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The best content to start getting into Product Management

My story of becoming a rockstar PM

When I was 12 years old, I started to write code. This never stopped and I went from my first 100% self-made 3D First-Person-Shooter (without any “engine” or “toolkit”!) to web development to building my own AI and ML (when those things were no over-used bullshit-bingo-buzzwords yet).

In between, I have studied business administration at the UCLA (USA) and the University of Bayreuth (Germany) — with a major in marketing.
Many HR “experts” told me to give up this strange mixture and focus on one (IT) or the other (business and marketing).

I am kind of stubborn and did not.
Well, some way down the road, this mixture brought me into digital product management. Lucky me, they invented this for my CV.

Digital Product Management: When Marketing and IT Development make a baby.

Now, it’s your turn

In the recent years, many people asked me, if I could tell them how to get into Product Management.
I started thinking about my bumpy road, but this took almost 2 decades. Nothing which helps in the short term.
Fortunately, since digital Product Management is a thing nowadays, you have a lot of awesome content on the web.

Here comes my favorite list of information!

You want to get into Product Management and are looking for a way to start. You found your entrance point!

1. First things first: Don’t think it is all cool and shiny!

Being a Product Manager (PM) is tough and definitely not the way to go for most people.
It is about constant learning — not like the phrase everybody uses, but really learning new things every day and realizing that yesterday’s learnings were bullshit.
You are a non-stop firefighter. There is no time to chill or keep on doing what you always did (maybe that’s why corporates struggle with this role). Whenever it gets slower, you are no longer the right person for the job.

Read some more excellent thoughts from Pruva Goyal here:

2. End-to-End

A good PM masters the product cycle end-to-end. From ideation and strategy to delivering the actual product. This does not mean that you actually do all of this, but you should be able to do so. Otherwise, you are useless in some steps and loose respect and therefore the usually only type of authority you have.

One of the best illustrations that I’ve seen so far comes from Lucas Balbino:

In addition, I recommend this video from Atlassian, since it also provides you with a good overview:

3. You need to be somehow schizophrenic

One of the best and most catchy summarizing talks about the real life of a product manager comes from Dave Wascha. I can connect so strongly to his stories and because they are also funny, you need to see this:

4. The top 1% vs. the top 10%

Even if you do not have the goal to become the best PM in the world, you should always aim for what makes this difference.
Because: If you do not reach it, you get close and land with the other percent. If you do not even try, you are stuck within the bottom group. Fair enough if that is what you want. If not, read the thoughts of Adam Nash!

… and the article by Ken Norton.

… and the list of Ian McAllister on Quora. Those are all must-reads imho.

5. Product Excellence at Google

It doesn’t hurt to hear this 50min lecture on how Google thinks about building great products.

6. Read, read, read.

There is so much more awesome content out there. For this article, I also want to recommend the posts from ProductManagerHQ.

Have a look here to see the whole list and start crawling through it:

7. Prepare for an interview, even if you are not applying anywhere

There is so much content out there and even more that helps you to get your PM job. However, this not only helps to land the job, but is also an excellent way to strengthen your PM skills. Even if you are not applying for a new job and already working as a PM, training for a fictional interview sharpens your skills — a lot.

Here come some of the best resources:

8. Keep on learning on all the things in between

As stated before, PM is a lot about learning. From new technologies to trends and how to manage people.

Here come 4 of the things I’ve learned in the past years. I strongly recommend to read them, since they hold extremely valuable insights. Still, do not stop here, but keep on searching for even more stuff and learn on your own by just doing projects.

I am looking forward to meeting you one day, speaking to another kick-ass Product Manager. 🙂

Follow me for more insights and updates!

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Jens Kuerschner

Jens Kuerschner

Tech Founder, Leader, End-to-End Product/Program Manager, Full-Stack Developer, Marketing and Digitalization expert. 🚀

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