The Essential Podcast and Audiobook List for Product People

Early this year I stumbled across Simon Cross’ essential reading list for product managers and instantly bought a couple of titles, catching up on those I did not know or to resume reading some of the classics. Because I am commuting and traveling a lot, I often prefer audio as a medium to inhale new ideas or internalize concepts I find useful for my day-to-day. Eventually, I searched for kind of a hearing list and could not find a compelling one. So I made one myself. I only enlisted books that I have heard, and found essential. For podcasts, I picked only those podcasts I follow regularly. As it seemed nearly impossible for me to rank the list, I ordered it alphabetically. If you have any additions or hints, any audio publications you think are crucial for product people (e.g. me), please leave me a message or a comment.

Podcasts

  • a16z podcast | iTunes
    The podcast series of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is not always product specific, but worth hearing and covers a wide range of topics. My favorite episode: “The Year Mobile Began to Truly Dominate Tech” with Benedict Evans, as well as definitely the recent conversation between Clayton Christensen and Marc Andreessen at Startup Grind.
  • Go and Grow | iTunes
    As a relatively new podcast, Go and Grow might not always have shiny names as guests. However, I like to dive in because those conversations seem to be more down to earth. Strong recommendation for Episode 19, a talk with David Cancel, on why ideas are not a good starting point to build a product and why people do not tell you that your baby is ugly.
  • Killer Innovations | iTunes
    Great podcast about innovation and start-ups by Phil McKinney, with a lot of useful intersections to product developing and managing. Check out the episode “6 Steps to Creating Better Predictions of The Future”. It is a great exercise to clarify if your product roadmap is aligned to what you expect to come.
  • Know your audience | iTunes
    Finally! A podcast about product in digital journalism. Owned by a company trying to promote its analytics product. The podcast just started so there were only a few episodes available until now.
  • Product Hunt Radio | iTunes
    Awesome podcast from the Product Hunt team hosted by Erik Torenberg where I also try not to miss a single episode. If you are interested in product in journalism, go for episodes 56 and 57 with Ezra Klein.
  • Re/code Decode | iTunes
    One of the podcasts I try to download and hear as soon a new episode is out. Kara Swisher hosts it. Not only does she get many interesting guests on her show, but also she has great knowledge and inside information on Silicon Valley so she asks the right questions. No episode recommendation, just catch them all.
  • Rocketship.fm | iTunes
    Aiming a bit broader and focussing on entrepreneurial and strategic topics as well.
  • StartUp Podcast | iTunes
    That is a ‘must hear’ for the entire first season. Alex Blumberg, ex-producer of This American Life, founded a podcasting startup in 2014, recorded and published the entire founding and developing process as a radio show.
  • The Everyday Innovator | iTunes
    A podcast covering many in-depth topics on innovation and product management. Host Chad McAllister is promoting his generic framework of ‘product mastery’. However, I give a strong recommendation to listening to some of the episodes.
  • The Tim Ferris Show | iTunes
    To be honest, I am not a fan of Tim Ferris. I find his sets of questions too static and a bit superficial. But: I am often a fan of his guests after hearing the podcast. I liked the episode with Seth Godin and loved the episode with Eric Weinstein.
  • This is Product Management | iTunes
    The podcast is owned by a service provider for UX testing. The show covers very specific topics within product management and hosts interesting guests from the industry. Gives great impulses.

Audiobooks

  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown
    This book helps you to focus. My key takeaway: If your project, your hire or whatever you are planning to do is not, at least, a nine in a scale of ten, then don’t do it. In other words: “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”
  • Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, Yuri van Geest and Peter H. Diamandis
    Analyses the patterns of successful start-ups which have disrupted whole industries within a couple of years.
  • How to Measure Anything by Douglas W. Hubbard
    Helped me to think more deeply about how and why to try to measure everything, even with a very broad approach.
  • The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    It is hard to crack only by hearing. Read it too. The most important concept in my opinion: The narrative fallacy, describing the human tendency towards creating a simple story to a couple of facts, and by this, over-simplifying a complex system.
  • The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
    “The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.” Ben Horowitz writes about his experiences in his entrepreneurial life and gives great advice within.
  • The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor
    Combined with the Innovator’s Dilemma, this is the classic one, and I hear it again from time to time.
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    Another classic on how to approach building a product and a company emphasizing concepts like Minimal Viable Product or the Build-Measure-Learn cycle.
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    This book helped me to think about human built-in cognitive biases and introduced me to the concepts of framing or sunk cost fallacy.
  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
    Again a book about cognitive bias. Understanding concepts like the decoy effect can help one shape better products.
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin
    Seth Godin explains why acting safe is risky. His solution: Be remarkable, and build a remarkable product.
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    Besides having one of the best titles I’ve seen recently, this book is an excellent advisor about how to defeat your ‘Innerer Schweinehund’–your inner pig dog–the resistance that is preventing you from advancing in your selected field. Just thumbs up.