How to stay sharp as a Product Manager

It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of owning a Product but to stay sharp on the latest trends you need to regularly read, browse and listen to outside sources. Here is my go-to list that I refer to 2–3 times a month for feature inspiration.

Resources for UX

My team launches at least 1–2 consumer facing A/B tests a month. By proactively reading up on the latest UX designs planning for subsequent iterations becomes much faster. While I have a Product Designer to collaborate with, I find I am a visual person that needs an example to fully articulate my vision for a feature to my Designer.

Mobbin.Design

  • This is purely mobile designs and each week they email at least 2 deep dives on an existing product. It makes competitive analyses effortless as well. Recent examples include: Netflix, Spotify, and Calm.

Really Good UX

  • If you’re focused on a specific goal like cart conversion, Really Good UX is a great place to get started. You can filter designs by Upsells or Onboarding, for example.

Dribbble

  • Dribbble is a repository of designs from designers all over the world. This is my go-to for feature ideas. I browse through designs for 20 minutes and am able to come up with at least 5 feature ideas or design iterations I’d like to try for my own product.

Resources for Strategy & Product Best Practices

If you are trying to break into Product Leadership or even understand what your Product Leaders are envisioning the following are great places to start.

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

  • Whether it’s getting a handle on marketplace dynamics or keeping tabs on Google’s changes with Search, there’s always something to learn from Ben Thompson. His articles are great to get the lens that product leaders typically have. I feel I am able to contextualize the vision our CPO has when I read these articles while develop a strategic mindset as a Product Manager.

After Hours by HBR

  • This podcast is similar to Stratechery but less dense. Mihir, Felix and Youngme are Harvard professors that talk about industry trends in a way that is digestible and light-hearted.

Toptal- Product Managers Blog

  • Toptal has a network of strong PMs and they regularly contribute to the company’s blog. I like the content in this blog because it comes from consultants. Why is that valuable? Because consultants are most successful when they can deliver the right solution to a client the fastest which means having (1) some sort of blueprint of processes and (2) frames of thinking that can be applied to each client project. Developing a consulting mindset can help Product Managers keep up with the fast paced nature of the job and overcome hurdles with things like backlog organization and feature prioritization.

Product Management Insider

  • Just like Dribbble, PM Insider is a repository of product insights, tips & tricks, and career advancement guidance.

Create a list of companies that are always on your radar.

I keep a list of 5–10 companies that I regularly look at or use to see what they are up to. They can either be in the same industry or completely different but are known for fantastic UX, aggressive acquisition funnels and the ability to delight their customers. Here are mine:

  • Stitch Fix (I browse for marketing, question and answer flows)
  • Peleton (I browse for acquisition funnels and product marketing)
  • Spotify (I browse for categorizing content for users, subscription conversion and features that delight customers)
  • Netflix (I browse for acquisition funnels and recommendation engines)
  • Etsy (I browse for marketplace comparison)
  • Thumbtack & TaskRabbit (I browse to keep an eye on my employer’s competitor)

Do you have other ways of staying sharp? Please share them, I’d love to add to my personal list.

Consumer Product Manager at HomeAdvisor. Former startup founder, management consultant, and int’l development fellow. Lived, worked and studied on 4 continents.

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