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#03: The PMM Holiday Reading List

Happy holidays my little elves ✨

This will be my last edition of the year - next Sunday’s Christmas, so I’m taking a short hiatus to sip on mimosas and open presents.

But, before we say goodbye to 2023, I wanted to leave you with one parting gift: my 2022 must-have reading list.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is what qualities or skills are essential to thrive in product marketing. There’s one answer I give more than any other: curiosity. The best product marketers are the ones who have an insatiable appetite for learning.

And, those that know me, know that my favorite way to learn is through books. I’m a voracious reader, and can almost always be found with a handful on the go.

As we close our laptops for the year and spend some time focused on rest and relaxation, there’s no better time to curl up with a good book.

Here are three of my all-time picks, plus one bonus book (what I’m reading next).

My go-to reads

Play Bigger: How Rebels and Innovators Create New Categories and Dominate Markets

By Ramadan, Peterson, Lochhead and Maney

This was my favorite read of 2021, and it tops the list again this year. I continuously re-read this one every 6 months or so, and it’s the marketing book I’ve probably gifted the most.

Play Bigger offers a tangible blueprint to category design. If you want to free yourself from competing on price point and feature differentiation, it’s worth at least considering the role of category design in your strategy.

Before reading, ask yourself: do you want to be better than the competition or do you want to be different? If you want to be different, dive into Play Bigger head first and prepare to be inspired to design a new future for your product and your customers.

Bonus: If you want more bite sized content on category design, check out the Category Pirates newsletter.

Obviously Awesome

By April Dunford

Positioning is a critical component to every product marketing role, but it’s notoriously difficult to get right. Templates abound, but there are very few in-depth resources that cover how to actually complete those templates.

In her book, April offers a 10-step process to build compelling positioning that works. It’s not the only way to build positioning, but it’s a good one. Even if you don’t use her process in its entirety, there’s tons of golden nuggets sprinkled throughout.

Be sure to check out Step 7, it’s my favorite one (hint: it’s about positioning for best-fit customers).

It’s short enough to read in one sitting, but will act more as a reference book that you pick up the next time you’re working on a positioning project.

The Obstacle is the Way

By Ryan Holiday

Fair warning: this is not a marketing or business book. But, it will help you navigate the world (of business) easier, and is a must-read in my opinion.

Based on the philosophical principles of the Stoics, the book shows how to reframe obstacles into opportunities. The Stoics believed that through our perception of events, we are complicit in the creation and destruction of our own obstacles. There is no good or bad without us, only our perception.

This book was critical in helping me sharpen my growth mindset and learn how to approach challenges (whether a delayed roadmap, office politics or a seemingly impossible project) from a new perspective.

When it comes to big picture thinking, this book is essential.

What I’m reading next

As for me, I’ll be tucking into a new book as I nibble on gingerbread cookies. Want to join along? Grab a copy of Adam Grant’s Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

Happy holidays, and I’ll catch you in 2023!