Top Product Managers' Recommended Books & Resources



Do you have an eye for building products? Whether you're a new product manager or a seasoned veteran in the product industry, you can always learn more about product management. We've gathered some product managers/directors and their list of classic product management books and favorite resources so you can stay on top of your game.

Product Director, Facebook - Menlo Park, CA

Rushabh Doshi

Product Director, Facebook - Menlo Park, CA

Rushabh Doshi oversees product decisions for News Feed, Stories, Notifications, Camera and Composer, including teams working on relevance and integrity.

Reading Habits

I tend to read books in two primary ways: on my kindle or as an audiobook while driving. I almost always listen to audiobooks on commutes, preferring a good book to listening to music or podcasts, though cycle through both those choices quite often. For reading, I tend to read a bunch late at night, or sometimes during the day when I can get an hour or two to myself. I go back and reread books quite often, especially ones that I truly enjoyed or felt that there was a lesson there that I missed that might be worth revisiting.

Rushabh’s Notes on his Books:

It is hard to pin down a book or a set of books that have been the most useful. I read a variety of books, ranging from history, biographies, business and strategy, management - all the way to tons of science fiction and fantasy. All these books help in different ways - helping me think about things past, present and future. If I had to pick one book in each category, I’d probably pick the following:

  • History: The Making Of The Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • Business: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters by Richard Rumelt
  • Management: High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove
  • Sci-Fi: A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge

History: The Making Of The Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

One of my favorites that goes through the entire history of nuclear physics, intermixed with real humanity of all the people that fought in the wars, different thoughts on world orders, as well as how hard they struggled to build the first nuclear bomb. The writing makes you feel like you were there and one cannot but be awed and amazed at the geniuses who got us the ability to split the atom. (Rushabh's Notes)

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Twenty-five years after its initial publication, The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. From the turn-of-the-century discovery of nuclear energy to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan, Richard Rhodes’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book details the science, the people, and the socio-political realities that led to the development of the atomic bomb. This sweeping account begins in the 19th century, with the discovery of nuclear fission, and continues to World War Two and the Americans’ race to beat Hitler’s Nazis. That competition launched the Manhattan Project and the nearly overnight construction of a vast military-industrial complex that culminated in the fateful dropping of the first bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Reading like a character-driven suspense novel, the book introduces the players in this saga of physics, politics, and human psychology—from FDR and Einstein to the visionary scientists who pioneered quantum theory and the application of thermonuclear fission, including Planck, Szilard, Bohr, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Meitner, von Neumann, and Lawrence.

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Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters by Richard Rumelt

One of the most articulate books about good and bad strategy, what strategy is and isn’t. We often cast things as 'strategy' that simply aren't; this book brings out those differences and goes into numerous examples of how to frame strategic choice. (Rushabh's Notes)

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High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Andy Grove's bible on how to be an effective manager. This is referenced in "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" which is another one of my favorites, where Ben Horowitz combines some of Andy's wisdom with his war stories from his startup. (Rushabh's Notes)

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The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, High Output Management is equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

Buy
A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge

One of the best books exploring culture clashes when an advanced civilization meets one that isn't, as well as conflicts in between. (Rushabh's Notes)

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After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. Two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds. The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, both groups must wait at the aliens' very doorstep for their strange star to relight and for their planet to reawaken, as it does every two hundred and fifty years… Then, following terrible treachery, the Qeng Ho must fight for their freedom and for the lives of the unsuspecting innocents on the planet below, while the aliens themselves play a role unsuspected by the Qeng Ho and Emergents alike.

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Product Manager, Yelp - San Francisco, CA

Adi Pruthi

Product Manager, Yelp - San Francisco, CA

Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Storytelling with Data teaches you the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data. You'll discover the power of storytelling and the way to make data a pivotal point in your story. The lessons in this illuminative text are grounded in theory, but made accessible through numerous real-world examples—ready for immediate application to your next graph or presentation.

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Storytelling is not an inherent skill, especially when it comes to data visualization, and the tools at our disposal don't make it any easier. This book demonstrates how to go beyond conventional tools to reach the root of your data, and how to use your data to create an engaging, informative, compelling story. Specifically, you'll learn how to: understand the importance of context and audience, determine the appropriate type of graph for your situation, recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding your information, direct your audience's attention to the most important parts of your data, think like a designer and utilize concepts of design in data visualization, and leverage the power of storytelling to help your message resonate with your audience. Together, the lessons in this book will help you turn your data into high impact visual stories that stick with your audience. Rid your world of ineffective graphs, one exploding 3D pie chart at a time. There is a story in your data—Storytelling with Data will give you the skills and power to tell it!

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Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.

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Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious-even liberating-book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization.

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Universal Design Methods by Bruce Hanington

This comprehensive reference provides a thorough and critical presentation of 100 research methods, synthesis/analysis techniques, and research deliverables for human centered design, delivered in a concise and accessible format perfect for designers, educators, and students.

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Whether research is already an integral part of a practice or curriculum, or whether it has been unfortunately avoided due to perceived limitations of time, knowledge, or resources, Universal Methods of Design serves as an invaluable compendium of methods that can be easily referenced and utilized by cross-disciplinary teams in nearly any design project.

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Product Manager, Dropbox - San Francisco, CA

Alex Jin

Product Manager, Dropbox - San Francisco, CA

Alex Jin is a product manager at Dropbox in San Francisco. He works with the growth team who frequently run experiments and drive cross-team initiatives. He helps his team make product decisions that directly impact revenue and address business problems. This differs from traditional product management which focuses primarily on the core product and is use/feature-driven.

Reading Habits

I listen to audiobooks/podcasts during my commute, workout or while running an errand. For physical books, I’ll do some reading before bed.

Swipe to Unlock: A Primer on Technology and Business Strategy by Mehta, Detroja, Agashe

Authored by Product Managers at Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, Swipe to Unlock is a guide which enables anyone to understand the core concepts of tech and the business strategy behind it. It is a must-read for anyone interested in product management, marketing, business strategy, or sales roles in the tech industry.

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You probably search on Google every day. But have you ever wondered how Google makes billions of dollars while providing search, email, and maps for free? How do they figure out which ads perfectly capture your interests? And how do they search the entire internet so quickly, anyway? By answering real-world questions like this, Swipe to Unlock gives you a peek under the hood of the technology you use every day, decodes technologists' weirdest buzzwords, and shows you how technology is changing the society we live in for better or for worse. Unlock the answers you need to become a better-educated consumer, digital citizen, or technology professional.

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High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Important to understand what good management looks like and understand your managers so you can help them achieve their goals. (Alex's Notes)

Read More

The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, High Output Management is equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

Buy
Phoenix Project by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr

Great narrative that teaches you about IT Operations and the people behind them. (Alex's Notes) **He also mentions that this is a great book to listen in audioform.

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Five years after this sleeper hit took on the world of IT and flipped it on it's head, the 5th Anniversary Edition of The Phoenix Project continues to guide IT in the DevOps revolution. In this newly updated and expanded edition of the bestselling The Phoenix Project, co-author Gene Kim includes a new afterword and a deeper delve into the Three Ways as described in The DevOps Handbook. Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, has been tasked with taking on a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and behind schedule. The CEO demands Bill must fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill's entire department will be outsourced.

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Zero to One by Peter Thiel

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

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Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

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Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

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While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in. Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.

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Decode and Conquer : Answers to Product Management Interview by Lewis C. Lin

Seeking a product management position? Get Decode and Conquer , the world's first book on preparing you for the product management (PM) interview. Author and professional interview coach, Lewis C. Lin provides you with an industry insider's perspective on how to conquer the most difficult PM interview questions.

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Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell and Jackie Bavaro

How many pizzas are delivered in Manhattan? How do you design an alarm clock for the blind? What is your favorite piece of software and why? How would you launch a video rental service in India? This book will teach you how to answer these questions and more.

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Cracking the PM Interview is a comprehensive book about landing a product management role in a startup or bigger tech company. Learn how the ambiguously-named 'PM' (product manager / program manager) role varies across companies, what experience you need, how to make your existing experience translate, what a great PM resume and cover letter look like, and finally, how to master the PM interview questions (estimation questions, behavioral questions, case questions, product questions, technical questions, and the super important 'pitch').

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Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Stratechery provides analysis of the strategy and business side of technology and media, and the impact of technology on society. Weekly Articles are free, while three Daily Updates a week are for subscribers only.

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Recommended by The New York Times as “one of the most interesting sources of analysis on any subject”, Stratechery has subscribers from over 85 different countries, including executives in both technology and industries impacted by technology, venture capitalists and investors, and thousands of other people interested in understanding how and why the Internet is changing everything.

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qz.com

Quartz was founded in 2012 to serve a new kind of business leader with bracingly creative and intelligent journalism that’s built for users first. We help our audience see around corners, navigate disruption in their industries, build fulfilling careers, broaden their views of the world, and enjoy lives rich with culture.

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Our coverage of the global economy is organized around core obsessions—topics and questions of seismic importance to business professionals.

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hackernews

Link aggregator Reddit-style for tech things

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acquired

Startup acquisitions and IPOs have always been reported with great fanfare, but few sources examined the deeper reasons behind their success — until Acquired.

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We tell the stories behind the deals: how was the company started and what twists did it navigate along the way? What forces propelled its growth and ultimate outcome? Can the magic endure within a larger organization? And most importantly, what lessons can we learn from its journey and apply to our own organizations and careers?

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Techmeme Ridehome

The day's tech news, every day at 5pm. From Techmeme.com, Silicon Valley's most-read news source. 15 minutes and you're up to date.

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YouTube: Flux by Ran Segall

Flux is the personal vlog of Ran Segall, a designer and entrepreneur. On the show I'm sharing my journey, struggles and lessons I learn as I build my career as a designer and a business owner.

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YouTube: Futur

Welcome to the Futur! The Futur of what? The Futur of education, design, business, learning... The Futur You! This is the future of online education for creative entrepreneurs.

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Product Manager, Wealthsimple - Toronto, ON

Tucker Schreiber

Product Manager, Wealthsimple - Toronto, ON

Tucker Schreiber spent 3.4 years at Shopify in roles in customer service, then marketing, before making the transition to product management. From there, he left to pursue a PM position at Wealthsimple, the company that pretty much epitomizes “set it and forget it” type of investing.

Reading Habits

I read before bed almost every day. I’ll also use Pocket to save articles I come across during the day and sometimes read shorter ones over lunch.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

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Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us? Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

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The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

In his latest bestseller, Atul Gawande shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.

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The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, he reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard for care and has been heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in thirty years” (The Independent).

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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Auston Kleon

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

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When Mr. Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and its author dug deeper into his own ideas to create Steal Like an Artist, the book. The result is inspiring, hip, original, practical, and entertaining. And filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.

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