Tutorials Books Videos Forums

Change the theme! Search!
Rambo ftw!

Customize Theme




Four Pro-Level Books to Help You Navigate Human Behaviors (and Conflicts)!

by kirupa   |   filed under Product Development FTW!

These four books will help you cecome more effective at your job by better understanding human behavior and motivation!

You and I have probably seen countless posts talking about the books you need to read to be effective at your job and career. In my view, they all paint an incomplete picture. Here is why.

Early in your career, whether you are an entrepreneur, an engineer, a product manager, or part of other disciplines, reading the kinds of books that give you a deep understanding of your job is critical. You need to be effective at knowing the ins and outs of what your job entails. You need to aim to be the best at it.

As you progress in your career at a company or learn very quickly as part of running your own company, going deeper into your domain will not take you further than where you may be right now. You will hit a ceiling. Worse, you may start sliding backward. This observation is one of the most difficult for all of us to internalize. What worked so well in the past for you may actually hinder your future.

At a certain point, and it varies by the company you are in or the situation you are facing, you will run against not a lack of domain expertise but basic human psychology. Your ability to succeed will be found in how well you handle organizational chaos, how well you navigate uncertainty, and how well others perceive you as being capable.

From this point of view, once you’ve got the domain expertise part of your job figured out, here are my favorite books in exact order:

  1. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy, one of the best marketers of all time. Now, this doesn’t mean that is is just for those of you who work in marketing. All of us should be very good at communicating effectively to your team, to your management, and to your customers. This book gives David’s advice that is very actionable on how to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.
  2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Stoic philosophy is really about the importance of logic over emotion. It’s about being rational even if every natural part of you feels otherwise. It is about maintaining your focus and composure at all times. Because much of what happens beyond a certain point is outside of our control.
  3. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. The pretext of this book is about how to acquire power and how to maintain it. Now, that’s not what I want you to focus on. Instead, imagine that the environment you are operating in (whether it is an organization, a competitive marketplace) - imagine that it is all a game. You have many players. There is a mission statement that clarifies the goals of this game. To achieve these goals, the ideal way is to have a cooperative strategy.

    Now, that doesn’t always play out. Some play offense. Some play defense. Now, unless you are in a very dysfunctional situation, I encourage you not to proactively play offense. That is just making bad situations worse. With that said, you definitely need to know offensive tactics so that you can mount an effective defense. You need to know how offensive players think. And should the need arise, and you need to play offense, then play it to win.
  4. Biographies, especially of historical figures:

    Nobody successful got to where they were in a straight line. There were many setbacks that they had to endure and navigate. There were many opportunities that they saw and took part in.

    What you are looking to gain in these biographies is not a direct 1:1 mapping of how someone’s story might apply to you. Instead what you are looking for is how they almost always took an unwavering belief that they are right and were able to convince others of their vision and rally them to their cause.

There are many more books that can share here, but these are my goto recommendations which apply to almost anybody in any discipline that requires dealing with other human beings. For easy reference, here is the Amazon listing for all of the books I mentioned in my video (along with a few bonus ones):

Beyond reading these books, I will reiterate a point from an earlier post - combine your own “knowledge seeking” with guidance from a great mentor. If you do these two things, you’ll become unstoppable.


The TL;DR is that you absolutely need to be a domain expert and build a solid foundation first. Beyond that, to continue to be effective, you need to balance your deep domain knowledge with techniques to navigate the sea of human emotions, desires, and fears. You can also find (and share!) this content onTwitter / X, LinkedIn, or TikTok. I would highly appreciate it if you would share it with your network or leave a comment on what you'd like to see in the future.

Just a final word before we wrap up. If you have a question and/or want to be part of a friendly, collaborative community of over 220k other developers like yourself, post on the forums for a quick response!

Kirupa's signature!

The KIRUPA Newsletter

Thought provoking content that lives at the intersection of design 🎨, development 🤖, and business 💰 - delivered weekly to over a bazillion subscribers!


Creating engaging and entertaining content for designers and developers since 1998.



Loose Ends

:: Copyright KIRUPA 2024 //--