The best product managers are like intrepid explorers, always summiting mountains to expand their horizons.
Those who are new to mountain climbing or who simply want to get to the next level know that the best way to the top is with guidance from the most experienced climbers.
Similarly, your best chance of success when growing your career in product management is to follow those who are veterans in the field.
That's why we've rounded up six of the best and brightest leaders in the product management industry.
They've got loads of industry knowledge, powerful strategies, and killer insight to share. If you want to make it to the top, be sure to follow these successful product managers along the way.
Who is Julie Zhuo: Former VP of Product Design at Facebook and the author of The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You. In February of 2020, she co-founded the advisory firm Inspirit.work.
The Stanford grad has been featured in Fast Company and Fortune magazine.
What’s more: her current project, The Year of the Looking Glass, is a collection of essays followed by over 50,000 product managers, designers, and folks interested in tech, management, and life.
Why you should follow her: Zhuo publishes essays about important topics such as how to get ahead in your career, how to manage your strengths and weaknesses, and how to be a better manager.
She's all about self-reflection and continual improvement, and she'll help you evaluate your process and improve what you're doing.
She's also a go-to source for information on working with design teams and staying motivated.
Having spent over a decade working for Facebook (she was their first intern way back in 2006), she's the perfect example of a product manager who evolved with a company to create a stable and enduring career path.
Her book goes over her journey in detail while providing advice on how to gain confidence in your role as a product manager and how to take your team to the next level.
Who is Ken Norton: Partner at Google Ventures providing product and engineering support to big names like Uber, Nest, and Slack. He was formerly a Product Manager at Google, where he spearheaded several high-profile projects for Docs, Calendar, and Google Mobile Maps. Prior to that, Norton was VP of Products for JotSpot and a Product Manager at Yahoo Search. He was also one of the first 50 employees at CNET. All those years in the industry make him a household name in the tech and startup world, and he was named one of the Top 40 Influencers in Product Management in 2017.
Why you should follow him: Norton wrote the now-classic essay, How to Hire a Product Manager, which has become the go-to guide on the role of product management. He has also written several other well-known essays about everything from how to hold meetings that don't suck (hint: bring the donuts) to advice for early-career product managers.
He freely shares insight into how to set direction and strategy, how to make cross-organizational products happen, and why all product managers should be focusing on the problem versus the product.
Who is Erin Teague: Head of Product for YouTube's Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), she joined YouTube in 2016 and helped launch their VR app later that year.
Teague received the 2019 BET Her Tech Maven Award and was named one of Silicon Valley's Women of Influence in 2015.
She has also been recognized as one of the “Silicon Valley 100” by Business Insider and one of Silicon Valley's “40 under 40.”
Why you should follow her: Teague is a trailblazer on the cutting edge of the entertainment world.
She has excelled in the small but quickly growing field of VR and AR, creating products that constantly change as new technologies are developed.
Lately, she's focused on marrying the sports arena with the VR and AR world. She helped Major League Baseball debut their broadcasts on the platform, and she continues to work on ways to help people experience live events without leaving their living room.
Teague is also breaking down barriers by sharing empowering messages about working as a black female in a white, male-dominated field.
She's passionate about serving the underprivileged, and she runs a Detroit-based program that helps high-performing students gain the means to succeed.
Who is Dan Olsen: The expert on Lean product management. He wrote the bestselling book, The Lean Product Playbook, and has worked as a consultant and often interim VP of Product at companies including Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon.
He also helped found a TechCrunch award-winning news startup called YourVersion.
Olsen hosts the popular Lean Product & Lean UX Meetup in Silicon Valley, and he frequently speaks at business and tech events around the world.
Why you should follow him: Olsen is the authority on all things Lean.
He created a methodology for achieving product-market fit called the “Lean Product Process,” and he's known for providing specific guidance rather than high-level concepts.
His background in engineering was instrumental in helping him develop and teach a product management framework that actually performs.
Olsen is also an expert on UX design and product marketing.
Who is Teresa Torres: Product Discovery Coach at Product Talk who works with companies like CarMax and Spotify to help connect their research activities with product decisions.
She was previously VP of Products at AfterCollege, a startup that helps college students get their first job, and CEO of Affinity Circles, a social recruiting service used by Fortune 500 companies.
She has written for Inc.com and given talks at numerous conferences, including Mind the Product.
Why you should follow her: Torres is all about turning research into action.
She helps product managers create better product development practices through the integration of research, experimentation, and analytics.
She provides actionable ideas and detailed advice on things like customer interviews and user discovery.
With an ever-evolving market, continuous research and discovery are essential for any product manager.
Who is Ellen Chisa: The CEO and Co-founder of Dark, a programming language and infrastructure that makes coding 100 times easier.
She formerly worked as a Product Manager for heavy hitters like Kickstarter and Microsoft, and she was named one of the “65 Women Setting Precedents in Product Management” by Drift. She's been published in Business Insider, Forbes, and First Round Review.
She also wrote a book, Essays on Product Management, which includes essays written over five years of her product management career.
Why you should follow her: Chisa is extremely well-read (she read 124 books in 2017 and 158 in 2018), and she's worked with a broad range of companies as a product manager, startup advisor, and investor.
She distills all that experience and knowledge into easy-to-digest articles on her website — head there for topics including the basics of product management and more advanced subjects such as product style versus substance and how to balance vision and management.
She also covers productivity techniques, what it's like to be a founder, and gender issues within the product management world.
Chisa is a pioneer when it comes to building products that help create a better place for us all to live in.
As such, she's a contributor to the World Economic Forum, an international organization that focuses on improving the state of the world.
If you want to make it to the top, follow these six industry leaders and heed their advice to up-and-coming product managers.
With insight into everything from customer research and roadmapping to Lean strategies and how to be a better manager, this group has you covered.
And if you’re looking for more inspiring PM content, check out our essential reading list for product managers.