Friday, February 28, 2020


I love words. I love to read and write. I was an English major for a reason.

As I implied in that post, it’s important to know how to use language to engage emotion. However, you also need to know when to use a particular tool and when to leave it in the box.

I used to work with a very successful CEO and CMO who would both, when feeling feisty, smack down any use of metaphor or simile  in a presentation.
  • “We’re trying to put ten pounds in a five pound bag”
  • “Support is drowning in priority one issues”
  • “Everything is coming up roses and these are our salad days”

I can still hear “just say what you mean!” in the back of my head.

  1. It is incredibly disconcerting to be forced out of flow and into analyzing your own sentences while you deliver them, so the lesson sticks
  2. The English language is just dripping in simile and metaphor (see what I did there)
  3. It’s good advice. A metaphor is assuming that your entire audience shares your level of knowledge and your set of opinions
Say you want to distinguish the capabilities of two teams. You might use a metaphor like medical specialists or sports positions. Is it truly going to land? Or are you just trying to find a way to soften a message that you’re afraid to say?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Product Management Reading List

Inspired by Andy Nortrup’s thorough posting, I’ve dusted off my own recommended reading list. It doesn’t have reviews or feedback, just raw links. An interesting attribute of the times is that product management is recognized as an important function, but it’s not narrowly defined. That leaves a lot of latitude for recommending preparatory materials, and different lists have very different mental models of what a PM is going to do.

My approach to this has altered over the years as I’ve run more PM internships and mentored line PMs to avoid my mistakes and make their own. Specifically, I like to provide research pointers like this instead of prescriptive shortcuts; nothing kills the joy of discovery like forced march reading. While there’s a lot of interesting material here, it’s not all going to work for a given reader at the time they first see it. So poke around, find what works for you. If you’re coming from a STEM background, you may not need as much math and finance grounding as I have needed.

Product Manager Reading List

My Goodreads lists: product-management and math

Specific to the discipline of product management

Marty Cagan, SVPG

Rob Fitzpatrick

Michael Mace

Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Eric Ries

Specific to leadership and teamwork

Kim Scott

Michael Lopp (Rands)

Passing knowledge of domains we influence and are influenced by

Thomas Freese

Seth Godin

Don Norman

Neal Stephenson

Alex Reinhart

Karen Berman

Dana Keller

Kieran Healy

Phil Simon