Assistant To The Product Manager Isn't A Title, It's A Mindset.
To truly learn product management is to get your hands dirty, really dirty. Embrace the trials of learning, failing, adjusting, and working collectively across teams to succeed without getting tainted by all the hardships along the way.
The first time my boss and mentor left the office, I was ready. I had read the industry pubs, pored over requirements documents, and meticulously studied our vast portfolio of offerings as often as I could. I felt like Mickey Mouse in "Fantasia," torn between the fun of being “The Product Manager” and the possible havoc I could cause without the necessary experience to maintain complete control of the corporate elements.
I came down from the high of possibilities pretty quickly.
After a whole day of not being able to answer questions and struggling to get through the tasks outside my design/writing/editing/digital marketing wheelhouse, I asked my boss how she does it. This is where I learned my first big lesson: “You’re going to figure out that product management is variable and that everyone has their own way of doing things.”
That day, in the not-too-distant past, I started calling myself “Assistant To The Product Manager.”
You see, at that moment I realized I did not want to learn just one person’s idea of how to be a product manager. I dug into books like: "The Product Manager’s Handbook," "Take Charge Product Management" and "Software Requirements" (second edition). I also took Pragmatic Marketing’s product management and requirements writing courses. But, the lofty methodologies and books seem to have huge disconnects with the realities and complex interactions that product managers must undertake to execute. Out of all avenues I’ve used to learn more, I’ve found simple connections with the day-to-day warriors who are living and breathing product management from the trenches to be the most actionable and insightful.
I hope you’ll join me on my journey by offering something no one else can — your take. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hit up my blog or send me your thoughts via the form below, whether you agree with what I’m going to put forth or you think I’m missing the point (both are equally important).