Today is “Cyber Monday” and no doubt you are wondering what type of elaborate Christmas present you should buy your favorite product manager. Keeping in mind, of course, that you better give a WICKED AWESOME present, given that product managers never get awards and hardly ever get thanks. You need to make up for years of wrongs here. Fortunately for you, the Cranky Product Manager has a few suggestions.
Behold her list of gizmos that make her product management life a bit more bearable – things that the Cranky Product Manager honestly uses almost every single day and swears by. And yes, they are nearly all gizmos. Because she is a geek at heart. Most support the business travel lifestyle that PMs take part in 25-50% of the time.
First, a BlackBerry. The Cranky Product Manager likes the BlackBerry Curve the best, but will admit the Storm looks cool. Why BlackBerry? Because it is so much easier than a laptop at dealing with the onslaught of >200 daily emails that come in at all hours of the night and day from all corners of the world. When her Cranky Kid wakes up screaming “MOMMMMYYYYYYY” at 3 am, she goes help him find his stuffed monkey, and then handles about 10 emails. Awesome-ness. Oh, while the Cranky Product Manager loves her BlackBerry (she’s been loyal for many years), she knows some PMs prefer the iPhone – also an excellent Christmas gift.
Next, the Cranky Product Manager recommends this handy little MP3 voice recorder (with a built-in USB stick) and its companion telephone microphone and case. The CPM uses it to record all interviews with customers (with their consent) – both in-person and over the phone. The telephone microphone fits in your ear, and then you hold your phone to that ear. Anyway, this gizmo is the secret of the Cranky PM’s credibility with Development. They think she has a photographic memory because she is able to recall all manner of obscure detail about customer problems and use cases. Not so – the CPM just listens to these recordings over and over during her commute. She’s got those customer issues memorized.
Another excellent present for your product manager is a telephone headset for his home phone. More than likely, he has many late night conference calls to Asia, early morning calls to Europe, or both. A headset would greatly improve his mood as he takes these calls in his pajamas and prevent neck pain.
Want to improve your PM’s mood even MORE during the above-mentioned early-morning and wicked late conference calls? Get her a decent espresso machine. Because the Cranky Product Manager has a kid and no time for that elaborate espresso ritual – grinding beans, packing grounds, steaming milk, cleaning the damn machine, etc. – she recommends a Nespresso machine that uses espresso pods. Push one button and out pops a very good cup of espresso in about 30 seconds. If the Cranky Product Manager wants a latte, she presses one button on the silver frother thingie to get perfectly foamy milk.
OK, PM-LADIES-IN-DA-HOUSE, listen up. You need this rolling laptop bag. Someone should buy you one for the Holidays. The Cranky Product Manager loves this bag so much she writes it creepy fan mail and draws “CPM+Sassy Laptop Bag” in tiny hearts on her book covers. Why? Because 1) It comes it colors besides black (green! red! orange! pink! tan! blue!), 2) It’s roomy – it can hold TWO laptops, a mess of power adaptors plus papers, 3) It’s wicked durable – the Cranky Product Manager has beat up on this bag for years now, and 4) It fits under an airplane seat.
Next – an iGo Everywhere power adaptor, with the combo wall/airplane/car charger and tips that can charge your laptops, phone, iPod, etc… Lightens the load and has a nice long extension cord.
A BlackBerry keyboard. Help your favorite PM get some real work done like editing documents -while stuck waiting on the airport tarmac.
Also recommended is a roll-aboard suitcase that can deal with the abuse of traveling 5-6 days a month for years on end. Alas, the Cranky Product Manager cannot recommend such a suitcase at this time. Her case with the 10 year warranty gave it up after just 3 years.
Now go and make your favorite Product Manager’s Christmas a good one. Just remember to include gift receipts in case you end up giving the real-life Cranky Product Manager something she already has.
Oh, OK. The Cranky Product Manager knows you have no intention of buying an elaborate gift for your product manager. Oh well. She had to try. She does ask one thing, though. Give your PM a nice card thanking him/her for all the hard work. Product Management is so often thankless and unappreciated – it means a lot to us when others notice how hard we work and how passionate we are about our products.
Have any other recommendations of good presents for Product Managers? Leave them in the comments. (No spam, please.)