- Communications Skills
- Leading without Authority
- Learning Skills
- Business Acumen
- Love for Products
- Eye for Details
- Routing Product Management Skills
Some of these I’ve covered in other posts (Communications Skills and Leading without Authority, How Product Management Skills are like StarCraft). All of the above are necessary traits to becoming a successful Product Manager. Necessary, but I would argue not sufficient.
The last thing my Father would say to me before dropping me off at school when I was young was: “Ask lots of questions!” Every day, the same phrase, as I was getting out of the car. I did too – I was the kid in the back of the room who kept raising his hand until the poor teacher forced the class to move on or the bell rang.
The #1 trait I look for in people who would make good Product Managers is an extreme sense of curiosity. Curious people are wonderful – they ask the most powerful question in the World: “why?” Curious people read a lot and tend to self-teach valuable skills. Most importantly, curious people aren’t satisfied with what people tell them, they stay awake at night wondering what they’re missing and love the process of discovery. Some skills can be taught; curiosity is a character trait.
How do I find out if someone is curious? It’s not hard – I ask questions like “what was the last thing you taught yourself?” “Tell me 3 new things you’ve learned in the last month.” “What have you read recently?” Curious people can answer these questions in their sleep.