Guest Post by Amy King: ProductCamp Portland 2016

ProductCamp is coming to Portland again! I had a terrific time there last year, and was planning to go again this year, especially since Camp organizers kindly offered a nice discount. However other plans and a growing list of marketing projects (link) came up so I’ll have to save my session pitches for next time.

I already described some of the highlights (and lowlights) from ProductCamp, but here are 3 more that happened in the year since:

1. Got local women professionals to come speak to high school interns at CDK, from Ebay, Huron, and Citizen. Cas@Citizen even shot a video and blogged about her session, how cool is that??? Getting more women in tech is near and dear to my heart, so connecting with other women as well as encouraging young women to stay in this field made for a great day

2. Provided motivation and content to write 2 posts. There are dozens and dozens of articles about why blogging is great. Here’s the top google hit. I think it’s especially important for product managers as a way to show their work, like other professions.

For example, engineers post their code on Github. Designers post their portfolio on Behance. When I hire designers, I always look up their portfolios – and recycle their resume if they don’t have one. And I know engineering managers who do the same for technical hires. As I sat in on more and more interview panels, I couldn’t help but ask myself… how would I showcase my own work?

As a product manager, I believe one of the core benefits I offer to my team is thinking things through, evaluating pros and cons, prioritizing, mapping to real world constraints, and communicating my proposal on how to keep moving forward. If my work is communicating my thoughts, then why not write them down and share them? From this perspective, product managers actually have the easiest way to establish a presence. I don’t need WebStorm or a host server or Photoshop to show my work, I just need a Blogger account.

With that being said, I still need ideas to write about, and motivation to sit down and bang it out. ProductCamp kindly provided both things, twice!

3. Gave me my first public speaking experience and a taste for more. I gotta say, getting up in front of a bunch of people and telling them my story was a thrill. The nice thing is that ProductCamp is a pretty relaxed, welcoming place to share and talk about ideas or problems you’re trying to solve. There’s not a lot of prep or research needed beforehand since you’re sharing your own experiences. I didn’t think my session proposal was going to get votes, but when it did, I still managed to whip up a ppt in less than 30 min for a bare bones discussion framework.

For any Portland tech people who might be reading this, seriously think about going! Here’s the website and here’s the latest session pitches. For the (even smaller) subset of Nike tech people who might be reading this, email me for the discount code!

My session pitches (updated for 2016 and free to a good home)

  • 4 examples of things going wrong when user-centric product design was ignored
  • Methodology for using the value vs barriers graph to decide roadmap priorities
  • Importance of storytelling in planning, development, and branding
  • Some tangible effects of a strong mission on product development
  • How to sketch mockups with 0 artistic skills
  • Scrum master vs product owner vs business analyst
  • How Jira doesn’t suck as much as before

Amy is a Product manager who recently crossed over from hardware to software. She’s good at writing bullet points for stakeholders and really loves the UX part of PM. She tweets at @Amy_PMM