7 years ago, I started working at my first tech startup. I remember very clearly meeting a Product Manager named Jim Lindstrom on my first day and asked to shadow him. I saw a bewildering but exciting range of tasks and responsibilities, I didn’t quite understand it, but I wanted to. I knew by the end of the first week that product management was the job I’d been looking for since graduating from college. From that moment forward my only mission became asking anyone who might have an idea: “How can I become a Product Manager?”
At the time, there weren’t a lot of free product-themed groups in New York and, having just put myself through grad school, I couldn’t afford pricey product management courses. I ended up gleaning my self-education from books like Inspired by Marty Cagan, attending developer and design meet-ups, and shadowing other product managers. As I suspect many others in my position did at the time, I had to cobble together what there was and make do. Little did I know that I was at the right time, but wrong place for a one stop shop on all things product.
The same year, across the Atlantic, a handful of product people gathered in a London pub for the first ProductTank to ask each other the crucial but difficult question: “How do we know if we’re doing our jobs well?” This was the first gathering of a growing tribe that kept asking questions and kept sharing lessons. The process of trying to answer this question has created something far more valuable than a simple manual of “Becoming a Product Manager.” What ProductTank and Mind the Product have uncovered is a global network of product people who want to hone their craft and improve every day.
In the 7 years since my first product job and the first ProductTank, what we can say for certain is that there is no one pathway towards mastering this job, no static skill set, no roadmap to follow, and everything is always changing. As Ellen Chisa captures beautifully in her ProductTank talk, it’s difficult to understand what Product Managers need to know and to understand where to focus our learning efforts.
As Mind the Product took at look at this ever growing global community and insatiable hunger for learning, we asked ourselves, “How can we do more to support our tribe? How can we leverage everything we’ve learned and heard in the past decade to help people forge their paths forward and grow their careers?” The answer, I’m excited to report, is Mind the Product Training.
I jumped on the opportunity to drive this effort forward and have joined Mind the Product to help implement a vision of a global product management training platform that links our communities together, builds on our content, leverages the amazing talents that we’ve found, and supports our local communities with best-in-class workshops. If this sounds like a lot to do, it is.
Next Steps for Mind the Product Training
After seven years of building products and hearing from other’s failures and successes, Mind the Product and I understand that delivering a high quality platform is easier said than done. We want to make sure that our training program matches the high quality of our conferences, meetups and workshops to date. So we’re going to be rolling out Mind the Product Training with a product-minded approach. Over the next year, Mind the Product will embark on a series of experiments and tests designed to understand what you folks need most and how we can best serve you. We’ll be releasing workshop dates on a rolling basis, so watch this space! If you want a workshop to come to your city, or even inside your company, fill out this form and tell us a bit about what you’d like to learn from a training experience. We will be tapping a lot of you on the shoulder to ask you questions and get your feedback along the way.
In my time as a Product Manager, researcher, UXer, coach, trainer, and enabler, I’ve come to understand that there is no problem that cannot be tackled if you know what questions to ask and what tools to use. Mind the Product Training is coming to help you build your tool box.