Your one stop shop for Product Management resources.
So you decided, you want to become a PM but you have no clue where to start or maybe you’re just looking for resources to help you improve at your job. You’re not alone, the Product Manager role can be overwhelming as it requires you to be proficient on so many levels: Technology, Design, Business, Psychology, Creativity, Negotiation…
But if this is the journey you’ve decided to embark on, then I assure you it is worth it and I hope that the following resources will set you up for success.
Before diving into the details the first question you should ask yourself is: Do I really know and understand what PMs do? I bet by now you saw the Business, Tech and UX diagram or heard the catch phrase: “The PM is the CEO of their product”. My favorite description of a PM is the following: “As a product manager, you are part psychologist, scientist, and artist — and the master of none of these”. Another one I really love says: “As the team’s PM you should be able to fill any empty chair in the room”.
I would recommend you the following book if you are still trying to figure out what the PM role entails compared to other roles in product teams (Engineer, Technical Program Manager, UX…):
Assuming that by now you know and want that role then let’s go over all the aspects of the process you need to consider.
Choose your ideal company.. and team!
That may sound trivial but it makes a big difference. I wouldn’t be able to do my job at any company or with any product. There must be a sense of mission that you can relate to and feel like you could devote countless hours to (because you will often have to). Choose wisely, some of us might hate the cumbersome process of launching products in large companies or dealing with politics while others might hate the scrappy aspect of start ups. Take time to think about what would make You happy!
As a general rule of thumb I think that it never hurts to have some start up experience, you’ll hit the ground running and it is valued in larger companies so don’t scrap that idea. Yes, Google, Facebook, Airbnb are dream logos as a PM but these companies will be around when you’re done with your startup experience.
As you interview and move along the process also ask to speak to different members of the team. If you don’t feel like you could work with key stakeholders, run to another team or company! Seriously, not getting along with your Eng manager for example can set you up for failure so do your due diligence before accepting any role.
Speaking of interviews…
Interview preparation resources
Interviews can be nerve wracking and quite intense. It sometimes takes up to 7 rounds to finally unlock the holy grail but I believe that if you prepare well and truly enjoy the PM role then you will enjoy the process. I used to find the questions dreadful, until I found the right resources and frameworks that helped me structure my thoughts and approach for various questions. Here are the best resources I would recommend to anyone as a starter kit:
Cracking the PM interview
The Product Manager Interview: 164 Questions and Answers
Decode and conquer
Case in Point (This is targeted for Consultants, but that’s always been my secret weapon for PM interview prep. This will sharpen your strategy and go to market skills: strategy frameworks, market entry strategies, pricing etc… which are very often overlooked by candidates).
Websites and communities
StellarPeers (Resources and mock interviews calendar with the community)
ThePMinterview (Auto generates questions with timer for practice)
IgotAnOffer PM portal (Has great resources on how to approach some questions)
Not all tech companies will ask you to be technical but some will. I know that Google will make you go through a couple of technical interview rounds with Software Engineers while Facebook interviewers might poke you around on some technical aspects of your products.
Wait but I have zero technical background, what am I supposed to do??
Relax, take a deep breath and I recommend you take the CS50 class from MIT to get a taste of computer science. I LOVED that class, David J. Malan is an amazing professor who will keep you engaged through the class. It will also give you a really good overview of fundamental computer science concepts and get your hands dirty through problem sets.
If that can be a relief, I’ve never been asked to code in my job however it definitely is a plus to be able to brainstorm the technical aspects of your product with your Engineering partners. Also it helps avoid overcommitting deliveries to other teams on behalf of your eng teams. Think twice before saying ‘This must be a one line change in our code base, it shouldn’t take us too long’. Never, ever, say that. Better check twice with your Eng, UX, Policy and Legal teams first! :)
If this is what you are looking for, you can read my Interview prep guides starting here.
Beyond interview resources there are other ones I would recommend and I broke down the list by topic. I hope these will help you get a better grasp of different aspects of the job. I will keep building on this list as I discover more so don’t hesitate to add this tab to your bookmarks for future reference. Notice there is a dedicated section to Psychology and human interactions. This is because, I believe, the PM role is 80–90% about working well with others, understanding what drives them and how you can reach consensus to launch great products, so don’t overlook that section. This was the best advice my director of Product Management gave me when I started my new role as a PM and I recommend you follow it too.
- The design of everyday things, Donald A. Norman
- Hooked: How to build habit forming products, Nir Eyal
- Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, Safi Bahcall
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug
- Code: The Hidden Language of computer Hardware and Software, Charles Petzold (One of my favourite books!)
- Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems, Martin Kleppmann
- Online class: Wharton Entrepreneurship specialization
- Harvard Business Review: On Strategy (some parts are outdated but overall great overview of strategy from Porter)
- Good strategy/Bad strategy, Richard Rumelt
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
- Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely
- Thinking in systems: A primer, Donella H. Meadows
- The FT news briefing (Perfect with your morning coffee)
- StartUp by Gimlet Media
If you have any recommendations, send them over in the comment section! :)
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to bookshop.org/ which will help support the content created on PMology and local book stores.