product manager skills

📖 [Now Available] Lewis C. Lin's New Book, Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever 🎉 by Lewis Lin

My new book, Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever, is now available! I've been working on this book for the past three years, so I'm happy to now share the book and my new ESTEEM METHOD™ framework with you.

If you're a new product manager, don't miss out on Chapter 3: Execution. You'll want to digest every single section including:

  • How to Start Every New Job

  • How to Figure Out What to Do

  • How System 1 & 2 Affects Your Work

Also, flip through Chapter 4: Superior Communication Skills. Standout PMs have superior communication skills; it's a competency you'll want to start early.

If you're an experienced product manager, flip through Chapter 3: Execution, but devour Chapter 4: Superior Communication Skills. Experienced product managers are more likely to get their first management role if they're strong communicators. Learn essential communication frameworks such as Situation-Complication-Resolution, Rule of Three, and the 5Ws and the H.

Then look ahead to Chapter 5: Tactical Awareness for a hint of what you need to perform to reach the Director level.

If you're a group product manager, review Chapter 4: Superior Communication Skills, but focus on Chapter 5: Tactical Awareness. Tactical awareness is all about the small difference that explain peak performance. When people say, "work smarter, not harder," what they mean is tactical awareness. Chapter 5 is where I share 32 little-known, yet magical tactics. These are the tricks that PM legends do, but others do not.

If you're a product management director, quickly read Chapter 5: Tactical Awareness, but focus on Chapter 6: Extraordinary Mental Toughness. The best directors can lead org-wide change, but doing so requires exceptional mental toughness. Learn my tips on how to persist when others perish.

If you're a VP of product management, skim through Chapter 5: Tactical Awareness and Chapter 6: Extraordinary Mental Toughness. But focus on Chapter 7: Exceptional Team Builder. As a senior executive, the CEO will expect you to build and nurture teams, especially ones that are depleted or suffering from poor morale.

If you're a CEO, skim through the chapters on tactical awareness, mental toughness, and team building. But focus on Chapter 8: Moonshot Vision. Your board of directors will want your inner Steve Jobs to build the next iPhone. It's easier said than done. I share my tips that will increase your chances of doing so.

Want to take a peek? Here's one of the most favorited passages in the book, from the Tactical Awareness section: The One Question You Need to Ask.

Lewis C. Lin

PS Big thank you to all the incredible people who reviewed my book including Aqil Pasha, Arvin Dwarka, Bessie Chu, Bonny Lai, Declan Nishiyama, Eran Lewis, Jacky Liang, Kathy Paceley, and Maitrayee Goswami. I couldn't have done it without you.

PPS Yes, the book is available in eBook (PDF) format.

The Truth About Mentors by Lewis Lin

Photo Credit: Kapil Goyal/Nan Stothard

Photo Credit: Kapil Goyal/Nan Stothard

Greetings! I finished up an interview workshop in Southern California. In the coming weeks, I'm headed to Nashville and Chapel Hill for more workshops. If you're attending, please swing by and say hello!

When I'm not traveling, I've been working hard on a new book that I'm releasing in 2019. This time it's not about interview prep; instead, it'll be focused on managing your career after you've landed that offer.

Below, you'll find a sneak peek from one of my favorite chapters: finding a mentor. What you'll read will resonate deeply with mid-career professionals. Late-career professionals will appreciate the excerpt if they've partnered with the perfect mentor; other late careerists might regret not having a mentor at this stage of their career.

Finally, those who are just beginning their careers might find the topic too advanced. However, it's something to keep your eye on, so you don't accidentally let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip through your fingers.

Enjoy the excerpt,

Lewis C. Lin


Excerpt from Lewis' New Book

Your typical mentoring relationship
Almost all mentoring relationships are one-sided: the mentee asks for advice, which the mentor provides.

Given this typical dynamic, in the best case, the mentee gains valuable insights and answers. In the worst case, the mentee merely glorifies the mentor’s ego. Since mentors are often unfamiliar with the mentee’s day-to-day work, mentors dispenses generic and usually irrelevant advice.

Although the mentor gets the mentee’s admiration, the mentor can get frustrated too. When the mentee discards the relationship, the mentor can feel used.

When people say, “I want a mentor,” what do they really want? A sponsor. The terms mentor and sponsor are often confused.

Sponsors and protégés
Having a sponsor is different. The sponsor and protégé relationship is a bilateral, mutually beneficial relationship. First, they are well-aware of each other’s work because they work in the same company and organization.

The sponsor needs junior employees to achieve their objectives. Maybe the sponsor needs technical skills. Or perhaps they just need a humble individual who’s willing to do grunt work. The protégé rises to the challenge.

In return, the sponsor rewards the protégé with promotions and political air cover. And because the protégé holds a special place in the sponsor’s heart, the sponsor is eager to mentor and counsel the protégé.

The sponsor and protégé relationship is strong and enduring because they need one another.

Qualifications of a sponsor
It’s easier to get promoted if your sponsor has sufficient influence and organizational control. Sponsors are rarely your immediate manager. There are a few reasons why:

  • Your immediate manager may not have enough influence or opportunities to accelerate your career.

  • Your immediate manager has limited incentive to promote you to be his or her peer. At best, the manager will have to replace your missing productivity. At worst, the manager just promoted you to be her new rival.

In the rare situation where your immediate manager has enough influence and is not threatened by your rise, that person could be your sponsor.

How does one find a sponsor?

  • The sponsor is likely to be in your chain of command. It’d be odd for a sponsor to assign projects and promote a protégé that’s not within their organization.

  • Sponsors typically select you, not the other way around. Sponsors have their eye out for capable individuals who can take on special projects. Sponsors do not choose unremarkable performers. Find opportunities to shine and demonstrate your worth.

  • When you get your shot, don’t pass it up. Sponsors are looking for protégés more often than you think. Sponsors are ambitious, and they need help realizing their grand vision. Many protégé candidates unknowingly pass, unaware of the mutually beneficial relationship that could occur. A sponsor and protégé relationship will never be formally proposed or documented on paper. It’ll start casually and small, like a request to help with an important project. When you’ve been beseeched, don’t hesitate. Plunge in and give the sponsor a chance.

One last thing: is a sponsor and protégé relationship declared publicly? No. A typical sponsor and protégé pair implicitly understand what each one needs to do and what they’ll get out of it.

Your Prototypical Sponsor & Protégé Relationship: Harvey & Mike from  The Suits    Photo Credit: USA Network

Your Prototypical Sponsor & Protégé Relationship: Harvey & Mike from The Suits

Photo Credit: USA Network