillars of web development; front end, back end, and cloud-side Code Deployment. Then comes the fun part: we’ll get our hands dirty by writing some code together!

 

Thursday, February 23rd

How to Build Winning Products and Teams, by former NFL Consultant

Speaker: Christopher Graham, VP of Product at HYFN, and ex-consultant to the NFL

This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Chris Graham, VP of Product at HYFN, and ex-consultant to the NFL.

He will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM, the challenges of the job and personal insight from Chris’s experience.

 

Santa Monica

Wednesday,  February 1st

Product School Coding Launch party

Host: Product School Team

Drinks are on us as we launch our Coding courses! If you are an aspiring Product Manager, come to chat and drink with the Product School team, instructors and students.

 

Wednesday, February 8th

Realize Your Potential as a Product Manager, with a Lead PM from Cornerstone OnDemand

Speaker: Rich Headley, Lead Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand

Would you like to find out what Cornerstone OnDemand looks for when hiring Product Managers on their all-star team? Join Cornerstone OnDemand’s Lead Product Manager, Rich Headley, as he discusses how to realize your potential as a Product Manager, and get hired by a top company like Cornerstone OnDemand.

 

Online Events

Tuesday, February 7th

[Live Chat] ‘Ask Me Anything’ w/ VP of Product at Spotify

Host: Shiva Rajaraman, VP of Product at Spotify

Ever wondered what goes behind great products like Google, Spotify and YouTube?

Join us for this exclusive Slack “Ask Me Anything” session with Shiva Rajaraman, a product guru. Here you may ask any questions you might have about what it takes to become a Product Manager personal insight from Shiva’s experience.

 

Thursday, February 9th

[Webinar] PM from UserTesting Talks: Being a Product Design Scientist

Host: Chris Abad, leads product and design teams at UserTesting

There’s an approach to product design that blends design thinking with a scientific method, as a way to solve specific problems. Through that process, there are many lessons to be learned to make you a better product manager. In this free online workshop, we’ll talk about the ways science and product management intercept to help the creative design process flow, and how you can leverage it to build awesome products that people love.

 

Tuesday, February 28th

[Webinar] Reinventing You: How To Build A Brand While Job Hopping

Host: SC Moatti, Facebook Mobile Pioneer and Bestselling author of Mobilized

If you want to get a job as a Product Manager, this is the webinar for you! Research says that Millennials will change job dozens of times throughout their career so reinvention is a matter of survival. But how do you build a cohesive brand and professional identity when you move to another country, change industry, start a business, work in corporate, write a book and more? Serial entrepreneur and bestselling author SC Moatti shares the surprisingly simple formula to reinventing yourself, changing career and living a life full of surprises.

5 Things to Avoid as a Product Manager

We spend a lot of time sharing ideas and information about the skills you need in product management, how to break into the industry, find your dream job and what to do once you’re in. What we don’t always bring up are all the things that are imperative to avoid at all costs, especially if you want to maintain your valued credibility as a PM.

If you find yourself at the job you’ve worked hard to obtain and are feeling like you’re struggling in some areas or are losing the respect from your team, do a quick self-check, maybe getting rid of some bad habits will clear the way for your success.

5 Things to void as a product manager

 

Here are 5 things to avoid doing as a product manager:

Thinking you are the customer

You’re in the business of building products for customers, and you have to remember that you are not the end user in the development-use cycle. Learn to take yourself out of the equation and focus on the real facts and data that support creating something people want. Stay away from planning based on the idea that “this feature will be cool to have.” No matter how “cool” it is, this doesn’t mean it will make your customers happy. Know who your target is, and build for their delight.

 

Building your roadmap strategy by your intuition alone

This goes back to thinking a feature will be cool to have. You may have intuition when it comes to creating an awesome product, but you also need to back that gut feeling with some data. The desired end result is customer happiness which leads to sales, which keep the lights on. Implement A/B testing strategies, feature requests based on valuable user stories, and feedback from your team. Then build your roadmap based on that plus your intuition. Side note: don’t base all your decisions on data alone. Find the balance.

 

I am the gift - Game of Thrones

 

Assuming the vision is all yours

You are there to support your team, remove roadblocks and give them the freedom to build. Stay humble and empathetic. Don’t prioritize a feature over another just because it was your idea. Let your developers tell you how they can add features and what they have in mind, and don’t be afraid to work with a team that is smarter than you. This will go a long way when it comes to getting everyone on board with your product and influencing your shareholders.

 

Using fancy tech jargon and over-the-top designs to get to your point

Why? It makes you look worse. Your job is to tell the product story, explain how much the user experience will improve, and the end results of the new feature or addition, such as more sign-ups, in-app purchases, better retention rate etc… In the art of storytelling, we know it’s important to be clear and concise, and be able to explain the “why” well enough to express how the action will drive business results.

 

Doing everything your CEO, customers, team and mother ask

You should probably do most everything your mother asks, but when it comes to building your roadmap, it’s important to take ideas into account, then back up suggestions with data. Get comfortable with saying “no”. If you accept every task or additional feature suggested, you’ll never have a finished product. Often in product management, done is better than perfect, so leave space to have a finished product, A/B test potential features, then make version 2.0 or updates based on intelligent qualitative and quantitative data.

 

Have anything to add to this list? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

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