Lots of Good Stuff for Product Managers

Note-taking techniques, Women in Product and more

When I started this newsletter I aimed to maintain a few-times-monthly pace, and I did quite well through the first year and a half. Alas, vacations, work, millennial thinkpieces, and the horror of national and global catastrophes took their toll and I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I know a lot of you value the job listings in particular, so I’ll try to resume a somewhat predictable schedule. I always keep an updated list of Product Management Jobs in the GV Portfolio on my site.

The Women in Product Conference was held earlier this week to universal acclaim, and it’s not hyperbole to note that they fielded the most impressive lineup of any PM-oriented conference ever held. Every attendee I spoke with was inspired. Next time you hear a conference organizer whine that they couldn’t find any women to take their stage, point them to this page.

The WIP organization also sends out a weekly jobs newsletter. If you’re hiring, you can submit your job for free here. And finally, if you don’t identify as a woman but are wondering how you can get involved or show your support, I have good news for you: Women in Product is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and you can donate online or offer to fund sponsorships or scholarships by contacting [email protected]

Good Reads

I started taking notes using the Bullet Journal system a few months ago and I’m quite happy with the results. The system allows you to take meeting notes, jot down ideas, and track tasks linearly in a single notebook organized by date. That’s how I’ve always done it. But bullet journaling solves a longstanding problem: allowing you to find and make sense of the hodgepodge by introducing a simple system of symbols and indexing that you’ll actually adhere to. For example, you preface each note with a dash “–” and any task with a simple dot “•”. Later when you review your day, you can easily find anything that needs to be done. When the task is completed, you put an “X” through the dot or use a “>” to show that it’s been migrated to your digital task list. By occasionally updating an index you make it possible to find specific topics at a later date. It’s easy, builds on my existing habits, and lets me continue to use my beloved Leuchtturm1917 medium-sized dotted notebooks.

I first learned about bullet journaling from the excellent Recomendo weekly newsletter. Each week you get six short suggestions from the Cool Tools crew (Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, and Claudia Dawson). I always find something useful.

Stratechery, Ben Thompson’s newsletter, remains one of the most essential daily reads in tech. His deep, thoughtful analysis of the industry is unparalleled. I mention him here because Ben isn’t a big self-promoter and maintains a nice distance from Silicon Valley (quite literally – he’s based in Taiwan). Subscribe for $10 a month – or $100 yearly – it’s money well spent. If you need convincing, check out his brilliant teardown of Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition or his analysis of the iPhone X and 8 announcement.

“We need a theory of jerks. We need such a theory because, first, it can help us achieve a calm, clinical understanding when confronting such a creature in the wild.” Eric Schwitzgebel, a UC-Riverside professor, offers up A Theory of Jerks. One takeaway: are you the only reasonable person in the workplace? If so, you’re probably the jerk.

My friend and long-time colleague Jake Knapp is leading a two-day Design Sprint Bootcamp in San Francisco in November. Jake is the originator of the GV Design Sprint process and recently set out on his own to write and teach. He’s awesome and this is a great opportunity to learn directly from the master.

Google just launched a new website that consolidates every startup resource the company offers called Startup with Google. There are lots of Googlers focused on helping startups succeed, and its impressive to see all of their efforts in one place.

Years ago I took a workshop in principled negotiation and it was one of the most valuable things I’ve done for my career. Brent Tworetzky provides a TL;DR in Negotiation Skills for Product Managers: 5 Things You Need to Know. I also recommend the classic book Getting to Yes.

The Heath Brothers have authored some of my favorite business books including Made to Stick and Switch. Chip and Dan are about to release their new book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. They have some awesome perks if you preorder the book. Here’s how to get ‘em.

Originally published: September 21, 2017

Ken is director of product at Figma. Previously he spent more than fourteen years at Google where he led product initiatives for Docs, Calendar, Google Mobile Maps, and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

[email protected]