Technical PM Mastery: Strategies & Team Queries

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) How can I get better at being a Technical PM?

2) What would you ask your team as a new Sr. Technical PM?

3) What strategies can I employ to combat impostor syndrome in my role as a non-technical product manager?

Top Learning Resources:

1. A Guide To Seed Fundraising

2. The Unusual Guide For Raising Seed And Series A Capital

3. All The Public Startup Pitch Decks In One Place

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Top Discussions

Question 1How can I get better at being a Technical PM?

As a young, new PM with no technical background, I’m currently in charge of a platform product at a big public company currently. This is my second year at this job after getting a degree in business. Before that, I worked for a year as a technical salesperson at a smaller company in the same field.

My technical skills aren’t very good, and I want to get better.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

– Herbert Warnick

Discussion

A] Let me tell you what I did.

  • Learn how to use SQL. Read some of the tables of features you work with a lot and sign up for a course. Start with simple queries to get the data you need from the first table. Then, learn how to use joins with two or more tables.
  • Get Sourcetree and put local code on your computer. You can also get it in an IDE, or you can just use Notepad++ or Sublime. Look at bugs. Always make copies of them, learn a lot about some features, and make sure you’re checking for bugs yourself. Figure out what line of code a bug fails on; you may need to ask for access to some data in order to do this. There are some that you will figure out. Most of the time, these are null and void mistakes. Find out about basic data types like integers, decimals, strings, and so on.
  • Find out how to call an API address. Start with a rest one. To post or put data, you first get it, then position and navigation. Find out how to use XML and JSON. Figure out how to make things better there too.
  • Ask the developers to show you how they do things and how they think. Even if you don’t get half of what they say, the small pieces of the puzzle start to make sense one by one.

– Mario Romero

B] SQL is fine, but what you really need to know is how methods work in a general sense. Query languages are not just a way to ask data questions. They’re more than that. They give you facts, so you can use facts instead of feelings when you argue. You can strengthen yourself and check on some things. And even if you can’t, it will often point you in the right direction.

It is not the same as algorithms, much like comparing apples and pears. It’s also not necessary to use formulas for all tasks. No matter how experienced or new a PM is, I think they need to learn SQL and spend time with data to better understand it.

– Carlos Dubois

C] In which areas do you believe you have the most disparities? This might be due to a lack of understanding of the architecture of your product. Do you find it difficult to comprehend the technical obstacles or compromises that are being addressed by the product development team? Do your consumers have a higher level of technical expertise, and as a result, you find it challenging to completely comprehend their requirements or possible applications?

Every single product manager has the potential to acquire a wealth of technical expertise that spans an extraordinarily broad spectrum. On the other hand, based on the requirements of your work, there is probably a more specific number of people who will have the most influence on you.

– Jane Winfred

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Question 2) What would you ask your team in your first week as a Sr. Technical PM?

I’m going to work for a big company as a senior technical product manager, where I’ll be in charge of a group of tools that do a specific job. To get to know everyone (the tech team, the information architects, the users, etc.) in a standard way, I’m coming up with a list of questions to ask them all.

What kinds of questions would you want to ask?

Your valuable insights sought. TIA

– David Mercy

Discussion

A] In your first week as a senior technical PM, it would be beneficial to ask your team about their current projects, any challenges they are facing, and their goals for the upcoming months. This will help you understand the team dynamics and identify areas where you can provide support or guidance. Additionally, it would be helpful to inquire about any ongoing training or professional development opportunities that team members may be interested in pursuing.

– Matthew Shun

B] By asking about their current projects, challenges, and goals, you can gain insight into their workload and priorities. This will also show your team that you are invested in their success and well-being. Inquiring about training and development opportunities demonstrates that you value their growth and want to support their career advancement. Overall, these questions will lay the foundation for effective communication, collaboration, and success in your new role as a senior technical PM.

– Maria Wilson

C] While it is important to show support for your team’s growth and development, focusing solely on their workload and priorities may not always be the most effective way to gauge their interest in training opportunities. It is also important to directly ask team members about their career goals and aspirations to ensure that any training or professional development opportunities align with their individual needs and ambitions.

By understanding each team member’s personal goals, you can tailor training opportunities to their specific interests and areas of growth. This personalized approach will not only increase their motivation and engagement but also demonstrate your commitment to their professional advancement.

By fostering open and honest communication about career aspirations, you can create a supportive environment where team members feel valued and empowered to take ownership of their own development. This proactive approach will ultimately lead to a more cohesive and successful team dynamic as you work towards achieving common goals and objectives.

– Anushka Garg

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Question 3) What strategies can I employ to combat impostor syndrome in my role as a non-technical product manager?

I come from a sales background that is not focused on technical aspects, but I have developed a strong interest in product management. In April, I successfully secured my first position as a product manager, despite without prior experience. This achievement was the result of months of dedicated preparation for the interview process. Several months have passed since I began working in this position, and now that I have completed the first training period, I am experiencing a significant amount of impostor syndrome.

Occasionally, I encounter difficulties in comprehending the discussions held by my developers and engineers in meetings. Moreover, there are instances where I lack knowledge about specific technologies, services, or APIs, including their functionalities and operations. Occasionally, I inquire about it, but I see a decline in my esteem each time I do so (given that I am the de facto leader of my team, I am expected to possess superior knowledge). Is acquiring coding skills the definitive approach to overcoming impostor syndrome, or are there alternative methods to address this issue?

– Ahmad Bashir

Discussion

A] Obviously, this depends on the culture of the firm, but when you show curiosity, developers are the most helpful individuals I’ve found. Try to arrange a one-on-one meeting with a senior developer so he can give you an overview of the services you use. Request architecture schematics or API documentation. See if you can gain access to a database to better understand the reasoning behind your product. Inquire about the equipment they use on a regular basis. Participate in their daily standups only to hear about their current issues. Things will begin to fall into place gradually. You will be OK as long as you are eager to learn, as others have suggested.

– Jonathan Tessa

B] I agree with this idea. Most of the time, someone is delighted to fill you in on what they know if you show a sincere interest in the specifics. This will not only help you understand the product better but also build a good rapport with the team. Remember to ask thoughtful questions and actively listen to their responses to make the most of these interactions. Remember to ask thoughtful questions and actively listen during these interactions. Building strong relationships with your team members will also help you gain valuable insights into the product development process. Additionally, consider reaching out to team members individually to gain more in-depth knowledge about their specific roles and responsibilities. Building relationships with your colleagues can also provide valuable insights and help you navigate the project more effectively. Remember that learning is a continuous process, and staying curious and open-minded will help you adapt and grow in your new role.

When PMs treat engineers like transactions, this is the antithesis of what is meant to happen. It’s easy to lose someone’s trust by saying things like “Just tell me what I need to know” or ignoring their complexity rather than interacting with them. This approach not only enhances communication and problem-solving but also promotes a sense of respect and mutual understanding among team members. By taking the time to understand and appreciate the unique skills and perspectives of each team member, project managers can foster a more collaborative and productive work environment. Effective communication and active listening are key components in building strong relationships with engineers and ensuring successful project outcomes.

– Yuri Roman

C] Sure enough, this is so true. However, it is also important for PMs to provide clear direction and expectations to engineers in order to ensure tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. By balancing active listening with clear communication, PMs can create a harmonious and productive team dynamic.

While debugging Visual Studio, my senior or associate architect went over features and bugs with me. It will always make them feel a bit better. However, if you are enthusiastic, they will support you. This collaborative approach fosters a positive work environment and encourages team members to work together towards a common goal. Ultimately, effective communication and mutual support are key components of successful product management. By actively engaging with the team and addressing any concerns or roadblocks, project managers can foster a positive and collaborative work environment. This approach can lead to improved morale and ultimately contribute to the overall success of the project. In addition, showing appreciation for their hard work and dedication can also boost team morale and motivation. By fostering a positive and supportive work environment, PMs can help engineers thrive and achieve their full potential.

– Brandon milne

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Top Learning Resources

The guide outlines the key phases of fundraising—Idea Phase, Seed Phase, and Series A Phase—providing founders with a roadmap for navigating each stage successfully. Ralston underscores the importance of achieving product-market fit, demonstrating traction, and setting clear milestones to attract investors. Additionally, the guide delves into financing options, including convertible debt, safes (Simple Agreements for Future Equity), and equity rounds, providing insights into their structures and implications.

The Unusual Guide For Raising Seed And Series A Capital

In this comprehensive guide on early-stage fundraising for enterprise software startups, co-founder of Unusual Ventures, John Vrionis, provides valuable insights for founders. The guide is divided into three phases: the Idea Phase, Seed Phase, and Series A Phase. During the Idea Phase, founders focus on essential milestones such as recruiting a co-founder, developing a detailed product description, and validating the market pain by engaging with potential customers. The goal is to confirm the “founding insight” and assess the viability of the business idea for venture capital.

All The Public Startup Pitch Decks In One Place

Andy Sparks, in collaboration with Joshua Levy, announced the development of “The Open Guide to Startup Fundraising.” As they work on the comprehensive guide, Sparks decided to share some valuable resources along the way for founders in immediate need. The guide benefits from community contributions, and Sparks, seeking assistance, tweeted a list of noteworthy pitch decks he had collected. This led to the compilation of a list of actual fundraising pitch decks from various startups, providing founders with reference materials to aid them in constructing their own pitch decks. The list includes pitch decks from well-known companies like Airbnb, BuzzFeed, Uber, YouTube, and others, spanning different funding rounds and years.

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