Product Management Starter Kit: Books and blogs you need to know
Over the past year, I’ve traded in go-to-market strategies, blog posts, and 140-character limits for the wonderful world of product — where JIRA is the new Hubspot, burn down charts Rule Everything Around Me, and people (myself included) get ridiculously excited about whiteboards and post-its.
To help me pivot my career, I read a lot (and still do!). So, I thought I’d share the resources that helped me the most in hopes that they’ll help you too. Whether you’re looking to transition into product management, or you’ve been in the fields for years, here are some stellar books and blogs to keep in your back pocket.
Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list of reading — they’re just my personal favorites!
- Mind the Product: I’d argue that Mind the Product is the mother of all product sites. The breadth of topics covered is endless, so it’s a great place to look for help if you’re stuck on a particular problem. They also feature writing from the most experienced and insightful product people out there in the biz.
- Inside Intercom: Intercom has an unexpectedly really cool blog, with top-notch content across customer support, design, marketing, product management, and startups. I love that they talk about actual problems that the Intercom team has faced, reveal their processes for solving them, and offer transferrable tips for your own organization.
- Silicon Valley Product Group: Founded by product guru Marty Cagan, SVPG takes a no-frills, no-BS approach to product. If you’re not located in the Bay Area, it’s a great resource for tapping into ideas coming straight out of Silicon Valley. These posts are also usually succinct and easy to read — talk about a great ROI.
- InVision: Focused on UX and UI design, the InVision blog has great content on the latest design trends, design processes at other companies, and tips for working cohesively with your team. I especially love their focus on psychology and productivity.
- Fresh Tilled Soil: FTS is a Boston-based UX design firm, and their blog consists of what I like to call “the fun stuff” of product. They write about design thinking, product strategy, and creative exercises to help teams see things in a new light. Check out their video series, “Design Sprint Short” — their most recent episode describes how to write a “breakup letter” to uncover shared stakeholder pain points.
- Ken Norton: You must subscribe to Bringing The Donuts if you haven’t already. Ken Norton is a Google Venture Partner and one of the most creative thought leaders in the field. His newsletter covers the “big” questions in snack-sized bites, like “What is the role of empathy in product management?”, or “When should startups hire their first PM?”.
- Julie Zhou: Julie is the VP of Product at Facebook, and one of my favorite authors on Medium. She offers invaluable career advice, like how to battle perfectionism, take criticism impersonally, and manage work-life balance. I’ve also loved following her journey as a working new mother.
- Nir Eyal: Nir’s content on Nir and Far is essential reading material for people who want to build habit-forming products. In addition to revealing the four-step “hooked” model, he talks about the dark side to persuasive psychology, and how we as technologists have a responsibility to use our powers for good. Check out his archive for a treasure trove of most-popular posts.
- Tobias van Schneider: Tobias is a freelance designer and former head of design at Spotify. He has a killer newsletter — by far one of my favorites to read — that covers both serious industry topics (such as whether your product can have a mid-life crisis) and fun observations he makes on a day-to-day (like this guide on surviving NYC as a European).
- Ryan Hoover: In the last few years, Product Hunt has become a go-to destination for discovering new releases, quirky internet fads, and product trends. Founder Ryan Hoover has a fun blog on Medium, where he shares on-goings with the company, and knowledge obtained from experiencing countless new products.
- Sprint: This is my bible. Straight from the creator of the Google Ventures sprint process himself, Sprint teaches you how to solve big, thorny problems in just 5 days. It’s incredibly actionable with checklists, schedules, and step-by-step instructions on how to progress from ideas and prototypes to decision-making.
- Hooked: Here’s Nir’s deep-dive into the “hooked” model. Like Sprint, this is another book I find myself coming back to, as it provides principles for building sticky products that should be embedded in every product person’s brain.
- The Power of Habit: Can you tell I like the psychology-side of product yet? Business reporter Charles Duhigg reveals compelling stories from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to illuminate human nature and how we can transform our businesses through habit-formation.
- The Inevitable: In this book, Kevin Kelly writes about the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. It’s an incredible resource that’ll enable you to start thinking about how you might reshape your product to adapt to these forces. True story: one time I recommended this book during a panel I was speaking on, and an enthusiastic man in the back of the room pumped his fists in the air and hooted “Woot woot!”. It’s that good.
- Naked Statistics: If you dread anything math-related like me, Naked Statistics is the perfect book for you. By answering questions like “How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests?” and “How does Netflix know which movies you’ll watch?,” Charles Wheelan explains key statistical concepts in an easy, accessible way. His natural comedic writing style actually makes learning about stats fun. Never thought I’d say that in my lifetime.
This was first published on Katerina’s bi-weekly mailing list, where she shares what she’s learning about product, technology, and productivity.