Clement Kao

Clement Kao is Co-Founder of Product Manager HQ. He was previously a Principal Product Manager at Blend, an enterprise technology company that is inventing a simpler and more transparent consumer lending experience while ensuring broader access for all types of borrowers.

What is a Product Manager?

Product managers are amongst the highest-compensated, most well-respected professions in the world today, even though they’re among the least understood. In business schools around the world, MBA students have set their sights on product management as their dream job. Colleges are starting to create new majors and programs focused solely on product management due to high demand. Part of the challenge with describing what a product manager does is that...

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Maintaining Feature Parity Across Platforms

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “For the first time, I’m working on a product that spans multiple platforms (iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Chrome). What are...

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Product Manager Interview: The Product Design Question

A product manager’s core responsibilities include working with a team to design, build, ship, and continuously improve a product. During product manager interviews, most companies love to hone in on your ability to execute against these responsibilities by asking how you might think about designing a product. The popular product design question usually takes form in something like: “Walk me through how you would design X product for Y user” Some...

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What is the Waterfall Model?

Interested in learning about the most traditional and foundational software development processes? The waterfall methodology is a linear project management approach that has been used for about 50 years now. In the waterfall model, stakeholder and customer product requirements are collected at the beginning of the project, and then sequential phases are created to accommodate those requirements. Let’s take a better look at what the waterfall method is: What is...

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Critical Skills to Develop as a New Product Manager in Your First 6 Months

Members of the PMHQ Slack community regularly host awesome events for product managers to swap tips and learn from one another. In San Francisco, Vinay Melwani (Product Manager at HouseCanary) has organized a monthly morning meetup called AM|PM. Attendees answer a thought-provoking question of the month in a round-robin fashion and reflect on each other’s responses. Below is our summary of November’s AM | PM meetup! Our question of the...

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Day in the Life of a B2B Product Manager

This article is a sequel to our popular post, Day in the Life of a Product Manager. There are many different flavors of product management, especially since product manager responsibilities depend greatly on the industry, company, business model, and product. Due to this variability, there is a wide range of day-to-day activities, but ultimately a product manager is still responsible for doing whatever it takes to collaborate with multiple teams...

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What Does a Product Manager Do?

As product managers, the one question that we get asked every now and then is: “What does a product manager do, anyway?” Unfortunately, many of us still stutter while answering this question since product management is a versatile career path. To be more specific, the product manager role tends to vary heavily depending on the product lifecycle and the stage of the company. Due to this variability, there is a...

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Work-Life Balance as a Product Manager

The role of a product manager is to fill in the white space between departments to ensure that the customer receives a product that produces value and that the company has a product that generates value. Of course, there’s one big problem with the role: there’s infinite white space, and therefore infinite tasks that a product manager could do. To be an effective product manager, you need to create clearly...

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Product Manager Interview: The Superpower Question

One question I’ve regularly encountered as part of the product manager interview is the superpower question. This question usually looks like the following: “What is your superpower as a product manager?” I’ll admit, the first time I got this question, I was totally caught off guard! Because I wasn’t adequately prepared to address the question, I floundered for an answer – and of course, I didn’t make it any further...

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Become a Great Product Manager

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Product Review Meetings

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “How do you conduct quarterly product review meetings with the executive team? Do you have a good outline or...

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Internal Release Notes

As product managers, we work with many stakeholders from many different departments within our organization. Our stakeholders rely on us to inform them on what’s happening with the product, as it impacts their operations and their capabilities. I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to keep stakeholders in the loop is to use internal release notes. Most of us are familiar with release notes in general. Check out...

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Maintaining Healthy Backlogs

Product backlogs are an invaluable way to gather ideas and capture inbound bugs from other stakeholders in the organization. Not only that, as product managers, we heavily rely on our backlogs. We use backlogs to determine what’s ready to be loaded into the next sprint, what ideas need more grooming, and which initiatives should be postponed. Yet, one of the problems with product backlogs is that they overflow very quickly....

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Product Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between product manager vs. project manager? It certainly doesn’t help that both are named so similarly, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been incorrectly labeled as a project manager. To start, the two disciplines have fundamentally different purposes. Let’s take a look at the definitions of each type of manager. If you’re interested in learning via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead....

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How to Succeed with Remote Development

As a product manager, you might work at a product organization that works with remote teams. For example, I’ve worked with software development teams based out of India and China. On top of the typical challenges of product management, remote development poses its own unique set of challenges to navigate. Let’s talk through 1) why remote development can be beneficial, 2) what the challenges of remote development are, and 3)...

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So You’re a New Product Manager, Now What?

If you’re reading this article, congratulations! You’ve pulled together a compelling resume, you’ve studied your behavioral questions, you’ve practiced your case questions, you aced your phone interviews, and you wowed your hiring manager during your on-site interview. You’re now a Product Manager. It’s a big deal, so be sure to take the time to celebrate your accomplishments. As a new product manager, it’s critical to ensure success starting on day...

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Product Development Q&A and Best Practices

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “How can I be well-organized on JIRA for multiple platform products? We have mobile, back-end, API, admin panel, etc., so...

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Best Product Manager Cover Letter Examples and Templates

Whenever a candidate applies to a new job for a product manager position, they must signal their value through multiple mediums. While the resume is the most well-known part of the product manager job application, the product manager cover letter can be just as crucial for landing a product manager job. While some employers no longer ask for cover letters, many employers still ask for cover letters from job seekers. Plus, if...

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Product Manager Interview: Pre-Interview Research

As a product manager, you will be expected to know quite a few different areas of knowledge. Not only are you required to become a domain expert in the product that you’ll own, but you’ll also need to understand the industry within which you work. While most companies have some sort of onboarding process for new hires, in my experience, I’ve found that interviewers appreciate when candidates are already knowledgeable...

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Driving Sales Calls as a Product Manager

Product managers win when their products are adopted. Therefore, half of the battle is building amazing products, and the other half of the battle is selling amazing products. This principle is especially relevant for B2B products. Effective product managers need to understand how to best work with their sales teams. We mentioned previously in this series that you can get involved with your sales teams at varying levels of commitment....

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How to Decide if You Need an MBA as a Product Manager

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “do you recommend that I get an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) to become a product manager?” My answer is, “it depends on context, just like any other product decision.” Too often, society tells us what we should be doing in absolute terms, and too often we seek absolute answers – either it should always be yes, or it should...

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De-risking Your Journey to Product Management

Product managers are multiplicative, not additive. In other words, we set the direction for others to take – and if we take them in the wrong direction, then we put the company at risk. Therefore, it’s imperative for hiring managers to minimize their risk when hiring product managers. What kinds of risks do hiring managers consider when they hire product managers? They seek to minimize skills risk and people risk....

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Partnering On Sales Calls

In our previous article, we discussed how to shadow your sales team to uncover new insights about your product. While shadowing your sales team can be incredibly valuable, you can learn even more about your customers and your prospects by playing an active role on sales calls. By joining your sales team on calls, you can provide additional value and increase the odds that your will close the deal. After...

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When to Join Your Sales Team

Throughout this series of articles, we’ve provided frameworks for how to work effectively with your sales team: how to shadow sales calls, how to partner on sales calls, and how to drive sales calls. But while I’ve sung the praises of working alongside your sales team, I haven’t yet discussed how to determine when it’s appropriate to join the sales team. After all, product managers have limited time, and have...

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The Art of Context Switching

In our previous article, we talked about the costs of context switching, and how to generally prevent context switching. However, product managers don’t usually have the luxury of working with uninterrupted time, specifically because we have so many responsibilities and fill up the white space. So, I’d like to talk you through how to context switch better, since so much of our time and output is consumed by context switching....

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What is the Product Manager Career Path? [Ultimate Guide]

Members of the PMHQ Slack community regularly host awesome events for product managers to swap tips and learn from one another. In San Francisco, Vinay Melwani (Product Manager at HouseCanary) has organized a monthly morning meetup called AM | PM. Attendees answer a thought-provoking question of the month in a round-robin fashion and reflect on each other’s responses. One of the questions: “What viable career paths exist for product managers?” ...

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Shadowing Your Sales Team

As product managers, we only succeed if our products are adopted. That means that we need to know both how to build amazing products as well as how to sell amazing products. And what better way to know how to sell your product than to join your sales team on their calls? When you join your sales team on calls, you’ll learn a couple of eye-opening insights. You’ll learn how...

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Product Leadership Best Practices

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “As I continue to grow into a leader of product managers, I’m finding myself disconnected from the actual...

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Empathizing with Engineers

One of the most critical value multipliers that a product manager can bring to the table is the ability to empathize with their engineers. A product manager who deeply understands their engineers can unlock value in many ways: Ensure that the highest-value functionality is built in the most effective way Unblock and accelerate engineers in their day-to-day work Provide engineers with business context and user context Create a sense of...

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What Does an Associate Product Manager Do? Role and Responsibilities

One of the best ways to break into the field of product management is to start as an associate product manager (APM). After all, the associate product manager role is set up as an apprenticeship that leads into a future product manager role. When I first started in product management, I had no idea what associate product managers were, and how they fit into the broader career trajectory for PMs....

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Product Manager Interview: The Weakness Question

Self-awareness is a critical trait for all product managers to have. So, it makes sense for companies to test for self-awareness as part of the interview process. One way to test for self-awareness is through the question “What are your areas of improvement?”, which is another way to say “What are your weaknesses?” I’ve been asked this question in nearly every single product management interview I’ve had. And, when I...

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How to Prevent Context Switching

Since product managers fill the white space between departments and have so many tasks to juggle, we’re constantly switching between different contexts. For example, one moment we’ll be up a meeting agenda, and the next minute we’ll be dropped into an urgent bug resolution war room. Context switching usually causes major losses. I’ll present some research below that demonstrates the high negative impact of context switching. Yet, at the same...

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Shipping Effective B2B Products

Regardless of background, we as product managers are obligated to know how to ship effective B2B (business-to-business) products. After all, technology continues to evolve rapidly, enabling existing businesses to penetrate new customer segments and enabling new entrants to innovate. As businesses of all kinds expand their capabilities, they look to outside products to enable them to do more with their current resources. Because technology is creating so many new opportunities,...

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Testing Best Practices

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further. “Should QA be part of the Dev or the Product team? At the moment I’m working for a...

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Effective Meetings for Product Managers

Nearly every product manager I’ve ever spoken with has the exact same situation – calendars filled entirely with meetings. There’s a reason why we have so many meetings as product managers. Meetings can be one of the most effective ways to debate topics, make decisions, and create action plans across diverse stakeholders. Meetings For Product Managers: Principles Since meetings take up so much of our time and can affect our...

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Day in the Life of a Platform Product Manager

This article is a sequel to our popular post, Day in the Life of a Product Manager. There are many different flavors of product management, especially since product manager responsibilities depend greatly on the industry, company, business model, and product. Due to this variability, there is a wide range of day-to-day activities, but ultimately a product manager is still responsible for doing whatever it takes to collaborate with multiple teams...

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Product Managers Are Also Products

When I work with product managers, I strongly believe that the most valuable product they ship is themselves. In other words, product managers are also products. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that while product managers are also products, they might be the most impactful product that they create. After all, product managers are the means through which better products are made – therefore, better product managers...

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Retrospectives

Product managers aren’t just responsible for shipping a product. We’re also responsible for building the engine that builds great products. In other words, we build processes, best practices, and cultures around what makes a good product. To strengthen this engine over time, one of our most valuable tools is the retrospective. It enables us to identify what’s good, what’s bad, and iterate towards better and better products and processes. In...

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Advanced Tactics for Value Propositions

In the first and second articles in this series on value propositions, we discussed how to craft a value proposition, and how to execute it. For our final article in the series, we’ll share advanced tactics for value propositions based on years of experience. We’ll discuss how to trade-off against time, how good value propositions kill misaligned features, and why “customer surprise and delight” may not actually be desirable. Trading...

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Selecting New Technologies

Every product manager builds their product on top of some set of technologies (commonly known as a tech stack). As customer needs and organizational needs continue to change, product managers may find that they can no longer solve these needs through product iterations alone. In cases like these, PMs are faced with a difficult decision: whether to switch out parts of their tech stack. This decision is critical to the...

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Objection Handling for Product Managers

What’s an objection? As Merriam-Webster defines it, an objection is “an expression or feeling of disapproval or opposition” – and too often, our customers will have objections to our product. Therefore, to be effective product managers, we need to know how to deal with customer objections and convince our customers to stick with us. This skill is called “objection handling”. Why Does Objection Handling Matter? Objections are natural. A truly...

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Effective User Interviews

As a product manager, your objective is to create products that solve user pain. To solve the pain of your users, you need to understand them first – and user interviews are a fantastic way to get to know your user better. One of the challenges with user interviews is knowing how to get started. After all, very few product managers are formally trained on how to interview users. How...

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Configuration vs. Customization

Product managers who build B2B products have all faced the problem before: a large customer needs the product to work in a particular way that isn’t currently supported. So, what should you do next? Before we actually answer that question, let’s first look at the different general strategies available to you when a customer makes a feature request for a B2B product. You have 4 strategies: Build globally Configure Customize...

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Switching Costs

Your product’s value to the customer is your benefit-to-cost ratio, also known as return on investment (ROI). Whenever you can provide more benefit through your product or deliver your product at a lower cost, you make your product more attractive to prospective new customers and to existing customers. Most product managers are aware of how to increase the benefit their product provides, but few consider the cost component of their...

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Validating and Executing on Value Propositions

Previously, we dove deep into creating a value proposition that is based on both meaningful customer research and thoughtful consideration of the benefits and costs that your organization will offer. In this article, we’ll discuss how to validate your value proposition before actually building against it. Then, we’ll show how you can execute faithfully against your value proposition. Validating Your Value Proposition To validate your value proposition, put it in...

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Product Strategies for Switching Costs

In our previous article, we discussed the three core categories of switching costs: financial, procedural, relational. How might we use switching costs to drive more value from our product? You have two core strategies available to you. Decrease the cost your customer must pay to switch to your product Increase the cost your customer must pay to switch to competitors After all, if you decrease the cost to switch to...

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Test Cases

As product managers, we’re responsible not just for performing customer research and user stories, but also for the performance and the behavior of our product. Ensuring our product behaves correctly becomes harder yet more important as we gain more users. Therefore, as part of a successful product spec, you should include information on how you expect the product to behave once you’ve implemented your new functionality. One of the best...

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Professional Development as a Product Manager

As you continue to grow in your product manager role with new responsibilities, you’ll find that you’re entirely in charge of your career trajectory and professional development. For many, this is daunting. Traditional roles usually have clear guidelines on how to advance upwards, but in product management, the path is less clear – since there are so many different kinds of product managers, there’s no single path to success. So, let’s...

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Data-Driven vs. Data-Informed

Many product organizations have stopped focusing on being data-driven, and are pivoting towards being data-informed instead. What’s the difference between the two? Let me illustrate with a real scenario. Product Study: Data-Driven Demand Assessment One of my past initiatives was to find a product-market fit for a particular product idea that we had. The goal was to use landing pages, SEO (search engine optimization), and SEM (search engine marketing) to determine...

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Why Process Matters for B2B Products

Over the past few years as a business-to-business (B2B) product manager, I’ve learned when it comes to the success of a B2B product, process matters far more than technology does. What, exactly, do I mean? I mean that the way in which users accomplish an outcome is much more important than which tools they use to accomplish the outcome. Businesses with stellar processes and subpar tools will generally beat out...

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Implementing New Technologies

In our last post, we discussed how to select new technologies for your tech stack. As a reminder, this decision is critical to the long-term health of both the product and the organization and usually appears at critical inflection points. So now that we’ve discussed how to select new technologies, in this post we’ll tackle implementing new technologies. Before we get started, I want to emphasize that the frameworks that...

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How to Sunset a Feature

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “Hi all – I have a 2-part question: 1) What is the threshold of usage to make the...

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What Is the Average Product Manager Salary?

It’s hard to find stellar product managers. Due to that scarcity, employers are eager to attract product managers through generous compensation. The software product manager role commands high salaries, strong equity, excellent bonuses, and a powerful career track in tech. On top of that, they get to set the product vision, drive the roadmap, craft the product strategy, work alongside software engineers, and grow their product development teams to new heights. But the question is, just how much does a product manager...

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Stakeholder Empathy

Product managers are fundamentally non-essential to the creation of a viable product – that is, we enable functions to collaborate and prioritize to provide 100x the impact they otherwise would, but many successful products out in the world don’t have product managers. In fact, most small startups run without a dedicated product manager, because they haven’t reached the scale at which they would need a fully-dedicated employee to tackle product...

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Sprint Best Practices

One of the main benefits of working in an Agile fashion is that you can shift your product priorities as the landscape around you changes. While this benefit enables you to be flexible, it’s often difficult to keep sprints updated to reflect ever-changing priorities and seamlessly communicate these changes across the organization. So, let’s talk about sprint best practices. I’m assuming that you’re using some ticket management system such as Jira,...

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Product Manager Interview: The Failure Question

I’ve found that no matter what, part of the product manager interview process involves asking the failure question to prospective candidates. The popular failure question usually looks like the following:   “Tell me about a time when you failed.” It’s a daunting question, especially if you’re not used to interviewing as a product manager! In the past, whenever I heard this question, I went immediately on the defensive. To me,...

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PMs & Metrics: Bounce Rate

Product managers care deeply about the engagement of their users. After all, engagement is an indicator that their product is providing value to users. Of course, engagement can be measured in many different ways. One of the most important qualities of a successful product is that users find what they’re looking for. To measure this quality, let’s introduce a new metric to our toolkit: the bounce rate. Definition of Bounce...

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Task Management Best Practices

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “Any tips on how to get started with your day when you have an overwhelming amount of tasks...

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Introduction to Cohort Analysis

As product managers, it’s critical for us to understand the lasting impact that we have on our users – and one of the easiest ways to do so is through cohort analysis. What’s a cohort analysis? Let’s break down each term. A cohort simply means a group of people. As an example, let’s look at graduation year. For your school, the class of 2010 is one cohort, and the class...

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How to Write a Product Manager Resume in 2022 [Step By Step]

Whether you’re an aspiring product manager or a senior product manager, you’ll always need to have a fantastic resume. Every hiring organization uses them to evaluate how good of a fit you’ll be in product management. After all, a good product manager knows that product managers are also products. We have to convince hiring organizations that we will solve their pain. That’s why we must know how to sell ourselves and...

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B2B Cohort Analysis

In our previous article, we discussed cohort analyses in the business-to-consumer (B2C) product space. We first broke down how cohort analyses enable you to see the difference between groups of users. Then, we discussed how cohort analyses enable you to drive insights from real-time experimentation. While cohort analyses are incredibly powerful in the B2C space, they’re quite difficult to pull off in the B2B (business-to-business) space. Why is that? It’s...

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What is Growth Product Management?

I’ve noticed that more and more people have been asking, “what is growth product management?” and “is growth product management right for me?” These are fantastic questions! Growth product management is one of many variants of the product management discipline, and its focus is on increasing critical metrics by reducing barriers to value. Over the years, startups and tech companies have demonstrated a growing interest in hiring growth product managers. First,...

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Customer Support for a Day

As product managers, we solve problems for users – both new users and existing users. One of the best ways to get to know existing users better is to work alongside customer support. Customer support teams interact directly with existing customers that are struggling. This means that customer support has a wealth of information about the challenges that existing customers face as well as what kinds of solutions are more...

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Product Manager Interview: Create a Product Roadmap

One of the core responsibilities as a product manager is to determine the long-term strategy for their product. To do so, product managers create product roadmaps to orient themselves and their teams on what new initiatives, products, and features to tackle, and within what general sequence and timeframe. During product manager interviews, many companies seek to understand your ability to execute against these responsibilities by asking you to create a...

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The Critical Path Method for Product Managers

Product managers are always juggling lots of initiatives at once, so it’s crucial for product managers to know how to effectively manage projects and deadlines. In my own journey to product management, I didn’t have any formalized training in resource management and timeline management. So, to shore up that weakness, I obtained a Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification, which empowered me with an expanded tool of mental models and techniques...

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Product Distribution Models

One reason why product management is so complex is that context matters. Different product distribution models fundamentally change the way that products are built, validated, and launched. When I visualize the different product distribution models, I think of a spectrum from left to right:  On the left are internal products. These are typically platform products or internal productivity tools, and they typically have only a single customer: the hiring organization....

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Product Manager Interview: Analyze a Metric Change

One core responsibility of a product manager is to analyze the performance of their product. After all, by analyzing product performance, product managers can drive impact by: Determining how to further optimize traffic and conversion Diagnosing bugs or problematic user experiences Testing new strategies and new markets During product manager interviews, hiring managers will focus on your analytics skill sets by asking you to analyze a metric on the fly....

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Blended Metrics

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “What do you think about creating blended metrics (a series of metrics, rolled-up into one)? How do you...

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How to Find a Product Manager Job

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “how can I find a product manager job?” I have good news for you: as software continues to eat the world, the need for talented product managers continues to grow – and that means that there are many product manager job openings available. Established tech companies are always looking to expand their rosters. New startups are always looking for talent. And...

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Value Propositions for Product Managers

Product managers provide value to their customers through their product offerings. Our primary objective is to create so much value for customers that they choose us, stay with us, and recommend us over any other alternatives. Yet, we often build products that do not provide value. This bad practice is extremely dangerous for the following reasons. 1) We lose the opportunity to ship a product that would actually provide value....

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Best Product Management Tools in 2022[Review]

We compiled this official guide based on conversations with hundreds of product managers in our PMHQ community who revealed the most popular product management tools and product management tools that they currently use on the job. 64 Best Product Management Tools 2022 The following are the best tools for product management according to their main functions. They are divided into different categories such as collaboration, product roadmap, product management, etc. Product Management...

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80+ Product Manager Interview Questions [Ultimate List]

In today’s competitive job market, product managers can’t afford to turn a blind eye to product manager interview questions. That’s if you want to increase your chances of landing a PM job. Granted, companies across the globe all use their own unique approach to scout for talent and bring them on board as part of their team. That said, when conducting interviews for product manager roles, most recruiters aim to...

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What is a Product Roadmap? And How to Create One

An efficient product roadmap is an integral part of any successful product. Effective product managers lead their teams towards a vision of the future, and to do so they lean on product roadmaps. The purpose of a product roadmap is to identify key steps to take and when to take them. Crafting a product roadmap is no different from planning a road trip. Think about the last trip you planned....

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Product Manager vs. Product Marketing Manager: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a product manager (PM) and a product marketing manager (PMM)? After all, both are responsible for product launches of customer-facing products, whether it’s a physical entity or virtual software. Both need to coordinate different groups within a company to ensure that the product release is successful. So, what separates the two roles from one another? The simplest way to describe the difference is: Product managers are...

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IN PROGRESS – Product Manager Interviews vs. Management Consulting Interviews

THIS ARTICLE IS ONLY HALFWAY DONE. PLEASE IGNORE FOR NOW. highlight similarities, differences Misconceptions About the Interview Let’s also talk about what information is not necessary for the product manager interview. One of the greatest misperceptions I’ve found is that candidates expect product manager case interviews to be identical to management consulting case interviews. While the two share many similarities, these interviews test for fundamentally different skills; therefore, the prerequisite...

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Product Synergies

The end goal for any software product team is to build synergistic products, rather than additive products. After all, when you build a product, you don’t just want to create value through your own product; you also want to create additional value in your company’s other product offerings, and that means that you’re creating product synergies. In other words, you want to ensure that you’re creating multiplicative value, or else...

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What is the Agile Methodology?

Earlier this week, we discussed the Waterfall methodology and today we’re going to go over another popular methodology in the industry called Agile. Agile is an extremely iterative approach to product development based on the Lean methodology that rapidly delivers a product in small batches. Many new startups find Agile to be a preferred methodology because Agile relies on a high level of customer involvement and thus the product is...

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What Is Product Ops?

While nearly every software relies on product managers, many of them are still learning more about what a product operations manager and team do and what value it provides. Product operations, more commonly known as product ops, is a relatively new role. Similar to other ops counterparts such as sales ops, marketing ops, and business ops, product ops are all about making it easier to scale the product team. Here’s...

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JQL Tips for Product Managers

While many product managers know how to use Jira (a ticket tracking tool), they may not have mastery over some of the finer nuances of Jira, including JQL. What is JQL? JQL is “Jira query language” – think of it like SQL but for Jira. It’s a flexible and powerful way to look for a set of Jira tickets. Why would you need to query your Jira tickets? Well, here’s...

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PMs & Metrics: Counter Metrics

While north star metrics are incredibly valuable for creating focus and alignment, they provide even more value when paired with a counter metric. What’s a counter metric? A counter metric is something that you measure to ensure that you haven’t over-optimized your north star metric to the detriment of your customers and your business. Below, I’ll discuss why you need a counter metric, how to select a compelling counter metric,...

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The Differences between Resumes and LinkedIn Profiles for Product Managers

I’ve reviewed countless product manager resumes and product manager LinkedIn profiles, and one mistake that I commonly see is that the candidate’s resume and profile are exactly the same. Your LinkedIn profile should differ from your resume – they don’t serve the same purpose! Below, I’ll discuss why LinkedIn profiles are different from resumes, and I’ll highlight four key ways they differ from one another. By understanding the purpose of...

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Coordination Costs

Product managers are not just in charge of the products they build – they’re also in charge of the processes and systems around them, as they continue to unlock multiplicative value for their company. Based on my experiences, I’ve found that there’s a rarely-discussed cost when it comes to shipping more and more products. That cost is what I call coordination cost. You’ve run into coordination costs before. When you’re...

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What is Effective Altruism? A Guide for Product Managers

Product managers seek to find and address the pain of others – so it’s no wonder that some of the most altruistic and philanthropic people I know are product managers! In fact, most product managers I know are interested in creating a positive impact in the world through their work. And, on top of that, they’re also interested in creating a positive impact in the world outside of their work....

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Coffee Chats for Product Managers

The best product managers treat themselves as products, and that means that they have a deep understanding of which market segments they target and which pains they solve within that market segment. Part of the reason why it’s so hard for a candidate to become a product manager at a different company is that she may not yet have a clear grasp of that company’s needs and pains. One of the...

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What I Wish I’d Known as a New Product Manager

As a new product manager, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the newfound responsibilities that you have. After all, you’re not just responsible for the fate of your product – you’re responsible for your customers, for your engineering and design teams, and for the business overall. I’ve been there before. I felt that panic when I took on my first product manager role. The good news is that you’re...

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How to Optimize a Product Manager LinkedIn Profile

Are you looking to optimize your product manager LinkedIn profile? Well, you’ve come to the right place. A product manager is a business professional responsible for the planning, development, and execution of a company’s products or services. In many cases, the product manager is also responsible for the overall success of the product or service. Product managers work with other departments within the company, such as marketing, sales, and engineering,...

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Interviewing with Engineering Managers

As part of the product manager interview process, you’ll find that you’ll be interviewing with engineering managers quite regularly. After all, product managers work closely with engineering managers on a day-to-day basis, and they jointly lead their teams to success. Therefore, organizations must ensure that the engineering manager approves of the candidate. But, if you’ve never formally interviewed with an engineering manager before, it can feel like an intimidating obstacle....

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PMs & Metrics: North Star Metrics

Because product managers fill in the white space between customers, the business, and the development team, product managers are always flooded with qualitative information – ranging from complaints to quotes to praise to anecdotes. To successfully manage the chaos, product managers rely on metrics to aggregate information. That way, they can easily digest and diagnose the flood of information that they’re getting. Yet even then, product managers can still be...

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How to Write LinkedIn Recommendations as a Product Manager

A LinkedIn recommendation can significantly boost the appeal of any product manager candidate. After all, it’s a publicly visible recommendation, which means that the recommender has strong faith in the candidate’s abilities. As product managers, it’s important for us to know how to give strong LinkedIn recommendations to colleagues, because we have the privilege and the responsibility to accelerate other people’s careers. After all, a strong LinkedIn recommendation is the...

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How to Manage Uncertainty

Every product manager faces uncertainty. Whether you’re launching a new product, scaling an existing product, onboarding into a new role, or tackling just about anything else as a product manager, you’ll need to cope with uncertainty. Why do I say that you need to cope with uncertainty? Well, it’s not enough to just deal with uncertainty – it’s not about you being able to live with it. What really matters...

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How to Ask for LinkedIn Recommendations as a Product Manager

To succeed as product managers, we need to demonstrate that we’re effective cross-functional collaborators. One of the best ways to demonstrate that is to obtain a recommendation for your LinkedIn profile. But, before we can receive LinkedIn recommendations, we need to first find people who are willing to give them to us. When it comes to recommendations, deciding who should recommend you is one of the most important decisions you’ll...

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Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

As product managers, we have the responsibility of moving the business forward, and one of the most effective means for ensuring we do so is through the use of objectives and key results (OKRs). I admit that when I first started as an associate product manager, I had no idea what the term “OKR” stood for, and it took me a while to fully understand how to use them! So,...

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Effective One-on-One Meetings

Successful product managers need to motivate their product development teams, share crucial context at the right time with teammates, and solicit feedback from teammates on how they can continue to improve their product management skills. One-on-one meetings are valuable for product managers because they enable PMs to do all of the above! But, I’ve noticed that many product managers fail to set up effective one-on-one meetings with crucial stakeholders and...

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How I Became a Product Manager

In the PMHQ Slack community, we regularly get thought-provoking questions that we feel should be explored in-depth and documented for future reference. We’re starting a new set of Q&A posts called Highlights to dive into these kinds of questions, and enable everyone in the community to revisit the answers and contribute further! “Hi Clement – I saw on your that you went into a Product Analyst role before being a...

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PMs & Metrics: Net Promoter Score (NPS)

During our last post of the PMs & Metrics series, we covered the details of retention rate. In today’s post, we’ll be going over another important metric that PMs should be familiar with – the net promoter score, also known as NPS. For our discussion, let’s break it down into the following sections: Definition: What is the net promoter score? Measurement: How do you measure net promoter score? Impact: Why...

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Crisis Management as a Product Manager

As a product manager, you’re guaranteed to come across at least one large product-related crisis at work, if not multiple ones. Therefore, crisis management is a core skill for any product manager. Through observing senior product leadership, learning from peers, and reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve found that the most productive way to tackle a crisis is to break it down into four stages: identification, mitigation, diagnosis, and prevention. What...

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How to Become a Product Manager Without Experience

Becoming a product manager is a frustrating chicken and egg problem. Companies like to hire people with prior product management experience and it’s hard to get prior experience without first becoming a product manager. Here is some of our best advice (compiled from years of speaking to candidates trying to break into the industry as well as from our own successful experiences) around landing a job as a product manager....

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The Gift of Product Mentorship

One of the biggest gifts I’ve received in my life is product mentorship. Honestly, without mentorship, I would not be who I am today. Regardless of your seniority, product mentorship will always prove useful. Whether you’re an associate product manager or the Head of Product, there’s always so much more to learn – new perspectives and frameworks to consider, new technologies and methodologies to stay on top of, new industry...

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Revisiting Past Decisions

While product managers are responsible for making decisions, they’re also responsible for revisiting past decisions to ensure that those previous decisions are still correct. And, if those decisions are no longer helpful for the company, product managers are responsible for updating those decisions to reflect the new reality of the market. In other words, your decisions should never be set in stone – markets change, competitors change, etc. But on...

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