What I've learned in the last year:
Product Management 💻
A year ago, I started working as an Associate Product Manager for Twitter’s inaugural class. Here are the things that I’ve learned in my year of working as a PM:
- Bite-sized formats win: Even though people are spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before, when it comes to consuming content, smaller bits tend to come out on top.
- People demand intuitive design: Make all the tooltips, “how-to” blog posts, or instruction manuals that you want, but nothing beats something intuitively making sense while you’re using it.
- Understanding global markets is the key to international product adoption: Unless you get really lucky, it’s hard to localize into new markets without first understanding them. This is just one of many reasons why diverse teams matter; diverse teams make localization work.
- Keep talking to your users: Always. They are your biggest clues to your product puzzles. They are the people you serve.
Public Speaking 🎙
Last September, I randomly DMed the great @jesslynnrose on Twitter to get advice on public speaking. I wanted to do more public speaking, but didn’t know where to start. Since that time, I’ve keynoted at DevConf in Johannesburg, Codemotion in Amsterdam, and Github Universe here in SF. In my year of public speaking, I’ve learned the following:
- Know your audience: A crowd of developers in South Africa can be a bit different from a crowd of developers in the Netherlands.
- Ask for help: Get feedback from your friends, support from your company, and clarity from the conference. Gather as much information as possible. Keep asking until you feel prepared and confident.
- Just do it: You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t need prior experience to give a talk. At the end of the day, you just need to get on that stage.
In the last year, I’ve written for Fast Company, Rookie, Teen Vogue, Scientific American, Forbes, and more. (I’ve also written endless internal product documents.) Here are things I’ve learned about writing:
- Feedback is an essential step in the process: Be able to determine which feedback is of true value, and aligns most with your vision and your voice.
- To write, you must read: One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read as much as possible. So, read! (Some of my favorite books this year have been Hunger by Roxane Gay, Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang, and Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. Ann Friedman also has a great collection of Internet-reads each week.)
- Commas and periods go inside of “quotation marks,.” Yep.
I’ve been very lucky to have traveled quite a bit in the last year. I’ve traveled a bunch domestically, as well as to South Africa, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, India, and the UK. During these trips, I’ve felt the absolute best I’ve ever felt, and the absolute worst. I planned some trips meticulously, and opted to just “figure it out” for others. Here are some things I’ve learned about travel:
- Be nice to yourself: Give yourself a travel recovery day at the beginning and end of your trip, if you can.
- Be prepared: Know the local police/ambulance number, just in case. Print (gasp!) out maps beforehand if you’re ever concerned about internet connectivity. Tell your friends and family your tentative schedule.
- Recruit the internet for the best places to eat.
- Jam: Always update your travel playlist.
For better or worse, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in my own head this past year. Through this, I’ve learned (and re-learned) a handful of interesting, personal, and otherwise random tips. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Say yes. Ask for more.
- Prioritize as many aspects of your life as you can.
- Text your family back. Text your friends back.
- A good morning playlist helps. (As does getting enough sleep the night before.)
- Before you speak, ask yourself if your input is truly improving upon silence.
- Korean face masks are fantastic moisturizers, semi-hard gel manicures are the best for your nails, and the beauty industry is currently valued at $62 billion in the US alone.
- Read the whole article, or do a quick google, before you hit the Retweet button.
- Not everyone’s going to like it. That’s fine.
- Have a budget, pay down your debt aggressively, max out your 401(K), and invest.
- Living your best life is possible and fantastic, if you put in the work to make it happen.