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How to
standout as a
generalist PM
James Dillard
@jamesdillard
Photo by Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash
About me
Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
What we’ll cover today
Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
Life as a generalist PM
How to standout as a generalist PM
Your questions
What does it mean to
be a generalist PM?
Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
All of the PM table stakes:
● User empathy
● Analytical ability
● Creativity
● Delivery / execution
Without a specific industry or
functional expertise
Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash
What’s good about
being a generalist PM?
Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
Broad range of companies
and problems open to you
Less industry or technology
risk
Seeing a range of problems
increases creativity
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
What’s bad about
being a generalist PM?
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash
Certain roles are not available
to you
Opportunities don’t find you
It’s difficult to stand out
from the pack
Why does standing out
matter?
The next opportunity
There’s lots of competition
It’s nice to have choices
Photo by David Rotimi on Unsplash
Selecting your projects
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Are you working on the things
that will deliver the most value
for customers and the
company?
If not, why not?
How is your work
impacting the product?
Launches > ideas
Numbers > anecdotes
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
How to talk about your
impact
Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
Impact: What is different
because you were there?
Scope: What are you
responsible for?
Seek out complimentary
experiences
“I can write better than
anybody who can write faster,
and I can write faster than
anybody who can write
better.” - A.J. Liebling
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
Beyond your “job”
Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
Demonstrate your ability
outside your core role
How you treat people matters
Questions?
Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash
Thank you!
Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash
@jamesdillard
/in/jamesdillard

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James Dillard: How to differentiate yourself as a generalist PM

  • 1. How to standout as a generalist PM James Dillard @jamesdillard Photo by Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash
  • 2. About me Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
  • 3. What we’ll cover today Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash Life as a generalist PM How to standout as a generalist PM Your questions
  • 4. What does it mean to be a generalist PM? Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash All of the PM table stakes: ● User empathy ● Analytical ability ● Creativity ● Delivery / execution Without a specific industry or functional expertise Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash
  • 5. What’s good about being a generalist PM? Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash Broad range of companies and problems open to you Less industry or technology risk Seeing a range of problems increases creativity Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
  • 6. What’s bad about being a generalist PM? Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash Certain roles are not available to you Opportunities don’t find you It’s difficult to stand out from the pack
  • 7. Why does standing out matter? The next opportunity There’s lots of competition It’s nice to have choices Photo by David Rotimi on Unsplash
  • 8. Selecting your projects Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash Are you working on the things that will deliver the most value for customers and the company? If not, why not?
  • 9. How is your work impacting the product? Launches > ideas Numbers > anecdotes Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
  • 10. How to talk about your impact Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash Impact: What is different because you were there? Scope: What are you responsible for?
  • 11. Seek out complimentary experiences “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” - A.J. Liebling Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
  • 12. Beyond your “job” Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash Demonstrate your ability outside your core role How you treat people matters
  • 13. Questions? Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash
  • 14. Thank you! Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash @jamesdillard /in/jamesdillard

Editor's Notes

  1. What is a generalist PM What’s good about this and bad about this Why standing out matters How to stand out Selecting projects Delivering on those projects Developing specializations that cut across industries and problem spaces How to talk about your work Extending your brand beyond your company Questions
  2. Make sure to note that this decision isn’t always made intentionally You can find yourself take 2 roles in a row in the same industry and get labelled as a specialist, even if that isn’t what you want
  3. You can work anywhere, can pick up new product types. It’s exciting to have lots of options You’re not tied to any specific industry. Risk of getting trapped in something you no longer enjoy Risk of that industry seeing a downturn or decline in relevance Risk for companies that only hire specialists if the field of competition changes (e.g., servers vs. cloud computing) Going deep in different areas increases problem solving Range by David Epstein The world is full of really different problems By seeing the widest range or problems, you increase your ability to be a problem solver
  4. Certain roles are unavailable to you I can’t be a PM for Google Silicon - I’m not qualified, I don’t have enough industry expertise Opportunities don’t find you in the same way FinTech companies know they need FinTech PMs; how does a FinTech company know they need an AgTech PM It can be hard to stand out from the pack The pool of competition is much wider The ability of employers to assess your experience is lower
  5. The next opportunity It’s unlikely that this is the last company you’re ever going to work for It’s even less likely that this is the less role that you’ll ever have You’re all here at an online conference, I don’t have to tell you this There’s lots of competition With the rise of remote work, increasingly anyone in the world could do what you’re doing How do you command a wage premium? It’s nice to have choices Being a stand out PM opens doors, whether it’s at your company or other companies
  6. As a PM, your number 1 job is to make sure that your team is focused on the highest priority for the company / end users What can your company / your team deliver that no one else can Use common sense here Don’t go and try and take over someone else’s project If you think this isn’t true, ask your manager or the CEO If you think you’re not working on the things that are the highest priority, why not? Is there someone that needs to be convinced? Has the right data not been collected? What blocker is standing in the way
  7. Launches > ideas You have to ship The role is about shipping Metrics impact > anecdotes Design your work from the beginning Write the internal launch email in your head before you start work Be focused on the metrics your leadership team cares about
  8. It’s all about how you frame it up What is different because you were there Phrase it in a way that your parents can understand it, 3 sentences or less What was your scope of responsibility What part of the business, broadly defined What people are looking to you to define product direction
  9. Overtime, you want the different things you do to complement each other Think about the things at your company or among your PM team that are Uncommon Difficult Growing quickly, but from a small base Inconvenient or frustrating Never enough of Figure out how these things work
  10. Demonstrate your ability outside your core role Your ability to lead a team ← are you mentoring others? Giving back to the PM community Many companies have a citizenship aspect to performance reviews — are you using this to invest in your expertise Example of building the trusted tester organization How you treat people matters Most of the standout PMs I’ve known are incredibly humble and willing to help
  11. Overtime, you want the different things you do to complement each other Think about the things at your company or among your PM team that are Uncommon Difficult Growing quickly, but from a small base Inconvenient or frustrating Never enough of Figure out how these things work
  12. Demonstrate your ability outside your core role Your ability to lead a team ← are you mentoring others? Giving back to the PM community Many companies have a citizenship aspect to performance reviews — are you using this to invest in your expertise Example of building the trusted tester organization How you treat people matters Most of the standout PMs I’ve known are incredibly humble and willing to help