More than just salary: the importance of context to grow as Product Managers – Part 2

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After looking at the lonely life of product managers, and why they are stretched between empowerment and accountability, in this second part of the episode Tanja Lau from Product Academy and Salva look deeper into the implications of salary in the life of product managers.

From salary gaps to regional and seniority differences, Tanja looks into the vast amount of data she has recently collected during her product salary survey to shed some light on the topic of compensation.

But more than numbers, compensation is a complex topic that involves objective setting, work conditions, equity compensation, and most importantly… job satisfaction!

Lastly, Tanja where some tips about salary negotiation and in particular… how to become more appealing as a product manager by speaking the right “language” and becoming literate in topics such as finance and decision-making.

Full Transcript here:

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:01:00)
Yeah, and also some companies are starting to make the salary, at least the bandwidth, transparent. So there is more access to actual data on how much people are getting paid. And so I think it’s also shifting in that direction. You have Glassdoor, you have other platforms where you can actually see how much other people are making.

Salva (00:01:22)
So this was about the pay gaps. What about the working setups?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:01:26)
Mm-hmm. So at the beginning of the survey, we asked people for some information on how they work currently. So what we saw is that only 2% of the PMs who participated in the survey work in the office. So yeah, fully in the office. So 30% work fully remote, which is quite a lot, I think, and 67% in a hybrid setup. Yeah.

Salva (00:01:42)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:01:51)
That was, I mean, it’s not super surprising, but actually seeing the numbers makes you realize like, this is the new normal, right? So if you’re, if you’re a company, you’re trying to get people into the office five days a week, you’re going to have a hard time finding candidates who want to do that.

Salva (00:02:05)
It didn’t mean from your salary benchmark perspective that you have to pay these people more if you want to push them to the office five days a week or no correlated.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:02:15)
I did not look into this correlation, but it’s super interesting. We should do that actually. I can’t tell you.

Salva (00:02:22)
I could imagine from the ISF, the employer, if you really want to push people into the office, what are you getting? Because I just said the offer is still very scattered. So I imagine, I just say for me, the normality is that people want to work hybrid, if not remote today. So it would be extremely interesting to know from an employer perspective, if you really need to get people locally, what it would mean for you. And also, I would expect you’ve got less reach. You know, you.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:02:27)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:02:42)

Salva (00:02:50)
you can go and pick people far.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:02:50)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you’re now competing with companies who are not even in your country, right? As an employer, because some people are sitting in Portugal and working for Swiss companies, right? Fully remote. And yeah, so definitely interesting. Sorry.

Salva (00:03:05)
Did this create anything more homogeneous? Especially both of us were sitting in Switzerland, but we used to get a market which is pretty much a bubble. Did you also see Europe, at least in general, becoming more homogeneous in terms of salaries because of remote working?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:03:25)
I can only tell you that there’s definitely still a pay gap, for example, between Germany and Switzerland. I have not looked into all of the European countries in a specific comparison, because some of the countries have so little data sets in our sample that it does not make so much sense, especially if you start…

slicing for rolls, right? But yeah, it would be interesting to see. I can tell you definitely for Germany and Switzerland, there is a pay gap. And just to make that clear, we normalised for a 40-hour work week, because you know that Switzerland usually work 42 hours, which is already a difference. So that’s why another thing that we paid attention to in this survey is how many hours do people actually work. And if you said to work part time, then we normalised it for a 40-hour week too, so that we can really compare the salaries.

Salva (00:04:05)

Salva (00:04:11)
That’s a very good point. And you were mentioning at the beginning, right, that this working condition in general, like how many hours you like to work and so on were also part of your survey.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:04:18)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah, that was interesting too. So what we saw is like 90% of all the people in the survey work full time. And full time in most cases means over time too. We’ll talk about that in a sec. But 90%, by contract, they work full time. Of the remaining 10%, most of them work 90% or 80%. And just a very, very small fraction is below 80%. So.

part time and product below 80% is still basically non-existing.

Salva (00:04:48)
That’s interesting. What is your reading into this?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:04:52)
I think there is a general notion that the product role can only be done full time. And you were asking for controversial opinions. I’m a big believer in part-time. I also work part-time and of course my job is a bit different in this case. But I believe that in the right setup, with the right surrounding roles in place, with the right kind of ownership in place in the engineering teams and so on,

it would be possible in certain industries, in certain contexts, for the PMs to work less than 80% or to do job sharing between two PMs. And I think that would unlock a lot of female potential in the market because I see a lot of people dropping out when they have kids and then having a hard time to come back to their positions because they’re no longer willing or able to work full-time.

Salva (00:05:44)
No, I completely agree with you. And because you were mentioning controversial topics, I would go even further. I would say working above 100% from my perspective is a red flag of something going wrong. Either there is something wrong in the way you’re defining the job, or there is something wrong in the way you’re executing your job, I guess. But potentially, maybe an indicator, you’re not able to delegate or to give enough guidance to people, so you’re not unavoidable anymore. Do you see this? No.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:05:55)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:06:14)
Yeah, where the expectations that are set for your role, and we talked about this before, are not realistic. And I generally agree, but I also have to say that I am a believer in the cyclic nature of humans and also in the cyclic nature of businesses. So where I see a red flag is if it continuously is.

above 100 percent. I do believe that it might make sense and can happen that you have to work more than 100 percent in certain circumstances, but then you need to have time to bounce back into relaxation, into a different pace. And if you don’t see that happening, then yeah, it’s not healthy. And I can even give you the numbers if you’re interested. So what I saw in the survey is that…

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:07:02)
76% of PMs are not compensated for their overtime. 21% of the people who took the survey can take time off and compensate with time off and the rest is either compensated financially, so that’s a very small part or does not know.

or could not answer for some reason. So, I mean, most people, you have to also add that to your… When you look at salaries, for example, in the US, they tend to be higher. We saw that in the survey too. But in the US, they work 19% overtime on average, according to our survey. So you have to also take that into consideration when you’re comparing the salaries, plus the job insecurity and all of that comes with the system they have in place there. And here, we saw that in general…

there’s an average overtime of 7% to 9% for PMs and POs on average. And we saw that in general, that overtime is higher once you get into leadership positions or higher positions of individual contributors, like principal. Actually, the product principals were the ones working the most. They had 19% over time on average. And then, of course, for the higher leadership positions, we also saw quite high numbers. Yeah.

Salva (00:08:14)
That’s funny, but the more you speak about this topic, the more I’m realizing that when somebody asks you what is the salary you should make, which is the average question we get, that would give you like 10% of the answer. What I give you really is a small fraction of the truth because the problem is not where you’re making 100, 150, 200. The problem is much wider. It really depends on…

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:08:23)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:08:28)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:08:36)
Yeah, at the beginning I wanted to calculate the hourly wage because I think that would be the actual number we should be comparing. Like compared to the amount of hours that you’re supposed to work, where you have to really work in this job, how much are you making? That would be a good question.

Salva (00:08:53)
And so, and without talking about how interesting is your job, what is this non-material, non-measurable, because you might be earning a little bit less but being very happy, you’re talking about happiness before.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:08:58)
Mm-hmm. Yes.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:09:04)
Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. And we also asked them about what other perks do you get or do you value about your compensation? As I said, compensation is not just the salary and the bonus. We saw that, for example, since we have a lot of people from the US also in the 30, subsidized or paid medical insurance was very high on the list because that’s not a given in many countries.

training budget. 22% said they want to have training budget, but they have training budget that they value.

But then there was a lot of other things like flexible working hours, having a gym available or subsidized, subsidized public transportation. And some people get special discounts from their brands that they work for, but also vacations and extra holidays. Some people have unlimited holidays. It was like 2.5%, I think, in the survey who do have unlimited holidays. We saw that those people mentioned that very explicitly in the survey because they seemed to be.

Salva (00:10:05)
Like a perc.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:10:06)
Yeah, seem to be very happy about it, right? Yeah, so there’s a lot of other things. You can see the full list in the report again, but there’s other things that people value a lot besides just the compensation. Yeah, we’re just listening.

Salva (00:10:17)
Which means that the word is complex in reality. You cannot summarize with a number. And that’s probably also for people starting in the profession or even trying to evolve in the profession. You can’t just look at the numbers and say what is the right number for me, right?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:10:30)
Exactly. And you also need to know what does success look like to me? Is it, for example, I want to accelerate my career in terms of titles, then you need to look for certain things in the company, like what is my chance, what are my chances to get promoted? What are you looking for in the next levels of product leadership? But it could also be like I want to learn specific things. I want to get.

better at my craft and then I’m looking maybe for mentorship. I’m looking for a very experienced people that I can learn from. I’m looking for training opportunities and so on, right? So it really depends on where you want to go. And as I said in the beginning, knowing what you want is one of the hardest things. But once you know it, you can also look for it more specifically. And that’s why one of the advices that I give to people in our classes is to have a learning backlog for themselves, because this is also what will tell you.

when it’s time to leave a company. For me, that’s when the learning curve flattens and when you’re no longer getting closer to your goals there.

Salva (00:11:30)
I was really interested in your experience because you’ve got this exceptional view on a part of the population today, of this young population. So you mentioned this learning curve becoming flat. I think the general perception out is that people stay less and less in their job and they jump a little bit more than they used to do probably our parents or even just 10 or 20 years ago. It is something you’re also observing in the reality of your classes.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:11:54)
Thanks for watching!

Salva (00:11:59)
people jumping more from one job to the other.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:12:03)
It’s a bit hard to generalize. I’ve seen people who are very happy at the companies that they are at and where the companies do a great job at nurturing the relationship with these employees. And without having data to back this up, my gut feeling is that it often depends on charismatic and very skilled product leaders who are able to…

nurture the potential of the next generation of product people, finding ways for them to grow, even when they don’t have a promotion, sometimes they’re able to keep them for a very long time, while other companies lose their employees very fast because they want to have a certain title. Right. So it doesn’t necessarily just correlate with the titles that you’re looking for. I think a leader can compensate for some of that for quite a long time, as long as you’re learning from this person and making an impact, I think.

Yeah, but I see a certain tendency to jump around in the market and that can have two reasons, right? One is you understand more and more what kind of product person you want to be and what

the kind of product work looks like that you want to do. And I see that a lot when people come into our classes and they realize for the first time, man, what I’ve been doing in the past couple of years, that’s nowhere near the kind of product work that I could be doing and that I want to do actually. So then suddenly they realize, okay, I might want to look for something elsewhere, right? That’s one reason, that’s not a bad reason, right? And then sometimes…

I also notice a lack of resilience in younger generations, maybe of product people, like shying away from the first couple of conflicts that they’re facing and feeling entitled to a better place somewhere else. But I think, yeah, there’s a certain type of conversations, hard conversations that you need to be able to endure. Those are the right kind of hard. And then there’s a couple of hard situations and conversations that…

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:14:07)
take away your energy on a constant basis, and then don’t fuel your learning curve, and don’t fuel your growth as a person, then if you’re stuck in these kinds of situations, then leaving is a good thing, right? So I’m trying to kind of make people more aware of what is the right kind of heart, because product management is hard, it’s supposed to be hard, but sometimes we’re making it hard for the wrong reasons.

Salva (00:14:30)
Totally. And I’m taking it also between the line of what you’re saying is that to some extent a good leader could compensate you for less ideal situation. Probably you could read it also the other way around. Money can compensate for a bad leader, which is not good, right? And it happens, right? So probably you can read the other way around and saying having a good salary might be covering or…

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:14:49)
Yeah, but tapping.

Salva (00:14:59)
in just sugar-coding a situation which is not ideal.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:14:59)
Hmm. Yeah. It’s like a golden cage, right? Because then you have a very high salary, maybe a comfortable setup with not having to work too much overtime. So your hourly wage is pretty high actually. And you start building your lifestyle around it. And then it’s getting harder and harder to go away, to step away from this kind of situation.

But we see people doing that because we saw, we also asked the question like, how does your salary change within the company and also in between jobs when you apply for a different company? And what we saw is like within the same company on average, people were able to get an 8% raise. However, I have to say like we did not specifically ask for it within which timeframe. I know that some people have been in the same company for a long time and they have also taken on more responsibility. So over time they have…

on average managed to get 8% raise within the same company. Once they were changing jobs, the average raise was around 30%. So the big jumps that those you make when you change the company and you renegotiate your entire setup, often because you also maybe apply for a different level of maturity in the roles. And so that also makes up for some of the difference. But what we also saw is that some people

took a demotion in terms of salary. And on average, those who earned less after changing roles, they earned like 17% less. And the reasons they gave was mostly because they wanted to move into a product role. And they were willing to maybe start with a junior position or with a lower pay just to do some more meaningful work. And some also wanted to move into startups and get some equity maybe on the side. So.

that made up for some of the celery change that they had.

Salva (00:16:50)
And you’re opening exactly the last question I got about compensation, which is equity, probably not the easiest part of the question, right?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:16:54)
I’m sorry.

Yeah, so I was surprised to see that 37% of the people in our survey mentioned they get equity. However, we have to say that 50% of the entire sample size are people working in startup or scale-ups. So just to put that into perspective, 50% working in startups and scale-ups, 37% getting equity.

Most of them will probably be the ones working in startups and scale-ups because most enterprises do not give out stock options for their employees. Some do, but not all. What was interesting, it was, I think, 1.6% of the participants in the survey said they did not know whether they had equity or not, which is quite interesting, right? And many mentioned in the free text forum, we don’t know how much our equity is worth. I know I have some sort of stock.

options, but I have no clue whether they’re worth something. And that’s why we also started looking into this topic and said, okay, there’s a knowledge gap here for many people who don’t know how stock works in general. And Marina Moritz was so nice to write a really, really wonderful article about what stock and equity means in the context of a product role.

We can maybe add it to the show notes or link it somewhere. Because it was really nice how she explained it in a very easy way for people to understand. And it’s a complex topic. It has a lot of text implications and so on. So whenever you offer stock, it’s wise to maybe ask people who know a thing or two about it to understand what it’s really worth.

Salva (00:18:34)
That’s the way I was asking because I find this astonishing. So on one hand, what you’re saying, tell me if the numbers are right, that 30% of people don’t know whether they get stocks or not, right? So.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:18:45)
No, actually 37% get equity and know it, and about 1.6% don’t know. So close to 2% don’t know whether they get some stock or not.

Salva (00:18:48)
Oh, sorry.

Salva (00:18:53)
Don’t know. Right. And these people who don’t know, so that means it’s, wow, it means something. You don’t even know how you’re compensated. And among people who are getting the stocks, people don’t know how much they’re making. So there is one volatile part, which is normal. You don’t know how much they’re worth. It’s part of the stocks. You don’t know how much they’re going to be worth the day you want to exercise them. That’s normal. But people not being able to appreciate that, that means to some extent it fails as a tool to motivate people if people don’t even understand.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:18:59)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:19:05)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:19:09)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:19:20)
Yeah, so that and also I think people either over or underestimate what it means to have stock, right? So they either overestimate it because they have no clue that they, for example, are owning stock classes who are going to be served last when there is an exit, right? So they don’t know what Lick preferences are and so on. So that is something that happened to me too in my first startup, right? I didn’t know a thing about this and nobody told me because they were better off not telling me. So I think…

We need to do some education around these things. That’s why we have this wonderful article now. And some people may be underestimated because they feel like, I don’t know anything about it, but also like probably doesn’t mean anything to have stock, right? So they should.

I think looking into this would be interesting for most people who do have equity and maybe talk about because it also tells you something about the strategy that the company is pursuing, right? Who are my investors? What are they trying to achieve? Right? So it’s really good, not just from the compensation perspective, what are my chances of getting paid or not, but also like, what does this company, what is this company doing? How is it valued from the outside? Why is it, is the valuation going up or down?

Salva (00:20:32)
Absolutely. And I was mentioning this because this goes back to the very first topic we’re discussing before about empowerment. How can you be empowered and looking beyond your nose and understanding whether what you’re doing or not is good for your company if you eventually don’t understand what your company is doing, how its shareholder base is composed, what matters to them, and so on and so forth. I think what is nice in my opinion about equity compensation is that it forces you to be in the same boat with some difference again, because there are classes and some book of…

pretty much in the same boat, and having to understand those topics, which are the first topics you need to understand anyway, if you want to really be empowered and understand what’s happening around you. So I would really urge people to understand what it means, on top of what you meant, that it can be really a poison gift from a text implication if you don’t understand what you’re doing. So you’d really want to understand and read twice what you’re getting, right?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:21:10)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:21:14)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:21:26)
Yeah, absolutely. And also do some research, whether you’re getting stuck or not, but try to find out like, how is this company funded? Are they depending on external cash? Did they do down rounds in the last couple of years or these kinds of questions? They tell you a lot of things about the company and how it’s doing. And that’s something I would want to know from a company who’s paying my paycheck.

Salva (00:21:46)
Yeah. And especially if you want to be a strategic kind of person, you want to understand what is the overall strategy around this company. We mentioned, I think at the beginning that product is sexy, also perhaps because it’s part of the core of those new companies and companies appreciate that product is important, it’s material to their business. So this means that you as a product person have to understand how this company is making money. I was surprised about how many people you…

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:21:50)


Salva (00:22:14)
you speak with and you figure they don’t even know how much money the company is making in the first place, how their P&L, how their profit and loss table is looking like.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:22:19)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Don’t get me started on this topic. I mean, one of the skills that I think is totally underdeveloped, and I’ve seen that in the last five years constantly, is the part around viability and being literate in finance. I see a lot of PMs getting better and better at discovery, which is awesome because we didn’t used to talk to customers firsthand. We didn’t understand the real needs in the market and so on. That’s cool.

But I think a lot of PMs are still shying away from the viability part of the product, as we said before, and I think that’s something that makes a difference if you get used to that. And I’m not a finance person at all. Like, I studied comparative literature. It took me a lot of energy to get into that area. I had to learn it when I founded the first companies. But I think you need to have a minimum understanding of how unit economics work, how certain…

KPIs are built and calculated. A lot of people don’t even know exactly the difference between profit and revenue, and I’m often really shocked. So you need to know what the decision currency in your company is at any given point in time. And sometimes it’s revenue, but it can also shift to cash flow, it can also shift to other things. And you need to know, you need to know before that happens because that will influence a lot what is gonna happen with the C-level. If you know that your company is low on cash,

you can already predict that the CEO is going to stand in your room and ask for a roadmap for the next board meeting and ask for certain features that the investors want and so on. You can’t predict that happen because you know that the company is operating and depending on the external cash flow and they are willing to do whatever it takes just to stay alive.

Salva (00:24:01)
Totally. And that’s why I also think it’s very important for people to understand what is the difference, what are you optimizing against? So of course, and we said at the beginning, we said, okay, company wants to make more money, like a high level general and KPI. But the reality, as I said, are you cash rich in this moment? Do you want to get more money in terms of, do you want to get more profits or do you want to make more cash in the short term, which is not the same thing?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:24:07)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:24:13)

Salva (00:24:28)
And again, understanding, I think, the overall context. And it requires a little bit of financial ability, but not too much either. I think as a product person, you can shy away of this. You can say, it’s not my business. You can say, this is the business for my CFO or my accounting team.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:24:41)
Mm-mm. Yeah.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:24:47)
No, and I think it’s actually good to seek that kind of conversations. It’s kind of the shared language that you have. And I think it’s Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher, who said that the limits of your language are the limits of your world. And if you’re not able to speak finance, so to say, it’s going to limit who you can interact with.

because that’s the shared language you have for certain people. I think a minimum of economic education is really good, also for your personal life. I really encourage a lot of people to start investing also with minor amounts of money, but just to get a feeling for how this works. And I’m not a professional at all, and I make a lot of mistakes, but I think just exposing yourself to this kind of thinking is really interesting and important in life.

Salva (00:25:33)
You’re opening another subject, which is very interesting. So we said at the beginning that we want to reduce this breach right before, let’s say, between management or assist and product people. And as a product person, you are thought that you have to speak the language of your customer. You want to try to do what you’re doing and put in the perspective of the others. But in reality, when you took into top management of a company, their language is going to be their P&L statement. It’s going to be.

their profit sheet and so on. So you want to understand this language if you want to speak their language. To a certain extent, I also have got the impression that as product person, we became a little bit too picky and we expected everybody to understand the language of product and everybody to understand what discovery means, everybody to understand what agile means, but not the other way around.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:26:15)
Yeah. Yeah, so, I mean, since I studied comparative literature, I’m very obsessed with language and everybody who has taken a course with me knows that because I’m always trying to first get to a common definition of certain terms that we’re using. So, yeah, just as an example of one of the most used and misunderstood terms, that’s outcomes, for example.

A lot of companies saying, and also a lot of leaders approach us at the Academy, say like, we want our people to be more outcome-focused, outcome-driven, outcome-based, whatever you call it, and please train them. Right? And then I sit down with the leadership and ask them like, yeah, sure. I mean, we can train them on being more outcome-driven or outcome-based, but what is an outcome?

please give me an example. And then you realize like these five leaders in the room, they don’t have a shared definition of what an outcome is. And most of the things that they have in mind are actually impact metrics or output metrics and or output things, right? And so outcome is always tied to user behavior. That’s the only thing that we can actually influence, right? And so I think having these common definitions it’s so important. If you don’t have a shared language, it’s gonna be very hard to create momentum in your company.

So bad, I lost track of your original question.

Salva (00:27:34)
No, no, totally. And that’s what I was trying to say. You said it in a much better way than I did, but that’s exactly what I tried to say. And I think to a certain extent, we can put the blame on others. You know, and back to this empowerment, we can put the blame on others. We can say we’re not empowered as a team. We can say our management is short-sighted and they’re just giving us output this through. But it also means as a product person, you are supposed to do the extra mile and, and to try to get this empowerment and to try to understand.

to speak their language.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:28:05)
Yeah, and I’m a huge fan of hypothesis driven work. I think that’s the basic thing that everybody needs to be able to master in product. And hypothesis in this context means there is an assumed correlation between the outcomes we’re trying to achieve, so the change in behavior of the customers, and the impact that we’re trying to achieve on the business side. So we need to be very clear on our hypotheses and assumptions around.

Why do we want people to behave a certain way? What kind of metrics are supposed to change based on that? That’s one thing. And the other thing is what I think does not happen often enough is to talk about guardrail metrics or health metrics. So often companies obsess about the metrics they want to improve or change for the better in general. But they are not very explicit about under which circumstances. So we can drive to a top line revenue, no problem.

we can drive it at the cost of, for example, losing our loyal customers because we focus a lot on new customers and acquiring new markets and so on. Right. So also thinking about like under which circumstances should this happen? What price are we willing to pay to achieve this goal? Those are questions that I try to teach people in our classes to ask, because those are the really important conversations around goal setting.

Salva (00:29:26)
And I also love hypothesis-driven reasoning for probably a slightly different reason, which is it forces you to understand and to agree on what you meant in the first place. You’re mentioning about, do we understand the same about outcomes? If you’re going through hypothesis-driven reasoning, it forces you to understand and to agree on what you want to reach in the first place. If you say, we want to increase our revenue, everybody’s going to agree on this, right? But you’re not sure you’re saying the same.

If you go through the full train of a hypothesis, eventually you will see if you don’t land on the same thing at the end. So I think it is extremely important.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:30:03)
Yes. And what you’re touching on is not just definitions, but also in general mental models that we operate within and making those explicit, making the underlying assumptions explicit. And the more you do that, first of all, the faster you will be at writing your hypothesis, it still takes time to write a good hypothesis. But the first ones that you really draft in a good way, this takes forever because you need to lay the foundation for everything else to come. The more you do that, the easier it will get.

Salva (00:30:09)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:30:33)
and also the harder it will get, because you will also start to spot all the fake correlations and all the proxy metrics that don’t work. So it’s getting harder and easier at the same time. And I think what is also a beautiful side effect is that, for example, when you onboard new people into your team and you have what I call a hypothesis backlog, which is one of the things that I try to also motivate people to have besides their feature backlogs, a backlog of questions, a backlog of assumptions and hypotheses that they want to test.

When you have that and you keep track of what you think you found out in your discovery, which ones you need to retest after a while and so on, people can be onboarded much faster, you don’t do the same work twice, and also you set the tone on how you work in this company, right? So it has a lot of beneficial effects to do that.

Salva (00:31:20)
And if you look at this, like the Philhoge, the common story of everything we spoke about today is context, right? You want to be empowered with context. You want to talk about KPI or about outcomes, but with the context, what they mean, what is around them, what you say, documentation about this context is probably extremely important to bring people on board. And also when you spoke about salary, it’s not about a salary, it is the compensation with its whole context. How many hours?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:31:39)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:31:50)

Salva (00:31:51)
your work or is it going in the direction of your future training or future job?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:31:54)
Yes, I agree. And why is context important? I would take it even one step further. For me, everything revolves around decisions. Everything is about taking better and more educated decisions because that is our output as product people. We don’t build the product ourselves. Our output, our decisions, and our job is to get better at taking decisions. Whether it’s about our personal career, like whether to stay or to leave.

what kind of salary to negotiate for and so on, but also in our product, like what are the next things that we’re gonna build? What is the market that we’re gonna enter? Decisions are what moves a company forward and the better and faster you can take your decisions and the more you reflect on these decisions to get better, the better you get at your core job.

And that’s why I think I’m very obsessed with the topic of learning organizations. And for me, learning organizations are very decision-centric organizations, and that is tied to the roles, that is tied to the processes and so on. And I see a lot of work that still needs to happen in many organizations to get to that level.

Salva (00:32:54)
And about decisions, I think we can dedicate a full episode of Parapetous Decisions. It’s a topic I love. And as you said, unfortunately, I see life very difficult for some PMs and people in general to take decisions. Parapetous is what you’re mentioning at the beginning, moonshots or very difficult, very ambitious goals to get. I think there is probably still a fear in trying to achieve them. And, but decision is also the ingredient you need to be able to.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:32:58)
You can ask the next guest.

Salva (00:33:22)
to do your job effectively as a PM. And again, as you correctly said, Tania, I think everything we’re asking you is to take decisions. So Tania, thank you very, very much. It was extremely interesting. And like always, I don’t usually know what we’re going to talk about. I knew it was going to be interesting. And if I had to find a title for this episode, there’s going to be context from my perspective. I really think you added a lot of context from different perspectives to how becoming power, how to get your right compensation.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:33:30)

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:33:45)
Very good.

Salva (00:33:52)
how to get the season pushed and what Outcome Base means for you, again, with this notion of context. Talking about context, where do people find you and how can they reach out to you?

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:34:04)
Yeah, I love when people reach out. It’s always good to know what resonated and which questions may not have been answered. So definitely you can find me on LinkedIn. I make it a policy to always reply to all reasonable requests on LinkedIn, not the super unsolicited marketing ones, but everybody who writes me will get an answer sooner or later. It might take a couple of days because I only work part-time because of the kids, but I will get back to you.

I also have a personal website, so those of you who want to know, get to know me on a personal level, I do write a very personal newsletter, you can find some editions from the past on my personal website, and then obviously where you can find our courses and yeah, you can definitely reach out if you don’t know whether one of those courses is the right one.

For you, probably I will not be the one answering this question for you, but I will redirect you to one of our alumni, because I love for them to share their own experience. I don’t want to sell you anything. I think it’s very important for us to have the right people in class, and those are the ones who really found the right level, of course, at the right moment in time. Those are the people we’re looking for. So if we can help you make that decision for you, talking about decision, we’re happy to give you more context. And it was really awesome talking to you, Salah.

Salva (00:35:17)
No, thank you very much, Tania. And all these addresses you mentioned are going to be in the description of this episode. So for don’t worry if you didn’t hear or you didn’t have the time to know them now, they’re going to have a clickable link anyway in the episode. Tania, thanks again and talk to you soon.

Tanja Lau (Product Academy) (00:35:30)
Yes, I’m here. Have a great day. Bye.

Salva (00:35:32)

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