10 things junior PMs need to obsess about to become great PMs
Ben Horowitz says “what you do is who you are”. Becoming a great PM, especially as you start your career, is “what you do is who you become”.
If you’re starting as a PM, or you want to become one, here are 10 things you should obsess about:
1. 𝐀𝐬𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬, even if just observing. Choose to work after-hours if it means your “normal hours” are spent observing others in meetings. Trust me: it’s worth it.
2. 𝐂𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐣𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬. You’ll learn the most. It’s gonna be hard, but you’ll standout, and companies reward those who pick what nobody wants.
3. 𝐁𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐛𝐬𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐞-𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫. Offer yourself to do it in the meetings you join (you’ll even be invited for the ones you didn’t know were happening). Writing gets the knowledge engraved in your mind. Your thinking velocity will leapfrog all others.
4. 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐲. Join the trenches. Be close to the actual execution. Do the stuff, don’t manage products from the sidelines.
5. 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐯𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐥𝐲. From books to tweets. Optimise for diverse views on how to build product. Learn how others do it and incorporate in your own process. When you bundle this with “note-taking” you become an encyclopaedia.
6. 𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝. Use your 1-1s to ask anything that comes to mind. Request for specific learning time. And don’t do it just with your manager, ask anyone in the company. Don’t stop until every single question is properly answered.
7. 𝐄𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠. Ask your manager how comfortable they are with you taking risks and failing. Then live on the edge. The more you fail, more you learn.
8. 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩, 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐲. Get people to judge your decisions and give you quick feedback. If everyone is giving similar replies, widen the pool of mentors.
9. 𝐇𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐥𝐞. 𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞. 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐧𝐨. If you want something, find creative ways of getting it. It teaches you how to solve problems and jump barriers. That’s the PMs life.
10. 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞. Consistency trumps everything. Learning how to deliver on promises is a key trait of successful product builders.
Excel at ☝️and you’ll build the foundations to become a great product manager.