7 books for product managers on how to properly present your idea and motivate people to choose your product

Product manager is often called a mini-CEO of the company. Essentially, it is a person who has direct influence on solving tasks on schedule, on interacting inside the team and contacting the management, investors and clients (including potential clients). A competent product manager creates products; he/she is fluent in several areas and generates ideas appealing to potential customers; he/she sorts out realistic tasks from the utopic ones. Now we are going to look at the books, which are required to read in order to learn those skills.

Qualities required for product manager

pitching a business idea

Experts from Gartner, American consulting firm, believe that having storytelling skills is a major professional requirement for a product manager. You need special talent, in order to change the product so that it becomes popular and then convince people to buy it. Yet any talent needs development and lots of relevant information. This is where you need help from professional resources: 

  • Books for product managers. Manuals in management and entrepreneurship, psychology and elocution books.
  • Blogs and articles. Content from experienced product managers, companies’ executives, successful entrepreneurs and professional marketers.
  • Podcasts. Lately popular format, which includes interviews and discussions with professionals from marketing and management.
  • Connecting with experts. Notes and records from public lectures, conferences and reports.

Every product manager has a desire to find a solution, which will change not only a particular business, but also the whole sector. Some specialists, as they go on, create their own startups and develop into general managers. The major part of a product manager’s job is communicating with people. This is the skill that requires serious studying, including reading books. You certainly won’t become a shrewd professional just after reading a pile of books: practical experience is unique and crucial. However, books are valuable in terms of theory: the experience of other professionals combined with your thoughts and practices will lead you to great results.

Below is the list of books for product managers, which will be a solid theoretical foundation. Some books explain market dynamics, principles of product creation, and the basis of customer development methodology. Other books will help you practice the skills: ingenious ways of presenting the product, fundamentals of leadership, communicating inside the team and influencing people. 

Theory: books on how to materialize your ideas

Rob Fitzpatrick “The Mom Test. How to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you.”

Written by an American programmer and startupper Rob Fitzpatrick in lucid and amusing style, it is the handbook on customer development methodology. The author believes that 99% of potential customers will tell an aspiring businessman that they like his ideas, just to be nice. Asking them this question is like asking your mom if she likes your idea – of course she will approve! Do not ask people if they like your business idea. If you think about pitching a business idea, listen to those around you.  

It is one of the best books for those who want to create their own startup!

Eric Ries “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses”.

The book is about creating a startup without wasting time and money for nothing. At the start, when you are only pitching your business idea, it is impossible to avoid mistakes completely. Nevertheless, the author suggests being deliberate right from the start. Eric Ries believes that traditional methods of conducting business don’t fit well with startups: first, you have to realize what the product looks like to the customer, then you have to create a working demo version and only after that you can think about further development.

If your MVP is on his way – this book is perfect for you!

Seth Godin “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable!”

Seth Godin "Purple Cow"

This is a handbook on marketing from the former Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing. The author suggests that any product should be unique and authentic – just like a “purple cow”. In order to be noticed and remembered, you have to create something that was never done before. A unique offer or a product will attract attention anyway.

Read it and find the mojo for your product as well as your place on the market.

Blake Masters, Peter Thiel “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future”

“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” is the bestseller from young American entrepreneurs Blake Masters and Peter Thiel. Based on examples of famous companies, they come to the conclusion that for successful business it is vital to pick the right idea, implement it and assemble the team, which will work strong as a unit.  

One of the best manuals on teambuilding!

Practice: the basics of communication and brainstorming

Jeroen van Geel “Pitching Ideas: Make People Fall in Love with your Ideas”

It is not enough to just come up with an idea, you also have to deliver a pitch – this is the key point of the book by Jeroen van Geel, Dutch businessman and UX designer. The author’s practices were highly praised by Google and WeWork. Jeroen tries to help aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their idea to large audiences and find the middle ground between flexibility and specifics, between simplicity and sophistication.  

Must read if you want to present yourself in the right way!

Michael Michalko “Thinkertoys”

Michael Michalko, the former officer of the United States Army, who later facilitated CIA think tanks using his creative thinking techniques. He also used his government service experience in teaching those creative thinking techniques to the staff of several companies like Ford, Microsoft, WalMart, Kodak etc. However, his methods are not referred to large companies, but rather to famous artists and other greats. Methods of brainstorming and logic puzzles develop a creative approach, which is crucial for any type of business and self-presentation, as well as for everyday communication at work. 

Use the ideas of Salvador Dali and Leonardo Da Vinci in everyday work!

Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright “Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization”

influencing people

The main idea of the authors, who are coaches and specialists on corporate culture and communication, is that people have a tendency to assemble in “tribes”. “Tribes” meaning teams and communities: your friends, contacts, colleagues are all in a way, your fellow tribesmen. For each tribe there is a certain type (level) of culture. In total, there are five levels: the higher level is, the more effective and united the tribe is. The culture itself depends on a leader. The authors believe that the major quality of a great leader is the ability of uniting his team and influencing people: both sides benefit from it.

The best manual on teambuilding and working with your “fellow tribesmen”.

It is safe to say that product managers always work with large amounts of data. Actively growing specialists are unlikely to have much time for thoughtful reading. This is when interactive summary service Storist comes to help – it is a unique product combining books and training courses. Each interactive summary consists of three parts:

  • Book summary in the format of an article.
  • Interactive simulator, that will help you practice the skills acquired in the summary in a real-life situation.
  • Expert handbooks, which combine main ideas and frameworks from each book. You can save all those documents and use them right after reading Storist.

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