Daddy, what do you do at work?


My kids always ask what I do at work.

When I work at home they see me shift between talking on the phone, sending emails, working on the computer and taking breaks for snacks or other necessities. That’s actually pretty much what I do at work, except at work, I’m spending more time in meetings. And of course, there is the traveling I do to tradeshows, customers, partners, conferences etc.

But as a Product Manager, what do I actually do?

My son recently asked if I made things at work? No, not really.

He then asked me if I sold things? Not really.

“Do you boss people around?” he then asked. No, not really, though that would be nice sometimes!

“Do you fire people?” Again, no, but again, would be nice sometimes.

So I started thinking, what do I actually do?

Of course I could have said something like;

“My job is to understand what customers will want to buy from us and then work with other groups in the company to ensure that we build and deliver those products to them.”

Or something like that. But that was not really an appropriate answer for him.

So, after thinking about it, I said to him, “I make decisions. I make decisions for our company that help us make better products that we can sell to people.”

“Uh, OK.” he said, and walked away.

I wasn’t sure if he was satisfied or simply found my answer rather boring. But for me, the “I make decisions” line was a good one because at the very core of what Product Managers do is make decisions, informed decisions based on data, insight and knowledge that have significant business impact. That’s why I like the job (most days!).

Saeed

(click to enlarge)

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7 responses to “Daddy, what do you do at work?

  1. Michael Ray Hopkin

    Saeed, I love it! I get the same questions from my kids and don’t usually give them very good answers. I think the business world is starting to clue in more, but we still have a lot of work to do to explain product management.

    You’re right about making decisions. For some reason it seems most people don’t like making decision; perhaps they don’t want to defend the consequences. To me making decisions is one of the best parts of product management. Perhaps that’s why it attracts like minded people to the profession. -Michael

  2. Michael,

    Thanks for the comment. There’s something about children and their thought processes that can drive to the heart of things faster than any adult can. Now, thanks to him, I know what I truly do at work besides sit in meetings and send a lot of email!

    Saeed

  3. Excellent thought on what you do at work. Making decisions is more than most tend to do. Your job takes courage, for to make decisions is a courageous thing to do. You may want to help your son understand that aspect of what you do.

  4. @tobeme,

    Thanks for the comment. You make a good point about courage and decision making. With the decisions comes the responsibility for the impact of those decisions. I’ll discuss it with him.

    Saeed

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