5 books for Product Managers - well, for people
Our team consists of a Frontend Engineer, a Backend Engineer and a Data Scientist. When we started building Feedgrip 1 year ago, we knew we had a problem to solve. We all had our fair share of working in product teams and our very own ideas on how to solve it.
Thus, we started searching for material, be it MOOCs, tutorials, books, blogs, influencers on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, etc. We read a bunch of different books, started building Feedgrip, iterated, pivoted, took a break and then started again.
What I realised was that, although traditional “Product Management for Beginners” books helped us a lot to get a grasp of PM language and terminology, the books that really influenced and inspired us were the non-tutorial ones.
It was the really good books, the ones that change your way of thinking. Below you can find a list of the 5 books that Feedgrip team collectively selected as the most inspiring ones in 2019, regarding not only Product Management, but also way of thinking about Product.
Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Black Swans are unpredictable and sometimes life-changing events. Business, life, startups and product evolution are all far more uncertain than most of us believe them to be. The book may seem rather bloated to some readers, however it contains more than a few good ideas and examples. It mostly affects the way people think about tomorrow and what’s going to happen next. It helps raise awareness of the fact that while we can do our best to maximize our chances of success, we can’t control everything. Limiting our biases is always a good starting point. Eliminating them is probably impossible. Even if you don’t read the whole book, make sure you read a really good summary.
Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
Although not directly related to Product Management, this collection of research essays lists factors that influence the trajectory of nations. It made me think how one’s fate is not only related to their will and action, but also on the environment around them. On the other hand, I have always believed that startup success rates are nothing but just numbers. Every startup CEO or Product Manager holds their fortune on their own hands, thus being able to adjust to the circumstances is vital.
Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope, by Mark Manson
I’ve always been a fan of chaos. Contrary to my teamates, I’ve always thought chaotic situations were my comfort zone. The rest of team prefers things more organized and this leads to a much anticipated balance. This “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” sequel redefines hope and freedom in a “f*cked-up world” and helps us control stress by negating all of our biases. “Everything is f*cked”, why bother anyway, let’s have some fun.
P.S: There’s a lot of controversy about this book. Some people love it, some people hate it. Same within our team. This reason alone should enough to include it in our list.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land
Just because I’m sick of tech kids and wannabe enterpreneurs whining all over the internet about how difficul startup life is. It is not. You work with $3K Macs, argue over whether Samsung Galaxy S10 is better or worse than iPhone 11, travel to exotic places to attend conferences, and if all your startup effort goes south, you will go work for a big-(or not so big)-tech company. Information technology unemployment rate in the United States fell to a 20-year low of 1.3 percent in May 2019 (reference) and it’s similar all around the world. So, stop whining. And read Maid.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz
Ok, you’ve probably expected this one. The very well known and respected Ben Horowitz. This book is not about how to build a product but rather about how to run a company. Ben Horowitz was the Founder and CEO of a fast growth publicly traded company. In this book he analyzes the decision making processes a CEO has to establish and tackles problems like how difficult it is to being alone in this journey, how important the network and the support system of a CEO is, how to deal with friends and their companies, etc. Again, not directly related to product management, but this book led us having long conversations while we’ve been building our product.
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