The part where I admit I don’t know what I’m doing

I’ve learned two things about product management.

  1. It’s not something that can be taught in a classroom. No college or university yet offers a bachelor’s degree. The only way to effectively learn is be an apprentice, either working with a mentor or learning on the job.

  2. Every job has a little bit of product management. Learning PM skills can and will super-power your career track, even if it’s far away from tech.

No surprise then there’s been an explosion in all sorts of media trying to teach PM skills. There’s a demand for it. And it’s really hard to fill that demand.

I get it. I was the same. I voraciously read every piece of advice I could and totally faked it until I made it in my first PM role. (Sorry Luke. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a surprise though.) More importantly, I had a lot of mentorship and lucky breaks to get me here. I absolutely owe something back. 

My problem is I’m not quite a traditional expert. I don’t have a FAANG company or Ivy League on my resume. I’m not a founder. I’m not the PM of some famous product. I’m not a VP or CPO. I don’t even work for a VC firm.

​​Some days, it feels like I still have a lot to learn - even after almost a decade of dedicated product experience. I haven't been stress-tested in every environment. There’s almost certainly an edge case I haven’t considered.

But maybe that’s the point.

Every PM feels like they barely know what they’re doing, and yet they keep moving forward. They don’t let perfect be the enemy of done. So maybe it is okay that the advice is still a work in progress. Maybe my journey of still trying to figure out can help you in yours. In that spirit, for what I do know, I offer …

  • An explanation of what I currently believe (mostly) works

  • The few successes, many mistakes, and related reading that got me here

  • Any flaws, shortcomings, and disclaimers in my thinking that I’m aware of

  • Finally, a writer who is passionate about taking time to explain anything to anyone

It won’t be everything you need to succeed in product management. But I do hope it’ll be enough to get you started.

This is The PM Help Desk, a blog about product management by and for the PM’s (and future PM’s!) still figuring it out.

I’m Andy. I’m a product manager. I’ve been the first PM at 3 companies now. (I know, I’m a masochist.) I tend to work at small startups no one’s heard of. I’ve been a mentee and a mentor, an individual contributor and a people manager. And like you, I’m just trying to make it work as I go.

Subscribe if you like. Bookmark me if you want. But please tell me what you think.

Find me on LinkedIn, [email protected], my message box, or in the comment section.

Let’s do this.


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