The Product Hero —Discover your strengths through your Origin Story

The core of product management is you!

You are at the center of the Mind the Product Venn diagram

In the UK 1 in 6 have a mental illness. In the world, 1 in 26 suffers from depression. We are not immune to this as product managers. Our job was reported to be overwhelming and emotionally taxing in the latest ProductPlan survey.

I want to strip away the tools, processes, and techniques so we can focus on the core of product management, which is you. But today I want to share an alternate reality of my product management career.

The Origin Story

Krypton exploding in Superman’s origin story

“Superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose. (Wearing a cape or tights is optional.)”

Robin Rosenberg

In my childhood, I was always seen as different. I am a British citizen with Chilean parents. I was confused about my identity where I was neither recognized as Chilean by Chileans or British by British people. I was bullied because of this and resulted in me having low confidence growing up.

I chose to drift through life and do enough to get by. I became an engineer and got on with work. However, my manager saw something in me. He said, “It’s time to discover your powers!”

I was recommended to read “Now, Discover your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham. Marcus describes our strengths as a combination of our talents and skills. Talents are developed during childhood and remain strong in our adulthood. Skills require practice, training, and experience. For example, being charismatic is a talent, speaking in public is a skill.

I took the Gallup StrengthsFinder test and found out my top 5 strengths from 34 of their themes.

  • Learner — I could take theory into practice and learn new concepts
  • Arranger — I could simplify the complex to solve problems and be efficient
  • Achiever — I am driven to achieve more and more each day
  • Includer — I bring people into the circle
  • Positivity — I see the positive in negative experiences

The book focusses on two points. Focus on your strengths and partner with people to make you stronger. We can waste our career in becoming all-rounders or we can be superstars in the areas we are strong. Great teams utilize the combination of each member's strength. So finding someone who can complement your skills will greaten your chances of success.

Focussing on my strengths and creating great partnerships paid off. My career accelerated and I was asked to step up as “The Product Hero”. It was my manager who changed the course of my career path and was a mentor throughout my journey.

In my origin story I learned:

  • Having mentors helps me to see things I cannot see.
  • Focus on your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.
  • Partner with people who are strong in the areas you are weak in.

To be continued…

References

This is a series that originated from my ProductTank talk in Amsterdam. I will share the slides once I have delivered the talks to a few Product Tanks in the UK. Here are the books I have read and recommend:

Discover yourself:

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Gino Toro

Gino Toro

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