Check out my newer post on the Top 10 Audiobooks for Product Managers of All Levels (2020):
Several months ago, I wrote a post on the Top 10 Books for Product Managers. Given the intense interest from the Product community, I wanted to follow up on that list with one that focused specifically on audiobooks.
Similar to my list of Top Podcasts for Product Managers, these audiobooks are perfect for listening to while you’re commuting.
Like the Top 10 Product Books, I’ve divided this list up based on the stage of your Product Management journey.
New or Aspiring Product Managers are simply trying to learn how to break into the career, what exactly a Product Manager does, and how to position themselves for a strong start.
“Leveling Up” Product Managers are trying to find their next step, whether that is a Senior PM, a Director of Product, or something similar. They need to learn how to lean into their Product strengths and how to think more strategically.
Advanced Product Managers have leveled up (maybe even a few times), but are still looking for ways to stay fresh and at the top of their game. They want to stay ahead of the latest trends, recruit top Product talent, and build winning Product organizations.
Top Audiobooks for New Product Managers (0–2 years experience)
Why it’s great for New PM’s: Don’t know what a Product Manager does day-to-day (or should be doing)? The Product Book covers all of the basics of ideation, validation, testing, execution, and design.
P.S. If you’re looking for a jump-start to your Product Management career, check out Product School, they’re doing some pretty cool and unique things across the USA, Canada, and Europe to teach the next generation of PM leaders.
Self Promotion Alert! The author of this blog post also wrote Building Digital Products. However, I strongly believe it is a must-listen for aspiring and new Product Managers. It’s the audiobook I wish I had when I started in Product.
P.S. If you want Building Digital Products for free, sign up for a free audible 1 month trial here: Building Digital Products for Free
Why it’s great for New PM’s: Where The Product Book focuses on the hard skills and methods for each step of the Product Management cycle, Building Digital Products helps new and aspiring Product Managers in a different way.
Building Digital Products shares real-world lessons through stories, successes, and mistakes made by the author Alex Mitchell. Additionally, the book includes content on how to build a healthy team (even if you only can influence the decisions early in your career) and how to better communicate and work with your engineers and designers.
Bonus content in Building Digital Products includes an urban dictionary for Product Managers, development checklists, and several case studies.
Top Audiobooks for Leveling Up Product Managers (2–5 years)
Why it’s great for Leveling Up PM’s: Ben Horowitz’s 2014 audiobook has already established itself as a tech startup classic. Product Management (especially at a small startup) is not a straight line up and to the right. There will be bumps, there will be rapid changes and, of course, there will be hard times.
As you grow as a Product leader in your organization, this audiobook is invaluable in understanding how to approach these changes and setbacks. The Hard Thing about Hard Things will help you start to develop your CEO mentality.
Why it’s great for Leveling Up PM’s: So you’ve been a Product Manager for a few years now. It’s likely you’ve managed a small product, a legacy product, or were a part of a team that managed a big product.
It’s time to start thinking big picture.
It’s time to start thinking disruptive.
It’s time to start thinking new.
It’s time to start thinking Zero to One.
Zero to One will help you escape the world of the incremental and open your mind to truly learn how to think new.
Why it’s great for Leveling Up PM’s: Every Product Manager wants to build products that their users love, tell their friends about, and can’t stop using.
In Hooked, author Nir Eyal explores what exactly makes Products habit-forming. He shares his “Hook Cycle” and how you can build it into the Products you manage. As you grow as a Product Manager, make sure your users and customers are Hooked.
Thanks for reading! If you’re enjoying this post, I think you would enjoy my new audiobook Disrupting Yourself, available for a limited time only price to my Medium readers.
Why it’s great for Leveling Up PM’s: As a Leveling-Up Product Manager, it becomes increasingly valuable to understand psychology and economics. Why do people do what they do (even if those decisions are not in their best interests) and how can you steer them to make better choices?
Nudge explores how we make the big (think 401k) and little (what’s for lunch?) decisions every day and how we, as architects of the systems people use, can steer those decision-makers towards better outcomes.
Note: There is a dark side of this world (see: Dark Patterns), but Nudge can help you stay in the light and make the world a better place with seemingly simple, but thought-out design and product architecture decisions.
Why it’s great for Leveling Up PM’s: Similar to Hooked, Contagious an important listen to understand how you can increase the virality of the products you build. However, Contagious focuses more on why people recommend, share, and talk about products or content with their peer networks.
While Contagious at times steers more into the world of marketing and messaging than Product Development, these are important skills to acquire for your Product Management toolkit as you level up.
Top Audiobooks for Advanced Product Managers (>5 years)
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has…
Why it’s great for Advanced PM’s: If you’ve succeeded as a Product Manager, you’ve certainly set goals and tracked metrics for the products you manage. But how exactly did you set those goals? Venture Capitalist and Silicon Valley Legend John Doerr shares a framework called OKRs that he originally found being used at Intel. He then brought that method to Google in its formative years, and the rest is history.
Now that you’re a Product leader, listen to Measure What Matters and set Objectives that matter to your business and back them up with the Key Results that tell you clearly if you succeeded or not. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this model, it’s incredibly valuable.
Why it’s great for Advanced PM’s: How are some companies (and their products) able to engender sustained loyalty, while others struggle to keep customers even lightly engaged after their first interaction or purchase? Author Noah Fleming explores that important question and many more in Evergreen.
As an Advanced PM, you need to be thinking not only about the loyalty or the retention rate for your specific product, but also the loyalty a customer has to your brand and your business. You need to think globally or you’ll find yourself on the “new customer treadmill”.
Why it’s great for Advanced PM’s: In The Master Switch, author Tim Wu explores a fascinating (and truly terrifying) trend where every technology begins in an open and chaotic marketplace before eventually growing to be dominated by a monopolist or cartel.
Is this the future for the Internet and Tech companies too? Although this audiobook is a few years old, it’s lessons are still valuable to understand today.
As an Advanced PM, The Master Switch may not provide you any tips and tricks to implement tomorrow, but it will open your mind to the macro trends of how technology changes over time.
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More from Alex Mitchell on Medium
Top 10 Books for Product Managers of All Levels
Top 10 Books for Product Managers — Broken down by PM experience level. Author: Alex Mitchell
Top 10 Podcasts for Product Managers in 2019
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Top 10 Blog Posts for Product Managers of All Levels
Top 10 Blog Posts for Product Managers — Broken down by PM experience level. Author: Alex Mitchell
Top 10 Podcasts for Product Managers in 2018
The top 10 podcasts for Product Managers looking to grow in 2018. Author: Alex Mitchell
The 10 YC Companies (S18) I’d Invest In
Here are the 10 YC S18 companies I’d invest in (out of the 132 who demoed). Author: Alex Mitchell
6 Ways Anyone Can Invest in AI
It’s time you invested in Artificial Intelligence’s growth. Author: Alex Mitchell
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click them and purchase a product.