Hi, my name is Ken Norton. I’m an executive coach, speaker, and writer.
Before becoming a full-time executive coach to technology leaders, I spent more than fourteen years at Google, where I led product initiatives for Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Mobile Maps, and GV (formerly Google Ventures). These products today are used by more than three billion people worldwide.
I launched my career about a month after the Mosaic browser was released to the public. I knew immediately that I wanted to dedicate my career to building digital products that help people collaborate and connect. I joined Google with the acquisition of JotSpot, where I was vice president of products. JotSpot’s innovative collaborative wiki software would evolve into Google Sites. Before that, I led product management at Yahoo. Even farther back, in the Web 1.0 days, I was a software engineer and one of the earliest employees of CNET, and the founding CTO of search engine Snap (which became NBC Internet).
I received my coaching training and certification from the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI), the “gold standard” of coaching programs. I am credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). I have also trained with the Conscious Leadership Group, IFS Institute, Leadership Circle, Growth Edge Coaching, the Enneagram, and Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching.
I earned a bachelor’s from Boston University and a master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). I am a listed inventor of more than forty issued patents.
I started blogging about product management in 2005 because I couldn’t find anything on the web about what it meant to be a product manager in an empowered, user-centric tech company. My classic essay How To Hire a Product Manager has since become the playbook for a generation of product managers. Hundreds of people have contacted me over the years to say that my writing inspired them to become a PM, convinced them they were capable, or motivated them to keep pushing when times got tough. I am also the reason donuts and product management have become synonymous.
All these years later, I remain committed to helping human beings collaborate and connect.
Working with Ken has changed the way I approach not only my job, but my personal relationships. When I was promoted to VP, I experienced a bit of an existential crisis. I questioned my abilities and whether I deserved to be in that role. Ken’s helped me build confidence, recognize my unique strengths, and internalize that I deserve my job. He’s able to push me, and also be in my corner.
Ken’s never going to get rid of me as a client. Working with him has been transformational. I’m finally clear about my goals and values, more satisfied in my role, and more present in my life.
I love having Ken in my corner rooting for me. He’s like my professional big brother or uncle. I reached out to him because my new role as the most senior product leader in the company was pressure-testing me in a way I've never encountered before. It felt lonely and I knew I needed to become a better version of myself. These days, I actually look forward to the emotional ups and downs I experience in my role, because I know I’m going to generate a meaningful insight working through that emotion with Ken.
Ken’s coaching improves the quality of the decisions I make. He has a deep understanding of how product-minded individuals think, which was crucial for me. It’s like working with an incredible Zen product leader who knows how to ask the right questions to get me to the right answers. He’s helped me gain clarity and confidence in taking action instead of feeling paralyzed by choices.
I was growing in my product leadership career but was running into challenges scaling. I needed someone who had ‘been there and done that’ who could help me work on me. After partnering with Ken, I’m better at seeing around corners and getting in touch with the root of any issue. I am able to articulate who I am as a leader and what it means to show up and lead authentically.
I have so much gratitude and admiration for Ken. It‘s a gift to have regular conversations that provoke thought and bring what‘s most important into focus. Our work together has been deeply centering and energizing for me. I always leave our sessions with a renewed sense of my own path as a leader.