September 21, 2022

How To Go From Unemployed to Making $385,000/Year with Drake Porter, Meta Product Manager - Ep. 63

How To Go From Unemployed to Making $385,000/Year with Drake Porter

Here's How He Did It And How You Can, Too!

Drake Porter is an entrepreneur, League of Legends coach, and he's currently working at Facebook/Meta as a Senior Product Manager.

Watch the full episode to learn about his journey on how he went from unemployed because of COVID, to earning $385,000/yr at Meta without a college degree.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • How Drake went from founding his own startup and working numerous jobs, to unemployed from COVID to earning $385,000/yr as a Senior Product Manager at Meta despite having no college degree.
  • What does a product manager do and what skills you should learn to become one.
  • Effective strategies that you can do to get hired quickly and beat the competition.

Drake also talked about why it's a very good idea to start a side project that you can put in your resume, especially if you have little to no experience.

Drake Porter's Product Management Mentorship Questionnaire

This is how we originally connected with Drake. He was kind enough to fill out this questionnaire to help you learn to do what he did!

His answers were so good that we had to have him on the podcast!

What is the highest grade of schooling you've completed?

High School Diploma

What is your official job title?

Senior Product Manager

What do you actually do for work?

I'm a product manager. I decide the long term and short term strategy for products and work with engineering, design, and other functions to ensure that product changes/functions are built out optimally.

How did you get your current job?

I started my career by launching my own "startup" at age 17. It ended up being a pretty big failure, didn't raise any money, but I used that experience to get other opportunities by age 18. After I gave up on the startup after a year I reached out to a bunch of potential employers looking for any type of opportunity that I could get.

I got a contracted project management position with a college. I expanded to consult for several colleges and a few startups over the next two years after that, all through reaching out via cold calls and emails. After two years of private consulting I joined another company as a full time associate product manager after cold applying on their site. I was promoted to a product manager after around 7 months and stuck with the company for two years. By the end they were paying me about $70,000 in Los Angeles so not great money.

My next position was as a product manager for a tech consulting firm. I got this position through just cold application sending, salary was $115,000 but fully remote. I started with Meta recently, senior product manager with a total compensation of $385,000.

Here is a breakdown of compensation by year and position.

Startup Founder Age 18: $22,000

Freelance PM Age 19: $48,000

Associate Product Manager Age 20: $65,000

Product Manager Age 21: $67,000

Unemployed from COVID Age 22: $0

Product Manager Age 23: $115,000

Sr. Product Manager Age 24: $385,000

What made you pursue your current job?

Honestly it was an accident. I applied for everything under the sun after launching my startup and coincidentally got into project and then product management. I decided to stick with it after I realized Product Manager compensation is the closest to SWE levels without needing intense technical skills.

My lifelong goal is to launch some sort of Brain-computer interfacing startup, which I've wanted to do since I was 16. Product management is a great role for future startup founders.

If a 16 year old said they wanted the same job as you, which skills would you recommend they learn? What type of job would you suggest they get?

It helps a lot to be a competent SWE (Software Engineer) when becoming a PM so that's a good start. Any form of indirect leadership, communication, or management experience helps a ton. Experience launching something from scratch helps, so some form of small scale startup.

For a job, you can really get to product management from any other area, it's just easier for some than others. I'd say become a SWE or startup founder. Next would be project management, since there's heavy overlap between project and product management.

What skill(s) or certification(s) do you think could help someone get what they need to work in your field/job?

I don't find certifications to be of major value, I prefer to cover the bases with experience, even if that experience is outside of Product.

For skills mainly soft skills: managing groups without positions of authority. Presentation abilities, influencing others without authority, empathizing with users.

What are other (or up and coming) jobs or work opportunities you see in the industry/field you work in?

Being a SWE is a good move for those that are inclined to logical problem solving situations. Project management works well for those that love to organize. UX design for those that are very visually inclined. Sales for those that hate being happy. There's something for everyone in tech.

What final thoughts, encouragement, or advice would you give someone who is trying to find great work while being Degree Free?

Tech is an excellent industry for those that have foregone higher education. At first it's really hard to get your foot in the door but you just have to be patient. Once you're in you will need to be really smart about your career for a few years but then you'll find yourself in a better position than most grads due to your experience.

Enjoy the episode!

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Want to learn about one of our worst failures? Check out the previous episode and learn about Ryan's worst interview of his life!

Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Ryan: Aloha folks and welcome back to Degree Free. I am your host Ryan Maruyama on this podcast. We teach you how to get the work you want and succeed in your career all without a college degree. Now, before we get into today's episode, I did have a couple of asks for you. One, if you'd like to receive a short, weekly email about everything degree, free degree, free news, different companies that are down credentialing jobs, how to succeed in your career, go to degree free co slash newsletter and sign up two.

If you're on the job hunt and looking to get a new job, we know that it can be an extremely lonely road. We just started our degree free community, where we have like-minded people come together and help each other. Get work, just go to to join our free community. Now, without any further ado today we have on a very special guest.

I'm very excited for today's episode. We have on Drake Porter, who is a senior product manager at Meta. He is a 24 year old phenom degree free. He went from founding his own startup to making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as a product manager at Meta, and we talk about everything that he does at work and everything that you need to know in order to get into a role being degree free is something that's super passionate to him, and it comes across in this interview.

I ended up having four pages of notes by the end of this interview, a ton of actionable items in here for you. If you guys want the show notes to everything that we talked about, go to that's D R A K E P O R T E R. And without any further ado, here's my conversation with Drake Porter.

Welcome back to the degree, free podcast everybody. I am super excited to have Drake Porter on the podcast today. We have been trying to make this happen for months, literally months. We've been trying to make this happen, and I'm very excited to have you on.

Drake: I'm excited to be on, like you said, it's been quite a while. And I'm happy that we could, you know, both make this a priority and make it happen.

Ryan: Yeah. The first thing that I wanted to start with, one of the things we tell most people about careers and transitioning. One of the most important things is kind of just knowing what careers are out there and what different people do, because if you don't have a target and you don't know what careers are out there, you really have nothing to aim for.

And so I wouldn't mind starting with kind of what you do, your official title, where you currently work and what a product manager does.

Drake: Sure. So I'm a product manager at Meta. So I work on our Oculus devices, VR AR technically my team's XR. So related to both types of technologies, you know, I kind of think that the product manager role has a lot of different meetings at different organizations. So maybe we can dive a little bit into exactly what that means.

Ryan: That is exactly what I mean, because it is my job to kind of know all different types of jobs in every industry from like construction all the way to tech. And so I can educate other people about it.

But then when you see the product manager role, it's just like, I have no idea because exactly like you'll read like job listings and they'll say software engineers only. And then, like they say some product manager jobs, you don't need any, coding or programming experience or things like that.

So if you can kind of just delve into a little bit of the differences there that'd be great.

Drake: It really does vary from company to company to some extent, but the general premise is still always there. My perspective is that the product manager is responsible for the success of the product, and so anything that really needs. To be done, .To push that forward. You're generally going to take up in some capacity once you get to some of the higher level organizations, so like Meta, Google it, it starts to become more clear and you have very distinct responsibilities. So I'm in charge of the roadmap. So ultimately determining, what we are going to build and where we're going to build it within the process as well as backlog.

And so ultimately, what are we even prior starting to prioritize and get on our radar in the first place. And then probably the most important part is working with all of these various other, we call them EXIF in, but these various partners from other teams that are impacted by the decisions that we make.

So we have to get buy-in from other engineering managers and other designers and other product managers, because any change that we make given the scale of meta, is going to impact so many other teams kind of downstream. So it's kind of managing all of those things and it's gonna vary from company to company, team, to team.

And so you kinda have to be able to stay flexible in order to succeed in the role.

Ryan: There's a couple of things that you said there that I wanted to just kind of define some terms at the beginning. You said you were working on Oculus VR, aR, but then you said XR, I personally have never heard of this term before.

Could you explain what that is?

Drake: Yeah, so I had no clue what XR was either until I joined the organization. So you're no, that's normal. Okay. So XR is any technology that encompasses both AR and VR or any type of, reality. Right now that kind of is AR and VR. And so my team is responsible for, not all, but of creating tooling for, privacy and security that can be utilized by both AR and VR devices.

So we're considered a horizontal team. So we're not directly building something for, Quest 2, we're not directly building something for quest 1, we're building something that can be applied to all quest one quest two and future devices as well.

Ryan: I see. I see. Okay. That makes sense. That makes sense.

And then you said exo fin, what is that? Yeah, what is that?

Drake: It's cross-functional so it means cross-functional teams. Any of the other teams that, that were going to end up impacting.

Ryan: Kind of diving deeper on what you said, like the crucial role of the product manager was, is to kind of steward the success of the product as a layman does that mean you are are like, what is success? Is it different for every role? Is it for consumer facing products at sales and for your product? It doesn't seem like it's super consumer facing, is that, you know, cross-functionality between the, can you explain a little bit more about it?

Drake: Yeah. So that's actually part of the job really is trying to figure out what success looks like, because at a certain point driving more dollars, in the near term and depending on the size of the organization, not always be the goal.

So like, I know at meadow we utilize this metric of like hours spent that is like, good. So like, we don't want users to necessarily be like stuck on our platform all day, destroying their lives. We want users togain value out of utilizing our platform. Part of the job is figuring out exactly what success actually is, and so that does vary from team to team and the product manager plays a crucial role in defining that for my team. A lot of what success looks like is creating a platform that users can trust and so ensuring that everybody's data is safe and secure, that if we're developing any type of new experimental technology, we're using data in totally new ways, which means that there are new ways that nefarious people or individuals, can try and exploit that.

And so we have to take all new use cases and try and find more effective ways to ultimately protect our users so that they can enjoy the ecosystem, in a safe way. So it's going to vary from team to team, company, to company, but, you know, that's kind of the beauty of being a product manager is you get to walk through that entire life cycle.

Ryan: It's almost like starting with the end in mind, and then you're kind of walking it back from there. So if you have the goal and I'm not sure, I'm just trying to, summarize this. If you have the goal of creating trust on your platform, collecting user data, that's never been collected before you kinda have that goal and say, okay, how do we accomplish that?

And you kinda create benchmarks along the way.

Drake: Absolutely. So the real thing is great, product managers have an excellent sense of vision and so you need to be able to see years in the future of what this product can be, what this idea can become and then from there you can set kind of goals, ultimately that you wanna reach.

And then you can build features to serve those goals and metrics to measure the effectiveness of those features. And so you're really in charge of funneling everything to that primary cause. Whereas most software engineers are mainly focused on just like how do we build the coolest things and the best solutions we're trying to build the right solutions.

Ryan: That makes a lot of sense kind of backtracking with the definition of product manager. Again, one of the things that we see a lot of is product owner, and I kind of wanted to ask you, what's the difference between product owner and a product manager and then it'ssecondary question would be where does a project manager fit in your role?

Drake: So this is, it really varies once again, organizational organization, but there are some commonalities, a product manager's really focus on like high level vision, keeping the team focus on high level vision directing. We focus at Meta, especially very heavily on strategy and execution. So we're looking three, six months out upwards of a year to two years, I'm working on some projects that, you know, are probably going to require me to prepare things like a year plus in advance.

A product owner is about taking those kind of core, higher level vision, plans and creating more actionable processes by which they could be executed on. And so they're actually usually writing like the JIRA tickets and working with the team to define precisely what they're building on a more granular level.

A project manager is very focused on making sure that everybody's working on the right things at the right time to hit the deadline or hit the points that are priorities. And so not every single team and organization has all three. For example, my team, we don't have product owners or project managers.

Matter of fact, we, our engineers are the ones who write all of our JIRA tickets and they do a lot of the like on the ground product management but you know, I've worked with all of the above at multiple other companies in the past as well. So it's really gonna vary depending on where you at.

Ryan: I kinda wanted to go back and walk back to your past and your background just for the listeners out there months ago, Drake was very, I think we connected.

I think you initially connected with Hannah over a TikTok comment or something, and we ended up having you after hearing your story, we had you fill out or you were so gracious enough to fill out a mentorship questionnaire that with your permission, I'm gonna publish with this episode and this thing is just jam packed with insights and actionable advice.

It's crazy. But one of the things you said here was that at 17 years old, you founded a startup and that kind helped you spur you down this path and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that startup and your experiences there, what it was and what you did.

Drake: Yeah, sure. So the startup was really how I got into product, but I'd actually been working in some capacity for years prior.

And so there's a lot of like kind of context there that we could definitely dive into the gist of it is that, growing up, I was super passionate, about gaming and, particularly competitive gaming. I was a very high level player in a game called StarCraft and I was like top 200 in the country.

Ryan: that's awesome.

Drake: Yeah,

Ryan: this is, uh, StarCraft 1?

Drake: 2 StarCraft 2.

So I was a very early player, got super high level. I was a grand master for years and wanted to go pro I was really young. I was like, you know, 12, 13, 14, and then another game came out that I felt like was going to grow and get really big.

And I think that this is probably like a key point, I guess, across my whole story is kind of foresight and that game was League of Legends. And at the time League of Legends had very few players. I wanted to get in early, but I wasn't very good at it. So I ended up coaching it and I was one of the first professional league of legends coaches in north America.

And so I did that for a number of years through while I was in high school. I graduated high school, I think about two years early. And, I ended up going and living with a professional team in Los Angeles. I was living in a gaming house out there and, team went well, team was sold fun fact. It was sold.

One of the partial owners was Shaquille O'Neal and, so he ended up buying the team and, , that they released the whole staff with that and from there, I was trying to think about what I wanted to do next. And I remember I had, seen this clip by Elon Musk, which, you know, not tying any allegiance to him at this point, but back then he was a massive, you know, inspiration for me.

And he had said you should pick three things that matter to you that you want to make better in the world and build companies around those. And that really resonated with me. And so one of mine was journalism and at the time social media was exploding in the way that people were consuming information and learning new things and learning about the world was changing.

And I felt like we were heading in potentially a dangerous path. So I picked journalism as my first key area to build a business around. And I picked something I knew well to combine that with, which was gaming and esports and so I ended up launching ES and C, which was the esports news center, , which was kind of like Medium meets ESPN for gaming.

And I built that entirely by myself for the first like three to four months of operation. So I like awful programming, but you know, it was just like a jumbled mess of WordPress and like terrible CSS, the JavaScript into this like awful. That required so much manual work to make function. Like we had like a little ticker at the top that would have like live game feeds like scores.

And it was just me sitting there all day typing up the live feeds for all these games. I just had like 10 Counter Strike and League of Legends games and everything playing. And I'm just typing every single one up. So I ended up going and just reaching out to all my friends and saying like, Hey, do you wanna write articles for me?

And we got started and, you know, fast forward 10 months, we're seeing interest from all over the eSport space. It was heavy investment into the scene, which carried over into my company. Eventually I realized pretty quickly that there's no way we're actually gonna make money off of this. I realized within six months.

We have like tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of daily users and we're making like a dollar a day. There's no way that this is gonna be profitable. And it, it turns out that a lot of these journalism eSport companies like news companies were getting money from professional teams to write articles about them.

And that's how they were actually even sustaining themselves financially. And we weren't doing that. And so I kinda made the call that this problem wasn't gonna work. I ended up selling my stake and exiting the company. And that was kind of like the wrap up of the whole startup experience with the beauty behind it was that it really wasn't about like launching a company or having a successful company.

It was about building a project that I could then take and throw on a resume with a whole bunch of different things that I got to learn about and experience and the actionable outcomes as a result of the different things that I was working on. That was the basis of my resume and the whole reason I'm a product manager now.

Ryan: That is an amazing story and, thank you for sharing that. I am very excited cuz I I'm a little older than you. And so I was a huge, I guess nerd, I guess gamer is what we nerd is what we got called, back in the day and so we missed all the professional gaming time, but yeah, League of Legends huge. StarCraft.

I was huge into StarCraft. One of the thing that you said there's a lot to unpack. Yeah. But how did you become a league of legends coach? Like, what was interesting about that for me was that you said you weren't very good at the game and then you became a coach. Like what were you coaching?

Drake: My approach towards everything has always been like, see where I'm at now and try and find some way to make the connections, to get where I wanna be.

And so I saw I'm a terrible League of legends Player. I was like literally bronze or silver when I started coaching. And all I knew was I wanted to be closer to professional players was, I felt like if I was there than whether I'm a manager or coach or an agent or whatever, there's something there for me, but I have to be closer to the pros.

And so what I did was I started managing like a low level team, like, so like a gold team like this, those are like your average Joe's on the street. Like not competitive in any way. And then from there I was like managing this team and, I was being selfish. And so I was like, Hey, we need to make a better team under our org.

So I, we made a platinum team and then we made a diamond team also that I could get a little bit closer to being around the top level players, which is they're called challenger players. We would kind of add more and more teams to get me closer and closer to there. And at one point, I was managing I think master level team, which is right below challenger for people who don't know.

And what that did for me was then people started reaching out to me and I started getting integrated into like some of these networking, you know, groups and stuff like that where. Eventually people started recognizing my name and they recruited me as a manager and then we had a coach and that coach left the team and they needed a coach.

And so I'm like, I'll do it. And I had no clue I was doing, but I remember, I think this is a Thomas Edison thing, but I think Thomas Edison said to take the job and then learn on the go. Right. And I followed that for every single job I've ever had. And I was like, I have no clue I'm doing, but I'll figure it out from people getting mad at me.

And you just gotta learn quick and I did and so that was kind of the way that I skirted my way in there, but it was really about finding ways to help these high level players get along, and communicate efficiently and work towards common problems and goals, which was the backbone for what I do now as a product manager, I didn't realize at the time, but it was so crucial.

So yeah, it was kind of like the coaching progress, I guess.

Ryan: You said there also that you graduated high school two years early. And then you kind of moved into a gaming house to put some just quickly put some years on like ages. How old were you when you graduated high school? And then now you sold your first startup.

Like how long was that whole progression?

Drake: So freshman year of high school is what, 14, 15, something like that. Sophomore of high school, 15, 16. And then, I went and I started doing online courses to finish high school early. So a like self-paced kind of private, school thing. It's worth noting. I definitely don't come for money or anything like that.

I'm like borderline is self made as it comes. But I had for years been pushing my mom to let me focus more on gaming and eSports and I was like, this is gonna be huge watch next year, it's gonna be even bigger. And each year it'd get bigger and bigger and she'd be like, wait, maybe he's onto something. So eventually she did give me that chance to go do this online school program so that I could graduate a bit early, but I was 16, whenever I, went and, you know, graduated early 17, whenever I moved into the gaming house, that was like right after I turned 17, like a month after. And then I lived there for about five, six months. I spent about three months doing like nothing. And then I decided to launch my startup right before I turned 18.

And then I ended up turning 18 while launched a startup and then, ultimately ended up exiting at 18 as well.

Ryan: It seems like the key to your early success so far has just been, as you said, just taking the job and kind of learning as you went and were you always like that from a early age?

Was it always, I want to get there and I'll figure out the how later or, I mean, I'm just trying to synthesize what it makes you tick, I guess, , and how you've gotten to where you are such a young age.

Drake: Yeah. So it really was two things. I think the first one is, my mom from a super young age always told me I can do absolutely anything I want. Like I had no limitations placed on me. In terms of like what I can ultimately be and achieve, it wasn't like if you work hard, you can be a doctor someday. It was like, if you work hard, you can do anything you want and so I never had this perspective limitations. I always thought whenever people said like, oh, you have to have this qualification to do this.

I thought that was silly because I was like, I can think of 15 different ways I could get there. And you have no clue, you know, like if I wanna be a doctor. Maybe I can go like to some tribe in the middle of nowhere and learn how to be a doctor. And now I'm a doctor, right? Like , I may not be a doctor here, but I can do it somehow.

So that was part of it. The other part was once again, not tying any allegiance to anybody, but Peter Teal was somebody that, who's early work, I had read before he became a very controversial figure. And one of the things that he talked about was try to figure out where you want to be, I think in 10 years and try to figure out how to do that in six months.

And I loved that thought experiment and I'd sit down, I'd write down, like literally I'd sit down with a piece of paper. I'd write down like soccer pro and I'd just write down every single thing that I need to do to be a soccer pro. And then I'd sit down and write software engineer I'd write down every single thing I need to do.

And it started to train my mind around how I can skip all the unnecessary steps that we have been told are necessary, and so it was really just a mindset. I was very lucky to develop from a super young age.

Ryan: That's amazing. Yeah. That's one of the things that we try to garner, I wanna say preach here is that, just trying things, getting out there, and as you said, and you talked about, you know, kind of. Failing or, just kind, of learning on the job. I mean, you're gonna fail if you don't know what you're doing, it's gonna happen, but if you just keep trying, it will happen eventually you will get, you will be further ahead. I kind of wanted to go over just for those listeners, the different ages and the different income levels that you've said.

And kind of talk about it a little bit, just because sure. You are very young and, would you mind just telling the audience, how old are you currently?

Drake: Yeah, I'm 24 now. I had gotten my offer from Meta, like right after I turned 24. So I was interviewing with Meta while I was 23.

Ryan: Awesome.

Awesome. And once again, for everybody listening, this can be found in the show notes degree, and this is amazing. Startup founder age 18, $22,000. Freelance PM age 19 $48,000. Associate product manager, age 20 $65,000. Product manager, age 21 67,000 this is what's crazy unemployed from COVID age 22, $0 product manager, age 23 $115,000 senior product manager, age 24, 385,000 with Meta total comp.

And I guess congratulations for one but one of the things that we see a lot of is when it's really easy to package things really nicely. When you read it off of a script like that, I mean, for 22,000. To 385,000 in six years. And it's just like, well, it's very super easy for somebody listening to this.

And I'm one of those people to just kind of listen to this and be like, well, that guy's a winner. That guy was gonna win. That guy was gonna win regardless and that's very obvious that you are a winner, but I would just tune this out. And so I kind of wanted to hone in on that couple years ago, when you were unemployed and you made $0, how did you go from making $0 at 22 and then effectively doubling what you ever made.

You went from $67,000 at age 21. And then at age 23, making 115,000 from being unemployed. And I guess, could you just walk us through what happened? The timeline of events?

Drake: Sure. Yeah. And, and that's a good story too, I think. Yeah. So I was working at a company called ESL, which is the largest, eSports company in the world.

And we were building, a platform for college students to play games against other college students and so we partnered with like the big east and the big 10 and all these big college conferences to integrate gaming as a varsity sport and I absolutely loved it and then COVID hit. And the problem is that most of these college conferences make all their money off of basketball and football.

And so they no longer could afford to work with us and so with my product being obsolete, I ultimately ended up being laid off and I took some time to go and travel a little bit. And then I realized, okay, I just gotta get back on it and start applying to jobs. And so. You know, I, every single job that I've ever had, I was applying to like 50 jobs a day for months.

And that's the case all the way until Meta. And I was so freaking fast with that. I'd cranked those out in like an hour, but I I'd go. And I applied to all these jobs and I was really having like, no luck, really. I couldn't find a job. I was considering going to college. I was like, maybe this is it. I bite the bullet.

I just do it. I like hate the idea of it, but maybe I gotta do it. And I, as a last desperation, I tweeted and said, Hey, I just need a job. If anybody I'm willing to do anything in any way, I was looking to go back into coaching. I was willing to do anything and a friend of mine, and this is the only time I've ever gotten a job from a referral.

Every other job I've ever had has been from cold apps, including Meta. A friend of mine reached out and he was running a sales team at a company called Bite, which made like teeth aligners at home. So like SmileDirectClub at home and he is like, Hey, if you want, you can come and, and do sales for us. And so it's not mentioned there, but I had a little sales job for about like five months and I went and I did that sales job and I moved out to Salt Lake City.

And my first month was the top sales rep at the company across like 50 sales reps and I was making, and that's where I started making like 105 to a hundred, $10,000. And I was like, I'm never coming back from this. There's no chance I'm ever making less than that. So cuz it was nice to finally like not struggle cuz I made 65,000, but that's like pretty rough to live off of in LA, which is where I was living.

So making that extra money really motivated me to keep working at it and so I went back at it and I started applying for jobs like 50 a day, 60 a day, and I built like a whole process around it to do it super quick and eventually I got reached out to, by one company, which was Originate, which was the company that hired me as a product manager at 115,000, which I was just happy to have a consistent salary, not based on sales.

And so ended up doing that and really kind of reignited the passion for product management for me, I think. Getting to be there and that's what motivated me to make Meta work because getting to Meta was a whole other can of worms.

Ryan: With the sales. Is that the first time that you had ever done sales, like formally, I guess you did have the startup.

And so there's gotta be some sales, a part of that, right?

Drake: Well, it's like, you're always, if you can get good at selling ideas to people that carries around to everything that you do and so I was really good if you're a founder or a product manager, or especially a coach, you have to sell people behind audition.

This is what this company's gonna be and so I used to take that and I'd sell people around this vision of what their teeth can be. Right. And so that's the way that I conceptualized it. I didn't think of myself as a salesman. I thought of myself as like a problem solver. And you know, the company, everybody was going and phone selling people they'd go and call and they make their 50 calls and they just see how lucky they got.

I realized I would hate if someone called me that sounds awful. And so I was texting people and I was like, I'd much rather respond to texts and I'd just sit there and, you know, copy paste, copy paste, copy paste, like all my messages to all these people. And I would hit like a thousand messages throughout the day.

And I was consistently hitting top sales because I solved that problem, which is people don't want to talk to you on the phone and your whole sales process is built around keeping people on the phone. So why are you putting a bandaid over the problem by getting good at keeping them on the phone when you can just skip that all together and just sell 'em what they want, which is better teeth.

And so it was really about thinking in creative ways to get around the problem, which is how I've kind of oriented my whole career. I think.

Ryan: Yeah, that's amazing. And it seems like, it seems even with that, just kind of starting at the end of selling, you know, perfect teeth and then think then working backwards from there, thinking about the process as we talked about earlier, it's kind of similar to what you, how you approach your job and what your job is today.

You said something around, you built a process around applying for jobs. Like when you were 50 jobs a day, what was the process?

Drake: Yeah. So, and I actually have passed this on to some friends who had tremendous success. I tripled their incomes off a bit. What I do. And there are probably tons of people who do this, but I don't see anybody talking about it is, . I would just Google product manager jobs at the time it was post COVID and so I wanted to work from home. So I'd always pick, New York and LA, because I was like, there are no jobs in New York and LA that are in office right now. They're all remote and so I figured no matter what, I'm gonna get the highest salary if I technically work in New York, but I'll never have to go to the office.

So I'm working remote. So I do product manager jobs in New York and LA and Google, and then I'd use Google jobs and I would just go in favor. Every single one I was interested in, I've never trusted the automatic, apply systems on like LinkedIn and Glassdoor and stuff. And so I'd favored all of them and then I'd go to their websites individually after I've gone and favored like 300 that I was interested in go to each of their job sites.

Just quick copy past. And then I would go find product manager on their job and I would just apply to every single one on their site, and then I'd just do that for every single other job. And then you almost always would get confirmation emails that they got your application. So I'd go through my emails.

And use that to keep track of which ones I actually ended up applying for copy and paste the name of that job into LinkedIn and find product managers who worked at those companies, message them on LinkedIn and be like, Hey, I'm looking for my next role. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about, you know, your role and then I would just send them copy pasted questions.

I was sending to everybody to make them think that like I was genuinely curious and 100% of the time they'd offer to refer me just out of like the kindness of their heart, because I'd asked like, oh, how did you get in? Like, did you use a referral or a cold apply, you know? And, they'd be like, yeah, I'd be happy to refer you.

And so then I would have the cold applications going through on every single one and I'd have a referral which got me a whole bunch of interviews. Ultimately, I ended up not really bothering with most of them, but I found that to be the most effective method is high quantity, like as efficient as possible with actual outreach on LinkedIn.

Ryan: That's amazing because we actually just had a little video on TikTok about talking about people out there, apply for one or two jobs and then

Drake: I saw that

Ryan: And they're like, there are no jobs and it was more controversial than we thought it was gonna be. because coming from, you know, myself and for Hannah, when we're applying to jobs, we're applying to hundreds, hundreds, hundreds, and then, you know, maybe thousands are maybe a little bit of stretch, but hundreds at least, and same thing with you dozens a day, and you kind of hit on something that is the perfect mixture combination of quantity versus quality.

A lot of what we hear is, oh, well, I don't have a network. I don't know people in these roles.

Drake: I still have no network.

Like I work at Meta. I don't know anybody. It's just true. I'm like super, introverted. I don't know anybody, but the deal is that most people are surprisingly willing to help. And that's what I leaned on.

Ryan: Exactly. And that's amazing. Just you make mixture between quantity and quality of having these people also vouch for you by just asking a few questions and, I don't know if you've ever read the book, Dale, Carnegie, how to win friends and influence people, have them talk about themselves.

And they're like, man, , I really like this guy.

This guy Drake is amazing. And. It's like, I said two words and, but you said everything, but that's okay. Cool. Yeah.

Drake: I only had one guy say, oh, I'm not gonna give you a referral and he was at Amazon. I'm really happy. He didn't but, One guy who said he wasn't gonna gimme a referral.

And the reasons was he went through and read my resume and in my description, I said that I had like seven years of leadership experience or eight years of leadership experience in five years in product and he said, well, I looked at your resume and I only see five years of product. So clearly you're lying.

I was referring to like the years of coaching I'd done to be fair. I had like one guy out of like over a hundred that, that I reach out to. And it's surprising that most people really are. If you like, let them talk about themselves, especially, but if you just ask, most people are willing to help out cuz they've been there, you know?

Ryan: Absolutely. I mean, everybody has everybody's been there and I guess just to get a little bit more granular, cause I'm gonna get pushed back. If I don't ask, I know you kind of touched on it, but do you remember what those emails or what those LinkedIn messages said? Like, was it three questions?

Drake: I literally had like a template that I typed on a sticky note and it was just like. Hey, hope that you're having a great day and this is I'm summarizing a little bit here, but, it was like, Hey, hope that you're having a great day. I'm, to get into my next role. And a company that's really stood out to me has been X whichever company they work at really just wanted to reach out and, ask a few questions.

If you don't mind, could do like a 10 minute call or happy to just shoot some messages over chat. Just let me know if that would, if that sounds okay to and they always ask chat because people don't want to call anyone anymore. So I literally never had anybody take me up on the call. Thank God. So from there, they'd be like, yeah, sure.

Happy to chat. What are your questions? And then I'd just send in three questions. I think, the first is like how they would define what product management is kind of like within their role, how it kind of varied from some of like smaller companies or experiences that they had in the past. And I would vary this a little bit, depending on which company they were at.

And then the third was always, how did you get your role there? Was it a referral or did you just apply anything like that? And then they would always on that third question go, if you'd like, I could. They literally like 90% of the time they'd offer to refer, or they would ask if I have one already, in which case they'd be like, I'd love it if you could help me.

So that, that was the approach.

Ryan: That's amazing. So they would literally come up with that. They would connect the dots by themselves about like, oh, let me just say, oh, he's cool. Let me see if I can refer 'em that.

Drake: Yeah, because I get messages every day on LinkedIn from people who are like, Hey, will you refer me? Just cold asks.

And so if you like add a little like spice in there, you're a lot more likely to get people who are willing to help you out. Especially if you let them talk about themselves a little bit.

Ryan: I kind of wanted to switch gears here and kind of looking at the questionnaire that you answered before. I asked what skills or certifications do you think could help someone get what they need to work in your field and job?

I won't go over your answers here because people can just go to the website and read your answers. But one thing that stuck out to me, you said managing groups without positions of authority, and that was really specific. And I'm wondering how, what is managing people without positions of authority and how do you do that?

And how did you get the practice to become good at it?

What it is, it's product management. And so like a product manager is responsible for the success of the product, but nobody reports to you. So all the software engineers I work with don't report to me. They do not have to do what I ask them to do.

You have to constantly pitch these concepts. This is why, I mean, where like sales is valuable for everybody and I'm like not a sales person. I really hated sales so much, but there's value in being able to get people on board with an idea. And so you're constantly having to get buy-in from them.

You have to figure out what is this person's value? Like what, what is important to them and how can I use that to show them how, what I need will serve their value system. Whether that is based on their goals for the year that has been outlined by their manager or their teams, OKRs, which is objectives and key results that they're trying to aim for the year or just their own personal value system.

Are they interested in creating an environment around the company that drives trust in users, for example, and so you can understand what is important to them. And you do all that through just asking questions, talking holds very little value. You get all the value from asking questions. And so that's the premise of it.

And from there, you can kind of sit down and strategize in your brain about how you can make these connections between what you want and what they want. And sometimes you may have to go like a couple value levels deep to get there, but you almost always can find a way that your objectives can serve other people's values.

Drake: The practice I got is, I think people get practiced in everything with everything that they do, and we just don't realize it. If you sit down and you think hard enough for, you can find a way to say that you should be a lawyer, right? Can you be a lawyer? No, but you can find a way to say that I've used persuasion and I have in the second grade I gave like a talk to my class. There's like you learn things throughout life and you just have to constantly be evaluating the things that you've learned to make connections to the jobs that you want.

And so for me, that was coaching, like coaching League of Legends is the basis and foundation and genuinely, probably the most important thing I've ever done in my entire life, because these players are like 18, they're all making tons of money, like hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they all think that they're the best in the world and they know best.

And you have to get all five of these people to agree on a single way to play the game and that is really hard to do. Like by far the hardest job I've ever had, bar none and. So you take that and it's like, well, these software engineers who are super smart and tell me exactly what they want and all generally agree with each other are way easier to work with than these 18 year old gamers who think that they're gods.

And so you can make that connection with anything that you do. I just happened. It's true. It's very accurate and anybody who's done the job, you're way down here with a bunch of other interviewers and you ever get the other guy, the one out of 10 who coached, competitive League of Legends.

So totally the same thing. You know, you take those things and you use them in whatever you do later in life, you can't get caught up on this idea of I have no clue what I'm doing. You have to think, I know 80% of the important parts of this job, the 20% that I don't know is the domain specific stuff.

And that's what I'm going to sit down and create a plan around to obtain in the short term. So yeah, that's kind of an explanation.

Ryan: I kinda wanted to talk a little bit more about the last that you just said about 80%. Kind of fulfilling it 80%. And that's something that we talk about with applying to jobs in the job search.

And we get a lot of pushback on that. We say, if you look at the job description, if you look at the job listing and we usually say 50% and say, you can, if you've done 50% of it, you can do 50% of it. And then you're confident that you can learn it the rest of it, or at least you can convince somebody to, you know, convince somebody that you can learn it, then you should apply to the role.

And surprisingly people are saying that's illegal, or that's not how you do it. You're gonna piss people off with that. I don't really know if there's a question there. I guess the question would be, how do you

Drake: find that balance?

Ryan: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Drake: I've thought a lot about this actually..

The honest truth, I'll say this outright. And I literally say this to my team. I had one on ones with all my software engineers. Whenever I joined the team, I said like, how the hell I'm here. You know, like I'm in these, I'm in meetings with people and we're doing like our intros and like my boss, she's like, yeah, I have a PhD in computer science, like this other person's. Like, yeah, I went to Princeton and then Harvard, it's like, I'm the least qualified person in the room. A hundred percent of the time I have not been qualified for a single job I've ever had. That's just true. , not one from coaching. I wasn't qualified to launching a startup whenever I had no clue I was doing to any of the product management that I've done.

I had no clue I was doing the reality is that you just have to be good enough at understanding yourself and understanding what an organization cares enough or cares about enough to get into the door. And then you do the interviews and they will tell from the interviews, if you're qualified, my interview process with Meda was.

Almost six months long. I did like eight interviews throughout the whole process. If I didn't deserve to be at Meta, I wouldn't be there right through all the things that I did. I was raised by a single lesbian mom in deep south Texas, you know, and we were on like government assistance and stuff like that.

If I didn't deserve to be where I was, I wouldn't be there and so the truth is the requirements are written by somebody who's just trying to, they're not putting a lot of thought into it when you write up like desire requirements, it's just a hiring manager. Who's just like, what would be a nice to have, you know?

And they just type up a whole bunch of stuff. And I ignore all of that. If the role sounds interesting to me, I know I can apply to that job in 30 seconds. Who, who does it hurt? And if you don't like me, you'll catch me in the interviews. That's kind of been my approach to it.

Ryan: It just kind of makes sense because there's that Wayne Gretzky quote, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but it's such a major hurdle for people to really take that leap.

And say I am not qualified for this job, or I don't feel qualified for this job and I don't want to be told no. And so I'm just gonna tell myself no, and I'm just not gonna hit that apply button. And it's, the unfortunate thing and the real thing is that it's never been easier to apply to jobs ever.

I can do it sitting here in my underwear and I can apply for jobs all over the world and still, people are getting that self doubt. It just creeps into their mind and everybody has it. Even winners like you, I'm assuming they have that self doubt before you hit that apply button. But the major thing is you have to hit it.

Drake: The honest truth, this just like an interesting, cause it makes me think about this based on what you're saying a week before Meta reached out to me for my first interview, I was on the phone with my mom saying like, I cannot get a single interview, what is going on? Like, I was just having a bad couple of weeks in terms of getting interviews.

And I was so frustrated right before I got my job at Originate, as, you know, my full-time product manager job, it was the exact same thing. It was like nothing. I was getting no feedback. The truth is that like, you're gonna get a whole bunch of nos and if you get the interview, it's just practice.

That's the reason I even took the Meta interview. I didn't think I get the job. I thought there's a 0% chance. I get the job. Like literally whenever you're interviewing for fame companies as a product manager, they say that you should be doing mock interviews with other people. I didn't, I just turned on, like a recordings system on my computer.

And I talked to myself the way that I talked to the interviewer, because I thought it's not worth going through the trouble of reaching out to other product managers to do these mock interviews. I'm just gonna like practice with myself in my room. And this is just gonna be a little learning exercise and then turn around and oh, I got past the first round.

And then I was like, oh, well maybe I should try a little harder. And then I got past the next round. Then it's like, oh, wow. I'm like three interviews away, you know? And then I failed one of the three interviews and they let me redo it. And I thought I failed the last one too. The one that I failed or the, I think the, yeah, the last one I failed.

Was the day after so like the morning after Russia invaded Ukraine and there was a true story. Russia invaded Ukraine and one of my software engineers lived in Ukraine that worked for me at Originate. And so I'm over here, like messaging my boss and stuff, trying to figure out how we can make sure this guy's safe and I was up all night. I got two hours of sleep. I literally had no shot at this interview in my mind. I'm taking like espresso shots. I have this, I'm using it right now. This like super bright light in front of my screen. I'm just, I'd stare at it right before the interview to try wake myself up and then I get on camera and I'm just, try to convey that I like deserve to be at Meta and, the whole way through, I thought there was no shot, but the truth is a lot of times it's a coin toss and that it's unfortunate.

Like who's the person who's gonna interview you. And so you have to do the quantity thing. You just have to interview and interview and interview and interview until the right things align and if the quantity's high enough eventually you'll climb.

Ryan: I know I wanted to talk a little bit about Meta interview process, since we're talking about it so much here and just to kinda give people an idea of what it looks like, because throughout all of our comments on TikTok and YouTube and everything, even emails that we get, everybody wants to break into tech and kind of rightfully so. I mean, the comps are big, you know, like for that's pretty much. Why , they look at the lifestyle.

And so since I have you here and you went through it, do you mind kinda breaking down? You said it was eight interviews and you failed some are some of them quantitative instead of qualitative.

Drake: Yeah. Sure. So first interview was a phone screen just by the recruiter. She asked me no questions, the whole thing, she was just informing me on how it goes.

She asked me if I wanted to be a manager or an individual contributor, we call it an IC. So like a manager's a people manager and IC is just what I am a product manager. Who's only focused on a product. I don't manage anybody below me and then asked like some general stuff about my background. You like spice it up and tell the most interesting version.

And then from there, there are two, they call them phone screens, but they're not even phone calls. I don't know why they call 'em phone screens. It's just two normal interviews. One is product sense, which is basically you're the product manager for uber, how would you build a, feature. For motorcycles, you know, like something totally out there that makes no sense that Uber's not doing any time soon

and you have to find a way to make it make sense. And the important part there really is structure they wanna see that you have like a structured approach to how you solve problems. They don't care about what the solution is. It's just like, how do you think about users and how do you think about like, how you validate that success and how do you think about like competition and things like that.

And then there's the other interview that you do right after the product sense is execution and execution is a metrics, usually metrics related. So it's like, how would you determine success for Instagram reels? Something like, how would you measure success? So they're trying to figure out metrics that you would utilize.

And that one's very, like once you get it, You got it. Like you just have to understand the basic metrics of how you measure product success effectively, but sometimes they'll ask you, like, how would you determine trade offs between different decisions? And that's the same thing. They just want you to have an organized approach of how you would identify different areas within a certain product domain that you can use to measure different opportunities.

And then if you pass both of those, which I think the bar is a little bit lower, so it's easier to pass then you move on to what's considered the onsite, which is also virtual. It's identical to the last ones, except you three, you do a product sense, you do an execution, and then you do like a personality, like behavioral interview where they ask you, tell me about a time where someone didn't like you and you worked together.

Something like that. And that one, I just like acted really happy and enthusiastic and had a whole bunch of stories written down like everybody else does, and then. You use those stories that you have literally like laying in front of you , to kind of hit all the points and my deal was that I passed all of them up until the onsite.

I hadn't, I didn't sleep at all the night before. Cause I was so nervous and my last interview's product sense and I thought everything else went really well. Execution went well. The behavioral went well. Product sense is the hardest one by far, cuz you have to be creative. And I thought it went really well.

Actually I was really pleased with my product since interview. I thought I passed. I was, and they come back to me while I'm on vacation in Hawaii. And they're like, Hey, everything went good. Except product. Since we, they use a Meta term called single they're, like we didn't get enough single, which just means like, we didn't know that you were good enough really?

And then they asked me for another date, I set another. And I got this interview. And so actually it's seven. So I did seven interviews total. I think it, it doesn't have to be though it's only six for most people, but since I failed one, it was seven. I did the seventh one, and that was the one where Ukraine was invaded and I didn't sleep at all.

I remember having a dream that I was being chased by a Russian soldier and I was like, not sleeping. I was really worried, went into the interview. The guy asked me, how would you build an agriculture product for Google maps? And I was like, I've never thought about this. And I like asked questions and he's like, he wants it to be like a B2B agriculture thing. And I'm like, I don't know anything about farming, like nothing, zero, you know? And, I thought I failed it. I was certain, I failed that interview. Like it was my worst interview I've ever given in product sense, bar, none, not even close. It was so weird. I remember reaching out to this guy that I was practicing with.

I met on LinkedIn and he was like launching an investigation inside the company because he worked at Meta and he was like, that was not a normal question. The interview process wasn't normal. He like, didn't let me take breaks to take notes. I was like, I'm just jobless, you know, and this is it cuz my company originate laid me off mid Meta interviews.

And so I was like unemployed again. And sure enough, they ended up, calling me like a day later or whatever, and told me that I, I got in, so yeah, that's the process and, it's nerve wracking the whole way through it's like five months long brutal.

Ryan: So a few things there. What was the answer for like, what do you remember what you said as far as the agriculture product for the Google maps?

Drake: I do. I was stumbling on my words a lot, but my idea, I had like three different solutions. The one I went with was that Google maps regularly takes satellite imagery of farms that you could identify as your farm, and then you could go and compare the performance of your farm's imagery on like a time interval basis, , so that you could see how it performs, from like season to season or something like that.

Realistically, terrible idea. Google's never gonna do this. It probably exists already, but if you show enough structure, they're like, wow, this guy thinks really hard about his answers and they liked it. So, you know, that's all that matters.

Ryan: and then as, as far as you said, you failed one and then they gave you another shot.

Why did they give you another shot? Was it, that's a standard operating procedure or was it something they saw on you? Or

Drake: my guess is it's because all my other interviews were so good. I think that my like, round before super good, my execution and behavioral from that same day super good. And so it just seemed a little odd that one wasn't good.

And I do think my interviewer seemed like they're in a pretty bad mood that they just weren't very engaged from the start. And so I think it was probably the right choice to be fair, from their perspective. But, my guess is that it's kinda weird if somebody does super well in every other domain and then has like one that's bad. It probably stands out to them. And so they ended up just wanting to get what we call it, Meta additional signal, which just means a retry.

Ryan: And you kind of said something flippantly during that whole story about you got laid off during this, what, during your interview period, you got laid off and you were just like, yeah, well I was unemployed again.

Why did you get laid off? And what was going through your head? You know,

Drake: Really, I've always, my perspective in life always is like, it's gonna be fine, cuz it has been fine. Like I've been like some rough situations. Shortly after the startup I had, blown a bunch of money. I was super broke.

I was living in this and I'll answer your question, but I was living in this apartment, and I had no electricity. I had to go charge my phone at a Starbucks. I used to run my oven at home, because I got free gas. And so I used to run my oven during the day to heat my apartment because my apartment is so small that the oven would give heat.

So like I was five months ago or five years ago, I was like broke as broke it and so my perspective's always been like, it'll be fine. It ends up being fine. So I was okay with the layoff. The layoff was, just cuz the company wasn't doing well. It was a small little, like maybe 50 employee company. We were losing clients.

We had a client that refused to pay us and it was a massive dollar amount. So they just couldn't afford to have me anymore and the project I was on that client had pulled out and refused to pay us. So, it was ultimately just like an unfortunate chain of events for me. It's like, whatever, I just go back on the interview, train.

If you run outta money, you run outta money. You figure it out. I've done Postmates before to make ends meet I've done it all, you know? And so, yeah, it was let, just focus on Meta and getting this interview to, to work out. And I practiced like crazy. And I was like, I was running every day for brain health.

I was eating like the healthiest foods I could, I was, I wanted to be a hundred percent. So that opportunity in front of me, that didn't matter was capitalized on.

Ryan: Kind of listening to this entire interview and listening to you talk, it seems like soft skills as far as dealing with people and problem solving.

It seems like that is a lot of what you do and what has come into play in your career and a couple of questions. One would be, we have a lot of people that say I have zero soft skills. Like I'm an introvert, this is the most common, I'm an introvert. I don't know how to deal with people and I have zero soft skills.

Like what can I do? Or, they don't even ask how to learn them. But you know, the answer is you need to learn soft skills. But, so I guess, how did you learn soft skills? You said that you were an introvert and then what is another way for other people to learn soft skills? Second question after that would be, what kind of hard skills do you need in product?

So those are two vastly different questions.

Drake: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's easy cuz I'll answer the second one first. Cuz it's short. I have zero hard skills. I don't know how to do anything. That's just the true, I can't code. I know like very little about the nitty gritty of software. I make like half decent, Excel sheets that aren't functional.

There's like literally no, like functions in them. I just type up my little stuff and I put in the cells, I've gotten nothing. That's just the honest truth. I'll say that openly. I'll probably have members of my team reading this, like, man, how on earth is Drake working with us? But the truth is that, the soft skills that I have are largely around solving problems and like on the most core level, like, problem I was having in my job recently was I didn't feel like I was having good, one-on-ones and I didn't feel like I was connecting very well with my engineers. And .So I went and I looked up, how can you connect better with people? How can I listen better to people? How can I make people, feel like they're being cared for? And I solved that problem. And before every single meeting, I go right out exactly what I was going to do to be better that time.

And so I don't really think of it as like what soft skills do I have or not. I think of it as like, what is the problem in front of me? And, I will then go out and try and gather as much information as I can and I view every single opportunity to do those things that I don't like as an opportunity for practice.

And so I literally put in my Google calendar, which we use outlook, but I'll put my Google calendar for every single meeting. I have practice. Just to remind myself, I'll get a little notification on my phone that this is time to practice to get better at talking, to get better at, persuading people, because you need that reminder a lot of the times, but the way that I develop most of the soft skills as a baseline was coaching League of Legends.

And I keep going back to it. It's true. I'm a hard introvert. My girlfriend and I stay home and watch movies every Saturday, Sunday, instead of going out, like I almost never talk to people outside of work. The honest truth is that I sat down and realized I'm a hard introvert. I don't have a lot of friends.

I need to get better at this. How can I learn? And I literally type up these like multi page documents. I have like an eight page document that I just wrote up. That's about like communication optimization and I just type up every single thing I can find about communication. And I go, and I write down execution for each point that I put like. Like, an example might be, make people feel more listened to, and I'll write down all the things that people make, who make others feel listened to do. And then underneath I'll put execution and I always put this in comic sans just to keep myself giggling and I do execution and I write out before every meeting, I'm going to review this document.

Whenever I feel flustered, I'm going to remind myself about ABC. Like I try and find the roadblocks. I know I'll hit and I plan for them ahead of time. And so it really is about approaching soft skills as this opportunity to learn and literally like teaching yourself. Like, if you don't go to college, you don't do certifications.

Like you have to learn somehow and someone has to teach you. So you have to be good at teaching yourself. And that's kind of my approach.

Ryan: You ever gonna publish that eight page document that you have there as like a ebook Drake Porter's guide of soft skills.

Drake: Yeah. I have a whole bunch of 'em, you know, I have like a health optimization one.

I have like, I do it for everything. Anytime. I'm trying to be better. I write out like this massive document. It's just like, It's my way of processing information.

Ryan: That is awesome. I wanted to backtrack a little bit when you were talking about, and I think this was when you got laid off due to COVID thinking about going back to college, that kind of self-doubt started creeping in and you were thinking about, going back, what were you thinking about going back?

What was the reasoning for doing that or even think going that route?

Drake: Well, the main one is that I really do like learning, like if college was totally free and it actually was essential, I would've gone. I decided I wasn't gonna go to college when I was like 14. I remember I made like this presentation to give to my mom like a PowerPoint presentation.

I presented to my mom about how the college system is actually a scam and how like tons of students are wasting their time on it. Cuz I had to like convince her that it was worthless. And my mom at the time didn't have a degree. She actually just got her MBA like a week ago. So like, clearly it didn't work.

It worked in reverse, but you know I never really wanted to go to college. The thing is, that I mentioned at the very beginning of this podcast, that I had picked three things that I cared about, that I wanted to build companies around. And to this day, my objectives to launch another startup at the time, those were like journalism health, and, brain computer interfacing.

Which is something I've been interested in since like sixth grade I've wanted to work in brain computer interfacing, and that has held true to this day. Now the three are brain computer interfacing and then probably like housing, and then journalism, which I already did. But, I think that like the housing crisis is significant.

So if I could find a solution to that'd be solid but brain computer interfacing is a big one and I figured it'd be a lot easier to launch a brain computer interfacing startup if I had like a master's in neuroscience or something like that. And so the logic was I would go back and do that and hopefully connect the dots in a way to where I make enough money and can go and launch some type of BCI startup

Ryan: for the mere mortals, like myself brain, computer interfacing.

Is that something similar to Neurolink? Is that-

Drake: yeah, so

I literally had thought about Neurolink and I'm putting this on the record I came up in Neurolink when I was like 13. Okay. you can ask anybody who knows me. I was talking about this years ago, like so long ago, I'm like, you know, now we have phones and one day we'll do VR AR, and then one day it'll integrate further into the brain and that's the right solution.

So that's still what I'm most interested in , and the objective with being at Meta is,. To make the connections necessary to get me closer, closer to that step.

Ryan: Did you always start when you were like, I'm gonna go for this position specifically? It's our product position because of that, is that what initially what drew you to meta?

Drake: You know, I still have it, I just had a reminder in my calendar for every single major tech company. And there are like gaps that you have to have before, or in between applications and the Facebook one is just every three months, it would go off and say, apply to Facebook because my logic was, I needed to meet the smartest people I possibly could. Those are the people I need to be around, who can ultimately bring me to a point to launch another start? My goal is to like launch one startup and that be really successful and then I exit and make a bunch of money and then use that to go launch a brain computer interfacing startup. And so the in between step is another startup.

And, I just needed to meet the smartest people that I possibly can meet, who would want to go with me on that journey of launching whatever my next startup is going to ultimately be.

Ryan: And that's a lot of foresight. So for that secondary or you know that middle startup, do you have an idea?

Drake: I do.

And I think TikTok might have taken it from me already, but anyway,

the idea if people wanna do research on this, they'll find some headlines over the past two weeks, but the problem that I've identified is that if you look at video content, for example, It used to be monopolized by, movies or the movie industry, the TD industry, but YouTube and TikTok and Instagram reels have, has expanded this and allowed other people to democratize, video content.

When you look at the music industry, the top 1% of artists get 99% of listens. However, I think we all have the experience of listening to a Spotify radio or something like that, and hearing some song you've never heard of in your life from an artist you've never heard of in your life that you love. And you're like, why has that never been played to me before?

Why is it so hard for me to find music that I like that is different? And why does Spotify and Pandora and all of the music platforms, why do they push content onto me? That is just made by the same 10, 20 people. Whereas all we're really looking for is high quality content. And that is a problem I'm very interested in solving.

And so that's the most likely one at this moment, but I have many many ideas, so.

Ryan: That is awesome. Yeah, that, that is something that is interesting about TikTok. They do a really good job better than any platform currently, you know, kind of serving you, the things that you wanna see in my own personal experience, I'll go onto YouTube and, or even like, or face not to poo poo your company.

Sorry, but, no,

Drake: Yeah, so go for it.

Ryan: , so it's yeah, I'll go onto the other platforms and yeah, it's just not what I want see or what I want to hear. And it's interesting and it is definitely, it's definitely a problem that's out there.

Drake: It ties slightly or the way that I think about these things ties slightly, I think, into why I became a product manager and kind of like the success of my career is that I've always followed this principle.

And I think about it every day, that how you think matters more than what you know. Like, what, you know, in my opinion holds very little value because especially now the world is changing so rapidly that what you know is going to be irrelevant in like a year or two. If you're an expert in Excel, that's wonderful, but give it 10 years and that's going to lose a lot of value very quickly.

But if you think about things in terms of like, what are the problems, the core problems, not ideas. I think ideas hold very little value, but what are like the core problems that I can address in my life, in my career, in whatever way, and then work backwards to reach a desired outcome from there, you're going to find a lot more success in the long term.

That's how I came up with the method of applying to jobs that I did. I was applying to jobs. It wasn't working. So I had a problem. And then I outlined the different qualities, right? There's high quality outreach, there's high quantity outreach. How can I maximize for both? Whenever I was thinking about how I get from being a League of Legends coach, to being in business, which was my objective, I made all these different connections.

And my problem was that I didn't have the experience. So I found ways to get the experience. It's all about the way that you think about things and not necessarily the, what you know, but anyway, that was a tangent that, that I was just came up.

Ryan: No, no, that's amazing. I think that, that was amazing. I wrote it down and I just highlighted it like underlined three times.

Like how you think is more important than what you know, and when you first said it, I had no idea what you meant and explained it. And I have to agree with you even in, I look back in my own career, I've held a little about me. I've held every job under the sun. I've been everything from professional accountant to a career firefighter like, wow, I've done it all.

And none of those things that I've done have any overlap. Right. But it's just how I approached learning and how I approached problem solving. That was the commonality. And that's amazing for you to synthesize for you to have such deep thinking and synthesize, you know, such an important concept into 10 words.

That's awesome.

Drake: Thanks.

Ryan: And I don't wanna take up your whole day. Just kind of one of the things I'd like to ask people that have interesting careers and things that we don't really get to glimpse into. Kind of a stale question sometimes, but what does a typical day look like for a product manager for you?

You know, people don't know what a product manager is widely.

Drake: Yeah, sure. So every day is a little bit different, you know, you kind of have like your core responsibilities, what I would say for me. So just to give like an example, like my Mondays are really busy cause I schedule most of my one-on-ones on Mondays.

I wake up, I do my whole thing I take the shuttle into the office, I'll go and get breakfast and then I'll usually have one-on-ones or meetings with my engineers, my software engineers to try and figure out what they're working on. Usually to make some type of connection, you know, it's not like rocket science, but it's just like getting to know them and them getting to know me.

And then I will have one-on-ones with the tech leads, that they all work under to try and figure out what the status is of the various features that we're working on. Any of the concerns that I have in the long or medium turn for the strategy of our team. And any of the kind of core executional items that we may have.

So for example, we may need to reach out to another team to get buy-in for a feature and explain to them how. Our feature is going to ultimately help them or our feature serves the company's mission. So even if it doesn't help them, they should still support us. And, you know, I'll have those conversations with my tech leads or whoever are necessary ahead of time.

So that we're prepared for those meetings. I then will, a lot of the times have we'll have like a team, like stand up or something like that. We don't do daily standups, but like a weekly standup to try and figure out what everybody's working on our progress on our various key results that we're trying to reach.

And my job in all of that is to try and outline like, hey, there's all these really cool things we can build, which is what engineers like. They like to build cool things, but here are the important things that we need to build. here are the things that are going to serve the mission the way, if you let a team without a product manager work long enough, in many cases, what will happen is, they'll build products that are really cool and then they'll find a way for those to be useful.

And then they'll usually find metrics to prove that they're useful. If you have a product manager, you're going to figure out what matters. And then what is our mission? What's the vision, right? And then from there, we'll establish some goals. How do we get there? And now we'll build features that serve that, and we're going to validate that they work through metrics.

And so a big part of my job is just to be in the room to make sure that's the way that we're thinking. But then I'll, I usually have a lot of execution based things that I do towards the end of the day. So writing up documents, like a one pager about a feature that we're building, that we can send to legals that legal can get approval that I can send to you like a developer manager so that I can get buy-in from them that I can then send or post.

We have, we use a service called workplace, which is basically Facebook for companies that we built and, I'll post it on workplace so that all the other teams that follow me can go and see it and have buy-in. So a lot of. a product manager in a lot of ways is the CEO of a product, but with no authority, that's the best way to imagine what the day to day is like you're talking to whoever you need to talk to, to move the needle.

You're making people enthusiastic and excited about what you're doing. You're explaining things in ways that non-engineers can understand. That's a lot of what's happening

behind the scenes day to day for me.

Ryan: If you were telling somebody that's trying to get into a career transition or even a young person, 16, 18 years old, how to become a product manager, how to get started in product in general.

Do you have some advice that you could give them.

Drake: If you have any related experience, lean on that first. So like, let's say I'm a marketing manager and I'll actually give us a longer example on this after, but let's say I'm a marketing manager, try and become a product marketing manager. That's a job, it's a PMM.

And we have them at Meta actually. Try to become a product marketing manager, a great way to do that is startups. Startups are an excellent way to make career moves. Like people who like to go to college, they get MBAs to make moves between different roles, people who don't go to startups, and then you do the startup because the startup has a lower entry bar and you get to learn and do a lot of different things.

And so, you know, if you wanna be a product marketing manager and you're a marketing manager, go to a startup to become a product marketing manager and then make a jump over to become a product manager. I know tons of PMMS who've become PMs. If I, for example, and I've thought a lot about this, cuz this was my original plan, actually fun fact, I got rejected by Chipotle.

I applied to work at Chipotle. I interviewed to work at Chipotle. I was rejected to work at Chipotle five years ago. and I resent that to this day, but my plan was-

Ryan: Like a burrito maker?

Drake: Yes.

Yes, like a burrito maker. Yes. And I was very resentful about this, cuz this was after the startup. I'm like, I'm definitely qualified to do this.

I was just super broke but the plan then if I was to start over was I'd work at Chipotle. And I'd be the best that I could possibly be. I'd be there early I'd impress people and this is against, a lot of the modern perspective of like just job hop and like don't stay at your company and I've job hop like crazy, but I would stay there to the point where I can become a manager at that store.

And once I'm a manager at that store and find the opportunity, and there are a lot of comp there, this is actually true. Like Chipotle will hire people who are managers at stores to work in corporate in some capacity. Then I would go and I'd work in corporate in some capacity and I'd find some way to climb up, to get relevant experience and try and be the best until I feel like I don't have the opportunity to improve my title anymore when you're early in, especially if you're young, and you like don't have other responsibilities.

Title is way more important than anything else. That when I became a product manager at ESL, I made way less than most product managers made, but I knew that title alone was going to make me a fortune later on. And so I sucked it up and dealt with it. I could have been like in sales and made way more money, but I knew the title product manager was valuable.

So I chased that title through the corporate ladder in any way that I possibly can. And then the second, I don't feel like there's any opportunity to go up, or I know it will take more than a year to go up. I'm leaving the second I can for a startup. And then I'm going to climb startups from start to startup to whatever role that I want to get to until I have that title.

And I have two, three years of experience, and then I'm gonna get that interview with a fame company, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, where you're actually starting to make, major dollars. That would be my approach. If I had to start over, you can use anything that you got though. For me, like going from League of Legends coach

which I didn't make a lot of money. I made it like actually no money. Most of the time, going from League of Legends coach to product manager, isn't a super easy thing to do. I just did a project, which was my startup. That's another, effective approach that I tell people to do. If you have the resources to, especially if you don't have to work, but if you do have to work, you can still do it.

Just start a project of any capacity and take note of every single accomplishment that you make and get metrics for them. So like, did you launch a website that you're selling clothes on? Right that like you make, let's say you're like into Etsy or something. It can be anything. This is just an example.

Make clothes, sell it on a site, find a new way to leverage Google ads. Right? Take that. What was your percentage increase? 6% cool. Throw it on your resume. , the people who read the resume don't know the context at all. So to them, 6% you put it on your resume. It's probably really good. You know, it could be terrible and make no impact, but to them, they don't know that.

And so maybe they'll think that that's amazing. If you do like an increase of like 800%, it's gonna seem untrustworthy, like not trustworthy, but you know, just take every single metric and point that you possibly can from that project that you launch, throw that in your resume. It doesn't have to be a job.

A lot of people think that like your resume has to just be filled with work experience. Your resume can just be filled with projects. I know software engineers who had no degree who landed at Google off three projects that they built over a six month period. and like, you can do that because what people care about more than anything is that, you know how to do the job effectively.

And if you know the job effectively, you're going to build a good resume. That's going to convey that. That I think that's a perspective that most have, at least in tech.

Ryan: What's interesting about that is we see that a lot with entrepreneurs or people that did freelancing. And especially in the past couple of years, they'll not only doubt themselves, but they'll say like, well, I don't really have any experience in whatever.

I only ran a little, Etsy store or something like that. I only ran a dog walking business and it's failed now. And now I have to go back out to the job market and, get a job. And a lot of people think that they shouldn't put that on their resume. And it's like, no, you absolutely, should.

You have so much experience from, taking an idea exactly what you said from having an idea in your brain and then executing on it and having that come out into the world, right? You brought that product or service, whatever it is out into the world. And you learned how to make up service.

You learn how to market it. You learn sales, everything, and it's just this recurring theme, this episode, just self doubt and people it's difficult to get over. It's difficult to get over and definitely put that stuff on your resume, cuz it does make you stand out.

Drake: The, the truth is especially with the self-doubt.

For me, what, what killed the self doubt was, when I coached League of Legends and I move and I lived in a gaming house. Cause that was my dream from the time I was like, 12 was to do that. And I think everybody has wanted, most people have wanted to do something and they've set out to do it and they've accomplished it and like lean on that.

Right? if you've done it before in any way, whether you got into a certain college that you wanted to get into, or you got a certain grade that you wanted to get into, if you're like particularly young or you wanted to do well in a sport or you wanted to lose weight or anything that you had to do, that's hard to do lean into that feeling that you have managed to overcome something difficult before. And so you have the capacity to overcome difficult things. It has nothing, in my perspective, it has nothing to do with the actual domain of what you overcame. It's the values and traits that you need to re to be resilient, to push through and, and actually, you know, make it to the other side.

You gave that example of the dog walking thing. If I was doing that, it's like, did a dog walking thing, did you use an app? Did you make a website? Did you communicate to customers? Did you send messages did, right. Like there's did you ever use an Excel sheet to do anything like did, and if you're not, do those things, like, like, even if you don't need to do it, if, if a website's not gonna help your business at all, build one, because then you can put it on a resume that you did it. and it's going to look a lot better. You can really grab at experience whenever you've done your own thing. I actually think it's more valuable than going to college. If you go to college, unless it is now onto you to A learn, but B to also still do the things you still have to like do projects and internships at all these other things.

So it's just, it's kind of harder in a way, and you make no money and so it's almost like a more difficult path. So, you know, in a way you have an advantage, like use it. If you're not going to college, I feel like it is so important to be time sensitive. And like, if you are making that decision, you want to climb or whatever, how can you be as effective as you can every single year and squeeze as much as you can into the opportunity to build that resume.

Cuz your resume is more important than literally for my experience. Anything else? How can you leverage that opportunity as effectively as possible in five years you can. The sky's the limit, you know, I like 10 Xed my income in five years or more, I think I like 20 extra technically, but, so it's possible.

Ryan: and there's a lot of actionable advice all in there. And you basically gave the roadmap of, starting from Chipotle and working your way up and. That's exactly what I wanted. So thank you. A couple of questions that I like to ask everybody before we go, you kind of hit the nail on the head. When you said starting a project is what you would suggest people do and getting a product to market and, developing it.

But is there any books or resources that kind of helped you along the way? Like you mentioned Peter Thiel I'm thinking about his book Zero to One or something like that. Anything that people could kind of go towards for inspiration or if not, no worries.

Drake: Yeah. Well, I used to read a lot more than I do now.

I don't think it actually matters if you're reading or whatever way you consume information. I think what's most important is that you're doing it consistently. And so like every single day I listed the same podcast and I listened to that podcast, all the way to the office. So, I, I don't wanna like stress the book thing.

Cause a lot of people are like, oh, I'm not a reader. A it'd be very valuable to be a reader. I highly suggest it but if you're not there are like tons of high quality pieces of YouTube content, that you can chase. For me personally, I was a pretty heavy reader tools. I think it's tools of Titans tools for Titans by Tim Ferris.

I lean heavily on that. I read it every single day almost because, for me it is there's just chunks. I just like to take chunks of little soft pieces and I like to like add them to my toolbox. And that's the way that I think I lean heavily you're right on Zero to One. That was a big part of like my entrepreneurial start and the way that I think about entrepreneurial ideas, How to Win Friends and Influence people literally changed my life.

Like it's probably the most, if I had to read one book, it would be that. Let's see, I mean, there is so many, there's a book called Failing Forward that impacted me, very significantly, in terms of just like having no clue what you're doing and just, continuing to get better every time you, you do bad.

There is a book by Coach K it's a basketball book. It's a leading with the heart leading from the heart. Something like that's coach, Krzyzewski or how you pronounce his last name, , from Duke.

Ryan: Sure.

Drake: That is very impactful on me because it's very much about like leading people and getting people to buy into a common vision, which I think is super important, especially in product.

There is, sorry. I have a ton. Like right now, I'm trying to learn about like more problem solving approaches and techniques. I'll go out and just look up best problem solving books. And I'll just get the top three and I'll try and crank those out over a month.

Ryan: And you said that you listen to the same podcast every day on the shuttle to work.

What podcast do you listen to?

Drake: It's actually not a podcast right now. I'm, it's like a lecture series, so maybe not podcast. It is a lecture series. Ooh. I can't remember what her name is. It's a class called The Brain from MIT. It's on MIT Courseware, open courseware. You can find it on YouTube.

And, it is just like an outline of the way that the brain works. And I like to know how systems work so that I can understand like of the body works so I can understand how to like, kind of hack the way that I think. So that, that's why I I'm listening to that.

Ryan: Awesome.

We'll have links for everybody listening in the show notes,

and the last question that I have Drake is where do I send people to say hi, or follow you to tag along on your career?

That is, seems so exciting. So far has been so exciting so far.

Drake: Professionally at LinkedIn's a solid one. I actually check my LinkedIn every day. I don't like posting on LinkedIn cause I don't know.

I find that, I don't know. I get annoyed by people who post on LinkedIn, not gonna lie. Shit. You know, I'm like, I don't really care that much. But,

Ryan: I completely agree with you. LinkedIn is like, it's oh man, well, I'm gonna dump LinkedIn when I run a career focused podcast, but it's just the that you see there.

It seems very difficult to be genuine on LinkedIn, just because of the nature of the platform and everybody's trying to get something from somebody else.

Drake: Spot on a hundred percent. You're right. That's what it is, but it, people can, go and, you know, add me, follow me on LinkedIn message me.

I try and respond to everything. I genuinely try and help people as much as I possibly can. You know, it actually a little, very quick fun 0.1 of my startup or company ideas, I decided to do the journalism thing. One of my company ideas was to launch a website about how to be successful without a degree.

And so I'm a strong supporter of this, project you guys are working on. So, yeah, LinkedIn's a solid one though. I'm on Twitter. I think it's @CoachDrakeLoL. I think I still do the coach Drake thing and yeah, those are the main two that that I'm pretty responsive on.

Ryan: Perfect.


And, thank you so much, everybody for listening and Drake, thank you so much for spending this time and sharing your knowledge. It really seems from this conversation that you were just an expert at solving problems backwards and kind of mapping out where you need to go. And then yourself there. And that's amazing.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Drake: Thank you for having me and genuinely thank you for the work that you guys do. I think it's so important, especially right now, and will only continue to get more important as people realize that there are alternative paths that you can take. So I appreciate it.

Ryan: Absolutely. Thank you so much. All right, Drake, have a good one. Bye-bye.

How was that guys? I know for myself, I learned a lot about product management, about having a winner's mindset, really. And as I said, towards the end there, Drake is just a master at solving problems backwards. He sees where he wants to go and then he creates a plan.

And hopefully you got a lot of actionable advice out of this episode before you leave, if you guys would like to support the podcast, the best way that you could do that is by leaving an honest review, whatever it is that you get your podcast and possibly sharing this episode with somebody who's thinking about getting into product.

If you know somebody that's thinking about getting to tech, Drake, lays it out in this episode exactly how he would do it now. So if you know somebody that could value from this, go ahead and share it with them. Two other things, one newsletter. If you'd like to sign up for our newsletter, it's the best way to stay involved with everything degree free.

Two, if you guys are on the job hunt, you guys don't know how to get the job you want. You guys need some support or just wanna say hi, the best way to do that is go to and sign up for our free community. We'd love to see you in there. And, yeah, that's pretty much it until next time guys, Aloha.

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