What a cliché start. :)
I’m starting a “blog” today and this is my story: a guy on a journey, learning to create impactful products. I’m listening to Myriads by 12dust as I write.
I believe in goal-driven thinking, and the goal of this blog is to be an archival resource of insights, ideas, and lessons learned. I hope this may help myself and others to refine the craft of product management, the art of designing products for good, and the balance of living a life with “a strong passion for work.” At the end of the day, I write this for me, and these are no more than my opinions.
Today’s goal is to remind myself of why I do what I do.
tl;dr — I work as a Product Manager so I can learn to create products that make people’s lives better.
In a life that has too much of everything — too many video games to play, movies to watch, books to read, disciplines to study, projects to work on, people to meet, places to go, things to do — it’s far too easy to get decision paralysis and become distracted from what really matters. Thinking about and articulating what matters to myself is an important way to help me decide what to spend my time and energy on.
I needed to retrospect on what I found meaningful in life:
- What do I value most right now? Is it money, autonomy, a sense of purpose, love, achievement, recognition, or something else?
- What experiences have particularly meaningful to me? Maybe it was a learning moment, or a development in a relationship, or hitting a milestone in my career? What made those moments meaningful, and why?
The goal was to do more things that matter, and less of what didn’t. That led me to Product Management, and I haven’t looked back since. :)
I think it’s important to recognize that the things that matter can change as I go through life. Understanding what matters to a person — myself or others, now or later — is a powerful skill: it helped me develop a sense of self-awareness that I think was critical for my career and team growth. The toughest part of all this is actually focusing on what matters and not getting distracted by everything else. The reality is that what you want in the moment isn’t always the same as what matters in the bigger picture, but that’s a topic for another time. ☺
Why Product Management?
I work in Product at Google. Before that, I was a full-stack software engineer for a few companies (iOS, Android, Web dev, the works), and before that I studied Comp Sci & Fine Arts. After a few years in the working world, I realized I was more interested in figuring out what to build and why, rather than how to build it. I needed to rethink my skill set and career path, and eventually I ended up switching to the Product Manager role.
Sometimes I get asked: “how/when did you know you wanted to be a Product Manager?” The better question to ask is why did you want to be a PM. Understanding why people do what they do is key to knowing how to work with them and how to predict what they care about.
What I‘ve always known is that I want to be a positive force on the world, and I want to make sure I always remember this. My friends have heard me say:
“someday, I want to create something that so fundamentally changes how people work or live, that they can’t imagine life without it.”
I still believe in this. Every year, I think about how to learn the things I need to learn to get to this goal. The important thing to understand about me, is that I do what I do because it brings me a step closer to achieving that dream. Being a PM at Google is simply the best way to get to my goal, given where I am in life and what skills I have.
In the bustle and drama of working at a company, it’s sometimes easy to forget why you’re doing it in the first place. For me, no matter where I work and what I do: I hope I never forget this greater mission of mine, and I hope I never let job titles or roles constrain me or my team from making the positive change we want in the world.