Normally, I thrive on getting things done. Whether at work on in my personal life, I feel accomplished by meeting my goals. During this COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m not making enough progress, I’m not “doing” enough. The pandemic has challenged how I balance time spent “being” vs. time spent “doing” things. It’s worth to take a step back and reflect on this.

Here’s a quick rundown of things that have changed for me in the past month. Things that used to be givens, taken for granted. …

The (in)famous Product Requirements Document (PRD) is always hotly debated. With the rise of Agile Development, many argued that PRDs were a relic of the past and that people shouldn’t waste their time with it. In practice, however, I’ve seen clear benefits from well-written and maintained PRDs in every team I’ve worked.

What’s in a PRD?

At its most basic, a PRD summarizes the problem that a feature or product aims to solve, the user that would benefit, a prioritized list of user journeys, and feature descriptions with a focus on how the user would interface or experience the product…

I recently realized that I have a problem with leadership, and it is an emotional one.

I have spent significant time studying leaders, reading about their lives, trying to understand what makes them leaders. Intellectually, I felt like I understood it. But emotionally I realized that I don’t believe in myself as a leader. Just talking about myself as a leader makes my heart race, my palms get a tingling sensation, and get nervous.

That is what I’ve been working through over the past month. Even though I can recognize leadership in others, I struggle to call myself a leader…

I recently wrote what would become one of my most read articles to date, it was my answer on Quora to the question How stressful is it to be a product manager at a tech company?

This is not unique to product management. Increasingly, our responsibilities as workers in the information age have become more ambiguous. We self-direct more of our work and priorities. We work through influence more often. In short, we are expected to deliver results with little, or conflicting, guidance.

As I reflect back, most of what has helped me personally has been difficult and trying situations…

I love data. A great dashboard with useful KPIs is beautiful and useful. If you haven’t yet, take the time to define and track success metrics for your product. It forces clarity and reflection of your goals.

Use data to prove or disprove your hypotheses. Use data to calibrate your efforts and see whether you’re on the right path. Use data to define bold goals for your product. But first, have a clear vision of what matters. Don’t lose sight of that vision.

A big pitfall is when we use easily measurable things, such as time on site or content…

To effectively communicate with others, you need to consider at least three aspects of communication.

  • Content: What is it that you’re saying? Is it clear and well explained?
  • Emotion: How do the people involved feel about the topic? Are they vested in the topic? Do they care?
  • Identity: How do people think this message reflects on them? Does it make them feel and look competent in the eyes of others? Or do they feel threatened and that it reflects badly on them?

Often, we think solely about the content. “If I’m right, others will see the wisdom and accept my…

Update: this article is now also available as a Google Doc (link) so you can easily add comments and help us improve it.

I wrote earlier about the Google PM Interview Process & Preparation. That article, although lengthy, was focused on the overall interview and recruiting process. This article is going to be much more targeted on the preparation aspect for the interviews.

Although I focus on the Google PM interview, I hope this is also helpful for folks considering interviewing for PM roles in other tech companies, and even for those interviewing for other related functions.

Interview types

You will get…

Recently, I’ve been advising students and recent graduates. A common consultation request I get is to discuss career transitions. When people look at my experience, they often wonder how certain work transitions were possible.

I hope that my experience is helpful to folks looking to switch functions or industries. As such, I’ll let you know the key things that have been successful for me.

Transition 1: MIT Chemical-Biological Engineering undergrad to Accenture Consulting

This one is simple to explain. Most people don’t realize that consulting firms aren’t looking for management and business gurus for their Associates/Analysts straight out of undergrad…

I was recently reflecting on the following quote:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

-Howard Thurman

The first thing that came to my mind was, languages. I’ve had some of the richest experiences by being able to communicate with people in their native language. For example, traveling around Japan in 2009. I want to continue having such experiences.

It takes a very long time and effort to get to fluency in a language. …

I always remember a song I heard as a child by Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona. It said (with a profanity substituted) “aquí no es bueno el que ayuda, sino el que no [molesta], acuérdese.” This translates to “here the good are not those who help, but those who don’t [bother], remember that.”

Having recently completed my first 3 months as a PM at Google, I’d say that this is good advice to keep in mind in the beginning of a new job. …

Omar Fernandez

Product Manager at Google, previously at a tech startup. MIT grad and ex-consultant.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store