As an engineering student at Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India and as a Secretary for the Computer Society of India (CSI) I was continuously part of various college events. While working on an event, one of my seniors told me, “Shreyas, you need to learn to say no to people. When someone else asks you to do any work, you should not say yes to everything which comes your way.” Fast forward twelve years, I realize as a Product Manager, it is critical to say NO but am I saying it enough?

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Saying NO is not a bad thing…

As a PM, when we work on various features, some of them we ship it and some of them stay in the backlog. I personally hate when I have to move a feature down in the priority list. As a PM, I am saying NO to stakeholders, features, and customers every day. However, it is hard for me because I have to take an emotional hit in my mind every time I am saying NO to someone. While growing up, I have automatically incorporated NO is a negative word in my mind and as an Indian cultural nomenclature, saying NO to the system or elders or in general is a bad thing. If we reflect on our day, we are continuously saying no to various things such as promotional phone calls, going out, or accepting a lunch proposal. In my case, I don’t like to drink tea because I am a coffee drinker. So I say no to tea if someone asks me for a cup of tea. If we are continuously saying no, why do I struggle to say NO to features, stakeholders, or customers? Though we are used to saying no to a lot of situations, we are not used to saying no when there is a stake involved. Saying NO to someone who is part of the personal or professional relationship is hard. So the million-dollar question; “is saying NO to someone is a bad thing?” …

FOMO Formal Definition anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

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Do you have fear of missing out?

I visited one of my school friends in the last month, and he asked me why are you suddenly became active on twitter? And I quickly answered I have a fear. Yes, fear of missing out (FOMO) on regular industry updates, what industry leaders are posting, what are they reading, and how they are approaching their work. He immediately responded FOMO happens only in personal life among friends. FOMO hits you when you hear stories of friend’s activities, weekend routine and travel plans from someone else. It negatively impacts your mind when you see pictures of how your friends are exploring various things, and you are not. I immediately responded, that’s not true; it happens in professional life as well. As a PM, I continuously feel I am missing industry updates, new startup launch news, funding announcements, conference updates, and many more. …

For more than four decades playing in the Cricket World Cup final is the dream of every international cricketer. On the other side, watching a closely fought contest in the World Cup final is the treat to every Cricket lover. On July 14, 2019, at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London; no one knew, we will be witnessing one of the all-time most significant matches in cricketing history. It has drama, anxiety, emotions, anger, hope, determination, cruelty, happiness, and sadness. As a club cricketer for 15 years in my early childhood days and as an avid cricket fan for the last 20 years, I have never watched a game like this. As one of my colleagues described if there is a movie released on this script, I would have laughed and said this could never happen. However, it happened in an epic final, 50 overs tied, super over tied and England beat New Zealand and won the 2019 World Cup based on the number of boundaries. It was a day of nerves, skills, tactics, errors, and madness. …

For more than half a decade B2B Online has been a go to destination for B2B digital business leaders. It has earned this acclaim by providing manufacturers, distributors, and commerce practitioners from B2B businesses a tailored forum to network with, learn from, and collaborate with their peers and their partners. However, any event of this nature or size, there are always a few looming themes or questions asked in need of answers. As I reflect on my time in Chicago with more than 500 B2B ecommerce practitioners, the top three questions on attendees’ minds going into the conference were:

  • Do we really need an ecommerce site if we have been successful thus far without one? …

In the Cars 3 movie, Lightning McQueen peeks inside Cruz’s mind and understood her true caliber and made her realize she is a true racer and not just a trainer; as a Product Manager; your job is to peek inside customer’s mind to make them realize their real challenges. To build products that people love, you need to know your customer better than you know yourself and you need to understand their habits, routine, and their end goal.

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When the people who build products are not in sync with the people who use them, you end up creating something which is not used by anyone. Thus as a Product Manager, it is our top priority to peek inside customers mind and understand their real challenges in the right order. …

It’s always THE question for PMs, what to build so that they can move the needle? This question keeps me awake at night, and makes me think, “am I building THE right thing or not? How can I deliver the value?” Discovery is the key to the success of the PM role. As Albert Einstine said, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” …

Imagine yourself relaxing in your bedroom and watching a San Francisco 49ers game. You want to order a pizza, but you are too lazy to open your laptop or mobile phone to place an order. In that case, you ask Alexa; “Alexa, open Dominos and place an order.” What are the other instances you feel like, you don’t want to use your phone to perform particular tasks?

I use Alexa or voice assistant for the following things:

  • Track my schedule
  • News updates
  • Weather updates
  • Schedule a meeting
  • Set reminders or alarms
  • Read audio books
  • Maintain todo lists

Voice is the most natural form of interaction. Conversational systems allow humans to talk to the computer by using voice as a mode of command instead of using the text. …

A million dollar question every product manager faces, “how should I define Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?” As a PM, I always like to think about how can I design my product so that I can make it Most Valuable Product with minimum efforts?

I face following questions when I think about MVP every time:

  • There is a higher bar for quality now than ever before. It means I can not compromise on quality and performance. If that is the case how should I consider quality, performance and all functional requirements in a given timeframe?
  • Dictionary meaning of ‘Viable means: capable of working successfully; feasible. But what does ‘Viable’ means in MVP? Is its development cost, is it possible to build the product or is it usage by customers? …

Every individual in an organization has a different motivating factor. As a product manager, we deal with engineering, professional services, support, training, documentation, and QA. Thus it is crucial to comprehend common ground to understand motivating factor among people with different attitude, behavior, values, and culture. Product manager’s job is high touchpoint job, and it touches every department in the organization. Thus, I firmly believe key to the success of this role is to connect before you build and to connect before you lead.

As a product manager, our job is to bring everyone on the same page when we are thinking about any new product features. We work with sales and customer success to validate ideas and gather feedback. We work with design and engineering to build new features. We work with product marketing and documentation team to share product recipe with existing and future customers. Each department performs significant role based on their functional area. Everyone has their own KPI’s to meet as a part of every release. Every department is thinking from their lense to achieve their objective. It is a usual process and a story of every company whether it is a large enterprise or a small scale startup. However, as a product manager, your job is to wear all these lenses and deliver value to internal and external stakeholders because their job will be depending on information we will share. Thus, your connection/relationship with each department will play a significant role to understand their challenges, thought process, and team culture. …

I have asked myself a question 2 years back, “Is it worth to spend time and money to take a Project Management Professional (PMP) exam?” I believed every project manager and PMP certified professional has asked themselves this question at some point in time in their career. It is important to go through the process of taking a complicated PMP examination and it requires a huge deal of preparation, significant amount of time and financial investment. …


Shreyas Sali

Product Manager. Deeply passionate about Product Management, Life, and Philosophy.

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