Learn from the giants on how to build great products

Change how you think of building products

These books should open up your eyes to how to think about products. Reading even one of them will change your mindset. Inspired by Marty Cagan is the one I would pick over others.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!! In the spirit of gratitude, I would like to acknowledge some of the best thought leaders who have opened up my mind to think about building products and working in startups. Like Newton, the inventor of the field of calculus, said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’

So here are my favorite books and thought leaders that will help you think about building world-class products. If you are not into reading, there are always Youtube talks, Podcasts, and Audible books by these thought leaders. In whatever way you consume content, I hope this list will benefit you in avoiding waste of energy and frustration.

  1. Inspired by Marty Cagan. A classic, and if there is one book you should read, this is the one. Read it cover to cover and then start from the beginning :-)
  2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Another classic. This is geared toward startup, but the product principles still apply in companies large or small and everything in between.
  3. The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank. The man and the book that started the Lean Startup revolution. Eric Ries was the master student of the Silicon Valley legend Steve Blank when teaching at UC Berkeley HaaS School of Business. Nothing more to say.
  4. The Startup Playbook by David Kidder. Having experienced three startups at close quarters, I wish I had read this a long time back :-)
  5. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. It is easy to dream up stuff but getting them built and adopted is hard. Guy Kawasaki has this to say about this book ‘Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. This book helps you with the hard part.’
  6. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. Further down the product pipeline, it is not enough to build innovative and valuable products. There is a lot more work to do, find early adopters, market, and sell the heck out of it — I guess life is never easy or fair :-). The framework by Geoffrey Moore details the market psychology of innovation, the pitfalls to avoid, and how to get innovative products and ideas adopted.

The above list is quite daunting and is a significant investment of your time. But then, have you wondered why so many products and startups fail? Do people learn from others’ experiences or re-invent the ‘failure wheel’? By reading these books, you might build innovative stuff or you will fail in a brand new way — the least you can do is innovate in the way you fail :-) The giant I will attribute this way of thinking to is Andrey Ryabov, my rockstar CTO at Alan AI — he was my stealth CPO too :-) I had the good fortune and privilege to work and learn from him. I understood more about the nuances of AI NLP and how to build a Conversational AI product than from the best research papers out there — since he read all of them and made it real for the product :-). No NLP concept I threw at him ever surprised him. Andrey Ryabov is the best-kept AI NLP talent secret in Silicon Valley — and good luck trying to hire him :-) If I were to start a new startup, he would be my co-founder!




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Krishna S

Krishna S

Changing the world.. one blog at a time :-)

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