I’m Parker Rex. My career began as a graphic design/copywriting intern at a creative agency. From there I was a product designer for 2 years. After that I spent 2 years as a product manager, and currently I am VP of product at Delivery Dudes. What does that mean though? I manage and design a product line that supports food delivery across 42 cities. I am by NO means an expert but love to share what I know to help others. I’ve launched > 20 products and work with a team of amazing engineers who are able to make serious business impact.
Things to Remember.
Like anything, the more you do it the better you get at it. CEO of the Product is a common way of explaining it — but I don’t think that’s the case. As a product person you:
- Set the product vision and road map.
- Think strategically and articulate that strategy by prioritizing and problem solving.
- You execute vision and road map by working with designers and engineers.
- Communicate to the rest of the org what’s going on.
As someone new to the game, you need to accept that you’re not going to be a pro overnight. The world has become obsessed with the idea of good, fast, cheap. Listicles showing you how to hack X in Y minutes are generally bullshit to get advertiser’s clicks.
Love the craft and you’ll go far. It is likely that you’re building something to make peoples lives easier. That’s amazing, remember that when you’re in the trenches learning and trying to get better.
1. Become Obsessed with Consuming Content.
I cannot stress how important this is. Tech moves fast and so should you. Products have a quick lifecycle. Trends happen, features get built, new frameworks come out, new OS’s are launched. If you are genuinely intrigued by keeping up then you are in good shape. Become a learning machine and it’ll keep you moving fast. David Cancel talks about this a lot and has built an entire company around being a Learning Organism. It’s called Drift. I don’t need their software but have become a die hard fan because of their content.
Learning is your best path to follow. Get Overcast.fm and start podcasting in the morning while you make coffee. Some podcasts I recommend include Seeking Wisdom done by the guys over Drift— they do a phenomenal job highlighting career growth. Podcasts about entrepreneurship that are noteworthy include a16z by Andreessen Horowitz, Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman (by you guessed it, Reid Hoffman), and How I Built this with Guy Raz.
If you enjoy longer form content, aka READING then check out my book list on Amazon. No fluff allowed, just awesome content. http://a.co/fDmGbty The High Growth Handbook is my favorite on there. I just finished it and it is gold.
2. Be Active in the Community
Twitter is the cocktail party of product development, you can learn a crazy amount on there. Everyone is there to learn, share and chat. You’d be surprised how many conversations I have had by just reaching out. Blogs, listicles, they’re all there too.
People I recommend following:
- Luke W founder, acquired by google. Writes at LukeW.com
- Jeff Morris Jr & Brian Norgard from Tinder
- Ryan Hoover founder of Product Hunt
- Andrew Chen GP at Andreesen Horowitz, previously growth at Uber
- Jason Fried founder of Basecamp.
- Barron Caster growth at Rev
Product Hunt is the place to be if you’re a product geek. Signup and watch as founders release product each and every day. You get a feel for what’s working, how people pitch and can take part in the conversation. It was started by @Rrhoover
3. Sharpen your Product Sword
This is probably the most important one, but is also the hardest because it’s a true behavior change. Notice things when using a product. Why did Spotify decide to largen the play icon when I hover it? There’s a reason. Learn what makes a good design a good design.
Visual design trends will come in and out of fashion, but it’s not all gradients and drop shadows. Flat design, will become material design, then another thing. The trends are not what you care about, the success of your product doesn’t care about that. You need to make something engaging and enjoyable to use. If you’re an e commerce product, you need to sell more product. If you are a meditation app, you want users to be clocking in more minutes per day.
BONUS ROUND: Remake apps you like in sketch. Sketch is the industry standard UI design tool. It’s great to know the basics of design.
Thanks for Tuning In
I enjoy sharing this type of stuff- and honestly I just hope that it helps people out there. If you have any questions about product or design please hit me up! I love to nerd out, and help however I can. I am on Twitter, obviously, but feel free to email me too at [email protected].
Oh — I also have a website where you can find out more about me and what I’m up to. parkerrex.com