According to a recent Gallup article, “at least 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.” For people manager of product managers, you know it’s a hard job juggling the responsibilities as an individual contributor, work reviewer, and career coach.

However, it’s also equally difficult reporting to a people manager who is also a product manager. As an individual PM, you own the product and know the details. Thus, you want autonomy.

As a product manager, you are often asked to present: product demos, new features, product strategy, roadmaps. A quick ‘’ in Chrome opens up Google Slides and you’re off. But if you’ve gotten into the habit of opening a blank slide as your first step in creating a presentation, let me introduce you to a more effective method.

Before Google Slides: Microsoft PowerPoint

In 1987, Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin created PowerPoint for the Apple Macintosh.

Learned from the trenches so you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes.

As a product manager working in a startup, you’re bound to interact with customers (and that’s a good thing). A key part of your job is to identify and build that “thing of value”. And guess who interacts with customers more than you — customer success. But PMs, including myself, often find we’re working against customer success. Who hasn’t said, “Sorry, but this feature/bug isn’t going to get built/resolved.” So, how do you build a better working relationship with customer success to deliver the right product?


Understand how to work with solo and non-CEO founders.

Product managers who have never worked with early stage founders often find their first experience a bit jarring. “Crazy” has definitely been used to describe founders. But “crazy” is a dismissive label we use when we don’t understand. What makes working with founders challenging?

What??? Are you crazy???
What??? Are you crazy???

What do Founders do?

Founders at early stage startups (< 50 employees) have three important roles: individual executor, people manager, and visionary. How much time a founder spends in each role will vary depending on the founder’s preference, the founder’s skills, the company needs, and number of founders.

  • Founder as Executor…

Originally published with podcast at

As a product manager (PM) working in a B2B company, you’re interacting with sales and business development (BD). Yet many PMs don’t understand how sales and BD work. Some PMs describe sales as “spammy”. As for BD, what’s the difference from sales? To build a better working relationship with sales and BD, you have to understand how sales and BD people work so let me shed some light.

What’s sales and business development?

Sales is the activity directly focused on selling goods or services today. Let’s break it down.

  • “directly focused” -> The goal…

What’s the difference between visual, UI, UX, and product design?

For many product managers, working with designers can be confusing because the roles and responsibilities seem to overlap. Both work to understand the user. Both are problem solvers. The content folks at Pendo even made a nice graphic. In a continuation of the Stakeholder Management Series, let’s learn about how to work with designers.

What is design?

There is no agreed upon definition for design. The American Institute of Graphic Arts dedicates an entire page answering this question. Because design has evolved over time, it covers:

  • using “typography, photographs, illustrations, and graphic elements” to convey specific messages -> visual design

Part of the Stakeholder Management Series: Working with Attorneys

“We [PMs and Attorneys] have a lot more in common than people think,” says Alexis Liu, Senior Legal Counsel @ Dataiku. “I care about scaling and user friendly design. When I’m drafting Terms and Conditions, I’m drafting that so it’s understandable, for the user.” But the law is complicated and no single attorney knows everything. To become a practicing attorney, you need a Juris Doctorate, pass the bar exams, and obtain a good character assessment. Contrast with product management, a profession with no degree requirement, examination process, and limited certification, and it’s no wonder sometimes product managers and attorneys clash…

Experience learned from the trenches vetted by data scientists

Data-driven decisions. The buzz word of the day — used by many product managers and companies. To prove their chops, companies sometimes pair PMs with data scientists to figure out ways to improve a product and make “data-driven decisions”. But how does a PM work with data science?

Source: Unsplash

What is data science?

Data science is an interdisciplinary field that uses techniques learned from computer science, statistics, and scientific research to extract actionable information via experimentation and predictive insights by analyzing structured and unstructured data. That’s a mouthful so let’s unpack it.

interdisciplinary field […] computer science, statistics, and scientific research

In the last stakeholder management series, I discussed working with marketers. Today, let’s take a look at working with software engineers. As Marty Cagan wrote, “There’s probably no more important relationship for a successful product manager than the one with your engineers.”

What is software engineering?

[Software engineering] involves creating high-quality, reliable programs in a systematic, controlled, and efficient manner using formal methods for specification, evaluation, analysis and design, implementation, testing and maintenance.

[Association for Computer Machinery]

Software engineering is a discipline that adopts engineering approaches, such as established methodologies, processes, tools, […] in the development of large-scale software seeking…

Building a great product requires a team of people with different skills. Understanding the roles of each individual on the team, what motivates them, and how best to work with them, is not only important to creating a successful product, but also important to your mental health, sanity, and career progression. In this next serious of articles, I’ll be giving guiding principles and tactical tips when working with different individuals, starting with marketers.

Before diving into what you should or shouldn’t do when working with marketers, let’s define what marketers do and different type of marketers you might encounter.


Shaw Li

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store