Micro-Interview: Nikolay Jordanov, Co-Founder & Product Manager

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Nikolay Jordanov is a PM at Musketari.bg – a real estate credit consultancy.

After spending some time abroad (in the UK), he jumped at the opportunity to create something new in Bulgaria.

In under 500 words, Niki shares: 

  • How he starts his mornings…
  • How to manage senior stakeholders…
  • What he learned from some of his biggest product failures…

And more…  

Enjoy!


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“How did you get into product management?”

I started out as a developer but I realized I much prefer solving human problems. I spent 12+ years in а consultancy in the UK, where I naturally took every opportunity to take on business-facing roles. I was already supporting clients’ Product Owners when the opportunity to co-found Gaida came along, so I naturally assumed the PM role.

“How do you start your mornings at work?”

I go to the gym before work – I find it really clears my head and energizes me for the day. I don’t do To Do lists – they only dilute my attention – so I focus on the top 1-3 things I need to solve. I feel amazing when I’ve cracked a crucial problem even if I am behind on a mountain of workload and conversely, I feel terrible if I’ve plowed through a ton of things but am left too drained to tackle the important task. So I make sure my priorities are straight.

“What do you know about product management now that you wish you’d known when you first started?”

There are many, many things. The key ones are:

●     Your users are not You. Don’t launch a new functionality without testing it with at least 10-20 of your users. This is usually enough to notice patterns and see if it works or if more refinement is needed.

●     Users are the worst to listen to for solutions but the best to explain their problems. So understand their problems and use your expert team to come up with the right solutions (to then test with them).

●     The job is disproportionately about managing people. You have no direct authority, so influencing is key. Involve your stakeholders early on if you want to have allies instead of enemies.

●     Data is your best weapon against HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion).

“What did your biggest product failure teach you?”

●     It doesn’t matter how amazing your product is if no one is willing to pay (enough) for it. Prove your product-market fit before investing in a full-scale build or even an MVP.

●     Pet or “cool” features are pointless even wasteful if they don’t move the business needle. Solve first the key problems that people are willing to pay for – play with “delighters” (Kano model) later

●     If you have toxic team members, and it’s obvious it can’t be resolved, don’t stick it out and hope for the best. Be a surgeon and remove either them or yourself.

“What’s the #1 thing that has helped you shorten your product management learning curve?”

Instead of reading all I can, I find that it’s much better to read what I need for the stage I’m at – so I can apply it and answer immediately the questions that inevitably arise.

“How do you stay updated on the best practices in product management?”

By following communities like this one 😊 My other favorites are Marty Cagan’s and Mind the Product’s newsletters and Melissa Perri’s podcast.