Hello, I am Thomas

Hi there, this is Thành Tô from Vietnam. People refer to me professionally as Thomas. I am a product manager with an extensive background in software development. I love building great products and figuring how to build great products consistently.

This blog is about insights, PKM, product management and self-expression

This blog started merely as a way to help me understand compilers for a course I took during college. Overtime, I’ve come to use it for different purposes: noting down random thoughts, jotting down book notes and increasing social media presence.

But there still was no particular directions and no value propositions to guide the readers. As I gain directions in life, I want to reflect them here, so that all of my online presence contribute to a coherent personality and core values.

My primary goal is to help Product Managers build great products and gain competitive advantages by leveraging PKM to facilitate insights. I also need a place to express my thoughts across all aspects of life, from novels to movies I enjoy, to the occasional outburst of words in place of emotions. This blog will be about these 4 things:

  • Insights. What are insights, what do research know about insights, what underlie the insight problem solving process, how we may practically go about generating insights?
  • Personal knowledge management. How should knowledge be managed, how to compound knowledge into wisdom and insights, how to extract more values from life systematically?
  • Product management. How to create and manage successful products consistently, how to leverage other disciplines in product management, how to craft a good product strategy?
  • Self-expression. Who am I, what are my thoughts on things, what are my preferences, what do I value, how to work with me more effectively?

These four topics will form the swim-lanes into which the content of this blog will be organized, just like a product strategy.

Some jumping points to get started. You can use the navigation bar to browse more content. There’s a fair bit of them on this blog 🙂

Personal Knowledge ManagementProduct ManagementInsightsSelf-expression
Beginner’s guide to serious note-taking

Why evergreen notes need to be atomic, concept-oriented, and densely linked?
Get everyone out of the building – or how Product Managers are like Fire Fighters

How Product Development Frameworks Work Together To Enable Actions

My take on product strategy

The Build Trap, Great Product Managers, Strategic Gaps and Product Kata
Constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition as means to insightOn exploring human nature

A meditation on my self-awareness

Personal Reflections

How to conquer trauma?

Departures (2008)

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Obsidian is my medium for thinking

I’ve always been interested in a variety of things. As time goes by, I become increasingly frustrated because I could not connect all the things that I read. It feels like all my efforts were not accumulating. That’s why I set out to look for better methods to compound knowledge and eventually found out about PKM. Since then, I’ve adopted a loose implementation of the Zettelkasten method, and chosen Obsidian to be my second brain.

Obsidian is where my thoughts are nurtured and transformed into units of knowledge that would be combined with the rest of the system to generate insights.

I believe that having a system (both the tool and the process) has helped me achieve the competitive advantages in both professional and personal lives.

Note: I am not affiliated with the product in any way, except being its user and (unpaid) evangelizer.

How I got in Product Management

I graduated from Ho Chi Minh University of Science with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science. I started working since the beginning of my 3rd year as a research intern at Katalon. I transitioned at the end of my internship to become an engineer for Katalon Studio. Outside of software development work, I often asked for additional responsibility whenever I could to experiment with other career paths, for example:

  • I was in the customer support team for enterprise clients to resolve their technical issues.
  • I served as a product expert that conducted and hosted training sessions to help organizations adopt Katalon Studio.
  • I took on data analytics work for feature validation, along side with writing queries and creating dashboards for sales and marketing teams to validate the effectiveness of our business decisions.
  • I’ve been also a frequent webinar speaker for Katalon.

I discovered my love for product management back when I was still a software engineer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been more attracted to the Why rather than the How of things. It also explains why I didn’t like schools. Getting good career prospects and meeting my parents’ expectations were valid reasons to study, but I failed to connect with such goals on a personal level.

When the time to select a major to study came, I simply went with the route I disliked the least – Computer Science. I ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree, and again took the path with the least resistance.

After three years, I realized that software development wasn’t going to be a long-term fit. I was good at what I was doing, but I didn’t provide the type of meaning (for Why) that I yearned for. The discipline, in my opinion, seems to be about solving the puzzle, rather than figuring out what the puzzle is about, which is completely fine, but it turns out to be not my cup of tea.

After having that Aha moment, I started my transition by taking more work on the product side. After a year, I was promoted to a PM position. That’s how I got here.

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Talk to me

Feel free to schedule a conversation with me through this Calendly link.

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