Episode 0: Reading product books by yourself is a waste of time

Anna Marie and I geek out on product all the time. These conversations tend to be particularly eye-opening for us because of the fact that we work on very different types of products, at very different types of companies. Anna Marie is a Product Manager at Yammer, an enterprise collaboration tool owned by Microsoft. Meanwhile, I work on a consumer news product at my one-person company, Quibb. We’ve learned a ton from each other, and wanted to put a bit of pressure on ourselves to have even better, more focused conversations.

First step? We choose product-related books to read concurrently. Once we’re both finished, we’ll sit down — just the two of us — and have a discussion about the book. We’ll chat about what we learned, what we liked, where we disagreed, and professional experiences that we’ve had that are related to the book’s content.

…And we’ll record it!

The Clearly Product Book Club Podcast

Today we’re happy to announce that these discussions will be the core of our new podcast. We’ll be choosing books that cover some area that is required to be a strong product person. Beyond applying our own personal experiences as they relate to the topics, we’ll sometimes pull in experts and authors too.

Our lucky position

Both Anna Marie and myself are in a very privileged position. Living in the Bay Area, we have access to some of the sharpest, experimental, and experienced product people globally. We’re also both extremely active in holding conversations and meetings with our peers, making sure we’re on top of what matters and what’s new in the realm of product. The openness of founders, product people, and investors in the Bay Area is unmatched, and we’re excited to blend our knowledge and learnings from those interactions with the Clearly Product audience.

Reading is (actually) hard

It’s tough to keep up, we know. We hope that in addition to helping you to narrow in on books that actually matter, we’ll be able to offer a more in-depth, value-add approach to the existing time you spend reading. We’re both (independently) huge fans of Mortimer J. Adler’s How to Read a Book. His perspective on how to best leverage the information and time spent reading is one that influences how we approach reading:

“The art of reading, in short, includes all of the same skills that are involved in the art of unaided discovery: keenness of observation, readily available memory, range of imagination, and, of course, an intellect trained in analysis and reflection.”

It’s only through active discussion and connecting experiences and previous readings that you can truly absorb and generate the most value from the sheets clustered inside any book. 

Helping you become a well-rounded, informed product person

We’ll be choosing books that we believe are relevant and important to add to your arsenal. Through active, informal discussion with two people at the two extremes of the product world in the Bay Area, we’ll expose different ways to think about the content, and share our own real-life trials and tribulations as we work to strengthen our product taste, strategy, and understanding.

We hope you’ll join us :)