What I’ve learnt interviewing 10 badass product managers

A “Coffee with” roundup

Jess Ratcliffe
Aug 25, 2016 · 2 min read

Last week’s interview marked my 10th “Coffee with”. To celebrate that and the badasses I’ve grabbed coffee with, I reflected on my highlights from the series (so far).

Highlights — my favorite drops of wisdom

This series, I’ve learnt about focus and resilience from Merci, how to cultivate and maintain a positive mindset from Anna Marie, Bo’s strategies for combating Imposter Syndrome, and the traits of a great PM.

Here are a handful of my highlights…

  • “As you mature as a PM, you realize it’s a lot less about knowing the direction and a lot more about making sure everyone is going in the right direction.” — Cara
  • “Being a PM is often not an exercise in being an expert, a lot of the time it’s being new and incredibly uncertain about things, but running with them.” — Rosie
  • “Realizing that people weren’t going to adapt to your tool, and that your tool had to adapt to them was a really great learning.” — Jackie
  • “I never set milestones — that’s rule number one as a PM, developers set milestones…” — Cara
  • “Always assume people are trying hard and have good intentions. When that breaks down, ask questions.” — Jessica
  • “It can be hard early in your career to realize that everything is not about you. When people do something, chances are it has nothing to do with you.” — Ellen
  • “As you progress in your career, it’s more important to develop your strengths because you can hire for your weaknesses.” — Kathy
  • “I learnt that saying yes to everything means that you’re actually saying no to a bunch of things you might want to do. Saying no gives you more opportunities to say yes to the right things.” — Suzie
  • “Being vulnerable and open to feedback from smart people is immensely valuable, and I believe one of the most valuable things we can do in our life.” — Jessica

Your highlights

What have been your highlights from the series? I’d love to hear in the comments below :)

Thank you to Merci, Anna Marie, Cara, Jessica, Ellen, Suzie, Jackie, Bo, Rosie and Kathy for grabbing coffee with me!

Next, I’ll be sharing a list of the recommended reading shared in this series.


I started “Coffee with” to learn from badass product managers and share those learnings with you. If you’re enjoying this series, please share it with others that might too :)

Coffee with…

Interviews with awesome women in tech

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