• My experience switching to a PM role at Google


    • I am a fairly new PM at YouTube. I work on its Premium subscription business. The scope of the role is both internal and external focused.
    • What is the product : YouTube Music and Premium is a subscription based service (typically monthly recurring subscriptions) which gives users ads free, backgrounding , downloads and some other features on the YouTube Apps.
    • Whats my job :
      • User facing : My job is to drive awareness, adoption and engagement with features other than just ads-free.
      • Internal role : I build reliable, scalable and useful data infrastructure that can be used for decision making. For example, building robust data sets that can be used for business metric reporting, for building product insights visuals, for ML models etc.
    • Although I’m new to PMing, I’m not new to Google. I’ve been at Google for 8+ years and at YouTube for 4ish.

    How/why/when did I decide to switch to PM

    I’ll be sharing another post with my journey so far. But the short version is that I had this realization while helping out my PM on YouTube. The PM team was short staffed at the time.

    I had the creative, analytical and technical skills to share the PM’s load. And so I did. And boy I loved every minute of it. I had found the sweet spot ; a perfect role where all the things Im passionate about co-existed.

    After a few months of helping, I spoke to the PM manager to see if I could do a rotation (where you work with the team part time and get experience on paper). The manager one upped me and just asked me to start preparing for the interviews. They believed I could crack it and if not they were happy to let me to do a rotation as fall back option.

    I made the switch after 4 weeks of prep and it was the best thing that happened to me.

    Thoughts so far

    • Loving every minute of it!
    • PM skills = life skills
      • Empathy ✅
      • Prioritization ✅
      • Tradeoffs ✅
      • Effective communication ✅
      • Negotiation ✅
      • Critical thinking ✅
      • Time Management ✅
      • Risk Management ✅
    • Lots and lots of meetings – get used to it (at least at Google)

    Since making the switch, I’ve been helping other aspiring PMs figure out a path to PMing.

    If you are one of those people, then here are some tips and resources on how to prepare. If you need help, please reach out to me on Linkedin.

    How to prepare

    First of all, there is a ton of work and luck involved in the process. This is a highly coveted role (that has been my perception at least). Fortunately, there is a huge repository of resources to help you out – books, podcasts, videos, articles – you name it.

    Secondly, don’t doubt yourself – you can do it! I’ll share all the resources I found helpful and hopefully those resources will in turn lead you to more resources. Pick and choose what works for you.

    Thirdly, I was already at Google when I made the switch. If you are an external hire and/or are looking to become a PM at another company, I’d encourage you to get in touch with someone with the relevant experience.

    Here goes :

    1. Understand what you’re being tested on : There are standard questions that test well understood attributes e.g. questions will test your product strategy, product design, technical expertise, analytical etc. The recruiter will help you here.
    2. Develop a framework to answer each question : Please don’t overdo this!! Its enough to have some loose frameworks such as “whats the problem –> who is experiencing this problem –> why are they experiencing this problem –> what’s the solution”. Interviewers can tell if you have memorized the framework, so don’t fall into that trap. Keep the answer simple and the framework organic.
    3. Build user empathy : Always place the user first when answering any question. If you are asked to design an alternative to a walking stick for the blind, take a minute to imagine what it might be like to be that person. It’s not easy but try. Make sure you build and show user empathy.
    4. Practice creative aka 10x thinking : This is another highly valued attribute at Google. Google is looking for outlandish as well as practical ideas. Read the futuristic reddit threads, watch videos on YouTube, draw ideas from science fiction – anything goes. Try and incorporate them in your answer. Even if an idea is ridiculous you can always simmer it down as you work on picking the right solution with the interviewer. Just try to insert some of this 10x thinking in your answers.
    5. Treat your interviewer like your teammate : When answering the question, think through how you would work on a solution with a teammate :
      • tell them “Here is how i am thinking of approaching the problem – what do you think?”
      • “here are the different types of users who we could design for. Im thinking let’s design for user A and here is why. What do you think?”
      • You don’t have to ask this after every question but its important to bring the interviewer along on your thought process.
      • Don’t overdo it to the extent of asking your interviewer to make a decision for you. You are the one being interviewed – so show your decision making skills. But keep checking in with the interviewer to make sure they are following along.
    6. Look for cues to get back on track : Your interviewer may try to steer you in a certain direction if you are going off rails. Take that cue if it seems reasonable. This will have to be a judgement call. Maybe the interviewer is just trying to pressure test your idea. Whatever the case may be, any push back from the interviewer is an opportunity to re-assess. Whenever that happens take a moment to think and don’t think of it as a personal attack.
    7. Repeat, repeat, repeat : The answer may be very clear in your head but make sure its clear for your interviewer too. Periodically take a few seconds to recap where you are in the answer so far.
      • you could say something like “so this is the problem we are solving, this is the user base, we thought of 10 ideas and now im going to narrow it down to 2 ideas that I want to execute – how does that sound”
      • Just make sure your interviewer knows exactly where you are in the answer and how you landed there. This is critical when giving remote interviews
    8. Wrap your answer in a blanket of data: If time permits make sure to close out your answer with an overview of how you will measure success. Design a few metrics if you have the time OR tell the interviewer that if you had the time you would have come up with metrics.
    9. Tradeoffs : When answering questions there will be a point where you have to consider tradeoffs between various solutions. For example, should you spend time upfront and automate a solution or should you just start scrappy, test the solution and automate later. You should make that call but tell the interviewer that these are the tradeoffs if you go with Option A vs Option B
    10. Practice clarity of communication : How effectively you communicate your idea is as (or maybe more) important than the quality of the idea. Get lots of practice – do mocks, video record yourself, practice in front of a mirror. There’s no right answer. Do what helps you improve.


    I learn best from textbooks so I’m including them here. But choose your own adventure if books are not your preferred learning medium

    Parting words

    Technical interviews at Google is something I get a lot of questions on. If you study the System Design book and watch the videos I shared above you should get 90% of the way there. In addition to that, you can always practice pseudocode – you don’t need to know the syntax of a programming language to do well in the technical interview.

    And of course reach out on LinkedIn if you want to chat.

  • Why AARRR.ME?

    1. It has my initials and describes what I do here
      • Stands for Aishwarya Agarwal Reads, Reflects and Remixes
      • This is the place where I share what I’ve learned and reflected on. I remix those learnings with my own experience and publish it. I hope you benefit from it and/or share your experience so that I may learn from you too.
    2. It captures my core job i.e. Product Management
      • AARRR Pirate Metrics framework is an acronym for a set of five user-behavior metrics that product-led growth businesses should be tracking: acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.
      • I live and breathe these metrics – it seemed appropriate that my website should reflect it too.
    3. It sounded cool enough.
      • If I were to ever make this a paid newsletter, I would be okay with sharing this URL
    4. It was available on substack and on twitter
    5. It was cheap!
  • Creating your personal user manual

    I recently came across a user manual that someone in my company had written. It was called “The <insert name> user manual”. I was intrigued.

    It was a nifty way of telling other people how to work with you. Instead of letting your colleagues figure out your working style through trial and error, just tell them plainly.

    I have come across several user manuals since then. As I begin to write my own user manual, i wanted to share how you can get started with writing your own.

    1. Basic info : Tell people your name, pronunciation, pronouns (if you are into that) and share some basic public profile
    2. Mindset : This is your opportunity to tell people whats your mindset at work.
      • Do you work well as a team or individual
      • What kind of vibe do you bring to work
      • Whats your learning style
      • Whats your management style
      • Risk appetite
      • what matters to you at work – what drives you
      • what kind of people do you jive with
    3. Ways of working : this is where you tell people how you work. Here are some topics you can include in this section.
      • how you think (visual, auditory etc)
      • how you conduct meetings
      • how do you get in the zone
      • whats your typical schedule like
      • whats your communication style : are you direct, do you think out loud, do you prefer to think and take your time before you speak,
      • Whats the best way to reach you : emails, text, call, instagram etc and expected time to respond
      • Do you micromanage or are you hands off
      • Do you want more autonomy or more direction
      • how/if do you maintain a work life balance
    4. Personality : You spend so much of your life working, its good to give people a peek into your personality so that they can engage with you accordingly. Some things you could talk about are :
      • Introvert/extrovert
      • persuasion style
      • intrinsic motivations
    5. Personal : i am a strong believer of making strong, healthy relationships at work. I think it greatly improves both your general happiness as well as your impact. Giving people a chance to really get to know you is a great way of building these relationships. Things you could talk about here :
      • Where did you grow up
      • Family
      • Hobbies
      • Taste in books/movies

    This is just one way of doing things – take what you find useful. Have fun creating your own user manual and sharing it with colleagues – maybe try creating a friendship or a relationship user manual for sharing with your friends or your significant other 😛

  • Keeping a track of things you read

    I love to read. I have way too many books, magazines, blogs, online courses and YouTube videos going on at the same time. I just store things in my head as I consume content. But of course the memory is fallible and I don’t know what nuggets of wisdom I’ve forgotten along the way – only because I didn’t record them somewhere. I recently stumbled upon an old journal and read a few thoughts I’d written down from Tractatus. I was quite amused. This made me want to figure out a better way of keeping track of things I read/listen/watch so that I can look back at what I’ve consumed over the years and hopefully be amused.

    This week I found a good way to easily summarize and organize what you read online. I still don’t have a good solution for physical medium (maybe just take notes on your computer)

    Here is what you can do to get setup

    • Install a reading app (Readwise), a browser that supports integration with the reading app (Command) and finally a place which will house all of your reading (Notion)
      • Readwise : use it to read books, articles, and a lot more. Connect it to notion and then set up automatic export
      • Command : use this browser for your iPhone. You should link this to both Readwise and Notion. As you browse content, add highlights and export to Readwise. Readwise will then automatically put them into Notion
      • Notion : Both Command and Readwise will create their own databases when you export. I would recommend that you only try to have one.

    Here is the user journey for reading and organizing :

    1. Command –> Readwise –> Notion : Browse in Command. Highlight and export to Readwise.
    2. Readwise –> Notion : Read directly on Readwise.

    Make sure auto export is set up or you can just manually export via Readwise dashboard on web.

    If any of that sounds complicated, yes it was! It took me a little bit to wrap my head around all the integrations. So if you are struggling go watch the “Better Creating” channel on youtube and follow the links in the description to get set up.

  • Why you need an about me section

    If you want to connect with people by putting yourself out there, I think having an authentic “About Me” on your Linkedin is one great way to do it.

    I am an introvert and I don’t like talking about myself. I want to let my work speak do the talking. But this means that I lose out on the opportunity to meet some fantastic people because realistically no one has the time to see my work. I also don’t share my work publicly so there’s that problem too. (I’m working on getting better at this)

    As I embark on this journey of sharing more of my work I wanted to share how I went about creating my “about me” section on LinkedIn

    1. First I read this article to get some ideas
    2. Then I jotted down the “Why”, “Who” and “What” of writing this “about me”
      • Why am I writing this
      • Who am I writing for
      • What do I want them to walk away with
    3. Then I made a list of things I’d like for people to know about me
      • Where I’m from
      • What I’m currently working on
      • What I’m passionate about
      • How I landed here
      • What I do or don’t love
      • What i’m good at and what im trying to get better at
      • Quirky stuff about me (e.g. i cry watching math videos because they are just so beautiful)
      • Other stuff : things i’m reading, movies/tv shows i watched recently, etc
    4. Then I started to organize the writing into the above themes
    5. Once i got all the things down I started to simplify.
    6. Once it’s good enough publish! Don’t dilly dally
    7. Keep updating once every few months

    And that’s it. Good luck on putting yourself out there.

  • Hello world!

    Welcome to my blog! This is my first post.

    I love to learn and (a) want to share what I learn with everyone and (b) document my learning so that i can refer back to it.

    This blog is a collection of all the topics I’m interested in – math, science, art, productivity and maybe more. We’ll see how it goes.

    Read on, enjoy, share, critique. I’m here to learn too 🙂 if you have thoughts on something please leave them in the comments.

    I hope you’re having a good day!