Episode 1: What Does It Mean To Be a Product Manager?

Episode 1

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In this inaugural episode, Karl and Danielle introduce themselves and discuss how they both “fell” into product management. Then the discussion moves into why product management isn’t taught in schools, why reading Marty Cagan isn’t going to make you a product manager, how there are no silver bullet answers, and finally a discussion of how artistic pursuits apply to product management. As a bonus, we also talk about that most important fuel to keep product managers going — coffee!

Key Points

00:00Introduction 00:42Meet your hosts, Karl and Danielle and hear how they became product managers. 01:50Why is product management not taught in schools and how then should you learn? 07:18Could you product manage a coffee shop? 10:26Why can’t you just stick to the text book when practicing your craft? 12:49Leading by influence and the need for drive to be a product manager. 16:29Product Management is difficult — how do you not drop the ball? 21:36On the need to say “no” as a product manager. 23:53Why can’t you just read Inspired by Marty Cagan and be ready? 26:29Janna Bastow and her silver bullet Prodpad webinar descriptions. 29:50Photography, Art, and Product Management. 39:30Outro

Call to Action

Think about what skills outside of the normal scope of product management you could work on learning to help improve your well roundedness as a product manager.


“One of the reasons that product management is not taught in school is that, while the mechanics are pretty straightforward and easy, what’s not teachable are the experiences that need to come together to enable a product manager to make the right decisions and the gut instinct decisions in the role.”

Karl Abbott

“While we’re all out here searching for that silver bullet that’s going to make us the best of the best, the crème de la crème, there’s no such thing. You can apply that to everything. There’s barely ever a silver bullet that’s going to be the answer to the question that you’ve always wanted, unless it’s 42.”

Danielle Kirkwood

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Season 0Episode 1