Our stories have the power to create a bold, equitable and accessible world
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Anyone who has ever googled “how to transition into product roles” or “how to level up your career in product roles” knows that the search results offer a lot of monotonous advice that neglects the multitude of varied experiences of real people in product.
The product field is full of interesting and inspiring careers including product managers, designers, customer success, researchers, product operations and more. Each of these folks bring something new and unexpected to the conversation.
We then began to wonder why the not-so-glamorous stories of what it’s really like to work in Product, don’t make it to the top of our search engines.
For instance, the story of Lisa O’Malley, VP of Product Management at Paypal, who moved from Ireland to the US despite not knowing how to handle her new role, but demonstrated the willingness to be vulnerable, to keep learning and admit when she didn’t know the answer, we think, is a lot more insightful and empowering than a generic “5 ways to…” blog post.
In the grand scheme of a multifaceted career path, a lot of the how-to guides and need-to-know roundups that are currently out there to consume, only scratch the surface. In order to strike the crucial balance between industry insights, practical advice and personal stories surrounding the challenges of stereotypes, breaking biases and overcoming imposter syndrome, it is important for real people working, thriving and winning in the industry to open up and tell their stories.
A time for unfiltered realness
The last few years have been an emotional rollercoaster for many. We have lived through a pandemic, witnessed a massive shift in workplace culture and been forced to navigate the unfamiliar territory of managing the blurred lines between our personal and professional lives.
These disruptive years tested our resilience and changed our perspectives surrounding our careers, family and communities. As our very own Priyanka Sanghvi put it, “the influence of shared stories is that people will be more open-minded and broaden their perspectives to the diverse roles within product roles, and the value of each one.”
When it comes to what it really means to work in a product career, there haven’t been enough discussions surrounding its many unglamorous aspects. A few of these stories are on: the challenges in making the transition, the failures that no product person is exempt from inevitably making at some point in their career, and the many still-existing biases and barriers to the growth of members of diverse communities across all industries. As a result, there are a lot of people who find their way into product roles only to be faced with challenges that they never anticipated.
By contributing to the chorus of diverse voices sharing insightful, unfiltered and unique personal stories, we can offer a more realistic narrative that will not only inspire people who are looking to break into Product but also serve as a greater opportunity to relate and connect.
These experiences will remind us all - early-career professionals, rising stars, trailblazers and visionaries alike - that regardless of the stage of our careers, our struggle is a shared experience and we can learn from each other.
How these stories will shape the future of people in product
1. Building confidence in the community
One of the common challenges people face in the workplace is known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
“Most people live in a restricted circle of potential.” - William James By reading about the ways in which real people in Product navigated the turbulence of their lives and succeeded, those aspiring to take on a new or different step in their careers can have the opportunity to learn from an incredible community willing to share their stories; and in turn, can feel inspired and motivated to see the bigger picture, and go after their career dreams.
Sure, everyone deals with challenges in different ways, but at its core, listening to (or reading about) the full picture of a person's (or collective’s) personal experience, who despite challenges, still continues to live a thriving and successful career, is deeply empowering.
2. Normalizing failure
Bo Ren, a former product manager at Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook is known for openly talking about the failures and hurdles she had encountered on the job. Like Bo, by openly discussing our failures, we can reframe our mentality and embrace our mistakes as inevitable steps on our path to success.
“Stories about professional mistakes and what leaders learned from them are another great avenue for learning. Because people identify so closely with stories, imagining how they would have acted in similar circumstances, they’re able to work through situations in a way that’s risk-free.” – Vanessa Boris, Manager at Havard Business
We are building a collection of diverse stories of people in product, and are looking for people from early career professionals to leaders in the industry who are open to having 1:1 interviews to share their unique perspectives on the evolving product landscape. We’ll talk about life & career transitions, navigating parenthood alongside your career, myths that need to be debunked and the upside of layoffs.
If you’re a Product Manager, UX/UI Designer, Customer Success, UX Researcher, in Product Operations, or in any Product role, we want to hear from you. This is an opportunity to influence and give back to the growing community.
Contact our Founder, Bosky at email@example.com to be interviewed and potentially be featured in our upcoming book launching this year. Your story and experience could have a meaningful impact on the lives of those in tech and product. We hope to hear from you.
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