Max Antonov - product management & leadership
Head of Product @ Backpocket and a Product Coach. I write about product management and random topics that are on my mind. You can find me on Twitter, Substack, LinkedIn or Goodreads

Jun 14, 2024

The CEO Code, The Unit of Impact, Lighthouse Customers, Strategy & Operations and Strategy Narrative

Key Takeaways #2 #1 The CEO CodeGoing through my notes from various books, I found this one from "The CEO Code" particularly interesting because it highlights the importance of accessibility and personal connection in leadership. However, there’s an aspect that I don’t like. It implies people stayed in the office late instead of spending time wi...

Jun 13, 2024

Product-Led Growth vs. Sales-Led Growth

I spoke to someone about sales-led vs. product-led organisations today. I used to be in the product-led camp, but not anymore. Today, I think differently. As with anything in the world, it's not that simple — the choice depends on the context. Sometimes you need to be tactical and assist sales in closing deals to 'buy some time' for continuing ex...

May 6, 2024

The Effective Manager, How to Pivot, Thick Skin, Team Alignment and Ship First

Key Takeaways #1 #1 The Effective ManagerTake care of your team, set goals, and help them achieve those goals. The definition of an effective manager is one who gets results and keeps their people. Your first responsibility is to deliver whatever results your organisation expects from you. Your second responsibility as a manager is to retain your ...

Apr 29, 2024

10 Insights from "Lessons Learned from 1,000+ YC Startups with Dalton Caldwell"

I recently listened to Lenny's podcast, where he spoke to Dalton Caldwell, Managing Director at Y Combinator, and discovered a few interesting insights. Here are 10 of them: #1 AirbnbTo succeed in a startup keep going, try new things and believe in your idea. Airbnb faced multiple challenges and setbacks before achieving success, including the po...

Jan 10, 2024

Commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in

"Commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in" -- Patrick Lencioni, The five dysfunctions of a team Clarity in either a project or an organisation ensures that the involved parties understand the goals, expectations, and roles given to them. All of these translate into apparent communication, well-defined objectives, and a shared vi...

Jan 8, 2024

Forces That Block Change

We will always be more comfortable with what already exists, even if it's 💩. Typically, we are not actively looking for better ways to solve problems we face. And this could be due to a number of reasons. Sometimes, we don’t even realise how bad or time-consuming the experience is because we are so used to it. It’s just the way it is, and we beco...

Jan 7, 2024

Go Bold

If you're putting a lot of effort into creating a new product or feature to solve a customer problem, ensure you have the bold solution under your sleeve too. Even on paper (or in Figma), bold ideas push boundaries and inspire creative thinking in your team. We sometimes find ourselves dropping to the status quo. We forget to challenge ourselves a...

Jan 5, 2024

Stop sharing solutions with your team

One of the many mistakes I made when I started my product management career was thinking that if I shared a customer problem with the team, I must also present a ready-made solution. This notion stems from managing up. You don’t go to the leadership team with a problem without providing options to solve it and a recommendation. However, this doe...

Sep 15, 2023

The Power of "Stupid" Ideas

Have you ever found yourself hesitating to share an idea, one so weird or seemingly absurd that you questioned its merit? I've made a conscious decision to share even my wildest and seemingly "stupid" ideas with my team. Because hidden beneath these unusual thoughts, there's a chance for something really amazing. During brainstorming, we are oft...

Aug 13, 2023

Company Values

It’s been 18 months since we set our values, and they are still relevant and capture our team culture really well. It’s a good sign. Here are our four values: ADAPTABILITY, TRANSPERANCY, OWNERSHIP, and EMPATHY. We still use the language in our day-to-day conversations, and it helps us gain focus and direction in moments of ambiguity. Values Adapti...

Jul 17, 2023

"How We Roll" Team Activity

Looking for a team-building activity that's both enjoyable and beneficial for fostering better connections and understanding among your team? Well, let me share with you an activity called "How We Roll" that originally came from the book "Team Up" by Keegan Luiters. Then I made a couple of tweaks to the template and the activity to make it even mor...

Jul 9, 2023

The Future of Product Managers

The news of product managers being removed from teams at companies like Dovetail and Airbnb has generated intrigue and speculation about the future of this role. Some argue that successful products can be developed without product managers. However, whether to include or exclude product managers depends on various factors, including company cultur...

Jul 3, 2023

A Start-Up Morning Routine

Working from home has become increasingly common, especially in the era of small, remote-first start-ups. But remote work can be hard! Particularly when it comes to fostering team cohesion and maintaining a sense of connection. Here at Backpocket, we have 3 team members who work remotely on a full-time basis and our morning routine helps us bu...

Apr 24, 2023

Ambiguity & Decision Making

Navigating ambiguity can be one of the toughest parts of making product decisions. The sense of ambiguity is often more intense in startups, where there is a new problem space or niche to explore, no users or customers, no strategy in place, and fewer people on the team to speak with. If you are a product person in a startup, you are probably on ...

Apr 16, 2023

Agile vs Strategy

The word "agile" is now everywhere in the business world these days. It's been overused. It's almost lost its meaning. It might even trigger you. Somehow, the idea of being "agile" has become synonymous with constantly changing one's mind. The issue is that the concept of agility is frequently used to disguise the lack of product strategy. Inste...

Apr 15, 2023

The Purpose of a Strategy

I had to read a 30-page Product Strategy document when I just started working as a product manager for the first time. I couldn't understand it. I was lost. I felt like I was punching above my weight. Only later in my PM career did I realise that wasn't my fault. The document itself was the problem. It lacked a clear vision, a logical structure, ...

Apr 15, 2023

No-Reply Emails

Have you ever received an email from a service or business that you wanted to reply to because you had a burning question? But then discovered it came from a "no-reply" address? Did a mixture of "Argh!" and "F*ck!" escape your lips? And the idea of going to their website, finding the "Contact Us" section, and filling out a form felt like yet...

Mar 9, 2023

SCQA Framework

The SCQA (Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer) framework, also known as the Minto Pyramid Principle, is a structured approach to communication and problem-solving that involves breaking down complex ideas into simpler, more manageable parts. Understanding the SCQA FrameworkThe SCQA format has four components: ComponentDescriptionSitu...

Mar 7, 2023

Product Strategy Canvas Notion Template

Are you having trouble defining and communicating your product strategy? The Product Strategy Canvas Notion Template is just what you need to get started. Inspired by Melissa Perri's article "What is Good Product Strategy?", the Product Strategy Canvas Notion Template is designed to help you plan and visualise your product strategy in a way that'...

Feb 5, 2023

What Makes a Good Product Manager?

Product management is a challenging position that calls for a broad skill set and familiarity with several aspects of business. Being a good product manager requires more than just having a specific set of technical skills. You also need to have some personality traits and soft skills that can make a huge difference in a product's success. Learn ...

Nov 20, 2022

The 3 Leadership Books Every Product Manager Should Read

Being a product manager presents a difficult task since you don't have any subordinates. Achieving success means finding methods to persuade and guide individuals without the power of the organisation backing you up. To steer both the product and the team, you'll need to express the vision, strategy, and product roadmap. Listening to others, cul...

Sep 12, 2022

Product Management Coach

Hey there! 👋 I'm Max, a product leader with over a decade of product management experience. Whether you're new to the game, a seasoned PM, or somewhere in between, are you aiming for the top as Head of Product? Let's work together to unpack product management, improve your skills, and move up in your career. Whether you're starting fresh or aimin...

Jun 16, 2022

Product Development Roles and Responsibilities

The efficiency of a product relies heavily on the team behind its development. Familiarising oneself with the diverse roles and obligations that accompany the product development procedure is crucial to ensuring the eventual product meets the consumer's expectations while also adhering to the schedule and financial constraints. Let's take a look at...

Aug 29, 2021

"The Mom Test" - Book Summary

Just finished reading a book by Rob Fitzpatrick "The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you". It's an excellent book - short, practical and to the point. This book can be very helpful for Product Managers, User Experience Designers, someone who is planning to launch thei...

May 3, 2021

Changes at Basecamp

Basecamp went big this week! There's a lot of hate and negative vibes around the recent Basecamp's corporate policy changes. See the announcement “No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account”. People were quick to accuse DHH and Jason Fried of eliminating freedom of speech. I'd like to share ...

Apr 29, 2021

Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) in Purpose Statements

While scrolling through a number of lists outlining the ‘purpose’, ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ of organisations, I spotted a pattern – some of them reference all three types of jobs from the "Jobs To Be Done" (JTBD) framework: Functional, Consumption and Emotional/Social jobs. Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is a powerful framework for developing products and u...

Nov 16, 2020

Product Management FAQs

Have a question about product management but couldn't find an answer here? Send your question to [email protected] Updated on 12 March 2023 What do Product Managers do? Product managers decide what to build next. They are accountable for the overall success of the product. Product Managers drive the vision, product strategy, user experience...

Aug 9, 2020

Tips for Aspiring Product Managers

Why become a Product Manager? As a Product Manager, you are given the opportunity to solve customer and business problems. It all starts with learning about business goals and understanding how the business operates. Simultaneously, you study the market and discover challenges that your customers are dealing with. Based o...

Jul 29, 2020

How to Get Into Product Management With no Experience

Getting into product management with no experience may seem daunting, but you can achieve your goal by breaking it down into smaller steps. Start by taking on a pet project, reading business books, getting a job at a tech company, and acting like a product manager. Keep building your skills, and you will soon be on your way to a career in product...

Jul 25, 2020

Reflections on “Atomic Habits” by James Clear

Earlier this year, I finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. I'd like to share key insights that have helped me form a couple of good habits. Here is my reflection on Atomic Habits. What is Atomic Habits About?James Clear gets to the point of what it takes to build healthy long-lasting habits. One of the ideas he puts forward is the power ...

Jun 24, 2020

How THE ICONIC continuously improves customer experience

At THE ICONIC we are passionate about creating great customer experiences. It’s quite common for us to evolve our rituals and processes to support our customers’ needs. Coupled with this, whenever we see an opportunity to break barriers between teams and departments, we grab it and work in tandem towards the same goal. Breaking BarriersEven after ...

Feb 4, 2020

Product Management Career Path

Are you interested in pursuing a career in product management? Product management is a dynamic and exciting field that offers a range of opportunities for professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience. To help you get started, I've created the ultimate product management career roadmap. This roadmap provides an overview of the...

Apr 5, 2017

The benefit of a small product team

In an organisation, when a decision to create a new product is made, there is a high chance that one of the existing teams will be allocated to the task right away. Management expectation is always high, and it’s usually assumed that the team can shift gears immediately and become productive in a matter of days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work th...

Mar 14, 2017

Running Lean: Forget the business problem...for now

Often in companies of different sizes, the product team is either forced, or voluntarily switches, to ‘solution mode’ hoping to solve a business challenge. A much better way forward is to fully understand the customer problem. You might get lucky and guess the right customer problem to solve based on your experience, insights and gut feeli...

Mar 14, 2017

Creating Successful Products in a Corporation

How do you go about improving your chances of creating a successful product in a corporation? Have you ever tried to create a new digital product in a large corporation? You have? Well then, you know it’s damn hard! And if you haven’t…it’s damn hard! In a modern corporate environment, it is a huge challenge to build a digital prod...

Jun 27, 2016

Five ways to improve your team’s dynamics

Doesn’t it feel great when on top of solid job performance your team is buzzing, joking and having a good time? Yes, it does without a doubt! Daniel Pink, in his book, Drive, lists 3 elements of the motivation formula: (1) Autonomy — the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matte...

Mar 1, 2016

The First 2 Weeks in a Product Role

Starting a new job is often thrilling and overwhelming. Like a rollercoaster ride, I get pumped up and excited to get on but also my heart starts pounding and palms get sweaty. Do you get the same feeling? I like all the new opportunities that come with a new job such as learning extra skills, apply...

Dec 21, 2015

How to encourage collaboration?

When a product leader decides to forge a new feature or even build a new product it’s a good idea to brief the team and draw a couple of diagrams on a whiteboard. What does your team do next though? I bet the chances are the devs have already started thinking about technical implementation, the designers are creating UI elements in their h...

Jan 10, 2015

Four Ways to Develop a Good Reading Habit

I’ve never read more than 15–20 books in a year. One of the excuses I had was that I’m a very busy person — with 2 children, a full-time job, a local soccer team I play for, plus a million other things to do. Last year, I set a goal to read 36 books. My objective was to learn more about leadership, business, product management and, of cour...