product management

19 Books & Articles Every Tech-Bound MBA Needs to Read by Lewis Lin

lewis-tepper.jpeg

Tech-bound MBA students often ask me for my favorite books and articles, especially as they pertain to these frequently asked questions:

Introduction to Roles

  • What are the differences between product management & product marketing?

Career Excellence: Product management

  • What makes a great product manager?

  • What is the typical product development process?

Career Excellence: TECH marketing

  • What are the most important marketing principles?

Career Excellence: Artificial intelligence & machine learning

  • What’s the best resource to learn the basics of AI & ML?

Interview Prep: Product Management

  • How to get ready for the product manager interview?

Interview Prep: TECH MARKETING

  • How to get ready for the tech marketing interview?

Interview Prep: OTHER ROLES

  • How to get ready for other tech interviews?

Corporate culture

  • What is Google's culture like?

  • What is Facebook's culture like?

  • What is Amazon's culture like?

  • What is Snapchat's culture like?

  • What is Tesla's culture like?

  • What is Twitter's culture like?

There are a lot of excellent books & articles, but you'll find the ones I've found most essential below.

Wishing you the best in your tech career,

Lewis C. Lin


What are the differences between product management & product marketing?

Product Manager vs. Product Marketing Manager by Product Manager HQ

A simple, straightforward description of the two most popular roles. Includes an easy-to-scan infographic.

What makes a great product manager?

TOP PICK

Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever by Lewis C. Lin

Featuring the ESTEEM Method™, this classic covers the six competencies product managers must master as they move from PM to CEO. A must-read for product managers new and old. Perfect for PMs of all levels.

TOP PICK

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz is a legendary product manager that’s now one of the most recognizable VCs. Although it was written a few decades ago, this essay is still applicable today. It clearly explains what’s expected of top performing product managers, in an easy-to-read style.

TOP PICK

What Distinguishes The Top 1% Of Product Managers From The Top 10%? by Ian McAllister

Bullet point summary of what separates top product managers from everyone else.

What is the typical product development process?

TOP PICK

The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen

Olsen’s book covers the end-to-end product development process with clarity, starting from defining your target customer to building MVPs to analyzing product metrics.

Sprint  by Jake Knapp

An elegant how-to guide on how to implement design thinking processes as a product leader.

What are the most important marketing principles?

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Don’t let the dated examples fool you. At 143 pages, this quick-read marketing classic conveys the most important marketing principles ever. I can’t say it any better: violate them at your own risk!

What’s the best resource to learn the basics of AI & ML?

Hands-On Machine Learning by Aurélien Géron

Written by a former YouTuber who developed ML-based video classification systems, Géron writes an easy-to-follow explanation of AI and ML principles without any jargon. Includes information on TensorFlow and the popular ML package: Scikit-Learn. Ideal for beginners.

How to get ready for the product manager interview?

Decode and Conquer by Lewis C. Lin

TOP PICK

Featuring the world-famous CIRCLES Method™, Decode and Conquer provides frameworks and examples on how to tackle tough PM case interview questions including product design, metrics, strategy, and technical. Endorsed by Google recruiters and praised by Business Insider.

The Product Manager Interview by Lewis C. Lin

TOP PICK

Decode and Conquer helps candidates get familiar with PM frameworks. The Product Manager Interview provides 164 practice problems, with sample answers, to help you master those frameworks.

How to get ready for the tech marketing interview?

The Marketing Interview by Lewis C. Lin

TOP PICK

The Marketing Interview provides frameworks and examples on how to tackle tough marketing case interviews including marketing campaigns, pricing, launching new products, critiquing ads, dealing with PR disasters, and calculating ROI.

This book is also ideal for non-tech marketing candidates, such as those targeting CPG and financial services.

This second edition features new sections on digital marketing and marketing metrics.

How to get ready for other tech interviews?

Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies by Lewis C. Lin

This book includes 155 practice questions for many tech industry roles popular with MBA's including:

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • Finance

  • Strategy

  • Analytics

  • Business Development

  • Supplier or Vendor Management

  • ...and Product Management

Interview Math by Lewis C. Lin

For those who want more practice with market sizing, ROI, and other quant-oriented interview questions, this resource will make you feel confident about your quant skills after a single weekend. Also ideal for consulting candidates who are looking for more quant practice.

How to understand Google’s corporate culture?

In the Plex by Steven Levy

I personally love Steven Levy’s writing and effort. As a former Googler, I felt he captured the true feel for the company culture.

Also check out How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg for a different (but seemingly sanitized) perspective of Google. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock provides another ex-Google executive’s take, this time from the people operations (human resources) perspective.

How to understand Facebook’s corporate culture?

Becoming Facebook by Mike Hoefflinger

A Facebook employee’s view on the company including their early growth hacking tactics. Do note that the book can get dry. For a more entertaining, salacious (yet still informative) view of Facebook, read Chaos Monkeys.

How to understand Amazon’s corporate culture?

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

Stone does an incredible job reporting on this secretive tech company, compiling several detailed insider accounts. The J-team, compensation details, and the early beginnings of Amazon Prime is revealed in this book.

Stone’s book clearly touched a nerve. Its publication led Jeff Bezos’ wife to give this book a much publicized one-star review.

How to understand Snapchat’s corporate culture?

How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars by Billy Gallagher

This Business Insider reporter provides a detailed scoop on Snapchat’s corporate history, starting from the founding team’s Stanford years.

How to understand Tesla’s corporate culture?

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Vance gives the reader an excellent perspective on Musk’s personality, explaining how Tesla and SpaceX became a juggernaut.

How to understand Twitter’s corporate culture?

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

Beautifully-written, Bilton describes the larger-than-life personalities that started this company. In the end, you can’t help by feel that Twitter became a success, in spite of the founders.

How to Understand Uber from a Uber Driver's Perspective?

The Rideshare Guide by Harry Campbell

Harry Campbell (aka The Rideshare Guy) provides a detailed (and quick!) perspective of Uber's business from the driver-side, filled with insider details on the product experience, economics, and other Uber ecosystem details that you haven't heard as a typical Uber passenger.

Projecting Your Voice as a Tech Product Manager by Lewis Lin

Recently I was asked:

How important it is for a product manager to project his or her voice at work in tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon?

s4.jpeg

Yes, you have to project your voice as a product manager. Here’s why:

  1. If your audience can’t hear you, engineers and executives (E&Es) can’t understand your point of view.
  2. If they can’t understand your point of view, you can’t influence E&Es.
  3. If you can’t influence E&Es, you can’t be an effective product manager.

If you’re not comfortable projecting your voice, try the following:

  1. Work on exercises to increase the volume of your voice. My presentation skills coach would have me say a phrase. Should would rate my volume from a scale of 1–10. Then she would say the same phrase and tell me that her volume is a 7 or 8, so I can calibrate my volume appropriately.
  2. Get comfortable speaking up. Sometimes projecting your voice is not just about volume. It’s about speaking up in a group where everyone is fighting for airtime. Here’s a game you can play to get more comfortable speaking up: at every meeting, set a goal of asking three questions. Questions are easier to ask in a crowded room (vs. making a statement). Do this enough, and you’ll find yourself more comfortable speaking up. You’ll also find that you’ll be more engaged in an otherwise boring meeting.
  3. Find alternative ways to make your point heard. Even if you’re not a master at projecting your voice in a room, you can make your point heard in countless number of alternative mediums including sharing your thoughts in email (no limit on how many you can send) or influencing others in a 1:1 scenario.s1

 

Customer Journey Map: The 5Es Framework by Lewis Lin

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map reveals the step-by-step process of a customer's experience. It helps designers, product managers, and engineers to understand how customers interact with your product and uncover opportunities for improvement.

Do you have any customer journey examples?

Here are some of my favorite customer journey map examples:

What customer journey map template do you recommend?

My favorite customer journey map framework is the 5Es framework.

What is the 5Es framework?

The 5Es is an acronym and checklist to help brainstorm different stages of the customer experience. The 5Es helps you build a customer journey map quickly and easily.

Here are the 5Es:

  • Entice. What event triggers a user to enter into the UX funnel?
  • Enter. What are the first few steps in the UX funnel?
  • Engage. What task(s) is the user trying to accomplish?
  • Exit. How does the user complete the task?
  • Extend. What follow-up actions occur after the user completes the task?

A customer journey map can help you uncover product improvement opportunities.

Do you have an example of applying the 5E framework?

Here's a customer journey map example, based on the 5Es framework. For more examples, refer to my book, PM Interview Questions.

Does my customer journey map need to be elaborate?

Make the customer journey map as elaborate as it needs to be, no more. 

A good customer journey map is less about whether it's aesthetically pleasing and more about whether it helps you:

  1. Empathize with the customer
  2. Discover product improvement opportunities

Furthermore, if you are drawing out a customer journey map at product manager job interview, keep your time constraints in mind. The customer journey map should only be one part of your overall product design answer.