As an Administrative Business Partner at Google, Charlie Huang was eager to break into the product management world. After seeking advice from one of his mentors, Brad Bender, Charlie began investing time and energy into developing the skills and expertise needed to grow into a product management role. Since that time, Charlie has been a product manager at companies including MightyTV (acquired by Spotify), Spotify, and currently WeWork. To learn more about Charlie’s approach to product management, we sat down to get his take on everything from best advice to learning how to say “no.”
Location: New York
Current Company: WeWork
One word to describe how you product manage: Listen
1. Fill in the blank: “The product manager is the [ ] of the product”
2. What is something—even within your company—that is commonly misunderstood about the product manager role?
The product manager is not the CEO of the product. We’re not the ones who can make all of the calls.
“The product manager is not the CEO of the product.”
3. What’s the best thing you’ve read to learn how to be better at your job?
Inspired by Marty Cagan
4. What is your favorite “Murphy’s Law” of product? What is a trap that you still have to remind yourself not to fall into on a daily basis?
Dependencies are lurking everywhere, whether the team knows it or not.
5. Any recent product initiatives that you are particularly proud of?
Machine learning infrastructure.
6. Looking back on your career, what is something that has taken a while to get better at? If you were coaching a more junior PM, how would you help them accelerate that learning?
Writing documentation. If I were coaching a more junior PM, I would encourage them to constantly ask for feedback on their documentation and take advantage of all opportunities to write documentation; it will only pay off in the future.
“Constantly ask for feedback on documentation and take advantage of all opportunities to write documentation”
__7. How do you carve out time for more strategic thinking? __
Specifically set “Strategy” calendar blocks in my schedule.
8. Most memorable team name? How did the team get that name?
Veritas—we picked the name during a squad kickoff since we wanted to be the squad that created the ultimate source of truth in data.
9. In your opinion, what makes a team really click? What can you do to help a team get to that point (and stay that way)?
Bespoke team bonding events based on the unique traits of team members. One of our most unique events was longsword battle training since we found out that our team members were huge Game of Thrones fans!
10. How do you gracefully say no?
“This is not in scope for the current project/feature/etc.”
11. If you could switch jobs with anyone, what would you try?
Leslie Dewan and bring back the dream of nuclear energy.