WFH Tech Product Manager

Eight Essentials profiles world-class professionals and the tools, gadgets, and gear they trust. We make money through affiliate links to some recommended products and donate half of profits to effective charities. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more. If you like this, forward it to a friend! They can signup at

Ethan Ruhe is a product manager at Confluent, based in San Francisco. He works with engineers and designers to build data infrastructure in the cloud. If that sounds abstract, know that your data probably flows through Confluent’s software several times a day (e.g., when you use your credit card or check the status of an online order). He works from home, but travels a lot. You can see both of these inspirations in his product recommendations. You can find him on Twitter @ethanruhe.

#1 Dell U3821DW UltraSharp Monitor: You can comfortably work on 3 side-by-side windows on this 38-inch ultra wide monitor (e.g., Slack, text editor, and a browser). It uses a powered USB-C cord to connect to my MacBook. So, a single cord both charges my computer and provides output to the monitor; the simplicity is glorious. The screen is also curved, so it’s like you’re getting a gentle hug from your work.

#2 ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Sport 2.0: These are the best underwear in the world. Their tagline used to be something like “two pairs, five countries, no problems.” Even if you’re not that aggressive, you’ll appreciate how much better these are than skivvies from any of the companies that advertise on podcasts.

#3 Lululemon 5 Year Basic T-shirt: Classic, moisture wicking, can be dressed up, will stand up to a workout. It’s a great default.

#4 Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells: Relative to a gym membership, these are a bargain. They also might be the highest-rated product I’ve ever seen on Amazon.

#5 American Express Platinum Card: The $695 annual fee is a lot, but if you travel enough it’s actually a bargain. Annually, you get $200 in Uber credit + $200 in airline credit + $100 in Saks credit + $240 in Audible credit + $189 for Clear (faster transit through airport security) + Global Entry (TSA pre-check plus faster transit through customs). Most important of all, however, if you book at a large subset of the hotels on their website (“Fine Hotels & Resorts”), you get 12pm check-in + 4pm check-out + breakfast for 2 people + a room upgrade + something like a $100 property credit for each booking + 5% of the value of the booking back as Amex points. It is a much nicer hotel experience! A 100,000 point referral offer (worth $1,000) is available here.

#6 Sonos: Audiophiles with the patience to manage a rat’s nest of cords and bad UIs will scoff, but I love the simplicity and rock solid software from Sonos. I use an Arc and Sub with the TV and have a few other zones setup throughout the house (a pair of Fives in the family room and a One in the kitchen).

#7 Figma: Nothing quickly communicates a software idea better than a mockup. This is an important tool in my day job.

#8 Bodum Stainless Steel French Press: Since it’s stainless steel, it won’t break when you drop it. It’s double-walled, so your coffee will stay warmer longer. And, it can be chucked in the dishwasher for a fast cleanup. I’ve had mine for 10 years and I’m confident it’ll outlast me.