Good reads by product people, for product people
A collection of our favorite books and articles, curated by our community
- Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Steve is one of my favorite entertainers, and it was surprising to learn how the lean process we use to develop software today is what Steve did to build his fact 40 years ago.
- The 3 Minute Technique For Brainstorming Your Startup’s Product Roadmap by Tomasz Tunguz. I’m a believer in BJ Fogg’s B = MAT model, and this technique helps you learn about all three. It helps you understand the context in which your product exists in your customers’ lives.
- So You Want to Be a Product Manager by Rohini Vibha. This is an honest, unglamorous look at the role of product management that dispels head-on some of the more common myths of the role. It reminds me of my Critical Literature class in college, which was the “You sure you want to be here?” class you take after you declare English as your major.
- Keep Features Off Your Roadmap by John Cutler. It’s so important to remain focused on outcomes, not output. Also, placeholder names on a roadmap can have a funny way of burrowing into people’s brains to define their expectations.
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg An entertaining and deeply insightful scientific analysis of how habits form, how they affect our ability to think and act, and the responsibility creators have when selling their products. Spanning social psychology, clinical psychology, and neuroscience the book has a story for everyone.
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel Often referred to as an “exercise in thinking,” the book based on notes taken by former student Blake Masters while attending Thiel’s course at Stanford and challenges what we think of as truly innovative.
- Myths of Product Management by Christina Wodtke A slightly skewed but super honest review of one women’s reflections on how the world sees product management, the role and the people who do it. It’s also a bit humorous.
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug A necessary book if you are doing usability testing. It offers tactical advice, actionable ideas on intuitive navigation and information design you can introduce to your process and your team.
- Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager by Ben Horowitz. Even though Ben wrote this ages ago some of this still stands the test of time. It’s my goto recommendation for all new PMs to read.
- Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan. A good reminder that you’re building products your customers, not the board, the investors, the internal team, love and how to go about achieving that goal.
- Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. I believe that product managers need to understand and talk to their designers about why design for the sake of design doesn’t work. I guarantee this book will make you look at all the physical things you use every day in a completely different way.
- F’d Companies by Philip J. Kaplan. If you remember the dot-com bust, you remember all the weird ideas companies came up with to get VC money. Well, some of those ideas 15 years later are just weird enough to be resuscitated.
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight. This was one of the best books I read in 2017. Phil Knight digs deep into what type of perseverance is needed to launch an idea and turn it into a full-fledged company.
Greg is a Boston Product co-organizer and an edtech product manager. His favorite product challenges involve using data to create personalized user experiences.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – Startup management books are a dime a dozen nowadays but Ben’s stories about the lessons he’s learned in the trenches ring true and hit home.
- No Better Time by Molly Knight Raskin – The story of Danny Lewin and the founding of Akamai is a vivid lesson on the drive, determination, and sacrifice it takes to turn an idea into a company impacting the world.
- Leading Cross Functional Teams by Ken Norton – Ken’s essays and presentations are uniformly excellent (How to Hire a Product Manager is a classic) and this presentation is a set of practical and actionable advice for all PMs. Maybe we can convince him to speak at a future Unbox!
- Be a Great Product Leader by Adam Nash – If you’re having trouble articulating the value that a great product manager delivers or just need a refresher, read this concise and insightful essay as a starting point.
- 2016 Letter to Shareholders by Jeff Bezos – These letters usually have some interesting product takeaways and this latest one is no exception – with the section on High-Velocity Decision Making standing out. Read this and ask yourself “What does Day 2 look like?”.