Calibrating: Learning what good looks like

One of the most powerful things that someone new to the startup world can do is to be constantly recalibrating what "good" looks like. Early in your career you are primarily focused on your own discipline and refining your craft, but as you settle in you lift your head and start to make observations about the teams around you. If your goal is to be eventually be a founder, I suggest doing this as early and critically as possible in your career.

It's easy enough to read blog posts, tweets, and books about how different companies and cultures operate, but until you have the first hand experience of operating in that environment it's damn near impossible to internalize.

Every company has it's strengths and weaknesses and I believe the early years of a career should be about assimilating the strengths from as many world class operations as possible.

Being green

My first experience in the technology industry was as a very early employee at a startup. This is a tough spot to be. Not only were we trying to figure out how to build a product, find a scalable business model, and not run out of money and die... I was also trying to figure out how to be an effective product manager. I read as much as I could about what made an effective product manager and how to lead product teams, but since I didn't have a previous experience to calibrate against I was constantly left wondering "Is this really how it's supposed to be done? How do real PMs do this?".

Adding data

Just adding one more data point has been tremendously effective in helping me understand where I was missing the mark and where I was doing just fine. In the first month at my new job it's become apparent where my gaps are and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by talented colleagues whom I can learn from to fill those gaps.

Product managers can have very different scopes depending on the company that you're working at. At RigUp as the head of product I necessarily sweated the details from high level strategy to getting in the weeds of design and data models. At Samsara I'm finding the role to be much more focused around product strategy, go-to-market, and ensuring the team is enabled to execute. Both of these experiences have helped calibrate my expectations on how to be an effective team member and what "good" truly looks like.