I’ve written before about the importance of storytelling skills for product managers. It’s the one skill that product management teams in India have not focused on much. While we test for analytical skills at academic qualifications, we don’t test for storytelling skills in product management interviews.
As I’m building my team, I’m really looking for the following skills in candidates:
How good are they at:
- Storytelling – Can they pitch their idea? Can they weave a cohesive story around their idea?
- Writing and speaking skills in English – A great product manager, who is hard to follow when speaking or in her written words, will not be able to lead very well nor motivate
- a team.
- Love for technology – can the candidates demonstrate a love for technology and a good understanding of SDLC, etc.
Going back to storytelling… here is a good post to help you pitch your ideas. I’m also linking to a couple of sites that have pitch decks from various startups that you can review to see how entrepreneurs pitch their ideas internally or to VCs.
I love Jack Dorsey’s presentation skills. This particular presentation at Stanfords scorner website is really engaging and inspiring. This is how we should aspire to tell stories
I see a lot of presentations in my profession. I give a lot of them too… so I’m hard to please. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Austin’s keynote presentation at the HOW design conference. He’s a terrific speaker and storyteller and I love good storytellers. He walked us through these 10 rules for creative people and a lot of them rang true for me as a product manager:
- Steal like an artist. (from the best and many at a time)
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. – you are never going to have it all figured out.
- Write the book you want to read.
- Use your hands.
- Side projects and hobbies are important.
- The secret: do good work and share it with people.
- Geography is no longer our master.
- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
- Creativity is subtraction.
What I loved hearing was:
Steal from the best, surround yourself with the best. If you are the best person in the room, change the room. So.. as a product manager, unless you are working with smarter people, you are are not going to get any better at what you do. I guess this works for all disciplines and careers and not just product management. This made me wonder if I’m learning new things in my discipline or not. I don’t think I am. I have to make my career more exciting for me and seek new mentors.
Here’s more about Austin. He’s awesome and his story about Winston Smith and how it all came around many years later is beautiful. Everyone should be so lucky. Here’s the story: