Dear Gib: What books do you recommend to learn more about product management and product strategy?
Short answer: Below are my favorite strategy, product management, and startup books, plus additional online resources.
Below I list the resources I come back to again and again in three categories:
Additional online resources (blogs, podcasts, etc.)
I share links to articles I have written, too.
1. Strategy books
These are my four favorites:
7 Powers: Foundations of Business Strategy by Hamilton Helmer. This is the foundation for building a “hard to copy” advantage. Tip: Each chapter includes both prose and economic theory — it’s ok to skip the theory.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. This is an extremely well-written book focused on startup product strategy.
The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen. This was the bible at Netflix. The management team read this book each year then discussed it as a team.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. This book framed my initial thinking on the importance of metrics. Yes, it’s about baseball (and I don’t even like baseball!).
2. My favorite startup books
I love to experience startups vicariously, and each of these books gives access to the minds of fascinating people. There are many takeaways about entrepreneurship, product management, and strategy, plus lots of inside dirt.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. This has three startup stories in one book — PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX.
No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier. From startup to acquisition by Facebook.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Excellent writer.
Whistleblower by Susan Fowler. This book forces you to reflect on the “Bro” culture in Silicon Valley. This is a must-read, and Susan’s early upbringing is fascinating.
The Everything Store by Brad Stone. The Amazon startup story.
That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph. Marc was the co-founder of Netflix. He chronicles the very early days.
Powerful by Patty McCord. Patty ran HR at Netflix and advocates radical honesty, saying good-bye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans.
Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. This book focuses on startup strategy and positioning.
3. Additional resources
Paul Graham’s essays. He was a co-founder of Y Combinator, which disrupted traditional VCs. He’s also an engineer and skillful essayist.
Y Combinator’s Startup Library. Start with “YC’s essential startup advice.”
Stratechery by Ben Thompson. The original strategy newsletter.
First Round Review. A treasure trove for consumer and enterprise technology companies.
Remains of the Day by Eugene Wei. He was early at both Amazon and Hulu, then worked on Oculus. He always has an interesting take on products.
How I Built This by Guy Raz. Like my startup books, each of these podcasts gives insight into product and strategy.
How to Build an Iconic Company by Keith Rabois. These are three-minute podcasts that talk about startups, leadership, management, and strategy.
Lenny’s Newsletter. A weekly Substack product newsletter that pulls together lots of highly relevant resources.
What I’ve Learned From Jeff Bezos By Reading Every Amazon Shareholder Letter by Parsa Saljoughian. (Read Bezo’s original shareholder letter, too.)
But Wait, There’s More!
I write about strategy and product management, too. I limited myself to five links, based on Medium claps and Net Promoter Score:
Hacking Your Product Leader Career (4K claps, 82 NPS). This is white-hat hacking, focused on tactics to accelerate your career and build career satisfaction.
How to Run A Quarterly Product Strategy Meeting (6K claps, 64 NPS.) This essay focuses on tactics to keep strategy front and center in your organization.
Branding For Builders (10K claps, 60 NPS.) How to define your product’s positioning and brand in a way that connects directly to your long-term product vision.
How to Define Your Product Strategy (10K claps, 81 NPS.) This twelve-part series outlines a step-by-step process.
Product Strategy Workshop on Teachable. This self-paced course is equivalent to my all-day virtual workshop. (The photo below is from an in-person, half-day Product Strategy Workshop with Industry in Dublin. April Dunford, who wrote “Obviously Awesome” is on the right. This was my last pre-Covid event in early March 2020.)
I hope this is helpful. Thanks for your question.
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