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#36: From Expert to Explorer

Apply a beginner's mindset to elevate your product marketing strategy

Do you remember the first day of your current role?

You didn’t have assumptions about competitors. You weren’t an expert on customer problems. There were limitless opportunities in front of you. You went in eyes wide open and built a high-impact 30/60/90 day plan.

Now fast forward to today (whether you’ve been in the role 6 months or 6 years). I bet you’d consider yourself an expert - of the market, the customer, the product. We all want to be experts - that’s what we get paid for - but there is a danger in letting go of that beginner’s mindset.

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind, there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki

I’m currently writing this on vacation in Greece (Γειά σου 👋🏻). I’ve been studying the Greek language for about 6 months now, and it’s been a humbling experience. So rarely as adults do we get the opportunity to begin something for the first time.

And it’s made me think about the power of the beginner’s mindset at work too. I routinely get asked what I consider to be the most important skill for a PMM. My answer? Curiosity.

In today’s edition, we’re going to examine how we can approach our role as product marketers with fresh eyes to benefit from the power of curiosity.


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Applying the Beginner's Mindset

The beginner's mindset is a state of mind characterized by openness, curiosity, and a lack of preconceived notions. It's about approaching each situation as if you were new to it, regardless of your level of expertise. And it has a ton of benefits:

  • Innovation: By letting go of assumptions and seeking out new perspectives, we can uncover innovative ideas that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

  • Adaptability: Technologies, trends and customer preferences can shift overnight (the rapid development of AI this past year is a great example of this). Staying receptive to new insights allows us to navigate changes easier than those who are stuck in past beliefs.

  • Empathy: Understanding customer needs is at the heart of effective product marketing. When we are able to adopt a beginner's mindset, we can approach this work with an unbiased and empathetic lens.

While the benefits of a beginner's mindset are clear, adopting it can be challenging. It’s scary to step out of your role as “expert”, and really, who has the time? But I promise, it will be worth the effort.

Here are three simple habits you can implement to help you embrace that beginner’s mindset.

  1. Shadow a co-worker in another department

    Remember that support shadowing you did your first 90 days? Why not incorporate it on a quarterly basis. Even better, why not shadow a variety of roles across the org. Although you all work for the same company, your unique roles provide you with a different lens on the business and the market. Taking a step back and looking at things through your co-worker’s eyes may unlock new insights or opportunities. If nothing else, you’ll have made a new connection!

  2. Research an adjacent market

    Radical focus on our core customer profile is essential to success as a product marketer. But, sometimes taking a step back helps us see things more clearly. What would happen if you spent a day exploring the problems and opportunities that exist for a customer segment slightly adjacent to your ICP? Viewing the market and competitors through this new angle might just shake up the brain enough to generate innovation. Or, you may even discover that you’re ready to move into that adjacent market sooner than you thought.

  3. Learn a new skill

    Learning a new skill (or even tool) outside your comfort zone can not only help you progress in your career, but can provide you with empathy and appreciation for your teammates too! Do you currently rely on your customer marketing team to set up your Pendo posts? Why not do it yourself and immerse yourself in the in-app experience of your customer. Perhaps you’ll discover an education or adoption opportunity you didn’t see before. Does UX currently lead your customer interviews? Ask to lead a handful of sessions yourself and hear first hand from customers what challenges they’re currently struggling with.

Remember, the goal of this work is to approach your role as a product marketer with openness and a willingness to learn, just as a beginner would. Approaching each day and project with curiosity will lead to constant growth and expansion.


Here’s what’s on my Greek-themed packing list for camp:

  • 🍕 Snacks: these Loukoumades (Greek donuts) I’ve been devouring

  • 📚 Reading Material: Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini (read this on the plane!)

  • 🛒 Gear: My carry-on suitcase from Away (yes, I packed carry-on for two weeks in Greece, aren’t you impressed?)

Now excuse me while I eat more loukoumades 🇬🇷 τα λέμε!

- Tamara

Ready to build a high impact career? Here are a few ways I can help:

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