About ten years ago, my husband and I bought a 50 year old Eichler home on a quiet street in Palo Alto. In the ten years we have lived in this home, we have been through eight remodeling projects and three landscaping projects.
When people visit, they tell us how much they love our home. Many are inspired by our story and the transformation of this old and original Eichler into this place we call home ! In my eyes, our home has many imperfections. I see the cracks in the walls, the uneven tile floors. To me, these are glaring shortcomings.
Software development is no different. I use this analogy to describe my experience building software from the ground up. It’s an iterative process. You only see the shortcomings when you are building it. You work on improving it, to make it easy to use and intuitive. That’s how great software is built. It’s a never ending quest to GET IT RIGHT!
A couple of years ago, I was unsure of how this would turn out. I was taking on a big challenge. Some called it a big risk. I was making a career change to Product Management. It was scary and exciting at the same time. I wish my friend Ro had written this brilliant article sooner! I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
I talked to a few trusted mentors who advised me to “Just do it! You have it in you”. There were a few skeptics too. In fact, one colleague told me that I would never ever be a Product Manager. You often run into people who will tell you what they want you to believe. Thankfully I followed my inner voice. It was pretty clear to me that the time had come to make that big leap. I felt excitement, fear, some self doubt but I decided to overcome it all. What helped is having a great group of enthusiastic supporters !
Here are some lessons I have learned in the last few years —
13. Dont let others decide what you can or cannot do. Follow your heart to the next big opportunity !
12. You CAN be friends with the people you work with!! It is very important to take regular breaks (for coffee or my personal favorite, a walk) with your colleagues to connect with them on a personal level.
11. Engineers don’t hate product managers. They just hate product managers who don’t do their jobs well.
10. No one has all the answers. Some pretend they do but no one really does.
9. Tough times never last but tough people do. Stand your ground. Speak the truth. Stick to the facts.
8. Speak your mind and without fear. What’s the worst that can happen?!!
7. When your peers critique your product, it means you are doing something important.
6. The relationships you build (with your customers, colleagues, leaders) will contribute to the success of your product.
5. Product Management is 50% story telling, 50% execution.
4. It is ok to say NO. Stay focused on the core functionality. Do a few things but do it well.
3. Pay attention to the details. Your customers will thank you for it.
2. Good product decisions happen when you combine customer feedback + data + gut feel.
1. There is nothing more important than the voice of the customer.
This post is dedicated to everyone out there wanting to pursue their passion but are not finding the courage to make that big leap!
My advise to you, “Just do it!”
I leave you with great product quote from Steve Jobs —
“My model of business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check…. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”