Book Cover with image of compass and anchor
Book Cover with image of compass and anchor

My new book with Gayle Laakmann McDowell is now available for pre-order:

This is a comprehensive book on the strategies, skills, and frameworks to be a great PM — for new PMs all the way to product leaders in charge of a team.

Topics include:

Some quick tips I’ve been sharing on my Twitter and wanted to expand.

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PEARL Framework

Instead of STAR for answering “tell me about a time when..” questions, try PEARL — Problem, Epiphany, Action, Result, Learning.

Start with the setup of the problem you were faced with. Ideally it’s a business problem or customer problem you noticed. Give enough background so the interview realizes that your boss didn’t just hand you the fully formed project: the less you just followed directions, the better. By framing this as a problem, you’re drawing the interviewer into the story and helping them understand why it’s important…

How do you empower your team while ensuring consistent, high-quality results?

Some companies get stuck choosing one — either leaving decisions entirely to the teams and not being able to enforce quality, or giving lots of mandatory feedback and leaving the team feeling disempowered. Some people alternate between both and leave the team confused about what was mandatory or not.

A while back at Asana we noticed teams were laser focused on shipping and would carefully ask if each piece of feedback was “launch blocking” at our launch reviews. …

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The product manager role is a little bit different at every company and even across teams within a company. It’s okay to use generic interview questions you get out of a book, but you can get even better signal if you write your own questions specific for the role. That will help you say yes to candidates who have the strengths you need most, and no to the candidates who won’t have the skills to be successful in your company’s culture.

For example, at Asana, we‘re built for teams, so we need PMs who can think about multiple customer-types at…

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Occasionally I interview someone who is wonderful and brilliant, but they’re “just not a product manager”. At first I went with my spidey-sense on that feeling, but soon realized that my inarticulate feeling could accidentally just reflect bias towards people who don’t look like PMs I’ve met. I want to hire the best PMs without unfair biases, so it was very important to me to move from a subjective feeling to objective criteria. …

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I’ve written a lot about interviewing from the candidate’s perspective in Cracking the PM Interview, and now I’d like to flip that around and share some of my tips on the other side. Hiring the right people for your team is essential, and it all starts with how you interview.

Here are some of the top things I’ve learned throughout my years both as an interviewer at Asana and Google, and as a hiring manager at Asana.

Start by agreeing on what you’re looking for in a PM

Product Management is fundamentally a white space role, so the skills you need will depend on what what skills you already have and…

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Why do some people’s careers grow quickly while others trudge along? If you’re ambitious, what can you do beyond just being good at your job?

Here are some non-obvious things I’ve learned, both in my own career and in the careers of my reports.

Career growth within a role is usually about increasing scope, complexity, autonomy, and impact

As a junior employee you usually started with tightly scoped work, lots of supervision, and very few things where you’re the final decision maker. …

I took more than 40 courses at Cornell. These are the 15 that stuck with me 15 years later.

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From freshman to senior year:

Freshman Writing Seminar: Theatre of the Absurd

Taught me to see the meaning beyond the plot. I used to think “why do I have to read all these books from a long time ago that have nothing to do with me”, and now I see that all literature is just shining a little light on what it means to be alive.

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (CS 312)

CS 312 is when computer science became part of my identity. Every new data structure or algorithm we learned felt like leveling…

The Spec, or PRD, or Project Brief is kinda at the heart of what PMs do. It’s one of the few deliverables we’re personally responsible for.

I’ve meant to share the template we use at Asana for a while, but kept getting caught up with other things. So in the spirit of “good is better than done”, here is the template we use for our specs.

The Asana Spec Template

Hope it’s helpful!

(I might clean up this blog post and make it all pretty later)

When you share your ideas it helps your whole team perform better. But, it doesn’t really matter how good your ideas are if you can’t get other people to listen to them.

Photo by on Unsplash

At Asana we want all teams to work together effortlessly, and so we think about the best ways to give feedback a lot. Here are some things we’ve learned.

Give the feedback that you’re uniquely qualified to give. Maybe hold back on the rest.

Think about your reason for why you want to give feedback, why you’re the right person to give that feedback, and then make sure that your reason and credibility are clear. …

Jackie Bavaro

Co-Author of Cracking the PM Interview, the best selling book on product management Advisor at Asana. Previously @ Google & Microsoft.

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