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The essential product manager checklist: books, skills, and lingo you’ll need

What does it take to be a great product manager? You’ve got to speak the language, know the territory, and develop the skills. Do you check these boxes?

Last updated

24 Sep 2022

Reading time

3 min


What does it take to be a great product manager? You’ve got to speak the language, know the territory, and develop the skills.

Do you have what it takes to become a great product manager

We have no doubt. We also know that it doesn’t come easy. And once you’re there, you’ll need to keep learning to stay on top of your game. It boils down to these three things:

  1. Speaking the language

  2. Knowing the territory

  3. Developing the skills

We’ve got you covered. Check out the checklist below to see how your PM knowledge and skills stack up

1. Speak the PM lingo: acronyms for product managers

You probably know the concepts, but do you know the lingo? Here are 10 common acronyms that all product managers should know. Can you fill in the blanks?

⬜ MVP Minimum __________ Product

⬜ JTBD _______ to be ________

⬜ DACI Driver, __________, Contributor, __________

⬜ PLG Product-led ____________

⬜ CAC Customer ____________ Cost

⬜ LTV _________ value

⬜ NPS Net _________ Score

⬜ MoSCoW - Must-have, Should-have, _________, Won’t-have

⬜ OKRs ___________ and key results

⬜ VoC ___________ of the customer

⬜ USP Unique selling ____________

That’s a start, and there are plenty more. 

Not sure about any of these? See those acronyms, and others, spelled out here: 27 product manager acronyms that all PMs should know. 

2. Know the PM territory: books for product managers

Your experience counts for a lot. And you can also learn a lot through other’s experience. Here are 10 books we highly recommend for product managers at all levels:

Inspired, by Marty Cagan

Empowered, by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones

Continuous Discovery Habits, by Teresa Torres

The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries

The Product Book, by Josh Anon and Carlos González de Villaumbrosia

The Lean Product Playbook, by Dan Olsen

Hooked, by Nir Eyal

Sprint, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz

Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore

When Coffee & Kale Compete, by Alan Klement

Need a refresh or a brief cheat sheet? You can find brief summaries for all of these books here: Product managers keep talking about these 10 books.

3. Develop your PM aptitude: skills for product managers

You can speak the language and know your stuff. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to perform. Here are 6 skills—hard and soft—that you’ll need to develop.

⬜ Ability to prioritize tasks. Can you make difficult decisions? Critical and analytical thinking required.

⬜ Deep research. We’re talking lots of info from multiple sources, quantitative and qualitative.

⬜ Empathy for users. You need to understand customers’ goals and challenges. Curiosity helps.

⬜ Excellent interpersonal skills. You’ll communicate and collaborate with different types of people across multiple teams.

⬜ Storytelling. Can you weave user insights into persuasive narratives that convince stakeholders? It’s part of the job.

⬜ Inspirational leadership.The best product managers trust their teams, get them involved in decisions, and motivate them toward shared goals.

If you need a deeper dive into the processes of product management and the skills you need to thrive in a PM role, check out our complete guide to product management.

And if you’re a continuous learner, you’ll probably enjoy our YouTube channel.

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