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10 Takeaways from #365DaysofProduct
Today is Day 365 of My 365 Days of Learning Product Management Challenge ✌️
Is it really Day 365 today? 😆
(A little celebration here)
Last year, after I quit my full-time job in order to pursue a transition into product management, I started a 365-day challenge aiming to urge myself to learn every day. I have already done many 30-day challenges on LinkedIn before (for each 30-day challenge, I focus on a theme that I’m uncomfortable with as a way to step out of my comfort zone), so I thought posting on LinkedIn for 365 days would be a great way to keep track of my “notes” and also keep an eye on myself.
Before diving in…
There are so many people that had shown kindness and provided me with many suggestions and guidance when I reached out. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
I’ll be forever grateful for those who have taken a chance on me, believed in me, cheered me on, crossed paths with me, tried to drag me down, confronted me, challenged me, made me grow stronger, …
All the self-doubts, imposter syndrome, encouragement, love, support, hostility, kindness, etc have a special place and purpose in our lives.
1. Stay curious and open + step outside of your comfort zone
Perhaps you're an introvert, but you "force" yourself to sign up for 1:1 pairing, and the stranger you get matched with for virtual coffee chat ends up giving you some inspiration about something new (e.g. a different career path).
You can be curious and open, but if you didn’t do something outside of your comfort zone, even just slightly, chances are you might not be able to explore much further and discover something beyond. After all, there’s only so much inside the comfort zone.
2. Find ways to validate your interest/passion
Read books and articles about it, listen to podcasts about it, take classes about it, talk to experts about it, etc... Try to find out what people hate about it and what are the worst things about it. If your interest/passion lasts more than your normal "interest span," chances are that it's something you truly enjoy.
Looking for some suggestions?
Here are some places to get you started:
- 's list of 125+ resources for PM
- 's curation of Best Product Stuff
3. Identify the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be (aka what is your vision for yourself?)
Without a vision, you end up setting goals that could possibly distract or detour you. One of the most important things we learn in product management are finding the ultimate “WHY”, defining the right problem to solve, and aligning the rest of the vision.
After the vision is clear, the next big thing is to strategize before jumping into action (I made this mistake initially, too); otherwise, you would be wasting time and energy. Strategize and use the 20% that'll help you achieve the 80%.
4. Once you have a vision and strategy, ruthlessly learn and find ways to experiment/execute.
Assume that you know nothing and try not to overlook any tiny moment or chance to learn and apply the learning. This is why this 365-day challenge exists. In order to achieve certain milestones that pave the way to the vision, we need to double down and stay focused.
A little expansion on the 80/20 rule mentioned in the last point, these learning/experimentation/execution are not limited to PM-related stuff. I also started to prioritize my health (though after a not-so-good annual physical as the alarm) which results in better sleep, clearer brain, more efficient learning, etc.
5. With any ups or downs, studying harder is usually a good enough solution.
When you doubt yourself or experience imposter syndrome, study harder. When you feel that you're doing great and can totally qualify, also study harder (to keep your ego in check). Many of the emotions and thoughts are pure distractions.
6. Sometimes, a leap of faith is needed (also a bit of "luck").
I quit my job last year to volunteer at CoachArt as their first Associate Product Manager for a year. It turned out to be the best learning experience, both PM-wise and life-wise, as the entire organization is so kind, supportive, mission-driven, and amazing.
7. I don't actually believe in luck.
I sort of believe in fate/destiny/kismet (in Chinese: 緣份 or 命).
Maybe our lives are already written, and we're just living them. Maybe the story depends on our choices and each choice leads to a different parallel universe. Who knows?
What's important is that we do our best to live our lives according to our core values. Everyone is different and there are different approaches to achieving that. It is our job to define/figure it out.
8. Keep focusing on the vision, being consistent with the strategy, and being flexible with approaches.
Rejections hurt, but we can limit the scope and length of the pain by... yes, studying harder 😂 Or, going to the gym and focusing on some good physical stretch. There are ways to get yourself back on track, it’s okay to take some breaks and rest, but it’s not okay to dwell in negative self-talk and self-destruction.
I found that when I’m extremely focused on the vision, the setbacks and obstacles become both clearer and more blurry (sounds contradictory?) - they become clearer because I focus on recognizing and dealing with them proactively; they become blurry because after dealing with them I can then let them go and move on quicker.
9. Find ways to exhibit your passion and ability.
If you're truly passionate about a company/position, dedicate enough time before/during the interview process to exhibit that. Otherwise, you're just another applicant, instead of "someone the hiring manager would want to invest in even if you might not tick all the job requirement boxes".
For example, start a side project and commit to it. Build a community. Whatever you do, make sure that it’s aligned with and able to reflect your passion, vision, and strategy. Then, make sure it is discoverable (or make an effort to share it with the hiring managers, etc).
10. You'll make it. I promise.
Believe in yourself.
You can believe in God, in destiny, in Web3, in anything. But if you don’t believe in yourself 100%, even the 0.0001% doubt could grow and become something that hinders your own progress.
(But still, even with less than 100% belief in yourself, you can still make it, it’s just that you’ll have to battle with the doubts from time to time)
Thank you all who’ve read thus far or have read any of my posts on LinkedIn ❤️
Sure, LinkedIn is a professional network platform, but if you can see and move beyond that, you’ll find countless opportunities, and you’ll make genuine connections that are special and different than any other social media.
See you soon!