One of the big questions we often ask at Products That Count is, “What makes a great Product Manager?” The truth is, there is no one right answer to that question. However, on the Product Talk podcast, Credit Karma Director of Product Management and host, Christina Lucey, created a series to make The Case for Generalist PMs. We’ve compiled an eBook to share the best of that series with all of you and to give another perspective on the answer to such a big question.

The Case for Generalist PMs eBook features interviews with product leaders from companies such as SoFi, Sam’s Club, and more. Many thanks to Christina Lucey for curating the series and to all of the product leaders who took the time to join us on Product Talk. Please download and enjoy the eBook. Some excerpts are available below as well.

Download The Case for Generalist PMs eBook.

SoFi VP Products and Data, Amir Hermelin 

Sometimes, being a generalist PM means taking scalable approaches to your role.

“Platform thinking [as a product superpower is] not thinking of one-off solutions but taking a platform mindset where you can take a solution and reuse it and make it scalable and resilient and transferable to other problems – looking at problems holistically and taking an API-driven approach.”

Nextdoor Product Lead, Sandi MacPherson

Some Product Managers come to being a generalist naturally.

“Regardless of my background, I like being exposed to all the different parts that are involved in building a product. Yet, I think it also comes down to the fact that I want to see certain products come to life. I have ideas, wants and needs for things that I think should exist in the world that other people aren’t doing. It also helps that I personally have the skills, capacity, and privilege to be able to do so. So I’m usually going to take it upon myself to try to create those things that should exist.”

Andreesen Horowitz General Partner, Anish Acharya

Leave it to a GP at a top VC firm to know the importance of different perspectives, something a generalist collects on their quest for knowledge.

“There was a world maybe ten years ago when product was really, I don’t know if clean is the right word, but it was a narrow domain where it was really the business of product people and engineering people. Everything now, most of the best products are created by joining the perspectives of people in many different functions.”

The Nudge CEO, John Peterson

This is as good a case for being a generalist as we’ve heard. 

“There’s something in human nature that drives us to want as many choices as possible but choices are ultimately a barrier to action.”

Sam’s Club VP, In Club Product, Tim Simmons

Sometimes, narrowing your focus into too much of a niche can give you analysis paralysis. That’s the enemy of generalist PMs.

“There’s a great article by Liz Wiseman called The Power of Not Knowing. And in that article, she talks about the knowledge trap and she talks about how it’s often actually good to get out of what we think we know. And there’s great power in just saying, ‘I don’t know the answer.’ And so I have to explore this. I have to discover it myself.”

Download The Case for Generalist PMs eBook.

About the Speaker
Christina is a product leader with a passion for crafting. After six internships and four years studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, she found product management. After a few years of building a foundation in execution, she launched her first product at BlackBerry in 2011. Since then she been hooked on crafting new digital things ever since. Her efforts on growth and mobile helped propel Yammer towards acquisition. Following that, Christina headed up product at early stage companies twice. Currently she’s at Credit Karma where she is the leader for new product initiatives. When she’s not crafting products or podcasting, you can find her reading, cooking, working on her fitness, or channeling her inner Martha Stewart.

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