Traits of a good PM

(Excerpt from email newsletter, not sure which one, note this might be a copy/paste, please contact me if its your content)

1. Product Sense 

This is the ability to come up with ideas, and prioritize the best. Coming up with great product ideas is harder than it sounds. Without the reps of PM experience, you need to develop an eye for reading other products. 

I have a few tips when reading them:
· Don’t assume everything works: Sometimes, you’re seeing an experiment 

· Observe what is verifiably a featured rolled out to 100% at the FAANG companies: They tend to graduate good iterations backed by data 

· Ask YOURSELF how a feature succeeds 

2. Execution Reps 

Reps provide learnings about hiccups in the process of building features. Try to get involved yourself with small groups working on software startups. Pick up the actual experience. 

I think of execution learnings in a few buckets:
· Influence: You learn how to frame and sell ideas
· Process steps: You learn about telemetry, legal & market collaboration, release schedules, and corner cases 

· Wisdom: You approach problems with an “ah yes,” mentality 

3. Technical Know-How 

Begin the journey of catching up on technical fluency. Start coding, read engineering newsletters, & begin examining the tech behind your favorite products. 

I find that technical skills are applied in a few areas:
· Understand the realities of what coding different things will take, to work size them · Have empathy for the life of an engineer, to build great PRDs
· Least important: being able to advise on tech decisions
4. Speaking “Productese” 

Product Managers speak with a certain lingo. They’re always talking about strategy, execution, above the line, the why behind the why… These are terms of art. They are specific to PM. Misunderstanding them can make it hard for you to “hear” others. 

I think a few things can help: 

· Talk to product people 

· Read the canonical texts, Inspired & The Build Trap 

· Subscribe to product newsletters like Product Growth & Will Lawrence’s Product Life 

· Begin consuming product thought leader’s content, like Aatir Abdul Rauf & Shyvee Shi 

5. Ability to Interpret and Pull Data 

The best way to stop arguing away and make better decisions is data. PMs rely on it to come up with ideas, prioritize, and analyze. 

There are several concepts you should become strong in:
· The financial statements: You should speak net vs gross revenue & income statement vs SCF. · Common KPIs: You should speak funnels & conversion rates.
· Interpretation of A/B tests: You should speak significance & power. 

We’re in the era of capability, not credentials. Of course a CS degree & MBA will make you a better PM. But these five skills form the crux of what you need. 

With YouTube, Google, and grit, you can acquire the skills. Just like the great PM I know who used to be a waiter. 

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