Become a Product Manager | learn the skills and get the job
  • Pm is not something you can study in school, there's no major for it, only few formal program for PM
  • The role of PM & responsibilities change across industries and company and size.
  • PM, No one reports to you, you're nobody's boss and can't fire anyone because needs to continuously interact with different people, engineers, designers even disagreements.
  • PM sits between multiple area of the company and acts as a communications, hub, organizers and enabler for everyone else.
  • As PM, you're a blocker/enabler for engineers and designers
  • PM is someone that manages a given product
  • Types of PM : Internal PMs, Consumer PMs, B2B PMs (Saas PM)
  • Stakeholders is a term for people who you are building for or who have input for what you are building ( users, executives, marketing, lawyers)
  • Internal PMs usually build tools for other people in the company, B2B PMs usually build product at a company whose client or other company (oracle, salesforce) means to make sure they build meets the business requirement of the business that they're selling.
  • Consumer PM - build product for consumer.
  • Internal PM - Great intro for PM, integrate with other system, project management less risk, small number or users.
  • B2B PM - Great into small number of users, flexible and creative, priority weight by sales, tight deadlines.
  • B2C PM - Uncertainty, pressure illion users, multiple platform an lose company money, extensive user testing.
  • PM are responsible for the success of a product
  • Success is defined by KPI or metrics
  • Project Manager is responsible for accomplishing a project not a goal
  • A project usually has a timeline and budget as a constraint
  • As a PM it's really important to keep up with industry

Daily PM

  • check metrics, customer feedback Appstore review, forum, standup, user problem and feedback. Work on things we brainstormed, write specs, user story, tickets, test app, sprint planning, grooming, restropective. Meeting from stakeholder, persent metrics to stakeholder or investor.
  • PM directly affect every single part of the business and interact with every key person.

Product Life cycle

  • Introduction, Growth. maturity, decline
  • Introduction - product first introduced to market, no competition, typically loses money
  • Growth - accepted by market sales rise, start improving product, few competitors
  • Maturity - sales peak competitor enter market,
  • Decline - sales diminish. product phased out, old

Product Development Process

  • Conceive, plan , develop, launch, steady state, maintain or kill.
  • Conceive - this is the phase where we collect user problem brainstorm solutions.
  • Plan - Market research, business case ( is this making money) customer interview, roadmap.
  • Develop - timeline, features stories, specs
  • Iterate - get user feedback
  • Launch - work with key person
  • Steady state - collecting metrics, marketing and sales.
  • maintain or kill - how ROI
  • Sunsetting - slowly inform user for backup

Lean Product Development

it is a way of products / business without spending money until we have to.


  • it's a way of applying lean mindset to software development
  • Management framework for software development
  • an iterative method to developing software where we group things into small batches and do them in order not to waste resources.
  • Scrum & Kanban is an agile software development methodologies or structure

4 main scrum

  1. Sprint planing meeting is where your team decide to work on or may work on take the most important feature from backlog to srint backlog discuss in order to implement an make a ticket.
  2. Using ticket -> Sprint 2/3 weeks, backlog then to in progress then to done, if not done it goes to next sprint
  3. Stand up meetings is a daily meeting, what they did yesterday and what to do today
  4. Restrospective meeting - What went well, wrong, suggestion
  • Kanban is not as strict as scrum in terms of meetings, it does not use sprint.
  • PM job is not about being the idea guy or girl.
  • Ideas and request comes from everywhere you need to collect and organize


  1. Employee - ideas from co workers management and you.
  2. Metrics - problems and inefficient you find on how user use your product.
  3. Users, feedback, form , email, social media, client.
  4. Client
  • Being a PM is all about finding solution to a problem instead of trying to fit a problem to a solution.
  • Feedback - macro level, everyday users.

Market Analysis

  • Top Down analysis is calculated by finding total market and estimating your share of the market is.
  • Bottom up analysis is done by thinging about current sales of similar product and then estimating how much sales you can capture.
  • Technique to look market data search "industry for ___ " compete in adwords ( volumes and related terms) twitter, reddit.

Finding competitors Intro

  • you need to know how to collect information on your competitor and make a judgement on what that means for your product.
  • If you go into a market with a bit of competitors, you need to analyze them before tackling that opportunity.
  • If you go into a market that seems to have no competitors you have to know what is the reason for that there might be no customer demand or maybe you actually have a brilliant idea.
  • As PM you are in charge of feature triage. Get more users, Make users happy, enhance your brand.
  • You can't make decisions until you know what your competitors look like, what they are doing and what they currently offer.

Finding competitors as PM

  • The most important thing is capture, you have to record every competitors you can find.
  • List competitor under 2 categories. Known, If you work in a company, you should already know who your biggest competitors are.
  • If you dont know, search google " your company vs ____"
  • unknown - figure out what problem your product solves and for whom
  1. channel the type of user, how exactly would the user complain about his problem.
  2. Google site: [popular web] your search term
  3. search for exact phases using quotation marks

4 Main type of competitors


+ they're going after the same customer group, they're solving the same problem as you
- Customer have to make 4 decision between you and them


+ solve the same problem but different way
- different target group


+ offer something to the same target group
- don't address the same problem
- call "peripheral competitors"


+ solve same core problem, not same target, customer could substitute your product with theirs
- you should be the most concerned with direct competitors

  • be competitive with direct competitors
  • don't lose too many customer to indirect comp
  • make sure the potential customer can't do the same thing easy
  • be at least better than substitute competitors

5 Dimension to compare yourself yo your competitors

  1. The product core
    Who is in charge of making the product, How good is your competitors product team.
  2. The size of their user base
    Large user base has advantages launch new feature, they can dominate the market, easier time getting press coverage, allows them to strike deals with other company more easy, the larger the company the better the product.
  3. Design
    How good the competitor ability to make great design
  4. Brand
    Having strong brand is huge competitive advantage, strong brands demand a higher level of customer loyalty, can charge higher price
  5. Speed
    How quickly can make changes, as a company gets larger they get slowed down.

Feature Table

Comparison chart we use to compare our product to our competitors product on a list of dimensions.

Keep track of competitors

  1. Funding
    More money means more people more ads, contractors, press more speed, could affect user base. Ex. Crunchbase
  2. Acquisitions
    This happens when a company buys another company. Ex. Crunchbase
  3. New feature / new product
    You have to know whats new Ex. mention, google alert

Customer Development

CS is the practice of establishing a continous and iterative communication line with customer so that you can come up with ideas, hypothesis and try them out with your customer get feedback to inform our product decisions going forward

  • Customer Discover
    Problem solution fid, Proposed MVP, Proposed funnel
  • Customer validation
    Product market fit, business model, sales and marketing roadmap
  • Customer creation
    Scale execution
  • Company building
    Scale organization, Scale operation
  • Customer interview
    Validation, development, iteration

Types of interviews

Exploratory interviews

  • What you're looking for finding little clue that have some type insight about the product
  • What to talk about
    alkk about their day. How they use your product, they'll give a million different things you can build a solution.

Validation interview

  • Propose you have a theory and you want to test it out.
  • How to present your idea don't hype the idea, don't defend. simply present it and collect honest feedback how they react and think.
  • How to get best answers - try to talk about the problem you are trying to solve in their own word, see if they can find it on their own.
  • Validation interviews are hypersensitive to bias you don't even need to introduce your idea, theory, product till the end
  • Don't bias them - let them in their own word describe the problem they have and what they think of the proposed solution

Satisfaction oriented interview

Efficiency interview

  • Figure out how your product ingrains into the life of your customer, how you can improve to better serve its purpose.
  • Get an idea who uses your product what do they do on it, when do they use it

Talking to Customer

step 1

  • figure out who you are targeting
  • At least 3 potential group of people
  • At least 3 type of potential customer

Pre Product

  • size = market group = how big is the market
  • pain = ratio, how likely to pay you for this service
  • Accessibility = how easily can you get in contact with the people.

Post Product

  • Established customer base
  • People paying and engaging witht he product
  • leads

Step 2 -

Finding interviewees externally

  • Linkedin, forums, reddit, quora, twitter, your competitor

Finding interviewees internaly

  • Some of the best customer to talk to are ones that have already pointed themselves out as people that are enthusiastic, intersteady or have a problem with something.
  1. Using live chat - talkto,
  • Passive Approach
    From chatlog, try to continue the conversation to make it sound like a continuation.
  • Active Approach
    Popup live chat, look for user that are browsing and force pop up live chat
  • After chat / call ask if would like to take 5 min survey

2. Your Blog

  • Comments

3. Power users
Find that user that maybe always login, buy, message.

4. Twitter

How to get them to talk

Cold email - ratio 3:10

be short 4 - 7 sentences, be personal, be valuable - make the conversation valuable in someway, can offer to incentives them

Cold email tips

  • Mention that you're not from sales
  • make them feel special
  • ex - cold email : 1-2 sentences intro (personal) 2 sentences why you want to talk (value), Appeal to price Ex: it seem like you understand our product much better than other customer. Imply association.

Schedule a time
Use online scheduling software

  • Whats the purpose of running an interview? It's to get the most real and accurate information as you can from your customer
  • When you talk to customer you want to talk about their problems and needs
    Don't talk about solution " Customer might not know what they want but they can't hide what they need"
  • Don't talk about your opinion - The point is to get off point
  • Create a comfortable environment - Don't ask uncomfortable question
  • Don't react negatively to feedback

Don't force the conversation, Guide it

  • Tips if you're stuck say "Interesting... Tell me more" Keep in mind the 5w. What, why, when, where, who.
  • The more conversation the better

Good Question, Bad Question

A good question can bring out so much out of a customer and it can fill in so much of your understanding of your product and how to improve it.

  • Rule 1 - Ask open ended question - It's a question that can't be answer by yes or no
  • Rule 2 - Don't ask binary question
  • Rule 3 - Don't ask hypothetical question
  • Rule 4 - Don't ask leading question
  • Rule 5 - Don't ask question that might make customer lie

Building Personas off your interview

User personas are just aggregate of observed user behavior, the purpose of user personas is to make it more convenient to talk about certain user behaviors that you're building for but also to increase empathy towards your users.

When making user personas make sure they have a name, description what is most important to them but your product, sketch or photo, what they want to do easily and etc.

Data Diet

Product decision

  • Internal feedback - user test data - online feedback - analytics stats, news, market trend - watching competitor.
  • Vulnerability 1 - customer interview don't scale.
  • Vulnerability 2 - Qualitative data. QD is not precise enough that's why you need quantitative data as well

MVP - minimum viable product

Mvp means the smallest amount of proposed product that you can build, push out there then get real feedback from user about whether they are actually interested in it.

  • Validated learning is anything you learn from a customer that's done in a test.
  • MVP are about idea validation at the end of the day and what it takes to get to that point.
  • Other reason 4 MVP is that we use them as away to mitigate risk.

Fail Fast

  • Run MVP experiment quickly
  • Collect more data
  • more likely to find successful product

7 Steps to running experiment

  1. Product / solution ideation
  2. Identify assumption ( find the riskier )
  3. Build hypothesis around them
  4. Establish M.C.S, What's constitute success or fail
  5. Pick MVP, Strategy and type
  6. Execute, iterate, evaluate

Identifying your assumptions

  • Any new idea comes with a lot of assumptions.
  • Write out as many of our assumptions that we can
  • ideas are usually based on observation or intuitions

Ex. In order for my idea to be successful the following must be true i assume that:

  1. my customer has xyz problem
  2. my customer matters to my cost
  3. my customer will pay for it
  4. no satisfactory substitute

Product Assumption

Risk - How risky they are to potential feature or product as a whole.

Difficulty - How hard to figure out whether or not this assumption is real and how much effort.

Priority 1 - High risk, low difficulty
Priority 2 - High risk, high difficulty
Priority 3 - Low risk, low difficulty
Priority 4 - Low risk, high difficulty

  • Hypothesis has a target group potential problem, action, expected outcomes
  • An assumption list is just a raw list of things we roughly think need to be true for the success of our product.
  • Hypothesis, it's a single written, testable statement of what you believe to be true with regards to the assumption you've identified.
    Ex. Simple - we believe ___ will ____ because ____ . 1. subject 2. predicted action 3. reason
    This is to establish basic deman and basic validation.
  • If you want to be more accurate in your hypothesis and do a better job, add a problem.
    Ex. Better : if we ___ we believe ___ will ____ because ___ . 1. action 2.subject 3. predict action / outcome.
    This is to speculate on a way to change user behavior and exploring
    PM way: We believe ___ has a ___ because ___ . if we ___ this ___ metric will improve.  1. subject 2. problem 3. reason 4. action 5. metric
    This is to manage a product

What's a minimum criteria for success

Outcomes of MVP tests

  1. Your hypothesis is false and not worth doing
  2. Your hypothesis is true without question
  3. Your somewhere in the middle

Why you need to set Minimum Criteria success (MCS)

You might end up conflating a validated hypothesis with a clear signal to proceed. MCS gives clarity and meaning.

Ex MCS 2 sides

Costs : Dev time, your time, others time, labor wages, advertising cost, brand effect, opportunity cost

Reward : Metrics like, increased revenue, time spent, numbers of shares, increased satisfactory, Number of likes, conversion rates

MCS Formula

Need to identify at what point does the benefit outweight the cost? Focus on one metric, How big of a cost is goingt o take

MCS for startups

  • Less sensitive to certain risk and cost
  • validation metric demonstrate real interest from your potential customer

MVP Technique

  • Email MVP - email client, email list or user base, basic wordsmithing skills
  • Shadow button MVP - people don't konw if it's real so when we observe their behavior in this scenario we generally consider as real
  • 404 page / coming soon.

Tutorial Explainer

Fake Landingpage / pitch experiment page

  • landing page are term used for web pages that are just one page and CTA button.
  • Pitch experiment is an online experiment where you pitch for  new product to online audience
  • Concierge MVP, informal offering to small set of users, manually there to help them accomplish their task
  • Piece meal - you take whats available in the form of out of the box software and piercing those software together, you can match the functionality you need to test the basic version of what you're trying to build.
  • Wizard of oz MVP, in front looks to be completely made but all automated task are done manually behind the scene
  • Email based MVP - best suited for smaller organization that do not yet have much brand anxiety.
    Pro - quick, limit testing group segment users as long you've collected data, cheap, fast, targeted, limited damage.
    Cons - it can come off sloppy


  1. Be aware of what your audience expect of you
  2. Match the production value of your typical email
  3. Try to pair with a landing page or other MVP technique

Shadow buttons

  1. Acknowledge and thank you
  2. Limit the users that see it

404 / Coming soon MVP

Design it to shorten the horizon

Explainer video

Convert much better than text pages, provides indepth explaining, more engaging

Piecemeal MVP

Cons - Pain to implement multiple functionality

  1. Use online software like zapier and ifttt
  2. look for software enable white label

Concierge MVP

Pros - can be run almost in secret, no fake button, get to see customer internal reasoning

Cons - Management intensive time consuming, logistical issue a lot of resource for 1 customer

As PM decide what to add and to go forward.

  • Come up with idea
  • Design experiment
  • set up expectations
  • running a test

Then get the data then compare it to MCS then make sure you incorporate regulars conversation with your users that are involved in your test

Introduction to wireframing

Think of wireframe as first rough translation of a product idea

  • low fidelity meaning not very exact
  • wireframe tool : balsamiq, axure, omni graffle, hotgloo,pop
  • mockups are actually static displays of what the final product should usually look like. Tools : Photoshop, sketch, illustrator, axure and uxpin
  • prototyping - the first phase where you can play with what you've created. Tools : keynote, pop, axure, invision.
  • Mockups are visual mockup of a potential website, mobile app, or even just feature, helps us to be on the same page


Feedback loops - the more frequently you are getting accurate feedback about something, the more effectively you're going to manage that.

Metrics are a fancy term for a number that describes what's going on with your product, it's a measurement of something.

Types of metrics

  • Growth and activation - tracks measures and informs you how your company or product is growing
  • Retention - simply away to find out who's coming back. Ex : returning users, resurected users
  • Engagement - tailored per company to encourage specific type of behavior, depending on the goals of the company.
  • User hapiness - how happy the users are. Ex : rating, survey
  • Revenue metrics - how much revenue we are making. Ex - lifetime user value, cost of customer acquisition monthly recurring revenue, annual recurring revenue.

How to pick good metrics

  • Exploratory metrics - things that you're not always tracking but they're there, it's tracking and analysis available.
  • Reporting metrics - things that we are tracking over long period of time
  • What makes a good metrics? Understandable, rate or ratio, correlation, changeable

Heart metrics framework

  • Simple way to ensure you're thinking about every aspect of the user journey / way a user sees your product.
  • Heart, engagement, adoption, retention, task success

Goals - what do you want to happen
Signals - what is the thing we need to measure
Metrics - a signal expressed over time this is the thing you watch

Tips on using HEART

  • Flexible - use it for a product or company
  • use it for reporting not exploring
  • pick one that matters

AARRR Framework (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue)

  • Metrics tools - Google analytics, Crazy egg, kissmetrics, mix panel, optimizely, segment


  • Initiatives - thing that the whole company is going to do and build in order to reach those goals.
  • Releases - grouping of new features or functionality that's released to the users.


  • start with statement of things that we're building to solve a problem, what feature/functionality we intend to build
  • Piece of work that takes longer than one sprint to build
  • Epic have 4 main areas introduction, requirement, design requirement, engineer requirement.

  • Introduction - summary of what the features building are for and why you're building it, what metrics are you trying to improve.
  • Production requirement - features that we're developing in detail
  • Engineer requirement - database & technical
  • User stories and acceptance criteria - user story is away to describe a thing we're going to build that that delivers some type of functionality to the end user.
  • Acceptance criteria is a set of conditions that sofware must satisfy to be considered complete.
  • Assumption testing - prioritizing by the assumption
  • Buc method - business benefit, user benefit, cost
  • Moscow method - must could should would

General communicating skills

  1. Meetings Follow up
  2. Conference call
  3. email
  4. informal meetings

Meeting with engineers

  1. if something goes wrong it is your fault
  2. When you're pitching, have a good idea of where the feature will go in the future
  3. try to do the work yourself upfront before asking an engineer
  4. watch out for tech debt
  5. do not treat engineer like an agency

Working with designers

  1. give designer their creative freedom
  2. Don't treat designers like an agency
  3. you and your designer are a team
  4. don't tell designer what to do
  5. Always talk about user problem first and solution 2nd

Working with executives

  1. Be brief
  2. Always speak in terms of business effect
  3. communicate in their style

Another tip

  1. Talk to people on each team as much as possible
  2. ensure that other teams understand that you know the user base, tech and business very well.
  3. Update them on the latest dev as frequently as possible
  4. be sure to tell stakeholders the reason the solution is the way it is

Why learn technology

  1. You'll know what can realistically build
  2. it helps you build a great relationship with engineer
  3. It helps you understand the impact of the decision making

Prepare for job

  • demonstrate that you understand the concept and role of product management thoroughly
  • Building portfolio using current job and site project
  • Branding yourself - have a website / blog, social media, twitter, quora

Looking for a job

Best place to look is in your current company, networking, online (hackernew, mailing list),

  1. Make sure the company has a good understanding of the product management role
  2. Do research  on the current product team or product management leader


  1. Think about your relevant experience
  2. make everything quantitative


  1. Use every interview to make the next one better
  2. Ask good questions

How to answer interview questions

  • Never give an answer without mentioning how you came to that conclusion and then why
  • Always ask clarifying question

Insider tips for getting the job

  • Do demonstation project
  • research current project
  • ask question example, why are they hiring? which features this product position would work on, info on what they are building the market they target, client they seek.
  • Research, product, industry, technology, competition Ex. description of my research, my approaches technical limitation, wireframe of potential solution, AB test competitive overviews, customer feedback.

After getting the job

  • schedule 1 on 1 with team members
  • Arrange meeting with lead engineer
  • Start talking to users
  • read as many internal docs
  • look at the data
  • meet with the boss, ask expectations and goals

Subscribe to You Live What You Learn

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
[email protected]