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Books for product managers

Overview books:

Interview preparation (good for breadth, even if you’re not applying for jobs):

Other good books for PMs:

All PMs should have a 101-level understanding of these topics:

  • User research
  • Financial Models (cash flow, NPV, payback period)
  • Writing (how to structure documents and sentences; use something like The Pyramid Principle)
  • Marketing/growth (different channels, CAC, LTV etc.)
  • Presenting data (use Say it with charts by Gene Zalazny, or something by Stephen Few (Show me the numbers, or Information dashboard design)
  • Software architecture (including how code talks to databases and APIs; concept of technical debt and how trade-offs are made)
  • Data networking (OSI model, how it relates to TCP/IP)
  • Scripting (bash/sed/awk or perl or python)
  • Coding (in some high level OO or functional language; ideally Python or Java)
  • Project Management (it’s not your job, but sometimes you have to do it)

Tools PMs should be comfortable using, in order to analyse stuff and/or communicate their ideas:

  • Something for rough mockups, e.g. Balsamiq
  • (optional) Something for finer mockups, e.g. Sketch 3
  • Something for quickly drawing flow charts (PowerPoint or Google Slides will do)
  • Excel (and basic best practices like highlighting inputs, not mixing inputs and calculations, etc.)
  • Using Powerpoint or Google Slides) to create slides to support a presentation (not just decks for people to read offline or, worse, a deck that is made for presentation, but is so wordy that people focus on the slides instead of the presenter)
  • SQL (to help you answer your own questions)
  • A high-level language (e.g. Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Java)
  • Google Analytics (or MixPanel or whatever your company uses)