Product Love Podcast: Lewis Lin, Author of “Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever”

Published Aug 28, 2019

For someone who never considered being a writer, Lewis Lin has written a lot of books — eight, to be exact. He spent a significant amount of time building products at Microsoft and Google, eventually becoming an executive coach for PMs.

You might be familiar with his famous book, “Decode and Conquer,” and his CIRCLES Method, which has helped candidates conquer some of the most difficult PM interview questions.

But if you’re already a product manager, you might be thinking, “Now what?” Lewis’s latest book, “Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever,” answers that question by teaching you how to scale your career

This week on Product Love, I talk to Lewis Lin about his newest book and his ESTEEM method. 

The ESTEEM Method

Lewis is known for his acronyms.  In fact, they’ve assisted many of his students during stressful interviews. This time is no different. He’s crafted the ESTEEM Method as a shortcut for understanding how to grow your PM career. 

The first E stands for execution. In order to succeed, product managers need to prove that they’re able to actually complete tasks. Execution can be difficult, especially since product managers have to be so detail-oriented. They’re balancing a constant influx of feedback, along with overseeing the many decisions regarding the product. However, the origin of the product manager is documentation. While that might not sound glamorous, it definitely means that the role has always been about getting stuff done.

The S represents superior communication skills. Product managers talk to several teams a day, so they need to know how to explain technical terms to a variety of audiences. However, communication also includes the art of storytelling. Great product managers know how to tell captivating stories that inspire the entire organization and make them believe in the product vision. And this relates to my favorite competency that Lewis shared.

Great Product Managers Have a Moonshot Vision

Lewis borrows a famous Google term for this: moonshot vision. How do you differentiate between a good product manager and a great product manager? The difference lies in their ability to dream big and make you believe in their product vision. The best product managers don’t simply come up with quick fixes to customer problems. Instead, they strive towards something that people might call audacious or even impossible. They can explain why their product vision will work, how it’ll meet a need, and the necessary steps to reach it.

Lewis explains how product teams typically iterate and then move onto the next thing. But great product managers — the ones who make to a difference for their company and their customers — have the tenacity to stick to their dreams. Lewis even brings up lean product development and the minimum viable product. If something fails, PMs often immediately go on to the next thing. And while feedback should never be ignored, persistence is also essential for every product manager.

Curious what T-E-E stands for in his ESTEEM model? Check out the podcast episode above.