Crystal Widjaja's Reading List
I'm often asked about what I'm reading or learning about — either because someone wants to switch careers into data science or learn about product-led growth. I've made a very short list below of what I consider to be the "must-reads" for each category, selected by how often I reference them or how much they changed the way I think.
Read more about me here.
How do I become a better leader?
Radical Candor — Kim Scott
- My Take: This book really put into perspective my own management style, and helped me define and pick where along the spectrums of kindness and firmness I wanted to be. Great tips and scenarios to test yourself through!
- My Take: Ever been in a situation where opinions differ and tensions are high? This book completely changed how I mediate product discussions like "What is delight?" If you feel like your conversations with teams go nowhere, Crucial Conversations are a great framework to start with.
How do I build an enduring company?
High Growth Handbook — Elad Gil
- My Take: Elad has taught me a lot about what it means to be in a high growth business and has a genuine, rare sense of empathy that makes him an incredible guide throughout the journey. The book includes great guest features from people like Jerry Chen of Greylock and Claire Hughes Johnson from Stripe. There's practical advice too, like what PMs should be responsible for, how to build a recruitment org, and hiring for culture & values.
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business — Patrick Lencioni
- My Take: Another book about culture in theoretical practice. Reading this while working on your own organization's cultural mess can be cathartic in a way. My favorite quote: 'An organization knows that it has identified its core values correctly when it will allow itself to be punished for living those values and when it accepts the fact that employees will sometimes take those values too far. Core values are not a matter of convenience.'
High Output Management — Andy Grove
- My Take: Andy introduced the concept of managerial leverage to me. It taught me to look for ways to make my teams perform at their best and highest potential. The concept of 'limiting steps' applies not just to supply chain operations, but in product development, too.
How do I communicate with my users?
The Creative Curve — Allen Gannett
- My Take: Bahari, VP of Creative at Gojek, recommended this to me as his book of the year — and what a book. If you struggle with being traditionally or artistically creative, this book helps explain the process and shines a light on alternative creativity.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon — Brad Stone
- My Take: I may not agree with all of Amazon's practices, but they completely win on customer obsession. The stories of how they practice customer obsession in practice are wild — things like wooden doors as tables, and keeping an empty seat open during meetings for the aforementioned customer.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die — Chip Heath & Dan Heath
- My Take: This book changed how I approach rhetoric, the art of speaking. If you're at a creative block, feel unoriginal, or just need ideas of how to tell your customers for the one millionth time what type of services you provide, Made to Stick has a great list of methods to start coming up with good ideas again.
How do I become data literate?
How do I learn and understand code?
Learn SQL on W3 Schools
- My Take: My first interaction with code was through SQL. By knowing where data is coming from, how it is populated, and how it can be used, you will absolutely become a better programmer (or at least know how to talk to programmers).