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The Top 5 Product, Growth, and Career Insights of 2021

At Reforge, we’re dedicated to making it easier for professionals to navigate the messy middle of their careers. Whether you work in product, growth, engineering, or marketing, we’re here to help you with tools and frameworks that you can use today.

In 2021, we learned hard-earned wisdom from expert EIRs, OIRs, and partners more than ever before. Before we head into 2022, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the most popular pieces from this year, all of which have pushed the frontier of knowledge on how to build and grow lasting technology companies.

The Product Strategy Stack


  • Ravi Mehta, Reforge Partner and lead of Reforge’s Product Strategy program. Former CPO at Tinder, Director at Facebook, and VP of Product at TripAdvisor
  • Zainab Ghadiyali, former Head of Product on platform at Airbnb and Tech Lead at Facebook

When you’re on a product team, you gain early career experience by first proving you can effectively execute on an established set of priorities. But to grow into a product leader, you’ll also become responsible for setting the strategy, not just executing on it.

Unfortunately, most teams don’t have a clear strategy, nor do they have a clear picture of how strategy, roadmaps, and goals all link together. This makes it incredibly tough to make sound decisions. After all, if you don’t know why it’s a goal to grow 40% YoY or how that stacks up to the company strategy, it will be hard for you to make solid choices about what goes on your roadmap.

In this piece, Ravi and Zainab introduce the Product Strategy Stack to help you build the connective tissue between the company’s mission and the work your team is responsible for on a day-to-day basis.

💡 Try it yourself: With in-depth case studies of how the Product Strategy Stack works for real companies today, this post is equal parts diagnostic tool and template: figure out what’s wrong with your current stack, and use the tools to clarify your strategy today.

The Growing Specialization of Product Management


  • Adam Fishman, Former Chief Product and Growth Officer at Imperfect Foods, VP Product and Growth at Patreon, and Head of Growth at Lyft
  • Keya Patel, former Director of Product Growth at Headspace, PM at Dropbox

One of the most interesting parts about working in a growing industry is seeing the evolution of different roles. While the worlds of engineering, marketing, and sales have veered towards specialization for many years, the world of product management has remained fuzzier and less defined.

But increasingly, we’re seeing that product management is moving towards specialization, too —the core skills you need to develop differ depending on the stage of your company and product.

In this post, Adam and Keya detail four fundamentally different types of product work: Feature Work, Growth Work, Scaling Work, and Product Market Fit Expansion Work. With this added context, companies can get smarter about knowing the real type of PM they’re looking to hire, and PMs can get more specific about which skills they really want to develop and hone.

Knowing which kind of work you’re driving can change everything, including who you collaborate with, what skills you’ll need to develop, and even your scope of product ownership.

💡 Try it yourself: Stay ahead of your career. Use this piece to help you identify where you want to grow your area of experience.

Scaling Data: Data Informed to Data Driven to Data Led

By: Crystal Widjaja, Chief Product Officer, Kumu and former SVP of Growth and Business Intelligence at Gojek

As companies grow, there’s always a debate about when and how to hire “data people.” But that line of thinking is usually trying to solve the wrong problem: Deciding whether you need data scientists, data analysts, or data engineers is secondary to understanding why you’re trying to hire at all.

In this piece, Crystal makes the case that data is not a team to hire or a set of tools to implement. Instead, it’s a big strategic lever that most organizations have no idea how to operate. As teams grow, they can move from being data informed to data driven to data led.

The learnings in this piece pair well with The Product Strategy Stack; uncertainty about how to organize a data team often comes from a lack of a well-defined product strategy. Crystal lists a handful of strategic questions to help you evaluate how your product maturity impacts your ability to use data in a high-leverage fashion.

💡 Try it yourself: Identify how your team, operations, analytics, and instracture needs are different based on Crystal’s framework in this piece.

The Reverse Interview: How to Choose Your Next Company


  • Elena Verna, Reforge Partner and Growth Advisor to Miro and Netlify, former SVP Growth at SurveyMonkey and Malwarebytes
  • Crystal Widjaja, Chief Product Officer, Kumu and former SVP of Growth and Business Intelligence at Gojek
  • Zainab Ghadiyali, former Head of Product on platform at Airbnb and Tech Lead at Facebook

Professionals are changing jobs with greater frequency than ever before, with an average tenure of just two to three years. Finding the right fit every time you job search is easier said than done, but choosing the right next company can be a make or break in your career.

Elena, Crystal, and Zainab dive deep on this problem for job-seekers in every role. How can you know a company is the right fit when there’s so much information asymmetry in the interview process?

The Reverse Interview is a toolkit that bridges the gap between what candidates see about a company versus the reality of working there. By putting yourself more in more control of the interview process, you can have more confidence and clarity as you make your next move.

💡 Try it yourself: Thinking about what’s next? Elena, Crystal and Zainab detail a five-step process to follow for your next interview.

The Racecar Growth Framework


  • Dan Hockenmaier, founder of Basis One, a growth strategy firm
  • Lenny Rachitsky, author of Lenny’s Newsletter, previously led Supply Growth at Airbnb

All companies need to have a firm understanding of how their business grows. Without it, it is hard to do the important things, such as choosing and putting fuel behind the most impactful strategic investments.

Dan and Lenny look at this common growth problem like a high-performance race car, where a business is driven by the combination of an engine, fuel, lubricants, and even the occasional turbo boost. Get all the components right, and your company can effectively grow.

This piece highlights the common pitfalls of using the wrong component at the wrong time, and how to put the Racecar Growth Framework into practice in your company today.

💡 Try it yourself: Not sure which component you’re using? This post can help you diagnose if you’re using the wrong tool for your growth problem.

Here’s to 2022!

We’re just getting started at Reforge. Next year’s lineup includes some great new programs with real-world insights from experts — all here to help you make 2022 the year you super-charge your career. Sign up to become a Reforge Member today.