Want to become a Product Manager? Do these 3 things first!

You can easily develop the PM mindset regardless of your current role!

Photo by Bonneval Sebastien on Unsplash

So you read my previous posts and decided you want to be a Product Manager? Welcome to the dark side ;)

Regardless of your background or current role, it's always possible to become a PM if you have a certain set of core skills.

You can read more about each skill and what it entails in the links to my past posts at the end of this article!

So do you have these skills? Or want to start building them as you start your PM journey? Here are some ways you can grow the skills and develop a PM mindset.

1. Absorb Knowledge From All Directions

One of the best ways to learn about the world of PM is to inhale knowledge from all the goldmine sources available online. Even though I was already a PM, a lot of my knowledge still came from reading books, blogs, engaging with leaders on Twitter, LinkedIn, listening to Podcasts, and watching talks and keynotes on Youtube.

The more content you consume around Product Management, the more you will realize that your knowledge gaps are slowly filling up.

Here are some lists to get you started.

  • Books
  • Twitter
  • Podcasts
  • Youtube

2. Do side projects

The best way to experience hands-on product management is to actually build products! You will start understanding the nuances of user needs, building good user experiences, prioritizing features, and speaking to stakeholders.

My friend and I challenged ourselves to launch an app in a month, it was one of the best ways to experience an end-to-end product lifecycle. Check out the story behind that here

How to get started on a side project!

Start thinking about the problems you or other people are facing. Validate these pain points and brainstorm creative solutions. Sketch them out, make wireframes and prototypes. Make an MVP using no-code tools and observe your users interacting with it.

With enough confidence, you should even go ahead and build it, either with friends, by outsourcing it to freelancers. Launch it, speak to your users and iterate on these projects.

The learning you get from actually shipping a product and seeing it in the wild is the best way to put the theory you learned in #1 to practice. Finally, you should also write your reflections, impact analysis, and creative process online so that you have something to show in your portfolio!

You could also find some existing organizations (social enterprises are always looking for volunteers) and ask if they have the bandwidth to take on someone who can work in a production capacity. I did this at mymizu and got great experiences building products and also making a real-world impact while I was at it.

Alternatively, you could also do a case study analysis on your favorite products and try to reverse engineer their thinking process about why they made such features and for whom. Find some things that could be improved and recommend solutions for the same!

3. Apply PM mindset and frameworks to your current job

If you think about it. A product isn't something that needs to be digital or physical. Anything that solves a problem makes an impact and has a user is a product. And that means regardless of what your current job is, you can find ways to apply PM mindset to it and improve it.

Whether it is a process, a presentation, a project, code, a team, an event, and so many other things, everything can be done with a product-first approach and then used as an example in your interviews or discussions.

Here is an approach to consider. Find the answers to these questions

  1. What is your ‘product’?
  2. What problems does it aim to solve?
  3. Who does it solve these problems for? Who are your users?
  4. What are the current issues of your users? How can you find these out? Research? Data? Competitor Analysis?
  5. How can you apply design thinking principles to find innovative solutions to improve your ‘product’ for your users?
  6. How can you track whether your solution worked or not? What are your metrics?
  7. Apply the easiest way to check whether it's a good solution or not. That's your MVP
  8. Congrats, you just Managed a Product ;)

If you do any of these, you have a high chance of becoming a PM. If you do all of these, you will become a great PM, and have a lot of talking points in your interview/discussions with potential employers.

If you are interested to know more about Product Management or are ready to become one, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have!

My DMs on LinkedIn are always open!

This is an excerpt from my talk “The Roller Coaster World of Product Management”, where I introduced PM as a career and my personal journey becoming one! Feel free to check out the video below for the entire talk!

I like to write about Product, Tech, Culture, and anything else I can think about