Learn these key product management skills

Focus on the problem your product solves

Product managers probably spend 90% of their time influencing cross-functional team members, communicating requirements to engineering, and adapting to strategic changes and ambiguity from leadership. And there are probably many more PM skills that aren’t listed below…technical skills, domain expertise, presentation skills, project management skills, Agile development process skills, quantitative modeling, etc.

The theme of this post, however, is to invest in learning specific, tangible skills that you can demonstrate. If PMs had a portfolio like designers and developers, they would include “product management assets” to show competence. …

Is there such a thing as client-relationship etiquette?

We may not think of communication skills as the key to client engagements, but it’s alarming how quickly a project can fail without prioritizing frequent communication. Freelancers (and agencies) should not be tempted to take a creative brief, not ask any questions for weeks, and then send over a final deliverable via email. That approach is a recipe for a huge #Designfail.

Clients don’t hire freelancers (or agencies) for their design skills alone.

Designers need to flex their people-management skills as well. Sharpen your soft-skills and emotional intelligence.

The key to effective team communication

65% of startups fail due to co-founder conflict. This means that despite our best efforts, teams implode when communication breaks down. The stress of big projects leads to personality conflict and friction on a team. The internal friction builds, leading to dysfunction and disengagement.

How do we fix organizational dysfunction?

Presence in conversation

The first communication skill any team member can improve is presence in conversation. Presence means being fully engaged without distraction in communication. Being fully present means maintaining eye contact, being fully in the moment, and listening to what is being said. If you are multitasking in a meeting, you’re not…

Three free hosted sessions coming up at General Assembly SF


Communication skills: Learn to sharpen your vocal presence

with Lauri Smith

Define and socialize your startup vision

Every startup journey begins with an existential crisis:

Who are we?

To answer this question, startup founders typically lay out their vision for the future in a pitch deck. The pitch deck describes a problem worth solving and paints the picture of your solution. The pitch to investors, of course, is that your team is on to something with massive growth potential. Investors would be crazy not to invest!

A pitch deck answers core self-reflective questions about the startup like:

What is the problem we’re solving?

What is the market size?

Why now?


Your team expects you to speak up.

Speaking up in teams

BigTalker recently hosted a teamwork communications professional development session at General Assembly. The premise of the ‘Teamwork dynamics’ session is that teamwork is critical, but messy. Per the Atlassian teamwork project:

“Working in teams is challenging. There are many things that get in the way of good teamwork and slow teams down:

Lack of project transparency

Information silos

Challenges in company culture

Communication breakdowns”

To build a team culture of psychological safety that drives innovation, every team member must sharpen their team communication skills. …

Teamwork is a learned skill that we can keep improving

Jana Anders on Active Listening

According to Atlassian’s teamwork research

“Teamwork has never been more important than it is today. Did you know that 90% of companies report they are working on projects so complex that only teams of people working together will be able to solve them? The days of the lone genius are long gone, now productivity and innovation lie in the hands of skilled teams that can effectively collaborate to create the future.”

The reality of teams is that our focus on the goal of a project often overshadows the importance of…

If at all

A corporate wellness discussion with wellness professionals in the SF area

When it comes to corporate wellness, most of the companies I’ve talked to simply track their wellness initiatives by surveying employees. Employee satisfaction. They present a perk like free food, a kegerator or a learning fair and ask “did you enjoy this?” If the answer is yes — great! We’ll keep doing this — our employees are enjoying themselves.

Beyond customer satisfaction, there is no real wellness tracking happening. It’s really hard to measure stress and even harder to measure productivity. …

How to develop core leadership skills

Practicing a new leadership skill

It’s a typical corporate scenario — a high performing employee finds themselves taking on a management role. The go-getter employee is proud of her upward mobility. She is eager to learn new skills required to handle the challenges of leadership.

In addition to her domain expertise, the star employee now has a very new set of responsibilities — other people’s performances. This new manager must now navigate a precarious path — aligning employees with the company vision while taking care of their individual needs in the role.

Certainly, a new manager doesn’t need an…

Teaching skills to strengthen focus

If there is one unique Millennial experience that is undeniable, it’s that Millennials grew up with the Internet and the rest of us didn’t.

Non-Millennial generations, you may recall, grew up in a constant state of unintended digital detox. Like it or not, we were offline all day, every day. We were unplugged for years. We can think back to those offline years and remember boredom, isolation, and impatience. We can imagine life without that nagging internal need to check the phone in our pocket — because we lived it. …


Startups, Product Management, technology. Huge fan of functional democracy.

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