Well, if you are reading this post, most of chances are that you are fortunate to be giving yourself the gift of participating in Product League. You are probably taking your career seriously, and this program sounded just like the perfect opportunity to advance it.
That’s exactly how I felt when I applied to the first batch of Product League two years ago. Since then much water has flown under the bridge: I got promoted twice and recently became the director of our product team.
And… I genuinely believe that I would have been in a different place today if I had not participated in this program, meeting my fantastic mentor.
The reason I am writing this post is to help you in making the most out of your enrollment in Product League. This with the ultimate goal of hearing about your success story in a couple of years.
This picture, BTW? That picture was taken during my first meeting with Irena, my mentor, in Product League’s first batch launch party! That was our moment to fall in love. And wow, time just flies… and I am now writing to YOU!
This post will help you make sure you will have the least ‘what if’ or ‘what should I have done differently’ type of thoughts after the program is over.
Setting your expectations before it starts, managing the process during it and being able to look ahead to when it officially comes to an end.
Should we dive in?
First thing first, there is no mentee without a mentor. This is an exciting moment; you have a match!
That’s it; you have a mentor. You can’t wait to check everything about them (admittedly we are all stockers) and find out that he or she area hybrid version of the Superman and Spider-Man of the product world, to say the least.
You might see the potential at the first moment. However, just like with Peter Parker (i.e., Spider-Man), you might see it only after they will put their superhero suit on.
As with every other aspect of life, setting the right expectations is vital. Sometimes you have to trust the road and the program algorithm.
Come with an open mind and heart; if you two were paired, there must be a good reason for it.
Try finding this reason, look beyond what’s there for your eyes to see. Start rolling.
You are the Product
Sometimes, trying a new thing can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. New people, new interactions, a new way to be improved. It’s only natural to feel a bit off-balance. What I suggest is to stick to something that you know how to do: manage products. Pretend that you are the product, and you want to make yourself into the best possible version of yourself.
Start with identifying the areas you would want to improve, share them with your mentor and together, make sure that you identified the real source.
The program won’t last forever, and it’s essential to start with the most pressing issues. Those with which the help of your mentor would be the most valuable, to you.
And lastly, be productive, set action items at the end of every session and review the progress made at the beginning of the following meeting.
Share, discuss, and find additional areas for improvement. Consistently.
Important to note: some areas of improvement can be more technical, covering topics such as roadmap management and agile methodology implementation. Some invaluable feedback and advice from your mentor could be sourced in soft skills such as coping with a tricky situation with a colleague and other communication challenges.
Your success as a PM requires a set of many different skills. Maintain a holistic view while focusing and striving to improve the area that is holding you back.
The magic pill
Time flies when having fun. And one day, you’ll realize the batch has come to its end. You have probably learned some valuable lessons which helped you see some improvement.
While short term progress will be felt, much of the progress of this experience has a longer-lasting effect. The batch only ended semantically; however, the toolkit you received is yours forever, and it’s up to you to keep using it to improve.
Open your calendar, mark this date next year (yeah, I mean it!)
When the time comes, examine how far you got.
This is when the real progress will start lighting your way.
I wish you a fantastic journey, may you find it as magical as I have found it.
Talk to me in the comments!