“One's first love is always perfect until one meets one's second love.”
I was honored to participate in a podcast hosted by my friend Michael Hopkin. Michael has a blog site dedicated to Product Management (http://www.leadonpurposeblog.com/) and also runs a podcast called The Product Management Pulse.
It was great fun and Michael is a great host. Mostly it got me to think, talk and reminisce about my first love—Product Management.
Over the 30 minutes or so I was able to cover several of my favorite Product Management topics but in replaying it I realized I never got around to one of my most stringent rules for being a good Product Manager (although God knows I tried, I even attempted to talk through the break).
DON’T FALL IN LOVE. Not with your product, not with technology, not with any one client, not with any one salesperson, not with any one analyst. The real power of a Product Manager is to always remain "passionately unattached". Product Management must prove everything, with research, with data, with facts, with backup. And they must also be very passionate about the fact that they have no emotional attachment to anything but the truth. "You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!"
Michael asked me if there was any one path that leads to being a Product Manager than another, tech vs. sales, etc. My answer was that , no, Product Managers come from all backgrounds. I should have answered, "All Product Managers should come from Vulcan". Mr. Spock would have been a killer Product Manager, totally factual, totally logical, always with a researched answer at hand. Killer.
My yardstick has always been that the Product Manager should always be the first person in the company to recognize when their product has jumped the shark and is looking at a logical, graceful sunset. That’s the easy part, any PM worth their frequent flyer miles can do that. The hard part is they’re also the first person who should stand up in front of the C’s and say so. "Excuse me, Mr. or Ms. CEO, but coming up in the next release my product is scheduled to jump a shark and I think it's time for Fonie to hang up his leather jacket".
That, my friends, is a REAL Product Manager.