The best product management resources for 2021


We asked some of our product manager friends about their favorite resources for levelling up their product management knowledge, staying on top of industry trends, and anything else they do to expand their horizons and become better product leaders.

Best product management books

Let’s start with the staple reads that all product managers should have on their shelves:

Marty Cagan’s INSPIRED For learning how to create tech products people love. If you’re looking for something to help you think about product discovery and delivery, Marty is the PM you want to listen to.

Melissa Perri’s Escaping the Build Trap This book contains timeless, top-notch industry advice on how to build efficient and reliable product organizations, as well advice for building a solid product culture.

Nir Eyal’s Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products Drawing from his extensive experiences as a product leader, Nir offers a ton of practical examples to help product managers develop a framework of customer engagement that’s focused on bringing them back for more.

Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping The inventor of the method, Jeff Patton, shows you how user story mapping can improve the conversations you have with your teams about the projects you’re all working on.

Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup The bible of lean and agile concepts that can be applied to a startup environment. Eric focuses on how to build a reliable continuous feedback loop of building, measuring, and learning.

Dan Olsen’s The Lean Product Playbook Whether you’re a well-established enterprise or a new startup, this book offers a practical guide for applying the principles of the Lean Startup methodology.

Ash Maurya’s Running Lean Drawing from innovation methodologies like Lean Startup, Customer Development, and bootstrapping, Ash is committed to helping his readers achieve better product/market fit and business success.

Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden’s Lean UX The authors of the book offer principles, tactics, and techniques for applying the Lean UX methodology at your organization.

Competing Against Luck by Clayton M. Christensen This book lays out the Jobs to Be Done framework for achieving innovation at your organization and deliver products that your customers are eager to pay “premium prices” for.

Product Management in Practice by Matt Lemay Focusing on the CORE connective skills—communication, organization, research, execution—Matt lays out an approach for product managers to build successful product management practices across all industries and types of teams.

The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky In his acclaimed book, Scott gives founders and business leaders the tools and insights they need to navigate the uncertain—and often chaotic—world of building products and teams.

Spring by Jake Knapp While working at Google, Jake Knapp developed this five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.

Other than the aforementioned book titles that came up a lot, here are the other suggestions made by PMs. Some of these books aren’t necessarily about product-related topics. These are books that PMs have found useful and groundbreaking towards how they think about the work they do 🤔:

The Hard Things About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers By Ben Horowitz Considered a bookshelf staple for startup founders, this book by (current VC, previous PM, and founder) Ben Horowitz gets deep into the challenges leaders should prepare for before building a business.

This book was recommended by many PMs we surveyed, and it’s part of the list of book recommendations for PMs written by Roadmunk co-founder and CEO Latif Nanji. In his words:

I love his style because it’s relatable to any product person. The problems he discusses are not unique — they cross products, markets, customers of all kinds.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss There’s almost too much content and literature out there that offers advice on how to communicate with your teams. This book, written by a former former FBI hostage negotiator, can show you how being a great negotiator fits into the skills of effective product leaders.

In the words of Anthony Morelli, Product Manager at Lucid Software, who recommended this book:

It’s an interesting book about negotiation punctuated by exciting anecdotes. I found it very helpful in understanding more about psychology and finding some techniques to be more effective in user interviews.

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull If you’re interested in how to inject more creativity in the work you do, Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, is the guy you want to listen to. At its core, the book is a fantastic read on how to build a creative work culture. But it’s also about learning how to communicate “the ideas that make the best in us possible” (In Catmull’s words).

Influence by Robert Robert Cialdini Initially published in 1984, this book will help you answer questions like: How can you be convincing and get people to say yes? and what do other people do to get you to say yes? This book is a case study on persuasion: what it is, how we’re persuaded by others, and how we can become more persuasive ourselves in our personal lives and at work.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely Using the lessons he learned in a variety of interesting experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely challenges our innate assumption that we’re constantly acting in rational ways. In this NYT bestseller, Dan explores the “invisible illogical forces” we’re not consciously aware of—like social norms and emotions—and which tend to get in the way of our rational decision-making.

High Output Management by Andy GroveThis book by former Intel CEO Andy Grove is now a Silicon Valley staple. It’s written around the conviction that the key to succeeding in creating and maintaining businesses comes from good management first, and everything else second. Andy’s book, praised by people like Ben Horowitz and Mark Zuckerberg, gets into his experience in creating highly motivated teams and shows you that it’s always possible to reinvent and revolutionize the way we work.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve KrugThis is a book about web design and usability, however, it’s a must-read for anyone who does any kind of work that lives on a website. What’s intuitive navigation, really? And how can you apply the principles of information design to improve the customer experience on your website? Steve answers these questions and more.

The Making of a Manager by Julie ZhuoManagement is so much more than achieving results and providing value that pushes a business’ goals forward. It’s also about knowing how to prioritize, staying organized, and leading with trust and confidence. In her book, Julie Zhuo helps managers prepare for the uncertain as well as leading the teams you manage towards said uncertainty. Julie offers a perspective shift from managing to deliver output and towards getting “better outcomes from a group of people working together.”

Bossypants by Tina Fey One surprising aspect of Tina Fey’s bestselling book is that it doesn’t focus too much on comedy lore. At its core, it's about how Tina found success in managing a sketch writing team in spite of the cutthroat nature of the TV writing industry.

Why should product managers specifically read this book? In the words of Julia Friessen, eCommerce Product Manager at Knixwear:

It has nothing to do with Product Management and everything to do with improv. Being quick on your feet and saying 'yes and' are key skills to PMing.

Rework by Jason Fried There’s a lot of hot air out there on what business should do to succeed. The same old advice focuses on studying the competition, developing intense business plans in writing and looking for investors. Jason’s book is revolutionary in how it teaches the reader that less is more when it comes to achieving success as a business leader, as an entrepreneur and as an individual contributor at an organization.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie This isn’t a book about business, design or technology. However, like a few other titles on this list, this book contains general advice that product managers can benefit from. Product management is a role with many responsibilities and stress factors, and it can feel like anxiety and worry about the future are the only things keeping you going. The book focuses on how to reduce fatigue, be more mindful and tapping into the real motivators that make work a sustainable effort.

Best product blogs and publications

There’s a lot of value in product-focused blogs and publications. These are the sites where you can find mindful and engaging interviews with product leaders, first-hand accounts of how PMs have solved problems within their organizations, and stories of innovation and strategic success.

This is a partial list of the common names that came up over and over during our conversations with PMs. It doesn’t include the blogs and publications we already covered in our comprehensive list of the 50 publications, thought leaders, and communities that offer great content for product people.

Stratechery These regularly published and lengthy essays by Ben Thompson provide an excellent commentary on business strategy in the tech industry.

Product Collective The weekly newsletter, currently being read by 25,000 product people, curates a list of resources on topics like product strategy, customer feedback, product analytics and more.

A16Z This digest, created by the Andreessen Horowitz group, is one of the most respected in the industry when it comes to thought leadership in the tech, business, and VC spaces. For anyone who likes to think about innovation and the factors that decide the future of technology.

Amplitude’s Blog Amplitude, a tool widely used by all types of product professionals, has created a helpful, in-depth library of resources that aim to help product professionals get better at their day-to-day work.

Best product newsletters

Publications and medium blogs are great for reading firsthand account experiences of product professionals and to consider different frameworks and strategies in your work. But the best way to inject that practice into your day-to-day is by getting these pieces of valuable insight straight to your inbox.

Earlier this year, we wrote a list of the 10 newsletters worth following for product managers. Here are some new additions:

  • I Manage Products. Jock Busuttil, founding director of Product People, is dedicated to shedding light onto his work and the lessons he learns along the way. All for the benefit of his colleagues working in product.

  • The Beautiful Mess. Self proclaimed “prod dev nut” John Cutler, whose Twitter feed is a must follow for all product professionals, began this newsletter in 2020 to write more deeply and regularly about “cross-functional product development.”

  • Good Product Management. Scott Colfer, Head of Product at the UK’s Ministry of Justice, has over 15 years of product experience, specifically in the sectors of public service, nonprofits, and social enterprises.

  • Alex Danco. Alex’s unique perspective on long-term trends in the innovation economy are as thoughtful as they are educational. You’ll find value and insights in every issue that comes through your inbox.

  • Azeem Azar. Azeem’s newsletter is unique in how it examines the future of technology from a “multidisciplinary and holistic” perspective. His analytical point of view considers how economics, technology, philosophy, and business interact together to shape the future.

  • Adam Wintle. Product management soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Adam’s newsletter presents solutions framed by the belief that “people are at the root of the majority of problems” faced by product managers.

  • Product Stride. This podcast is for the product leaders who face strategic challenges and are hungry to find out about the best practices that fellow product professionals have used. Each newsletter focuses deeply on a topic, with a particular focus on B2B enterprise software.

  • Axios Login. The folks at Axios have a journalistic dedication to creating some of the most impactful and focused content for their audiences.

  • Growth.Design. For those interested in the user experience side of product, this is the newsletter for you. Their case studies, delivered in a fun comic book format, examine the biggest companies today from the lens of growth and UX experiences.

  • The Looking Glass. A daily newsletter that covers some of the most interesting blog posts from leaders in the startup and tech world.

If you're particularly interested in the perspective of venture capitalists, we suggest you subscribe to the following newsletters:

  • Mattermark. Created for both operators and investors, this newsletter delivers the most insightful content by thought leaders “in VC, startups, and related enterprises.”

  • Brad Feld. With a breadth of experiences that go as far back as 1987, Brad Feld’s writing and speaking engagements take a deep look at venture capital investing and entrepreneurship.

  • Thomas Tunguz. Thomas, a self-proclaimed “student of startups” is a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.

  • Fred Wilson. Fred Wilson, a seasoned VC, provides an in-depth perspective on a range of topics from VC/Tech to entrepreneurship, crowdfunding, and specific industry “hacking” (education, finance, healthcare and government).

  • Connie Loizos. This newsletter is for anyone with a specific interest in the VC scene in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Best podcasts for product people

What’s in a great podcast for product people? Our philosophy for our own podcast, Product to Product, is grounded in the belief that the best content comes from conversations between product leaders who have interesting stories to tell about their experiences.

Great podcasts that touch on product management, and related topics, also explore tactical advice and lessons you can take away and apply after listening to a single episode. (You can check out our previous roundup of podcasts with a lof of value for product managers here.)

Product by Design Each episode, this enlightening podcast gets deep into what makes great product experiences, with a focus on user experience design.

Robinhood Snacks Podcast This podcast isn’t about product management, but the daily 15 minute breakdowns of the day’s biggest business tech/business stories can help product managers keep track of market trends and consumer behaviour.

Software Engineering Daily For the PMs with a technical background, this podcast is dedicated to helping its listeners “work more intelligently.” Their mandate is clear: “After every episode, you should feel like you are 1% better at understanding how software works.”

Invest Like The Best This podcast gets into the “ideas, methods, and stories of people that will help you better invest your time and money.”

Rework Basecamp co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson believe there’s a better way to work and run a business outside of scaling fast and raising money. The podcast features stories by founders who stayed small and grew slow, and succeeded.

Best product management conferences and events

Conferences are great for learning from the insights of the top leaders in your industry. They also offer an opportunity to meet product people like yourself, network, and engage in conversations that are educational and illuminating.

We’re all currently surviving a pandemic, which has forced in-person events to either be phased out or moved to an online format due to safety concerns. Here are some of the virtual conferences you can look forward to in 2021:

The Product-Led Festival Featuring product-led pioneers from companies like Uber, Discovery, Lenovo, and GitLab, the PLG Festival presents a range of knowledge and insights for all types of product leaders.

Mind The Product The self-proclaimed “largest product conference in the world” has successfully pivoted to a digital format. This year’s digital conference brought together over 1000 product leaders from around the world to hear brand new product insights from some of the biggest names in product.

Women in Product Women in Product is a non-profit organization passionate about product management, aiming to build a strong community of women builders and leaders. With their annual conference, they hope to push their mission to educate, empower, and create a global community of women product managers to build products at scale.

INDUSTRY The folks at INDUSTRY are committed to creating the conference for product people, with an emphasis on highlighting the latest methods and tools for product managers to truly succeed at what they do. And this commitment has extended to the online version of the conference.

Productized The Productized conference gathers product leaders from across the world who share their experiences, strategies, and knowledge on how to improve their product management methods to make processes easier and more efficient.

Product Management Festival PMF’s mission is to “amplify the impact of product management globally - not only the products themselves, but also on their organizations, to help product managers be more successful, and to make a real difference while offering the best products on the market.”

Best product management training and courses

Product management is a field with many challenges and difficulties. One of these challenges stems from the fact that product management isn’t like engineering or development, which have clearer educational paths and formal educational courses available in colleges and universities.

Product managers often have to ad hoc their learning by collecting knowledge from many different sources and educational modules. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any useful training out there that you can try. Here’s a list of a few courses recommended by PMs:

ReforgeReforge’s Career Accelerator programs are widely known for distilling product knowledge from the top leaders in the industry, teaching students the proven strategies used by the fastest-growing products today. The 6-week programs, led by experienced product executives, teach students how to identify the problems that really matter and how to create transformative results at their company.

Introduction to Content Design by GDSUser-centricity is no longer exclusively a design concept. Product managers today benefit from learning how to use techniques like prototyping and journey mapping to improve product experiences. This course also takes a look at how content designers work across the government and the public sector.

Pragmatic institute’s Product CoursesAs one of the world’s largest and most respected product training companies, Pragmatic Institute delivers in-person training, hands-on practice, templates, and an alumni community where you can connect with peers around the world.

Product FocusProduct Focus teaches the skills and provides the tools to excel in product management and product marketing. With a focus on technology-based products, they offer private training for companies and public courses for individuals in cities across the UK, Europe, and the USA.

Melissa Perri’s Product InstituteThe Product Institute covers learning from every format and angle. Featuring self-paced courses, easy-to-apply methods and frameworks, and never-boring content, this online learning hub—created by product experts—aims to support product professionals at every stage of their career.

Brainstation’s Product Management CourseThis course gets deep into the core parts of product management, offering students a solid foundation to prepare them to lead. From opportunity discovery, to MVP development, go-to market strategies and using agile methods to manage product teams.

“I really enjoyed the Product Management course from Brainstation I took a few years ago. It provided a great overview of what Product Management is all about. I got to be part of the Associate Product Management program which went much deeper than the Brainstation course, with seasoned PMs as mentors.”
— Kobi Kunasekaran, Product Manager at Roadmunk

Best product management online communities

Because of the ad-hoc and nascent nature of product management, product managers have unique daily challenges that can only be truly understood by other PMs. That’s where online communities, groups, and forums can offer a space for hashing out problems, offering and receiving career advice, discussing first-hand account best practices, and making connections with peers.

Here are some of the most active and helpful product communities we’ve found on Slack, Facebook and LinkedIn.

  • TechMasters. A community for people who work in tech, founders, product leaders and anyone in between. It’s a great group for discussing technical problems and learning new skills from seasoned peers.
  • ProductHive. A Utah-centric product management community, they provide free and low-cost lectures, workshops, and other educational events that serve professionals in Product Management, Strategy, and Design.
  • PMHQ. The PMHQ Slack community is one of the best resources for connecting with peers, learning how to break into product management, how to excel on the role, and how to evolve and grow your career as a PM.
  • Product Collective. For sharing resources and having conversations about becoming better product people. This community was founded by two product people (Mike Belsito and Paul McAvinchey) to help their peers network with industry leaders.
  • Product School. Product School’s communities can be found everywhere: on Facebook, LinkedIn and Slack. The latter features 60,000 active members, regular AMAs and 26 local channels for connecting with region-specific PMs.
  • Product Coalition. For $10 a year, you can access the highly engaged 7,000-member Slack community. You’ll find 15+ channels for engaging in conversations that range from book clubs to resume and interviewing advice.
  • Product-Led Alliance. A community for product people who ascribe to the product-led philosophy for development and business growth. In their own words: “For those new to product-led growth (PLG) - we want to inspire and inform your journey, and for those who already consider themselves product-led, we want to provide the tools you need to innovate and continue to propel your growth."

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