Jason Goldman helped build Google and Twitter into what they are today — but few outside of tech’s inner circle know his name . On shunning the spotlight in a star-obsessed industry.
Jason Goldman Regarding “Product Managers”
He was explaining the product manager’s role, and not exactly overselling it.
- You’re the one that types the meeting notes,
- the one that is over-communicating the schedule,
- the one that goes and takes the meeting with the person no one else wants to meet with,” he said of his early work in the field.
- You’re just doing a lot of grunt work to make things run smoother.”
His first jobs were in user support, “in understanding how people use software,” he remembered. “It’s a great path into project management. You don’t have to be a designer, you don’t have to be an engineer.”
Product managers are sometimes said to oversee discrete components of a company, like feudal lords in a kingdom. But for many P.M.s, Goldman’s assessment is closer to reality.
“Everybody says the project manager is the C.E.O. of their project, and I think that’s total bullshit,” says Josh Elman, a former manager at Facebook and Twitter, the latter under Goldman. “The real heart of a product manager is the guy who sits in the back of the raft with the oar.”
- Troubleshooting behind the counter is perfect training for a product guy, overworked and unsung. If it sounds less plush than the chief executive’s chair, that’s because it is.
- “I’m the guy who stands up next, and says what does that mean in terms of what we’re building over the next six months,” he said.
- That’s the gritty work of fielding questions, farming out assignments and reconciling disagreements.
- “Your presentation doesn’t sound as good. Your presentation doesn’t have grand, inspiring goals,” Goldman went on.
- “You’re the guy who stands up and says, next week we’re going to fix a bunch of bugs.
- You’re the person that’s managing the fallout from the grand vision.”
- “He wasn’t the idea guy, as maybe some product people are,” Williams told me of Goldman.
- “He’s not necessarily defining what we need to do, he’s just making sure it got done. I don’t know that it’s a typical relationship, but it’s probably not super uncommon,” Williams added.
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