The antithesis of modern Product is mindlessly building a list of features. It’s an anti-pattern to rarely talk to your customers. It’s a trap to build for months and then release without active feedback.

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So why then do we see these habits still creep into our daily lives as product teams? Every team is different, but you’d be lying if you haven’t fallen into one of these traps at some point. Maybe it’s because it’s easier said than done. Maybe it’s because teams don’t have a true playbook to execute against.

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This is part 1 in a series about mental models for Product Managers. If you enjoy this, check out part 2 — Leverage for Product Managers.

Have you ever found yourself sweating bullets staring down a product decision? Executives are pushing urgency. The data is inconclusive. Your support team is asking for more time. Are you being data-driven? What about your product intuition?

These types of feelings are not uncommon for PMs. Decision-making is a core part of our daily job responsibilities — and that…

If you prefer watching, check out a quick video version of this post.

This is part 2 in a series about mental models for Product Managers. Check out this first part covering Inversion and First Principle Thinking.

Let’s talk about leverage. And no, I’m not talking about getting dirt on your political or business opponent. I’m talking about creating things, processes, and relationships that create outsized impact over time.

Eric Jorgenson’s Twitter is a masterclass in leverage. Here’s a nugget from his intro thread on the concept:

“Sure — find some time on my calendar…”

But why does…

I’m a sucker for a good personality test. Who doesn’t love to nerd out about identifying strengths and weaknesses? And sure, there are a million different personality tests. Where are my ENFJs at? And of course— none of the tests are 100% scientific in nature. But there is real value when you can use shared language to understand each other better. This applies to partners, friends, and even your teams at work!

The Enneagram is one of my favorites lately.

Each of the nine personality types is characterized by a set of dominant behaviors, motivations, and fears. The goal of…

Inhale. Exhale.

What’s an average day look like for a Product Manager? The answer might include phrases like hectic, putting out fires, running around with my head cut off, and generally other answers that might remind you of this:

Product Management is a hard job. That’s no secret. If you find a good product manager, they’ll often make the role look natural and even effortless. But behind the scenes, it can be high stress and even isolating at times. PMs are working with a team of real humans with different (and often competing) interests. They have to keep an ear to the ground for changes in their market. They deal with leadership pressures and expectations. Through all that, they have to understand customer problems to drive key outcomes. …

Discovery is arguably the most important part of modern product management. It’s the secret sauce for how to build great products that your customers will love. It’s also one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the role. Marty Cagan began championing the concept and its importance over a decade ago. Here are his definition and criteria all the back from 2007:

First, you need to discover whether there are real users out there that want this product. In other words, you need to identify your market and validate the opportunity with your customers. Second, you need to discover…

The hard-fought journey from a spark of an idea to a full-fledged product is exhilarating. It’s a badge of honor for product people. It’s invigorating to put the first iteration of your innovative new prototype in front of real people. It’s like watching a child take their first few clumsy steps. It might be wobbly, but we all know they’ll learn and grow. Product Managers want to be on the front lines of innovation. We shine when we’re talking with everyday users, identifying real-life problems that matter, and working with a team to solve those issues in delightful ways. This…

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Nobody wants to rack up thousands of dollars of student debt to work in a job they hate for the rest of their life. But in reality, fresh college graduates are fortunate to even have a job in this economic climate. Millennials don’t get to complain if we have a some sort of steady paycheck, right? Maybe so — but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a meaningless, gray, cubicle caged life. So how do we rise above that and pursue our dreams?

As a product manager, it’s vital you learn to lead the teams you work with through candid communication, inspiring vision, and authentic inspiration. There are tons of management, communication, and business resources available these days. It can be overwhelming. I know I’ve often felt decision paralysis when thinking, what can I do to develop over the next few weeks? Additionally, we live in a bite-sized professional development economy. Why read a book when there are 20-minute podcasts, 140 character tweets, and medium posts to read from your favorite product people (like this one 😉). …

Austin Nichols

Oh, hi! 👋🏻 Husband and Father. Product Manager @Hudl. I care way too much about Husker Football🎈 Burgers, iced coffee, and beer are the way to my ❤️

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