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Issue #23: The Many Faces of Impostor Syndrome, More on Metrics, & This Week's Roundup
Some confidence booster that's backed by facts!
Hola friends! 👋
This week’s thoughts and feelings include:
Did you watch this year’s Eurovision? I can’t stop talking about it. And I can’t stop singing Daði Freyrs version of Whole Again. You’re welcome. On to the reading!
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01 The Many Faces of Impostor Syndrome: The I Can’t Do This Version.
“I don’t think I can do this”
How many of you have said this to yourselves for one reason or another, dear readers? I have. Many times. And so have other people that I’ve had conversations with, in the last couple of weeks.
One of the best Agile Coaches I’ve ever had to work with recently landed a role as a Group Product Manager. Last week they were feeling insecure about their ability to be a good Product Leader — citing their lack of formal Product Management experience as a reason for this. 🙈
Another started a new role as Engineering Manager. Their lack of people management experience is their source of insecurity. 🙉
As for myself? I can’t even keep my plants alive, what makes me think that I can help the Product Managers in my team grow? 🙊
Even I can find the most ridiculous evidence to attribute to a perceived gap in my skills. You gotta admire the creativity though.
But is it true? In all of these conversations (including the one I had with myself), the question I always up end up asking is: IS 👏 IT 👏 TRUE 👏?
Is it true that this new Group Product Manager cannot be a good Product Leader?
Is it true that this new Engineering Manager can’t support their new team?
And what do my dying plants have anything to do with my ability to help my team grow???
We’re so quick to find pieces of evidence that point toward the direction of a potential failure. But what about the other way around? But what about the pieces of evidence that point toward the direction of potential success?
As Product Managers, we’re taught to look for data that can in/validate our assumptions. If we’re assuming that we’ll do a bad job, isn’t it also our homework to look for data that can disprove this assumption too?
Because sure, it might be true that our new Group Product Manager may not have formal Product Experience - but they’ve also occupied leadership roles in the past and they’ve gone above and beyond their previous role as Agile Coach that they pretty much functioned as Product Leaders themselves just without the title.
🚨 Also they already got the role! 🚨 Clearly during their application process for this job, they’ve surfaced more than enough evidence to support their potential impact for the hiring manager to overlook their lack of formal Product experience. They just need to remember it.
So if you’re being with the “I Don’t Think I Can Do This” blues (like me sometimes), here are a few things we can do:
Practice affirmation. Try saying this instead “I am confident in my abilities.” Yes, skill gaps exist. But we have strengths too! Let’s acknowledge them. Reminding ourselves of their existence and acknowledging how they might contribute to our success can also allow us to draw on them in a more intentional manner.
Let’s put on our Product hat and gather data to validate our assumptions. Or in this case, invalidate our harmful assumptions about ourselves.
Let’s name our achievements relevant to the role that we’re occupying
Let’s look at the feedback we’ve received on what we should keep doing
Or the biggest evidence of all - WE GOT THE JOB! 😎
Lean into our strengths. The things that we’re exceptionally good at and know how to use to get a positive result in any situation. Great communication skills are not just for “public speaking” but they’re also for smoothing out conflict with stakeholders. Being straightforward is not just for giving feedback but also for setting correct expectations. An ex-manager and mentor once told me that leaning into our strengths provides a much higher ROI on impact vs constantly trying to fill in our gaps. Because we can use and reuse them for many situations.
Ask for help! If we truly believe that some of our gaps are critical to our success then we should ask for support. Let’s ask our manager if there is a training we can/should take. Our network is also an amazing resource for potential mentors. (And if this is you right now, Book a call with me, and let’s see if I can help you.)
Here’s some truth: Skill gaps are normal and they’re a good thing. If you’re in this new role because you were looking to grow and be challenged, then a skill gap is to be expected. A skill gap also signals that there are opportunities for you to learn new things! New things to add to your bank of skills and achievements. ✨ And wasn’t that what you were looking for in the first place?
Are you going through your own “I don’t think I can do this” moment? I bet you, you can definitely do it. Want to book a call with me and let’s see if I can help you unpack your doubts?
02 (FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) Measuring Impact for Products that are not launched yet
Hey Kax! This world is quite obsessed with metrics. But I am in a startup context, building a product… what should I be measuring when I have no product in the market yet? It is planned for launch in 2024. But it is not yet validated. I've just started to work on that, and I am trying to validate as soon as possible. But nothing of that is done yet.
Short answer: If there is no product, there is nothing to measure… yet.
Long answer: Instead focus on validating your product. And in your validation, there is plenty to measure.
Find out and prioritize your riskiest assumptions about your product
Get prototypes or an MVP in front of your users
Define what you want to measure to validate your assumptions
Learn and Iterate from there
As I’ve written before, metrics or product outcomes are how we know if the products we’re building, are providing value, for the people we’ve built them for. And this is even more important to know at a validation stage.
Without knowing much about your product, I can share a few ideas (but take this with a grain of salt because I am making a lot of assumptions here)
You can validate user appetite for the product by sharing a sign-up for a waitlist with your target users. Here you can measure how many actually sign up.
You can validate the usability of the product by putting a prototype in front of your users. Here you can measure the effectiveness of the product by looking at the completion rate.
Depending on what stage your product is at, your metrics will vary. And it will evolve over time.
Right now, you’re at the validation stage. So define metrics for that.
Once your product is out there in the world, you’ll need to learn new things. Such as how many people are using your product at any given time, how are they interacting with the different parts of your product, whether are they finishing their supposed tasks, whether they are coming back… and more. So define metrics for those. Later on. 👩🔬
Don’t define metrics for the sake of defining metrics. Define metrics to help you understand what you need to understand. To help you make decisions on what you need to make decisions on. The world is obsessed with metrics for that reason. 😎
Other people reading this newsletter, do you have more tips for this week’s F.A.Ks? Leave them in the comments, please!
03 The Weekly Round-up
A TedxTalk by Kelly McGonigal on How To Make Stress Your Friend. (And I thought this was a ridiculous notion too but just watch the video!)
I’m personally obsessed with the topic “Eudaimonia”. So I found this article on Eudaimonia and UX super interesting. Relevant for non-UXers too.
An article from Shondaland about Talking Less and Listening More. And how this improves one’s relationships and communication. Yes. 👏
Self-promotion is an important exercise. But can be cringey for some people. (it is for me.'s post on the cringe of self-promotion hits home.
Not to throw shade a the 4am club people. But I am a fan of this new list of life hacks by Lolita Allgyer 😂
Read anything fun these days? Share them in the comments too, please! 👇
But before you go!
Are you struggling with your job search right now? Your application is being ignored? You get feedback along the lines of “We’re just looking for somebody with more experience”. Get my ULTIMATE GUIDE for creating a Sustainable Job Search system for the Modern Product Manager. And get cracking with 10% OFF.
My coaching calendar has some free slots! For the Product Managers and aspiring Product Leaders out there who are feeling stuck in their current role and unsure how to get to their next step. Or for those who are not sure what the next step in your career actually can be. I’d love to help you. Let’s chat 💙
Hey, Women in Product! Are you writing too? I started a writing community with a bunch of other WIPs and we’re all about making sure we all achieve our writing goals and be each other’s biggest fans! If you're looking for a writing support group - we’re here for you!
Who’s going to La Product Conf in Madrid on May 25-26? I’ll be doing a joint talk with Sara Guiral next week about our Manager <> Report misadventures. Melissa Perri’s also speaking 😱
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