For Product Managers at Postlight, every day looks a little different. But there are themes that emerge: switching back and forth between deep strategic work and execution, focusing on keeping the team and the client aligned, and a willingness to stay flexible. Take a look at a day in the life of three Postlight Product Managers, and if you see yourself on our team — we’re hiring!
Peter Croce, Lead Product Manager
One current project with a few distinct products.
When I log on, I always start by checking my messages and reviewing the day ahead. I check email and Slack, respond to a few messages, check my to-do list, and review my calendar.
Review a new feature
Postlight’s incredibly talented Lebanon team works seven hours ahead of Eastern Time, and I notice one of them pushed up a new feature to the product development environment while I was asleep. I review the feature, take a look at it across a few browsers, and either make a ticket in our project management tool for any bugs or note that the feature is ready to move to staging or production.
The team and I prefer video calls for standup meetings three times a week. This meeting is always lively — often one engineer has a question for another, which leads to a useful insight for the whole team, or a designer has an idea to share via a design for a feature that would improve the product overall. After updates, these questions and ideas lead to good discussions with next steps to put our thoughts into action.
On Mondays, the three designers on the project and I check in to review designs and align on next priorities. This time, two of the designers each have a new design to show. They present their designs and we all give feedback. We discuss what they will be designing next and talk through the goals we’re trying to achieve in those designs.
With a large team working remotely, I’ve found it useful to host virtual office hours via a video link that anyone on the team can join twice a week. If no one shows up, I use the time to do deep work like planning, reviewing user research, reviewing the products, writing documentation, or writing longer emails. If someone pops in, it’s a great time to catch up, answer any questions, or hear any concerns.
Client team check-in
At Postlight, we integrate pretty closely with many clients, and on this project I am acting as a sort of in-house product arm for the organization. My team members and I have a few meetings per week with different parts of the client organization, like the executive team, science team (it’s a scientific project), and security team.
We use the time differently depending on what is going on at the time, but it could range from reviews of ongoing or finished work, discussions on priorities or changes to business needs, a brainstorm about how to best support a new strategic partnership, or just an ad hoc catch up.
One-on-one with direct report
Each of my direct reports and I meet once a week to discuss how their project is going, talk through any challenges, and talk about goals and opportunities for longer-term growth and development. Today we’re working through an upcoming presentation to prepare together. It’s fun to work with so many talented people — I learn a lot from each of my direct reports as much as I hope they learn from me.
Postlight is hiring product managers! And I’m interviewing a lot. In the first round of the interview process, one other Lead Product Manager and I interview a candidate. We follow a standardized interview designed to mirror our Growth Framework for Product Managers, which also helps reduce bias in our hiring process. The other Lead Product Manager and I take turns asking questions and taking notes. We leave time at the end for the candidate to ask us questions.
After the interview, we each put our notes and decision into our recruiting software tool before debriefing with each other to ensure we aren’t biasing the other’s opinions. If we agree, we move on to the next step in the process by either advancing the candidate or sending a rejection email. If we disagree, we discuss our takeaways with our peers at our weekly recruiting meeting to make a decision.
End of day wrap-up
At the end of the day, I finish by reviewing my list of to-dos for the next day and make sure I’ve answered any pending messages. Since the team in Lebanon will start their day before mine begins, I often send a message in Slack with an update for them to wake up to when they start their day.
Ruiyan Xu, Lead Product Manager
Two current projects: one in the discovery phase, one in the maintenance phase.
Overnight, a client reached out to me about a bug in our software. I successfully replicate the bug, write up a ticket, and alert an engineer via Slack. The bug isn’t critical, but it is high impact, so John Holdun, Lead Engineer, gets started on fixing it and resolves it in 45 minutes. Postlight’s engineers are quick and accurate, and I always feel lucky to work with them. I close the loop with the client.
Most of our internal — and much of our external — project communication happens in Slack, and so does a lot of culture-building for the entire Postlight team. I look at all my project channels to see updates from teammates as well as Slack automations for error reports, Github updates, and more. Everything looks good. I contribute to the daily standup thread for one of my projects, and chime in on some of my favorite non-project Postlight channels (#random, #nyc, and #caregivers, where I get to see my colleagues’ cute kids).
PM to PM one-on-one
I have monthly one-on-ones with other Postlight PMs, and these are some of my favorite meetings. Being able to connect with other PMs for support, advice, and occasional venting is vital. Today’s meeting was great — I’m getting to know my colleague on a more personal level, and he’s introducing a new tool into my repertoire. Our talk gives me a little burst of energy as I dive into the rest of my day.
Discovery workshop with client and post-meeting recap
My design colleague leads a discovery workshop with a large group of stakeholders. Today, we’re gathering input for a new product feature across several of our client’s teams with disparate needs.
My colleague is prepared, calm, and makes everyone feel like they’re being heard. I’m happy to sit back and take notes. We gain lots of useful information, and after the meeting, the designer and I hop on a quick recap call. Discovery meetings are all about listening to clients, and then in the post-meet touchpoint, we synthesize, start brainstorming, and talk through our own product thinking. For me, these conversations often lead to lightbulb moments about the product.
Deep work on tickets, backlog, and roadmap
I had purposefully blocked out a few hours to focus on our maintenance project, a sprawling software platform that continues to grow and evolve. We use a number of different tools to organize tickets, backlog, and roadmap (GitHub, Clubhouse.io, JIRA, Google Sheets). I know I need total focus, so I turn off Slack notifications, put on my headphones, and dive in.
I start with prioritizing individual tickets, then sort them into related buckets of work and begin plotting out high-level milestones on the roadmap. At the end of my session, I’ve gotten a much better handle on the engineering tickets for the short term, what should be prioritized in the medium term, and potential features on our roadmap that I want to discuss with our client.
Eli Stein, Product Manager
One project with two tracks of work: one about to begin, and one in the middle of audits.
Morning review, lay out priorities for the day
At the beginning of each day, I’ll take stock of Slack messages, emails, and upcoming meetings. I’ll list out the tasks (I prefer an old-school notebook) and prioritize what I need to do and in what order. With a good sense of how I’m approaching my day, I’ll join our team standup.
With our team members tackling very different problems at the moment, it’s great to have time for everyone to come together and share what they’re working on. My team likes to start our day with either a standup meeting or a bot that pings everyone to check in. This allows me to stay up to date with what everyone is working on, spot potential blockers, and check on how everyone is feeling about the work.
Discovery meeting with client
Both of the projects that I’m leading are in the very early stages, so we’re still learning a lot from the client. We have tons of discovery meetings with stakeholders on the client side who have all been incredibly generous with their time. They’re also very open about the challenges they face so we can work together to tackle them. Spending time asking questions of the client and their business challenges helps us formulate the best and most targeted strategic solutions as well as developing relationships, and ultimately, trust.
The PM team is a near 50/50 split between NYC and our hybrid remote model. I’ve lined up my days in the office with my teammates and (let’s be honest) when there are catered lunches! On the days they’re not catered, we’ll occasionally venture out to one of the million places in Union Square.
At Postlight, we integrate with the client’s team to make the build seamless. There will be times we’re working on tasks separate from the client’s team, so we share our work in progress to get validation and build buy-in along the way. We have several status meetings set up with the client’s team throughout the week, and as the PM, I make sure everyone gets a chance to present.
Postlight work review
Our product management teammates are a huge resource for one another. We’ve set up traditions called Show Your Work where people make quick videos showing off a project they’ve been working on, Demos where teams present on what problems they’ve been tackling and what solutions they’ve arrived at, and Lightning Talks where team members from different departments present on a variety of topics.
Internal work review
As the day wraps up, I’ll look into different documents that our team is collaborating on to see where every piece of the project stands and what blockers could lie ahead.
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