I like to recommend a specific set of books for new CEOs or product leaders that play a role in bringing a product to market with their team. The books specifically orientate themselves around one of my central CTO Principles, "Early, and Often" for getting results as quickly and as often as possible so we can learn, pivot, and move forward. Additionally, each book can be used as a blueprint for hiring future talent, to make sure they have the skills to help your business succeed. When reading these books, keep in mind, that the approach is one part technical recipe and one part the way you think and solve problems. Fundamentally, some people cannot be good product people simply because of the way they think, or the things they hold sacred which runs counter to experimentation, continuous improvement, and learning.
The Lean Product Playbook [ Buy on Amazon ]
How to innovate with minimum viable products and rapid customer feedback. This book helps you to understand a straight-forward approach to get product-market fit and to use experimentation and iteration to learn as quickly and as often as you can so you can get your product in a good position as quickly as possible. Out of all the books on my list, this is my #1 book, which is a must-read.
Inspired [ Buy on Amazon ]
How to create tech products customers love. A book that really helps you to lead a product organization, and teaches you the difference between great technology, and great products that are built on great technology.
Swipe to Unlock [ Buy on Amazon ]
The primer on technology and business strategy. Specifically, the book discusses several real-world use cases of product, technology, and business strategy to solve real-world problems. The book helps you to understand how you might approach a business strategy for a product using technology as a means to solve a real-world problem. The book really is a primer on getting started in leadership for a product company using technology. And these days, every company is turning into a technology company.
Cracking the PM Interview [ Buy on Amazon ]
How to land a product manager job in technology. This is on my list, specifically, because it helps to teach would-be product managers what's important to focus on in landing a job in the industry. This is important to a CEO, because not only does it give you ideas on how to interview for great product manager talent in the future, but it gives you a leg up on how to solve problems and answer questions every product manager faces in the evolution of a product. This book will help you to refine your skills through the lens of someone who would consider you talented by knowing this book.
Decode and Conquer [ Buy on Amazon ]
Answers to Product Management Interviews. This is another "get to know product management through the interview process" books that are on my list. It provides a nice framework for you to get to understand product management through. If you can learn the framework and then exploit the application of the framework to everyday product situations, you will have a leg up on the challenge. Not only that, but this book also helps you to bring in the right talent when you have to interview for a product manager/product owner to come in and "take the bull by the horns."
Cracking the Coding Interview [ Buy on Amazon ]
189 programming questions and solutions. This is not necessarily a book for the CEO to read, but more of one to leverage in the organization. The book is filled with questions and solutions of 189 programming challenges. Along with your current technical team, you can use this book as a tool to determine technical talent's ability to solve problems, no matter the programming language they use. This is a nice cheap way to assess technical talent for various levels and for various functions. As a leader, you should be more interested in the person's ability to solve problems and how they learn: and how the application of that problem solving and learning style would benefit your business. Not necessarily how well they know the Java programming language. While syntax and framework understanding is important, it's a small factor when choosing someone to build a product.
All of the books listed above are tools. Tools to help you build a product fast. Fail early, learn quickly, pivot, and move forward. Additionally, all of the books are a blueprint on how to create interviews that aim to look for the right people that have the right skills. Fundamentally, you will succeed because you surround yourself with people who think and act a certain way. It's not just about technical skills, but their overall talent. Talent is the way they think, how effective they are in their work, how they help the team to level up, and more. All of these books are meant to be paired with the CTO Principles. Because overall, if you have good operating principles being used by good people, then you will be unstoppable. A great product is the blending of people, processes and systems which create an amazing culture and a great way to solve problems.