What do you do? (or: How to casually explain what a product person does)
No one knows what a product manager does. Including me—when a stranger asks me at a party. I have an idea how to explain it to the person who is new to this.
- Stranger: What do you do?
- Me: I am a product manager
- Stranger: So, what do you do?
- Me: Tell me your favourite mobile app!
- Stranger: Oh, it's this video streaming app
- Me: Is it perfect?
- Stranger: No, I would love to have subtitles for every video!
- Me: Do your friends or partners also use this app?
- Stranger: Yes, but they are annoyed by things that I love about the app (laughs!)
- Me: Do you even pay for the app?
- Stranger: No and I hate the ads interruptions in the videos!
(From here, I have two options, one for a regular product manager, one for a product lead)
- Me (as Product Manager): I'm a product manager. I work with a team to improve an app that's similar to your favourite one. Making tough decisions about features is a big part of my job. For example, deciding whether to include subtitles. Adding a feature takes long and is complicated, so we cannot do everything. We want to benefit our paying users and encourage non-paying users to subscribe.
- Me (as Product Lead): "I'm the Product Lead. I support multiple teams to improve and innovate on our apps. My main responsibility is to provide the teams with a vision for our apps and help them make decisions based on that vision. The teams will then come up with ideas how to improve the apps for our users. They will try out what works best and then implement only those features.