Guest Post by Manu Gupta: ProductCamp Portland 2016


I attended my first Product Camp at Portland (an amazing town with great people, food and music). As someone who has not been a product manager, my trip was very focused on what product managers do, how the role was defined and what their daily lives looked like. I have read a lot of books, articles etc, however, meeting the real deal was missing out. So, on a whim (literally), I decided to visit the beautiful city of Portland, and attend my first ProductCamp.

Being at a ProductCamp was fun because it is the real deal. We have a lot of blogs are centered around great communication skills for product managers, and they are all fun to read. A lot of blog posts are centered around great communication skills, and how as a product manager you won’t really build anything, tools for prioritizing your work flow, customer journey etc. and provide a lot of background information for product managers. But readings are one-way lane in which we rarely get a chance to converse back, share our thoughts and enrich the communicators’ thought process. ProductCamps open the door for these conversations. Being amongst the community made me realize that a product manager has to evolve continuously, and a product camp helps him / her to add new tool kits in arsenal.

In many ways, ProductCamp Portland also served as a therapy session for product managers. Almost every product manager had a story to tell. These stories helped everyone to understand each other’s perspective. Off course, ProductCamp is not only for product managers but also others, and how they can work together with each other. Attendees with sales, ux or software experience were talking to other product people to figure out better ways of collaboration. This was single-handedly the most useful experience for me. For me ProductCamp was all about learning, sharing, and an amazing way to build relationships that can go a long way in one’s professional career. Thanks to the amazing ProductCamp organizers, I was able to give a talk at the ProductCamp. I was initially doubtful and was not even sure if my presentation will be useful or not. I sent a short bio to the organizers. They told me that I should just go ahead and submit it, as there was no harm in doing so, and I did exactly that. To my surprise, I was also accepted. What I realized was, that everyone in the room was willing to contribute and learn. There are really no presentations at ProductCamp, people attend to share experiences, and tools that will encourage them to become better product managers. I think it was Mike Lonergan posted a talk on the morning of ProductCamp, and he presented as well.

His topic was ‘Failure is an option’, but the interesting thing that it if everyone felt that this was a topic they can relate to, then it provided an open forum for the presenter and also the attendees to talk about it, discuss it, and build better ways of solving the problems they do. So, do not hesitate at all, just go ahead submit a proposal, and see if you can get a chance to talk about it. Even it was not accepted, there is always room for hallway conversations with product managers who are not necessarily in your work. I am really looking forward to my next ProductCamp (and if possible visit Portland again). I hope to meet some of you at some point at a ProductCamp somewhere, sharing your experiences. Product Camp was one of the best experiences is my life.