Issue #27: The power of decisions, how to grow your career when your manager is unable to help you, and 5 things
How being decisive about what you want is the first and important step of achieving your goals, and how you have more control over your career than you think.
Hola friends! 👋
This week’s thoughts and feelings include:
The Power of Decisions
(FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) How to grow in one’s career when your manager can’t help you
5 things to help you this week
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01 The Power of Decisions
Conversations over brunch last week with my partner-in-crime triggered a realization that many of the successes I have had over the years happened because I’ve decided for them to happen.
I WANT THIS. THEREFORE I WILL HAVE THIS.
That sounds like a no-brainer, right? To make a decision to go for what we want, and then work our ass off to get it.
In 2015, I got laid off from my job in the Philippines. So I decided to find another job. But the real decision was bigger than that. I decided that I would find that new job in Europe. It was not an easy feat, mostly because I was not an ideal candidate.
I had less than 2 years of Product Management experience.
I also needed a visa sponsorship. And this meant that I wouldn’t be able to start the role until, at least, 3 months after I signed any contract.
Which was still a gamble because I could still get denied a visa.
But the decision was made and the goal has been defined. The only thing left to do was to strategize. And in case you haven’t guessed it yet, I did find a job that would sponsor my visa. I actually found 3. And I got to choose which one I wanted more.
In 2019, I decided to give back to the Product Management community. I decided to teach and mentor other product managers, particularly women. But the real decision was bigger than that. I decided my work will be about making sure that other women in Product Management wouldn’t have to go through the same career insecurities that I did. Except I didn’t know where to start.
I was pretty insecure about my own Product Management skills
I didn’t know anybody else in the Product Management community apart from the people in my organization.
I honestly had no idea where to start.
But the decision was made and the goal has been defined. The only thing left to do, as you can imagine, was to strategize. And in case you haven’t guessed it yet, since then, I partnered with AllWomen.tech to design Product Management courses, I’ve spoken at several events, and started coaching Product Managers who want to become confident in their roles.
At the beginning of 2023, I had to refine the decision above. I decided that I want to coach more. This time, I wanted to coach aspiring Product Leaders too. So since January, my calendar has been full of coaching sessions with experienced Product Managers who want to get into leadership roles.
Don’t get me wrong, the path from decision to result has never been easy. I’ve had to change strategies multiple times. And hard work, sleepless nights, and a never-ending battle with my impostor syndrome were pretty much part of my calendar on some months.
But once I made the decision regarding what I wanted, these things also happened:
The difficulties felt like things I just had to get out of the way vs blockers that could compromise the results I wanted to have.
I had zero excuses for why I shouldn’t do the work. The opposite phenomenon for when I am undecided on something.
My insecurities were not crippling. I wish I could tell you that I had high confidence all the way. I didn’t. But gaining confidence about what I had to offer was part of the work.
And not only did help arrive in different shapes and forms, but opportunities to achieve my intended results continuously appeared in front of me as well.
On the other hand, when I have been unable to make a solid decision, or when my decisions were driven by my own insecurities, the result is almost always less than positive.
In 2021, I was undecided about whether or not I wanted to move into the People Management track. I couldn’t articulate to my manager and mentors what I wanted to do next in my role. I got passed on for several opportunities as a result.
Feeling dejected from getting passed on for several internal opportunities, albeit it was a result of my own indecision, I thought I’d heal my ego somewhere else. I applied for the same role I didn’t get chosen for, in other companies. The results were mixed:
Either I would do well and get offered the role - but then there were 5 million reasons not to say yes. The recruiter experience was bad. I didn’t want to relocate. And so on and so forth. (In some cases, indecision has protected me as some of these companies laid off people shortly after 😰)
Or I would come into these interviews with zero energy I would flub them almost immediately. In the end, I got the infamous feedback, “We’re looking for somebody with more experience” — aka the feedback that isn’t really feedback.
Also in 2021, when my friends and I parted ways from our community, Career Hacking for Women, I was undecided about whether or not I wanted to do more with it on my own. It was starting to become global and quite successful. So to continue with it would have been a great opportunity. But I was also unsure about my ability to run the community myself. Several months passed, and Career Hacking for Women faded into oblivion.
Indecision for all intents and purposes, is a decision on its own. A decision pretty much equivalent to a NO.
It’s still an “I DON’T want this” decision, just without the conscious commitment to the decision. Instead, with all the feelings and disappointment that comes with partially wanting something - at least enough to trigger a “what if”.
So dear reader, when you want something, make that decision to go for it.
Decide to want something NOW vs deciding later when you have your shit figured out or when you feel confident about the possibility of getting it.
Decide to want something NOW and then do the work. The work will not always be easy, but they will feel worth it.
Decide to want something NOW and then tell the world about it. You never know who is listening and help might just be right around the corner.
And if you realize that you don’t want it after all, you can always change your mind.
Because the worst-case scenario isn’t deciding to want something and not getting it (because you will and it might just take more time and effort). The worst-case scenario is being indecisive about something, not getting it, and then realizing afterward “shit, I did want it”.
Not to worry though, you can also still change your mind and want it all over again. Just the whole emotional rollercoaster that comes with indecisiveness is, more often than not, completely unnecessary.
Have you made a decision about wanting to grow in your career, but are unsure of the steps to get you the results you want? Let’s chat. I’d love to have an opportunity to help you move forward with your decision.
02 (FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax)
How can one grow professionally when their manager doesn't know how to manage people?
Welp. If this is you right now, let me start with - having managers who don’t know how to manage people (yet) is completely normal. It’s usually a result of either being first-time managers (everybody needs to start somewhere!) or unfortunately, a person who never wanted to become a manager in the first place, who was still made a manager.
And while it can be frustrating to work with a manager who doesn’t know how to be a good manager (yet), I would also like to say that it’s not a career growth breaker.
You have a lot more control over your career than you think!
And it starts with building a system to help you get your result strategically:
Decide what growing professionally means for you - and yes, here I go again with the idea of deciding. But also growing professionally is such a broad idea. Anchoring on specific definitions also helps in mapping out a development plan. Do you want to get promoted internally? Are there things you want to do more of? Are there things you want to do less of? Know and then decide.
Have a network of allies that can help you with your growth - Knowing more people who can help you find opportunities and speak highly of you in front of people you may not have access to or in moments you might not even know of is such a critical part of growth. Even more powerful, if these people are in a position to influence decisions in their organizations. This is also where finding mentors and even coaches can come in. Having external people who can continuously share with you pieces of career advice or help you create a strategy and implement it is a valid way of growing professionally. A lot of people have done it. So maybe you should too? 😉
Have a strong personal brand - Is your name associated with strengths, achievements, or expertise? This is important. Because, on one hand, knowing people is great, but if they don’t have anything to say about you - then it’s all moot. Take the time to understand what you want to be associated with, then take more time to make sure you’re associated with those things. For example, if you and your team have had amazing results with your product, then it’s important to make sure people know about them.
Say what you want out loud - Do you want to be promoted? Do you want to try working on a new area in your organization? Then tell your manager. Even better if you create a development plan for yourself. Or go out and find those opportunities Have some ideas. And validate that with your manager. If your manager is not taking the steps to do so, it’s not a blocker. Ask for help from your shiny new network of allies.
Help your manager - A step that a lot of people miss. Management, in the end, is a bureaucratic role. Your manager is human. While yes, they may have an influence over your professional growth, they do not control it. Especially, if they’re new, they might not understand how best to help you if they’re still figuring out how to do the job. But you and your manager are also a team. Helping them unblock themselves, achieve their goals, and reduce their blind spots - is, at the end of the day, also helping yourself.
Having a supportive manager is the best situation in the world, of course. But managers are not infallible. They may not always be the best equipped to help everybody. Or sometimes, things are just out of their hands.
But these are definitely not, and should never be, blockers for us to grow professionally. Because growth can, not only, come in many shapes and forms, they can also come from different places our managers may not even have access to.
What are other tips you can add to this week’s F.A.Ks.?
Are you looking to grow professionally, but don’t feel like you have the right support to do so? Let’s chat. I’d love to have an opportunity to help you with your growth.
03 Five things to help you this week
Got this list from- How to build rapport with anybody you work with.
This article by Ant Murphy on Product Transformations (if you work in tech, transformation is pretty much our BAU)
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 starting in August! 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. I’d love to help you. Let’s chat 💙
Fintech products have always been a different animal for me. More than compliance, there’s a different set of psychology to understand. So if you’re in Fintech and you’ve been looking for a course to use your Personal Development budget with - Irrational Labs Behavioral Economics Program could be a good one to check out. (Use KAXUSON for a $50 discount)
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