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Top Blog Posts on how to be a Good Product Manager

Product Management hasn't been an art or a science for long time -- formally anyway.

Some of the best posts and some of the best media that I've come across on product management haven't been on product management sites (including our own).  It's been what I've considered to be embedded as part of learnings elsewhere.

A good product manager is many things -- she's an artist and a data scientist. At the end of the day, we become who we need to be based on the needs of the team and based on the needs of the product we are building.  There is no more rewarding career to feel like you have an impact on the world and you know it can make a difference at scale.

Posts on Product Management

The best posts have the more iconic.  By far the most famous is probably Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz, A16z.  The most famous article is "software is eating the world", but the close second is the one penned by Ben Horowitz back in 1997 though it's published on the site as of 2012.

Read here: Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager

The disclaimer in the article the Ben has put is telling -- it may not apply to the current situation and the current state of product management, but I think it's pretty damn close.

It lays out pretty well in plain language what it looks like and feels like with good examples of how to be an effective Product Manager.

The most important part is the part about the following: "Good product managers create leveragable collateral, FAQs, presentations, white papers. Bad product managers complain that they spend all day answering questions for the sales force and are swamped."

Not sure if leveragable is an actual dictionary word (as my spellcheck tells me), but it is probably the most important part of being good at your job as product manager.  Creating leverage by all means possible, be it delegating tasks, letting UX drive the design thinking discussions or building automated processes within your software for defect fixes, reporting etc. will go a long way in freeing up your time to make better decisions.

I think it was most famously made that Steve Jobs chose to wear black turtlenecks because it removed one extra thing to decide to think about during the day.  Turns out there is something to this habit -- we all have cognitive load and there is a limit to it like a piggy bank.  When we draw on it every day, it deletes it leaving less room for other things like high thinking functions.  Your cognitive capacity is a zero-sum game.

Using leverage is a way to accumulate wealth.  Using leverage is also the way to be a better product manager by freeing your time, freeing yourself to use the thing between your ears better, clearer.

Steve Jobs

The second post/article/video on product management comes from Steve Jobs.  So many videos I've seen of him over the years have inspired me to become a product manager.  There is an alchemy in building something new from nothing.  There's something magical about it and Steve Jobs was great at doing that.

As you probably know, if you know anything about Jobs, he was not universally liked (some would even say the opposite).  Various people that have worked with him, but even for those people that had a poor experience, they all respected that he got things very right as much as he got some of the details wrong.

One of the best Steve Jobs videos I've seen is related to his talk to MBA students at MIT.  Jobs had a in-law that worked at the school and he was able to lobby jobs to give a talk at what is the MIT MBA school there.  Keep in mind this is back in 1992 and while some of the content might be outdated, it was such a pleasant feeling to see that he was going through what a product manager goes through: talking about vision, talking about building/manufacturing a product, thinking of marketing and market forces and needs.

You'll come away knowing what it means to be be a good product manager -- he's ability to tell stories, persuade, talk about the details and the macroeconomics is masterful.

Watch it here: Steve Jobs Q&A with MBA Students