Before becoming a full-time executive coach to product leaders, I spent more than fourteen years in product leadership at Google, building products that are now used by more than three billion people worldwide.
My clients are primarily Chief Product Officers/CPOs and VPs of Product at venture-funded startups and product management director-level and above at larger tech companies. But I also work with Founders, CEOs, COOs, CTOs/VPs of Engineering, and anyone else in a product leadership role.
I have worked with product leaders from many industries and companies of all shapes and sizes, from Series A startups to trillion dollar market cap public companies in consumer software, e-commerce, enterprise, hardware, life sciences/healthcare, frontier tech, and FAANG.
I’m passionate about the craft of product management and dedicated to helping other product leaders achieve success through the power of coaching.
Coaching is distinct from advising, mentoring, training, or therapy. Our governing body, The International Coaching Federation, defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Unlike advisors or consultants, coaches help you get to the root of the challenges you’re facing. They don’t tell you what they would do; they collaborate to help you discover what you should do. Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.
There’s no finish line when it comes to growing as a product leader. Although I specialize in coaching product leaders, I focus on the whole person and the topics my clients bring to our sessions span the entirety of their lives. A cornerstone of humanistic coaching is the belief that clients are naturally resourceful, creative, and whole. That means the definition of success is uniquely yours. Executive coaching is about asking the right questions and using innovative techniques to evoke in clients the realization of their fullest potential. A coach is someone in your corner you can test out ideas with, speak with candidly about your fears, and who will push you and hold you accountable.
I’ve benefited throughout my career from coaching, and I wish I’d discovered it earlier in my career. I’m passionate about the craft of product management and am dedicated to providing that same help to others. I hope we get the opportunity to work together.
I coach the whole person, not the problem. That means our conversations go wherever they need to go to serve my client’s agenda and purpose. Below are just a few common areas my clients and I focus on:
And here are some typical situations where clients reach out to me to begin a coaching relationship:
I’ve coached hundreds of product leaders from across the industry, including executives from these top companies:
After working with Ken, I'm better at seeing around corners and getting in touch with the root of any issue. I'm able to articulate who I am as a leader, who I want to be, and what it means to show up and lead authentically.
My CEO told me recently: 'Your team loves you. You have the best retention of any department. It’s night and day from where you were a few years ago. I don’t know exactly what your secret is these last 12 months, but I know you have a great coach and it’s showing.'
I have learned more from Ken's coaching over the last six months than from any manager in my career.
Ken helped me better articulate my core values, lean into my authentic leadership side, and uncover ways to create leverage. If you've ever wondered if coaching might be for you, I'd highly encourage you to work with Ken.
There's no one better to have by your side as you navigate the challenges of being a product leader at a growing organization.
Ken helped me get beyond the analytical framework and tapped inside emotions and feelings to help me make decisions. Ken is down-to-earth and to-the-point. He helped me gain extreme clarity.
I was able to think critically about what I enjoy working on, my values, what to focus on, and how to move beyond comparing myself to other folks and towards focusing on what I really want.
My coaching rate is typically paid for by your company. All individual coaching engagements require a minimum six-month commitment and most of my clients come to me looking for long-term (12+ month) engagements. That will give us the time and space to work together on the challenges you face, develop a powerful coaching alliance based on authenticity and trust, and find meaningful transformation. I offer a free, no-obligation one-hour exploratory session to determine fit.
Available to my clients at any time during our work together
I especially welcome the opportunity to coach product leaders from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds: Ask about scholarships if your company cannot or will not cover the entirety of my fee or if you’d like help making the case that coaching will directly benefit your company.
Are you interested in learning more? Send me a note at the email address below, and tell me a little about yourself, your company, and what you hope to get out of coaching. I’ll respond with my availability and how to schedule a free exploratory session to make sure that there’s a fit. I’ll do my best to help you find the right coach, whether it’s me or someone else.
Hi, my name is Ken Norton. I’m a product leadership coach, speaker, and writer.
Before becoming a full-time executive coach to product 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 joined Google with the acquisition of JotSpot, where I was vice president of products. Before JotSpot, I led product management at Yahoo. Back in the day when I was a software engineer, I was one of the earliest employees of CNET and the founding CTO of Snap (which became NBC Internet). I am a listed inventor on more than forty issued patents.
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 earned a bachelor’s from Boston University and a master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
I started writing 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, customer-first 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.