Upskilling as a PM Outside of Your Day Job

I’m still working out what it means to be good at your job, but we can probably all agree that there’s a strong correlation between people who are good at their job and people who are constantly honing skills related to their job.

If that’s the case though, how does a PM hone their skills? The PM skillset is often so broad it’s hard to pin down any one thing to focus on that will make a tangible difference—you need to understand certain technical concepts, sure, but you also need to communicate well, learn what your customers are truly interested in, form opinions on what’s most important for your product, etc.

Software engineers and data scientists are lucky in that their day jobs rely on skills that they can hone outside of the 9-5. For SWEs, opportunities for side projects/open source projects abound. Data scientists can learn new methodologies, go deeper into statistical theories, heck, they can do Kaggle competitions. But what are parallels for a PM job?

Although there isn’t a straightforward answer, I’d say the best answer is starting a software business. What’s a better way to develop customer empathy, ruthlessly prioritize features, and develop a product vision than boostratpping a software company? I see a number of benefits:

What do you think? Is there a better way for PMs to upskill?