2020 my retrospective

It's been a terrible year for many. For me, it was isolating and introspective. I met 30+ folks and we exchanged perspectives on product and PM career. We adopted cats. My reading list & more.

tl;dr - personal retrospective, thoughts on 1st cohort of feedback sessions, things I read and found useful.

What a year!

2020 - a year that will live in infamy for generations. In the US, everything that could go wrong, did. I was one of the fortunate ones who still had a job that paid well (#) and nothing really worsened in my life outside of social parts.

Prateeksha and I adopted Chikki and Oreo - two kittens from two different neighborhood stray litters. They’ve brought emotional highs and lows in an otherwise lonely and isolated existence.

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and meeting 30+ participants as part of the first cohort of my open feedback sessions. Some thoughts and analysis on that later.

A surprising side-effect of “no commute” meant that I got some additional reading time. Starting in March, I stopped listening to podcasts, but have started to find time for it recently. In line with the industry.

Things are looking up though. A few vaccines are showing promise. Winter will be spent hunkered down, but I’m hoping that by Summer, we can get our act together as a global society and survive this pandemic.

Feedback session - Cohort 1

In 2019, I joined the Gmail team as PM responsible for attention management. After ramping up quickly and driving the vision for a team of 30+ folks, I realized that I was only able to do that because of years of idea sharing, failing, and coaching from others. I decided, earlier in the year, to dedicate time to giving back to the PM community, but COVID presented a unique geographic and mobility challenge.

This was an amazing opportunity to leverage video. In addition to it becoming widely accepted, it also opens up sessions to multiple countries. I wrote up a passionate pitch, set up a Calendly page (highly recommended for automating appointments if you don’t have an enterprise Google calendar account), and announced it to my social circle.


# sign ups = 33 | # who attended = 30 | Gender split = 4:6 (women to men)

Participation by country = India (60%), USA (~20%), Canada, UK, Singapore and Australia make up the rest.

Post-session feedback results

  • Completion rate: 43%

  • CSAT: 4.4 / 5 - I’m not sure how to make sense of this? Happy that most found it useful. I’ll also eat at a restaurant with 4.4 stars :)

  • NPS: 74 - proud of the number, but not the # of actual referrals I got :( You can start by sharing this newsletter with anyone you think might benefit from it.

I met some amazing entrepreneurs, aspiring and, early career PMs. I actively engaged with 3 startups and I was looking at 2 new ones. Thanks to all the attendees for participating and sharing your ideas and ambitions with me. I’m going to give this a rest, introspect a bit more and set up a second cohort when I have some more time. If you’d like to meet with me for any reason, please write to itsmeritesh+feedback@gmail.com.

I’ll do a separate post on the learnings from the feedback sessions and patterns I noticed there.

What I’m reading

A recurring theme these last two quarters were about the role of regulation in tech. Few of the major trends included the China app ban, TikToK acquisition by Oracle, Apple’s App store rent-seeking suit among others. There were some really great pieces written about these topics. Here are some that I found useful.

Interview with Daniel Ek - The Observer Effect. “Daniel does things very differently from other business leaders and was generous to go deep with us on his leadership style, time management, decision making, Spotify's impact on the world and much, much more

Podcast recommendation

“A woman’s work is never done” - Today, Explained by Vox. I’m a big fan of Vox media and the content they produce. This is an amazing podcast detailing the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on women. It explores Childcare and the politics behind it.

Books I’m reading/read

Some fun Twitter threads with lots of links and information