What Does It Take to Be a Product Professional

February 9, 2020

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Yoav Teleman

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What are your goals? What are the three things you have to make into your very own reality? That’s what Eitan asked me at our first meeting.

 

 

And now? Now I ask you the same question. Go ahead and think about it.
We will get to this again later.

Who is Eitan, you are asking? Eitan Gersh Kaplawi is my pal, my PM-man.
My Product League mentor!

So here we were, on our first mentoring meeting, discussing goals.
And as the product managers we are, we started our sessions by talking about my pains. And my primary pain at the time was the gap between the expectations I had about my product manager role and the reality.

I thought I would have more influence over the product vision, the features that were added to the product, and the development process. You know, I thought I am going to be the product manager

In reality, many feature requests were handed to me as a pre-defined solution, and I had almost no clear knowledge of the problem we were trying to solve or, what would be the impact of that expected solution. I also felt like we could have a more efficient development process. And as much as I wanted to change things, I couldn’t.

So there we were, talking about pains. My pains.

But then, we talked about pain relievers and vitamins, PM style. I started learning new tools that can make an impact. My days looked different.

Then we asked the optimal PM question: ‘why?’.

We discussed the importance of clarity; we talked about constant learning and improving.

And then it hit me: being a product manager is not about being set in the most effective, well-organized company.

Being a product manager is about doing what I do, so well, that inspired and impacts everyone around us to do their job in a beautiful and meaningful orchestration.

I then became a professional.

I learned, for example, that even if I am handed a solution, I can and should ask questions. Eitan also taught me how to ask these questions.

I got to learn that I can talk to the feature’s relevant stakeholders myself and get more information, one that will help me understand the real problem and its impact. And with this information, I can also go back to the drawing board. I can question the solution or even the choice of solving this problem and not another.

So there I was, fully invested in this mentoring process, learning so much, gaining a better understanding of my profession. Right on track. But is it the right track?

I decided to go back to that note with the goals I set to myself and have a look.

And all of a sudden, it was all so clear to me. I was amazed by the correlation between the goals I set to myself and that pain I had, feeling like an executor rather than a creator.

I didn’t realize it until then.

It’s then when I also realized that I now have the tools that will allow me to have enough impact without changing anything about the company’s culture. Becoming the best, most professional version of myself will do.

And that is a lesson I could not ever gain from any blog post or even the best product management book out there.

I got to see my career path through the eyes of a seasoned professional, one that walked in my shoes and traveled to fantastic, most wonderful lands of accomplishments.

Eitan made me understand I have a lot more impact than I thought. And it’s of choice. My choice to become a product management professional.

Written By

  • Mentee in Product League & Senior Product Manager at Global-e

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