It’s an exciting time to work in product management. Product management has recently grown to become one of the hottest jobs. It seems like everyone wants to become a product manager these days. We’ve certainly come a long way since I was a PM padawan. Isn’t it great not having to explain to people the difference between a product manager and a project manager? (ok, maybe this still happens every once in a while).
If you’re a product manager, you know how rewarding the job can be – and how challenging. Top product managers know that to stay on top of your PM game, you need to invest time to sharpen your skills. Conferences are a great way to do that by learning from thought leaders and your peers. Quick question: how many product conferences can you think of off the top of your head?
I enjoy speaking at product conferences. As a conference speaker, I make it a point to keep track of the major product conferences that are happening. And this year, there are more product conferences than ever before. What if I told you there were over 20 product conferences this year? Would that blow your mind?
Wait, what’s that? You’re too busy product managing to research them all? Don’t worry, I got your back. So just close that Slack window, sit back, and relax. Here’s your guide to the top 21 product conferences of 2018 that you don’t want to miss (in chronological order).
Now, conference season doesn’t usually start until the spring, so I usually publish my list before any of them start. But this year some people just couldn’t wait. Believe it or not we’ve already had 4 product conferences this year.
January 18: Product Leader Summit New York City – I’m excited to be one of the organizers of the Product Leader Summit, a special conference designed for product leaders (VPs and directors). This was our second summit and our first time in NYC. We held our first Product Leader Summit last May in Redwood City, California. You can watch the videos of our awesome speakers at https://productleadersummit.com.
You can definitely tell there are way more PM conferences than there used to be when two of them happen to fall on the same dates:
March 20 – 21: ProductCon San Francisco & Silicon Valley – Product School, which offers training to people who want to break into product management, has been growing quickly over the last two years. This year, they are putting on their first product conference, launching in not one but four locations. The first one was in San Francisco, followed by Silicon Valley the next day. I spoke at both events and thought they were great. You can check out the videos to see for yourself. See below for their New York and Los Angeles conferences.
March 20 – 21: Pendomonium, Raleigh, North Carolina – Pendo’s product helps product managers better understand their users. Pendo threw their first Pendomonium conference last year: a mix of a product conference and a user conference. They’re back again this year with a two-day conference. In talking with the organizers, it sounds like they try to give attendees a taste of Raleigh plus a dose of southern hospitality. I hope to check out Pendomonium next year. Learn more at https://www.pendo.io/pendomonium/.
March 31: Product Camp Silicon Valley, Santa Clara – Organized by SVPMA, Product Camp Silicon Valley is the longest-running Product Camp. This year’s talks were recorded and should be published soon. There are volunteer-driven Product Camps all over the world. To find Product Camps near you, check out http://www.productcamp.org/schedule.html.
Okay, with those 4 out of the way, here are the top product conferences that are coming up in 2018:
April 19 – 20: MTP Engage Hamburg, Germany – Most of you have probably heard of Mind the Product (MTP) already, but in case you haven’t, they put on the world’s largest product conferences in London and San Francisco. They’re recently expanded to Hamburg with a different event format called MTP Engage. There are two tracks for the conference day as well as a pre-conference workshop day. Learn more at http://engage.mindtheproduct.com/hamburg/.
April 23 – 24: Industry Europe, Dublin – Industry is a great conference organized by Product Collective. They’ve been steadily growing their main conference in Cleveland for 3 years now and have decided to expand to Europe for the first time. The first morning is a half-day workshop, followed by one and a half days of conference. Learn more at http://europe.industryconference.com.
June 18 – 19, PM Festival Singapore – PM Festival has always held their annual conference in Zurich. This year, they are expanding to Singapore for the first time. Learn more at https://apac.productmanagementfestival.com.
July 16 – 17: Mind The Product SF – MTP San Francisco is always a fantastic event, put on by Martin Eriksson, James Mayes, Simon Cast, Janna Bastow and the rest of the awesome MTP team. The organizers curate the world’s top product speakers for a 1-day, single track conference. The venue, Davies Symphony Hall, is impressive (and the seats are comfy). And they throw a rockin’ afterparty to boot. Don’t miss the chance to hang out with 1,600 of your soon-to-be closest product pals. I’m excited to be giving a talk there this year. The day before the main conference, Mind the Product offers great all-day workshop and a special invite-only all-day event for product leaders. I’ll see you there! Learn more at http://mtpcon.com/sf/.
August 8 – 9: Traction, Vancouver – The Traction conference may not be on your radar, but it should be, especially if your product is transitioning to the growth stage. Many of the talks are focused on growth and marketing, but there’s a fair degree of overlap with product. Organizers Lloyed Lobo and Ray Walia always plan a great conference with fun networking events. Plus, Vancouver is gorgeous in August. Learn more at https://www.tractionconf.io.
September 7: Women in Product, Burlingame – Last year, Women in Product grew their annual conference to over 1,000 attendees.
October 1 – 3 Industry Global, Cleveland – I spoke at the Industry conference in Cleveland last year and really enjoyed it. Organized by Product Collective, this 2-day conference has been growing every year. In fact, they expanded to Dublin, Irelend, this year (see above). Organizers Mike Belsito and Paul McAvinchey do a great job bringing together lots of awesome speakers and PMs from all over. There is also an optional workshop day. Learn more at http://global.industryconference.com.
October 18 – 19: MTP London – The Big Kahuna of product conferences. Mix and mingle with 1,600 other product people at London’s Barbican Centre as you learn from world-class product speakers at this single-track conference. As they would say in Hollywood, this conference has high production value. There is also an optional workshop day beforehand. I’ll be giving an all-day workshop there. Keep calm, carry on, and be sure to RSVP quickly when tickets go on sale: they usually sell out in less time than your average stand-up. Learn more at http://mtpcon.com/london/.
October 18: Leading the Product, Melbourne, & Oct 23 Sydney – Do you like product conferences? Have you been looking for a good reason to visit Australia? Brainmates puts on a great set of Leading the Product conferences in Melbourne and Sydney, just a few days apart so you can attend both. I had a great time speaking there in 2016. The Brainmates team knows how to put on a great event that creates a sense of community with top speakers, enthusiastic attendees, and great venues. Learn more at https://www.leadingtheproduct.com.
November 1 – 2: Productized, Lisbon – André Marquet and his team put on a wonderful conference. I had a great time speaking there last year. The 2-day conference is chock full of great product speakers from around the world, and there’s an optional workshop day. Plus, Lisbon is an awesome city: do you really need an excuse to visit? Learn more at http://www.productized.co.
November 15: Product Leader Summit, Silicon Valley – I was one of the organizers of last year’s inaugural Product Leader Summit, which featured top speakers like Reid Hoffman, Aaron Levie, and product execs from Facebook, Slack, and Tesla. This year’s summit, sponsored by Spero Ventures, will be a similar event with top speakers and a curated audience of around 120 product leaders (the event is by invitation only; everyone has to apply to attend). View talks from past summits and sign up for the email list to be notified at https://www.productleadersummit.com.
November (date TBD): Lean Startup Conference, San Francisco – If you’ve never been to the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, you may not know that it’s largely a product management conference. As a Lean Startup Co. Senior Faculty member, I’ve spoken at this conference several times. Most of the people I’ve met there were product managers, which makes sense because we’re the ones responsible for achieving product-market fit (those hypotheses aren’t going to test themselves). The conference itself is 2 days of great speakers sharing case studies and advice. There’s also a workshop day. If that’s still not enough for you, you can go all-in with a ticket for the whole Lean Startup Week. Learn more at https://leanstartup.co/2018-conference/.
November 14 – 15, PM Festival Zurich, Switzerland – This conference in Zurich, Switzerland, has been running for several years. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but you can learn more at https://productmanagementfestival.com/zurich/.
So, what do you think? Is that a lot of product conferences or what? Hopefully you found one or more from my list that you’re excited to attend.
Wait, what’s that? You’re still looking for more great product events? Okay, okay, I’ve got one more product event for you.
Lean Product (monthly in Silicon Valley) – If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or are visiting, I invite you to check out my monthly Lean Product event in Mountain View. I founded it 4 years ago and we’ve grown to over 6,600 members.
One evening a month, I host the same world-class speakers who speak at the conferences I listed above. My speakers are experts in product management, Lean Startup, UX design, analytics, and marketing, and many of them have written leading books on those subjects. Past speakers include Marty Cagan, Geoffrey Moore, Ken Norton, Josh Elman, Laura Klein, Ash Maurya, Nir Eyal, Teresa Torres, Rich Mironov, Amy Jo Kim, Tony Ulwick, Hiten Shah, and Steve Portigal.
Our next Lean Product event is Apr 19th: design expert and author Tracy Osborn will be teaching “Design for Non-Designers”. Come join us for dinner, an amazing speaker, and great conversation. Learn more at https://meetup.com/lean-product/.
If you can’t make our April 19th event, you can join the Lean Product meetup group (it’s free) to be notified about future events.
You’re still here? Your thirst for knowledge is insatiable! You should definitely check out the Product Decoded podcast, then. Produced by the same folks that bring you the Product Leader Summit (Ha Nguyen, Gib Biddle, and me), Product Decoded features interviews with top product leaders. So far we’ve released episodes with Deb Liu from Facebook and Chris Abad from UserTesting. Soon we’ll be publishing episodes with Aaron Levie from Box, Todd Yellin from Netflix, Michael Sippey from Medium, Sarah Bernard from Jet.com, and Justin Bauer from Amplitude (with even more to come). Subscribe to Product Decoded on iTunes to receive the new episodes as they’re released.
I hope you found my article helpful. I look forward to seeing you at one or more of these events!