Marty Cagan from Silicon Valley Product Group and author of Inspired and Empowered, generously gave his time to answer questions about product — from breaking into product, doing well when you start, changing careers into product, and being a better product leader and coaching execs.

Here’s notes from the session:

What makes you a great product manager if you don’t have experience?

Extra years isn’t automatically good; you may be spending more years ingraining bad habits.

Marty Cagan said he doesn’t believe being great at product goes with age. He asked a 16-year-old’s mom for permission to hire him a product manager! He is now a successful CEO.

So what is it if not age?

👉 Good…

Pretend Product is a series of musings on a product that should exist in the world or improvements I’d offer to an already existing product


Bumble sends you a notification as soon as you leave the app. If I check a message then close the app, I will receive a push notification to go back to the app almost immediately. A better approach would be to wait some time to reel me back in than to tell me I need to reenter an app I just left and know there’s no new messages on.


Duolingo doesn’t apply my settings to not include speech recognition lessons. I have it off and yet it continues to serve speech recognition activities even after several months.


The default behavior…

Pretend Product is a series of musings on a product that should exist in the world or improvements I’d offer to an already existing product


  • Press spacebar to play / pause what’s on like Netflix does.
  • Hover a tile to add to list instead of having to click the tile and get sent to a new page just for a single action.
Imagine a plus button and other actions here instead of just the movie thumbnail


  • Only count towards my limit if I actually read the piece instead of counting it against me the second I click into the article.

It’s really simple and you’re overcomplicating it to procrastinate on getting started

People mention to me all of the time about how engaged I am on LinkedIn even though I am honestly not doing that much.

My engagement comes down to the same 4 responses: Thank you for sharing!, <copying a line that stood out to me from the post in quotes> I love that., Congratulations!, tagging someone else to share the post with them since it’s not something I need personally.

Do I engage with a lot of stuff? Yes.

Am I writing the world’s best thesis every time? Not at all.

I also produce my own content on LinkedIn. With…

Impostor syndrome is typically associated with high achievers. So, if you feel like a fraud, the chances are that you’re more capable than you think.

Impostor syndrome will have you thinking that you got to where you are because you managed to fool someone else into thinking you deserve something that you actually weren’t qualified for.

Imagine yourself telling all the people you think you have fooled about how you tricked them. How would they respond?

Most likely, they would tell you that they didn’t give you a good grade, promotion or award because you charmed them; they might even be annoyed that you doubt their professional judgment.

I am plagued with underselling myself. If you’re anything like me, I encourage you to vocalize your…

Winners and losers have the same goals

My notes are in italics, grouped by topic, with some context provided underneath the quotes.


The mere act of tracking behavior motivates you to change it

People don’t lack motivation; they lack mental clarity. Make a specific implementation plan.

MAKE IT (the new habit) NORMAL

You can’t stick to positive habits in a negative environment.

It’s easier to build new habits in a new environment because you’re not fighting old cues.

Normal habits are attractive behaviors. Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.

Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. …

Strangers are awesome and dangers are awesomer

strangers are friendly

I walked in with a board and my pads, not knowing how to use any and hoping I’d leave with a handle on at least some. A stranger came over and taught me how to put on my helmet (have to start with the basics), how to position myself on the board, how to skate, how to fall, and how to turn. He spent over an hour of his time teaching someone he did not know, which I doubt he was expecting to do with his night. Nonetheless, he did it with kindness, patience, and love. He said it was…

Welcome to the chatter in my head as I watch the popular Netflix original about a prodigy playing chess

It’s a miracle. I doubt she’ll see it that way.

The trauma of being in an accident, losing a parent, and having to move to a new home with new people all as a child is a lot to handle at any age, let alone that young.

As someone with mental illnesses that resulted from traumatic childhood experiences similar to Elizabeth, I think that it’s interesting how Netflix decides to play out how she copes with her experiences and how her home enables potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms.

21 girls here … all just as sweet as you.

This was said…

It has a lot of hype and as with every product, it could use a lot of help


I asked that question every day when I continued to see people on Slack requesting invites.

I describe it as ‘interactive podcasts’ where you get to be a fly on the wall as people speak about topics you care about. Others I know called it ‘an app for chat rooms’ but my Gen Z self didn’t comprehend that analogy.

You have the ability to raise your hand (which some rooms disable for the audience) from the audience so the moderator can bring you up on stage to ask a question or speak on the topic in a room.

Rooms show…


Product manager | Leading with empathy.

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