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Don't forget to punch your time clock at the feature factory.
After a little summer break, we're back and ready to party.
Howdy Product Party friends - it’s been a minute. I hope you all are doing great.
August saw the busyness of life catching up with me. The family trips, school shopping, buying and selling a house, fantasy football draft prep - all the awesomeness I had going on cut into the time I usually carve out for writing.
Now that school has started, football season is in full effect, and the dust is starting to settle, I’m excited to get back into bi-weekly posting about some of the product topics we all love to discuss.
I follow a lot of great content creators on X in the product space (shout-out) and recently came across this post while doom scrolling through my feed. Having worked in a few different orgs over the last five years with a mixed bag of experiences in product, I thought the struggle highlighted hits home.
If you’re reading newsletters about the product world, you are more than likely a product person who has been on your journey for a while. There’s a great chance you’ve encountered situations like the one above - the stakeholders trying to dictate the backlog, expecting you to be highly paid project managers, and limited autonomy to do what you know your company and products need to blossom. It can feel a little…defeating? Boring? Doomy and gloomy?
I know it can be a bit of a bummer, BUT I think it’s important to try to find the positives in this situation.
Here are some things to think about when you start getting down about your product career not exactly going in the direction you were hoping:
You CAN take the skills you learn from all the reading and content creation and incorporate them into building better products.
Sure. You may not get to use all of these fancy tools and processes your peers use at companies with strong product teams and leadership. One week for a design sprint instead of drawing up a new UI in Microsoft Paint? Sounds like a dream.
However, there are many different tools you CAN learn and bring into your daily work regardless of how strong your product team may be.
A true passion for solving your user’s pain points can bolster everything from how you talk with an engineer about what’s being built to how you market the product and yourself with your stakeholders. This skill is one of the most important ones to grow in our product lives, and as long as you keep this at the forefront, you will succeed in growing.
Getting features in your user’s hands will always have a better chance of helping them than a story in your backlog.
Many product teams and product managers are great when dialing in the user pain points and coming up with strategies that could improve their experiences. They spend a ton of time researching and documenting what should be built. This can be very beneficial for most organizations.
However, if nothing ever makes it into the hands of the people you’re trying to help, all that time spent researching and building a dream experience has an increasingly high chance of being completely pointless.
So…get your work ready to be built and see it through to delivery when/if you can. The only way you can effectively iterate and make the product great is to put it in their hands, and sometimes, it takes a little extra push from folks like us to make that happen.
Nothing in your career has to be permanent.
I don’t think this is unique to our product life, but it is important to remember. If you’re in a less-than-ideal situation at work and don’t get to do what you want, you have to remember that there are always other places/industries/roles to explore.
Life is short. Don’t spend the next 1, 3, or 5 years just working in a role or at a company you dread. Log into your ChatGPT, tweak that LinkedIn/resume, and get yourself out there. Find that dream role and live your best Marty Cagan-style life.
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